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January 6, 2010
Michael Quinlin: 617 696-9880

For Immediate Release

Massachusetts Going Green for St. Patrick’s Day

(BOSTON) -- Massachusetts is rolling out the emerald carpet to celebrate the state’s pervasive Irish-American heritage this St. Patrick’s Day season in March 2010.

The nation’s most Irish state is hosting hundreds of concerts and dances, theater and literary events, culinary feasts and fundraisers, genealogy lectures and cultural activities throughout the state, from Boston to Holyoke and from the North Shore to Cape Cod.

These cultural activities are detailed at by the Irish Tourism Association (BITA) which promotes the state’s Irish-American community year round to tourists and visitors coming to Massachusetts. 

BITA also issues an annual Irish Food & Culture Guide each March with cultural activities, hotel specials, parade information, and a variety of Irish pubs, gift shops and art galleries.

The 36 page, color magazine is available for free at tourism kiosks on Boston Common, Prudential Center, and at visitor centers on Cape Cod and Plymouth.  The Guide also previews special vacation deals to Ireland in 2010.  

The Boston Irish Tourism Association was formed in 2000 to celebrate the state’s large Irish-American community.  Over 24% of all residents claim Irish ancestry, according to the US Census. BITA represents dozens of grassroots cultural groups, Irish pubs, gift shops, art galleries and retail shops, as well as hotels, museums, concert venues and other visitor amenities. 
You can find complete details at BITA’s web site,

Here is a list of Irish cultural activities being promoted by the Boston Irish Tourism Association this St. Patrick’s Day season.  Find full details at  

Irish Music

The Irish music season kicks off on February 27 with two events.  Flogging Molly, an Irish-American rock band with Celtic music flair, performs at the House of Blues in Boston while Irish-American singer Pauline Wells headlines the annual Celtic Crossing concert at Milton High School.

Celtic Woman, stars of Public Broadcasting Stations, performs at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH on February 28.  The all-women ensemble also performs two shows at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, CT on March 6.

The Chieftains – renowned as the ambassadors of Irish traditional music throughout the world - play their annual concert at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester on March 9 and at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on March 11.  

The Dropkick Murphys, Boston’s own Irish-punk group, take over the House of Blues on Lansdowne Street in Boston from March 12 through March 17.  Popular for the hit songs, “Shippin up to Boston” and the Red Sox anthem, “Tessie,” the Murphys always make a point to perform on St. Patrick’s Day in their home town. 

The Reagle Players presents their annual show, “A Little Bit of Ireland” in Waltham, from March 12-14, featuring Galway fiddler Larry Reynolds and the nationally acclaimed Harney Dancers.   

Celtic band Pendragon performs in concert at the Blackstone River Theatre on March 14 in Cumberland, RI.

The Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes & Drums, holds a St. Patrick’s Day concert on March 4 at The Cabby Shack Restaurant & Pub in Plymouth.  They are joined by the Fenian Sons Band.

Irish Pubs

Live, authentic Irish music is available nightly at Irish pubs throughout the Boston area.  The Black Rose at Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston offers the best in Irish ballads and sing-alongs, seven days a week, and has a great menu of Irish and Boston dishes at its cozy restaurants upstairs from the pub, headed by Chef Dan O’Donnell.  The Rose was founded in 1976 and has consistently been acknowledged as one of America’s best Irish pubs.

Other pubs in downtown Boston with an Irish flair include the Purple Shamrock, across from Boston City Hall, and right next to the two life-sized statues of James Michael Curley, Boston’s infamous and notorious political chieftain.  Coogan’s and Jose McIntyre’s, both located on Milk Street, are near the Rose Kennedy Greenway and serve lunch daily.   Hurricane O’Reilly’s on Canal Street in the North End, right next to the TD North Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins, is a great place to watch sports. 

The Last Hurrah at the Omni Parker House is a cozy hotel pub sandwiched between Boston City Hall and the State House.  It is a long-time gathering spot for local politicians and has a rich Irish-American historical legacy dating back to the early 20th century.   In the Back Bay, check out Clerys Bistro & Bar and Brownstone’s, both on Dartmouth Street, Dillon’s on Boylston Street, and Cuffe’s at the Back Bay Hotel, formerly Jurys Hotel.

For traditional music lovers who prefer jigs and impromptu sessions rather than sing-alongs, visit The Burren Pub in Davis Square, Somerville, and the Skellig in Waltham, where traditional Irish music is played at the highest level.   The Back Room of the Burren offers a variety of American music, comedy night, and set dancing throughout the year.  Both pubs serve food seven days a week and the Burren has WiFi access.  Both pubs are owned by musicians Tommy McCarthy and Louise Costelloe.

North of Boston, the Peddler’s Daughter in Haverhill, MA and Nashua, NH, along with the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence, offers live Irish music on weekends.  And in Manchester, NH, the Shaskeen Pub has terrific traditional music led by fiddle star Roger Burridge.

Irish Culture

The Irish Cultural Centre at Elms College in Chicopee hosts an Irish Tea Party on March 5 that includes Irish music, dancing and storytelling. 

Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (Irish Musicians Association) hosts its monthly session on March 7 at the Canadian-American Club in Watertown.  You’ll get to hear some of the area’s finest musicians, playing traditional songs, jigs, reels, waltzes and polkas. 

The Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day Open House on March 13, with a complete schedule of family entertainment, including music and dance, storytelling, magic as well as lessons in step and set dancing. 

The Charitable Irish Society holds its 274 annual dinner in Boston on March 17 at the Union Club.

The 11th annual Irish Film Festival takes place in Boston and Cambridge on March 26-28, featuring the best films coming out of Ireland today as well as films about the Irish Diaspora.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum is the official repository for the political life of President Kennedy, the nation’s 35th president and America’s first president of Irish-Catholic ancestry. Current exhibits include “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 13 the JFK Library presents “Themselves: An Immigrant’s Story.”  This free performance for children five years and older follows a young woman in the 19th century who leaves Ireland and journeys to America.  The show features storytelling, traditional music and Irish dancing.

2010 marks the 50th anniversary of JFK’s historic run for president in 1960.  The Library is planning a variety of activities to commemorate Kennedy’s campaign.   For information visit

St. Patrick’s Day Parades

Historians believe that the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade ever conducted in America took place in Boston in 1737, when the newly formed Charitable Irish Society held a brief procession up Tremont Street in honor of Ireland’s patron saint.

Today Massachusetts boasts seven parades across the Commonwealth.  These expressions of cultural and ethnic pride are family-events, free and open to the public.

This year’s parade season opens on Saturday, March 6, when the Cape Cod Irish parade gets underway in Yarmouth.  On Sunday, March 14 check out the 27th annual Worcester parade, and on March 21 the parade in Lawrence.

On Sunday, March 14, Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place in South Boston. Also on March 14 is the Scituate parade on Boston’s South Shore.  On Sunday, March 21, Abington holds its parade in southern Massachusetts, while Holyoke celebrates its 59th annual parade in western Massachusetts on March 21.  For details on starting times and contact info, visit

South Boston

Boston’s quintessential Irish-American neighborhood is South Boston, which was first settled by Irish immigrants in the early 1800s.  In addition to hosting Boston’s annual parade each year, South Boston has a number of other activities in March commemorating its Irish roots.

On Sunday, March 14, the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast takes place at the Boston Convention Center, hosted by State Senator Jack Hart.  The two-hour political roast of local politicians and public officials is all in good fun, and sets the spirit for the day’s festivities. The breakfast is by invitation only, but you can watch it live on local television.  Afterwards, the dignitaries go right to the starting line of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which starts at 1:00 p.m. on West Broadway.

On Wednesday, March 17, St. Augustine’s Chapel – the city’s first Catholic Church – commemorates the historical occasion with a memorial mass.  St. Augustine’s Cemetery was created in 1818 by Dublin immigrant Thomas Murray, and in 1819 the chapel was built.   

Following the mass, Southie residents walk over to the nearby Revolutionary War Monument at Dorchester Heights for a series of exercises by color guard and pipers.  This is the site of the historic encounter between American colonists and British troops on March 17, 1776, when George Washington drove the British Navy out of Boston Harbor, a turning point in the Revolutionary War.  The secret password General Washington gave to General John Sullivan was “St. Patrick” in tribute to the Irish contribution to the Revolutionary War effort.

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 20 sites feature politicians, poets, union organizers and war heroes as well as landmarks and public institutions that are associated with the Boston Irish saga. 

The three-mile, self-guided tour was created by Boston Irish Tourism Association as a way of celebrating the unique Irish experience in Boston dating back to the 18th century.  The Trail starts at the Rose Kennedy Garden along the waterfront and proceeds through downtown Boston and into the Back Bay, ending up at Fenway Park, which was built by Irish immigrant Charles Logue in 1912.

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


This cultural tourism group formed in 2000 to promote the state’s Irish-American community year round to the travel industry.  BITA has over 100 members and sponsors, including cultural organizations, pubs and restaurants, gift shops and art galleries, museums and concert venues, and hotels and travel agencies.

BITA promotes tourism industry ties between the United States and Ireland, Northern Ireland and Canada. BITA is celebrating its 10th year as a cultural tourism organization.

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

BITA web sites include:

Irish Massachusetts /
Boston Irish Heritage Trail /
Patrick S. Gilmore Society /
Boston Irish Famine Memorial /


To get additional story ideas for 2010, click here.

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