Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When Irish eyes are smiling...and it's not even Ireland

Does it get any more Irish than Guinness?
So, St. Patrick's Day is upon us ... and tradition holds that I should write something about Ireland in
my blog to mark the occasion.

The problem is, I haven't BEEN to Ireland. (At least not yet).

The closest I've been physically (and for that matter, spiritually) is Wales.

I have written a couple of published stories about Wales, as well as blogged about it, but we're not celebrating St. David's Day (is there such a holiday for the patron saint of Wales?), so that doesn't really count.

It's not that I don't WANT to go to Ireland...I've just always had other destinations on my radar. And it's not like there aren't things to interest me in that country. Never mind the fact it's the home of both Guinness stout and Bushmill's Irish Whisky, there are also some excellent birding and paddling opportunities there (although the chance of spotting parrots there might be slim to none...).

I always celebrate St. Pat's Day at home with some Celtic music, an Irish dish or two (this year I'm making a meatloaf baked in a Guinness glaze), and plenty of Guinness  (both in a glass and in the food), Bushmill's, Bailey's, and a movie or two with an Irish theme (The Quiet Man, The Fighting Prince of Donegal are two of my favourites) and some old episodes of Remington Steele that were set in Ireland.

 Let's do a little cooking with Guinness...

I often read stories from Ireland, from a collection called Irish Folk Tales by Henry Glassie, that I've owned for about 27 years.

I also receive regular press releases from Tourism Ireland ... in fact, the one I received Wednesday of this week was very interesting.

It was slugged, "St Patrick’s celebrations get the green light around the world - Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening goes from strength to strength with 190 major landmarks and sites taking part this year – celebrating Ireland and St Patrick."

The reason I say it's interesting for me is because, as the release states, "Some 190 iconic landmarks and sites around the world will be illuminated in green over the coming days – as part of Tourism Ireland’s 2016 Global Greening initiative to celebrate the island of Ireland and St Patrick."

It goes on to list many sites, and includes Canada: "several sites will join the Global Greening celebrations including  the 'green lantern' of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario" - which is a place I've visited.
At the Nature Museum, the reptiles chase St. Patrick...
The Calgary Tower is also involved in the occasion. When I worked as a communications consultant for the Alberta Wilderness Association in 1999 and 2000, the tower was (and still is) a big part of the AWA's schedule of annual events aimed at helping keep the province "green" with its Tower Climb held every spring.

Niagara Falls is also involved, a place I've visited many times, and written about a few times, as well.

My most recent visit to those places was to the Nature Museum. Amazing place, great for families, I could have spent an entire day there easily, rather than the few hours I had to squeeze in.

Other stops in my travelling life that are part of this initiative include Casa Loma in Toronto, Toronto's Distillery District, and in close proximity (but not an actual visit to) the Nairobi National Museum in Kenya's capital city.

So while I have not been to Ireland, I've been to many places that are helping mark St. Patrick's Day this year.

I guess in some ways, I've been there, if not physically, then certainly in spirit.

Maybe one of these days, I'll even get to go to the Emerald Isle itself.

Until then, I'll just wish you "Top of the mornin' from the bottom of me glass!"

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