The Daily Illini

Irish exchange students talk ‘twisted, transmoglified, and dushty’ Unofficial party culture

A portrait of Rob Keenan.

A portrait of Rob Keenan.

Constance Sarantos

Constance Sarantos

A portrait of Rob Keenan.

By Molly Zupan, Staff writer

Katie Cullen, Cormac O’Cleirigh and Rob Keenan were all born and raised in Ireland. As foreign exchange students from the University College Dublin, they have grown up immersed in Irish culture.

Right now, they are preparing to witness a celebration that has quite the reputation. This weekend they will experience the University’s version of one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world.

Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration unique to the University where students embrace drinking festivities in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Traditionally, the University plans spring break on the actual Irish holiday, which is why campus bars have created their own date.

Despite their recent arrivals, the juniors in Engineering have a good grip on typical Unofficial festivities.

Although there is an abundance of slang terms used amongst the Irish that refer to being drunk, such as “twisted,” “langered,” “dushty” and “transmoglified,” exceptionally high levels of alcohol consumption seem to be much more frequent in the U.S.

Each of the exchange students expressed that they’ve heard some pretty wild stories about Unofficial.

“Basically, students get up really early and start drinking, and then go to class drunk and keep drinking all day,” O’Cleirigh said. “We’ve heard that it can get pretty dangerous.”

Cullen and Keenan agreed with O’Cleirigh’s statement.

The students have noticed a consistent pattern since they’ve been on campus. Immediately after each of them mentions their Irish roots, University students tend to bring up Unofficial assuming the Irish students celebrate the same way back home.

But St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated very different in Ireland.

“There’s one similar celebration in Ireland called ‘Whitmas,’ where university students wake up at 6 a.m. and drink, but it is much more controlled, and students seem to know their limits,” Keenan said. He expressed that the party culture seems much more excessive and intense here.

O’Cleirigh and Keenan said the celebration is calm and collected in Ireland. They feel that the holiday is more notable in the U.S., especially in Chicago, where the sight of large groups of celebrants stumbling down the street in green apparel is ordinary in March.

“It’s a national day for Ireland but it doesn’t really symbolize much. It just celebrates a saint from hundreds of years ago who wasn’t even Irish,” Keenan said.

There are many different versions of St. Patrick’s legacy. One thing historians do know for sure is that St. Patrick was born and raised in Britain.

Back home in Dublin, Cullen and O’Cleirigh normally spend St. Patrick’s Day in town with family and friends, watching the parade or a rugby game, while Keenan celebrates in Kilkenny, Ireland, which is about an hour and 45-minute commute from Dublin.

“A lot of tourists will go to the parade, but many Irish people just sit at home,” Keenan said. “I think they make a bigger deal of it in Chicago. When I heard that they dyed the Chicago River green, I was shocked; there’s nothing even close to that in Dublin,” O’Cleirigh said.

Cullen, O’Cleirigh and Keenan have planned to meet Irish exchange students from Purdue in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day, who they go to school with back in Dublin. They each expressed immense enthusiasm and are looking forward to experiencing an American version of St. Patrick’s Day.

The Irish students agreed that massive and remarkable celebrations of the Irish holiday are commonplace in the U.S. because of the history of Irish immigration.

“If you’re an immigrant to America, and you’re living in Chicago, you’re going to look back to Ireland much more than an Irish person will look at Ireland,” Keenan said.

The three students also agreed that a majority of St. Patrick’s Day parties revolve around the consumption of alcohol.

Regardless, the Irish students are eager to witness the sights and sounds of University students celebrating Unofficial this upcoming weekend.

Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day has evolved from a happy hour promotion to an informal festival and has accumulated a notorious reputation for excessive drinking and untamed behavior. Cullen, O’Cleirigh and Keenan are eager to see what all the hype is about.

“It’s honestly just an excuse to go drinking,” O’Cleirigh said.

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