We count down the 12 Days to Christmas, why not the 17 Days to St. Patrick’s Day? If there’s one holiday that should be a season of cheer, it’s this one, we say. Here’s Edition 11 of the Vacay.ca St. Patrick’s Day in Canada Countdown — where we name 17 of the best Irish bars in the land!
Day 11: Ceili’s Pub, Kitsilano, Vancouver
Story by Katie Marti
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — The first thing I noticed about Ceili’s Kitsilano location was the view. Unlike many Irish pubs, this one is bright and airy thanks to a wall full of big, north-facing windows that offer stunning vistas of the Vancouver skyline and mountains beyond. I asked general manager Doug Whidden about the look that defies tradition. “We like to think we are today’s Irish pub,” he explained.
Indeed, Ceili’s in Kitsilano does mix the old with the new, adding splashes of bright colour to the stereotypical brass rails and rich mahogany decor one might expect.
The Ceili’s enterprise has three Vancouver locations, as well as two in Calgary with a third on the way, each with its own unique style based on the neighbourhood it serves. Being a westsider, I headed down to the Ceili’s on the corner of Burrard and 7th Avenue in this well-to-do Vancouver neighbourhood.
This Kitsilano location draws a fairly diverse crowd. It’s known to residents as the home of rugby in Kits, catering to sports fans with a couple of large screens perfect for catching a Premier Six league match or a Canucks hockey game. For music lovers, the bar offers live entertainment five nights a week. No matter when or why you come, however, there’s guaranteed to be something to tempt your taste buds. Whidden describes the menu as “pub food done better,” naming the Shepherd’s Pie ($15) as a local favourite. Of course, the main attraction is the beer. The bar is always stocked with 21 different brews on tap and a wide variety of whisky and scotch to keep you jigging all night.
St. Patrick’s Day plans: On March 17, doors will open in time for folks to catch the England vs. Ireland rugby match from London and will stay open until the wee hours, hosting a rotating line-up of dancers, pipes, fiddles and drums. Expect the beer to flow and food to fly.
Quote: Written above the door is an invitation to “COME BACK FOR THE CRAIC.” Not having a clue what that meant, I asked for a translation. “Craic means good times with good friends and that’s what we’re all about. We’re down to earth and unpretentious, like a true neighbourhood pub,” Whidden said. “The servers will actually take the time to get to know you, even learn your name. It’s about building community.”
You know it’s authentically Irish because: Ceili’s management has constructed an exact replica of a local pub they found in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. The “banshee room,” as it’s called, can hold meetings or private parties for up to 20 people and comes equipped with a large flat-screen TV and its own sound system.
Cost of a pint of Guinness: $7.75 (plus tax)