Deep in a smoky bar amongst the high-rises and gleaming office-blocks of Las Condes, Martin Flannery can be found pulling pints for the punters who come to water their gullets in the days leading up to March 17.
A shock of red hair and thick Galway accent instantly set him apart from the rest of the shorter, more wildly gesturing Latino customers.
It seems that once upon a time in Santiago – like in almost any other city in the world – an industrious Irishman arrived, spotted a gap in the market, and now runs one of the most profitable pubs in town.
Celebrating the big day in Chile is much the same as anywhere else: find a bar where everyone else is in the same boat, and proceed to drink as much as possible, all-the-while performing bad imitations of Irish accents, aided by cheap alcohol, and speculating about what distant family members you may have had, who may have once been Irish.
In Chile of all places links to Ireland are tenuous: according to official figures, the Interior Ministry only issued 108 permanent residency visas to Irish people coming to Chile. But amazingly, enough people here still feel some kind of melancholic attachment to the Emerald Isle to give the Andean capital a thriving Celtic scene.
Saint Patrick’s Day in Flannery’s Pub
Flannery’s Pub is the backbone of Irish traditional music in Chile’s capital. It has lead the way over the course of this celebration to prepare a four-day knees-up to commemorate the patron saint of Ireland, at which it will expect to receive more then 1,500 people at one night alone.
This year, the Irish fare includes a performance by the Sandra Claren dance school, the Andes Highlanders Pipe Band, and a show by LEMON, the national U2 tribute band.
Throughout the year the pub is a meeting point for 30-or-so avid musicians who gather in the true fashion to play jigs and reels on guitars, flutes, mandolins, bodhrans, violins, tin whistles, uillean pipes and bagpipes. For more information about Irish music sessions, visit www.flannerys.cl.
Where: Encomendero 83, Las Condes, near Metro Tobalaba
More Festivities In and About Town
Over in Barrio Brasil, the Irish Pub restaurant and bar is celebrating St. Patty’s with a string of live music, including La Eringo Rock Celta, Dana Fusión Folk, Irish dance bands and a U2 tribute band.
Where: Avda. Ricardo Cumming 340, near Metro Cumming
And while the name belies an Irish connection, Santiago’s popular expat bar California Cantina isn’t letting any details of nomenclature get in the way of a good Irish celebration, with green beer, Irish car bombs, and two DJs to keep you dancing.
Where: Las Urbinas 56 and 44 (two side-by-side locations with your choice of ambiance), near Metro Pedro de Valdivia
For a guaranteed party, you can also hop on to the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl, complete with free beer, green beer, Irish beer and combinations thereof, plus glow bracelets. Students get a discount, so bring your student ID.
Where: Pio Nono 160 at bar Zona 3, near Metro Baquedano
When: The pub crawl starts at 10pm – make sure to get there before the party “crawls” to the next destination!