“You don’t take enough time for yourself.”
Friends and family remind me of this from time to time, usually as I am hurrying from one unfinished project to another while fretting over a dozen more which seem eternally out of reach.
They are not wrong.
We all need to give ourselves a little break from time to time, which is why I always look forward to our yearly trip to Fair Park in Dallas for the North Texas Irish Festival. It’s nice to just roam around with my camera, taking in an afternoon of music, shopping and people watching. And so for the moment I shall take a step back from my weekly musings and allow you to share, just a bit, in my yearly indulgence.
I sometimes refer to the Irish Festival as “Guinness in a Plastic Cup”. The obvious reason is that this is how beer is served at the festival – something of a crime against nature. The metaphor runs a little deeper, though. There is an almost artificial quality to much of the show. It’s easy to look at the show with a cynical eye and see crowds of “Plastic Paddys” glomming onto a culture they know little about while buying all manner of shamrock studded ticky-tack.
At the same time, there is a rich, wholesome quality to the show which the cheap plastic packaging does nothing to diminish. Everywhere you look there are craftsmen, dancers, artists and musicians, who could no doubt make more money in conventional pursuits but who struggle daily to make ends meet for the love of their art and the desire to share it with others. Many of us who attend have a genuine pride in their Celtic heritage and a desire to preserve that deeper connection with their history and their ancestors.
Visiting the North Texas Irish Festival may not satisfy that deep yearning for the homeland which many of us feel. Think of it as instead as the biggest “support group” you could imagine, meeting on the first weekend in March. It’s therapy, with beer and food and music. Who cares if it comes in a plastic cup!