St Patrick’s day celebrations, wildlife and more stunning auroras.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations

Saturday 17th of March

11 hours ahead and 19,244km from Dublin at the antipodes of the earth here in Macquarie island — I don’t think it possible to be any further from home!

This year’s celebrations for St Patrick’s day saw the Sydney opera house illuminated green, Chicago river dyed green, the streets of new York city wedged with green people, and not to be out done in our remote subantarctic research station, we celebrated in a grand style altogether.

Preparations began early for me as I was the rostered kitchen slushy. Flags were raised and decorations were hung. The mess was transformed into a community hall atmosphere that we Irish cherish and recognise instantly as a place where friends come together, which is exactly what happened.  The Irish culture being something of an ethnic minority on the station or to put it more fashionably, I’m the only paddy for about 1500km (perhaps not a bad thing in some views) I felt it important to commemorate the feast day of St Patrick dutifully.

With great ambition and enthusiasm from our chef, Danny Mullins, he researched and prepared a feast of biblical proportions fit for the tables of the old high kings. Cuisines and dishes renowned and diverse. Or, perhaps to the more straight shootin’ cowboy, it was simply spuds cooked 7 different ways! But that’s the beauty of the potato, so versatile. 

The feast began with preparing the Guinness steak pies with a special touch. The symbol of Ireland given to us by St Patrick himself. The shamrock, a tri-leafed plant used to illustrate the meaning of the holy trinity, central to the Catholic faith.

The meal was prepared and served by 7. We seated 20 friends at the table, grace was given before the meal “as Gaeilge” in Irish and before we ate I gave a toast to the occasion; Friends raise your glasses, may we all be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows were dead! Happy St Patrick’s day!

Priority on the agenda was to photograph something unusual with an Irish flag; the final picture shows how far from home we sometimes are.

Mark Whelan

Wildlife happenings

Over the past week researchers have been working to finish their research, before the ship arrives to take us home. The fur seal researchers have been tagging the last of this year’s pups, as well as untagged adults that they find in their research area. This will enable them to identify these seals when they return in future years. Similarly the albatross researchers have been out surveying the light mantled sooty albatross and banding this year’s young before they fledge. This years king penguin chicks continue to grow and gain more confidence — they are so fluffy now!


Some great auroras continue to grace our night sky (when the clouds clear).