Nowhere is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated more passionately than in America. Ironically, it was considered primarily a religious holiday in Ireland until recent years. But for millions of Americans, including the 31 million who claim Irish ancestry, it is an occasion to celebrate.
That celebratory mindset is certainly evident in the Delaware Valley. Indeed, Wallethub.com ranks Philadelphia second, behind only Boston, on its Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day list. The site ranked 200 American cities in metrics that included the actual cost associated with going out to celebrate the holiday, along with safety and accessibility issues, weather, and perhaps most importantly, local tradition.
Boston sits atop the rankings followed by Philadelphia, Chicago (where the Chicago River is famously dyed green for the occasion), Pittsburgh, and New York.
Whatever you’re seeking in a dining experience or how passionate you are about St. Patrick’s Day, there is sure to be a venue suited to your tastes.
The Philadelphia area abounds with tradition and with establishments committed to creating a celebratory atmosphere for their patrons.
At the same time, the holiday’s religious origins haven’t been ignored.
Montgomery County resident Bridget Algeo grew up in Lansdale and recalls going into the city to attend the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“Our family used to stay at the embassy Saturday night,” she said, “go to the (Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul) on Sunday morning and watch the Philadelphia parade from the eighth-floor balcony.”
William Thomas Cain is a photographer and travels throughout the Philadelphia area on assignments. When he’s not working on the holiday, which is often the case, he might be found at Cavanaugh’s Headhouse on South Second Street, near South Street, in Philadelphia. The pub has seven different dining areas to provide its patrons with an assortment of options.
“It has great food, great beer, and a great atmosphere,” Cain said.
Cain is also a fan of McGillin’s Old Ale House at 13th and Drury in Center City, which is considered by many to be the oldest such establishment in the city. It first opened in 1860 and today is a frequent gathering spot for local politicians as well as fans of the city’s professional sports teams.
“Cavanaugh’s and McGillin’s have the green beer flowing continuously (on St. Patrick’s Day),” Cain said.
Dave Sommers, from West Goshen Township, Chester County favors the Stone Tavern 1867 in West Chester.
“It offers a perfect atmosphere,” he said. “Delicious food, great serving staff, and reasonable prices.”
The establishment is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day all month. A special Irish-themed menu from Thursday through Saturday of this week features Guinness stew, potato and leek soup, and emerald salad.
MaGerk’s Pub and Grill has established locations in Horsham and Fort Washington in Montgomery County as well as a new location in Lionville in Chester County, plus two locations in Maryland and one in North Carolina
The Horsham location has a head start with its St. Patrick’s Day celebration: The bar area is decorated with green lights.
On Wednesday, WIP Radio will broadcast live all day from the Horsham location which will serve as a prelude to Friday’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities including balloons, face painting, dancers, and of course a band playing Irish music.
“It will be a busy week,” said marketing manager Mary Kate Manzo.
The Fort Washington location will also feature dancers and special music.
JD McGillicuddy’s in Havertown will have a special menu for St. Patrick’s Day, said owner Tom Thornton. It includes Irish beef stew, ham and cabbage, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie, along with their regular menu and libations.
And it’s not just St. Patrick’s Day but March Madness that patrons are celebrating.
“We have a lot of people who come here to see the NCAA tournament,” he said. “We can’t fit a live band in here for Irish music. But we’ll have the Irish menu. And we’ll be focused on the NCAA March Madness.”