St Patrick's: An Irish Girl's Guide


Written by Suzie McCracken
07 Wednesday 07th March 2012

It's that time of year once again, where London celebrates everything Irish in the spirit of postcolonial guilt. And let's face it, everyone needs a drink if they start thinking about that too much. Three years of living in London has made me yearn for my homeland, and therefore my dedication St Patrick's day is all the stronger. If you're planning on getting hammered in the name of shamrock-shaped sunglasses everywhere this Saturday, journey with me to the heart of Lá Fhéile Pádrai via this itinerary of awesome. If you’d like tips on how to pronounce ‘St Patrick’s Day’ in Irish, find someone else. I got that off Wikipedia.


According to reliable sources, St Patrick’s is often characterized by the “attendance of Church services". I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think if I was ever canonized that people would get a day off work and church in my name. So on Saturday morning, instead of scurrying down to your nearest cathedral, how about enjoying a sweet fried breakfast? Have all the usual elements, but instead of that inexplicable fried slice, you should try some soda or potato bread as an alternative sponge for your egg yolk. Don’t worry, no specialist shopping is required. Just head down to your nearest Jamie Oliver-endorsed supermarket and look for the Paul Rankin packets at the bakery. He’s the TV chef you won’t remember from the seminal day-time epic Ready Steady Cook. Anyway, he does a range of soda bread and potato farls for you to fry up. You could maybe have some Wheaten bread for lunch too, like the enthusiastic young man above.

TOP TIP: If you have any soda farls left then top them with some tomato pasta sauce and cheese before putting them under the grill for a stodgy but scrumptious pizza. One in five Irish children aren’t obese for nothing.

If you’ve a couple of hours to waste before the pubs open, try wrapping your head around the musical comedy exploits of  The Rubberbandits. Relatively unknown in the UK, in Ireland this health and safety violating ensemble (shopping bags on your head is surely up there with “don’t run with scissors”) are hugely popular for their surreal and endearingly budget exploits. They also recently did a series of comedy "blaps" for Channel Four, which could be picked up for a series and see them penetrating the UK’s consciousness too. You can find said blaps here. Gigs are infamously riotous and… Ok, I’ll be honest here. I don’t get it. But hey, I don’t like Guiness either so I think I might not be a great barometer of Irishness. Wait, why am I writing this again?


Drinking in the day is positively encouraged, but be careful of the dreaded 7pm hangover. In order to avoid falling asleep after dinner, try holding off the novelty drinks until a little bit later in the day. By this point you’ve already been attacked with green facepaint, so no one will begrudge you a pint of something normal for now. If you fancy getting your green on early, try the Glaswegian invention of two parts cheap cider to one part blue alcopop. It creates a pleasing hue, but also stickiness and the feeling you’ve regressed to your school days.

The Wonder Villians

If you’ve chosen to remain at home or take over the local bit of lawn for your afternoon stint, you’ll need a sweet Irish themed soundtrack. True to the stereotype, Ireland is producing some ruddy brilliant music right now and it's being done, magically, without the help of Bono. For chilling out in the park try the spacey wonders of Solar Bears or the more hip-hop centric Lorem Ipsum.  If you need something as sunny as you’d like the weather to be, try the Derry popstrels The Wonder Villians. For fists-in-the-air math rock then find yourself some Adebisi Shank sharp, or if you want noise complaints from the neighbours opt for an onslaught of LaFaro. There are countless others it positively pains me not to mention, but there’s little point as soon enough you’ll be moving on to the next location of your St Patrick’s Day stint. To the Pub!


It’s super easy to find inviting Irish pubs all over London with a quick search. The Auld Shillelagh, Tipperary on Fleet Street or even just an O’Neill's will provide you with traditional music and a half decent Guiness if that’s what you’re looking for. However, if you fancy going out on a limb I recommend Indo in Whitechapel. It’s not an Irish pub, but I feel it’s one of the most Irish places I’ve been since I first traversed the waves. With an unpredictable mix of friendly and downright eccentric clientele, Indo provides one of the best pub atmospheres in the East End. Other attributes include the cheap 35ml measures (which is more Irish than a leprechaun vomiting up a rainbow) and the slightly worrying but ultimately exciting sense that everything could suddenly descend into total madness. I’ve also never been there without meeting at least one Irish person, so there will definitely be someone gagging for you to take their ‘Kiss Me, I’m Irish’ t-shirt seriously. If you fancy somewhere a little more thematic, The Water Poet is putting on a whole day of traditional music and scrummy looking stew, as well as showing The Commitments, Killing Bono and The Guard in their very own Underground Picturehouse on Sunday – the perfect place to nurse your greenover.

Grand Pocket Orchestra

For post pints entertainment there’s an Irish Indie Showcase up in Islington, with Dublin dreamboats Grand Pocket Orchestra, promising newbies Tieranniesaur , and Land Lovers, who probably aren’t too keen on getting the ferry to the show. You’ll be dancing so hard that you might even drive some snakes out of London, which would be very poetic. Best of all, this gig is free, meaning you can scrape together your coppers for another drink instead of the door tax.  Enjoy your St Patrick’s Day, one and all. Unless you call it St Patty’s. Then I hope you have an awful day.

What are your St Patrick’s day plans?

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