Date published: March 8, 2010

Go Green 10 fun ways to celebrate Irish culture in Boston
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 (75 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 Ireland.

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 28, the library hosts the special exhibit A Poet at Work: Brendan Galvin's Papers.

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 on March 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 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. on March 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, the 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 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: