The greatest weekend of the year is upon us. St. Patrick’s day is a huge occasion by itself, but when it happens to fall on a weekend? You can bet we’re going to make it last from Friday to Monday.
I’ve recently come to realise that nowhere celebrates St. Patrick’s day/weekend quite like Liverpool. You’ll find groups of people flock to this city to celebrate here instead of Ireland. Last year, flights, trains and boats were full of outsiders arriving to drink the city dry and join in with the Irish festivities and judging by town this evening, I think the same has happened this year again.
I’ve been asked a few times where is best to celebrate St Patrick’s and I always say Liverpool. Back home we sit in one bar, head to the nightclub and then it’s all over by 1am. In Belfast you’ll just find thousands of students lining the streets of the Holylands with bottles in their hands, trashing one student house after another and there’s always a huge police presence in the area as it’s become a St. Patrick’s day tradition. I would never recommend heading to Dublin for St Patrick’s as I doubt you will find any Irish people in the city on that date. Plus, do you want to be drinking €8 pints of Guinness all day?
When it comes to St. Patrick’s day, you’re going to want to be in Liverpool. The city has been preparing since the beginning of the week and I can’t wait for the best weekend in the Irish calendar. Seeing the preparations get underway this week with Irish flags being erected on every bar in the city and hundreds of kegs being delivered, it made me feel very proud to be Irish in Liverpool and also showed just how much Liverpool loves the Irish. So here are five reasons why it’s pretty great to be Irish in Liverpool.
1. We’re taking over
As Conor McGregor once said, “We’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over.” And the Irish have pretty much taken over Liverpool the past few years. If you were to conduct a survey to see how many of the students in the city were Irish, I’d say out of 70,000 students, the Irish would hold the majority. Walk through Liverpool Hope University and try not to find an Irish student.
You can’t come to Liverpool and not meet someone Irish or wander around without hearing the accent. Since there are so many of us here, we usually tend to stay after we graduate, more than any other student. Ask anyone you know that lives in Liverpool or has visited and they’ll tell you just how many Irish people they came across. Whether it be on a night out, walking down the street or just spotting someone in an Irish tracksuit/football top.
Because there’s so many of us here, it feels like we’re already at home, making it easier to adopt Liverpool as our new home. There’s no chance of feeling homesick as you’re surrounded by so many people with the same accent. Most of the friends that I have met at university are Irish and I have only met them from moving to Liverpool. It’s odd but I now know so many people from all over Ireland thanks to moving here. As Liverpool becomes more and more attractive to the Irish back home, it won’t be long until there are more Irish in this city than there are Scousers.
2. We have the best pubs
I dare anyone to walk down a street in the city centre of Liverpool and not come across an Irish bar or five. On Ranelagh Street you’ll find Lanigans (and also where you’ll usually find me) and The Irish House next door to one another. Walk another two mintues and you’ll come across The Celtic Corner Walk two minutes the opposite direction and you’ll find O’Neills. Take a left and you’ll find McCooleys. Walk another ten minutes and you’ll find The Liffey. They don’t just appear Irish on the outside to draw a crowd, they also play traditional irish music and employ a lot of Irish workers.
Most of my weekends are spent in Irish bars, between Lanigans on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as the guaranteed appearances in McCooley’s on Fridays and Saturdays and ending in The Liffey on a Sunday night. Are there any other bars in this city, because I wouldn’t know.
3. Lack of accent barrier
Another great thing about being Irish in Liverpool is that most people are either very used to the Norn Iron accent or have it themselves. This was one of the aspects of London that I struggled with most – no one could understand me!
We have it quite easy in Liverpool as everyone is so used to the Irish dialect and it’s even where the Scouse accent comes from (apparently). According to urban legend, the Scouse accent is a mix between northern English and Irish. I know, lovely. You’ll often find when you go to restaurants, bars or even shops in the city centre that you’ll be served by someone with an Irish accent – it’s just a common way of Liverpool life.
4. Our culture has been embedded here
In Liverpool there are even Irish sporting clubs where residents can play Gaelic football, hurling and camogie. There is a Liverpool-Irish centre which hosts Irish language classes, Irish music acts and other traditional Irish events for the older generations of Irish within the city. This year sees the fourth annual St. Patrick’s day parade take place in the city due to the growing population of Irish in the last few years.
The oddest thing you’ll find is that a lot of the singers in Irish pubs that sing Irish songs and even Irish rebel songs aren’t Irish but are Scouse. They realised the gap in the market, so to speak, for Irish singers and went with it. Now they’re some of the best Irish singers in Liverpool and you can find them gigging all over the city every weekend and even opening for larger Irish acts in the Liverpool-Irish Centre. It’s only when they speak between songs that you realise they’re not even Irish!
Back home in Ireland, we would rarely hear people sing traditional Irish songs unless it was at a family wedding or wake. And when they are sang, they’re not usually very good renditions. But I can guarantee that I have heard more Irish songs in the past six months than I have in my entire life. We usually leave one Irish bar to go to the next just to hear the same songs sang over and over the entire night. But it’s our culture and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
5. It’s home from home
Liverpool is as homely to me as it gets. What I love most is walking around town and always seeing someone that you know. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve walked anywhere in the city this year without bumping into at least one person I know or seeing a familiar face. It’s what London didn’t have. London was too anonymous, back home was way too familiar, but Liverpool has it just right.
Even though I purposely moved away from home to experience a new way of life, I secretly love hearing my own accent in this city. In a way, you feel connected and definitely feel at home. Plus, every Irish person that you do meet is usually very friendly and more often than not, you’ll usually have a mutual friend or relation in common.
I guess there are Irish communities all around the world and no matter where you go, if you look hard enough, you can find them but Liverpool Irish are more than a community, they’re a city within a city. Plus, all you have to do is tap the person next to you in Liverpool and they’re probably Irish.