Sadly I was too busy on the day to take lots of photos like I usually do, but I thought I would share the few I did take anyway. For a full review of the day, check out THIS POST.
Listening to an American Military Brass band open an Irish Festival in South Korea by singing Ireland’s call on a day that many will remember for Ireland’s Six Nations victory, was not something I will easily forget.
Speaking on stage at the 14th Annual Seoul St. Patrick’s Day Festival, The United States Army 2nd Infantry Division band said they were delighted to be there and saw the festival as an excellent opportunity to strengthen the partnership between America, Korea and Ireland.
The event, which took place at D Cube City in Sindorim last Saturday, was an incredible fusion of Irish and Korean music and culture and while there are over 1,000 Irish living in Korea, many of whom were no doubt present on the day, it was the presence and participation of so many non-Irish residents that made the festival so unique.
To watch an Irishman on stage speak fluent English, Irish and Korean to an equally stunned and impressed audience, was a true example of what the festival is all about. It is not simply about showcasing and promoting Irish culture abroad, but it’s about being excellent representatives of how welcoming, friendly and adaptable the Irish people are and how open we are to other cultures.
While Ireland and Irish musicians were well represented on the day, there were also musicians and dancers from Korea, the United States and even China. Listening to Bard, a group of Koreans who play traditional Irish music, play some classic Irish tunes while young kids danced in circles in front of the stage and 1,000’s more soaked up the atmosphere and basked in the first of the spring sunshine really encapsulated the theme of the day.
Other highlights included; watching the crowd look on in awe as Tap Pung, a Korean Irish Dancing troupe, took to the stage and gave Riverdance a run for their money; watching hundreds of waygooks (foreigners) form a human train in front of the main stage while Sweet Murphys Fancy belted out some drinking songs; watching professional photographers click furiously with the knowledge they were getting incredible shots as the finalists of the costume competition lined up near the stage and danced around in a last-minute bid to impress judges and lastly seeing big groups of Korean school children sitting in the audience, delighted with the green balloons and the hilarious Jameson branded “leprechaun” hats which had been given to them for free, smiling and laughing despite not having a clue what was going on!
St Patrick’s Day has always been my favourite holiday of the year, even surpassing Christmas and Halloween in my personal popularity chart, and this year was no different. I have always been a very proud Irish citizen, and this pride seems to multiply whenever I’m actually outside of Ireland.
Celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Korea this year, however, felt extra special and yet I can’t exactly pinpoint why that is. It could be that it was my first time being involved in the behind-the-scenes organization of the festival, which took 6 months of hard work and dedication by a team of volunteers who were delighted to see their hard work pay off on the day. It could have been the fact that I was volunteering on the day so had a different perspective from the rest of the crowd.
Finally, and this could be the real answer, it could be because it was my first time in celebrating St Patrick’s Day sober in over a decade. Whatever the reason, pride and joy was simply flowing through me like a fast-flowing river on Saturday and no amount of negativity or difficult situations was going to dampen my spirits on my favourite day of the year!
Big shout out to the Irish Association of Korea for organizing such a memorable festival and to all the incredible volunteers who helped out on the day. It was the perfect way to welcome the spring to South Korea and another excellent showcase of why everyone loves the Irish!
To see more photos from the day, check out Stephanie Anglemyer’s photography website at: http://www.anklebiterphotos.com/
Each day this week on the Irish Times website, members of Irish communities around the world will be sharing plans for St Patrick’s Day where they live. Today, I had the opportunity to share my experiences in South Korea and to write about Seoul’s 14th St Patrick’s Day festival, taking place this weekend.
To read the article on the Irish Times website, click here.
Back home in Ireland, preparation for St Patrick’s Day does not involve too much planning, aside from stocking up the fridge, planning crazy green outfits with friends and deciding how early is too early to start the festivities. This year, all that changed for me.
On arrival in South Korea last July, I was asked to join the Irish Association of Korea (IAK), a not-for-profit organisation which promotes Irish culture in Korea. As well as hosting events for the Irish community, it also provides the opportunity for Koreans and other expats to experience and learn more about Irish life. The main event of the year is the St Patrick’s Day Festival in Seoul, now in its 14th year, with up to 10,000 spectators showing up on the day.
Being a part of this active and engaging organisation has given me incredible behind-the-scenes experience of what it takes to plan a St Patricks’s Day Festival abroad. It takes months of hard work by an extremely dedicated team of people. Over the last few months, much of the committee members’ free time has been tied up at meetings, fundraising events and sponsorship talks. I could never have imagined how much time and effort goes into organising one day of craic agus ceoil until I was involved myself.
Now that all the ground work has been done – sponsorship secured, a perfect venue located, great musicians, experienced Irish dancers, story-tellers and local volunteers recruited – we are all very excited for the event to begin.
The festival here Seoul is known for the keen participation from members of both the Irish and Korean community, and this year will not disappoint with traditional folk dancers and musicians playing Irish music, both traditional and popular rock, coming from all over Korea to perform.
Musicians from Ireland will also feature heavily on the bill and the festival will offer an opportunity for the public to get involved, with traditional ceili-dancing, which has grown in popularity every year, taking place at the main stage. There will be face painting and story telling for children.
No festival promoting Ireland and Irish culture would be complete without the GAA present and thus a display of Gaelic football will be hosted by the one of the most successful teams in Asia, the Seoul Gaels Gaelic football team. The Seoul Gaels will also be using this opportunity to seek new recruits for their upcoming season, which starts in April.
The Seoul St Patrick’s Day Festival is the perfect opportunity for people living in Korea to experience Irish culture and get a feel for the wonderful array of Irish talent living here. March 17th is a day when we all think of Ireland and its rich history. To be able to celebrate that here in South Korea shows the extraordinary power of the Irish abroad and I am very proud to be a part of such a great expat community.
My first class of the day is with 2 very cute Korean brothers who come to me simply to improve their English conversation skills and to expose them to a native English speaker. They will be moving to China soon as their father’s got transferred there for work and they will be attending an International school. As one boy is 6 and the other is 8, with very different levels of English (think very, very basic!!) an hour long class can be quite difficult to plan.
I have quite a lot of leeway in what I teach them, so last week each day we would learn about a different country. I had great fun teaching them all about Ireland and teaching them some traditional Irish songs. When we were finished I asked them to make a poster that represented Ireland and below is what they drew. I have to say I LOVE their version of Saint Patrick and that they think he led the ‘snacks’ out of Ireland! Plus the fact that they drew Guinness as ‘Black Beer!’ is priceless. Kids are just the cutest.
I was very sad to miss my Masters Graduation ceremony back home in Ireland this week, but as flying over 9,000km from Korea to Dublin for 1 day was definitely not an option, I just had to get on with my days work teaching cute little Korean kids their A,B,C’s!
I think the principal of the school felt a little sorry for me, so she spent the entire day today photo shopping my head onto other people graduation photos, then uploaded them into facebook. You can imagine my surprise and delight after a long days teaching, logging on to facebook to see these hilarious yet brilliantly photoshopped images of myself at my Graduation! She even got the colors right and somehow added the University crest to one of the photos too!
I may have missed the actual graduation ceremony, but at least I have some photos from the occasion! :D
Sometimes you need to stop walking through life at such a fast pace, pause for a moment, and enjoy the little treasures that are right in front of you…treasures that are often only visible when you make the time to take a closer look.
I have many close up shots of beautiful and vibrantly colorful flowers and insects, but this is the only time that I managed to capture and focus both at the same time. A beautiful moment captured forever.
Below are a few more of my favorite shots with background defocus. Enjoy! :)
I love the theme of this weeks weekly photo challenge so much that I’m going to do it TWICE!!
A few months ago I visited Skellig Michael, an island off the West coast of Ireland, which is home to 1,000′s of beautiful Puffins. I made a blog post at the time, but there were many more great photos of the carefree Puffins which I didn’t post on my blog, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to share them with you.