Taiwan Fun Magazine, March 2004

Alt Feature:


Taipei goes green on St. Patrick's Day

By Louise Goldsbury Translated by Vicky Huang







     As 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.

     For 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.

     Taiwan 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.

     St. 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.

     Prizes 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.

     The 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."

     O'Ginny's 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.

     (NOTE: See "Nightlife" listings for addresses/tel. numbers of the above establishments.)