Date published: March 8, 2010
10 fun ways to celebrate Irish culture
by Josh B. Wardrop
1. Eat a hearty Breakfast
Any busy day of exploring Irish culture in Boston should start off with the most
important meal of the day, and the Irish certainly know a thing or two about that.
When you're in the mood for a heaping plate of fried sausages, eggs, bacon, baked
beans and the ever-mysterious black pudding (a sausage made from cooked, congealed
animal blood) there are plenty of eateries and pubs in the area that do the traditional
Irish breakfast deliciously and authentically, such as The Independent
Union Square, Somerville, 617-440-6022); The Asgard
; The Lansdowne
The Green Briar
(304 Washington St., Brighton, 617-789-4100); and Matt Murphy's
(14 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-232-0188).
2. Take a stroll along the Irish Heritage Trail
This three-mile self-guided walking tour through downtown Boston, the North End,
Beacon Hill and Back Bay details more than 300 years of Irish history, showcasing
the politicians, artists and war heroes who personify the rebellious and triumphant
nature of the Boston Irish. View a garden dedicated to Boston's most famous Irish-American
matriarch, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy; see a flag waved by the entirely Irish 9th Regiment
of Infantry during the Civil War; and visit a memorial commemorating the tragic
Great Famine that claimed a million lives and forced two million others to flee
3. Check out local libraries
March may be the month that everyone's a little Irish, but some of Boston's cultural
institutions offer opportunities to learn about Irish culture all year long. Boston
College's John J. Burns Library
(Bapst Library Building on the BC campus)
offers one of the finest assemblages of Irish cultural artifacts in the city, including
thousands of newspapers, periodicals, land deeds and rare books and manuscripts
by prominent Irish names like Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett and William Butler Yeats;
an extensive Irish music collection; and a digital database that includes a photographic
retrospective of longtime Speaker of the House Thomas J. "Tip" O'Neill. Through May
, the library hosts the special exhibit A Poet at Work: Brendan Galvin's
The Boston Public Library
houses within its voluminous collections an Irish
Studies section with subsections that includes tomes on Irish legal history, modern
Irish history and a "literary Dublin" collection. And if exploring general Irish
history isn't enough for you, the BPL offers a chance to trace your own family tree
to the Auld Sod, hosting an Irish-American Catholic genealogy talk on March 24
at 6:30 p.m.
at the library's central branch in Copley Square.
Finally, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
honors the personal
history of Boston's most famous Irish-American, and celebrates JFK's Celtic heritage
and pride in its many exhibits, including one that traces the history of the Kennedy
clan all the way back to the Fitzgeralds' and the Kennedys' respective emigration
to the U.S. from Ireland.
4. Wave a flag at the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade
The traditionally Irish neighborhood of South Boston is the epicenter of St. Patrick's
Day celebrations in Boston, most notably demonstrated by its legendary parade, one
of the largest St. Patrick's Day events in the world. Every year, 600,000 Bostonians
and visitors pack the streets of "Southie" to experience this festive procession
featuring marching and bagpipe bands from America and the Emerald Isle, exciting
floats and other Gaelic-inspired treats. The 109th annual parade kicks off at 1 p.m.
on Sunday, March 14
, from the Broadway MBTA station on the Red Line.
5. Get Frisky with Whiskey
When an Irishman raises a glass to toast special occasions ("Beannachtam na Feile
Padraig," for example, means "Happy St. Patrick's Day"), more often than not it's
filled with that Celtic liquor of choice-a fine malted whiskey. If you've ever wanted
to be more educated about this popular libation, the Boston Center for Adult Education
(122 Arlington St.) is offering a one-night Irish Whiskey Tasting
17 at 6 p.m.
Master of Scotch Brad Jarvis discusses the major differences
in style between the North and South regions of Ireland, while deciphering terms
like "pot still style" and "in-peated single malts." Visit
www.bcae.org or call 617-267-4430 for more information
6. Show your Celtic Pride
In the Hub, green isn't just the hue of shamrocks and leprechauns-it's the fighting
color of our beloved Boston Celtics
, who head into the home stretch of their
regular season in March and early April. With a third consecutive year of playoff
basketball in the offing, there's no better time than this month to cheer on Paul
Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and the rest of the Cs as they take on opponents
like the New York Knicks (March 17
), the San Antonio Spurs (March 28
and the Cleveland Cavaliers (April 4
) at TD Garden.
7. (Drop) Kick out the Jams
Man cannot get by on "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smilin'" alone, so when
March rolls around in Boston, we're fortunate to have hometown Celtic/punk superstars
The Dropkick Murphys
on hand to rip it up. The band behind hits like "I'm
Shipping Up to Boston" and "The State of Massachusetts" plays its traditional six-night
March residency at the House of Blues in the shadow of the band's beloved Fenway
Park. The hottest ticket in town, the shows take place at 7 p.m.
12, 14, 15, 16 & 17
, with two shows on March 13 at 1 and 8 p.m.
8. Give Two (Green) Thumbs Up
Ireland has appeared on movie screens for generations, serving as the setting for
films ranging from classics like "The Quiet Man" to '90s hits like "The Commitments"
and "Waking Ned Devine" to the recent "Leap Year." From March 25-28
Boston Irish Film Festival
screens the next generation of beloved Irish cinema,
presenting the cream of the crop of contemporary films detailing the Irish experience.
The festival awards prizes for the best film and best documentary, and has annually
honored a prominent Irish filmmaker with the Excellence Award (prior winners include
directors John Boorman and Jim Sheridan and actors Gabriel Byrne and Aidan Quinn).
For schedule of films and ticket information, visit
9. Crawl Around Faneuil Hall
Celebrating an evening soaking in the Celtic culture of Boston at one of its many
exceptional Irish pubs is a guaranteed good time-however, doing it at 13 of the
city's best pubs is an adventure. Local party purveyors Boston Party Tours have
teamed with travel providers Tenon Tours to present the second annual Boston St.
Patrick's Irish Pub Challenge
on March 13
. Participants pay $25,
split into teams and are given free admission to a baker's dozen of Irish pubs around
bustling Faneuil Hall. Over a 13-hour span (pacing yourself is, admittedly, critical),
you'll drink in the atmosphere (and other things) at bars like The Black Rose, Kitty
O'Shea's, The Purple Shamrock, The Harp
and others. Best of all, 13 lucky
pub crawlers win a free round-trip flight from Boston to Shannon, Ireland for the
International Irish Pub Challenge in May. Visit
www.bostonirishpub.com for more information
10. .Or Just Choose One Pub, and Say "Slainte!"
If you regard drinking as less of an endurance sport and more of a relaxing
way to spend an evening with friends, pick one of the following area Irish pubs
and you'll be filled with the spirit of St. Patrick all March long:
- McGreevy's, 911 Boylston St., 617-262-0911. Co-owned by Dropkick Murphys
founder Ken Casey, this Back Bay watering hole is beloved by rock fans and Boston
- The Burren. This friendly pub offers Irish set dancing classes every Monday
and serves patrons food and drink to live Celtic music nightly.
- The Kinsale. Located in Government Center, just steps from City Hall, this
warm and homey pub/restaurant was designed and built in Ireland, with stained glass
windows and dark wooden beams evoking an Old World feel.
- Doyle's, 3484 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-2345. Since its inception
in 1882, Doyle's has been a popular spot for Irish politicians (Boston's had a few,
as you can imagine), and each St. Paddy's Day the pub hosts a battle of the bagpipe
- Porter Belly's. Situated in Brighton, a traditionally Irish community on
the outskirts of Boston, Porter Belly's offers a varied menu of food and drink and
a younger vibe courtesy of its proximity to Boston University and Boston College.
- Woody's L Street Tavern, 658 E. 8th St., South Boston, 617-268-4335. Made
famous when it was used as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's hangout in the film Good
Will Hunting, this small and unassuming neighborhood bar is a huge draw for out-of-towners,
to the resigned bemusement of its clientele of locals.