What first comes to mind when you think of Saint Patrick’s Day?
Drinking green beer, parades, and revelry? Or, displaying at least a wee bit of reverence and solemnity for the 5th century saint, who died on March 17, and is more than just the Patron Saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick is also the patron saint of Australia, Nigeria, and many other areas of the world. What began as a religious holiday now takes many forms.
Here are some other distinctively brilliant ways to celebrate this Saint Patrick’s Day season. Be forewarned, however, not all of them involve the color Kelly green.
There are two main events occurring in Kerrytown on Saint Patrick’s Day: “Leprechaun Mask Making Merriment” and the “Leprechaun Parade.”
“This was very popular last year!” according to Heather O’Neal, about the Leprechaun Parade. “Hoping for a sunny day again.”
The Leprechaun Mask Making Merriment is Sunday, March 17, 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Materials provided. All ages welcome.
Parade starts on the 2nd floor near the Kerrytown Chime and winds through Kerrytown, the Farmers’ Market, and along nearby streets.
Find the Kerry in Kerrytown
Not many people are aware that the derivation of the word “Kerry” is actually Gaelic in origin. Kerry is a county in southwestern Ireland. In Ann Arbor, the historic Kerrytown district, much like the cosmopolitan town of Dublin, includes many fun and distinct shops, artisan stores, and grocers. So, instead of making the traditional Irish-American Saint Patrick’s Day fare of corned beef and cabbage for your family, you might test out Kerrytown’s Monahan’s Seafood Market and get some fresh wild salmon to prepare. Salmon is actually a huge staple in Ireland, almost a national dish, as well as healthful. You could also travel to Kerrytown’s Sparrow Meats and Produce to purchase key ingredients to create Irish scones, Irish soda bread, and an Irish Green Goddess Salad. Also at Kerrytown is Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars, where you can find many herb flavored specialties.
Traditional Irish Musical Fare and Food
As part of a tradition now, on Saint Patrick’s Day, Conor O’Neills offers a traditional all-day Irish music session, opening at 7:00 a.m. During the day, like the national parades in Boston and New York, they feature musicians playing the bagpipes and traditional Irish dance. Conor O’Neills is also known for their unique traditional Irish food, like Donegal Fry and Irish Sausage.
“We always serve Irish food–it is on our menu every day–we import our flour to make our brown bread from Ireland,” said the General Manager of Conor O’Neills, Caroline Kaganov. “We import our Irish Bacon and Sausage and Black and White Pudding for our Irish Breakfast. We have traditional Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, Irish Stew, Fisherman’s Pie, and an amazing Potato and Leek Soup.”
You could also enjoy the most quintessential Irish beer: a jar of Guinness.
“We never serve green beer–green beer is not Irish–Guinness is Irish and that is black!” said Kaganov.
“I am personally from Dublin. I am the General Manager,” said Kagonov. “One of the the owner’s family is from Sligo, the other owner is from Middleton, County Cork. We have many staff from Ireland, a manager from Cork, another manager from Mayo, a bartender from Cork, a bartender from Lurgan, a server from Donegal, another from Belfast. And everything inside the pub came from Ireland, the bar, the stone, the bric-a-brac. We brought an Irish artist to paint the pub.”
Many people in the area do not realize the remarkable fact that Conor O’Neills was actually designed and built abroad in Ireland. The front of the pub is uniquely designed to be the “shop pub” with real-wood flooring and plentiful shelves to display authentic Irish-American merchandise. They call the back section of O’Neills the “cottage wall,” a spot of the pub that is perfect for traditional Irish storytelling, conversations, music, and more. The O’Neills themselves describe the overall ambience of the Irish pub with great pride too: “Throughout the pub we’ve displayed Irish bric-a-brac that represents Irish music, literature, sports, and history.”
Perhaps then, Saint Patrick’s Day is not just a day when “everyone is Irish for the day,” but we also pay tribute to the contributions of Irish and Irish-Americans to the world: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Michael Collins, Eugene O’Neill, Grace Kelly, Georgia O’Keeffe, Danica Patrick. And we also celebrate the approximately 36 millions people in the United States who self-identify as Irish, about 11% of the U.S. population according to Census figures.
Hang Out with Church Folk
In countries where Saint Patrick is the patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Day is a holy day of obligation. Many people attend church in the United States and around the world that day. One church in the area of particular note is Old Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Whitmore Lake. This church advertises itself this way on its website: “This historic Roman Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Lansing is the oldest English-speaking Catholic church in the State of Michigan.”
After church, some may choose to read to their children about the history of Saint Patrick. One popular book on Saint Patrick is Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola. Along with beautiful illustrations that include Celtic art, there are five legends about Saint Patrick, including the more popular stories about driving all the snakes out of Ireland, and the representation of the Holy Trinity in the clover.
Order Some Zingerman’s Irish Fare
“Whether or not you’re one of the over one hundred million people worldwide who claim at least partial Irish ancestry, join us at Zingerman’s Deli for an array of traditional fare as you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day this year,” boasts Zingerman’s.
Zingerman’s Deli offers Corned Beef and Cabbage (order ahead at www.zcob.me/stpaddys); Zingerman’s Bakehouse Irish Brown Soda Bread; Boxty (an Irish potato pancake), Concannon (from Gaelic “cal ceannann” meaning white-headed cabbage, a dish with potatoes, kale, leeks), Shepherd’s Pie, and Danny Boy (a not-so-traditional mocha with Irish Cream syrup).”
Stay Home and Watch a Good Irish-American Film
Turner Classics is celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day again this year with many Irish or Irish-American themes all day long. Turner is featuring many films by Irish-American director John Ford, who was born John Martin “Jack” Feeney. He won four Academy Awards for Best Director in 1935, 1940, 1941, and 1952, which remains a record. The films that Ford won best director for were “The Informer” (1935), “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940), “How Green Was My Valley” (1941), and “The Quiet Man” (1953).
The films featured on Turner include “Young Cassidy” (1965), which is a true story by the playwright Sean O’Casey about the trials and tribulations of his life as a working-class bloke in Dublin. The film is directed by Jack Cardiff and John Ford. “The Quiet Man” (1952) is about an Irish ex-boxer who retires in Ireland, featuring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Barry Fitzgerald. This film won Oscars for Best Director and Cinematography. “Rising of the Moon” features three short films introduced by Tyrone Power and was shot entirely in Ireland.’
Regardless of what you and your loved ones do on Saint Patrick’s Day, also try out a little Gaelic during this season, with a proverb or blessing, such as:
“Slainte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mna go deo.”
“Good health to the men and women and may they live forever.”