Boston is one of the most Irish places you can find outside of the Emerald Isle. The region’s vast Irish-American population and boundless Celtic pride means that there are plenty of ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day beyond sipping clandestine green beer along the Southie parade route. We asked a few of our Union Park Press authors, experts in all things Boston, for a few unique ways to celebrate the holiday. Here’s what they had to say:
Get sporty| shared by Christopher Klein, author of The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston
If you want some truly authentic Irish sports action on St. Patrick’s Day, head to the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton at 7 a.m. and crowd around the TVS to watch live hurling and gaelic football matches direct from Dublin. Or put on your running shoes for the 5K run at 10 a.m. Unfortunately, March 17 is an off day for the Boston Celtics, the local team with the quintessentially Irish nickname. But even if you can’t catch the “Green” in action, you can still fill up on plenty of hoops action with March Madness in full swing. Even the sports bars will be packed on St. Patrick’s Day, but if you can grab a spot, settle in at The Fours, Sports Grille Boston, Cask n’ Flagon, or Game On! and you can stuff yourself with food and NCAA basketball games.
To learn more about Greater Boston’s sports history and culture, take a look at The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston by Christopher Klein.
Pay your respects| shared by Christopher Klein, author of Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands
Take a drive to Deer Island, one of the most sacred spots around Boston for anyone with Irish blood coursing through their veins. In the late 1840s, Irish refugees fleeing the Great Famine sold all they had for a one-way ticket to America and an opportunity to finally be free of the disease and death that savaged their country. The flood of immigrants overwhelmed the existing quarantine station on Rainsford Island, and a new one was built on Deer Island. Nearly five thousand refugees were quarantined between 1847 and 1850, and approximately eight hundred died on the island, an ocean away from the home they were forced to flee and on the doorstep of the city that held the promise of a new life. Outside of a humble memorial, there is little left of the Irish graveyard that was once a landmark on Deer Island, but you can still drive to the end of Winthrop, walk around the island, and stare across the ocean back in the direction of the Emerald Isle.
For more information about Deer Island and the rest of the Harbor Islands, check out Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands by Christopher Klein.
Hunt for Shamrocks| shared by the UPP staff, inspired by Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces
Everybody knows that the most Irish of colors is green. Conjure up an image of Ireland, and it is likely hued with that distinctly vibrant color – at the very least, you’re picturing a patch of shamrocks. Coincidentally, right around March 17 is when we start to see those first few shades of green in Boston’s backyard – our city’s topnotch parks. This St. Patrick’s Day, go find some local green by visiting one or more of Boston’s Emerald Necklace parks: the Boston Common, the Public Garden, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Back Bay Fens, the Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arborteum, and Franklin Park.
Consult Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces by Meg Muckenhoupt for details and more ideas on how to explore – and enjoy – the green spaces in Greater Boston.
Find Irish-American authenticity | shared by Stephanie Schorow, author of Drinking Boston
While kids may scramble after Leprechauns for their Lucky Charms, adults come to Boston looking for a genuine Irish pub. And indeed there are taverns in Boston long run by Irish-American families: Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain. J.J. Foley’s in the South End and Downtown. The Eire Pub in Dorchester. Around for decades, these bars and others like them represent the tradition of the neighborhood bar: the place where men (and it was usually men) stopped by for a drink after work (which could be in the morning after a midnight shift!) to relax and catch up with friends. And then there are the Irish pubs that sprung up in the 1980s and 1990s when new Irish immigrants, flush with energy from the rising Celtic Tiger era, recreated the bars of their homeland. While some have closed down – such as the Purple Shamrock – others carry on, more popular than ever. The Black Rose, Mr. Dooley’s, The Banshee, Hennessy’s, the Burren in Davis Square and many others pay homage to the Irish tradition.
For more on the history of drinking in the Hub, pick up a copy of Drinking Boston: A History of the City and Its Spirits by Stephanie Schorow. Join the author on Thursday, March 21 at Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale to discuss the book and enjoy classic cocktails in the bar’s brand new Friday Club space. On Thursday, March 14, Stephanie will be giving her engaging talk and presentation on the history of drinking in our fair city at the Boston Public Library. Slainte!