Jigs Are Out, Charleston Is In on St. Patrick's Day in Killarney

KILLARNEY, Ireland -- St. Patrick's Day usually brings to mind images of green beer and shamrocks, not leprechauns doing the Charleston and the music of barbershop quartets.

That is, unless you happen to be celebrating the holiday here, in County Kerry.

Almost 3,000 revelers -- many donning period costumes -- are expected to flow into Killarney for the fourth annual Roaring 1920s Festival, according to the event's chairman Eamon Daly.

Daly, who also is general manager of the Southern Hotel Killarney, said that the goal is for this to be the "largest St. Patrick's Day celebration in Ireland and one of the largest in Europe."

In addition to the festivities taking place in Killarney, a number of tour operators are offering programs to the Emerald Isle that include taking part in St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

For example, Celtic Tours International offers a seven-night itinerary that takes participants to Dublin on St. Patrick's Day.

The trip is priced at $1,249 per person, double, including roundtrip air from New York or Boston.

The company can be reached at (800) 833-4373 or (518) 862-0042.

Avanti Destinations offers a three-night weekend package to Dublin departing March 15 that is priced from $399 per person, land only.

Other operators offering scheduled departures are Aer Lingus, at (800) 223-6876, and CIE Tours International, at (800) CIE-TOUR.

The Roaring 1920s Festival originated at the Southern Hotel and drew about 1,000 people its first year, according to Daly.

This year, the celebration will be held from March 15 to 18.

Festival goers can listen to the harmonies of champion barbershop quartets from all over the world and enjoy a 1920s St. Patrick's Day parade featuring vintage cars and steam engines.

The highlight of the celebration is the Great Gatsby Masquerade Ball at the Great Southern Hotel Killarney.

Daly said the 1920s theme was chosen for many reasons.

"It was an exciting era, and the theme can incorporate any number of events that have a wide appeal," he said.

Daly has been marketing the event to U.S. travel agents and tour operators through direct mail, and the number of visitors from the U.S. continues to grow each year.

Several hotels in Killarney and the surrounding area

are offering packages to the festival.

For example, a two-night package at the 180-room Great Southern Hotel Killarney is priced at $206 per person, double; for three nights, the price is $270.

The property can be booked through Utell International at (800) 448-8355 or directly at (011) 353 643-1262.

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