03/11/2013 05:20 EDT | Updated 05/11/2013 05:12 EDT

St. Patrick's Day Brings Joy All the Way to Canada

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We're at our local in the village of Templetuohy in County Tipperary. Tuohy, as the locals endearingly call it, is so small you'll be hard-pressed to find it on your GPS. Yet, it is home to three distinct pubs and enough patrons to keep them all in business. Ours is perfection, in my opinion. A slightly surly publican pours pints of Guinness and Carlsberg behind the bar while the locals (mostly farmers) are engrossed with the dart competition on the television.

The fire roars on at closing time, which means that when 2 a.m. hits the owner will simply lock the door, close the curtains and continue selling booze to his customers. The only change, now that it's "closed," is the customers all suddenly light up their previously withheld cigarettes. We continue drinking and socializing until 5 a.m.

The whole world loves the Irish. How could anyone not? No other country is as stereotypically drunk, fun and friendly. No other country has been the direct or indirect cause of populating so many other countries (did you know that Ireland is the only European Union member state that doesn't have a declining birth rate?). In North America and other places in the New World, millions claim Irish ancestry and take extreme pride in their roots.

St. Patrick's Day in Canada

Maybe that's why we take St. Patrick's Day so seriously in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador, a province almost exclusively made up of Irish descendants, is one of two places in the whole world outside of Ireland that treats St. Patrick's Day as a public holiday (Montserrat is the other).

Montreal boasts the longest-running St. Patrick's Day parade in the country (since 1824) and Toronto maintains a very large and representative St. Patrick's Day Parade every year, with floats from nearly every county in Ireland.

But how do these festivities hold up to the main event in the founding nation? In Dublin, St. Patrick's celebrations aren't just for the day (although they do enjoy a public holiday each March 17). This year, from March 14-18, the St. Patrick's Festival is a multi-day celebration of "Irish-ness."

Story by Janine MacLean Food Columnist

Visit to read the rest of this article and find out the best bars to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Canada

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