'Bigger deal here than it is back home': Irish musician expat marvels at St. Patrick's Day in St. John's

Rowan Sherlock has never spent St. Patrick's Day away from his home in Ireland. This year, he says, he's experiencing a much bigger celebration in St. John's than he's used to.

Rowan Sherlock says Newfoundlanders make more of the holiday than the Irish

Rowan Sherlock moved from Ireland to Newfoundland to be with his girlfriend, Kayla Walters — the two met while Sherlock was touring the province with his band, Newfoundland. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

A local musician originally from Ireland is spending his first St. Patrick's Day away from his homeland, and he's noticed the people of Newfoundland and Labrador seem to be taking the holiday pretty seriously.

Rowan Sherlock moved to St. John's last year after touring the province with his band — also called Newfoundland.

"Honestly, it's such a bigger deal here than it is back home, which is strange," he said. "At home, you have St. Patrick's Day, and that's it. The decorations will go up in the pubs and restaurants that morning, and that night it's taken down."

Sherlock has noticed some people in this province try to extend the holiday as long as possible.

"I remember doing a gig at Bridie Molloy's downtown about three weeks ago, and they had all the St. Paddy's Day decorations up," he said.

Even Cabot Tower goes green on St. Patrick's Day. (Ian Gidge)

"It's such a huge thing here. The whole thing of starting breakfast in the pub at eight o'clock in the morning and being there for the day … that really doesn't happen at home."

Sherlock says in Ireland the day doesn't go by unnoticed, but people don't seem to go all out, like many Newfoundlanders like to.  

"It is a celebration [in Ireland]. You have your parades and all that, but it seems a lot bigger here. It's a bit more festive here," he said.

Bad luck takes a turn

Sherlock was here on tour with his band, Newfoundland, when their van was broken into in May 2017.

Rowan Sherlock speaks to CBC News after the theft last year. At the time, he said he would stay in St. John's for a few more days. (Ted Dillon)

"My violin was stolen, one of the guy's guitars was stolen, and Kayla Walters — who picked us up from the airport — her camera equipment was stolen that night as well," he said.

"So I ended up staying here for an extra two days to work with the police, just try and sort out what happened. Kayla put me up for the couple of days — and I now live with Miss Kayla Walters. [Ten] months later, and I haven't left yet!"

Sherlock spends his days teaching violin, piano and guitar at the Music Collection.

"Happy days," he said. "I'm surrounded by music every single day now."

He's also managed to secure a spot in a new band, called Whiskey Business.

Violin player Rowan Sherlock, second from right, had his instrument stolen last year. (Kayla Walters)

"The music scene [in St. John's] is pretty similar to back home," he said. "If someone played me an Irish traditional tune or a Newfoundland traditional tune, it's so hard to differentiate between the two. It's the same, really."

Sherlock says part of what he loves so much about his new home, is the fact that he can enjoy a live band almost any night of the week.

"The live music scene, it's great over here. You can go out every single night and you'll see a band somewhere."

With files from Weekend AM