In the 1800s, Montreal was one of the primary entryways into North America for Irish immigrants, with half a million passing through during the industrial revolution alone. This rich heritage not only makes the city a landmark for Canadian-Irish settlers, but also acts as a time capsule for those whose ancestors made the trip across. While St Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, it’s also a time to reflect on a foundational era in Canadian history. Or, simply, be celebratory for the sake of celebration. Today, we’ve sourced Montreal options for whatever tickles your fancy.
First, though, a burning question: Exactly how Irish is Montreal? Click here for an exclusive DailyXY data crunch.
Now, on to the greener local pastures:
Traditionalists: St Patrick’s Society of Montreal at the Hilton
Friday March 16
The first Society Luncheon was on St. Patrick’s Day 1834; ever since, the event has been considered indispensable, attracting some of the most influential Irish business leaders, including current and former CEOs of multinational banks, Premiers, and even the Prime Minister. This year’s guest speaker is Dr Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist, best-selling author, and producer of Fox’s TV series Bones. Cash bar opens at 11:15AM, luncheon at noon. 900 De La Gauchetiere St. West; to book tickets, visit the SPS Montreal site. $80
Alternatives: Griffintown Café
Saturday March 17
Admittedly, we have a soft spot for a cozy café that serves up local, fresh-made meals. Although the chefs at Griffintown Café draw upon Southern and Mexican influences, something about the ambiance and location is inherently Irish — blue collar, communal, and high-spirited. In the heart of Griffintown, a ’hood home to many early Irish immigrants, this cool café offers a nostalgic escape for those looking to avoid the weekend’s hubbub, and simply indulge in the quiet company of friends and family alike. 1378 Notre Dame Ouest, 514-931-5299
Early Birds: Hurley’s Irish Pub Breakfast
Sunday March 18
For nearly twenty years, Hurley’s has been heralded as Montreal’s most authentic Irish pub, serving and impressing the likes of Steve Nash, Ewan McGregor and band members from Great Big Sea. From 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., enjoy a plate of sausages, soda bread and mashed potatoes coupled with a dizzying Irish coffee ($18). Afterwards, make a run for the parade downtown, or stay and watch bands Solstice, The Peelers and Squid Jigger from 2 p.m. ’til close. 1225 Crescent St., 514-861-4111
Degenerates: Downtown Pub Crawl
Friday March 16
If you can brave the undergraduate buffoonery, or even assimilate with the crowd, there are some downtown drink specials worth investigating. McLean’s, Ye Olde Orchard and Irish Embassy are all offering three pints and three shots for $24. While crawling might seem like a way to beat restlessness, these spots are generally overcapacity by early afternoon. Perhaps makes more sense to pick one, get a good seat, and let the green times flow. 1210 Peel St., 514-392-7770; 1189 de la Montagne St., 514-874-1569; 1234 Bishop St., 514-875-8777
Image courtesy of Brendan Lynch.