17 Mar St Patrick’s Day – What’s The Craic?
St Patrick’s Day – What’s The Craic?
Wherever you are in the world it is impossible to avoid a mass of people having the craic on March 17th. From Cork to Connecticut and from Galway to Goa the St Patrick’s Day celebrations are an enthusiastic exercise in Guinness drinking and good natured fun.
Most people know the legend of St Patrick banishing all the snakes from Ireland, but what else do we know about the Emerald Isle’s patron saint? Well, firstly he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the latter half of the fifth century and is credited with being the founder of Christianity in the country. After his death – believed to be the 17th March – the day became a religious and cultural feast.
It is the cultural side of this celebration that has mushroomed to become the global party it is today. Some of the biggest of these parties take place in America with New York City hosting the mother of all parades with over 150,000 participants and more than 3 million spectators lining the 1.5 mile route.
And where would a party be without the drink? The best selling alcoholic drink in Ireland, Guinness – or “the black stuff” as it is affectionately known, although it is in fact ruby red – is what’s known as a dry stout and is one of the most successful beer brands in the world with annual sales hitting more than 850 million litres.
Originating in the brewery of Arthur Guinness in the 18th century, this blend of water, barley, roast malt extract, hops and brewer’s yeast has a reputation as a meal in a glass and it even seems that the famous slogan “Guinness is Good for You” holds some truth as the antioxidant compounds found in this stout do indeed slow down the deposit of cholesterol on the artery walls.
The iconic status of this Gaelic guzzler can, in no small measure, be attributed to its notable advertising campaigns which over the years have put Guinness at the centre of Ireland’s global image and have carried the brand to unprecedented levels of success and glamour for what is essentially a working man’s drink flavoured by burnt barley and hops.
Anyone who is Irish or knows some Irish people will recognise the craic. When you create a good atmosphere through quality conversation – that’s the craic. When you join you friends for a quick half after work and come 10 pm you’re singing karaoke and downing shots – that’s the craic.
In Ireland the craic has become an intrinsic part of the culture. The Irish are a sociable race who value the tradition of creating a great atmosphere and having good conversations. In fact this tradition is a key part of the social scene which in turn is often the way in which people judge the quality of life in general.
If you’ve spent a night in an Irish pub then you’ll know that music is an intrinsic part of the craic. Often the entertainment will be split between the band playing their set and enthusiastic drinkers getting up to do a turn. From unaccompanied ballads and laments to reels, hornpipes and jigs – the staples of Irish music are recognised the world over and is the quintessential background to having a craic.
The resurgence of this traditional music came in the early 20th century as part of the Gaelic Revival with the button accordion and concertina playing a large part in the sound of many musical groups. The music’s popularity only experienced a small lull in mid century before a second wave of enthusiasm was ushered in by the likes of The Chieftains, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The Irish Rovers, The Dubliners, Ryan’s Fancy and Sweeney’s Men in the 1960s.
Today, the vibrant landscape of Irish music remains popular in its traditional form and continues to influence a wide range of genres including rock and roll, country, punk, rock and pop.
It was in the nineties that the Irish government got behind the whole idea of St Patrick’s Day being a boozy party – since the seventies the day had been a dry day in Ireland with pubs closed – in an effort to promote the country as a fun tourist destination. This promotion, combined with strong branding like the Guinness adverts, the whole River Dance phenomenon and the tourist board videos of the late nineties gave Ireland one of the strongest and most recognisable national brands in the world.
If you’d like some ideas for a St Patrick’s Day party or help organising a visit to Ireland then get in touch with your Keys Lifestyle Manager today.