When I landed in Dublin last year and roamed around the city for a few hours, my very distinct initial impression of being in Ireland for the first time was, “Well … this looks familiar.”
For sure, the pubs and music of the Temple Bar district were (somewhat) reminiscent of the music and clubs of the twin towns, and it did my heart good to know that we’re doing something right here. Now comes the real test.
“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” — William Butler Yeats
St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, making it an all-day celebration of all things Irish. St. Paul may have the biggest Irish-American population in the Midwest and more time-honored traditions and festivities, but Minneapolis is no slainte slouch. And while there may be other things to write about in this world of human problems and horrors, there’s nothing like an Irish pub to remind all who enter that people are good, friendly, kind, and want to rise above the troubles of the day. Here’s one man’s (virtual) plan for next Saturday:
“For you can’t hear Irish tunes without knowing you’re Irish, and wanting to pound that fact into the floor.”— Jennifer Armstrong
Up with the sun and breakfast at Curran’s Restaurant (4201 S. Nicollet Ave.). “St. Patrick’s Day is a hoppin’ day around here,” owner and namesake Dennis Curran told me last year. “We go through about 600 pounds of corned beef, 250 pounds of cabbage and 250 pounds of potatoes.” Go for the corned beef and cabbage and morning Guinness, and be sure to linger around the Currans entryway for the wall hangings and Irish literature quotes.
“The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad, for all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.” — G.K. Chesterton
Motor down Lake Street to the Schooner Tavern (2901 S. 27 Ave.) for something called “the Bad Lucky St. Pat’s Party,” then it’s on to the city’s best British pub, Merlin’s Rest (3601 E. Lake St.), for a pint and lunch (the Merlin’s Stew is worth the trip alone, along with the wee tots, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, pie of the week, and a Brian Oake-worthy selection of Scotch whisky), or skip lunch and save it for later at Keegan’s Irish Pub (16 University Ave. NE) and the St. Brigid’s Irish chips, the Irish poutine, or St. Patrick’s corned beef sandwich.
“The Irish are the only people who know how to cry for the dirty polluted blood of all the world.” — Norman Mailer
Stumble on over to downtown Minneapolis and look over the drunken emerald city from the rooftop of the Hewing Hotel (300 N. Washington Ave.), where from 3 p.m.–8 p.m. they’ll be offering “complimentary pours of whiskey, Irish music, and a special menu that will have you feeling the Irish spirit.” Then it’s on to opening day festivities at Finnegan’s Brew Co. (817 5th Ave. S.), where the 13,000-square-foot brewery and taproom makes its maiden voyage with a commemorative first tap at 9 a.m. Pre-parade (6:30 p.m.–9 p.m., Nicollet Mall) tune-ups continue at downtown pub staples The Local (931 Nicollet Mall) and Brit’s Pub (1110 Nicollet Mall), while a warm-up of Irish coffee nightcaps at Kieran’s Irish Pub (85 N. 6th St.) or O’Donovan’s Irish Pub (700 N. 1st Ave.) might be in order.
“Irish music is guts, balls and feet music, yeah? It’s frenetic dance music, yeah? Or it’s impossibly sad like slow music, yeah? Yeah? And it also handles all sorts of subjects, from rebel songs to comical songs about sex, you what I mean, yeah? I’m just following the Irish tradition of songwriting, the Irish way of life, the human way of life. Cram as much pleasure into life, and rail against the pain you have to suffer as a result. Or scream and rant with the pain, and wait for it to be taken away with beautiful pleasure.” — Shane MacGowan
Onward to Uptown, where the LynLake Brewery (2934 S. Lyndale Ave.) hosts Mikel Wright and the Wrongs and Will Effertz all night, and around the corner to the Bryant-Lake Bowl (810 W. Lake St.), where Irish music and comedy troupe The Dregs hold forth starting at 10 p.m. Down the block is Minneapolis’s finest Irish pub and restaurant, Morrissey’s Irish Pub (913 W. Lake St.), which describes itself as “the newest link in a long chain of [Minnesota] Irish pubs, dating all the way back to 1875, when The Erin Go Bragh Pub opened in Duluth,” and which celebrates it’s fifth birthday with drink specials and a party tent set up in the back driveway.
“The Irish: be they kings, or poets, or farmers, they’re people of great worth. They keep company with the angels and bring a bit of heaven here to earth.” — Anonymous
Then again, you could skip all that madness and join me at the Mad Ripple Hootenanny (Friday, Studio 2 Café, 6:30 p.m.–9 p.m.) or ring in St. Patrick’s Day with the Belfast Cowboys at Mystic Lake Casino (Saturday) or keep it all going with the Ike Reilly Assassination (Sunday, Turf Club). Cheers and be careful out there, and keep in mind the old Irish blessing:
“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you’ve gone too far.”
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in South Minneapolis. He can be reached at email@example.com