March 14, 2011

Irish for a day

Parade around, listen to music, down some Guinness -- there are lots of ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Maine.

By Avery Yale Kamila
Staff Writer

Launder your best green shirt and stretch your pint-lifting muscles, because St. Patrick's Day is almost upon us.

click image to enlarge

St. Patrick s Day revelers start their day off right with a beer for breakfast at Brian Boru in Portland.

Cara Slifka photo

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A scene from a past St. Patrick's Day parade in Portland.

Press Herald file

Additional Photos Below


JOIN IN A full week of festivities, including a 5K Shamrock Sprint, a parade, a tug-o-war contest, an Irish soda bread contest, a film screening and live music.
WHEN: Today to March 17
WHERE: Downtown Bath
INFO: 442-7291;
TICKETS: Most events are free.

JOIN THE Irish American Club of Maine to watch a parade that starts at the Portland Fish Pier and goes along Commercial Street to the Maine State Pier. Marchers include the Dunlap Highland Band, the Claddagh Mhor Pipe Band, the Stillson School of Irish Dance, the Ancient Order Hibernians, the Maine Police Emerald Society, the Portland Fire Department Color Guard, Michael Lonergan (the consul general of Ireland) and the Maine Irish Heritage Center.
WHEN: Noon Sunday
WHERE: Commercial Street, Portland

The west Ireland folk-rock band returns to Portland for an 18-and-older show.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland
INFO: 899-4990;
TICKETS: $22 in advance; $25 at the door; $44 VIP seated

10TH ANNUAL PADDY’S DAY PLUNGE COLLECT PLEDGES for the Portland Firefighters Children’s Burn Foundation and then brace yourself to jump into the icy Atlantic.
WHEN: 5:30 a.m. March 17
WHERE: East End Beach, Portland
INFO: Facebook, or call Ri Ra at 761-4446 to obtain a Plunge Pledge Envelope

PLUNGERS HEAD to Ri Ra after the dip to enjoy a free breakfast buffet and a live auction to benefit the Portland Firefighters Children’s Burn Foundation.
WHEN: 6 to 8 a.m. March 17
WHERE: Ri Ra Irish Pub, 72 Commercial St., Portland
INFO: Facebook; 761-4446
TICKETS: No cover

START YOUR DAY OFF right with a pint of Guinness, a shot of whiskey, a traditional Irish breakfast and some Irish music. Napper Tandies plays 8 to 11 a.m.; the Maine Public Safety Pipe & Drum Corps performs 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.; Erin’s Guild plays noon to 4 p.m.; Nikki Hunt performs 5 to 8 p.m.; and The Gobshites cap off the day with a performance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
WHEN: 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. March 17
WHERE: Ri Ra Irish Pub, 72 Commercial St., Portland
INFO: 761-446
TICKETS: No cover

GET YOUR IRISH ON good and early with a traditional breakfast. Continue to celebrate all day with live music and performances. Sean Sheerins and Rakish Paddy play at 7:30 a.m.; at 9 a.m., there’s a poetry and literature reading in Gaelic and English of works by Aidan O’Brien and Noel Kirwin. The Kora Highlanders Bagpipers perform at 11:30 a.m.; Irish dancers perform at noon; Jay Biddy plays at 3 p.m.; and Jason Spooner performs from 9 p.m. to close.
WHEN: 6 a.m. to close March 17
WHERE: Brian Boru Public House, 57 Center St., Portland
INFO: Facebook; 780-1506
TICKETS: No cover

SHOW UP between 6 and 11 a.m. for a traditional breakfast, or stop in between 11:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. for a traditional boiled dinner. The live music starts at 7 a.m. with Tom & Don; The Milliners play at 10:30 a.m.; the Maine Public Safety Pipe & Drum Corps perform at noon; Randy Billings plays at 2 p.m.; The Running Gags play at 5 p.m.; North of Nashville featuring J. Biddy performs at 9 p.m. downstairs; and Hello Newman plays at 9 p.m. upstairs.
WHEN: 6 a.m. to close March 17
WHERE: Bull Feeney’s, 375 Fore St., Portland
INFO: 773-7210
TICKETS: No cover

HAPPY HOUR at the tavern serves up beer, specialty cocktails and free appetizers, including house wings and whiskey BBQ ribs. From 5 to 8 p.m., Katie Daggett takes the stage.
WHEN: 4 to 8 p.m. March 17
WHERE: Captain Daniel Stone Inn, 10 Water St., Brunswick
INFO: 373-1824
TICKETS: No cover

LISTEN TO The Keenans, a husband-and-wife Celtic duo, play traditional Irish tunes, songs of the sea and modern Celtic music.
WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m. March 17
WHERE: Slainte, 24 Preble St., Portland
INFO: 828-0900
TICKETS: No cover

LEAVE THE CITY BEHIND and dance to Irish tunes from Don Campbell and The Restless Campbells at this 21-and-older event.
WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. March 17
WHERE: The Bay Mist leaves from Casco Bay Lines, 56 Commercial St., Portland
INFO: 774-7871
TICKETS: $15 in advance; $18 day of cruise

ENJOY IRISH MUSIC and drama with David Beam and The Leprechauns.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. March 17
WHERE: Andy’s Old Port Pub, 94 Commercial St., Portland
INFO: 874-2639
TICKETS: No cover

LISTEN TO local bagpipers while dining between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. during lunch and between 5 and 7 p.m. during dinner. The diner will be serving special Irish meals such as corned beef hash, Irish Benedicts, Irish omelets, and corned beef and cabbage. Wine and beer will also be served.
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 17
WHERE: Miss Portland Diner, 140 Marginal Way, Portland
INFO: 210-6673
TICKETS: Cost of meal

BANDS FROM Maine and all over New England explode onto the stage for this 21-and-older show; however, anyone age 16 and older can attend if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Bands include Sex Tax, Jodi Explodi, Dept. of Offense, The New 45, The Burls, The Tin Thistles, Rio Bravo, Connelly, The Skummy Men, Better Than and Death Buy Radio.
WHEN: 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. March 19
WHERE: Racks Sports Bar & Grill, 272 St. John St., Portland
INFO: 773-3466
TICKETS: No cover

In southern Maine, the festivities start today in Bath, where Blarney Days serves up a full plate of activities through March 17. On Sunday, Portland's annual St. Patrick's Day parade takes over Commercial Street. And on Tuesday, the Irish folk-rock sensation The Saw Doctors rolls into town to perform at Port City Music Hall.

But the real action takes place on the actual holiday.

Should you have a thick skin and want to support a good cause, strip down to your skivvies and jump into Casco Bay at the break of dawn. That's when the 10th Annual Paddy's Day Plunge happens and raises money for the Portland Firefighters Children's Burn Foundation.

After the dip, participants head over to Ri Ra Irish Pub for a free breakfast buffet and a live auction.

"The whole day is devoted to raising money for the Portland Firefighters Children's Burn Foundation," said Samantha Schoolcraft, a manager at Ri Ra. "We start at 5:30 a.m. with the Paddy's Day Plunge. We usually have over 100 participants each year."

With the doors to the bar opening at 6 a.m. for both plungers and the general public, the festivities truly go on all day.

"We go through tons and tons of Guinness," Schoolcraft said. "We also go through tons and tons of fish and chips and corned beef and cabbage."

Ri Ra creates its corned beef in house, and has been brining it for weeks in order to have enough supply.

The bar will also be busy slinging Irish Car Bombs, Irish coffee and shots of Jameson. The one drink Ri Ra won't be serving is green beer. Because why ruin a good beer with green food coloring?

"It starts to get a little rowdy by 9 a.m.," Schoolcraft said. "By that point, there are people who are ready to go home."

Another St. Patrick's Day hotspot is Brian Boru, where the doors open at 6 a.m. for a traditional Irish breakfast.

"It's mayhem all day long," said Dan Steele, general manger and one of the owners. "At 8 a.m., it looks like happy hour at 5 p.m."

Patrons will likely wear green, and many will sport beads, funny hats and even face paint.

"You never know what to expect," Steele said. "It's like the Irish version of Mardi Gras."

Both Brian Boru and Ri Ra have live music and performances scheduled all day, as does Bull Feeney's. Many other bars and clubs offer live music later in the day.

The holiday ends with a very loud bang when Racks Sports Bar & Grill hosts the St. Paddy's Rock'n Roll Punkfest on March 19. The free event brings together punk bands from all over New England for an all-day blowout.

No matter what day you choose to celebrate your Irish pride or where you choose to do it, Steele offers some excellent words of wisdom:

"St. Patrick's Day is a license to have a beer at a non-prescribed hour. There are no rules on St. Patrick's Day." 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at

Follow on her on Twitter at

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

A scene from a past St. Patrick's Day parade in Portland.

Press Herald file


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