Monday, March 09, 2009

Five reasons I volunteer with St Patrick's Festival - a gallery

This may not be 100% accurate but I'm fairly sure that the 2009 St Patrick's Festival will be the seventh time I've volunteered with it. From my first year of just walking in the Parade way back in 2000 to this week, it's something I look forward to every year and it's just been a case of me living in London that I missed one year and in hospital the other.

So, why do it? Why not spend the time in the pub, out with friends or away out of Dublin altogether for an event that draws thousands of people year on year? Well...

5. Seeing it up close

The incredible amount of work and detail that goes into each event at the festival is quite staggering and by volunteering, you're not only getting to help out on that but to see things up close.

Whether it's the parade set-up, the effort people go to dress up and enjoy the Treasure Hunt or just the sheer delight people have in creating something colourful to amuse and entertain, the chance to see all this up close, not behind barriers or in the midst of crowds is important and helps set the full picture.

It's how too drawings like the below turn into the displays underneath

4. The events themselves

I'll stick this into another post but it's been great to see some of the events that have happened over the last few years. There was the year we were in the middle of the Liffey setting up for Skyfest and the giant inflatable Polish puppets. There was the rain from last year's event down at the Docklands. There was the speed dating as Gaeilge.

There was also the time the Andalucian shepherds I was looking after lassoed Mary McAleese in the Grandstand while her Aide de Camp looked daggers at me. Very good memories. Very funny.

My personal favourite? The Denny Treasure Hunt that people dress up to participate in. Every year people come back saying how much fun it was and how they've learned something new about Dublin. Great event altogther.

3. The photos

Head on over to to see the thousands of photos about the Festival, the parade and all the people involved. If it's true that part of the soul is taken away by a photograph, mine has evaporated after last year's festivities. As much as I like seeing them, I am particularly fond of some of the photos I managed to grab last year myself.

2. The people

I almost put this first but really it and no. 1 are as important to me. I'm always so entertained by the thousands of people who voluntarily come to participate, to give their time, creativity and enthusiasm to something that entertains so many others. The amount of work that is going on in school halls, warehouses and garden sheds all over the country shouldn't be under-estimated. Why do they do it? For the love of it!

1. The friends I make

I've made a wide group of friends through volunteering at different events. We stay in touch, see each other at different festivals, meet up for pints and look forward to seeing each other again. From all different countries and places, we share a lot of the work, the laughter and the shared experience of working for Ireland's premier festival.

Some of course are only for the duration of the festival and then fade away despite best intentions and some are there to stay. Each encounter is special in its way and makes the memories all the better.

You can find out more information about volunteering with St Patrick's Festival here. The lovely Kathy would be more than happy to help you with any queries you may have. See you there!

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