Taking the Saint Paddy craic
We Australians are very Irish; if not by blood then certainly at heart. So, it’s no surprise that the day of Saint Patrick tickles our cheeky little larrikin soul…
Saint Patrick’s Day needs little introduction. But how much do you know about the real reasons behind the ritual, where everyone drinks Guinness, wears crazy green outfits and sings along to cheery Irish music?
The day has significant religious importance to all Christians, particularly Roman Catholics. The religious connotations probably don’t come as a huge surprise, given that the day is named after a saint. However, did you know that St. Patrick was not even Irish? In fact, he didn’t even enter the country until he was 16 after being taken as a slave by Irish raiders!
Not being born Irish doesn’t appear to be any impediment in becoming a Patron Saint of Ireland and having your own annual holiday. Any Christian missionaries out there at the moment should bear that in mind.
It is not just the Irish who traditionally celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – celebrations are also ritually observed in places as far flung as Argentina, Canada and, of course, most importantly Australia and New Zealand.
But is there more to St. Paddy’s Day than merely drinking Ireland’s number one national export? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because there is a large amount of activities to choose from, and no because, as you can imagine, most of them all involve the rapid consumption of Guinness – responsibly of course!
Head to the Annual St. Paddy’s Day Festival in London
The Mayor’s St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival will take place on Sunday 13 March this year. Over 100,000 people attended last year’s event.
There’s a parade featuring a colourful array of floats, marching bands and groups representing the Irish Counties. It will proceed through central London from Green Park to Trafalgar Square starting at 12 noon.
Trafalgar Square will host the festival programme of live Irish music and dance on the main performance stage, showcasing the best of Irish music and dance from traditional to contemporary.
For a full list of activities on the day, visit www.london.gov.uk/stpatricksday.
Make haste to Dublin for an Authentic St. Paddy’s Festival
What better way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day than to travel to arguably the most hedonistic city in Ireland? Once here, the options are endless. Slip into a leprechaun outfit, don a ridiculous Guinness Hat, dress entirely in green or go as a three-leaf clover. According to Irish legend, the three leaf clover, or Shamrock, was what Saint Patrick used to represent the Holy Trinity.
Also, don’t forget to take wet-weather gear. This city rains almost as much as it does in Edinburgh.
For more information head to www.stpatricksday.ie or www.dublinuncovered.net.
Alternative Irish travel destinations include Galway or Kilkenny. Apparently, Galway has the lowest crime rate in Ireland. For Guinness lovers, Kilkenny is a controversial option as it is, of course, the home of Kilkenny and Smithwick’s ales, both a tasty alternative to the frothy number from Dublin. However, arguments about the three aforementioned tipples are all rather self-defeating: they are all now owned by the same company.
No, we’re not talking about dispensing of your day’s food and alcohol intake in a rather unflattering manner. Gaelic hurling is a challenge. It means getting your head around some pretty confusing rules, as well as layout of the field and goals. It’s also reputedly one of the world’s fastest field team sports.
If you’re keen to organise a game of hurling in London, the biggest issue is finding the space. Your best bet is to head to your nearest park, which invariably will be busy – it is London after all. If the game is as fast-paced as they say it is, a space in the park should quickly clear for you.
Head to Argentina
If you have not been to Buenos Aires yet, then kill two birds with one stone and go there to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, Argentinean style!
Similarly to the Irish, Argentineans are always up for a good time. Their street festival promises to be as good as any other in the world, and is a much more glamorous and exotic option than Sydney or Montreal, who also hold their very own St. Paddy’s festivals.
Apparently, an all-night St. Paddy’s Day party is the norm in Buenos Aires. With warm weather, great food and some of the friendliest locals on the planet, it’s hard to resist.
Catch a Leprechaun and Get Him to Lead You to His Pot of Gold
This is probably the most challenging suggestion of them all. First, you must catch a leprechaun. Word is that they like to spend their spare time making shoes and usually live in the woods. They also tend to avoid people, so your quest could be fraught with difficulties.
Once you have caught one, you need to convince it to lead you to their pot of gold which is supposedly at the end of a rainbow. Obviously, weather conditions play an important role in this exercise.
If you succeed in reaching the pot of gold, you may well be the luckiest person on the planet. Or perhaps, insane.
Put the "Best of the Corrs" on repeat
It is a sad indictment against the Irish that one of their most popular musical exports over the previous decades has been The Corrs. Still, you could celebrate the Irish music industry by putting "The Best of The Corrs" on repeat until you cannot bear listening to it any longer. This may not take long.
Of course, if you have slightly heavier musical tastes, there’s always The Cranberries.
Discover your Inner Michael Flatley and take Irish dancing lessons
Let’s face it – not everyone can dance. But don’t let that stop you! While Irish dancing is not easy to learn, it does have its benefits. Reportedly famous Irish dancer Michael Flatley felt that it was necessary for him to indulge in sex before every performance. Based on that theory, you could do the same before dancing. You do the math.
We recommend that you head to your nearest Irish pub for some post-activity drinking. You ought to be looking rather green by this stage in proceedings, and we’re not just talking about your Irish-themed attire. O’Neills Pub near Carnaby Street should be on your list of places to go. It’s always heaving with activity on St. Paddy’s Day.
A word of advice – if you actually see a leprechaun, you should probably stop drinking.