St. Patrick’s Day, As American as Corned Beef and Cabbage

Written By Scott Joseph On March 17, 2014


It’s time again for that most American of holidays: St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, I know, you may think it’s an Irish holiday, but trust me, there’s more about this event that’s made in the USA than the Emerald Isle.

Even the man it commemorates wasn’t born Irish. Maewyn Succat (say: MY-win SuK-kat), St. Patrick’s real name, was probably from Roman England, Scotland or Wales, and March 17 honors the day he died, in 461. Until the 1970s, you couldn’t even get a drink in a pub in Ireland because they were ordered closed on that day — it was considered a holy observance. Even the three leaves of the shamrock, which is associated with Patrick, signify the holy trinity. Oh, and just so you know, Maewyn Succat did not drive the snakes out of Ireland — there never were any snakes in Ireland to drive out.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade, such as it was, was held in New York City in 1762 when Irish members of the English military marched through the streets. Note that date — it isn’t likely that throngs lined the streets to cheer them on.

Corned beef and Cabbage was likely a New York City invention, too. Taverns offered the relatively cheap meal as a free lunch to entice the laborers building the city’s skyscrapers to come in on the noontime break to by a beer. Because many of the workers were Irish immigrants, corned beef and cabbage became associated with them as a group. 

Irish coffee is an American concoction, too, and a derogatory one at that. And green beer? I’m not sure anyone would claim that one.

But don’t let me rain on your St. Patrick’s Day parade. If you want to get your Irish on, if not up, there are a few places I can recommend. Actually, there are fewer places to party today — the past year was not a good one for Irish bars in Central Florida. Both Paddy Murphy’s and Scruffy Murphy’s closed (I guess we could also say it was a bad year for Murphys). 

You might try Raglan Road at Downtown Disney for Kevin Dundon’s stylized versions of Irish food. Or Claddagh Cottage on Curry Ford Road in Orlando, very gritty pubby atmosphere. Or Fiddler’s Green in Winter Park. Or the Celt in downtown Orlando. They’re all likely to have good ol’ American corned beef and cabbage.

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