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Last week-end was quite something. St Patrick's Day was coming up and I was keen to live the event here in Ireland. The 17th March fell on a Sunday this year.

But four or five days prior to that, as I was walking down Main Street like a lot of  Wexford people do, I saw a banner stretched across the street with publicity for a play at the Opera House for Friday night, €15 last chance. The Opera House is a very modern building right in the middle of town on High Street. I live at the very end of High Street, so I detoured and bought myself a ticket. After all... the month of March is my birthday month if I need an excuse!

The play was called 'Out of Order', a "rollercoaster ride of side-splitting comedy" the brochure said, written by Richard Willey and played by the Bridge Drama theatre group. The Opera House here has a number of small theatre stages with different names. People say they are going to the 'something' theatre which led me to think that Wexford had many theatres. Everything is centralised at the Opera House which is used for opera only once a year in October. I am impressed that a small fishing town like Wexford has such a beautiful place for the performing arts. And it is booked out most of the time. The play I was going to see had been booked out for 3 days and they had added this performance to make everyone happy by putting a banner across the street. That last performance was booked out too!

I'd like to convey the atmosphere of the place. When I turned up around 10 to 8pm the room was already nearly full. You take a seat wherever you like, I was told. The rows of seats being steeply placed one above the other so that you have a view of the stage above someone's head, I did not mind sitting way up next to a lady who greeted me as if we were old friends. She knew about France, she said, she had been to Lourdes a number of times on the French fast train, the TGV.

Eventually when the room was overflowing with people hanging on the top side aisles the light was dimmed and we were plunged into the play. I did not know yet that I could laugh non-stop for an hour and then for another hour and still want more! The picture on the brochure had not attracted my attention: three people standing casually in front of a dead body on the floor. Another cynical thriller, I thought. Wrong! A comedy raising the act of telling lies to an art!

I learned that the Bridge Drama comedians were a local group from Castlebridge. They have their own FaceBook page and tour extensively in Ireland. Very professional. I also learned that the pocket theatre where we were sitting was called the Jerome Hynes after the man who died on stage there on the opening night of that theatre. I had been told that Ireland was a very special country. But there on Friday night I saw it and shared that lively imaginative and vibrant atmosphere.

And then on Sunday the parade!

I didn't know what to expect. Is it like for carnival, parading floats and painted dancers? my granddaughter had asked me on the phone. Or is it more like a military parade in the way of the French national day. I really did not know what to expect.

First of all it was cold with the northern biting wind blowing and I was freezing but I stayed on until the end.

Along the Quay on-lookers were standing three people deep along both sides of the street. At the beginning the bagpipers were marching with their banners, then several groups of Scouts in their uniforms followed by sports groups and martial arts associations. There were gaps between the groups and often they would stop and perform some dancing or pretend fighting. All sorts of groups paraded, even some representing shops in town, one selling spectacles, another selling cars and the local creamery parading with an old tractor and a make-up cow with one guy for the front legs and another for the back legs. One of the last groups was a float of the 'light opera' company advertising the coming show about witches.

The parade had a taste of homemade. It was neither a carnival nor a military parade. It was in the family register, look at the kids, aren't they beautiful, this is what we can do here, and bless them all. It took me by surprise. A bit disappointed perhaps but happy to have shared in a casual show of real life in Wexford. 
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