Volume 90, Issue 91

Tuesday, March 18, 1997

Golden Mean


Canadian celebrations make Irish green with envy

By Donna MacMullin and Karena Walter
Gazette Staff

The four-leaf clover and green beer of St. Patrick's Day have been put aside for another year, but were they ever displayed in Ireland?

Ireland – home of the leprechaun, the shamrock and Van Morrison's birthplace. St. Patrick himself is buried in Downpatrick, Newry.

David McGrandall, assistant manager of the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, said St. Patrick's weekend is one of the busiest for the pub. The saloon was built in 1827 and is the oldest licensed bar in Northern Ireland.

Promotions for this past weekend included giving away vouchers for a free pint of beer. Irish beers like Guiness and Beamish are the popular choices, he said. As well, hearty traditional meals like mussels and Irish stew dominated the menu.

But what about the green beer? "People over here have better sense," McGrandall said, adding people probably would not drink anything green. "Very few of the bars over here do that."

However, some North American traditions have made their way overseas. The McDonald's restaurant in Dublin served green Shamrock Shakes.

Kevin Webster, security worker at the Belfast International Youth Hostel, said yesterday was a public holiday so the city was pretty quiet, but there were festivities taking place such as parades and pub celebrations.

"This is a Protestant area so there's not much going on, but the Catholics are normally running amok," he said. "In comparison to the green beer and clothes you guys [in Canada] have, it's probably a piss-poor celebration."

Webster joked about the typical St. Patrick's Day celebrations in other countries where the common rituals seem to be drinking green beer and wearing shamrocks.

"Guiness is a very nice pint," he said. "I think I'll have a wee drop of that."

Webster said his St. Patrick's Day was mainly spent recovering from weekend celebrations – during which he spent time with students from all over the world who were staying at the hostel. "We got into some Jameson's whiskey – have you ever had it? It's made here in Ireland – it's great. I've been drinking some tonight too," he said.

"You're not really calling from Canada are you?" he joked. "This has got to be a gag."

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Copyright The Gazette 1997