St. Patrick’s Day is a big event here. That’s because the Irish have left their own unmistakeable mark on the Canary Islands, changing their history and becoming Lanzarote’s most loyal and faithful market.
It’s surprising how many Canarians have a bit of Irish in them. In times gone by, Irish merchants set up on the islands and many of them soon went native, marrying locals and forming small dynasties. The elegant main shopping street in La Palma’s capital Santa Cruz is called Calle O’Daly, while at least two streets in Arrecife are named after descendants of the Topham family.
One of the Canaries’ greatest footballers was Luis Molowny, who played for and later managed Real Madrid during their glory years, while the Canarian anthem Arrorro is a local island lullaby orchestrated by the Irish-Canarian composer Teobaldo Power.
More recently, Ireland has developed a special relationship with Lanzarote, the island that has won the Irish Travel Awards Best Sun and Best Winter Sun Destination year after year after year. Almost 300,000 Irish people flew to Lanzarote in 2019 – not many compared to the amount of British who come, but an immense amount when you consider that the population of the republic is less than 5 million. That means that one in sixteen Irish citizens came to Lanzarote last year.
Those figures are rising. Irish tourists have no Brexit worries and don’t even have to change their money. You’ll see a lot of Euros with harps on them in Lanzarote.
Each resort offers loads of lively Irish bars and there are all sorts of strong links between the sandy island in the sun and the green one in the rain.
And those links are particularly strong in March, starting with the Cheltenham festival – four days of racing that attract a huge Irish following and are shown in all the resorts.
On Saturday14th, bars will be packed once again as France host Ireland in the final match of this year’s Six Nations Rugby Tournament. There’s a carnival parade in Costa Teguise on the same evening for those who really want to celebrate.
Then Tuesday, March 17th is the day when locals, residents and tourists of all nationalities come together to wear the green, celebrate the Ireland – Lanzarote connection and lift a glass to San Patricio.
There’ll be celebrations all over the island, but the main event is in Lanzarote’s biggest resort, Puerto del Carmen, where the Old Town is the cradle of the Irish community here.