THE origin of the word Sláinte, derived from health and safety, is somewhat ironic when you look at its current connotation, as the toast before a drinking session.
Samantha Kelly highlighted the conflicting meaning of our national salute at the launch of the 11th Sober St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
A social media strategist and Ireland’s Tweeting Goddess, she is the brand ambassador in Ireland for Sober St Patrick’s Day.
A Sober St Patrick’s Day is a lot safer and healthier for us, she says, and a lot more craic too.
“The mission of Sober St Patrick’s Day is to reclaim the true spirit of the day by changing the perception and experience.
"Rather than an occasion for binge drinking or misuse of alcohol, people around the world are making the celebration about families and marking the richness of Irish culture and the compassionate legacy of St Patrick.”
The Sober St. Patrick’s Day Foundation Inc, (SSPD) is now an official affiliated organisation of the NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade.
SSPD will make history by marching in its very first NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade this year. The group will be led by St. Edmund’s Pipe and Drums Band from Enders Island in Mystic, Connecticut, which is an SSPD Sister City. Samantha Kelly will proudly walk in this year’s NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, up Fifth Avenue, on Thursday, March 17, with her SSPD family and friends.
“I am honoured to represent Ireland at the Sober St. Patrick’s Day event in New York, and to host the second SSPD digital YouTube Premiere global celebration online,” the social influencer says.
She welcomed Irish people to join the event online or in person, if travelling to the U.S.
The family-friendly event, live from the Old St Patrick’s Cathedral Youth Centre, will showcase world-class musicians, dancers, comics and performers.
Among the contributors is 14-year-old Una Walsh from Wexford, the very talented harpist who shared her hearing loss story on the Late Lat Toy Show recently.
The show begins at 5pm NY time and can be viewed from 9pm in Ireland, featuring free on YouTube Premieres.
Billed as ‘the ultimate family-friendly party in New York’ by the city’s Irish media, the celebration attracts people of Irish descent and regular NYC inhabitants, as well as some who are in recovery. It’s the ideal place for recovering alcoholics, who want to enjoy real entertainment and fun that isn’t alcohol-fuelled, organisers say.
“Parents tend to bring their young kids and teens too, since the pubs are total madness on the day, which isn’t much fun for families,” Tami Ellen McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Sober St. Patrick’s Day® Foundation, says.
For those interested in joining digitally, or in person, there is detail online at www.soberstpatricksday.org.
First proposed by Irish-American theatre and television producer, William Spencer Reilly, in 2011, sober celebrations of Ireland’s patron saint have been held on parade day in New York City every year since then.
The award-winning producer almost lost a member of his family to addiction in 2004. His experience of seeing young people ‘totally wasted’ on Fifth Avenue, wearing t-shirts reading ‘St. Patrick’s Day Today... Hungover Tomorrow’ prompted him to try to change the narrative.
The initiative continues to grow with official gatherings organised across the U.S.A., in Philadelphia, Virginia, Rhode Island and in Connecticut, as well as in Belfast and Dublin.
Samantha Kelly, a recovering alcoholic and mother of two celebrates 14 years sober in 2022. While she is reluctant to impose lifestyle choices, Samantha Kelly says the pressures of the past year have seen some alcoholics turn to drink again, and many people admit to drinking more than usual, often out of boredom or stress.
“Addiction is an illness and people need professional help and support. Apart from their own health and wellbeing, the knock-on impact on families, from poverty to violence, are disturbing.
“Maybe this year, we can all show solidarity with those who struggle with addiction and aim to make March 17 a day to stay safe and sober, and to just reclaim the day?” Ireland’s Sober St. Patrick’s Day ambassador says.