March 15, 2012

Lucky you: A great variety of St. Patrick's Day celebrations

Parades, Irish music and dancing and a polar dip are among the options that mark the day.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

They say everybody is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

Some folks more than others.

Take, for example, the parade- and festival-happy residents of Bath, who started a weeklong St. Patrick's Day-themed celebration four years ago called Bath Blarney Days.

The week starts with smaller events around town, such as pub sing-alongs and Irish trivia nights. But the real pot o' gold comes on St. Patrick's Day, with a schedule of events that includes a road race, a parade, a tug of war, an Irish soda bread baking contest, live music and the Blarney Ball dance at night.

So Bath must be a city with a rich Irish heritage, right? Like Portland?

"Not so much," said Jennifer Geiger, director of Main Street Bath, an organizer of the Blarney Days events. "It started when Byrnes Irish Pub opened up, and they came to us and wanted to start a St. Patrick's Day Parade.

"It's grown, and now the thought behind it is, 'Hooray, it's finally the end of winter and we can get outside and get the community together to have fun.' "

Hard to argue with that philosophy.

Whether you want to be part of a spring festival, watch a parade, hear Irish music, eat corned beef or see Irish dancing, there's plenty of St. Patrick's Day options for you this year around southern Maine.

Below is a list of some of the St. Patrick's Day events. Check with your favorite bar, restaurant or pub to see what they might have planned, as well.

All events listed below are on Saturday. 

• BRIAN BORU LOCAL IRISH FESTIVAL: 6 a.m. to closing, Brian Boru, 57 Center St., Portland. Free.

This venerable Irish pub in Portland, in the bright-red brick building, has events all day long, beginning with a traditional Irish breakfast at 6 a.m. Guinness and whiskey will be available. Other events include: Traditional Irish music at 7:30 a.m.; poetry by Ireland natives at 9:30 a.m.; roaming bag pipers at 11 a.m.; Stillson School Irish Dancers from noon to 1 p.m.; a variety of pop and rock music beginning at 1:30 p.m.; and Irish food on the menu all day. 

BULL FEENEY'S ST. PATRICK'S DAY 2012: 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., Bull Feeney's, 375 Fore St., Portland. 773-7210;

At this Old Port pub, the celebration begins at 6 a.m. with "Kegs & Eggs," including Irish breakfast offerings and live music that begins at 7 a.m. There will be corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and other Irish foods for lunch and dinner; 24 Irish whiskeys; and live Irish music all day long, including a sing-along with Dave Rowe from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Irish drinking songs with Randy Billings from 4 to 7 p.m. There will also be blues and rock bands playing at night. 

• WEST END PROCESSION: 8 a.m., begins at Maine Irish Heritage Center, State and Gray streets, Portland. 232-2001

The annual West End St. Patrick's Day celebration begins with a procession and flag raising in honor of the late Eddie Murphy, a community activist known as "The Giant Leprechaun." The procession will be led by a color guard and band. Afterward, people are invited to the heritage center for tea and soda bread. 

• ST. PATRICK'S DAY POLAR DIP: 9 a.m., Spring Point, off Fort Road, South Portland. $10 suggested donation. 939-2220

This ocean swim is a fundraiser for South Portland High School's Project Graduation. Members of the senior class get financial sponsors, then jump as a group into the ocean. Come by and jump in yourself, for a $10 suggested donation. 

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