Things to do on St. Patrick’s Day

The Irish Arts Center will hold a free event all day offering classes in Irish language, theater, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities. (Photo courtesy of the Irish Arts Center)

By Sabina Mollot

St. Patrick’s Day is on Saturday, March 17. For those looking for a way to celebrate beyond the parade and local pub crawls, a number of businesses and organizations are offering concerts, plays and historic walks as well as Irish culture classes and family activities throughout the week. Read on for more information on events leading up to St. Patrick’s Day as well as the day of. 

IRISH HISTORY TOURS–Merchant’s House, 29 East 4th Street, is a museum with a mission of educating the public about the domestic life of a wealthy merchant family and their four Irish servants from 1835-1865.

The house is offering several “ghost” tours, this month, including on St. Patrick’s Day. Tickets can be purchased online at merchantshouse.org.

On Sunday, March 11 at 12:30 p.m., there will be a walking tour, not in the museum, but the Noho area. In this “In the Footsteps of Bridget Murphy” tour, participants will learn about the world of Irish immigrants, who flooded into New York City in the 19th century to escape famine and hardship in Ireland. In 1855, approximately 24,000 Irish immigrants worked as servants for wealthy families like the Merchant’s House’s Tredwells. Tour is one hour and $15.

The servants’ quarters at Merchant’s House, which is holding a series of historic tours (Photo courtesy of Merchant’s House)

On Thursday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. a back-stairs tour will begin with guests also invited for light refreshments (including green beer) from 5-8 p.m. Guests will climb the narrow staircase to the fourth-floor servants’ quarters and see where the Tredwells’ four Irish servants lived and did some of their work. Free with general admission ($15 general, $10 students and seniors, children under 12 free). Reservations are not required.

The “Spirit of the Irish” Candlelight Ghost Tour on Friday, March 16 at 6:30 and 7 p.m. Guests will venture into the shadows of history to see the house where eight family members died and hear true tales of inexplicable occurrences. Many of the most peculiar occurrences have been related to the house’s Irish servants. Tour is 50 minutes. Tickets are $40.

Saturday, March 17, guided tours will take place at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. paying tribute to the house’s Irish servants and led by one of those ghost servants, Bridget Murphy. Bridget will also play traditional Irish airs on the harp and entertain guests with her singing. Free with general admission ($15 general, $10 students and seniors, children under 12 free). Reservations are not required.

IRISH CULTURE CLASSES AND PERFORMANCES—The Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st Street, presents a free day of Irish culture and classes to sample for children and adults on Sunday, March 11 beginning at noon. Visitors can learn the basics of Irish language or a new dance step. Children can get their faces painted and create art. Or just relax with a cup of tea and some soda bread. The schedule, while subject to change, will include the following: a Ceili band performance and dance lesson, short family films curated by the Irish Film Institute, folk music, soda bread cooking demo, an exhibit featuring portraits of Samuel Beckett and the artists he inspired by John Minihan, puppets and mummers, an Irish instrument petting zoo and theater for kids. For the full schedule, visit irishartscenter.org. 

COMEDY—The Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st Street, presents an evening of comedy on Sunday, March 11 at 7 p.m. Lineup includes Shauna Lane, Charles McBee, Frank Conniff (Emmy Award winner, “Mystery Science Theater”), Margaret Dodge and Scott Blakeman. Cover is $12. For more information, call (866) 811-4111 or visit irishartscenter.org. 

IRISH DANCE LESSON & LIVE MUSIC—Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Place, and its William Barnacle Tavern will be offering Irish dance lessons (Ceile) with Megan Downes as well as an Irish music session (Seisiun) with Deirdre Corrigan, Dan Gurney & Friends on Monday, March 12 starting at 8 p.m. This is actually a weekly event, but St. Patrick’s Day week seems as good of a time as any to get acquainted with Celtic culture. Cover is $10.

On St. Patrick’s Day at 9 p.m., there will be a band playing Irish music at the tavern. No cover.

For more information, call (212) 388-0388 or visit theatre80.wordpress.com. 

The Peoples’ Voice Cafe will hold a concert of music by Irish women musicians on March 17 at 8 p.m., including Dian Killian (pictured).

CONCERT FEATURING IRISH WOMEN SINGERS—The People’s Voice Café presents the concert “Irish Women’s Voices for Peace and Equality” on Saturday, March 17 at 8 p.m. Venue is The Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist, 40 East 35th St. (between Madison and Park Avenues. Wheelchair-accessible). Dian Killian (DK and the Joy Machine) sings and plays the mountain dulcimer. Note: The first 25 people who attend the show will receive a free copy of Dian Killian’s CD, “Shy One.” Traditional Irish music singers Alice Farrell and Alison Kelley will also perform.

Suggested donation: $18; more if you choose; less if you can’t; no one turned away. For more information, call (212) 787-3903 or visit peoplesvoicecafe.org. 

IRISH THEATER—Irish Repertory Theater, 132 West 22nd Street, a nonprofit organization, presents theater by Irish playwrights all year long and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. “Three Small Irish Masterpieces,” directed by Charlotte Moore, began a run on March 2 and will continue playing through April 15. The three plays are: “The Pot of Broth” by William Butler Yeats, in collaboration with Lady Gregory (1903), “The Rising of the Moon” by Lady Gregory (1907) and “Riders to the Sea” by John Millington Synge (1904). These short plays were written as part of an initiative to increase national pride and identity through theater. Tickets are $50. To purchase or for more information, visit irishrep.org or call (212) 727-2737. Performances are Wednesdays and Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m., Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

HISTORIC WALK—Big Onion presents its original guided walk, “New York Immigrant Tour,” in Lower Manhattan on St. Patrick’s Day at 11 a.m. Participants will walk through Chinatown, Little Italy, the Jewish East Side, and former Irish/Free Black Five Points. Guides will discuss tenement, pushcarts and sweatshops, as well as places of worship and street life to see how everyone got along (or didn’t) at different times. Cost is $25 general, $20 seniors, $15 full-time students. Pay on site at meeting spot at the southeast corner of Broadway & Chambers Street, at City Hall Park, or book in advance at bigonion.com.

PARTY AT IRISH GAY BAR—The Phoenix at 447 East 13th Street at Avenue A, which is the only Irish-owned, Irish-themed gay bar in the city, will have a party all day with Irish music, Irish bartenders and free food for customers (corned beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie). For more information, call (212) 477-9979.

IRISH LITERATURE PROMOTION—For the past seven years, The Irish Arts Center has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by giving out books by Irish authors on streets around the city. To learn more about how to get a free book, or to get involved as a volunteer, visit irishartscenter.org.

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