Lonely Planet Writer

Sober St Patrick's day celebrations in Ireland gather support

Singer Frances Black is spearheading a new drive in Ireland to promote  St Patrick’s Day – without its immediate association with drink and drunkenness.

Frances Black's website announcing the programme for this year's 'ober St Patrick's Day
Frances Black’s website announcing the programme for this year’s sober St Patrick’s Day Image by Frances Black Rise Website

The Irish star believes that there is so much culture and tradition associated with what should be a family day that she has founded an alternative called ‘Sober St Patrick’s Day’.

Ms Black told Lonely Planet that she had become “disillusioned with the amount of alcohol consumed by so many people on St Patrick’s Day.”

She claimed that this was reinforced a few years ago when she took a walk down Grafton St in Dublin on March 17. “I couldn’t believe what I saw. Gangs of young people absolutely paralytic drunk and not able to walk, falling around the place and fighting with each other, it was a Tuesday evening at 5.45.”

That sight led her to think that there had to be an alternative way to reclaim the true spirit of the day.

Drink and St Patrick's Day go hand in hand with Guinness sponsoring the New York parade
Drink and St Patrick’s Day go hand in hand with Guinness sponsoring the New York parade Image by James Martin / CC BY 2.0

“I felt that it was really important to change the perception and experience of what St. Patrick’s Day can be, by providing a family-friendly fun filled event without alcohol,” she explained.

Fortunately after that experience she met Bill Reilly who came up with the concept of running the ‘Sober St Patrick’s Day’ in New York.

“Bill knew that if he could pull off an alcohol-free alternative in New York, the home of the largest and oldest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world, it would be guaranteed to draw attention.”

He invited Frances over to see the event and she was “blown away” by its success.

“I couldn’t believe the fantastic energy of the event and how everyone was having a brilliant time with no alcohol. The dancing, singing, laughing, great Irish music and just great craic, all the while celebrating our wonderful culture.”

That made her mind up about running a ‘Sober St Patrick’s Day’ in Dublin.

“I just want to have a big party that will provide a healthy and safe experience for family, friends and people, celebrating the best in Irish entertainment in an alcohol-free setting,” she said as she looks forward to the big event in 11 days time.