To get an idea of what amazing St Patrick’s Day activities there are in the Australia, we sent out a writer to follow one of the few leprechauns operating in the southern hemisphere: Bryan Brody. If you’re looking for a great new destination to celebrate everything Irish on your next timeshare holiday, read on.
Brody seemed busy as I approached him, chatting away on his green-coated iPhone. He was wearing typical regalia: A green jacket with matching green pants, a dark-green waistcoat buttoned beneath a big green bow tie, colourful socks, a ginger beard and – strangely enough – thick army combat boots. Better for Outback conditions than shoes, I supposed.
“Top o’ the morning to ye!” he announced loudly, putting away his phone. He paused, then said, “Yer late.” (A flight had held me up).
Leprechauns in Australia
Brody is currently one of only a handful of leprechauns operating in the Asia Pacific region, he told me. Brody himself is assigned to Australia, particularly the big centres.
“They only trust me with the capitals,” he said. “You wouldn’t want t’ trust Eoin – he’s not even full Irish! Imagine that, a half-Irish leprechaun! What a disaster.”
As March 17 approaches, it’s their organisation’s job to travel between the different major St Patrick’s Day festivals to spread green, gold and plenty of good fortune. Our first stop on the tour was Perth.
Perth’s St Paddy’s
Though the flight had left him without energy (he had to hide from public view, after all – people aren’t allowed to find him), alighting at Perth Airport seemed to perk Brody back up.
“I love the festival here,” he stated. “Perthians are so far away from the homeland, but they try so hard all the same.”
The St Patrick’s Festival of Western Australia is held each year in its capital, and runs for just over a week. Though there are great events throughout, the event’s highlight is definitely the fantastic parade on the Sunday before March 17, followed by the Family Fun Day at the local Medibank Stadium.
“They have magicians there this year,” Brody muttered. Of course, I quizzed this.
“They think they’re so smart, makin’ stuff disappear and reappear. How can ye trust a man who stashes birds and rabbits in his coat? That’s what I ask ye.”
Going green in Sydney
Next we hopped back across the country to visit Sydney – a rather turbulent 5-hour flight.
“One time I met a girl here,” Brody started as we made our way towards the CBD. “After the parade we … actually ye know what? That story is probably inappropriate. F’rget I started it.”
The Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade is a staple of the calendar year, and is the largest Irish event in the entire Southern Hemisphere. In fact, more than 80,000 Irish or Irish-descended people flock to the city each year to celebrate their day.
“I’m the envy of my peers f’r gettin’ Sydney, t’ be sure,” my companion boasted.
Pre-parade music and dancing begins at around 10.30am on the Sunday prior to March 17, with the parade itself kicking off at noon. The theme this year is ‘Celebrating Life’, so you can expect both colourful and thoughtful floats to be trundling through the streets.
A Family Fun Day follows the parade here as well, with Irish bands, food and merchandise on offer until 6.30pm.
However, this is where my time with Brody ended.
“I’m off t’ Singapore t’ fill in some sick leave,” he said, throwing some magical dust into the air near George Street (where the parade will pass). “I think Tom [the regular Singapore leprechaun] is just slackin’ off, but who am I t’ argue with the big boss?”
Regardless, Brody departed with haste to the airport, leaving me to marvel at our journey. Who would have thought St Patrick’s Day would be so popular so far away from Ireland? Perhaps it was always meant to be this way, or perhaps it’s just good luck.