St. Patrick's Day (Lá 'le Pádraig) is fast approaching, bringing with it an avalanche of events, but if you're not in the mood for green Miller Lite, blinking shamrock necklaces and less than traditional renditions of a corned beef sandwich, Milwaukee has more than enough Eire-blooded activities going on to keep you in the green for as long as you like.
You can kick start your spirit of the Irish March 11 at 8:30 a.m. by attending the 21st annual special mass to honor St. Patrick at -- where else -- St. Patrick's church, 723 S. 7th St. (at Washington). The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin's 40th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade follows, at noon on 3rd and Wisconsin. No, they don't dye the river green, but the Hibernians in this parade make it an event well worth watching, not to mention the post-parade festivities at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., which features five hours of continuous Irish entertainment on four separate stages.
Mo's Irish Pub, 142 W. Wisconsin Ave., and McBob's Pub, 4919 W. North Ave., keep the pipes acallin' during the week with a Guinness glass giveaway March 15th, St. Patty's Eve toast March 16 and Mo-style festivities March 17 at Mo's, and live music March 16, 17 and 18 during lunch and dinner at McBob's. Home of Milwaukee's best corned beef, McBob's also features its traditional boiled dinners on St. Patrick's Day, complete with more of the mouth-watering corned beef, cabbage and of course, potatoes.
If you've been to Ireland, you know that no day starts out right without an Irish breakfast, which traditionally includes fried eggs, black pudding (blood sausage), baked beans, mushrooms, rashers and a lovely marinated tomato. Whereas normally one can only find an Irish breakfast Sundays at Packy's Irish Pub, 4068 S. Howell Ave., on March 17, they are o'plenty in Milwaukee.
Packy's opens its doors at 7 a.m. to start the south end of Milwaukee's day right. On the East Side, get your early morning nourishment at Paddy's Pub, 2339 N. Murray Ave., at 6 a.m., on the West Side at Derry's, 5328 W. Bluemound Rd., at 8 a.m., and on the North Side at Taylor and Dunn's Public House, 10365 N. Cedarburg Rd., Mequon, at 6 a.m.
Expect to see breakfast transform into other fare around mid-afternoon: Corned beef sandwiches, fish fries, or, if you're lucky, a traditional Irish stew. The Milwaukee favorite family-owned Champion's Pub, 2417 N. Bartlett Ave., serves up lots of Irish cheer and Bette Champion's Irish Stew both inside and on the heated outdoor patio.
Club Timbuktu, 520 E. Center St., features a St. Patrick's gathering of activists and the creative class which includes a food buffet, cash bar and over two dozen speakers and performers who welcome all, because, "Everyone's Irish on St. Patty's Day."
To wind down the evening, you may care to sample a pint or two of Guinness or Smithwicks, both beers which you "build not pour." A fine pint can be found in most places around town, but if you can get into County Clare, 1234 N. Astor St., you will find you are drinking in the midst of the Irish, and if you're lucky, you'll hear a visiting piper or two or house musicians Barry Dodd and Kimberly Siegel.
Other establishments worth a visit include McCarthy's, 3315 Cty. Rd. I, Saukville, hosted by the very talented and always entertaining Finbar McCarthy, House of Guinness, 354 W. Main St., Waukesha, Slim McGinn's, 338 S. 1st St. and 5901 W. Bluemound Rd., where the Guinness flows like milk and honey and there's always someone to toast the wearing o' the green with.
Remember, if you're sampling the Irish brews -- Smithwicks, Guinness, Harp Lager, Beamish and Murphy's Irish Stouts -- and whiskeys -- Jameson, Powers, Bushmills, Tullamoredew -- or Milwaukee's favorite green beer, please take advantage of the Miller Free Rides program which offers free Milwaukee County Transit bus rides after 6 p.m. The program Web page is millerfreerides.com