What to do on St Patrick's Day in Edinburgh and Glasgow
With additional tips on What Not To Do
St Patrick's Day is approaching, the day of the year in which non-Irish people the world over celebrate the freedom to colour food and drink green. In Ireland itself, it's long been a day for the whole family to stand in light rain watching scantily-dressed people walking down the middle of the street.
2016 is a very special St Patrick's Day, coming as it does on the 100th anniversary year of the 1916 Easter Rising, in which a motley group of Irish literary intellectuals plus a Scottish trade union organiser put into operation a daring long game to get themselves brutally executed in the hope that it would guilt enough people into fighting for Ireland's eventual independence. (Well, what? It worked.)
Those of us blessed with harps on our passports have long known that one of the best ways to celebrate St Patrick's Day is to do so outside Ireland itself – or if that's not possible, to do it outside Dublin. If you're curious, here is how to recreate for yourself a traditional Dublin St Patrick's Day evening:
1. Find a pub that has standing room only and doesn't serve craft beer.
2. Jam yourself and your party next to a group of very loud, very drunk posh-voiced young men in rugby shirts and those leprechaun hats with the red wigs.
3. Every time you order a drink, pay 1.5 times the list price, for that authentic Temple Bar wallet-draining buzz.
To settle all that drink and to compensate you for the shouting-induced headache you will have, you'll need to eat something. This is your chance to sample some traditional Irish cuisine, such as pizza. Or how about curry chips, crisp from the fryer and drizzled with the heady aromas of the Raj? Or a succulent lamb shawarma, trickling garlic-scented sauce and sriracha down your sleeve? So much choice. (If you're thinking of sampling Ireland's indigenous cuisine, be warned: Dublin coddle is as authentic as all get-out, but it's still disgusting. To make one, assemble the ingredients for a good fry-up. Got them? Right, now boil them instead. See?)
Of course, if you're hanging around Edinburgh and Glasgow this week, it turns out that plenty of places have made arrangements for you to have a good time.
The Glasgow St Patrick's Day Festival is happening all over the city from until Sat 19 Mar.
Malone's in Sauchiehall Lane is hosting actual street parties, with Irish dancing, face painting, traditional music and that least Irish of foodstuffs, BBQ. The fun goes on until Sunday with coverage of the RBS 6 Nations tournament (of which England is by now the confirmed winner. Tiocfaidh ár lá, lads.)
The Stand in Glasgow has a special Irish night on Thu 17, with Keith Farnan, Mary Bourke, Micky Bartlett and as host the very wonderful Michael Redmond.
Saint Luke's has a night of Irish comedy on Thu 17, hosted by Mark Bourke.
Lebowskis offers a Green Russian on the day itself, or of course you could have a white one if you're not into the whole nationalism thing.
Limerick's wonderful Rubberbandits are headlining at the Cowgate St Patrick's Festival on Thursday, bringing to the capital city their unique mixture of Limerick street-smarts and devious Barthesian semiotics. Wed 16–Sun 20 Mar.
The Balmoral Bar is having a St Patrick's Day Cocktail Night, to commemorate the night that Ireland's patron saint charmed the snakes out of Ireland by getting them all shitfaced on Manhattans and deporting them before they could get a lawyer. Try a Salted Caramel Old Fashioned, a Clover Club or a Green Sour. Wed 16–Fri 19 Mar.
Finally, if you find yourself in the company of Irish people on St Patrick's Day, why not make them feel at home by addressing them in their native tongue? Brush up on handy Irish phrases using this video (warning: NSFW) by bilingual YouTube comedian Clisare, and then greet your Irish friends with such pungent greetings as Feisigh leat! ('F*** you!') or Téigh trasna ort féin! ('Go f*** yourself!') Most of them will look at you blankly, their knowledge of Irish extending little further than simple schoolbook phrases like An bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithreas ('May I go to the bathroom?') or Seanabhean is ea mise anois go bhfuil cos léi insan uaigh is an chos eile ar a bruach ('I am an old woman now, with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge'.) But they'll appreciate the effort.