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

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 [email protected]

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