Monday, September 12, 2011
Paddy Party Central
You do have to hand it to the Irish. They know how to party.
The Irish were in New Plymouth en masse for the USA-Ireland Rugby match last night. And, boy, do they make a nuisance of themselves.
The large Irish pub, Peggy Gordon's, has been party headquarters in New Plymouth. The green-clad, strong-accented lads have been giving it all they've got since coming to town. And the publican, a Scotsman obviously with good business instincts, has been happy to oblige, closing off the street outside his establishment and setting up a marquee.
The Irish are good natured, and even invited me, clad in a USA Eagles shirt, in for a pint. I didn't go in, of course. I only look stupid. I might never have been seen again. Some of the boys looked like they'd been living in there for a few days.
The U.S. party was in a room above the Irish place and, when the weather cleared, a U.S. Marine Corps band, playing N'Orleans music, took to the balcony and pointed at the Irish. They played so loudly that the Irish came out of the pub to see what was going on.
Score 1 for the U.S. Then the Irish started dancing on the sidewalk. One all.
The New Plymouth District Council has very helpfully painted a blue line all the way out to the stadium. Let me tell you, the Irish fans needed it last night. They were a sodden army taking several diversions into nearby bushes. They also used the line as an impromptu field sobriety test.
They all failed it. Some of them elaborately.
Honors, though, go to my favorite Irishman of all: Derek Coghlan. He flew into New Zealand on game day from St. Augustine, Florida, and made it in time for kickoff. As he always does - he and I have been to many sporting events together, including the Soccer World Cup in 1994 - he provided running and outrageous commentary during the game. And, as always happens, every spectator within five rows was roaring with laughter.
Apparently the Irish scrum half looks like Justin Bieber. Say no more - though Derek did. I now know a lot about Bieber's sex life - as does half of Taranaki Stadium.
It was an epic night with an old and dear friend.
Astonishingly, amazingly, the New Plymouth police reported not a single arrest. Not a single Paddy for the Paddy wagon. That is impossible. And marvelous. The Irish are, if not a class act exactly, a great bunch.