A salute to the Irish on Green Day

UP FRONT

Celebration: Can't get back to the Emerald Isle for St. Patrick's Day? Danny Boys of every stripe can toast their real or imagined Irish heritage at any number of Irish pubs in the area

March 16, 2000|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Sun Staff

'Tis a day to be green, but not with envy, for all are invited to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. 'Tis time for all lads and lassies to join the festivities, no matter if ye be Irish or not.

Sure, it would be great to celebrate the day in Ireland, but for most of us that is not a likely scenario. So don your green apparel tomorrow, grab your shamrocks and hoist a brew at one or more of the numerous celebrations in the area.

You can choose from among the many Irish pubs planning major celebrations for their biggest day of the year. St. Patrick's Day is the time for these pubs to shine. To find out how authentic Irish pubs gear up for the big day, we spoke with the owners or managers of three. "It's our biggest weekend of the year," says Colin McClure, managing partner of Mick O'Shea's Irish Pub and Restaurant in downtown Baltimore (328 N. Charles St., 410-539-7504.) "I would say it takes a significant amount of preparation."

The Irish have a term for the day and the weekend. "They call it their `High Holy Daze,' " McClure jokes.

The pub kicks off its weekend celebration early Friday evening with a performance by the band O'Malley's March.

The music starts at 6 p.m. and goes "well into the morning," McClure says. On Saturday, the band plays again beginning at 9 p.m. It isn't confirmed whether the leader of the band will make an appearance, given the demands of his day job.

The band's leader, of course, is Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Those in the know believe O'Malley will put in an appearance and play a few tunes with the band on St. Patrick's Day.

On Sunday, the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Baltimore "goes right by our front door," McClure says. The pub also is sponsoring a 5K foot race on Sunday beginning at 1: 40 p.m. (See Best Bets on Page 16 for details on the parade. Call 410-377-8882 for race information.)

McClure says there will be plenty of traditional Irish beer available at Mick's over the weekend but those looking for green beer will have to go elsewhere. "Green beer is seen as gimmicky by the die-hards," he says.

McClure loves the hoopla surrounding the holiday. "We are very committed here," he says. "We don't want to let the people down."

An Poitin Stil Irish Pub & Restaurant (2323 York Road, Timonium, 410-560-7900) is the new guy on the Irish-pub scene. It opened on Sept. 26 and has been drawing big crowds ever since. "We try to be as authentic as possible," says Rusty Williams, the general manager.

So where did they get that name? "Poitin" (put-cheen) means Irish moonshine, Williams says. "The name of the restaurant means `the moonshine still.' "

The pub is making its first St. Patrick's Day celebration a weekend event called " `Stil Smilin' Festival 2000."

Williams says, "[St. Patrick's Day] is a natural tie-in for us. Because it falls on a Friday, we will be doing a four-day festival. We will have different entertainment [each day], from traditional to not-so-traditional."

Entertainment at the festival includes Rigadoo, playing traditional Irish music today; Kevin Broesler Irish Dancers on Saturday; and Irish radio personality Ed McBride acting as DJ on Friday and Sunday.

The entertainment will take place both inside the restaurant and outside, where a tent will be set up. Sunday's celebration will include bus service from the pub to downtown for the parade and more partying back at the pub. "We are going to have a tent over about 80 percent of our parking lot," Williams says.

Naturally, there will be beer. "We will be serving a lot of Irish suds that day," Williams says. "We are serving authentic Irish beer, like Guinness, which is really dark. It would be hard to turn it green."

Just as important as the beer, to some people, is the food. "We will have our regular menu in addition to Irish bangers [sausage]," Williams says. "And corned beef and cabbage, of course."

Williams thinks the weekend will start a tradition at An Poitin Stil. "We hope to do something big like this on a year-to-year basis," he says.

For people who like to get an early start celebrating St. Pat's Day, Castlebay Irish Pub in Annapolis (193A Main St., 410-626-0165) is opening its doors at 7 a.m. "People asked if we could do a breakfast," says owner Vincent Quinlan. The answer is yes. "We usually open at 10 on Saturdays and Sundays and at 11 during the week," says Quinlan. But the pub will open four hours earlier on St. Patrick's Day.

Breakfast will be Irish style. "We will have Irish sausages, rashers [bacon], eggs, and black and white pudding, which is similar to scrapple," Quinlan says. "And we will have your normal American breakfast."

Of course, later in the day there will be corned beef, cabbage . . . and beer. Plenty of beer. "We have about eight imported beers and we brew our own, which has gotten great reviews," Quinlan says.

Music will be provided by singer Raymond Murphy of Ireland, doing all the old favorite Irish songs, Quinlan says.

Partyers at Castlebay should feel almost as if they are in Ireland, because the place was designed with the old country in mind. "The whole place is wood and stained glass. It's typical of a Dublin city bar," Quinlan says.

The owner, who was born in Dublin, still retains his Irish brogue. And when he is asked what really makes Castlebay an authentic Irish pub, he answers enthusiastically, "Me!"

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