Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is considered a holy day.  The celebration marking the death of their country’s patron saint, the man credited with bringing Catholicism to Ireland, is a family and church day.  But here in America, where the world’s first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was held in 1762 by Irish soldiers serving in the English army, it is one big party.


In the United States, the Irish pub has come to be ground zero for St. Patty’s Day celebrations.  Those marching in the many grand parades like the one in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, or just attending them, often start and end their day at the pub.  For those of Irish heritage, and those who wish they were, the Irish pub remains a special place all year long.  But on the 17th of March, people are willing to wait in long lines for hours just to belly up to one of these great bars.

And we here at the American Public House Review are no exception.  We seem to find ourselves spending time in many of America’s great Irish taverns.  So if you are sitting home today, or at the office, and you are curious about the influence Erin’s Isle has had on our country, you needn’t look any further than the archives of APHR for some great examples.


Of course few are more famous the Manhattan’s McSorley’s Ale House on the lower eastside, or P.J. Clarke’s found uptown.  Molly’s Shebeen, also downtown, ranks right there with those two in the annals of great turn of the century Irish taverns.  They are testaments to the lasting power of a great Irish pub. 


But a great tavern doesn’t need to be old to be great.  The Dubliner in Washington D.C. and the Dublin Pub in Morristown both opened in the early 1970’s, but feel as though they were transported here from Ireland’s largest city centuries ago.  For great music, try Mitchell’s Café along the Delaware River in New Jersey.  Or maybe you will be lucky enough to hear Gerry Timlin play at the Shanacie Pub in Ambler, Pa, where he is at once the entertainer, resident storyteller, and owner.

Needless to say, I love a good Irish pub.  I can literally say I was raised in them.  They are what brought me to my love of great taverns.  Yes, today may be the toughest day to get into one, and rightly so, but it is worth it.  I’ll be leaving for mine in just a couple of hours.


So from all of us here at the American Public House Review, to our readers of Irish and wishful-Irish heritage, we raise a glass and say “Thirst is a shameless disease, so here’s to a shameful cure”, and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Posted by: David McBride

Five months to St. Patty’s Day…not that we are counting or anything…

Friday is the 17th of October.  And you know what that means?  It is exactly five months until Saint Patrick’s Day!  What, that didn’t occur to you right away??

looking down Broadway in Jim Thorpe, PA

looking down Broadway in Jim Thorpe, PA

Well, if the 17th of every month does not make you immediately think of that great Irish holiday, then that must mean you have never been to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania on the Sunday before St. Patty’s Day for their annual parade and Celtic flavored, town wide bash.  I have been there many times, and let me assure you that once you attend, you will look forward to going back for the rest of the year.

But don’t wait for March to come around to visit this gem of a town tucked into the mountains of eastern Pennsylvania.  Before you go, check out our coverage of the best places to drink in Jim Thorpe that appeared in the American Public House Review this past March and April.  We visited a cozy café called the Black Bread, an ale house appropriately named JT’S, the only combination tavern and art gallery I have ever seen called FLOW, and the  town’s signature Irish pub the Molly Maguire’s.  Plus you can learn about how wonderful the parade can be and even discover the amazingly rich Irish-American heritage of this old coal mining town.

Posted by: David McBride

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I have the pleasure of working for a very humorous Scotsman.  A few weeks ago he asked if I could do something on the 17th.  I looked at him cross-eyed and asked him, “Are you kidding?  That’s St. Patrick’s Day!  I can’t work on St. Patrick’s Day!!”

He rolled his eyes and responded jokingly, “You Americans are crazy.”

His reaction made me wonder if we here on this side of the pond perhaps take the holiday, one my friends and I often refer to as the “High Holy Day”, perhaps a bit too seriously.  Is it silly for us to take the day off from work, travel long distances for parades or parties, or pull that tacky shamrock sweatshirt we haven’t worn in a year from out of the back of the closet? 

The St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Jim Thorpe, PA

There is a sort of “amateur hour” quality to St. Patrick’s Day as well that can be a bit frustrating.  For one thing, it is nearly impossible to get into my local Irish tavern, no less have a barstool waiting for me as on every other day of the year.  You have to squeeze your way to the bar as you navigate a sea of people you’ve never seen in the place before.  And they are all singing one cliché song after.

So I can understand why my Scottish friend may see all this as a bit silly.  But that is also because he doesn’t understand what it means to us here.  There is something uniquely American about St. Patrick’s Day in this country.  For better or for worse, the Irish here have had a very different journey then in other parts of the world.  Any religious aspect has been nearly lost on this holiday.  Now it is a celebration of the heritage and culture that we are lucky enough to have been blessed with.

We get together and toast to our loved ones, proudly boast of where our families originated, or remember with a tear in our eye how our grandfathers would sing along to “Danny Boy”.  Sure there is a lot of silliness to St. Patrick’s Day.  But I am not the only one who ranks it at the top of my list of favorite days of the year.  To us it is much more than green beer, corned beef, or the dreaded “Unicorn Song”.  It is a day where our families multiply to include the millions who have shared similar journeys and familiar stories.

So here’s to a healthy, safe, and laughter-filled St. Patty’s Day.  Slainte, my friends!!

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 8:09 am  Comments (2)  
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Finding an Irish Heritage in Jim Thorpe, PA

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, and the weekend that is sure to fill Irish pubs all over the country, we continue to highlight the Celtic themed taverns covered inside the American Public House Review.  Today we go deep into the mountains of Carbon County, Pennsylvania to find a truly Irish-American heritage at the Molly Maguires.

The Molly Maguires in Jim Thorpe, PA

The deep and painful history of coal mining in this area of the country permeates the town of Jim Thorpe, PA.  The Molly Maguires focuses on the labor struggles that took place as a result of this sorted past.

So who were the Molly Maguires?  History has lost most of the details to their story, and much of it was shrouded in secrecy.  There is even some who question whether such a group ever existed.   But what we do know is that there were groups of coalminers who fought their companies and attempted to unionize the labor force.  One such group, many of whom were hung in Jim Thorpe when it was known as Mauch Chunk, is now known in history by that name.  It is their legacy that defines the unique Irish-American heritage of this little town.

But besides peaking into a somewhat forgotten history for those of us who are tourists to the area, Molly’s is also a great place to stop for a drink and some grub.  I have been there on more than one St. Patrick’s Day.  And even though it is somewhat subdued when compared to the local parade day, it is still a great place to sit and observe the holiday.

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