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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Wisconsin
Last Updated: 1/2/2014
By Kevin Revolinski
Where will you be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year? When you hear “Wisconsin,” probably the first thing that comes to mind isn’t “That is soooo Irish!” But in the 19th century, the Irish were a significant immigrant group settling in various places throughout the Badger State. And in a roundup of Irish festivals you can’t overlook the biggie at the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee each year. The annual Irish Fest will be August 14-17, 2014. But for St. Patrick’s Day you’ve got a number of parades to choose from as well as statewide pubs, inns and restaurants. Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig! Blessings of St. Patrick to you!
Milwaukee is home to the head office of The Shamrock Club. Founded in 1960, it is Wisconsin’s largest and longest-running Irish American organization. The St. Patrick’s celebration is typically held the weekend before the actual St. Patrick’s Day, giving revelers a chance to celebrate twice most years. The day begins with an 8:30am mass at – where else? -- St. Patrick's Church. This is followed by a breakfast before the big parade – the state’s largest with over 80,000 attendees – which starts off downtown in front of Grand Avenue Mall at noon.
After the parade head to the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, which occupies the historic Grand Avenue Congregational Church. Events at the cultural center do not just happen in March – watch them for concerts and more throughout the year. Inside, Quinlan’s Pub is open till midnight the first Friday and third Saturday of every month for Ceili dancing.
The town may really be New London but for a week in March you can visit New Dublin, Wisconsin. They feature a number of events – music, dancing, corned beef and cabbage eating – but the week culminates in a day long Irish fest complete with downtown New London, er, Dublin parade on Saturday. But be sure not to miss a mockup of a traditional Irish funeral: Finnegan’s Wake is on Friday night and starts off at Pup’s Irish Pub two miles out of town and moves around a bit.
Madison once hosted a St. Paddy’s Day parade rivalry between the engineering and law schools at the University of Wisconsin. In fact, the UW banned them in 1940! But today it’s all good fun again and the Mad City hosts its annual parade each year. Events kick off at the Overture Center on State Street, not with a pub crawl, but with 5K and 10K runs (and a 2K walk) called the Shamrock Shuffle. Then the flag of Ireland is hoisted in the Capitol Rotunda at noon followed by a parade around the Capitol Square at 1:30 p.m. Madison St. Patrick’s Day Parade
And finally, Green Bay is already green, in name anyway. Watch for a parade in March, starting downtown and featuring marching bands and Irish dancers, Irish music and a green smoke show. St. Patty’s Day in Downtown Green Bay
Pubs, Inns and Brews
Several Wisconsin brewers are producing Irish-inspired ales: Emerald Isle Stout at The Great Dane in Madison, Fitchburg and Wausau and Snake Chaser Irish Stout from Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee are just a couple. Be sure to look for Busted Knuckle Irish Ale from Gray Brewing in Janesville. Fred Gray is the fifth generation of this Irish immigrant family, maintaining the tradition Joshua Gray started in 1856. Here is a round up of some of the best places to spend your St. Patrick’s Day:
Milwaukee and Southeast
The Monarch Public House and Preservation Hall Restaurant - Fountain City
Serving customers since 1894, this is definitely one of the oldest places to go for St. Paddy’s.
Brocach Irish Pub & Restaurant - Madison
Set up right on the Capitol Square with some dazzling dark wood interiors, this is the Mad Town’s center for great Irish eating, drinking and live music. See their Milwaukee location as well.
Two locations to enjoy a modern, stand-alone version of an Irish public house.
Suds O’Hanahan’s Irish Pub - Beloit
Load up on some free peanuts with your pint at this Beloit public house.
T. Murtaugh's Irish Pub - Minocqua
Corned beef is made on site at this taste of Ireland in the Northwoods.