Have you ever thought about what St Patrick’s Day would be like without a drop of alcohol?
For many people, drinking and Irishness are so synonymous that it is impossible to imagine our national day without a drop of the black stuff or a bit of whiskey.
However, one woman hopes to change that; Samantha Kelly is heading to New York in a few days' time to celebrate with the organisation Sober St Patrick’s Day. She joined The Anton Savage Show to chat about why a dry St Patrick’s Day means so much to her:
“It’s a movement that started in New York by William Spencer Reilly 10 years ago,” Samantha explained.
“He was on 5th Avenue and he saw this young chap with a t-shirt saying, ‘St Patrick’s Day Today, Sober Tomorrow’, and him and his friends were all falling around the place and he thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to reclaim the day as what it’s really supposed to be about? St Patrick and the culture, the music, all the lovely things about Ireland - just without the alcohol.’
“So that’s where it started… and I was speaking at a conference in New York and a lady in the audience was the Executive Director [of Sober St Patrick’s Day], Tammy, so she put me forward because when the pandemic hit they couldn’t do their in real life celebration, so they wanted to take it online.
“So we did the first virtual event online last year and it was so successful we’re doing it again this year.”
Listen and subscribe to The Anton Savage Show on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.
Even when she herself drank, Samantha found that alcohol ruined the family vibe of St Patrick’s Day:
“For me even, when I did still drink - I’m 13 years sober now - when I used to bring the kids to the parade, I would be out of there as soon as possible because it just got too messy,” she continued.
“My husband is a taxi driver as well and it’s always a messy day. Messy is the word I would use.
“And I just think that for families it would be nice to have somewhere to go where they didn’t have to worry about that.
“That they could bring the kids and have a family celebration and especially in New York it’s a huge drinking day - believe it or not."
— Samantha Kelly (@Tweetinggoddess) February 28, 2022
Most importantly, she believes it is a chance to reclaim the day and focus on the so many other wonderful aspects of Irish culture that the world could celebrating instead:
“I do feel that even when I went to speak at conferences it was always like, ‘Oh, you’re Irish! Oh, you must love whiskey! You must love Guinness!’
“It was just slightly annoying that everyone just associated Irishness with alcohol. I just wanted to [promote] the lovely things about Ireland, like our scenery, our people, the music, the food!”
Main image: People enjoying Temple Bar in Dublin ahead of St Patricks Day, 16-03-2019. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews