St. Paddy’s to return to Seoul

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 11, 2014 - 20:42
  • Updated : Mar 11, 2014 - 20:42
The St. Patrick’s Day Festival will return to Seoul’s D Cube City on Saturday for a scaled-up celebration of Ireland’s national day.

The centerpiece of the event will be the open-air concert, which this year will feature the Boxty Rebellion, an Irish folk band flying in especially for the event.

Other main stage events will be a performance from Korean-Irish dance troupe Tap Pung, a military band, and a “ceili” ― a traditional type of Irish folk dancing that everyone can get involved in.

“The St. Patrick’s Day Festival is the perfect opportunity to experience Irish culture and get a feel for the wonderful array of Irish talent here in Korea,” said Shauna Browne, chairperson of the Irish Association of Korea, which organizes the event.

“March 17th is a day when we all think of Ireland and its rich history. To be able to celebrate that here in South Korea shows the extraordinary power of the Irish abroad.”
People join in the Irish Association of Korea’s St. Patrick’s Day festival at D Cube City in Seoul last year. (Tom Coyner)

The festival will also have an Irish Village, with stalls featuring activities related to Ireland, something the organizers say they have tried to expand for this year.

“There’s more involvement from different community groups this year,” said Janet Newenham, IAK’s public relations officer. “This brings a wider audience and knowledge to the festival.”

Participants will be able to experience Irish musical instruments, food or even sports ― there will be a demonstration of camogie, a team game involving paddles and a ball. Seoul Gaels will be giving people a chance to join some Gaelic football sessions.

That might be something children are interested in. Last year the Gaels took a group of children to Ireland through Ireland Family Stay, in which they studied English in the morning and practiced Gaelic football in the afternoon, with added trips around Dublin and the west of Ireland.

For less energetic kids, there will also be face painting and storytelling. IAK will be using bilingual narrators who are studying ESL storytelling this year, to help Korean children enjoy the stories more.

There has been an effort to involve more Koreans of all ages in IAK events this year, and the association hopes to see an increase in Korean participation at the event.

“We’ve worked harder … to build up a following on our social media sites,” said Newenham. “More and more Koreans are getting involved in our activities, whether it be the music, dancing or meet-ups. As a result, the awareness of what St. Patrick’s Day is and what it’s all about has increased.”

Newenham stressed that the event was a broader one than a typical St. Patrick’s Day event back home, as a more family-friendly, cultural experience.

“It’s so different to St. Patrick’s Day back home, where it’s totally drink-orientated and alcohol-fueled,” she said.

“We are really trying to reach out in a lot of ways to local people to showcase Ireland to them.

“We always get the expat teachers and we love them and of course we want all the Irish people coming along, but we would really like to show the local people what we have to offer and what Korean people have been doing, too.”

But for those who still want a St. Patrick’s Day drink, the IAK will be running a hooley that evening at Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon from 6 p.m. until midnight. Tickets to the hooley are 10,000 won, and will be available at the festival and at the door.

By Paul Kerry (