St. Patrick's Day--on March 17--approaches,
the Irish scene in Taiwan comes alive, leaving
many no doubt surprised at how much Ireland
has impacted this island.
a start, the Irish government currently has a program which sends groups
of university graduates to live in Taiwan each year in order to gain
international experience, and many young Irish people are teaching
English in Taipei. Irish dancing has also proven popular with Taiwanese
audiences, which most recently flocked to see "Lord of the Dance",
while Gaelforce sold out 14 shows in Taiwan last year, and the year
before "The Spirit of Dance" also toured locally. There is
even a local Gaelic football team, the Taiwan Celts, which in true
Irish fashion trains every week but has no other team to play against.
Instead, they settle for rugby and touch football competitions.
Celts chairman Dave O'Sullivan, who came out from
Cork on the government scheme and now works at
a digital television company, said the team was
formed to promote Irish culture in Asia. "Apart
from a couple of Irish pubs and dancing, there
wasn't much else done until a few years ago. But
there is a constant stream of Irish girls and guys
to Taiwan and this is a good way to meet everyone,
play sport and socialise," he said.
Patrick's Day is a great way to get out, meet the Irish contingent and
experience a bit of the culture. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland
but is largely honored through drinking and partying at pubs, rather than
religious activities. With last year's closure of Sean's Irish Bar at The
Westin, the only Irish pub in Taipei is the Shannon, making it an obvious
choice for celebrating. Manager Tony Crane says it is the biggest night
of the year for the Shannon. In January, the "Lord of the Dance" cast visited the pub to
help mark 60 days until St. Patrick's Day. On the actual day, March
17, the Shannon is again offering half-priced drinks to everyone who
wears green underwear. "Due to the huge success of last year's
party, we are keeping our tradition of wearing green undies, bras and
boxers. Even if you're not Irish, if you like to have fun, then you're
a bit Irish underneath, so we want to see everyone's fun side expressed
on their backside," Tony said.
will also be awarded to the best-dressed customer
(think green) and there will be plenty more giveaways,
games and lucky door prizes on the night. Tony
added that other exciting events, from irish movies
to great live bands, will take place the whole
week, starting the weekend prior to the big day.
Shannon isn't the only venue that will mark the Irish occasion. Most Western-style
bars, particularly those popular with the expat crowd, will hold special
events, with good bets being Carnegie's, The Brass Monkey, The Tavern,
and O'Ginny's. This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Wednesday, which
is good timing for both men and women at Carnegie's at the usual weekly
Ladies' Night. "Paddy's Night will be a wild
affair as it coincides with our regular Ladies' Night," said Carnegie's
general manager, Bob Marshall. "I can't give too much away right
now but, in true Carnegie's tradition, there will be a generous something
for the men that night, too. Ladies will get free champagne as usual
and I am working on Irish drinks specials for the men."
is a name that suggests an Irish theme, and they
do serve Irish whiskies, making it also worth a
visit on that day. Of course, The Tavern and The
Brass Monkey are also planning big parties. The
staff could not reveal their plans just yet, but
promised it will be a fun night for everyone. Keep
an eye on the advertisements and "What's On" listings
in this magazine and elsewhere as details are revealed
closer to the date.
See "Nightlife" listings for addresses/tel.
numbers of the above establishments.)