St. Patrick’s day. In most Canadian cities, it’s an excuse to drink green beer, dress up in shamrock-patterned attire, and even get a little bit sloshed. In Montreal, that sentiment still rings true; except that here, it all seems a little more authentic.
In the 16th century, many Irish people that had been exiled from their home country had set up shop in France and were serving in the army (to such a degree that many regiments were comprised almost entirely of Irishmen). So, by the time the French got around to colonizing North America, many of Irish descent were the first to go overseas and begin to settle in New France.
Given that many of the Irish were Catholic, moving to the region that is now Quebec was preferred over settling elsewhere dominated by British Protestants. Religion, as it seems to do, set the stage for the fabric of Montreal and the rest of Canada.
Fast forward to 2018, and it’s estimated that five to six per cent of Montreal’s population is of Irish descent. Take a look at Montreal’s flag and the shamrock appears amongst the fleur-de-lys, Rose of Lancaster, thistle, and white pine; representing the Irish, French, English, Scottish, and Indigenous peoples, respectively, all of which symbolize the city’s ancestry.
So, it should come as no surprise that Montreal’s St. Paddy’s day parade is one of the oldest and continuously running in North America (New York and Boston are the other contenders but we won’t get into that). The parade, which is in its 195th year, will happen on Sunday, March 18, rounding out a weekend of festivities. Notably, for the first time in 55 years, the parade route will head down Maisonneuve boulevard, instead of St. Catherine’s street, construction being to blame as it so often is in Montreal. Regardless, the party will go on! If you’re in the area and looking to celebrate with a pint (or several) of Guinness, these spots have you covered.
Irish Embassy Pub & Grill
St. Patrick’s at this pub is always a huge affair, starting with breakfast on Friday, March 16 and closing off with live music and no cover on parade day. Whether you’re digging into a lamb stew or a deep-fried Mars bar, you can’t go wrong, especially when you wash it all down with a pint.
McKibbin’s Irish Pub
With multiple locations around Montreal, options help to avoid lineups on St. Paddy’s. Close to the parade routes are the Bishop and St. Laurent locations. Live music is one of their specialties though, so pick your spot based on who you’d like to listen to!
If you’ve ever ordered “un shot” in a Montreal bar, you know that the liquor of choice is Jameson. On March 16th, the Irish whiskey brand will be hosting a St. Patrick’s day party at one of Montreal’s favourite pubs, McLean’s. You can look forward to plenty of free samples and live music from The Mahones. Of course, the whiskey will be flowing!
Le Vieux Dublin
Staking their claim as the city’s oldest Irish pub, Le Vieux Dublin, just off the parade route, has been a staple for many years; not that their celebrations are exclusive to parade day! To kick the party off, they’re serving up a complimentary breakfast on March 16, complete with Irish coffee, naturally (just make sure to reserve your spot and pick up your invitation on-site before the 16th). The rest of the weekend will include specials like Irish stew, live music, and more than 300 single malt whiskies to wet your whistle.
Not technically an Irish pub, this Crescent street spot still boasts some of the best beer selections in Montreal. They’re going all out this St. Patrick’s day weekend, with live music from Thursday to Sunday, and no cover all four days. Check out local talent playing Irish classics, with plenty of fiddle to be had!