Saint Patrick’s Day is the feast day of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and is a day of celebration for Irish people. It is celebrated every year on March 17 all over Ireland and everywhere in the world where Irish people or their descendants live. In Penang it is celebrated a week earlier so that Malaysia-based Irish people can celebrate twice – once in Penang, and then again in KL the following weekend! In Penang members of the Irish diaspora and lovers of a good party will gather to celebrate and share Irish heritage, culture and traditions on March 9th and 10th, with the theme of this year being “A Glimpse into Irish Literature – Celebrating the Nobel Quartet” – W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.

Photo courtesy of Adrian Cheah

The weekend kicks off with a big party, the annual St Patrick’s Day ball at the E&O Hotel. It all begins with cocktails outside at the seafront, then continues with dinner and live music in the ballroom. With the price including dinner and a free flow of drinks all night it is a popular evening, giving Penangites a rare to dress up. In this case adding a touch of green to the outfit is highly recommended. Irish music with plenty of singing and dancing will be prominent all evening, with Ronald Vic De Leon serenading guests with traditional Irish tunes during the cocktail hour and Penang’s Irish Band, the DramBand performing a couple of songs based on poems, in honour of the literary theme, and then moving on to Irish jigs and drinking songs to get everyone singing and dancing. Irish Elvis will also put in an appearance to keep everyone in a party-dancing mood. 

The following day, Sunday 10th March, celebrations will continue at Straits Quay. There will be an exhibition open all day on Irish tradition and literature, workshops for learning Irish dancing, and poetry readings. At 4.30pm a mini St Patrick’s Day parade will take place, with local societies, associations, clubs, schools and businesses taking part, dressed up in the obligatory green. At 5.30pm for those that need to get rid of the last vestiges of the previous night’s hangover, you can join the Shamrock 5K Fun Run, organised by Warrior Fitness. Prizes will be awarded at 6.30pm at the stage next to the Marina that is specially constructed for the events, and this will be followed live music at 7.15pm from the DramBand and then Irish Elvis.

For the Irish and Irish fans who decide not to travel to KL for the real St Patrick’s Day on Sunday March 17th, there is another chance to celebrate in Penang too. Healy Mac’s, the Irish bar at Straits Quay, will be partying all night, beginning at 6pm with live music from the DramBand. 

Ball Tickets are priced RM 300 for members and RM 375 for non-members, and can be purchased from Maggie at 012 462 5596. More information about the festivities can be found on the Penang Irish Association’s website. For more information on the DramBand, you can find them on Facebook and Instagram @DramBandPenang.