St Paddy’s Day brought back memories of exuberant Irish fans at an All Blacks v Ireland game in Dublin, writes Joanne Doherty.
St Patrick’s Day this year was very different – it was quiet! The cicadas in the green bush of our Wairarapa cottage at Waiohine provided the music, the Irish flag was flying at the gate and a friend arrived carrying a basket of green cupcakes with small orange marigold petals on the icing.
The music, the dancing and the craic from our daughter Alice’s marriage to Ben at Waiohine four weeks earlier was still in the air. I think the Doherty family had ‘peaked too early’.
Next on the calendar is the Irish rugby tour to New Zealand in June. This is bound to be a lively injection into winter following the shenanigans from the 2011 Rugby World Cup. So many young Irish people living here or in Australia came to party and support the boys in green.
I loved hearing of the train carriage of people singing ‘Waltzing O’Driscoll’ on their way home from Eden Park after beating Australia. In Wellington at quarter-final weekend, the campervan park was full. The green Juicy vans stood out with ‘Kingdom of Kerry’ painted across the roof, Irish flags hanging in every window, and my favourite graffiti, ‘Drive like you are late for Mass!’
When we lived in Dublin we went to the All Blacks game at Lansdowne Road. I describe it in my book, Mind Y’self Now, Jewarne:
‘As we walk along beside the two-storey brick houses we see a banner hanging from an upstairs window. Painted on the sheet in big, black letters is ‘Bring Back Buck’… In the ground we stand at the northern end in ‘Jonah’s corner’, about five metres in from the touchline. It is close to the action. The weather is fine and mild but the ground is fully lit for the 2pm kick off. We stand for the game, leaning on a rail, just as I used to when I went to games at Athletic Park in Wellington when I was a girl. Singing the national anthem and watching the All Blacks haka is spine-tingling, as is hearing the Irish supporters singing. I join in both.
‘The Irish supporters around us are delightful company. One old man talks throughout the game. ‘In the end y’know, it all comes down to the numbers,’ he says. Another calls out to a green jersey on the field, ‘Come on, mun, you’re as slow as a funeral!’ At the end of the game, the old man beside us shakes Jack’s hand thanking him for his company, saying: ‘It was grand watching the game with you. It’s hard to come by such good company these days. You be careful now tonight going out with the blonde in the long black dress. She can lead you astray!’
The blonde in the long black dress, aka a glass of Guinness, will no doubt be in abundance once the Irish rugby team arrives. I think I will follow the O’Kiwi men’s 2011 lead of following the Irish team while supporting the All Blacks. A win-win formula!