On March 17 you could take in your town's St. Paddy's Day parade, and then wander down to the local pub for some green beer (which is strictly an American invention). But why not try something a little different this year'
- Boston's basketball team notwithstanding, the word "Celtic" is always pronounced with a hard "C." In fact, there is no soft "C" in the Irish Gaelic language; nor is there a letter "K" in its alphabet.
- Until 1996, when Dublin launched its annual festival, St. Patrick's Day festivities in Ireland ranged from low-key to nonexistent. Now the doings include a long weekend of parades, concerts, art exhibits and a "Monster Ceili" on St. Steven's Green.
- Keep that promise you made to yourself years ago: Go to Ireland. Take in the St. Patrick's Day Festival in Dublin if crowds don't bother you (the festival draws more than a million people each year.) Otherwise, get out of town and explore the countryside.
- Treat yourself to an evening at the theater. Irish playwrights - from Synge, Shaw and Yeats to Brian Friel - have produced some of the world's best drama. In mid-March, most towns in the United States have a production from the Emerald Isle.
- Delve into Ireland's pre-Christian past. Take a Celtic history class at a nearby university, or start your explorations at a good Irish bookstore. If there isn't one near you, see Related Sites for some good virtual versions.
- Sign up for Irish step-dancing lessons. It's great exercise and a lot of fun. Check with local Irish-American organizations for details (most towns have at least one such group).
- Light a fire, pour yourself a glass of Irish whiskey and curl up with a good book. Much of the best literature ever written comes from Ireland. Whether your taste runs to ancient myths and sagas, rib-tickling humor, classic fiction or modern poetry, you'll have an evening well-spent.
- Honor your Irish roots by planting a rose with a name reminiscent of the Auld Sod. Consider Irish Beauty, a fragrant salmon pink; Irish Mist, a profuse bloomer in orangish-salmon; or Dublin Bay, a clear red, large-flowered climber.
- Have a party. Play Irish folk music, serve whiskey and stout and dish up pub grub: cheese, soda bread, pickled onions and sausages. (As is green beer, corned beef is a specialty of Irish-American kitchens.)
Don't confuse Irish with Scottish Gaelic. They are separate, though closely related, languages.