With Boston boasting one of the highest concentrations of residents with Irish heritage in the country, it’s not surprising that every March the city is a center for celebrations around St. Patrick’s Day. Locally, a growing number of people have been flocking to Adams Village on the 17th to celebrate the holiday with old and new friends.
That is why a group of Village merchants recently joined forces to publicize all of the dining, shopping, and entertainment specials being offered on the holiday.
While Lower Mills has the Christmas Stroll and other sections of Dorchester have special events, Adams Village has become known for St. Patrick’s Day and celebrating Irish heritage, said Marty Lydon and Mary Kelly, co-presidents of the Adams Village Merchants Association. “It’s evolved over the last few years into a destination on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Kelly. “It has become a gathering spot on the day. This year we decided to run a joint ad campaign in the paper. We want to help to promote it better.”
While South Boston has the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which traditionally is held on the Sunday closest to the 17th, many people in Suffolk County have the day off as a holiday, which means more people around and about to enjoy the celebrations on the Saint’s day itself.
Dorchester has a high concentration of residents with Irish heritage, said John O’Toole, who was one of the chairs of the Irish Heritage Festival that was held in Adams Village last October. According to a 2006 Census survey, the population of Massachusetts had 1.5 million residents with some Irish heritage, including 103,660 in Boston alone. Dorchester can trace its Irish roots back to the time it was established as a separate colonial town next door to Boston where the Puritans set up shop in 1630.
Adams Village is also the home of many long-standing businesses that have catered to the Irish community, including Gerard’s Restaurant, the Eire Pub, and Greenhills Irish Bakery.
Three new businesses opened this past year including two with an Irish flair, Kelly pointed out. They include a Middle Eastern restaurant, Chateau Kebob, at 789 Adams St., Currach Bistro and Pizza, at 787 Adams, and The Butcher Shop Market Inc., an Irish meat market located at 782 Adams. “They have helped revitalize the district as well,” Kelly said.
“Adams Village is about relationships and reunions,” chimed in Lydon. “People from all over the area come back, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, to meet. Many see people they haven’t seen for years. They can come and spend the day,” he said.
“They can start off with some Irish scones or a full Irish breakfast and then have a corned beef and cabbage dinner, and head over to McDonald’s for a Shamrock Shake,” Lydon said. “There are lot of fun activities going on. WROL will be broadcasting. There will be entertainment in various places including fiddlers and dancers. And College Hype will be introducing their new Irish apparel that day.”
The Boston Police Gaelic Column bagpipe group will march down Adams Street into the Eire Pub on St. Patrick’s Day, as they have done annually. And there will be plenty of “wearing of the green,” Kelly noted. “People can be Irish for the day,” Lydon added.
The advertising effort was designed to make people aware of all that is available locally. “It’s an effort on behalf of two like-minded associations to shed a light on what’s going on,” O’Toole said.
Among the advertisers are: Adams Fish market, China Sky, Butcher Shop Market, Windy City Pizza, Sonny’s Restaurant, Irish Hype, McDonald’s Restaurant, The Currach Bistro and Pizza, Casali’s Market, Gerard’s Restaurant, Greenhills Irish Bakery, and Blasi’s Café.
Gerard’s, an anchor in Adams Corner for nearly 40 years, has always catered to the Irish neighborhood. In the mid 1980s, the store began carrying Irish groceries. And in the restaurant, the Irish breakfast is a popular choice among patrons. “Adams Village has always has been a destination on St. Patrick’s Day,” said restaurant owner Gerard Adomunes, whose corned beef and cabbage special dinner offering started on March 7.
Blasi’s Café across the street will also be serving the traditional boiled dinner all day. “I am looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day because I think of it as one of the first signs of spring,” said owner Ken Blasi. “And spring usually brings more people out to restaurants and other activities.”
In addition to the availability of corned beef and cabbage dinners and that WROL radio live broadcast from noon to 1 p.m., Kevin Doherty will be playing fiddle throughout the day and an Irish seisun with Geese in the Bog will begin at 4:30 p.m.
All 13 merchants in the joint advertising effort will be offering special food, shopping, or entertainment on the holiday.
The Adams Village Merchants Association has worked diligently as a group to keep the district vibrant as well as attract new businesses, Kelly said. “St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to promote the good things that are happening in our community, for families and all of the people who live here,” she added.
Lydon and Kelly also helped the neighborhood organize the Irish Heritage Festival that was held in October on Columbus Day weekend and attracted some 8,000 people. The Festival, though, is a separate event from St. Patrick’s Day, albeit one that the organizers hope will become its own annual tradition. In fact, says Lydon, on March 17 the next Irish Heritage festival will be “exactly 178 days away.”