By Greg Holman
Faith and Begorrah fellow Blitzers! St. Patty’s Day is right around the corner and the insanity of the Greenville Ave. Parade looms large on the horizon; so I thought that we’d talk some Irish. No, I don’t mean speaking in a bastardized Irish brogue like Sean Connery in the “Untouchables.” I mean talk about Irish stuff; all things Irish.
So, to this end I’ve put together a list of Irish icons and traditions, and an obvious starting point would be the national pastime… “drinking” (I can say that because I’m half Irish; it’s in my blood… alcohol and being Irish, that is). The Irish have perfected the art of drinking and in fact, Irish adults have achieved one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption and display one of the highest levels of binge drinking in all of Europe, and just what do they drink? Guinness Stout, Harp Lager, Smithwick’s Ale, Bailey’s Irish Cream and of course Irish whiskey (spelled with an ”e”).
Irish whiskey is made using dry malted barley, without the use of peat (decayed vegetation from bogs and moors – Yum!). This allows the natural grain flavors to come through instead of the slightly smoky elements associated with Scotch whisky (no “e”). To earn the name “Irish whiskey” it has to be made entirely from native grains and have been stored in wooden casks for three years or more.
To keep those hangovers at bay you’ll need some sustenance – Irish food, and what goes better with Irish potables than Irish potatoes, in and Irish stew. Other traditional Ire-fare includes boxty (a potato pancake), colcannon (mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage), soda bread, and corned beef and cabbage.
In addition to their culinary contributions, the Irish have born the world a number of famous sons including Kenneth Branagh, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Farrell, Patrick McGoohan (“The Prisoner”), Liam Neeson, Peter O’Toole, Spencer Tracy, Stephen Colbert, Dennis Leary, and Conan O’Brien, to name but a few. Music has also been a part of Irish tradition and bands such as The Commitments, The Corrs, The Cranberries, The Pogues, The Boomtown Rats, Stiff Little Fingers, Thin Lizzy, and of course U2 are all Irish.
Other Irish things… the Blarney Stone, shillelaghs (walking sticks/clubs), jigs and reels, leprechauns, shamrocks, the color green, Setters and Wolf Hounds, Notre Dame (the “Fighting Irish”), “Danny Boy,” Riverdance, harps, Waterford crystal, Celts, red hair and freckles, the substitution of “me” for “my”, “Mac” “Mc” or “O’”, sheep, and white wool sweaters “so thick, even the boniest-fingered nun could poke you in the chest and it wouldn’t bother you none!” (a “Family Guy” reference).
Now put all of this together, throw in some green Mardi Gras beads, Jell-O shots, cute girls on cheaply made floats, and throngs (no, not thongs) of party-prone Dallasites, and you’ve got The Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade!
The now infamous event had its meager beginnings back in 1979 and included only a few cars that traveled just a couple of blocks. Today, the parade draws more than 100,000 people from all over the country and is a bastion of Dallas debauchery. The city even kind of waves the open container law (begrudgingly, only on Greenville, and only during the parade)!
If you’re going to join the parade festivities you’ll need to get there early to get a good watching spot. The parade usually starts around 11:00 am and lasts for a couple of hours, so wear comfy shoes. And while the event is a parade, things can get just a bit risqué (think of it as a weak Dallas’ version of Mardi Gras). Bring your own booze and some cash (credit cards can limit your purchase options), and don’t forget “the wearin’ o’ the green” to prevent “pinched” arm and butt-bruises! This year the parade is actually being sponsored by the city of Dallas instead if just the Greenville Avenue business owners (and Mark Cuban) and has been retitled “The Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” which makes gives me a feeling that it might be moving off Greenville soon, and consequently losing some of its charm. So let’s make this a banner year folks!
If the Irish immigration to “Green”ville makes the red hair on your freckled neck stand up, here are some area Irish pubs, many of which will be selling green beer and having parking lot parties on Saturday the 16th.
The Old Monk – 2847 N. Henderson Ave. Dallas – Consistently voted one of Dallas’ top bars, the Old Monk is a traditional Irish pub with good food and good drinks.
The Idle Rich Pub – 2614 McKinney Ave. Dallas – Owned by three Dublin, Ireland natives, the Idle Rich specializes in the beers and whiskeys of Northern Europe and features a menu full of Irish favorites.
Trinity Hall – 5321 E. Mockingbird Ln. Suite 250 Dallas – This full-service Irish pub feels very authentic and has an ambitious slightly higher-end menu.
Lochrann’s Eatery & Irish Pub – 6195 Main St., Frisco – Lochrann’s is a fun pub with a steady stream of regulars and good service. Live music on the weekends and a nice vibe make it the clear winner, north of town.
The Dubliner – 2818 Greenville Ave. Dallas – Being on Greenville, this place is always packed for St. Patty’s Day. With a limited food menu, drinks are the order of the day here and they are done well. A Irish bar that’s also popular with the biker crowd (in a good way).
The Black Friar – 2621 McKinney Ave. Dallas – With a similar menu, the Friar sits directly across the street from the Idle Rich, which makes for a great pub crawl.
The Capitol Pub – 2401 N Henderson Ave. Dallas – This watering hole has a great patio for dogs, a nice “real” pub atmosphere, good food and service, and sits on a nice corner for car and people weatching.
West End Pub – 1801 N. Lamar St. Suite #100 Dallas – This downtown “neighborhood pub without a neighborhood” feels like home from the minute you walk in. While not quite an Irish Pub, they do throw down for St Patty’s day, and always have a fun-filled calendar of events scheduled.
Malarkey’s – 4460 Trinity Mills Rd. Dallas – A fun bar on the North side of town, with good Irish bar food and drinks at a decent price. Get’s kinda loud and a little rowdy, but isn’t that what you want in an Irish Pub?
And just remember, we are always proper when we wear green, get drunk on green beer, throw green beads, and pinch asses, to celebrate an Irish-Catholic holiday established for a man who chased snakes off of an island! So if anyone tells you you’re too drunk, just remind them that an Irishman is never too drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass, to keep him from falling off the earth! Now “kiss me dammit… I’m Irish!”