McVeighs, St. Patrick's Day, St. Paddy's Day, Irish Pubs, Toronto, Celtic Music, Danny Williams and the Irish Rogues

St. Patrick’s Day in Canada Countdown, Edition 17

McVeighs, St. Patrick's Day, St. Paddy's Day, Irish Pubs, Toronto, Celtic Music, Danny Williams and the Irish Rogues

McVeighs in Toronto is where the Irish come to drink. (Julia Pelish/

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 the 17th and final edition of the St. Patrick’s Day in Canada Countdown — where we have named some of the best Irish bars in the land!

Day 17: McVeigh’s, Toronto

Story by Janine MacLean Food Editor

TORONTO — If you ask any Irish person in Toronto where they like to go for a pint, there’s a good chance they’ll say McVeigh’s. From the outside it looks like any other Irish Canadian pub, but on the inside you’ll find crowds of Irish youth (who come to Canada for a working holiday), live music six days a week and, most importantly, plenty of craic.

Owned and operated by the McVeigh family for the past several decades, this pub is an established Irish hangout. They often open early on weekends to show Irish sports on TV like hurling and Gaelic football, and will often cook breakfast for the Irish who have come out to support their teams. McVeigh’s offers a full menu of traditional Irish foods as well as a daily Thai curry, but most importantly they serve an excellent pint of Guinness (and Keith’s for all the east coasters who frequent the pub alongside the Irish).

If you’re looking for a pub that looks like a leprechaun threw up on it, keep on walkin’. While the walls are artfully decorated with Irish historical paintings and photos of famous Irish poets, you won’t find any cheese in this place.

“No Plastic Paddy’s here,” owner Jim McVeigh Jr. likes to remark. It is the real deal, and the patrons enjoy the laid-back, friendly and (at times) rowdy atmosphere. While it isn’t fancy, it’s comfortable and you will not find a better place in Toronto for a solid night of partying.

“This is our 51st St. Patrick’s Day,” McVeigh recalls. “My father came to Canada from Ireland and opened the pub in 1956.”

Quote from an Irishman: “It’s a little taste of Ireland. Feels just like home. The live music is magic.” – Mark Collins, County Carlow.

You know it’s authentically Irish because: The Irish are everywhere you look: behind the bar, on stage and sitting at the tables. This pub is like a second home to displaced Irish people. The music is Celtic, the Guinness is creamy, and cold and the place is absolutely insane on a Saturday night — which is what March 17 will be in 2012.

Cost of a pint of Guinness: $8 (taxes included).

St. Patrick’s Day plans: First of all, there is a huge rugby match being shown in the morning between Ireland and England. This means you can expect McVeigh’s to be chock full of either drunk and angry Irish people, or elated, happy, drunk Irish people (depending on which way the match goes) by 11 am.

“The phone has been going off like crazy asking about the rugby,” McVeigh says.

The game will be followed by live music from four different bands for the rest of the day and will include some Irish dancers for your entertainment. Expect massive crowds, making friends with everyone you meet and a hefty hangover the next morning.

Contact info: 124 Church Street (at the corner of Richmond Street), Toronto, ON; Telephone: 416 364 9698;

Day 16 of the St. Patrick’s Day Countdown: Durty Nelly’s, Halifax

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Janine is's Food Columnist. Growing up in a tiny farming community on Cape Breton Island, Janine knew at a young age that she was destined for travel and as a young girl would spend hours poring over her father’s outdated globe, dreaming of the places she would someday visit. Twenty-something years later, she is now based in Toronto where she works as a chef and writer, having travelled throughout Asia, Canada and Ireland (with more trips to come!).

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