St. Patrick’s in the city
By Elizabeth Sheeran
It’s a great time for the Irish and the Irish-at-heart. Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t officially here until this Sunday, March 17, but Somerville has already started celebrating.
“Saint Patrick’s Day started on March 1st. It’s Saint Patrick’s month now,” said Desmond Rushe, manager of The Burren in Davis Square, one of many local pubs taking traditional Irish hospitality up a notch this week.
Saint Paddy’s Day festivities got off to a running start in Somerville on Sunday morning, March 10, with the annual Rás na hÉireann U.S.A., or “The Race of Ireland and the U.S.A.” Around five thousand runners descended on Davis Square for the colorful five-kilometer run, many decked out for the occasion with kilts, caps, and all shades of green. In fact, the “wearing of the green” took on a whole new meaning for one runner painted head-to-toe as the Incredible Hulk.
Alderman Jack Connolly said he was running the road race for the 12th time. “I don’t care how fast I run,” said Connolly. “As a second generation Irish-American in Somerville, I’m delighted to be a small part of this. This is not only a symbol of all things Irish in Somerville today, but we have a huge debt to all the Irish that settled here years ago and helped make Somerville what it is.”
Connolly said the event was also a great economic boon for businesses in the area, especially coffee shops, restaurants and pubs. “Every pub in the city is fully staffed today, and the business they’ll do will be off the charts,” he said.
Indeed, Irish celebration has always meant good drink, good food, good music and good storytelling, and you can find all of those things in Somerville this week.
Need some hearty sustenance to get you through this weekend’s festivities? You can start off your Saint Patrick’s Day with a traditional Irish breakfast of rashers (Irish bacon), baked beans, grilled tomatoes, fried potatoes, eggs, soda bread, and black and white pudding, which is not a dessert dish but a sausage made with meat, oatmeal and barley, with pig’s blood being the extra special ingredient in the black pudding.
For early risers, The Burren in Davis Square, Bull McCabe’s in Union Square and P.J. Ryan’s in Teele Square are all opening earlier than usual this Sunday morning, with breakfast as early as 8 a.m. at The Burren. But you can find Irish breakfast all over town by late morning, including at The Precinct and The Independent in Union Square, Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Magoun Square, The Thirsty Scholar on Beacon Street, or The Druid in Inman Square.
For lunch and dinner, corned beef and cabbage is the Saint Patrick’s Day standard at local pubs, but most are also rounding out their Saint Paddy’s-inspired menus with other Irish pub favorites like Guinness beef stew, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips. The Saint Patrick’s Day dessert menu at The Precinct includes the tempting Bailey’s Cheesecake. And Olde Magoun’s owner Greg Coughlin said he’s serving up what he calls an “authentic” Irish boiled bacon dinner, with potato colcannon, carrots and parsnips in a parsley cream sauce.
Of course, all that food comes with plenty of good beer and Irish whiskey to wash it all down, and a generous helping of entertainment on the side.
For a mix of Irish humor, drama and music, Somerville currently boasts at least two Irish-themed stories onstage. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening, The Burren will present The Fiddlers of Inishbofin, an original tale of love and musical rivalry, co-written by Burren owner Tommy McCarthy and Boston playwright Peter Holm.
Just a few steps away, the Davis Square Theatre continues its run of The Irish … and How They Got That Way, by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Frank McCourt, with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and matinees on Saturday and Sunday.
Somerville’s live music venues will be hopping all weekend, offering plenty of options for soaking up the sounds of the Emerald Isle firsthand. Ronan Quinn and his band will be playing jigs, reels and familiar Irish classics this weekend at both Olde Magoun’s and Bull McCabe’s, who are among a number of pubs promising Irish music throughout the day on Sunday.
At Sally O’Briens, Celtic band The Johnny Come Latelies kicks off the weekend on Friday evening, and the Tom Haggerty Irish Band headlines on Sunday. At The Druid, you can drop in on the weekly Saturday afternoon traditional Irish music session, or sing along with the McGowan Rovers on Sunday.
A full roster of Saint Patrick’s Day events at The Burren on Sunday includes fun and games with WAAF radio deejays to benefit Denis Leary’s Firefighters Foundation, along with the pub’s always-stellar line-up of live Irish music in both the front and back rooms all day, led by musician-owners Tommy McCarthy and Louise Costello.
For a change of pace, a Friday evening benefit for the Somerville Museum will feature Irish music at the Old Methodist Church in Union Square. Or you can check out Boston Irish-transplant rocker Christian McNeill with his band the Seamonsters at The Precinct on Sunday nigh
And what to do after all that partying this weekend? The Independent will be open on Monday morning, March 18, for a special post-Saint Paddy’s brunch to benefit the Healey School, said manager Jessica Willis, “so anyone with a Saint Patrick’s Day hangover can come in for a Bloody Mary and the proceeds will benefit a good cause.”
For more information, contact these and other local establishments:
Bull McCabe’s, 366A Somerville Ave., Union Square, 617-440-6045
The Burren, 247 Elm St., Davis Square, 617-776-6896
The Druid, 1357 Cambridge St. (Cambridge), Inman Square, 617-497-0965
The Independent, 75 Union Square, 617-490-6022
Olde Magoun’s Saloon, 518 Medford St., Magoun Square, 617-776-2600
P.J. Ryan’s, 239 Holland Ave., Teele Square, 617-625-8200
The Precinct, 70 Union Square, 617-623-9211
Sally O’Briens, 335 Somerville Ave., Union Square, 617-666-3589
The Thirsty Scholar, 70 Beacon Street, 617-497-2294