Trafalgar Square in London on St. Patrick's Day

A British company is offering cheap flights to London for St. Patrick’s Day, suggesting the experience almost as good as visiting Ireland.

Virgin Atlantic is offering special-deal flights to London from $209 between March 9 and March 18 2010, and advertising London as the place to be on March 17.

“The spirit of the Green Isle is alive and well in London, home to one of the largest communities of Irish expats in the world,” Virgin Atlantic proclaim. “Knees up!” They add.

The firm doesn’t mention that another large ex-pat Irish community is in New York, from whence you’ll fly.

The ad continues, “No St. Paddy’s day in the UK would be complete without seeing the jaw-dropping floats and colorful displays of pride in London’s St. Patrick’s Day.” The parade is in Trafalgar square, admittedly a beautiful and historic location. Yet its name celebrates a British military victory (over the French) and it is home to a column celebrating British admiral Nelson. A monument to the same admiral in Dublin was blown up in 1966.

The ad is a strange mish-mash of cultures. Nobody in Ireland calls the country the Green Isle, and “knees up” is a British, not an Irish phrase (according to Wikipedia it’s associated with Cockney London slang).

It ends with a friendly Irish phrase, “slainte chugat,” which is odd considering Irish is not a language much spoken in London.

Whether this is genuine enthusiasm for Irish culture or a cynical marketing ploy on the part of Virgin Atlantic, we leave that up to Irish Americans to decide. Would you prefer to be in London, for Paddy’s Day, or Dublin?