That’s right, March 17 is Saint Patrick’s Day – time for the giddy and golly to get in green and hit the streets and pubs of every major city across the planet to usher in the planet’s largest, most joyous celebration (barring only the World Cup this summer in Brazil).
Scroll down for some interesting facts about Ireland and the Irish
From San Francisco to Sydney, Boston to Beijing, Paris to Phuket – and of course, throughout every town across the lush isle that is Ireland – St Paddy’s party is on, but you certainly don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the world-famous festivities.
“If there’s anything Irish are known for, it’s our fun, humorous and hospitable nature,” remarked Class Act Media’s own Irish insider, Dave O’Connor, co-host of Live 89.5’s Breakfast show.
Aside from a proper Sunday roast dinner and “politically incorrect” sense of humour, it is the warmth, unity and kindness perpetuated among family and friends that Dave misses the most from his home country.
“We have a [Gaelic] saying ‘Céad míle fáilte’ which roughly translates to ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’. This sums up Irish hospitality, and is one of the reasons why you can find an Irish pub in nearly every corner of the globe, many of them not even Irish-owned: Everyone knows that you’ll get only good vibes in Irish quarters.”
Phuket’s Irish Honorary Consul, Hélène Fallon-Wood, couldn’t agree more.
“Of all the people I’ve met in all the places I’ve been, I can say without hesitation that Irish people are the most fun and easiest to get along with. No matter what your background is, you’ll always be welcomed by the Irish,” she said.
For Hélène, who has lived in Phuket for some 26 years, it is the “long summer nights sitting outside the pub having the craic [fun]” that she misses the most – that and the lush green coastline, countryside and skies. But certainly not the weather, which seems to be a common notion among all Irish expats you meet in Phuket – some 400 residents by Hélène’s reckoning.
And it is on Saint Patrick’s Day, officially March 17 this year, when everyone gets to celebrate and enjoy the best that Ireland has to offer, no matter where one happens to be.
In Thailand, Hélène noted that the main Ireland celebration will be the “St Patrick’s Emerald Ball” at the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel in Bangkok on Saturday, March 22.
“Next year, we’re expecting the ambassador from the new Irish Embassy in Bangkok to come to celebrate here in Phuket as part of a grand St Patrick’s Day Ball, which hopefully will be held at Mövenpick Resort and Spa in Karon,” she revealed.
But this year, Phuket’s celebrations will have to be only the usual blast of life and laughter at any one of the dozens of Irish bars and pubs found across the island.
Hélène herself will be heading to what will surely be the island’s biggest St Paddy’s party – a shindig at the Irish Times in Jungceylon, Patong, where an ample supply of all the Irish pub favourites has been secured ahead of Monday’s merry mayhem.
“Last year we went through six kegs of stout and three of cider ale. I’m expecting an even bigger turnout this year, about a thousand or so,” said Thomas Corley, pub manager.
Thomas, or as everyone in Phuket knows him, Irish Tommy, is pulling out all the stops for a fantastic party.
“We have two great bands on the cards – the Barbie Army Band and Ledejavu – and plenty of handout prizes. Our kitchen will be cooking up Saint Patrick favourites such as Irish Stew as well as bacon and cabbage.”
The only downside, he notes, is that the party’s on a Monday night, and since many patrons will have to go to work the following day, “it’s not going to be a pretty Tuesday morning in Phuket for many,” he says with a laugh.
The festive fun on Monday gets under way from 5:30pm, so come out decked in green and get ready to party like only the Irish know how.
Kiss me – I'm Irish!
Here are some interesting facts about Ireland and the Irish:
•Last year (Jan-Dec 2013), Thai immigration recorded a total of 62,924 Irish arrivals to the Kingdom, up 4.34 per cent from 2012. In January this year, there were 6,592 Irish arrivals to Thailand, a 18.65 per cent jump year-on-year, making Ireland the third largest year-on-year growth market from Europe for the month, behind Russia and Spain (27.5 and 22.8 per cent year-on-year growth, respectively)
•Irish ancestry – Although Ireland itself is only a country of some 6.4 million souls, the total number of people in the world who claim Irish ancestry is more than 12 times that – some 80 million people. Most of these live in the US (40mn), while there are also significant Irish (descent) communities in Great Britain (14mn), Australia (7mn), Canada (4.5mn) and, a little unexpectedly, Argentina (1mn).
•Irish abroad – As for Irish born in Ireland but now living abroad, most of them are in Britian (500,000), US (about 160,000), Australia (70,000) and Canada (23,000).
• U2 – Arguably one of the greatest bands of all time. Formed in 1976, the band has released 12 studio albums and are one of the best selling acts ever, having sold 150 million records. Still making music and performing to this day, the band are also known for political activism. Other world-famous Irish bands (but less successful than U2) include the The Cranberries, The Corrs and The Waterboys.
•The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia, in County Galway.