On a usual day, there are 530,000 people of Irish descent living in Alberta. Except on March 17 when that population soars to about 3 million.
There’s no place busier on St. Patrick’s Day than the Irish Cultural Centre on 35 Avenue NW in Bowness, where members and non-members alike are invited to drop in for a pint of something special and authentic Irish food and atmosphere. This is home to the Irish Cultural Society that has been representing Irish folk in Calgary for more than 25 years, providing hospitality and celebrating Irish culture.
The shenanigans begin at 5 pm when the doors open to the public. Admission is just $10 for non-members and $5 for members. An important note is that the Irish Cultural Centre is a cash only facility – no credit, no debit.
Wearing green is encouraged of course, but not mandatory!
Traditional Irish musicians and singers direct from Ireland and Scotland will entertain throughout the evening. That includes young musicians for the kids aged 8 and up. Casey O’Loughlin’s Academy of Irish Dance and the Possak School of Irish Dancing will perform. The Irish Cultural Society Choir will sing, and traditional Irish fare will be served by up Certain Flair Catering.
The Scottish Shoppe and A Little Bit of Irish will have a merchandise table and the kids can enjoy face painting and cookie decorations.
Of course, Guinness will be on tap and the Irish Cultural Society says that it will “probably” be the best in Calgary on St. Patrick’s Day. To make sure patrons don’t enjoy their Guinness too much and get behind the wheel, $5 vouchers for the Keys Please program will be free for everyone.
St. Patrick’s Day is the highlight of the centre’s calendar, but it’s just one of the many events put on throughout the year. There are music classes for people of all ages, a library open every Tuesday evening, a pub concert events with Irish performers on tour and fundraising events.
The centre also operates as a resource for Irish citizens hoping to immigrate to Canada and for those who are arrived, helping them to job hunt and find housing. The Society is operated by a volunteer board of directors, and was incorporated in 1986 as a non-profit entity under the Alberta Societies Act. Its mandate is to promote and nature the Irish Culture and to reinforce the identity of the Irish people in Calgary.
Why is St. Patrick so important?
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland according to the Catholic Church, and is revered because he converted so many Irish pagans to Christianity in the 4th Century. Historians think he used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. St. Patrick’s Day became a holiday in 1903, with March 17 the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death. However, the millions of Irish people living outside the Emerald Isle have turned it into a celebration of Irish culture. That includes drinking Guinness, a black tout brewed in Dublin. It’s reported that 7.5 million pints of this brew with its acquired taste is enjoyed every day around the world, but on March 17, that number comes to a head at 13 million pints.