So what does a nice Italian girl like me know about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Granted with red hair and fair skin, I’ve been confused with an Irish lass on more than one occasion, but truth be told, until recently my knowledge of the Gaelic traditions didn’t extend any further than corned beef and cabbage, and fish & chips with malt vinegar.
I’m quickly learning however that just as there’s more to being Italian than calling spaghetti sauce “gravy” and being able to quote all the Godfather movies, there’s also more to being Irish than having a surname that starts with “Mc” and a fondness for boiled potatoes.
For the real deal check out the Irish Culture Centre of New England at 200 New Boston Drive in Canton (www.irishculture.org). The Centre offers dance classes and traditional Irish music lessons, authors’ readings, a children’s story hour, educational programs and much more.
And while you’ll never get me to give up my espresso for a milky cup of tea, I’ve come to realize that the Irish have more to offer than expensive hand-knit fishermen’s sweaters and author Frank McCourt (of Angela’s Ashes fame).
Here’s how I’ll be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year:
There are St. Patrick’s Day parades in Abington and Scituate on Sunday, March 16th. Both start at 1pm. The Abington parade leaves from Abington Center, and the Scituate parade starts at Gate Middle School on First Parish Road.
The Irish are truly a friendly people, and an Irish pub has to be one of the best places to make a fast friend. So after the parade, I’ll put on my snazziest green sweater and my biggest smile and head out for a pint.
I’ve been warned to stay away from the green beer — especially when there are so many other libations to choose from. The traditionalists recommend Guinness, but that’s too rich for me. A little less heavy is the Black & Tan, made with a mix of Guinness & Bass Ale. (The Berkshire Brewing Company also bottles a Black & Tan.) But I’m more of a Smithwick’s girl, or perhaps I’ll choose a Harp.
And while I’m bellied up to the bar anyway, I may just need to try an Irish whiskey as well. I’ve been told that Jameson is the top-shelf liquor of choice, but Bushmill’s and Tullamore Dew will get the job done equally well.
There’s no shortage of places where I can lift a pint and muddle my way through the lyrics of “Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
Everyone knows about The Burren in Somerville, and personally I’ve always been partial to The Plough & Stars in Cambridge between Central and Harvard Squares, but this year I’ll be doing my drinking closer to home. TKO Sheas is at exit 14 off of route 3, and The Squires in Hanover is conveniently located on Rte. 53.
Just a little ways down the road is the British Beer Company in Pembroke. What’s so Irish about place called the BRITISH Beer Company you ask? Just this: The British Beer Company in Falmouth is host to the BBC Polar Plunge to benefit the Falmouth Service Center. Anyone who wishes to take the plunge for charity can enter by bringing a non-perishable food item donation, and in return they’ll receive a complimentary corned beef & cabbage buffet. The buffet is also open to other patrons for $5.99, with all proceeds going to the Falmouth Service Center and its food pantry. For more details check out their web site at www.britishbeer.com.
However, for the most authentic experience check out Bad Abbots in Quincy. A true Irish pub in spirit and décor, Bad Abbots is a gathering place where friendly bartenders and servers will make you feel right at home. The kitchen specializes in American and Irish cuisine, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. You can also find live music every weekend including their own house band “Tara Hill,” Wednesdays are Trivia Night, there are dart tournaments and much more.
Who knows this single Italian girl, may just end up meeting the man of her dreams on the next barstool. And if that does come to pass, and he brings me home to meet his folks, you can be sure I’ll go to Bridget’s an Irish Tradition (www.bridgetsirish.com) in the Courtyard at 10 Cordage Park Circle, Plymouth to buy his ma a hostess gift.
At Bridget’s they advertise themselves as having the best selection of imported Irish merchandise this side of the Shannon airport. Having never been anywhere near Ireland I’ll take their word for it. In addition to a wide variety of gifts and collectibles, new this year they also have a wide selection of Irish food baskets in all price ranges.
I could fall in love with a nice Irish boy. I bet he’d have a name like Michael or Danny, with red hair and a scruffy beard. God willing he’d work with his hands for a living and in the mornings when he got out of the shower, he’d have that clean outdoorsy smell of Irish Spring soap. He’d probably be a rabid Boston Celtics fan too, but I could learn to live with that.
Kiss me I’m Irish! Well at least for one day this March!