St. Patrick’s Day in Canada Countdown, Edition 5

Darcy McGee’s patrons raise a glass and say, “Slainte!” (Photo by Jeff O’Reilly)

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 5 of the St. Patrick’s Day in Canada Countdown — where we name 17 of the best Irish bars in the land!

Day 5: D’Arcy McGee’s, Ottawa

Story by Janine MacLean Contributor

OTTAWA — When you picture an Irish pub you think cozy booths, perfectly poured pints of Guinness and great music.

Named after a famous Irish politician who was assassinated just down the road from the pub, D’Arcy McGee’s in Ottawa lives up to any expectation or preconceived notion you may have concerning Irish pubs. The patrons are friendly and they regularly have live Celtic jam sessions, with fiddles and everything!

Man cannot live on beer alone, and D’Arcy McGee’s boasts a large menu of freshly cooked Irish pub favourites. On top of their regular menu they also have a seasonal menu called “Eat me I’m Irish” and “Drink me I’m Irish.” These include authentic Irish favourites with a twist — like haddock and shrimp cakes ($13.99), corned beef and cabbage with champ ($14.99), traditional Irish mashed potatoes mixed with green onion, and Colcannon pie ($14.99), another Irish potato mixture with cabbage. There’s also Blarney Chips ($12.99) and Cashel blue cheese and Kilkenny cheese dip ($11.99). Drinks include cocktails made with Irish beer and ciders.

Quote from an Irishman: “D’Arcy McGee’s projects the craic and joy of being an Irish pub 366 days a year. What everyone else tries to do on St. Patrick’s Day, we do every day,” said general manager Jeff O’Reilly.

You know its authentic Irish because: Its interior was handcrafted in Wexford, where McGee went to college. They brought it to Canada on a boat and fit it into a downtown Ottawa heritage building. The interior of the pub is hand-carved wood, the furniture is Irish. They have a seisiun (an impromptu Irish music session) every Wednesday night with bodhrans, fiddles, guitars and tin whistles. They also offer live entertainment Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Cost of a pint of Guinness: $7.08 plus tax

St. Patrick’s Day plans: On Paddy’s Day, they’ll have live entertainment all day and night. They open at 11 am and want to emulate a cozy, fun atmosphere. O’Reilly says there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are Irish and those who are Irish for the day (all are expected at D’Arcy McGee’s for St. Pats).

The River Thieves will play traditional Celtic music at the outset. Then from 3 til 8 pm the Two Fisted Nancy — a three-piece trio from the east coast — will take the stage. From 9 to close Kitchen Party from Montreal will end the evening with their blend of acoustic Celtic rock.

“When you look at the way music has been influenced by the Irish — the joy of the Irish people as they take the time to celebrate with each other,” said O’Reilly, “they truly embrace the time to have fun and celebrate.”

Contact info: D’Arcy McGee’s, 44 Sparks St, Ottawa, ON. Telephone; 613-230-4433; D’Arcy McGee’s, Ottawa.

Day 4 of the St. Patrick’s Day Countdown: Doolin’s Irish Pub, Vancouver

Have you got a favourite Irish pub? Tell us about it. Email and we may feature it in our countdown!

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Vicky is the worldly publisher of Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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