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If there’s anything Buffalonians are good at, besides working hard and hoping for the best, it’s angling for a party. If New Orleans is celebrating Mardi Gras 1,200 miles away, then we’re going to do the same. When presented with a day that commands people to hit each other with pussy willows, we celebrate it with more fervor than any city on earth. So it stands to reason that when St. Patrick’s Day comes around – our nation’s official holiday for binge drinking in bad clothes – Buffalo isn’t going to just throw some corned beef in a Crock-Pot, grab a Shamrock Shake from Mickey D’s, put on the Syfy network’s “Leprechaun” movie marathon and call it a day (as awesome as all of that admittedly sounds).

Nay, there’s so much happening all around Western New York this St. Paddy’s Day weekend (including the parade at 2 p.m. Sunday on Delaware Ave.), you could spend pretty much every second of it celebrating your heritage, pretending to be part of the diaspora or just rejoicing that we’re back on daylight saving time and get to see the sun every once in a while.

So take heed, reveling roustabouts and passive pint-sippers. Here’s a list of 10 places in town that’ll do more than Irish up your coffee – they’ll Irish up your state of mind. We’ll give you an idea of the cuisine, music and culture to expect, along with an “O.G. Cred” ranking (from 1-5, 5 being the best), to let you know how much each place deserves the title “Original Gaelic.”



The Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub

2134 Seneca St., South Buffalo (825-9327, blackthornrestaurant.com)

Wondering how authentic the Blackthorn is? “We don’t decorate for Paddy’s Day,” boasts Pat Lalley, president and owner of the South Buffalo landmark. “I mean, we’ll hang a shamrock here and there, but the music we play is pretty much the same music we play all year. It’s the same as always, just more crowded.”

Beyond the Cabbage: The Blackthorn’s regular menu includes shepherd’s pie and a massive corned beef on rye sandwich.

Tura Lura Lure-ya: Cosain, a trio comprising two Buffalo cops and a firefighter, will play traditional Irish music from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

Guy Fieri endorsed the Blackthorn on his Food Network show, which is all well and good. But in terms of authenticity, it results in one demerit.

The Blarney Castle 1856 South Park Ave., South Buffalo (824-5858)

Don’t be fooled by the kingly name of this long-standing watering hole – the Blarney Castle is a humble place. “It’s a family-oriented local bar,” explains owner Nancy Small. “In our [parade] float on Saturday, ‘The Blarney Castle Tips Their Hats,’ my mother’s a grand marshal.” Small’s mother is also responsible for the Castle’s most famous tradition – the green breakfast. This will be the 30th year she’ll prepare it.

Beyond the Cabbage: Is the traditional green breakfast an attempt at haute cuisine? Thank God, no. It’s green pancakes, green orange juice and a green Danish, lovingly prepared by Mrs. Small.

Tura Lura Lure-ya: John McDonald will perform Irish tunes at 6 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

OK. Real Irish people don’t eat green pancakes. But that doesn’t make them any less fun.

Brennan’s Bowery Bar

4401 Transit Road, Clarence (633-9630)

Brennan’s may be part of a strip mall, but that’s the only thing it has in common with Outback Steakhouse. “We’re not a chain; we’re not part of a huge conglomerate,” opines manager Tim Kondziela. “We are local, family-owned. Been in business since 1970.” And this suburban mainstay has plenty else to be proud of – including a wonderfully imaginative St. Patrick’s Day menu and a huge, four-sided bar built to serve the masses.

Beyond the Cabbage: Here’s the only reason you need to seek out Brennan’s: The award-winning “Bowery Irish Curse,” a Reuben/egg roll hybrid that you should allow yourself to consume at least once a year.

Tura Lura Lure-ya: The Jake MacDavid Trio plays Friday night, but the only thing Irish about it is its name – swing and rockabilly is its thing. Also, a bagpiper will be there to “serenade” guests on Friday and Sunday. Irish dancers perform at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

The location does hurt this score a bit, but once you’re inside, you’ve got 18 different kinds of Irish whiskey to help you forget about the effects of suburban sprawl.

Buffalo Irish Center

245 Abbott Road, South Buffalo (825-9535, buffaloirishcenter.com)

For anybody out there who’s sick of the Americanization of the holiday, a trip to the Buffalo Irish Center is a must. For more than 40 years, this building has been home to a wide variety of Irish-American cultural organizations, focusing on everything from music and dance to Gaelic football. “This should be a time when we’re reflecting on the advancements that the Irish have achieved since they came to this country,” shared Mary Heneghan, chairman of the center. “It should be a weekend where we reflect on our culture.”

Beyond the Cabbage: After the Mass that is held every year at the center (this year on Saturday), patrons are treated to an authentic Irish breakfast – bangers, black pudding and all. Tickets must be purchased in advance for this popular event; they’re $16 at the center’s gift shop.

Tura Lura Lure-ya: Irish music will be performed both in the center’s Emerald Room and its pub. This includes gigs from Kindred, Blarney Bunch and Stone Row on Friday; Kevin McCarthy, St. Mary’s Road and Penny Whiskey on Saturday; and McCarthyizm and the Leftovers on Sunday. Plus enough Irish dancing to make Riverdance look like Creekdance.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

On top of all this, there’s an Irish library. It doesn’t get more O.G. in Western New York.

Eddie Ryan’s

50 Central Ave., Lancaster (651-0950)

When something’s made from scratch, that’s a sure sign of authenticity. And when Ed Church realized the need for an Irish pub in Lancaster, he built one up pretty much from nothing. “We started it from scratch 12 years ago. The building was slated for demolition,” explains Church, the funny, soft-spoken owner of Eddie Ryan’s. Now, when the Lancaster version of the St. Patrick’s Day parade is held Saturday, it will travel right past this symbol of the resilient Irish spirit.

Beyond the Cabbage: Eddie Ryan’s doesn’t go too far beyond corned beef and cabbage, but it does make a big deal about the dish, which has won awards at the Taste of Buffalo.

Tura Lura Lure-ya: On Friday there’s a band called Acoustic Assault, Saturday there’s karaoke, and a DJ on Sunday playing Irish music from 5 p.m. on.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

“It’s relaxed, casual, fun. Not a bunch of people throwing up on each other.” It’s worth the trek to Lancaster just to hear Church talk.

Gene McCarthy’s

73 Hamburg St., Old First Ward (855-8948, genemccarthys.com)

If you’re looking for the right mix of tradition and new energy this St. Paddy’s Day, this First Ward landmark might be your place. Kristin Rose, one of three owners who took over Gene McCarthy’s last year, is passionate about the neighborhood, and its potential. “The history here – having the grain silos and the steel mills, to piggyback off Tim Bohen’s book ‘Against the Grain,’ I just get excited about the revitalization that’s happening.”

Beyond the Cabbage: McCarthy’s offers an upgrade to your typical bar fare, but it’s what’s on tap that is truly amazing. Owners Bill Metzger and Matt Conron are experienced brewmasters – Metzger publishes seven different editions of his national trade magazine Brewing News – and plan on brewing their own McCarthy’s-brand beer very soon.

Tura Lura Lure-ya: Megan Callahan and Katie Panfil give one of their Celtic Sessions from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, followed by another acoustic duo, Pour Ould Goat, from 8 p.m. to midnight.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

Rose talked about putting pictures of regulars from the ’60s back on the walls and refurbishing old poker tables that weren’t in use anymore. For longtime McCarthy’s fans, those are good signs.

The Irishman

5601 Main St., Williamsville (626-2670, irishmanpub.com)

When Gene O’Donovan came to Buffalo 30 years ago, he saw the need for an upscale Irish pub. And in 2007, he decided to fill that void himself, opening the Irishman, an establishment that continues to smell like freshly cut wood, yet feels like it’s been there for decades. “You won’t find green beer here, because you won’t find that in Ireland,” answers general manager Maria MacPeek when asked about the pub’s authenticity.

Beyond the Cabbage: The Irishman’s menu is fairly massive, with Irish twists on the quesadilla rubbing shoulders with shepherd’s pie and Guinness stew. It does serve the most famous St. Patrick’s Day dish but makes sure you know it’s an American invention, calling it “Emigrant’s Corn Beef & Cabbage.”

Tura Lura Lure-ya: Under a tent in the parking lot, visitors will be able to bask in the sounds of Chris Maloney and Route 66 on Friday, Celtic Cross and Stone Row on Saturday and Step In Time and Callanach on Sunday. With loads of Irish dancing in between.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

I’ve gotta dock the Irishman a point in this category for just how new it feels. You can’t manufacture history in a place, and O’Donovan’s done a great job imitating it, but still.

Sean Patrick’s

3480 Millersport Highway, Getzville (636-1709, spatricks.com)

Did you think we weren’t going to give the Northtowns some love? When Sean Patrick’s came to be in 1991 – the result of a major renovation of a building that used to house the Pine Lodge – it gave the neighborhood a big Irish headquarters, complete with bar, restaurant and banquet room. “All year round, it’s Guinness on tap and corned beef on Sunday,” shared manager Jamie Koelle. “We’re a family-owned restaurant, and some of us have worked here for 20 years.”

Beyond the Cabbage: There’s an Irish buffet from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday and includes Irish stew, shepherd’s pie and a corned beef slicing station.

Tura Lura Lure-ya: Rush the Growler plays from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, with Irish dancing slated at 6 p.m.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

“Everywhere you look, there’s flags and banners and pictures,” Koelle says. Maybe you won’t feel like you’re in the Emerald Isle, but you’ll sure know you’re in a place that loves it.

Shannon Pub

2250 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda (743-9348, shannonpub.com)

Pardon Brian Carney’s French, but he’s passionate about his Irish restaurant. “We’ve got a hell of a lot of Irish pints,” Carney crows about Shannon Pub, where he’s the manager. Ever since it was founded in 1981, through its various locations including its move to its current location on Niagara Falls Boulevard, the Shannon Pub has been on the short list of local places that give you a ghostly whiff of Ireland’s verdant hills. “The feel you get this weekend is the feel you get all year-round,” Carney continues.

Beyond the Cabbage: The menu gives you the traditional options like lamb stew and bangers and mash, along with some standard American comfort food.

Tura Lura Lure-ya: It’s nonstop live music, with Joe Head playing from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday and Sunday; the Dave North Trio at 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday; and Tom Callahan from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

Shannon Pub remains loyal to the motherland, with its owner organizing a few trips a year there for his patrons. This, and the constant flow of traditional Irish music – St. Paddy’s Day or otherwise – results in some serious cred.

Ulrich’s Tavern

674 Ellicott St., Downtown (855-8409, ulrichstavern.net)

Is there anything more Buffalo than Ulrich’s, which has been a German restaurant for 145 years and an Irish pub for 58? Whether it was Prohibition in the ’20s or the economic downturn of the ’70s, this hearthlike joint has soldiered on. Today, it gives St. Patrick’s Day an old world gravitas and charm unlike any other.

Beyond the Cabbage: Ulrich’s is probably the only place you can get away with gorging on schnitzel while celebrating the most Irish of days. And then there’s the $160 bottle of Midleton Whiskey it will have on hand. Which, to quote a patron, “is what God drinks on Sunday, but only when the collection baskets are full.”

Tura Lura Lure-ya: Daley would bristle at this category title: “We get Irish music, not ‘Tura Lura Lura’ Irish music.” And his schedule walks the walk, with Pour Ould Goat and the Wildes on Friday, and Tom Callahan on Saturday and Sunday.

O.G. Cred: (Out of 5)

The spirit of a hard-earned cold one permeates the floorboards at Ulrich’s. It’s as original as it gets.