St. Patrick´s Day in Prague 2011

Green beer, orange wigs and some of the black stuff

Lee Croftin

Written by Lee Croftin Published on 07.03.2011 12:01:27 (updated on 07.03.2011) Reading time: 3 minutes

It may be common Celtic roots, a mutual taste for dark comedy or shared ranking at the top of the European annual beer consumption table, but the Czechs and the Irish have an affinity. As well as over 1,000 Irish immigrants Prague hosts the Czech-Irish Business Association, the Charles University Centre for Irish Studies, an academy for Irish dancing, and more Irish pubs than you can shake a shillelagh at. Whether your idea of a perfect St Patrick´s day is a night of drunken revelry or a black-tie gala ball, Prague will provide. So paint the town green this March 17th.

What´s on

For the week around St Patrick´s day (15th-20th March), the fourteenth annual Irish Music Festival will bring traditional ballads, Celtic rock and everything in between to two central Irish pubs, Caffrey´s (Staroměstké nám. 10) and James Joyce (U Obecního dvora 4). Acts include The Craic, Tó go Bog é, Irish troubadour Dave Morrissey and balladeers Celtic Whisper. For clubbers Palác Akropolis´s St Patrick´s Day Party will host Franco-Czech Celtic music favourites Bran, old regulars at Akropolis, and new band Before Breakfast, who play traditional music with a contemporary twist on old-style instruments. Retro Music Hall is hosting a St Patrick´s Day Concert on 19th March, with entertainment provided by U2 tribute band U2 Poptarts. Klub Mlejn in Prague 13 is getting in on the action early with a St Patrick´s party on the 9th with music from Prague folk band Juavajs, dance from dance group Coisciem and an Irish dance class. Belushi’s throws a St. Patty’s Shamrock and Roll on Friday 18th with live music by Eddy of  CCTV Allstars & DJ Stevie Weenie. And Bernards dance school is teaming up with KC Novodvorská for a night of Irish music and dancing on the 18th.

For Czech-speakers, two theatres are staging Irish plays on St Patrick´s day: At Studio Ypsilon you can catch George Bernard Shaw´s scathing social comedy Pygmalion, while in the pleasant leafy surroundings of Divadlo Na Jezerce Brian Friel´s tale of familial rejection and delusion, The Loves of Cass McGuir, will unfold tragically.

On 26th March you can catch the 12th annual oyster-opening competition in Old Town Square. The event used to be held in the week of St Patrick´s day but was shifted two years ago to catch the Easter tourists. Chefs from leading hotels and restaurants will compete for a trip to Galway in Ireland to represent the Czech Republic at the annual World Oyster Opening Championship this autumn, and free oysters will be distributed to the crowd. For more satiating feasting, the Czech-Irish Business Association´s annual black-tie St. Patrick’s Day Gala Charity Ball at Obecní dům will be flying in Irish smoked salmon, beef and more oysters for black-tied guests. The entertainment will be provided by St. Joseph´s Accordion Band, Celtic Whisper, John Corbett and his Electric Fiddle and DJ Tim Otis of Radio 1, as well as an Irish dancing class for novices.

You can´t throw a novelty leprechaun hat in Prague without hitting an Irish pub. If you´d like to celebrate St Patrick´s day the way nature intended, with a pint of Guinness, a chaser of whiskey and a few friends, there´s a host of pubs around town happy to oblige. Rocky O´Reilly´s (Štěpanská 32); O´Che´s (Liliová 14); J.J. Murphy´s (Tržiště 4); Molly Malone´s (U Obecního dvora 4);  Flannagan´s (formerly The Shamrock, Václavské nám. 52), Paddy Reilly´s (Ve Smečkách 21) and Caffrey´s (Staroměstké nám. 10) are just a few of the places you can fill up on Guinness and some Irish cheer.


St Patrick´s Day

You could call it the original expat holiday: The first St. Patrick´s Day parade was held in New York City in 1762, by homesick Irish soldiers serving in the British military. The day marks the life of Patrick, a 5th century slave turned pedagogue and saint. Ironically, Patrick was not Irish but from a wealthy English family. He was taken to Ireland by slave-traders who captured him during a raid. Today cities on every continent pull out all the green stops and celebrate in style. Ironically it took centuries for the party to start 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 financial harvest to be reaped from the three-leaf clover. Dublin now hosts one of the largest celebrations in the world.

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