St. John's a hotspot for St. Patrick's Day revellers
'People from all over the place come in,' says O'Reilly's owner
St. Patrick's Day isn't until Saturday, but O'Reilly's Irish Newfoundland Pub has gotten more than a one-day head start.
"We did change it to Paddy's Week a number of years ago," says Brenda O'Reilly, who owns the popular George Street business along with YellowBelly Brewery on Water Street.
You're going to be just ran off the head all day long.- Matt Diamond, bartender Shamrock City
She said the festivities kicked off Sunday, March 11 with a family affair that included face painting, youth musicians and more.
O'Reilly said St. John's has a reputation for being a hotspot March 17 and was reminded of precisely that when chatting with a group earlier this week at one of the bar's events.
"They fly in every year from Ontario, and they started off with four or five girls and they're up to 20 people now, so its crazy," O'Reilly told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.
"People from all over the place come in for St. Patrick's Week."
O'Reilly's annual St. Patrick's Day Saturday breakfast is sold out — doors open at 11 a.m. for those 19 and over looking to celebrate the day — with 10 musical acts set to take the stage.
"We got so much talent here in the province ... It's crazy and I couldn't fit everybody in," she said.
'One of the craziest days of the year'
Matt Diamond, who is originally from Flowers Cove, has worked at Shamrock City on Water Street for over a year.
"St. Paddy's Day is honestly one of the craziest days of the year by far," he told CBC on Friday.
"We open doors at 7:30 in the morning, there are people piling in right away, they're in here all day long drinking, they don't leave until sometimes four in the morning and it's honestly just madness the whole day," said Diamond.
Does that make him cringe, or look forward to the booming business of March 17?
"Kind of a bit of both," he said.
"You know you're going to do pretty good, but you know at the same time that it's going to be very, very busy ... and you're going to be just ran off the head all day long."
'Hints of Irish influence' in the Basilica
Revellers might be raising a glass to toast the patron saint, but there are also "hints of Irish influence in the Basilica," said Anne Walsh, a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's.
Those include three windows of St. Patrick and two statues.
Walsh acknowledged the day is known in modern times for drinking and partying, but "Patrick himself is a religious figure," Walsh said during an interview inside the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
"The 17th of March is the day that he died. We celebrate feasts of saints the day they died," she said.
"The tradition would be to have mass on St. Patrick's morning and then normally that's when the partying would start."
With files from St. John's Morning Show and Terry Roberts