St. Patrick’s Day for the Non-Irish
There’s almost nothing more offensive to a true Irishman/woman than watery green beer and the fools pretending to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day, so if that is your typical experience, you are sorely missing out on the entire point. You need a to procure a properly poured Guinness, pull up a chair, and tuck into a plate of fish & chips, or bangers & mash (Newsflash: corned beef & cabbage is NOT an Irish dish), and remember that the day commemorates Saint Patrick, the founder of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. If you are not Irish, take a page from them and make it about the camaraderie– hanging out with friends, and especially making new ones, even if for just the day!
Admittedly, being a Frenchman, I am in the minority, but lucky to have some great friends that are Irish true and through, and so I’ve have been tagging along with the McKinney’s on their St Patty’s Day shenanigans for over 15 years, listening to some fine music, meeting some wonderful people, and hearing some great stories along the way. Depending on the weather, we may take in the Saint Paul Annual St Patrick’s Day parade, and all the festivities going on around Rice Park, but the pubs are the place(s) to be!
Like most cultures, the Irish are steeped in tradition, my friends’ yearly tour of the best Irish bars in the cities begins by hailing a taxi at 8am and having breakfast at O’Donovan’s, one of the most authentic-looking Irish pubs in the Twin Cities, and should be– being it is the first Irish pub in Minneapolis that was built entirely in Ireland– Or the long-favorite, Kieran’s, before making way east to St. Paul where the true Irish spirit lives. Here are a few of the places on our itinerary that you should consider checking out:
This friendly neighborhood pub is located in the bottom corner of an old Victorian building. Weather permitting, which is rare for SPD itself, they have a beautiful outdoor patio.
Another bar what was built in Ireland before being re-assembled on-site, right across from Xcel Center. Always a lively crowd. It’s a very authentic looking Irish pub with tin ceilings, and little rooms that offer some privacy for your group.
Another giant casual Irish beer hall type restaurant. Great atmosphere for socializing. It’s kind of the “Cheers” of 7th street, very family friendly and they have amazing burgers!
The family-owned Ogara’s, celebrating it’s 75th year this year, is a St Paul institution. Consisting of a main bar, the Shamrock Room, O’Gara’s Garage and the Brew Pub, this place is much more than your average Irish pub, from the hand-painted cobblers mural to the shillelagh (an old Irish weapon) hanging over the bar comes straight from County Sligo, home of the first O’Gara clan. (Be sure to check out their sweet potato tots!)
The closest thing to a traditional Irish pub that you’ll find in St. Paul, and one of the best places in the Twin Cities to catch some live Irish music 6 days a week. Unfortunately, they don’t serve food, but always have a food truck on hand for SPD.
Half Time Rec (also well known for being the bar in the movie “Grumpy Old Men)
Our yearly tour inverbly wraps up here. It is such a community gathering place with great food, indoor bocce downstairs, and the bagpipers that magically appear and wind through the bar. Always raucous live music and a great way to end the night.
So a few tips for all the non-Irish revelers this year: Wear green, but don’t be ridiculous. Skip the green beer and go for an authentic draft or good Irish whiskey. Drink responsibly and get home safely. Go out of your way to make some new friends. And be respectful (no leprechaun jokes!)
It’s always a crazy, crowded, fun time. And again, the best part is the sense of welcoming community. But St Patrick’s Day always leaves me with one unanswered question: “Who the #@&$ is Alice?!” The world may never know…