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The Crescent City and the Irish go way back: the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration was held in 1809, not long after the first wave of Irish settlers arrived in New Orleans. St. Patrick’s Church was founded in 1833. It was Irish workers who built the New Basin Canal and started Hibernia Bank. I found this all out when researching for this article and the vast majority of my searches returned lots and lots of … drinking establishments. I had to laugh: totally appropriate for both New Orleans and the social nature of Irish culture; it’s easy to see why we’ve coexisted peacefully for all these years!
There are a slew of Irish pubs in this city, and each is likely to have its own special St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Start with your favorites and see what festivities they have to offer for the Gaelic holiday and go from there. For example, Kerry’s (331 Decatur) will be having their annual party on March 17 and will have live music all day, including local Celtic favorite Beth Patterson in the afternoon. Parasol’s (2533 Constance) and Tracey’s (2604 Magazine) are both known for their annual block parties and will have all-day events on March 14, 16, and 17. Other options include Ryan’s (241 Decatur), The Holy Ground (3340 Canal), Erin Rose (811 Conti), Molly’s (732 Toulouse), Mick’s (4801 Bienville), Fahy’s (540 Burgundy) and Finn McCool’s (3701 Banks).
If you’ve been having Mardi Gras withdrawals, now’s the time to get your parade fix: Friday, March 15, Molly’s at the Market (1107 Decatur) will be hosting their annual Jim Monaghan’s Parade featuring carriages and marching groups. Saturday, after a noon mass at St. Mary’s Assumption, the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club Parade will roll – try to catch enough cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to make a great stew that night. Finally, on Sunday evening, the Downtown Irish Club Parade will begin its annual walk, stopping into pubs along the route and giving out free kisses. It ends near Bourbon, so gear up to party!
In addition to going Irish for St. Patrick’s Day, you can immerse yourself in the culture year-round in New Orleans. The Irish House (1432 St. Charles), owned by Irishman Matt Murphy is open for brunch, lunch and dinner – they even have a gluten-free menu! Their “full Irish breakfast” with black and white pudding looks especially hearty, and I’m a devotee of fish and chips as the perfect comfort food. They will be having an all-day block party on Sunday, March 17, so stop by to see live music, including the Crescent City Celtic Band.
If drinking isn’t your thing, visit the Irish Cultural and Heritage Museum at 933 Conti. You’ll find a wealth of information on the influence of the Irish on New Orleans culture and have a chance to watch the award-winning documentary, “Irish New Orleans.” On March 13, you can also visit Prytania Theatre for “A Pint and a Picture” program, co-sponsored by the Irish Network New Orleans and the New Orleans Irish Film Fest. They’ll be showing “Hear My Song” at 7:30 p.m., with optional drinks being served first.
Remember to dress in your best green, look out for flying cabbage, and sláinte with your green beer. We’ll see you out there. Erin Geaux Bragh!