Canton was awash in green during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday on Thursday. Dozens of businesses donned shamrocks and leprechaun décor upon their business fronts, and many a local took to the streets for a day and night of socializing, singing, feasting and dancing on a most unseasonably warm March day.
Several restaurants rang in the holiday with a traditional Irish Breakfast, including Finbarr’s and Pete’s Place. By lunchtime, a large “over 70” crowd had congregated at The News Stand Deli on Washington Street. A half dozen seniors donned their finest greenery and leprechaun hats and feasted on an Irish lunch. The News Stand Deli, well-known for their unique and local names for their subs and sandwiches, dubbed their Corned Beef sandwich “The Ponkapoag." To top it off, several of the patrons sang Irish folksongs like “Wild Irish Rose” for all to hear. Although store Owner Dale Massih is not Irish, he reported being delighted to celebrate his first St. Patrick’s Day at the deli with such a jovial crowd.
Meanwhile, a stone’s throw down the street at Pete’s Place, more St. Patrick’s Day festivities were underway. “Whiskey in the Jar” was playing, boiled dinners and shephard’s pie were special menu items. Restaurant Owner Peter Bersani predicted a busy night in Canton, which has a large Irish American community.
“Drink lots, laugh hard and stay long!” advised Bersani.
A family-style celebration packed Finbarr’s Pub to capacity by 5:00 p.m. The Haley School of Irish Dance’s Canton branch, taught by Erin Connolly, drew in a large crowd as the pint-sized Irish Step dancers performed several jigs in their stunning royal blue dance costumes and springy curls.
“The kids got ready right after school and are so dependable,” said Connolly. “And, they really did a great job dancing in such a tight space,” she added.
Finbarr’s, an Irish pub run by long-time couple Jerry Kelleher of Ireland and Cheryl Latour, was absolutely decked out for the holiday, with leprechauns and shamrocks plastering every napkin, table cloth and other surface not filled with Gaelic sports memorabilia.
Alan O’Rourke, a native of Ireland out for some well-deserved “grown-up time” with his wife Janelle, explained the goings-on in Ireland. “This holiday is amplified in Ireland,” said O’Rourke.
“There’s about a half-million in Dublin watching the parade. St. Patrick’s Day is not just a day, it is an event. It is the first holiday since Christmas, and people are ready to let go!”
Ed McCarthy, official bag-piper of the Town of Westwood, has performed at Finbarr’s every St. Patrick’s Day since the pub opened in 2008. McCarthy, also a Boston EMT, played in the country’s first Ambulance Pipe Band for ten years. The group of EMTs, all from the Boston area, began playing in an empty room in Boston City Hospital in the late 1990s. Now, McCarthy is content to connect with one of his favorite Irish pubs each year, as well as play the pipes at weddings, funerals and town parades.
The St. Patrick’s Day festivities will continue for several days across the ocean in Ireland. Here in Canton, the Irish Cultural Centre will keep up with the shamrockin’ good time with a very special concert tonight with U2 cover band Joshua Tree.
The social holiday plus the warmest weather in months have once again reminded Cantonites that spring is right around the corner.