UL’s international students on spending their first St Patrick’s Day in Ireland 

Alison Lyons (Iowa) and Aiden Schonbrun (Tucson) share their plans for their first taste of St Patricks Day on the Emerald Isle. Pictured is Alison Lyons.

American students at the University of Limerick spoke to Limerick Voice about their experience of Ireland’s national holiday back home and plans for today’s festivities

While those born and raised in Ireland are long accustomed to the festivities of St Patrick’s Day practised year-on-year, for some who have come to Limerick to work and study, today will be their first time experiencing the national holiday in its land of origin.

st patrick's day
“Ireland as it holds a special place in my heart,” said Iowa-born Masters student Alison Lyons.

Of Irish descent, Iowa-born Masters student Ms Lyons explained that St Patrick’s Day has always been important to her family. 

“St Patrick’s Day is my favourite holiday,” she stated. “It was a big day for my family and me. I would get a chance to show off my Irish dancing skills when I was younger, and my uncle was in one of the Irish bands that performed every year. I loved every second of it.”

“I have always wanted to be here for St Paddy’s Day, so for me, it is another thing to cross off my bucket list, as American as that sounds. A friend and I are heading up to Dublin for it, which should be great craic!”

Of her time here on the Emerald Isle, Ms Lyons said, “Ireland as it holds a special place in my heart. I have been fortunate enough to have met incredible people, some of whom have become lifelong friends, and I have created unforgettable memories.”

Aiden Schonbrun, who is studying at University of Limerick on an exchange from Northern Arizona University, will spend St Patrick’s Day in Ireland for the first time. 

Asked what he is looking forward to most, Mr Schonbrun said, ”My plan for this St Patrick’s Day is to see the parade, explore the area and just be a fly on the wall.”

“I haven’t been to many parades because western US is spaced out a lot more, so it takes more of an effort to go to one. I’ve only ever really seen parades on TV, and since St Patrick’s Day is such a big part of Ireland, I can imagine it will be unique to anything else I’ve seen.”

st patrick's day
Aiden Schonbrun’s plan for St Patrick’s Day is to see the parade and be ‘a fly on the wall’.

Mr Schonbrun told Limerick Voice that he decided to study in Ireland as he “found the culture and country fascinating”, and because of the “large difference between the western US life and regions and Irish ways, accents and history”.

He said of March 17 at home; “St Patrick’s Day at home is not too much of a different day in Tucson, Arizona. We don’t have the same Irish population that places such as Boston and Chicago have, so the most you will see there is people wearing green!”

Speaking to Limerick Voice, UL’s Global Office encouraged international students to embrace the day and stressed that there’s no better time to enjoy Irish culture than on our national holiday: 

“When an international student arrives at UL, we want them to experience everything our culture has to offer, be it through food, language, music, art, folklore, or sport.

“There is no greater time for our students to enjoy our traditions and heritage than St. Patrick’s Day, which can be seen through our parades that not only express our customs, but also showcase our incredibly diverse communities that [international students] are now forming part of.”

Find out more about Limerick’s 2023 St Patricks Day Festival.

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