NEWPORT, R.I. — Legend says Patrick returned to Ireland years after being captured and forced into slavery as a boy, determined to introduce Ireland to Christianity. After much success, he died on March 17 in 461 and was named the patron saint of Ireland, buried in the grounds of Downpatrick — a small town in Northern Ireland.
Today, New England pubs and restaurants celebrate this saint’s death in their own way — mostly involving downing pints of green beer, munching on a reuben or corned beef and cabbage plate, and boiling and mashing hundreds of pounds of potatoes.
Malt on Broadway
Husband-and-wife duo Tom and Chelynn Sheehan moved to Newport as Dublin transplants and opened Malt on Broadway. The City by the Sea is the sister city to Kinsale, Ireland — known as the “gourmet city of Ireland” — and the Sheehans regularly take part in a “chef swap” each year between the two. For a few days each year, they trade places for a four-day cooking festival across the Atlantic, bringing their signature plates with them.
“A connection to home is important to us, even though this is now our home,” said Chelynn Sheehan, who said a small group of restaurateurs and chefs from Kinsale have arrived in Newport to partake in some events around the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Sheehan recommends the Thai shrimp nachos, which she said is their most popular appetizer, and the pan-roasted cod risotto, with crimini and shitake mushrooms in a beurre blanc, and russet chips. 150 Broadway, Newport, 401-619-1667, maltonbroadway.com.
Nestled in Bristol’s historic district since the early 1990s, Aidan’s has become an award-winning pub known for its extensive tap list of more than 80 beers and traditional fare. On St. Patrick’s Day, they’ll be starting early with a breakfast at 8 a.m. serving plates like Mullingar hash and eggs with homemade corned beef, or their Irish breakfast with black and white pudding, brown bread, rashers, and bangers. From that morning until 1 a.m., they’ll have a heated tent set up outside with live Irish music. 5 John St., Bristol, 401-254-1940, aidanspub.com.
Busker’s Pub and Restaurant
From whiskey tastings with distilleries in from Dublin to serving comfort dishes, Busker’s on Thames Street will likely be one of the busiest pubs around Newport during the city’s parade. The gastropub serves homemade chili prepared daily, and Burdock’s fish and chips using Irish ale and served on newspaper. Also be sure to sample the boxty, which are homemade Irish potato cakes served with sour cream and scallions. 178 Thames St., Newport, 401-846-5856, buskerspub.com.
Shannon View Inn
If you’re looking for more of a neighborhood gathering spot for lunch, Shannon View Inn serves plates like the “Drunkin’ Porky,” which has two buttermilk pancakes topped with a heaping mound of pulled pork, finished with a maple whiskey-bacon syrup. The “Kimmi B” is a scrambled egg wrap with corned beef hash, onions, and cheddar. If you’re sticking around for lunch or dinner, they hand-roll and stuff corned beef, sauerkraut, and fresh cabbage spring rolls, served with Russian dressing. 1901 Post Rd., Warwick, 401-732-0999, shannonviewri.com.
For a quick breakfast or lunch, Kelley’s Deli in Westerly is a casual spot for massive portions of rashers, potato cakes, bangers, and a little Irish coffee to start the day. 116 Granite St. #8, Westerly, 401-596-9896, kelleysdeli.com.
For the last 40 years, people have flocked to Murphy’s Pub starting at 9 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. Owner Ruth Ferrazzano can typically be seen gazing out at the crowd — layered in emerald-colored Mardi Gras beads, four-leaf clover pins, and shades of green — before she swings open the doors.
Ferrazzano, who started at Murphy’s as a waitress in 1979 before she took over as owner in 1997, said the kitchen staff typically prepares nearly 2,000 pounds of corned beef to serve with countless Guinness pints and Magners cider over ice. While you’re there, catch a Providence College Friars game, a soccer match, listen to some live music, or chat with locals until bar keepers ring the bell for last call minutes before 2 a.m. each night. 100 Fountain St., Providence, 401-421-1188, murphysprovidence.com.
Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick
In the Valley Falls neighborhood of Cumberland, this establishment used to be a church in its former life. Now it’s an Irish pub where members and local residents alike can chug down affordable drinks — starting at just $3. On Sunday, March 12, the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick will be celebrating the death of the man the pub’s named for by serving a corned beef dinner. It’s free for members and $15 per person if you’re a non-member. 135 Broad Street, Cumberland, 401-723-0131, facebook.com/friendlysonsofsaintpatrick.
Tammany Hall Pub & Parlor
Smoke a cigar, they say, for your worries to go away. Tammany Hall on Providence’s Federal Hill serves beers on draft, comfort dishes like French onion soup, and a full selection of cigars. Keep your eyes peeled, too: You might just see one of the state’s most powerful figures walk in. 409 Atwells Ave., Providence, 401-831-3180, facebook.com/TammanyRI.
TO CELEBRATE WITH LIVE MUSIC
In the early 2000s, a nine-car garage that belonged to a nearby funeral home in Providence’s Wayland Square wasn’t being utilized, and brothers Mark and Bob Russell realized it needed to be repurposed. The brothers set out to visit Ballyjamesduff, a small town of 2,700 in County Cavan, Ireland, in 2005, and stumbled into McBride’s Pub, one of the local establishments. Behind the pub was a funeral home, which also happened to be owned by two brothers. That year, the Russell brothers returned to Providence, renovated the garage to become a pub, and opened McBride’s.
On St. Patrick’s Day, they will be shutting down the street from noon to 8 p.m. They’ll be playing Irish music while pouring extra Guinness and Jameson Whiskey at a bar outside. Inside, there will be live music with Celtic band Turas from 1 to 4 p.m. and Sean Connell from 8 to 11 p.m. For the rest of the weekend, they will have live music from 2 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. 161 Wayland Ave., Providence, 401-751-3000, mcbrides-pub.com.
Skeff’s Neighborhood Pub
The outside of Skeff’s Pub in East Providence screams fish and chips with a side of Guinness. But this is no ordinary Irish pub. Eileen and Paul Harvey recently moved their family-owned restaurant from Cumberland to East Providence, and have been counting down to Saint Patrick’s Day. Skeff’s name is derived from Eileen Harvey’s maiden name, “Skeffington,” whose ancestors date back to the rebellious Irishman Francis Sheehy-Skeffington in the early 1900s. His picture scatters the walls.
For Saint Patrick’s Day, they’ll have live entertainment — including ceremonial bagpipes — starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 17, through 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 18. But note that their food is also fresh: They make their pizza with dough from Scialo’s County Bakery. Hand-cut meats come from Avenue N restaurant. The popcorn chicken is made with fresh poultry from Bonollo’s. Cheese is from Narragansett Creamery and their fish comes from Digger’s Catch right in East Providence. 507 North Broadway, East Providence, 401-854-5981, facebook.com/skeffsep.
If you have the kids in tow, The Parlour in Providence will have a family-friendly show from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17. By the second set, they promise to be “swearing like sailors,” along with some traditional Irish folk songs. 1119 North Main St., Providence, 401-383-5858, theparlourri.com.
The Fastnet Pub
Located on Newport’s “restaurant row” is the Fastnet Pub, which has a week’s worth of events for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, with trivia, live music, soccer matches, and Guinness foam art competitions. As they say: Céad míle fáilte. 1 Broadway, Newport, 401-845-9311, thefastnetpub.com.
Pivotal Brewing Company
With one of their artisanal ales in hand, listen to a few traditional Irish tunes at Pivotal Brewing Company on Sunday, March 12, from 2 to 5 p.m. There will be a number of local musicians to strum on a banjo or play the fiddle. 500 Wood St., Bristol, 401-638-1100, pivotalbrewing.com.
The girls of Tir Na Nog Irish Dance will be performing at Ciro’s Tavern starting at 7:30 p.m. on Saint Patrick’s Day. While you’re there, sample plates like their stuffed quaohogs, or poutine fries made with cheese curds from Wright’s Dairy Farm. 42 Cherry St., Woonsocket, 401-769-3330, cirostavern.com.