What a Craic!

Fáilte! Happy St. Paddy’s Day from Flannery and me!

Last weekend, Americans painted the streets and, if you’re in Chicago, the river green. If you’re anything like the people I know, you’ll do it all over again this afternoon. Or this morning. Today, no one will judge you for putting a bit of Bailey’s in your coffee. Take advantage of that, I say. Also, if you know a place with Guinness on tap, take advantage of that as well.

Gareth, guitar player and craic master
Gareth, guitar player and craic master

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article for the school’s newsletter about St. Patrick’s Day in the United States. Now, for a different tack: St. Patrick’s Day in Poland.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is still fairly uncommon here in Poland. Because we’re an English language school, we took it upon ourselves to share the culture of one of the English-speaking parts of the world with our students – and by we, I mean mostly Gareth.

That’s right, my buddy from the poetry evening was at it again! Having lived in Dublin and being of musical talent, Gareth led the Irish Night craic (crak – Irish for party). He started by giving a history of Ireland from 7,000 BC to the present. He did go a bit over the promised 25-minute limit, but everything he shared was very interesting, especially since, as anyone who’s been to Ireland knows, Irish culture is still very tied to its historical roots. He covered the Celts, the Gaels, the Vikings, the English occupation, and some of the Irish language. To do all that justice, you need more than 25 minutes, despite Gareth’s fancy T.A.R.D.I.S. sounds. One of our other coworkers helped out by translating the talk into Polish. He was evidently very entertaining whilst doing it, because everyone enjoyed his commentary.

our translator at work
our translator at work

After the talk, we all settled down with some green beer – yes, they have that here too – taught our students to say “Sláinte,” and sang a round of Irish pub songs.

Some of our students are also musicians, and there were three guitars in the room that night. Gareth taught us some of his favorite Irish ballads, including one of my favorites, “Drunken Sailor,” and the ever-popular “Danny Boy” and “Irish Eyes.” We ran through the songs several times, enough to give our students a feel for what Irish folk songs sound like, then passed the guitar around. That’s when the fun really started. These people really can play.

Gareth also prepared a quiz for the evening, which sparked some friendly competition among the people there. Fun fact time: Where was the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration held? (Hint: It’s not Ireland). We also may have taken the liberty of creating a new drink in the process of taking the quiz – something about Guinness with vanilla ice cream.

By the end of the evening, the event looked just like any other St. Patrick’s Day party. We had people playing the guitar, we had people singing, we had people chatting, and we had all the green beer (I’m fairly certain there wasn’t any left when we wrapped it up for the night – if there was, there wasn’t much).


Answer Key: The first St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were held in Boston, MA! Although, if I may be so bold, Boston may have done it first, but Chicago does it best.


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