McGuinness Irish Pub LLC
201 S Walnut St
Appleton, WI 54911
(920) 830-7616

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Irish Traditions

St. Patrick's Day in Ireland

All over the world, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with elaborate parades; families tuck into the traditional dinner of corned beef and cabbage (traditional everywhere except Ireland, that is); and, in the pubs, the green beer flows swifter than the River Shannon. It's odd to think that just a short time ago, none of the most popular customs we often take for granted even existed. In fact, today's international festivities are very different from how St. Patrick's Day was once celebrated in old Ireland

While St. Patrick's Day is now a national holiday, as well as a religious feast day, a few hundred years ago, the emphasis was on spirituality and a much needed break from the austerities of Lent.

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Dublin - St Patrick's Cathedral

Dublin - St Patrick's Cathedral

Bernd Biege

Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptised converts on his visit to Dublin.

The parish church of Saint Patrick on this site was granted collegiate status in 1191, and raised to cathedral status in 1224. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican communion) and also serves as a popular tourist attraction in Ireland.

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St. Patrick's Grave - photo by Terry McKnight


by Suzanne Barrett


St. Patrick's Day began in Ireland as a Catholic holiday, but over the years--particularly in the last twenty--it has become a festival as much as a holy day. Though the first parades in the United States were begun by Irish immigrants to fight for equal rights, the St. Patrick's Day parades one sees today in Ireland are as a result of American influence.

In America, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with parades and feasts of corned beef and cabbage, and among many, with extensive drinking (drowning the shamrock). To the Irish in Ireland, however, the day is first a feast and holy day, celebrated with a week-long tradition of festivities. Mass on St. Patrick's Day is de rigueur, and if one stops at a pub for a pint or two afterward, it's not an uncommon occurrence. But there's no influence to drink more because of the holiday. In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is treated like any other saint's day.

Family get-togethers are very important, and it's not unusual for a family to gather for a special meal. Corned beef and cabbage is an American tradition; in Ireland, you'd more likely find succulent, pink bacon or a savory roast chicken on the table. However, if you're longing for some succulent corned beef, try this whiskey-glazed corned beef recipe. It's brilliant.

For visitors to Ireland during the St. Patrick's Day season, there are parades in most of the larger cities--certainly Dublin, Galway, and Cork plus other venues. This year the 2012 Dublin festivities run from March 16th through the 19th with a wonderful program of free entertainment for everyone to enjoy. Look for street theater, fireworks, music, exhibitions, and even a treasure hunt!


St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is not the boisterous, sometimes rowdy funfest we enjoy in the United States. There are parades, and there's drink, to be sure, but it certainly isn't green. Most likely, it's the dark, robust stout famous in every pub in Ireland. And if there's imbibing, it occurs late in the day.

The Irish version is primarily a religious and bank holiday, celebrated by relaxing at home with family and friends after Mass. In that spirit, let's concentrate on Patrick, the man behind the myth.

The facts of his life are relatively few. In actuality, there are more places named after him than provable deeds. He was one of the most celebrated missionaries of all time, and he is Ireland's patron saint, but no one seems to know where he was born or exactly where or when he died. Some say March 17, 461 AD, others believe 493 AD. His true burial place is unknown.

He set down many of his own views on his life and mission. His original writings have long since disappeared, but copies were made by faithful monks who kept civilization alive by copying manuscripts, and were well-known literature in the Dark Ages. By his own telling, he was born in Britain of well-to-do parents who farmed. He probably lived near the west coast because he was captured by Irish raiders at the age of sixteen and sold into slavery. He worked as a shepherd for six years until he escaped and returned to his homeland. However, visions and the "voice of the Irish" called him back to Ireland sixteen years after his escape, and he spent more than thirty years traveling, preaching, and establishing churches.

Insight into the character of Patrick is revealed through two documents written after a Welshman carried off several of his converts. The first is a letter to Corocticus demanding the return of his flock and later, a reply to his critics refuting an attack on his conduct.

St. Patrick is not the first to have brought Christianity to Ireland. Other sources show evidence of missionaries being sent to Ireland as early as 431 AD. Within two hundred years after St. Patrick's death, legends about his deeds had begun to proliferate until it is difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. We can be certain that the number of churches established was closer to 90 than the 365 some attribute to him. What is known is that he exerted a powerful influence on Ireland, transforming her from a pagan country with many ancient religious practices and beliefs into a Christian community



The Dyeing Crew

The River Dyeing Crew

Modern Day Miracle

A modern day miracle occurs each year as part of the St. Patricks Day Parade celebration when the Chicago River turns an incredible shade of Irish green. This spectacular transformation ranks right up there with the parting of the sea by Moses and the Pyramids of Egypt.

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