Become Irish again, for a day at least
St. Patrick’s Day is back this year.
Not that he ever left. It was always on the calendar, always in people’s hearts. But a day known for its joyous and boisterous celebrations of all things Irish has been truly muted during the pandemic, which first hit the US in mid-March 2020, essentially canceling St. Patrick’s Day this year -the. In 2021, a few virtual and spaced events took place.
This year, however, most St. Patrick’s Day festivities at bars, restaurants and other venues in southern Maine will be pretty much back to normal. If you feel like it, you can have a hearty Irish breakfast while listening to Irish music, take a charity dip and basically eat corned beef and drink stout or whiskey the rest of the day at n any place.
Portland’s Grand St. Patrick’s Day Parade is also back in person this year, but it was scheduled to take place on the Sunday before the holiday, as is normally the case. Saint Patrick’s Day is Thursday, March 17.
Here are some ideas for things to do, eat and drink on St. Patrick’s Day. While indoor masking is no longer recommended for most Maine residents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, keep in mind that individual sites may have their own COVID safety measures.
A WALK AND A DIVE
If hanging out by the bar in a pub all day isn’t your thing, there are ways to get some fresh air while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
At 8 a.m. Thursday, there will be a parade starting at the Maine Irish Heritage Center on State and Gray streets in Portland’s West End. Walkers and pipers will make their way to Harborview Park on York Street, overlooking the waterfront. The purpose of the parade is to carry an Irish flag, which will be hoisted in the park to honor Irish longshoremen and their families who have lived and worked in the area for generations. After the parade, people are invited to return to the Maine Irish Heritage Center, until 10 a.m., for Irish tea and soda bread and music by Portland singer/songwriter Joe Markley. Participation is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. For more information, visit maineirish.com.
One way to make sure you’re wide awake for all the St. Patrick’s Day fun is to start your day with a dip in the freezing ocean. You can do this at a charity event called Paddy’s Day Plunge, sponsored by RiRa, an Irish pub in Portland. People who take the plunge also pledge to raise funds for the Portland Firefighters Children’s Burn Foundation. Organizers have moved this year’s dive to Willard Beach in South Portland – instead of Portland’s East End Beach, as in the past – to ensure there is plenty of room for anyone wishing to participate. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. for the 8:00 a.m. event at the beach. For more information and to register or donate, visit rira.com.
OPEN FOR BREAKFAST
Speaking of RiRa, the Irish pub on Commercial Street in Portland will be open at 7am. Their Irish breakfast includes Irish sausages, Irish slices (bacon), black pudding, sautéed mushrooms, BBQ beans, grilled tomatoes, toast, tricolor potatoes. and two eggs, for $20. Other Irish dishes on the all-day menu include shepherd’s pie, beef and Guinness pie, corned beef and cabbage, and fish and chips. The place is accepting reservations this year, as well as walk-ins. There will be live music throughout the day, including the Claddagh Mhor Pipe Band, from around 10am. For more information and to see the menu, go to rira.com.
O’Reilly’s Cure on Route 1 in Scarborough will open at 8 a.m. and its traditional Irish breakfast includes bacon, a sausage patty, three fried eggs, home fries, grilled tomatoes and soda bread for $16. There are also Irish Eggs Benedict and Baileys Irish Cream French Toast on the menu. Local favorite Don Campbell will play guitar and sing from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and there will be performances by step dancers from the Stillson School of Irish Dance in Portland and bagpiper Brian Young at various times throughout the day. , with traditional Irish dishes for lunch and dinner as well. For more information, visit oreillyscure.com.
TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to try Irish food, as many restaurants and bars serve it. Maybe you can try something you’ve never had before. Dock Fore on Commercial Street will serve corned beef and cabbage pizza for $12.95. There is mustard for the sauce, and cabbage is added after cooking. They also have corned beef and cabbage sandwiches – using the uncolored type of corned beef – for $10.95. For dessert, try a specialty Jello shot in the colors of the Irish flag.
Ryan’s Corner House Irish Pub & Restaurant in Kennebunk offers Smithwick beer battered fish and chips, Guinness beef stew and shepherd’s pie, among other dishes. Travis Cote – also known as The Barmen – will serenade people in the pub with Irish songs and folk ballads. He plays guitar, bagpipes and sings.
For those who want to try something a little more creative and sophisticated than corned beef and cabbage, MK Kitchen in Gorham is offering a three-course St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, for $35. It offers a choice of potato leek soup or wedge salad, local beef pan-fried shepherd’s pie, or spiced grilled pork loin with macaroni and cheese and fried bacon and Brussels sprouts, and cheese mousse. chocolate or tiramisu.
DRINK OLD IRELAND
Whiskey Tasting – now something most of us don’t do every day. But it’s an easy thing to do on St. Patrick’s Day. Noble Kitchen + Bar at the Brunswick Hotel in Brunswick offers an Irish Whiskey Tasting Menu for $35 that includes Powers Gold Label, Tullamore DEW and Green Spot Single Pot Irish Whiskey. There will be a whiskey tasting at Falmouth Country Club at 6 p.m., hosted by sommelier Erica Archer, who will also lead a discussion on whiskey. There will be at least five bottles of whiskey sampled, as well as charcuterie boards from Executive Chef Owen Price. Tickets are $125. To purchase, go to winewiseevents.com.
Fore River Brewing Co. in south Portland will serve its John Henry Nitro Milk Stout, Timberhitch Red Ale and Oyster Stout brewed with shells from Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, as well as a green pilsner. There will be live Irish music from Bitter Brew with Sam Mitchell and food from Cafe Louis in South Portland. Maine’s first gluten-free brewery, Lucky Pigeon Brewing in Biddeford, offers a tasting-room-only version of an Irish red beer called Kay’Lee. There will also be live music in the afternoon, starting at 2 p.m., and fish and chips from the Paddy Wagon food truck.
Liquid Riot Bottling Co. in Portland will serve its Irish stout, Irish Goodbye, as well as two whiskey cocktails, Rolling in Clover and Luck Dragon. Pepper’s Landing in Brunswick will be offering Lucky Green Cocktail specials all week, including an Irish mudslide and sangria from St. Patty’s, as well as live music from Katie Daggett from 5-8 p.m. on St. Patrick. Foundation Brewing Co. in Portland will offer its Irish stout, Mahaffey’s Finest, named after the brewery’s two owners. You can get it at the brewery or in store.
Bach Birthday Bash is back live at Merrill Auditorium