St. Patrick’s Day celebrates all things Irish, but the fun is for everyone—no matter their ethnic heritage.
Downtown Atlanta again will be hosting a parade and celebration second in the state only to the grand event held—for the 187th time—in Savannah.
Atlanta, however, is no Johnny-come-lately in its mid-March festivities. The city’s first St. Patrick’s Parade was held 153 years ago, in 1858. Organizers say on their website that they anticipate the 2011 edition will be the largest, best attended St. Patrick’s Parade & Festival ever.
Because the actual holiday, March 17, falls on a Thursday this year, the downtown celebration, which starts at noon, will be on the preceding Saturday, March 12. The parade this year, led by Grand Marshal Paul Gleeson, consul general, Ireland (Atlanta), will have more than 200 participating groups, including several from DeKalb County. The DeKalb Public Library Marching Book Cart Drill Team, the Doraville Police Department, The Marlay House Restaurant in Decatur as well as JROTC groups from Lithonia, Stephenson and Stone Mountain high schools will assure that DeKalb County has a strong presence.
Those who gather along the 1.1-mile parade route down Peachtree Street from Ralph McGill Boulevard to Underground Atlanta can look forward to seeing clowns, floats, bands of every kind, military units, bagpipe and drum corps, thousands of children, Irish dancers, high-tech firefighting equipment, police units, drill teams, dogs, horses, antique cars, dignitaries from Ireland and local elected officials, according to the website.
After the parade ends, the festivities continue in Underground Atlanta, where there will be free entertainment, including music and dancing.
Those who choose not to venture downtown can find lots of St. Patrick’s Day activities in DeKalb County. Among the biggest is in Historic Stone Mountain Village, which will hold its 15th annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and Fundraiser, “Raising of the Green.”
Held on March 17, it’s ART Station’s big fundraiser, but it’s also a fun-raiser with silent and live auctions, “A Taste of Stone Mountain” food sampling, music and that St. Patty’s Day favorite—complimentary green beer. The event will be 6-9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door or $20 in advance. ART Station is located at 5384 Manor Drive, Stone Mountain. For more information or to purchase tickets call (770) 469-1105 or visit www.artstation.org.
Eddie’s Attic in Decatur starts the celebration a day ahead of the holiday on March 16 with uilleann (national bagpipes of Ireland) piper Paddy Keenan. One of the founding members of the 1970s group The Bothy Band, Keenan, according to the Eddie’s Attic website, was “born to a traveling family steeped in traditional music. Both Paddy’s father and grandfather were uilleann pipers. Paddy took up the pipes at 10 years old and played his first concert at the Gaiety Theater in Dublin, Ireland, when he was only 14. As a member of The Bothy Band, he helped forever change the face of Irish traditional music, merging a driving rhythm section with traditional Irish tunes in ways that had never been heard before.” The performance is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13 in advance or $16 at the door.
On March 17, Eddie’s Attic will have two St. Patrick’s Day shows, both featuring The Buddy O’Reilly Band, “Atlanta’s own Irish music super-group, captivating audiences for over 24 years,” according to Eddie’s Attic. The first show is at 7 p.m.; the second is at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for children 12 years old and younger and $10 for adults. Eddie’s Attic is located at 515-B N. McDonough St., Decatur in the Courthouse Square. For more information, visit www.eddiesattic.com.
Those who want to keep celebrating after March 17, or would like to hear traditional Celtic music without the bar atmosphere, can come to the Doraville Library on Saturday, March 26, to hear A Dó, which performs as part of the Buddy O’Reilly Band. For more than a decade “The Buddies,” as they have become known to their fans, have been performing the beautiful songs and rollicking dance tunes of the Irish and Scottish countryside. The event is 2-3 p.m. The Doraville Library is located at 3748 Central Ave., Doraville. For more information, call (770) 936-3852.
Even when the calendar shows that it’s nowhere near St. Patrick’s Day, there are restaurants and pubs in DeKalb County that feature a taste of Ireland. It’s a good bet these will be especially lively this month. Here are a few to try:
The Brick Store Pub
Known for its wide selection of beers and ales from around the world, this popular spot at 125 E. Court Square, Decatur, offers Guinness and Highland Gaelic Ale on tap and such Old World with a New World twist menu offerings as the shepherd’s daughter’s pie. For more information, call (404) 687-0990 or visit www.brickstorepub.com.
James Joyce Irish Pub
The landmark restaurant at 22 N. Avondale Road, Avondale Estates, has the atmosphere and the menu–including Irish stew, shepherd’s pie with beef braised in Guinness and corned beef and cabbage–one would expect at a pub named for one of Ireland’s most famous writers. There’s also traditional Irish coffee, ultimate Irish coffee along with the usual Irish beers and ales. For more information, call (404) 296-5097 or visit www.jamesjoyceirishpub.net.
The Marlay House
Formerly called the Grange Public House, the restaurant at 426 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, continues to carry its original tag line: “a bit of Dublin in Decatur.” An authentic Irish-owner operated Dublin-style pub, The Marlay House offers such Emerald Isle specialties as Harp and Guinness along with such food items as Irish stew and Guinness-braised brisket. The Marlay House has announced a kickoff St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring Irish dancers and live traditional Irish music on March 12, starting at 2 p.m. For more information, call (404) 270-9950 or visit www.themarlayhouse.com.
This Irish-themed Brookhaven pub not only offers such menu items as shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and a burger called the Dubliner, it has an Ireland-influenced drink selection that includes Guinness, Harp and a specialty cocktail called the nutty Irishman (whisky, hazelnut liquor and Irish cream.) It’s located at 4058 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. For more information, call (404) 467-8271 or visit www.pub71.com.