Advice · Notes from West London

The price of shamrock in 2023

Back in 2016, in this piece, I offered advice about where to get shamrock in Central London on St Patrick’s Day: St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Soho Square. In recent years this advice probably did not apply (lockdown and all that) but this year it has, once again, been valid. But there has been a price to pay.

Last weekend’s newsletter for our local parish (many miles west of Soho Square) had, as its message from the priest, an explanation about why he would not be distributing free sprigs this year: an increase in over 2,000% in the price of them compared to pre-pandemic days. Previously he could source 300 of them, individually packaged, at three for £1. By contrast, he wrote, “the least expensive individually packaged sprig inclusive of delivery I can find this year is £7.30”. Pre-pandemic we were expected to contribute a pound or two for our shamrock, but even that would not be an option this year.

The priest at St Patrick’s Soho Square did not go into detail about the costs of importing shamrock but suggested a contribution of £5. I attended the 12.45pm mass and, for a change these days, wore a mask throughout. I wasn’t concerned about infections, but the church has been undergoing some renovations, on the right hand side of the nave. There was a strong smell of some kind of solvent, which can easily trigger, in me at least, a headache and a runny nose. I sat on the far left of the nave (not my usual spot) and kept my mask on throughout.

The collection plate went round during the mass and I put in the only fiver I had. I had a pound or two in change, not enough to cover the suggested donation. At the end of mass, I queued up to get my sprig and they were collecting again. I had a couple of £10 notes in my pocket and put one of them in. I didn’t have the nerve to ask for another sprig or two. I am happy to report that you can still get shamrock at a church in Central London on St Patrick’s Day in 2023. If you are anything like me, it might cost you £15 a sprig.

NOTE: Like many pieces on this Blog, this one was finalized and posted some weeks after it was initially drafted. It has been backdated as it were, so that it appears on the relevant day (St Patrick’s Day, as you can see).


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