Chris and Ethna Lynch remember low-key St. Patrick Days in their native village of Ballydehop, Ireland, where they grew up. But the holiday became their pot of gold — first, at Lynches Landing on Longboat Key, and later at Lynches Pub & Grub on St. Armands Circle.
This year’s celebration begins with warm-up parties at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 14 through Monday, March 16. The all-day St. Patrick’s Day celebration begins at 11 a.m. Bloody marys will be flowing at noon March 18, for the Hangover Party.
Q: How would you celebrate if you still lived in the village of Ballydehop, Ireland?
Ethna: First we’d go to Mass and we’d wear fresh shamrock, then, we’d go have a big celebration lunch and then go out dancing. In Ireland, we would always follow Lent so you’d give up certain things, but on St. Patrick’s Day, you’re allowed to cheat.
Chris: In the big cities, they celebrate now like the Americans do, but in Ballydehop, it’s still a low-key event.
Q: What’s harder: Working a farm in Ireland or owning a restaurant on St. Armands Circle?
Both: A restaurant on St. Armands Circle.
Ethna: When I lived in Ireland, I wouldn’t date a farmer because I couldn’t imagine anything harder than farm life. Then, I moved to America and discovered farming could have been an easier way of life.
Chris: My mother came to Longboat Key, and I had her work in the kitchen at Lynches Landing just for a day. She said, “Chris, you need to find a fellow and marry him because I had 12 children and I never worked this hard.”
Q: How does the day of the week the holiday falls on affect St. Patrick’s Day business?
Chris: No matter what day it’s on, it’s huge. But the best is when it’s on a Monday because you get the whole weekend to lead up to it.
Q: Tell me about the drunkest St. Patrick’s Day customer you’ve ever dealt with.
Ethna: We had a situation where it was a very pleasant drunk and he fell asleep at the bar and then slipped onto the floor. But he didn’t hurt himself.
Chris: We’re not the kind of place you go to if you want to get drunk as a skunk. We’ll cut them off before they get to that point.
Q: Is pinching someone who’s not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day an Irish tradition or did Americans invent that?
Chris: I think that was probably invented by some drunk guy who was standing next to a pretty girl at the pub.
Q: Has the luck of the Irish been a factor in Lynches’ success?
Ethna: Yes, most definitely. The comment I hear is when people come in, they’re so happy to hear an authentic Irish accent.
Chris: Customers come into an Irish bar with the anticipation that they will have fun. Plus, a lot of Americans claim some Irish heritage, so they like to come out and support us. I became a U.S. citizen last year, so I can claim a touch of both.
Ethna: We feel honored as Irish people that so many people want to claim their Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day.
Q: How long has the leprechaun at the front of the restaurant been with you, and will he ever get to retire?
Ethna: He’s been with us 28 years. He’ll be here as long as we’re here.We get him painted every so often, but not this year. He’s overdue for face makeup.
Q: What can people expect at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration?
Chris: Music and Irish step dancing. We’ll be doing lots of green beer and great corned beef and stew. We’re on our 29th year, and it’s been very successful.
Ethna: Next year will be our 30th year and after that, that’s it. No more St. Patrick’s Day.
Q: Seriously? No more St. Patrick’s Day celebrations after next year?
Chris: No. Every year, Glenda (Grause), who’s been with us since the beginning says, “This is my last St. Patrick’s Day.” Now, it’s become a joke. Every year is the last St. Patrick’s Day.
Q: Rumor has it that there’s a third Lynch sister on St. Armands Circle. True?
Chris: Yes, Helen. But she’s not involved with the restaurant. She works at Touch of Africa.