In Ireland, the St. Patrick’s Day parade is imprinted as deeply on our memories of childhood festivities and celebrations almost as much as Christmas. Whether we had to wear tricolour jumpers knitted by our grannies or proudly display our harp badges, there was an inevitable excitement about the parade. Having a day off school also lent a certain positivity to the day. Like all holidays, St. Patrick’s Day seems to get bigger every year, particularly among advertisers. Most of the high street shops sell green, shamrock-covered clothes and accessories and certain fast food chains bring out a green milkshake for its annual appearance. The parade then becomes more about the buying than the celebration, material things over experiences. So this year, as parents, let’s make an effort to really make the day a family event that will generate happy memories for years to come.
In the lead up to the day, you could encourage your child to make her own banner, flag or t-shirt. In addition to being an activity that you can both enjoy together, it will also teach your child that things don’t always have to be disposable. Sure, they could buy a flag at the parade- which will probably be binned pretty soon afterwards- or you sew or paint one together that could be displayed somewhere at home later. It also provides a lesson on recycling, which is ‘going green’ in its truest sense!
The City Centre becomes incredibly crowded on St. Patrick’s Day, which can cause a little anxiety. With younger children, you could turn the annoyance of picking your viewing spot into a game. For example, agree beforehand that you will turn left every time you see someone with dyed green hair and see where you end up. They’ll be happily distracted and you can move through a crowd quicker. Keep safety in mind as well. With older children, agree ‘safe spots’ in advance so, in the event of being separated, you all go immediately to that spot.
Fast food restaurants tend to be over-crowded after the parade, with long queues and waiting times. If you prepare a small picnic that morning, you can head to one of the city centre parks, sit on your homemade flags and enjoy a hassle-free and healthier lunch. Your own green smoothies or milkshakes will taste a lot better when you haven’t had to stand in line for an hour to get them!
If you think the crowds will be too much for your little ones, you can always embrace the celebrations and community spirit at your local parade as St. Patrick’s Day festivities take to the streets in towns and villages throughout County Limerick. 10 county parades are taking place this year in Abbeyfeale, Adare, Askeaton, Ballylanders, Bruff, Castleconnell, Kilfinance, Kilmallock, Mountcollins and Rathkeale.
For more information about St Patrick’s Weekend in Limerick, including the parade route, the county parade start times and family fund events over the weekend, go to www.limerick.ie/stpatricksfestival
This article was contributed by a member of Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations. For more information on this and other topics go to www.loveparenting.ie.