Tradition Tops Reasons Why Boston,Charlestown Rank High for St Patrick’s Day Celebrations

March 17, 2017
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When Kim Mahoney thinks about St. Patrick’s day, part of her goes to work planning a great celebration for the Warren Tavern – one of the go-to locations for St. Patrick’s Day in Boston – but another part beams with pride for the celebration of a culture brought to Charlestown from Donegal by her grandparents.

Those memories include not only celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but also being awakened as a little girl almost every Saturday night by her grandparents and the grandparents of other Townies singing Irish melodies long into the early morning hours.

It is the recollection of WROL played on Saturday mornings in every household with songs from Ireland, and most families discussing the great stories about locations she had never heard of in the old country.

“My grandparents came over from Ireland and settled in Charlestown,” she said. “In Charlestown, they came from Donegal. In other parts of the city they came from Cork or County Mayo or Galway. Every neighborhood had its place that it came from and celebrated. That’s party why it’s such celebrated so much here. It’s a high holiday for me. My grandmother came over when she was 16, and from that point forward resided in Charlestown. Growing up, many of us who great up in Charlestown – whether my parents’ generation or myself – there were many Saturday nights when you would sit in the kitchen listening to our grandparents singing Irish songs in the front room. It laid the roots for our heritage and to celebrate that heritage. St. Patrick’s Day was obviously the highlight of the year for those of us in Charlestown. We celebrated with everyone that heritage passed on to us.”

It’s because of that kind of deep, family-rooted tradition in Boston that the City was recently named by WalletHub the #3 best city in America for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day – right behind Madison, WI and Buffalo, NY.

WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez said her team looked at 16 key metrics for more than 200 big and medium-sized cities, and found Boston’s celebration of the Emerald Isle to top well-known places like Chicago – where they dye the Chicago River green for the day.

One of the reasons Boston edged out most everyone else, she said, is because of the traditions rooted in the many families like in Charlestown.

“Boston ranked as a top city for St. Patrick’s day largely due to its traditions, especially as the city to first ever celebrate the holiday with a parade 280 years ago,” she said. “Of course, it also ranked first for the number of parties and festivals per capita today. Irish tradition is actually the most important category of the report, as we awarded it 50 points. Boston has the 7th highest percentage of Irish Americans in the country, at just above 14 percent. There’s simply more celebrating going on (in Boston), with so many festivals and parties to choose from all weekend long. It’s also not quite as expensive as some other contenders, like Chicago or Philadelphia, with a more affordable average ticket price of almost $16.”

Mahoney said they make a big deal of St. Patrick’s Day at the Warren Tavern due to the large number of Irish in the Town, but also because so many people – even those that aren’t Irish – enjoy taking in the culture and fun. It’s not just about a pint of Guinness, she said, as they try to incorporate cultural music such as Sean Sands and Irish Step Dancing as well. Few things are more Irish that drinking a pint in the Tavern and watching the Step Dancers circle and stomp on the historic wooden floors as a large crowd cheers them on.

“You see smiles on every face at St. Patrick’s Day – young and old,” she said. “We make a big deal of it at the Tavern and people come out and really enjoy it. People are happy and upbeat and everyone wants to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s great to be able to celebrate my grandparent’s heritage with people from all over the city and all over Charlestown. You can almost feel the fabric of the Town and all of Boston come alive on that day. Something wakes up. That’s what I feel on that day. It’s great.”

Other notable pieces of St. Patrick’s Day rankings from the WalletHub study include:

  • Boston was #11 in the numbers of Irish Pubs per 100,000 residents (1.08) and Irish Restaurants per 100,000 residents (2.0).
  • Boston scored 155th in the average price for a beer, which was $9.62, on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Unfortunately, Boston was fifth in the numbers of DUI-related fatal accidents per 100,000 residents (0.64), so it was noted not to drink and dive on St. Patrick’s Day. Along those lines, Boston was noted as the sixth best city for walkability, meaning one doesn’t need to drive to get around on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Warren Tavern has entertainment and festivities planned all weekend long, including:

  • Friday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)

3-7 p.m.  Live Irish Entertainment with Ireland’s own Sean Sands

5:30 p.m. – Goulding School of Irish Step

8-11:00 p.m. Live Entertainment with Dave Lieb

  • Saturday, March 18

4-8 p.m. Live Irish Entertainment with Shelagh O’Brien

5:30 p.m. – Goulding School of Irish Dance