St. Patrick’s Day at Calgary’s James Joyce Irish Pub

Gerard Curran becomes animated and his smile widens when he talks about how, as a child in Ireland, his family would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

“It was fabulous, it was a day out, it was a celebration, it was a family time,” recalled Curran from his seat at his downtown Calgary tavern, James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant.

“It was always a tradition to have a St. Patrick’s Day parade,” he said in a March interview with Global News. “So when we were kids, my mother and dad would take us to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin.”

Curran said the holy holiday also represented a brief reprieve for adults who had given up alcohol for Lent.

“The bars were open and you could go and have a drink and enjoy yourself and then go back to [being] off the alcohol the next day, on the 18th.”

St. Patrick’s Day has always been one of Curran’s favourite holidays. So when he moved to Calgary and opened his pub in 1997, he saw the opportunity to throw “a party for that day.”

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Curran wanted to recreate the same feeling of pure enjoyment he (and clearly, many others) feel every March 17.

For the past 21 years, Curran and his wife Anne have been hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party at the Stephen Avenue spot.

“Once [customers] get in here, they’ll get that true experience, from Irish staff to Irish music to Irish drinks and Irish fare, and everybody will be enjoying themselves.”

Curran said he and Anne don’t work that day but mingle among their guests, sharing stories of Ireland with those who are from there, have been there or just want to go there.

“Everybody’s here to enjoy themselves and it’s just a fabulous time,” Curran said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re young or old.”

It certainly doesn’t matter if you’re Irish or not, but for this one day, James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant will make feel like you are.

“It’s a great vibe,” Curran said. “It’s a great feeling and the majority of people, when they leave, feel that they’ve really, really enjoyed themselves and they go, ‘Wow, I got to come back next year.’”

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