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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Greening of Massachusetts - America's Most Irish State Celebrates St. Patrick's Day

(BOSTON) -- Massachusetts is rolling out the green carpet to celebrate the state's pervasive Irish-American heritage during St. Patrick's Day season this March.

Hundreds of Irish cultural events – parades, concerts and dance recitals, theater and literary events, culinary feasts and fundraisers, and genealogy lectures and exhibits – are taking place from Boston to Holyoke and from the Merrimack Valley to Cape Cod. These activities -- plus hotel packages, pubs and restaurants, gift shops and travel specials -- are detailed at, which the Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) created in 2000 to promote the state’s Irish-American community year round to in-state and to tourists and visitors coming to Massachusetts.

State officials are encouraging tourists to visit Massachusetts for its Irish parades, festivals, and ongoing cultural activities throughout the year.

“Apart from Ireland itself, I can think of no place in the world with a more robust expression of Irish culture and heritage than our state,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray. “To paraphrase a popular Irish greeting, Céad míle fáilte go dtí Massachusetts -- One Hundred Thousand Welcomes to Massachusetts.”

“Smart travelers and local residents have long discovered the joys of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Massachusetts,” says Colette Quinlin of Boston Irish Tourism Association. In addition to numerous family events, including seven St. Patrick’s Day parades that run from March 7 through March 22, Quinlin says that “Massachusetts offers a sophisticated, stylish way to celebrate the holiday by focusing on contemporary Irish cuisine and culture that comes directly from Ireland.”

"Massachusetts has so much to offer people who want to immerse themselves in ethnic culture," said Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism. "During the month of March, there's a whole world of activities throughout the Commonwealth that celebrate Irish heritage. You don't have to travel far distances, at great expense, to get a taste of Ireland."


This year’s Gaelic Gourmet Week (March 10-17) – a celebration of Irish cuisine sponsored by BITA and Tourism Ireland - features two chefs from Ireland, Gerard Reidy from the Delphi Mountain Resort in Connemara, County Galway, and Kevin Cleary from the Westbury Hotel in Dublin. Chef Reidy is joining local chefs Rachel Klein and Barbara Lynch at the Seaport Boston Hotel on March 14 for a four course dinner tobenefit the Fisher House, a program that provides free accommodations for families of veterans being treated at Boston hospitals. Chef Cleary is cooking an Irish Dinner at Jurys Boston Hotel alongside executive chef James Tierney of Stanhope Grille on March 17.

Three of greater Boston’s renowned Irish pubs are elevating Irish cuisine to new heights. Chef Dan O’Donnell of the Black Rose in Boston and Chef Brendan Curtis of the Plough & Stars in Cambridge are part of a new generation of Irish-American chefs who are melding tradition recipes with contemporary flair. And Irish-born Michael Conneely, owner and chef at the Peddler’s Daughter in Haverhill and Nashua, also presides over Bistro 45, which serves tapas and martinis with an Irish flair.

Music & Dance

The Chieftains play their annual concert at Boston Symphony Hall on March 13, and Celtic Thunder performs at Lowell Memorial Auditorium on March 23. Celtic Woman plays at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH on March 8 and at the Dunkin Donuts Arena in Providence on March 10. The Battlefield Band comes to the Blackstone Valley Theatre on March 22, and the Reagle Players present A Bit of Ireland in Waltham on March 13-15. And Boston’s own Celtic Sojourn, hosted by WGBH Irish host Brian O’Donovan, runs at the Berklee Performance Center on March 14 and the Hanover Theater in Worcester on March 15.

Irish fiddle maestro Seamus Connolly brings his trio to the Seaport Boston Hotel’s new lounge Tamo on March 13-15 and 17. The ten-time All Ireland fiddle champ is joined by Laurel Martin and Kevin McElroy. On March 24, Boston College’s Irish Studies program features Nightingale, a concert of traditional music from New England, Canada, Ireland and France at the Connolly House.

Irish music can be enjoyed nightly at Irish pubs like the Black Rose and the Purple Shamrock, both located next to Faneuil Hall in Boston; the Burren Pub in Davis Square, Somerville and the Skellig in Waltham; Donoghue’s in Watertown; Peddler’s Daughter in Haverhill and Nashua, and the Shaskeen in Manchester, NH.

Boston’s new House of Blues on Lansdowne Street is headquarters for Irish punk rock this St. Patrick’s Day. Flogging Mollys from L.A. kick off on March 10, followed by Boston’s own Dropkick Murphys, who play March 14-17 before the hometown fans. The Pogues from London finish up at the House on March 20-21.


The Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day Open House on March 14, with a complete schedule of family entertainment, including music and dance, storytelling, magic as well as lessons in step dancing and set dancing. The Centre is also organizing a Day of Irish Culture at the Massachusetts State House on March 18.

The Irish Cultural Centre at Elms College in Chicopee is hosting an Irish Tea Party on March 8 that includes Irish music, dancing and storytelling. On Cape Cod, the Sons of Erin Club in Yarmouth has events on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through the month. On March 10, the Sons of Erin present the film, Green Square Mile, a documentary on the Irish community of Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood.

The Eire Society of Boston is hosting a special event called Wines of Australia at the College Club in Boston on March 5, the American Ireland Fund hosts its Young Leaders Party on March 12 at the State Room in Boston, and the Charitable Irish Society holds its 272 annual dinner in Boston on March 17 at the Union Club.

John F. Kennedy Library & Museum

No visit to Boston is complete without a stop at the JFK Library, the official repository for President John F. Kennedy, the nation’s 35th president and America’s first president of Irish-Catholic ancestry. Two current exhibits that provide insight into President Kennedy are “Poetry and Power: The Inauguration Address of John F. Kennedy,” on display through June, and “The Making of the President,” on display through the summer.

On March 14, the library welcomes musicians Matt and Shannon Heaton and dancer Kieran Jordan to perform a lively set if Irish jigs, reels and step dancing. On March 16 the JFK presents a forum on Foreign Policy Challenges Facing the Nation with former Ambassador Nicholas R. Burns and others.

Lawrence – the Emerald City

The City of Lawrence, long a bastion of Irish-American culture, has dozens of Irish activities in March, starting with a special exhibit on Irish Music on March 4 at the Lawrence State Heritage Park which highlights the history of traditional music in Ireland and the United States. Music at the opening reception is provided by fiddler Larry Reynolds and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (Irish Musicians Association).

On March 1, author Michael Quinlin is giving this year’s White Fund lecture on Lawrence’s Irish Community, and on March 15 Diarmaid Ferriter discusses his recent book on Eamon deValera. Other events in Lawrence throughout March include an Irish film festival, storytelling, an art exhibit at Lorica Artworks, and an Irish sing-along at the Lawrence Public Library on Marc 29

St. Patrick's Day Parades

The most public expression of Irish heritage in Massachusetts is the annual St. Patrick’s Day parades taking place across the Commonwealth each March. This year’s parade season opens on Saturday, March 7, when the Cape Cod Irish parade gets underway in Yarmouth. On Sunday, March 8, join Lt. Governor Tim Murray and local Hibernians in Central Massachusetts for the 26th annual Worcester parade, or check out the parade in Lawrence, led by Mayor Michael Sullivan. On Sunday, March 15, visitors can attend Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston, or the Hingham Parade on the South Shore. On Sunday, March 22, Abington holds its parade in southern Massachusetts, while Holyoke celebrates its 58th annual parade in western Massachusetts. For details on starting times and contact info, visit

Comedy and Theatre

Off the Boat Comedy has invited award-winning Irish comic Ardal O’Hanlon to the Somerville Theatre on March 5. Boston’s Huntington Theatre presents Two Men of Florence by Richard Goodwin, former JFK speechwriter, from March 6-April 5, while Broadway across America is presenting two shows at the Colonial Theater: Movin Out on March 20-22 and A Bronx Tale, March 31-April 11.

Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail

One of the most popular activities in Boston during St. Patrick’s Day season is a walk along the city’s Irish Heritage Trail. The three-mile, self-guided tour starts at the Rose Kennedy Garden along the waterfront and proceeds throughout downtown Boston and into the Back Bay, ending up at Fenway Park, which was built by Irish immigrant Charles Logue in 1912. The 20 sites along the way celebrate the illustrious Irish experience in Boston that dates back to colonial times. The map is available for free at the visitor information centers on Boston Common and at the Prudential Center. You can also order it by mail at

About: The Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) is a cultural tourism group formed in 2000 to promote the state’s Irish-American community year round to the travel industry. With over 100 members and sponsors, BITA also promotes tourism industry ties between Massachusetts and Ireland, Northern Ireland and Canada.

For year round details on Irish cultural activities, pubs, gift shops, hotels, travel agencies and cultural groups, visit For year round information on all cultural activities and travel amenities in Massachusetts, visit the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism at

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