St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish celebration originally created for the feast day of St. Patrick, the man who heroically drove the snakes out of Ireland. The holiday has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture and heritage that is acknowledged by the Irish and non-Irish alike.
Unfortunately, Ireland’s heritage and culture have been swept away by a river flowing of Guinness.
The alcohol content of the holiday has certainly overshadowed the true meaning of what it is to be Irish. But not all culture has been lost.
In Philadelphia, lads and lasses are gathering to observe the Irish culture in festivities that go beyond the bar.
St. Patrick’s Day would not be complete without the traditional Irish jig and dancing.
At the Zellerbach Theater on University of Pennsylvania’s campus, Mick Moloney’s Irish-American Music and Dance Festival is filled with the sounds of Ireland. From the Irish dancers of the McDade School of Irish Dance to the fiddle and flute players, this performance will surely put you in the Irish spirit this St. Patty’s Day.
The event begins at 6 p.m. and tickets, from $23-$47, are on sale at Penn’s Annenburg Center Web site at www.pennpresents.org.
If you’re in the mood for a more soothing sound, the Academy of Music will also host a performance by the Celtic Woman on Sunday, March 19. These five women will serenade you with Irish classics such as “O Danny Boy” and “May It Be.” Tickets start at $32 and are available for purchase online at the Kimmel Center online box office at www.kimmelcenter.org.
Besides music, cuisine (no not beer!) is always a great way to learn more about Irish culture. Irish bars across the city that – for the sake of this article we will disguise as restaurants – will serve traditional Irish food beyond just potatoes. So put on your “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-shirt and stumble on over to the Irish Pub for some Irish soda bread. The Irish Pub has two locations at 2007 Walnut St. and 1123 Walnut St.
Moriarty’s, another Philly favorite, will be serving its infamous Guinness-blend, Irish stew. The New Deck Tavern on Penn’s campus at 34th and Sansom streets will be cooking up ham and cabbage and fish and chips for their menu of Irish delicacies.
If you don’t have time to go out and get some grub on the holiday itself, don’t worry.
The Plough and the Stars at 123 Chestnut St. will host a St. Patrick’s Day brunch on Sunday, March 19. From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the restaurant will serve its made-on-site, Western European influence appetizers and entrees, along with its popular traditional Irish breakfast, to the hungriest of St. Patty’s Day partiers.
For authentic Irish food, try the black and white pudding, shepherd’s pie or the Guinness casserole, simmered in Guinness beer.
“It’s a different taste, but it’s really lovely,” said owner Marion Ryder, who was born and raised in Dublin before settling in Philadelphia 18 years ago. “We have a French chef who has a grandmother from Ireland, but there’s a Celtic and Western European influence [to the food] too.”
Lunch entrees cost from $8 to $12, including the braised Irish cured ham and cabbage, eggs benedict with crab meat and the smoked salmon sandwich. The Irish beans and Irish bacon are imported from Ireland, Ryder said.
With all this food, some exercise is in order. Sweat it all out of your system Saturday, March 18th at the Fourth Annual Fighting Irish 5K and 1 Mile Fun Walk. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and costs $25.
The race, one of the largest 5K events in Philadelphia, starts at 9 a.m. Runners line up at the Chestnut Hill Academy where there will also be live Irish music, food and raffles.
The grand prize is an all-expenses paid trip for two to Ireland. For more information, log onto the official Web site at www.fightingirish5k.com.
St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year that drinking more than your body weight is completely acceptable, but let’s not forget where this holiday came from.
Take advantage of Philadelphia’s Irish pride and drink in the Irish heritage, along with its fine scotch and beer.
Caitlin Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.