How to celebrate St. Patrick's Day the authentic way

Early Irish-American immigrants couldn't foresee the St. Patrick's Day celebrations of today: Hoards of drunken people elbowing their way to the bar for another green Bud Light.

After all, 19th Century immigrants celebrated St. Patrick's Day — always March 17 on the Feast of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland — as a way to honor their heritage while embracing their new homeland. It often came with parades, food and a little bit of partying.

It wasn't until later on that St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in Ireland. There it's a national holiday with schools and government buildings closed. Eamonn McGrath, a native Irishman and executive director of the Irish Cultural Center of New England, equates the day to the Fourth of July, where people spend time with family, attend a special Catholic mass, drink, eat and go to a parade.

McGrath claims St. Patrick's Day is "more raucously and widely" celebrated outside of Ireland than inside, a phenomenon he said makes sense. All people with Irish heritage, he said, long for home."

"You have to really leave it to know what you've left," he said. "It makes sense that it's more poignant and more expressive."

Plus, he adds, Ireland is "a nice country to be associated with."

Sure, many would concede their annual bar crawl doesn't fit traditional Irish norms, but there is a way to have your fun, fill your belly and celebrate St. Patrick's Day the authentic way.

"Pub culture was never about getting drunk," said Professor Christopher Dowd of the University of New Haven, "It was about socializing, usually around music or storytelling."

That means any St. Patrick's Day revelry should be kept social and celebratory. Here are other ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day the right way.

Eat Irish

It's peasant food, but a perfect meat and potato base for your celebration.

Shepherd's Pie is made with beef and vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes. There's colcannon, mashed potatoes mixed with a type of green, often cabbage. Irish soda bread is a simple, dense, not-too-sweet bread that goes well with corned beef and cabbage.  That dish, it turns out, may be more American than Irish. McGrath said Irish immigrants ate bacon and cabbage in the homeland. But they couldn't afford bacon in America, so they opted for the cheaper corned beef.

Don't forget about Irish boxty, a potato pancake, and Dublin coddle, a mixture of potatoes, onions and sausage topped with bacon.

Drink Irish

The Irish are known for their Guinness, but there's plenty of other beer options such as Harp, Murphy's, Smithwick's and Beamish & Crawford. If it's in the cards, Irish whiskey is always popular. Try Jameson, Bushmills and Tullamore D.E.W. For those early starters, Bailey's Irish Creme goes well in coffee.

The raucous nature of today's St. Patrick's Day celebrations, McGrath explained, doesn't rattle the Irish.

"I think people want to feel Irish for the day and feel part of the Irish diaspora," he said, but added, "it kind of feeds that old stereotype that the Irish are drunks. That's probably not a good thing."

Jam Irish

Upbeat traditional Irish music is crucial, McGrath said, to a proper St. Patrick's Day. Some Irish classics to consider: "Skibbereen," "Finnegan's Wake," and "The Fields of Athenry." Crank up the Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners and The Wolf Tones. When the fiddle and banjos wear off, there's always other Irish artists Van Morrison, The Pogues, U2 and The Cranberries.

Watch an Irish movie classic

Dowd suggests people pay homage by watching a movie rooted or set in the Emerald Isle, such as The Quiet Man, which according to IMDB, features John Wayne as a boxer who returns home to Ireland, where he falls in love. Dowd, who teaches Irish literature, also recommends The Commitments, about a Dublin soul band, andThe Wind that Shakes the Barley, a story of two brothers during the Irish War of Independence.

Read like the Irish

Dig up some Irish poetry or gothic literature. There's always James Joyce, the author of great Irish novels such as Dubliners and Finnegans Wake. There's also Bram Stoker, who brought us Dracula.

Watch Gaelic hurling and football

The two sports unique to Ireland, Gaelic hurling and Gaelic football, host championship games on St. Patrick's Day.

If you can, watch as the Irish do.

Remember Irish contributions to society

The Irish helped build canals, railroads, cities and infrastructure despite being disenfranchised and subject to prejudice.

Ideally, Dowd said, this is how most people would celebrate the day.

"Reflect on what the incredible contributions this immigrant group made to the country," he said. "Look at how an immigrant group benefited the United States in pretty profound ways."

A bagpipe player, with a beard in the colors of the Irish national flag, plays during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Munich, Germany on Sunday.
(Photo: Andreas Gebert, AP)


The best places to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Melbourne

MELBOURNE is set to turn green today as more than 20 of the city’s Irish pubs celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

And it’s not just the Irish pubs taking advantage of the celebrations, with many others also getting on board to paint the town green.

It’s no surprise Melbourne takes their St Patrick’s Day festivities seriously — the Irish were among the first Europeans to settle in Australia.

Sure some of them were convicts but more than 300,000 other Irish settlers made the trip to Australia in the 1800s and 1900s.

Saint Patrick is one of Ireland’s patron saints. He died on March 17 and is believed to have banished snakes from the country.

But why do people wear green on St Patrick’s Day? You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s because green, along with orange and white, appear on the Flag of Ireland or even taking advantage of the term “Emerald Isle”.

But according to legend, wearing green makes people invisible to leprechauns.

Whatever the reason, be sure to wear green or a shamrock brooch while out on the town celebrating in Irish style.

Celtic Club — Melbourne

Not only is it going to be a big day with lots of “craic agus ceol” (fun and music), but it’s the club’s last St Patrick’s Day in it’s current home. There will be live traditional Music from 12pm in the ‘Cu Chulainn’ bar and if you’re into Irish stew and Guinness pies, head into the Shamrock Restaurant.

PJ O’Brien’s — Southbank

Doors open at 8am on Friday for fun and frivolity including face painting, Irish dancers and live entertainment. Followed by a big breakfast on Saturday to cure your hangover.

Platform 28 — Docklands

Open all day but live music and Irish delights will be available from 5.30pm

Turf Bar — Melbourne

There will be live music, Irish-inspired food specials and plenty of Guinness flowing.

The Common Man — South Wharf

There will be live music, Guinness lamb ribs and all things green in the Clover Beer Garden.

Meat Market — Melbourne

4 Course Whiskey Degustation menu led by Jameson’s Whiskey ambassador Max Hart.

The Posty — Richmond

What says St Patricks Day other than green things and potatoes? Irish drinking songs will play all night and you can buy potato pizzas or picklebacks — shots of Jameson whisky and pickle juice.

Young and Jacksons — Melbourne

Raise a glass to the Emerald Isle and jig your little heart out to some traditional Irish music while enjoying Irish fare.

Dan O’Connel Hotel — Carlton

Breakfast will be served from 7am and or jig along to tunes played by a U2 tribute band at night.

The Melbourne Central Lion — Melbourne

With jugs of green beer and a three-hour happy hour this place is sure to be overflowing with green.

Elephant and Wheelbarrow — St Kilda

The day kicks off with a full Irish breakfast and continues throughout the day with live music and one hell of a party.

Bridie O’Reilly’s — South Yarra

This place will be one of the hottest parties once breakfast kicks off at 10am

Moonee Valley Racing

Irish dancers and a folk band will sing and dance between races.


St Patrick's Day 2017 - What's happening across Northern Ireland

Clay Pigeons

Clay pigeons consists of 4 musicians each with over 10 years in the music industry providing Americana, folk, country and bluegrass music to patrons all over Ireland and beyond. Alongside the instrumentation of banjo, guitar, bass, and drums, the band blend a warm mixture of four part harmonies into their music, creating a perfect listening experience for you to enjoy and sing along to.

Belfast Custom House Square

The city will mark St Patrick's Day with a colourful carnival parade and free concert.

The annual parade which leaves City Hall at noon will arrive at Custom House Square at approximately 12.45pm. Custom House Site opens at 12.15pm.

Concert runs from 12.45pm to 3pm. Entry to the concert will be on a first-come, first-served basis and tickets are not required. Gates will open at 12.15pm. Terms and conditions of entry will apply.

This year's concert line-up includes the headline act which is X Factor runner-up, Fleur East.  Supporting acts will include Reggie 'n' Bollie and Stooshe. There will be drumming talent from the local Belfast Boys' Model. Traditional tunes from band The Rare Aul Stuff.

The Dirty Onion Belfast

Enjoy the craic and music all day long to celebrate St Patrick's Day in Belfast.

The event schedule: four piece trad session running in sessions - 13:00-15:00, 15:00-17:00, 17:00-19:00 and 19:00-21:00. Trad with Realta will be played from 21:00 until late.

St Patrick’s weekend at St George’s Market

St Patrick's Day will be celebrated all weekend with live music, Irish dancing and Shamrock design workshops. You can enjoy an Irish Fry or Belfast bap stuffed with your favourite fillings, and you might even spot a leprechaun or two.

Friday 17 March 11am - 3pm Live traditional Irish music from An Droichead

12 noon - 2pm Make and take session - make your own Shamrock designs and take them home with you

Saturday 18 March 10am - 11.30am Live entertainment from Fortwilliam musical society

  11.30am - 3pm Live traditional Irish music from An Droichead

  1pm - 1.30pm Irish dancing

  12 noon - 2pm Shamrock make and take session

Sunday 19 March 11.30am - 3pm Live traditional Irish music from An Droichead

  12 noon - 2pm Shamrock make and take session

Age-friendly Belfast Punjana St Patrick's Day Tea Dance

There will be two tea dances at the Ulster Hall.

12 noon - 2pm and 3pm - 5pm.  Both sessions are free to attend. Call the Ulster Hall box office on 02890334455 or visit in person to get your free tickets

St Patrick's Mysterious Adventure

Visit the all-age interactive exhibition and story trail and discover first-hand the adventurous life story of St. Patrick at the Belfast Cathedral. Live actors will re-enact the tale from Patrick’s capture by Irish pirates to his return to serve the people of Ireland that he loved so well. Visit the art and history workshops, interact with the circus performers, join in with Viking battle re-enactments and enjoy live Irish music and dance.

The exhibition can be explored independently or why not wait for one of the timed performances where actors bring the story to life.

Public days: 17-18 March

Opening hours: 12pm - 4pm

All visitors are welcome to come in and explore the St. Patrick trail.

Traditional Irish music and dance in North Down Museum

Make Celtic craft, listen to folk stories from storyteller Willie Drennan and learn more about St Patrick and the time he lived in the resident monk. It promises to be a fun-filled afternoon of history and entertainment.

Admission and parking is free at the North Down Museum.

Downpatrick Home of Saint Patrick Festival 2017

The Home of St Patrick Festival 2017 taking place until March 19 is directly inspired by the life and work of St Patrick and held in the landscape once his home, in Counties Armagh and Down.

This year's festival promises to have something for everyone and will be narrated through walks, talks, bells, drums, processions, music, art and exclusive concerts set in breath-taking locations. Many Irish and international artists will come together for this year’s programme to include world renowned writers such as Elif Shafak and one-time punk royalty, Viv Albertine, and some as far as Australia too arrive to celebrate the life of the Spiritual Father of our island.

Festival highlights:

St Patrick’s Vigil commencing at Church of Ireland Cathedral and ending at Roman Catholic Cathedral, Thursday March 16

Visitors are invited to meet at St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral at 9pm where Archbishop Richard Clarke will lead the congregation in prayer. He will then guide the congregation via torchlight to St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral to be welcomed by Archbishop Eamon Martin. This symbolic expression of the unity of the Churches is a reflection of St. Patrick’s own journey of uniting the Irish people with Christianity.

St Patrick’s Carnival Procession, Friday March 17

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Armagh with a spectacular display of colour, music, dance and entertainment for all to enjoy as the wonderful procession themed around ‘Myths & Legends’ snakes its way through the city centre.

Voice of the Irish Festival Closing Concert at Newry Cathedral, Sunday March 19

The Voice of the Irish concert takes its inspiration from St. Patrick writing in his Confessio that it was literally ‘the voice of the Irish’ calling to him to return and introduce Christianity to Ireland. This inaugural concert with its own inspirational complement of up to 100 young musicians from across Ireland performing a programme of popular songs, movie themes and classics interspersed with readings and performances by some of Ireland’s leading actors and musicians. A unique experience of one of the largest orchestral line-ups ever in a wonderful Cathedral acoustic.

St Patrick's Day Spring Carnival - Londonderry

A feast of great events featuring music, dance, food, folklore and more.

St Patrick’s Day Parades March 17, 14:00- 15:00 - Community, arts and performance groups from across the council area and beyond take to the streets in vibrant celebration.

LegenDerry Food Festival March 17-19, 12:00 - 18:00

The Award Winning Festival is back showcasing the talents of local chefs and producers. Live Cooking Demos, Artisan Foods, Street Theatre, Music, Kids workshops and Activities.

The Ubuntu Global Festival March 18, 12:00 - 16:30

Experience a multi-cultural celebration of Music, Performance, Arts and Craft at the Craft Village, Urban Villages Marquee, Bishop Street and GSCA Communities

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra

A truly traditional St Patrick's Day with this unique festival of music, seasonal foods and crafts.

Come and enjoy the beauty of the Folk Museum at Cultra as you stroll around the grounds at the start of spring. Join in to celebrate St Patrick's Day and be taken back to traditional celebrations from over 100 years ago.

Don't forget to bring your dancing shoes to join in and learn traditional set dancing to live music.

A visit to the stunning 'Step in Time: A Story of Irish Dance' exhibition in the Folk Galleries has never been more fitting on this day

Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh

Join the Ulster American Folk Park this St Patrick's Day and attend the 'American Wake'.

Countless thousands of people left Ireland in the 18th and 19th Centuries. For many, the hours before departure became known as the 'American or Living Wake'. Watch this dramatic re-enactment complete with music and song.

The performances commence at 12pm and 2pm.

Normal admission rates apply.

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