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Emerald Isle Style

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  • | 4:00 a.m. March 16, 2011
Chris and Ethna Lynch
Chris and Ethna Lynch
  • Longboat Key
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Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s the day we fill our plates with corned beef and cabbage and our glasses with green beer as we party Emerald Isle-style.

But here’s a shamrock shocker: The corned beef and cabbage and green beer aren’t Irish traditions.
The corned beef and cabbage? It’s an Irish-American dish.

And the beer? Well, in Ireland, it isn’t “to dye for.”

“Green dye would be a waste of money,” said County Cavan, Ireland,-born Msgr. Gerard “Father Gerry” Finegan, of St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church, who notes that people in Ireland drink regular stout or porter (no green drinks!) on St. Patrick’s Day.

But, regardless of how you celebrate, this is the history behind why you’re celebrating: The holiday honors St. Patrick, who was kidnapped from Britain in the fourth century and taken to Ireland as a slave.
He fled and returned to Britain, where he studied to become a priest, and he then felt called to return to Ireland.

“He brought the message of Christ to the Irish people,” Finegan said. “The whole idea is that Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland.”

To learn more about St. Patrick’s Day, we rounded up local Ireland natives and asked them how to celebrate Celtic style.

Our Irish Eyes
We asked these natives of Ireland to tell us about how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated.

Chris and Ethna Lynch
Owners, Lynches Pub & Grub, St. Armands Circle

Hometown: The Lynch sisters hail from a farm outside of the village of Ballydehop, Ireland

How they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
: Last year, more than 1,000 customers came through the doors of Lynches Pub & Grub on St. Patrick’s Day. This year, both Chris and Ethna Lynch plan to be on their feet all day — from 11 a.m. until the wee hours of the morning — on their busiest day of the year. Their restaurant will have bagpipers, Irish dancers and drink-and-menu specials. And even a week before the festivities, the Lynches’ phone was ringing nonstop with inquiries about the celebration. “The buildup is unbelievable,” Chris Lynch said.

Patsy Carroll
Half of the Irish duo Patsy & Majella

Hometown: County Cavan, Ireland

How he will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
: Patsy & Majella have seven gigs booked the week of St. Patrick’s Day, three of which are private parties on Longboat Key. Carroll thinks that Irish-Americans tend to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day even more than the Irish. “The American-Irish people tend to know more about the day than Irish people,” he said.

According to Carroll, wearing green on St. Paddy’s Day celebrates Irish heritage, because wearing green was illegal during the English occupation.

Msgr. Gerard ‘Father Gerry’ Finegan
Monsignor at St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church

Hometown: County Cavan, Ireland

How he will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day: Finegan would like for people to remember the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day: It’s a celebration of St. Patrick, who brought Catholicism to Ireland. “I’ll celebrate Mass, I’ll pray for the people of Ireland,” Finegan said. And, most likely, he’ll wear at least a bit of green.

In Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day,Masses are spoken in Gaelic. And although Finegan couldn’t say Mass in Gaelic today, he might discuss St. Patrick in his March 17 Mass.

Dennis and Laura Allman
Part-time Longboat Key residents

Hometown: Dublin

How they will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day: Laura Allman and her husband, Dennis, married on St. Patrick’s Day in 1960, in the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). They chose St. Patrick’s Day because it’s a reprieve from the sacrifices that many Catholics make during Lent. This year, they plan to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parades in Dublin and New York City on TV. Then, they’ll celebrate their 51st anniversary at a romantic restaurant before heading to Lynches Pub & Grub. “No doubt they’ll be open all hours,” Allman said.

Spirited differences

Even the luck of the Irish won’t get you out of work on St. Patrick’s Day, because it isn’t a national holiday. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have the spirit of St. Paddy. Restaurants and pubs go green for the day, while patrons embrace their inner Irishman (or woman) into the wee hours of the morning.

St. Patrick’s Day is a church holiday, so schools and most businesses are closed while the country heads to Mass, which is spoken in Gaelic. Parades take place throughout the country and range from small-town celebrations to the Dublin St. Patrick’s Festival Parade, which could draw 650,000 viewers this year. By night, the Irish often head to pubs. The holiday falls in the middle of Lent, during which most Irish give up something such as alcohol. But many allow themselves a temporary reprieve on St. Patrick’s Day.
“Everyone goes a little mad,” Laura Allman said.


Corned beef and cabbage is the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. It will be on the March 17 menu at Lynches Pub and Grub, along with smoked salmon, Irish stew, cottage pie and fish and chips.

The traditional dish of St. Patrick’s Day is boiled bacon and cabbage.

“It’s a very high-quality bacon that’s almost like ham,” Ethna Lynch said.

According to Allman, a traditional meal might include apple pie for dessert.


There’s green beer, green shots and green punch. If you can drink it, you can dye it green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Ethna Lynch said that the Irish drink regular beer or Irish coffee on St. Patrick’s Day.

“A lot of Guinness gets (you) drunk,” she said.


Last year on Longboat and its surrounding keys, we spotted green shirts, leprechaun hats, shamrock glasses, green jackets, bowties, vests and more. When it comes to going green, it’s best to play it safe: If you don’t wear green, you might get pinched.

“We don’t wear as much green as you wear in America,” Carroll said. “Basically, everybody wears a shamrock on the lapel of their coat, and kids wear a green ribbon with a medal.”

Many children also wear heart-shaped badges pinned on their coats.

Although most Irish people wear something green on St. Patrick’s Day, failure to do so won’t result in a pinch.


“Danny Boy” is Patsy & Majella’s most common request. According to Ethna Lynch, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” is another popular song.

The Irish prefer something more upbeat for St. Patrick’s Day, Carroll said. “Whiskey in the Jar” is a popular celebration song, and some newer bands take traditional Irish songs and play them in a rock style known as “sham-rock.”


“Kiss me, I’m Irish” pops up on T-shirts and various accessories.

“You must wet the shamrock.”

Translation: “You must take a drink,” Carroll said.

Chris Lynch said that a common toast is “slainte,” which means “to your health” in Irish.


The forecast for Longboat Key is sunny with a high of 75, a low of 57 and a 0% chance of rain.

The forecast for Dublin is partly cloudy with a high of 46, low of 39 and a 20% chance of rain.

“There’s always the St. Patrick’s Day rain,” Allman said. “But people still end up enjoying the parades and dancing in the middle of the street.”

Traditional Irish stew

2 pounds lamb, cut in chunks
4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 head celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut in pieces
2 ounces chopped parsley
2 ounces leaf rosemary
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups beef stock

Directions: Sear the lamb in a pan. Put remaining ingredients in a large pot and add the seared lamb. Bring to a boil and simmer for two hours or until meat is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread and a pint of Guinness.

(Recipe courtesy of Lynches Pub & Grub)

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]



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