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Patsy & Majella: Longboat's luckiest act

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  • | 4:00 a.m. March 13, 2013
Majella Carroll is the duo’s drummer, while Patsy Carroll plays the keyboard. File photo
Majella Carroll is the duo’s drummer, while Patsy Carroll plays the keyboard. File photo
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Do you want Longboat Key’s famous Irish duo Patsy & Majella to play at your St. Patrick’s Day party?

Then plan ahead.

The pair is booked for March 17 until 2015.

The last time Patsy Carroll had a St. Paddy’s Day off was in the early 1960s. He joined his first band in his hometown in 1963 and has been performing ever since.

Majella Carroll has performed every year since 1977, the year she and Patsy married, except for 1995, due to a death in her family.

This year, Patsy & Majella will perform March 16, at St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church’s St. Patrick’s Day party. They also have private parties booked this month at Spanish Main Yacht Club and Longboat Harbour.

But, for the first time in 23 years, Patsy & Majella won’t be somewhere on Longboat Key on the luckiest day of all: March 17.

They’ll perform first from noon to 3 p.m. at the Moose Lodge in East Bradenton. Then, they’ll start a Sarasota show at 5 p.m. at Mattison’s City Grille on Main Street.

“We used to do the same place every year, but this year we broke out a little,” Patsy Carroll said.

Perhaps their path to Longboat Key began with some Irish luck. Or maybe it was just coincidence.

But during a January 1989 trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, the couple heard Irish music coming from a bar.

The singer looked and sounded familiar to Patsy Carroll. After a few songs, he realized it was Frank O’Connor, a childhood friend. The two caught up later in the night, and O’Connor mentioned a bar on Longboat Key called Lynches Landing that needed a St. Patrick’s Day band.

“We drove down 41, and of course everybody was driving down the wrong side of the road,” Patsy Carroll said. “When we got to Longboat Key, I said, ‘Oh my god, I want to die here.’ That’s how we discovered Lynches Landing.”

The Carrolls were living in Ireland at the time but began coming to the area in March just for St. Patrick’s Day gigs.

When they played St. Paddy’s Day at Lynches, the duo would arrive at 10:30 a.m.

“There would be three to four coachloads (that’s busloads for non-Irish speakers) outside waiting to get in,” Majella Carroll said. “It was chaotic all day long from noon to midnight.”

After their years at Lynches, which became Lynches Pub & Grub on St. Armands Circle in 2003, the duo played St. Patrick’s Day at other Key locations, including St. Mary for the past two years on March 17.

Patsy & Majella play fewer Longboat Key gigs throughout the years these days, because there are few places left that offer live music.

Gone are popular hangouts such as Lynches, Tiny’s and the Holiday Inn. Instead, you’re more likely to find them these days at places such as Moose and Elks lodges, or American Legion posts.

Wherever they go, here’s one thing they can count on every March 17: lots of wannabe Irish.

According to Patsy Carroll, partiers frequently tell him they’re from Ireland. When he asks them where in Ireland, they give him the name of a city and say it was their great-great-great grandmother’s hometown.

“The American-Irish are more Irish than the Irish people,” Patsy Carroll said.

He thinks the pride they feel is probably because Ireland was occupied for more than 400 years. The Irish immigrated to other parts of the world but stuck together, especially in places such as Boston or Bronx, N.Y.
Majella Carroll thinks the Irish pride people feel on St. Patrick’s Day has to do with the fact that people want to know their roots.

“I think you get more patriotic when you’re away from home,” she said. “We’d never get all dressed up like we do here in Ireland.”

Patsy & Majella: Q&A
How many shamrock accessories do you have?
Patsy: I’m not a lover of stuff like that, but Majella likes to stick shamrock stickers on the drums.
Majella: I used to have my green shamrock earrings, but they got broken on me last year. I wear a green outfit and have little shamrock flags and that sort of thing on my drums. There are the obligatory necklaces.

What’s the most-requested song on St. Patrick’s Day?
Patsy: “Danny Boy.” You could play the song, then maybe 10 to 20 minutes later someone will come up to you and say, “Do you know ‘Danny Boy?’”

How many times do you play “Danny Boy” on St. Patrick’s Day?
Patsy: You could probably average it out at about once an hour, and I think that’s a low-ball estimate.

Do you drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day?
Patsy: You’re talking to a rare breed, and that’s a non-drinking Irishman.
Majella: Yes, loads (of green beer). I make up for what he doesn’t drink.

One of your private parties this month is “Canada Night” at Longboat Harbour. Do Irish-Canadians have as much pride as Irish-Americans?
Patsy: Absolutely.

What’s a typical St. Patrick’s Day like for you?
Majella: We know it’s going to be a long day. Leading up to it, we do a few St. Patrick’s Day parties. But there’s nothing like playing on that day, all dressed up in green. It’s an amazing day. It’s great to be Irish.



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