Okay, hands up everyone who likes drinking? Yep, yep, one or two at the back. Well, it’s time to start dusting off your boozing shoes and pouring that first pint of the black stuff, as International Drinking Day, sorry, St Patrick’s Day is fast approaching.

The one national day that every country wants a piece of, St Paddy’s, is thankfully a big day inOz as well, so whether you’re Irish or not, the chances are that come Wednesday 17 March you’ll be decked out in green and screaming “to be sure”.

“But who is this St Patrick exactly?” we hear you asking. Well fear not dear reader, as we are here to expand your minds on yer man (as well as give you some tips on how to party.)

St Patrick’s Day commemorates and celebrates the life of well… derr… Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. March 17, 493AD is believed to be the date of his death and is widely celebrated around the world each year, but is only a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Montserrat, plus a bank holiday in Northern Ireland.

The green shamrock, a three-leaved clover, has been associated with the day as early as the 17th century. This is because St Patrick was believed to use the plant to explain the Holy Trinity (father, son and the Holy Spirit) to pre-Christian Irish.

The green theme has taken over the world’s St Paddy’s celebrations with shops, pubs and even cities turning everything they can think of green. Some McDonald’s restaurants sell Shamrock Shakes, a mint green milkshake, while Chicago in the US goes as far as colouring its river green to celebrate the occasion. In Oz, it is estimated that about one million pints of the black stuff – Guinness that is – are sold on March 17 of each year.

Before the day

A few days before the big day, Adelaide’s Irish Club will be pounding the pavement on the 13th to celebrate, starting on Grote Street at 10.30am.

The city of Brisbane will host its 20th annual St Patrick’s Day parade through the streets of the CBD on Sunday the 14th. Free to watch, the parade is expected to include 30 floats. The parade starts at 10.30am with official festivities carrying on until 2pm, though that’s probably when the more personal festivities are just getting started.

On the day
As with most big events, Sydney takes the green-coloured cake when it comes to Paddy’s, probably due to having Australia’s biggest Irish population. On the day, there’ll be plenty of Irish pubs getting all sorts of messy. The Sydney Opera House will also be lit up in green at sunset to commemorate 200 years of Paddy’s Day celebrations in Australia.

Scruffy Murphy’s will be rocking on from 8am right through to 5am the next day with lots of drink specials.

Cheers Bar on George Street is holding an all-day breakfast, perfect for when you’re craving grease after those pints of Guinness. They’ve also got promos and giveaways and all your favourite Irish drops on tap.

PJ O’Briens in Sydney (as well as Adelaide and Melbourne) is cooking up a traditional Irish breakfast from 7am for all those that like to get their drinking boots on early. It’ll cost you $20 for a hot breakfast and a pint of Guinness or a glass of PJ’s wine. If you’d rather a sleep in, then they’re also doing lunch from 12pm. Bookings are essential, visit www.pjobriens.com.au.

In Melbourne, you can head to the Young and Jackson hotel on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets to get ‘greened up’, quite literally. As well as serving steak and Guinness pies all day, they’ll paint your face and spray your hair in green to get you in the spirit. Live entertainment will also keep you merry and it won’t cost you a pretty penny to get in.

In Brissie, Down Under Bar will have plenty of giveaways including prizes for best dressed.

Keep the party going

Once you’ve given your liver a rest, then you can boot it back into action for the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade on the 21st. The 32 counties of Ireland are represented in the parade which normally starts on the corner of George and Bathurst streets. If you want to take part, visit www.stpatricksday.org.au for more details.

Feck! Arse! Drink! Girls!
Just in case you don’t get your fill of all things Irish over St Patrick’s Day, then fear not, as Craggy Island is coming Down Under in the form of Tedfest.

The festival celebrating all things related to the cult comedy TV series Father Ted is making its debut Australian appearance this year, in Parkes, country New South Wales, over the Easter weekend (April 2-5).

Situated 365km from Sydney (or 22,985km from Galway), Parkes was deemed the obvious choice, already being host to the annual Elvis Festival.

The festival, being run by the same people that organise the original Irish equivalent, will feature events such as the Lovely Ladies competition plus the Craggy Ashes, in which an Irish 11 dressed as priests will take on an Aussie 11 dressed as Elvis.

So dust off your dog collars and nun’s outfits and start concentrating on looking holy!

Weekend tickets, including camping and a cup of tea on arrival, cost $250. Se ewww.tedfestoz.org for more info and transport deals.