As we celebrate the life of Saint Patrick (& all things Irish) raise a glass, let’s spread a little Irish cheer. Sláinte!
Virginia has enjoyed many memorable St. Patrick’s days over the years (Irish fellas often have a thing for red heads?) but the most fun celebration occurred in Tanzania. Yep, that’s right, in Africa!
Meeting an Irish buddy, Catherine, during Swahili studies in Arusha, we became kindred spirits muddling our way through initial challenges in our respective placements. Catherine’s posting in Arusha was sponsored by the Irish government, so a few months after our course she came down to Dar es Salaam to stay over for the embassy’s big Saint Patrick’s Day party. We put on our party dresses hoping to meet some handsome Irish fellas.
Dripping (literally in the African heat) with hopeful intentions, we made our way at the big shindig to our assigned table to find no gorgeous Irish fellas, but a bunch of white-haired Irish nuns.
But then things got interesting. On each of the beautifully laid tables (with Waterford crystal centerpieces) the Irish distillery Jamesons thoughtfully provided a complimentary bottle of Irish whiskey. One of the nuns (Sister Mary, the oldest) grabbed the big bottle off our table & whisked it into her tote bag. “I’ve come all the way from Singida. We sometimes need a wee sip of something medicinal there to help us through the night.”
Singida is a remotely rural region of Tanzania. As pictured, I visited our projects several times there, but enjoyed getting back to the bustle of big-city Dar. Sister Mary had served over 20 years there with the Irish order of the Medical Missionaries of Mary.
After eating yummy Irish food and imbibing a few wee draughts of Guinness, we danced and danced(!) Catherine & I left at 3:00AM all tired out, but those white-haired Irish nuns were still cutting a rug on the dance floor.
So, totally, completely fun!
Their jobs were seriously intense. I ran into Sister Margaret numerous times afterward at HIV/AIDS coordination meetings – she managed palliative care for AIDS patients in Dar and the other sisters had challenging medical positions – but these Irish nuns with deep hearts of faith & love also enjoyed life. They knew how to have fun.
I’ve never had so much fun on St. Patrick’s Day – and, to think, with a bunch of nuns!
A blessed & happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all!
☘ grace, peace & Irish cheer ☘
Virginia : )
“The past is in God’s hands, so is the future and the present.”
Mother Mary Martin MMM
p.s. A little more fun with nuns (from a framed napkin a friend gave me.)
A great post – thanks for sharing this story! I used to work with nuns and can only nod in agreement 🙂
Thank you! I was also blessed to interact with several orders in the Middle East, including Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity in Nablus & in Gaza. Incredibly inspiring, dedicated women! ✨😇✨
That’s so awesome, Ginny! 😎
Cin – you remember Catherine in Arusha (where you saw bush baby in the middle of the nite?) She responded to this post on FB with a picture from the party – ’twas loads of fun. Hugs! 😜🤗😜
A classic nun story, V. I could see my sixth-grade teacher [a nun] as being one of that pleasant and force-filled ilk.
These women – & other nuns I’ve interacted with in relief & conflict zone settings- are so dedicated. While I celebrated special times in other places with different orders of nuns, these Irish nuns win the prize for most fun! ☘😎☘
what a beautiful experience!
It was a grand time altogether! ☘🎉😎🎉☘
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