St Patrick’s Day isn’t just an excuse to drink green beer and pinch people who aren’t wearing green. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and while the holiday began as a celebration of the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and has been a feast day in Ireland for thousands of years, these days it has come to be a celebration of all things Irish around the world. The Irish are a big part of San Francisco history – a large contingent immigrated here in the late 17th and early 18th century and became prosperous business and property owners. Famous San Franciscans such as James Phelan, Jasper O’Farrell and Tom Hayes were of Irish decent, and it is evident that the Irish have influenced our culture. We’d like to invite you to come join us in Union Square this March 17th to pay homage to this important part of SF history and enjoy some good Irish food, beer, music, art and merriment. Here are our top picks for St. Patrick’s Day revelries in the Square:
The Irish Bank is ground zero on anyone’s St. Patrick’s Day party list, so we feel pretty special that they’re part of our neighborhood. Each year, they host a full-on all day block party that includes live music, a DJ and of course, their usual Irish fare and beer. This year, you can look forward to hearing the Shams - a Celtic rock band (yes, that is a thing, think Flogging Molly) and the Bog Savages, an Irish rebel reggae band! If you want to start partying early, they open up at 9:00 am until midnight.
If authentic Irish charm is what you long for, Johnny Foley’s is another great choice – they took special care to replicate the look and feel of a true Irish pub and feature a menu of Irish favorites with a modern flare. This year’s St. Paddy’s Day festivities will feature a live performance by Bay Area band The Skin Divers who specialize in top hits from the 60’s and 70’s.
The newest pub in our neighborhood, Cable Car City Pub will be partying all weekend long with drink specials, festive decorations and activities and will be featuring the “Jager Girls” on Saturday.
If one pub just isn’t enough, you can join BAYPAC (Bay Area Young Professionals Activities Crew) on their annual pub crawl, which tours a variety of local Irish Pubs, including Johnny Foley’s and the The Irish Bank. The $10 fee includes cover charges and guided tours of three pubs. St. Patrick’s costumes are strongly encouraged!
The Artsy Irish
Meridian Gallery is celebrating the artistic side of Ireland by exhibiting the works of one of Ireland’s most influential contemporary artists, Patrick Graham. In conjunction with the show, the gallery is putting on other Irish cultural celebrations, including a poetry reading by Irish-American poets on the 22nd, a roundtable conversation about being Irish in the West on the 25th, and a reading with songs by Renee Gibbons on the 29th.
If you’d like to make traditional Irish dishes like beef hash, soda bread and corned beef and cabbage to create an authentic St. Paddy’s Day party, Williams-Sonoma will teach you! The fun starts on March 12th with a workshop on creating the perfect St. Patrick’s Day-themed cupcakes and goes through Saturday with a different Irish food demo each day.
Lomography – Lens O’ the Irish
Budding analog photographers will want to check out Lomography’s Irish-themed workshop. The Lomography crew will take you on a field trip to Market Street to capture the St. Patrick’s Day parade, then bring you back to the shop for themed refreshments. The workshop is $10 and includes a lecture, a camera on loan and a roll of film (it’s half off if you have your own camera), plus a 10% off coupon for the store. To reserve a spot, visit the store or email email@example.com.
With such a rich history of Irish heritage, it’s no surprise that this is the 161st year of San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade. While the festival takes place in Civic Center Plaza, the parade runs right through Union Square on Market Street and includes over 5,000 participants, performers and merrymakers.