The parade is like a column of troops advancing through South Boston. It assails us not with bombs or bullets but with music and light and colour and fuzzy stentorian announcements and candies tossed by the folks on the floats to shrieking spectators. And, like an invading army, the parade leaves carnage in its trail. The crowd tailing it is mostly young and tanked – and occasionally violent. Under clouds of weed smoke (legal in Massachusetts since 2015), boys punch each other – in jest and in fury. In a motion that recalls a GI hurling a grenade down a Vietcong fox hole, a lad in a baseball cap reading ‘I [shamrock logo] daytime drinking’ smashes a can of White Claw against the pavement. He retrieves the can from the gutter, the seltzer squirting from a pinprick hole, and fixes his mouth to it. As he gulps, his necklace made from threaded-together shot glasses trembles against his throat. An older man tipsily body-checks him. ‘Watch where you’re goin’, dude,’ says White Claw. The older man squares up to him. The pose lacks gravitas because he’s wearing an emerald green top hat and fancy-dress trousers that make him look as though he is piggybacking on an auburn-bearded, pie-eared leprechaun.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe London Magazine
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2023


  • travel writing
  • reportage drawing
  • reportage
  • nationalism
  • cultural studies
  • Irish-American history

Cite this