Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day
On a day when everybody is Irish or wishes they were Irish
Irish dancers from the Keenan School, like Stina Byrne and Fiona Day (pictured), bring traditional jigs to Murphy’s Irish Pub for Saint Patrick’s Day
With around 3,000 pints of beer and more than 300 pounds of corned beef, Sonoma’s only Irish pub is prepared for its biggest day of the year.
“We have 38 kegs, all Irish beer,” beamed Hunt Bailie, manager of Murphy’s Irish Pub. “We’ve got Guinness, we’ve got Harp and we’ve got Smithwick’s. If it’s a hot day, we’ll sell a lot more Harp, if it’s colder, the Guinness goes faster.”
St. Patrick’s Day may mark the spread of Catholicism to Ireland, but in Sonoma, the day’s holier connotations have fallen be the wayside – it’s mostly just an excuse to drink beer and to wear something green. While there will be plenty to drink, Murphy’s staff is diligent about keeping the crowd under control. Long lines between beers help pace revelers, and all shots will be served with ice to slow consumption.
“If someone wants to come in and get really drunk quickly, they’ll have a hard time doing that at Murphy’s,” Bailie said, adding that the pub’s entire staff is scheduled to work for St. Patrick’s Day, helping to beef up security and keep the raucous gathering in check. “If the crowd gets out of control, we close. We’ve closed as early as 9:30 p.m. before.”
The Irish celebration begins with a bagpipe performance at 3 p.m., with traditional Irish dancers from Keenan School at 4 p.m. The Carrtunes take the stage at 8 p.m., bringing the sounds of Dublin and music for dancing.
Murphy’s Chef Derek Belanger has been cooking between 50 and 100 pounds of corned beef a day, everyday, since Wednesday. It’ll be paired with cabbage, carrots and colcannon, a traditional dish of mashed potatoes and cabbage.
Other Irish favorites, such as Irish stew and Sheppard’s pie, are also on the menu. Don’t bother making a reservation, it’s the one day of the year the pub won’t accept any – although every year 100 people on average inquire about booking a table for the night.
The pub is open to all until the food runs out, which usually happens about 9 p.m., at which point it becomes a 21 and older-only event.
If you want to get the party started early, Sonoma Valley Rotary Club is hosting its annual “Luck O the Irish” raffle and corned beef dinner on Saturday, March 16, at the Sonoma Moose Lodge. After the dinner, BackTrax rock band will provide music for dancing before the raffle winners are announced. Dinner tickets are $40 at the door, and only 250 will be sold. Dance-only tickets are available after 8:30 p.m. for $15. Raffle tickets are $50 and available at Rabo Bank and Pharmaca – the winner need not be present at the dinner to win. The grand-prize winner gets their choice of a trip for two to Ireland or $10,000 cash; while five additional ticketholders will win $250.
The newly reborn General’s Daughter will be hosting an afternoon Irish feast for families on Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. There will be plenty of Guinness to go around, accompanied by dishes such as arugula and prosciutto pizza, pork sliders with shaved fennel and savoy cabbage slaw and chicken lollipops with green goddess dip. All food and beverages are served restaurant style – meaning you pay only for what you order – but reservations are still required by calling 933-0450.
Limerick is not only a city in Ireland, it’s a poetry style beloved for centuries throughout the United Kingdom. With an Irish-themed menu on hand, Breakaway Café invites anyone interested to present their ditty to a panel of judges on Sunday at the restaurant – the winning writer will receive a $25 gift certificate. For more information, or reservations, call 996-5949.