It is no surprise that St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in Georgia. A significant portion of the state’s population, like the fictitious Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With the Wind, claim an Irish heritage. On March 17 ethnic heritage matters little anyway; the fun is for everyone. This year the holiday— celebrated more riotously in the United States than in Ireland—falls on a Saturday. One Decatur Irish pub put a message on its website suggesting that since many people will be off work that day there will be “loads of fun for many, too.”
Downtown Atlanta again will be hosting one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations in the region—this year on the actual March 17 holiday. In Georgia only Savannah’s is larger.
Officially, this is the city of Atlanta’s 130th annual St. Patrick’s Parade. However, Atlantans have been gathering on this mid-March holiday to honor all things Irish since the Hibernian Benevolent Society of Atlanta started the tradition 154 years ago. This year’s event is to feature more than 4,000 participants from across the Southeast. There will be four-story high shamrock balloons and the world’s largest Irish walking flag. If that’s not enough green for you, there also will be a 60-foot Kermit the Frog balloon.
With tens of thousands of Atlanta residents and visitors expected this year, the downtown parade will start at noon at the intersection of Ralph McGill Boulevard and Peachtree Street. It will continue south on Peachtree Street toward Woodruff Park, and will conclude at Five Points. Radio disc jockeys will be stationed along the route to announce the parade, which will be led by grand marshal Mayor Kasim Reed. Musician Liam O’Connor, whom organizers call “the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion,” will be joining the celebration as a special guest from Ireland.
Following the parade, there will be a festival that continues until 5 p.m. at 200 Peachtree St., adjacent to the Westin Peachtree Plaza.
As usual, DeKalb County will have a strong presence in Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day activities. For example, representatives of the Stone Mountain Highland Games and Scottish Festival will march the 1.1 mile parade route decked out with kilts and bagpipes.
DeKalb residents don’t have to stray far from home to know it’s a great day for the Irish, however, as there will be celebrations all across the county. This year, even the Regency House, an independent retirement community in Decatur is joining the festivities.
The Regency House, located at 341 Winn Way in Decatur, is inviting the area’s senior residents to its free weekend of St. Patrick’s Day events March 16-18. Events include an Irish stew supper on March 16 at 5:30 p.m., an Irish lunch with traditional favorites on March 17 at 12:30 p.m., and a Luck of the Irish party with refreshments and arm-chair travel on March 18 at 7 p.m. To RSVP, call The Regency House at (404) 296-1152.
The Buddy O’Reilly Band returns to Eddie’s Attic March 17 with two St. Patrick’s Day shows—one at 7 and another at 9:30 p.m. “With uileann pipes, wooden flutes, fiddles, banjos, bones and more, ‘The Buddies’ will get your rump off your seat and, soon enough, move your feet,” according to Eddie’s Attic, which promises to, “shake the rafters with a rollicking good time.” Tickets are $10 for children 18 years old and younger and $20 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.
ART Station’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration and fundraiser, “Raising of the Green,” returns to Historic Stone Mountain Village for its 16th anniversary. Held on March 17, ART Station’s big fundraiser includes silent and live auctions, “A Taste of Stone Mountain” food sampling, music and that beverage that only appears around St. Patty’s Day—green beer. The event will be 6-10 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 purchases tickets call (770) 469-1105 or visit www.artstation.org.
There are restaurants and pubs in DeKalb County that evoke Ireland and other British Isle nations even when it’s not St. Patrick’s Day. For that worldwide celebration of Irish culture and tradition on March 17, they definitely kick it up a notch. Here are a few to try:
This Irish-themed Brookhaven pub this year will have Dwight Raby, Todd Wells and a live DJ performing March 17 at what it says will be “the biggest party in Brookhaven.” There’s no cover charge. Any day of the year customers can find such menu items as shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and a burger called the Dubliner. The pub has an Ireland-influenced drink selection that includes Guinness, Harp and a specialty cocktail called the nutty Irishman (whisky, hazelnut liquor and Irish cream.) Pub 71 is located at 4058 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. For more information, call (404) 467-8271 or visit www.pub71.com.
The Brewhouse Café
Although the eatery has changed its name four times since October the landmark restaurant at 22 N. Avondale Road, Avondale Estates, known for years as the James Joyce Pub, reports that even without bearing the name of one of Ireland’s most famous writers it still will be going all out for St. Patrick’s Day. Like its sister restaurant in the Little Five Points area—and also in DeKalb County—it features Guinness Irish stew along with other favorites from the British Isles such as bangers and mash, fish and chips and spicy meat pie. For more information, call (404) 296-5097 for the Avondale Estates location or (404) 525-7799 for the Moreland Avenue location or visit www.BrewhouseCafe.com.
The Marlay House
Another Decatur establishment that may cause confusion for folks who haven’t visited lately is The Marlay House. Once known as Grange Public House, the restaurant at 426 West 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 is the pub that says of its St. Patrick’s Day plans, with many off work there will be “loads of fun for many.” For more information, call (404) 270-9950 or visit www.themarlayhouse.com.