To get a feel for how a major city celebrates, it’s probably a good idea to visit around St. Patrick’s Day. March 17th is not only the day when Irish people celebrate their identity, but many other countries celebrate their own Irish connection. Paddy’s Day celebrations are famous and reflect the deep impact that Irish diaspora have made abroad.
Whether you’re working in a new city, or simply travelling there to enjoy the long weekend, it’s well worth visiting a city if St. Patrick’s Day is on its events calendar.
In Dublin, St. Patrick’s Day has become almost as much a party for tourists as for the locals. Some Irish traditions have been retained in the capital, such as the wearing of green (Ireland’s traditional colour) and the fact that it is a national holiday. If you are teaching in Europe and have some time off, we highly recommend you make a trip to the home of St. Patrick and celebrate in style! Indeed if you do make it to Dublin for the celebrations we have lots of tips on how to spend your day….
The most popular “tradition” is the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which in fact is a relative newcomer having been imported from America in the 1970s. Dublin’s main parade usually starts around midday and takes a couple of hours to wind its way from the north to the south of the city. With impressive floats and international participants, it is a spectacular occasion for kids and adults alike. Added to this is a range of artistic and family-friendly events, organised as part of a four-day festival.
Of course, no Paddy’s Day would be very complete without a trip to the pub. Temple Bar, the centre of tourism and parties in Dublin, is packed with revelers for the duration of the day. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t find green beer though – the Irish never tamper with quality alcohol and you’ll be hard pressed to find green food colouring in any of your beverages!
This year it is worth noting that Ireland will play England in the Six-Nations Rugby tournament on St. Patrick’s Day and it will be shown in most pubs! Trust us, this is not to be missed; join in the revelry (and rivalry) for an unforgettable day.
Like most major cities, Barcelona is right up there as a spot to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a wide selection of Irish bars, complemented by a strong Irish community. They, like most of us, will flock to the epicenter of “craic” (Irish for fun) for Ireland’s most treasured national holiday.
A few notable pub mentions include Kitty’s Pub, which was one of the first Irish bars in the Spanish city. For Paddy’s Day, they transform their surrounding area into an Irish district which features Irish dancing and of course traditional music. Another popular spot is Flaherty’s. It’s one of the best and is conveniently located near Las Ramblas. Apart from the superb Guinness, they also have a fine menu, so if you want to line the stomach with some pies or a roast dinner, this is the place to do it. Flaherty’s is also a great spot to round up festivities as you can continue the session on Las Ramblas after the pubs close.
St. Patrick’s Day is also a significant event in Asia. The Irish Association of Korea has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day annually since 2001 with parades and celebrations (featuring “Korean U2”) in Itaewon, Daehangno and Cheonggyecheon. This year is their 17th event and they’re expecting thousands of spectators again. China is also adopting the Irish national celebration, with festivities in the major cities. Shanghai celebrates the Irish national holiday with gaelic football, folk music, art, food and drink (of course!) and everything green. The “greening” of the Great Wall of China is now an annual event, which will this year be attended by Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Other landmarks in China going green for St. Patrick’s Day this year include the Canton Tower in Guangzhou, the Grand Kempinski Hotel in Shanghai and the Nanjing Eye. Elsewhere in Asia, the list includes City Hall in Seoul, Pen Monument at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi and Straits Quay lighthouse in Penang. Check out the one nearest you if you are teaching in Asia this year!
So there you have it! As an “Irish mardi gras”, St. Patrick’s Day provides a unique opportunity not only to get to know a city, but also to make your own Irish connection. With parties and parades on offer to all inhabiting or visiting these cities, all that’s left to do is dig out your greenest finery, dust off your drinking boots and celebrate all things Irish.
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig (Happy St. Patrick’s Day)!
If teaching English in Asia with the opportunity to travel could be for you, check out our article on this at: http://www.teachersforasia.com/teaching-english-overseas-after-university/. Our News section is full of interesting articles on teaching and travel in Asia, the application process and many useful tips and advice: http://www.teachersforasia.com/category/news/.