The Common Good

Defiant Hope: St. Patrick's Day in Northern Ireland

Two years ago, I celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Ireland with my parents, my husband, and my one-year-old son. March is a miserable time of year to be in Ireland: wet, cold, and dark, with sudden storms that render the green hills an indistinct shade of gray. But if it was beauty that we were after, we got more than we bargained for. I have never seen hope more dramatically enacted than in the small town in Northern Ireland where we marched through the rain with Catholics and Protestants in the first joint St. Patrick's Day celebration in decades.

We had driven over from London, where we were living at the time-three generations crammed into one five-passenger vehicle-and for the most part, the trip was uneventful. My son loved the ferry crossing from the U.K., my husband loved the Guinness factory in Dublin, my parents loved the Irish breakfasts: fried eggs, sausage, potatoes, black pudding, stewed tomatoes, bacon

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