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Whiskey in the Jar

by Maria Cleary last modified 2008-06-20 15:04

There'll not be a dry eye on March 17th as pints flow, glasses are raised and Irish immigrants all over Italy toast the land they left behind.

It's official. The Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Ireland have been postponed . So it's up to the Irish community in Italy to fly the flag high and organize a party to remember.

There are only two essential ingredients to ensure a good night's craic: music and drink. And if you're with a group of Irish people you'll be sure of both of these.

The man himself

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and every year his feast day falls on March 17th. Patrick first came to Ireland as a slave in the 5th century, but he escaped to Europe and became a Christian priest. Patrick returned to Ireland as a bishop and is credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland.

He used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish and since then shamrocks have become a symbol of Ireland. Legend says that Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland - the Irish claim he sent them off to England - and that is the reason why there are no wild snakes in Ireland to this day.

This year the Irish charity Goal has organized a 'buy-a-badge' campaign. By buying a shamrock-shaped badge you can help people in the developing world.

Drowning the shamrock

Once you have donned your shamrock you then have to set about 'drowning' it. Don't worry, it's not as cruel as it sounds: all you need is a bottle and a few friends. Head for the nearest Irish pub - there are more Irish pubs than Irish people in Italy - and drown your shamrock in a pint of plain . You might even hit on a session, or, if the drink's good, start one off yourself! If you're in the Bergamo area you might like to catch some of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations organized by the Music-On Cultural Association. While those of you near Trento shouldn't miss the traditional singer Niamh Parsons in concert. There are celebrations all week in Florence at the Palasport and the Donegal Pub in Ancona has organized a series of sessions featuring well-known groups such as Cian and Calico. Cagliari in Sardinia is holding its Third Saint Patrick's Day Festival, with exhibitions, talks and readings as well as the usual concerts and sessions (for information ring 03387419711 - 03397830261). Whereas Celts in Puglia will have to wait until September when the First Celtic Music Festival will be held in Taurisana, Lecce. Contact Vittorio, the organizer, at for information.

Missing home

You wouldn't be Irish if you didn't feel a bit homesick on Paddy's Day. Keep in touch with what's happening back at home by reading the Irish Times . Surprise your family by sending then a Saint Patrick's Day card . Cheer up - there's lots of Irish-stuff going on in Italy too. The Celtic World Association keeps up-to-date listings of all Celtic-interest events in Italy and the AICI (Associazione Interculturale Italo-Irlandese) organizes meetings and film evenings for its members. And finish off with a visit to our friend Lorenzo's homepage. It's a goldmine of information for musicians and listeners alike.


Links - Ireland's most popular daily newspaper, the Irish Times, on the Web. (English only) - Find out about your rights living as a foreigner in Italy. (In English, Italian, French, Spanish and Arab.)

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