Got any Irish in you? Whether your notion of celebrating Irishness involves beer or poetry, here’s a roundup of events for St. Patrick’s Day and beyond across the United States and in Ireland.
• Center for Irish Studies, St. Paul, Minn.: Green beer won’t be served at the March 10 free reading by Irish poet Louis de Paor at the University of St. Thomas. Get on the mailing list for this internationally known cultural organization by writing 2115 Summit Ave., #5008, St. Paul, MN 55105 or calling (651) 962-5662.
• Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The Chicago plumbers union continues its nearly 50-year tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green for the parade. Best Windy City spots to watch the fun on March 11: The announcer’s stand at Washington and Dearborn or the bridges over the Chicago River at Dearborn or State Street. For more parade information, call (312) 744-3315.
• South Side Irish St Patrick’s Day Parade, Chicago: It started in 1979 with kids pushing baby carriages decorated with Irish flags. Now, though, about 200,000 people pack the 1.5-mile route along Western Avenue, between 103rd and 113th streets. Residents of Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods stake out the best watching points, of course, but it’s still fun. This year’s parade is March 12. For more information, call (773) 239-7755.
• South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The 3.2-mile parade starts at 1 p.m. March 12 at Broadway Station — but you have to get up really early in the morning to claim a perfect viewing site. The parade lasts about three hours. For more information, call (617) 635-3911.
• St Patrick’s Day Parade, New York City: Whatever the weather, the annual March 17 event-of-all-events starts at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 44th Street and heads north to 86th Street. Expect to share the pleasure with 3 million people. For more information, call (212) 484-1222.
• Great American Irish Fair & Music Festival, Monrovia, Calif.: You’ve got to check out the medieval castle village and the sheep-herding shows. The fair takes over the Santa Anita Racetrack June 16-17. For more information, call (310) 820-1985 or visit the Web site <www.irishfair.org/homei.html>.
• Milwaukee Irish Fest: It’s a virtual marathon of Irish and Irish-American music, theater, poetry and dance along the Lake Michigan shoreline, Aug. 17-20. If you go to just one US Irish festival in a year, this should be it. For more information, write 1532 N. Wauwatosa Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53213, call (414) 476-3378 or visit the Web site <www.irishfest.com>.
• Riverdance: It’s St. Patrick’s Day every day for this Irish dance extravaganza. For the latest tour information, visit the River-dance Web site <www.riverdance.com/>.
• St. Patrick’s Festival, Dublin:
Only in Ireland would you find a “Monster Ceili” (an Irish dance) in the city center. Other don’t-miss events from March 16 to 19: St. Patrick’s Eve Night Parade and The Big Day Out street carnival. Write to St. Stephen’s Green House, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland, or check the Web site <www.stpatricks-day.ie>.
• Kilkenny Arts Festival: Of course it’s a celebration of Kilkenny’s rich tradition in hurling, but expect to mingle with the likes of Seamus Heaney and Liam O’Flynn, too. This year’s fest is Aug. 11-20. Write to 92 High St., County Kilkenny, Ireland, or visit the Web site <www.kilkennyarts.ie>.
• Rose of Tralee International Festival, Kerry: If you or someone you know may be the Rose of Tralee, it’s time to alert the media in County Kerry. People come from around the world for the fun, Aug. 18-22. For more information, write Ashe Memorial Hall, Denny Street, Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, or check <www.roseoftralee.ie>.
• Fleadh Cheoil, Wexford: This internationally acclaimed dance-a-thon features step-dancing in every form you can imagine, Aug. 25-27. Write Fleadh Office, Templeshannon, Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland, or check the Web site <www.wexford-online.com/fleadh/>.
• Wexford Festival Opera: The emphasis is on little-known or long-forgotten operas, and the offerings range from noontime recitals and lectures to big-deal productions at Wexford’s Theatre Royal, Oct. 19-Nov. 5. Write to Theatre Royal, High Street, Wexford, Ireland, or see <www.wexfordopera.com>.
• Guinness Cork Jazz Festival: Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie were alums of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, and every other name in jazz has played in the non-stop jazz frenzy, too. This year’s dates are Oct. 27-30. Write South Mall, County Cork, Ireland, or see <www.corkjazzfestival.com>.
Remember, on St. Patrick’s Day everyone is a little bit Irish.
– Patricia McMorrow
From Wright Brothers to Wienermobile
You’re sure to come away from the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich., with a better idea of how your ancestors lived. The village shows how Americans lived and worked from the late 17th century to the early 20th century, with an emphasis on transportation and invention. Highlights include the Wright Brothers’ Cycle Shop and the George Washington Carver Memorial, plus historical actors — you might spot Thomas Edison or Ford himself. Inside the museum, you’ll find artifacts including an extensive furniture and automobile collection, Edgar Allan Poe’s writing desk and an early Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The current exhibit, created with the editors of Popular Mechanics, looks at “Your Place in Time: 20th Century America.” For more information, call (313) 271-1620, or see <www.hfmgv.org>.
– Michelle Taute
SHOPPING BEFORE THE MALL
Before the advent of cars and refrigerators, corner stores were the hub of most neighborhoods. A new museum exhibit,The Corner Store, celebrates comer grocery stores and the people who ran them — typically, first-generation immigrants. The exhibit recalls the corner grocery as not just a store but also a social center: As they stopped in for their daily food purchases, people shared the news and gossip of the community. Families who ran the stores were insured a cheap supply of food and, if they lived above the store, affordable housing. You can see the exhibit through March 6 at The National Building Museum in Washington, DC. For more information, call (202) 272-2448, or see <www.nbm.org>.
NEW YORK CITY
Step back in time and find out what it was like to live in one of the tenements on Manhattan’s Lower East Side — the first place of settlement for millions of immigrants, including, perhaps, your ancestors. At the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, you can tour the living quarters at 97 Orchard St., which was home to 7,000 people between 1863 and 1935. The cramped apartments are fully restored and allow you to learn about the lives of former residents.
Take the interactive, family-oriented tour and you’ll be welcomed to the building as if you were a new immigrant. An interpreter playing Victoria Confino, a real resident of the building in 1916, will talk to you about her life, let you try on period clothes and invite you to touch items in the apartments.
Glimpse the daily life of one of America’s most courageous abolitionists at the Frederick Douglass Historic Site. You can view exhibits and movies relating to the history of African-Americans and take a tour of Cedar Hill, the two-story home where Douglass lived out the last years of his life. After escaping from slavery in 1838, he spent his time fighting for human rights by giving speeches and publishing an anti-slavery newspaper. The Washington, DC, site is open year-round. For more information, call (202) 426-5961.