If it´s true that on St. Patrick´s Day everyone is Irish then Prague has truly embraced its mutual heritage. Most statistics have the Irish consuming the second largest amount of beer per capita, after the Czechs. With a shared Celtic history, a love of pubs, beer and music; St. Patrick´s Day seems to have “Czech” written all over it. And no matter if you are Czech, Irish, or neither; there´s some way in Prague for you to celebrate this memorable Irish holiday.
It´s not difficult to stumble over an Irish pub anywhere in the center. These pubs are known for their Guinness, huge platters of food, big TV screens and often rowdy tourists and stag groups. There are other Irish contributes to the country however. Enterprise Ireland (www.enterprise-ireland.com), an organization that promotes Irish exports around the world, reports that more than 100 of their clients currently export goods here; 39% of them are food and drink related. The Czech-Irish Business Association (www.ciba.cz) is dedicated to promoting ties between the Czech and Irish business communities. They host a variety of events, including a big St. Patrick´s Day party (see below for more details.) Plus, Charles University has a Centre for Irish Studies which is focused on the study of Irish literature. A number of Irish plays have been translated and performed in Czech, including ones by Martin McDonagh, Brian Friel and Conor MacPherson. Irish music and dance is another popular transferred cultural topic. Vaclav Bernard and his family are strong supporters of Irish dance and cultural in general. They run a variety of Irish dance workshops as well as a popular Summer School of Irish Dancing (www.bernards.cz).
St. Patrick´s Day (March 17th) falls on a Wednesday this year; but don´t let the mid-week date put you off. There´s plenty going on in March to help you celebrate in proper Irish style.
Get your green going on early by attending CIBA´s annual St. Patrick´s Day Party. The group is casting off its typical high standards and going for what Blake Wittman, the organization´s vice-president said will be “´real´ Irish! No suits, ties, dickie bows or evening dresses. We are going to have a true Irish ceili with an expert teacher coming over from Ireland to do a crazy lesson and competition with everyone. In addition we’ll have a handful of Irish games going on such as ring board and horseshoe throw. We’ve got an Irish band that will be playing music, in addition to another Irish-staffed band that’ll play later.” If that sounds like your mug of green beer, register your attendance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets cost 750 CZK for members and 950 CKZ for non-members which includes food and drink, of course.
Palac Akropolis (www.palacakropoliss.cz) will be celebrating with Bran and Irish Dew. Bran is a French-Czech combo that offers up some Celtic Brittany; traditional songs and dance with a mysterious edge. Irish Dew is an Akropolis fav. The group combines traditional Irish music with rock, folk and classical melodies.
On March 19th Bernard´s, along with KC Novodvorská are organizing “Oslava svátku sv. Patrika” (St. Patrick´s Day Celebration). The program includes Irish set and step dancing, a dancing competition, raffle as well as music from Irish group Poitin from Plzen. Drinks on hand include Tullamore Whiskey and Guinness. More information can be found at www.bernards.cz (in Czech only).
Surround yourself with the ultimate Irish dance experience on March 30 when Gaelforce Dance storms into town. Masters of the Irish Dance, the troupe apparently set a Guinness World Record for most beats per second (38). Be quick about it, they are at the Prague Congress Center for one night only. Tickets through www.ticketpro.cz.
Always a big hit; the twelfth annual Irish Music Festival will envelope Prague in singing, dancing and oysters from March 13-20. The concerts take place in the intimate pub locals of Caffrey´s (Staromestke nam. 10) and the James Joyce (U Obecního dvora 4). Acts include Kildare´s Dave Morrissey and Friends and Celtic Whisper from Limerick. Most days the music (which probably also means the beer) starts flowing at 1pm. But where are the oysters? They´ll appear on March 27 on the main stage of Old Town Square´ Easter market. The 9th annual Oyster Opening Competition pits chefs from hotels and restaurants around the country in a mad race to open the slippery little buggers. The winner gets to represent the country at the World Oyster Opening Competition in Galway, Ireland.
If you just want to sit back and share the celebration with some Guinness, whiskey and a bunch of people; there´s a host of pubs around town that will be happy to oblige. Rocky O´Reilly´s (Štěpanská 32, www.rockyoreillys.cz); O´Che´s (Liliova 14, www.oches.com); J.J. Murphy´s (Tržiště 4, www.jjmurphys.cz); Flannagan´s (The Shamrock) (Vaclavske nam. 52, www.irishpubprague.com) and Caffrey´s (Staromestke nam. 10, www.caffreys.cz) are just a few of the places you can fill up on some Irish cheer, and perhaps a plate of corned beef and cabbage.
St. Patrick´s Day is originally a religious holiday; celebrating the anniversary of the saint´s death in the 5th century. The first St. Patrick´s Day parade actually took place in New York City in 1762 by Irish soldiers serving in the British military. Today, American cities across the country; as well as in Canada, Australia and the UK will pull out all the green stops and celebrate in style. It took even longer for the holiday to reach party level in Ireland; until the 1970s Irish law stated pubs had to be closed on March 17; owing to the religious significance of the day. In 1995, the Irish government got wise to the promotional angles the holiday could offer at home and has begun to use the holiday as a tourism push. Dublin now hosts one of the largest celebrations in the world.