Get A Green Fever

By Catherine Dilworth
March 14, 2002

All photos by Katie Reing

It’s that time again, when Irish eyes are smiling, Guinness flows like a river and everybody gets a little green. St Patrick’s day falls on a Sunday this year and the bars have already started representing their green leprechaun hats and shamrocks. Philadelphia is notorious for its St. Patrick’s Day festivities, from the bar hoping to the parades, Philly is the place to be.

Over a hundred marching and string bands, Irish dancers and other festive groups make their way through town for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association’s parade. This year’s theme is for the fallen heroes of Sept. 11; the parade will feature representatives from New York’s finest in the Ring of Honor. People, Irish or not, line the streets, donning their best shades of green.

The parade moves down Market Street from 20th Street to 16th Street, up 16th to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, then to Logan Circle, where it ends at the viewing stands. If you can’t make it downtown, the parade will be on WPVI (Channel 6) from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

If you’re not the parade type then you can bar hop like a leprechaun. Many authentic Irish pubs are located within the Philadelphia area. Finnigan’s Wake is probably the most popular pub and entertainment complex as it is included in National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s “Ten Must See Sites in Philly.” Its unique Irish atmosphere, complete with cobblestone floors and actual Irish memorabilia, inhabits four thematic floors and features live Irish bands. Located at 537-41 N. and 3rd St., Finnigan’s Wake will host a memorable St. Patrick’s Day celebration beginning bright and early at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

“Black Sheep” refers to an Irish bar located on 247 S. and 17th Street in Philadelphia. Owned by two Irishmen, the pub showcases an “Irish fusion” style and an extensive selection of beer and whiskey. A solid, red door, which is conveniently opened from 11:30 to 2:30 a.m. and a quaint brick townhouse facade attracts everyone from Wharton students to lawyers and doctors.

For an older-style Irish setting, visit Fergie’s Pub on St. Patrick’s Day, located at 1214 Sansom St. claiming to be reminiscent of the pubs of the Emerald Isle and Old Dublin Town, Fergie’s offers $20 tickets for a night of food, drinks and partying. Tickets must be purchased prior to the event.

If you’re just looking for an old Irish pub to throw a few back, then here is a listing of other Irish bars in Philadelphia and addresses for above bars. There is a brief description courtesy of the bartenders from each establishment.

For students who prefer to stay close to Cabrini, Erin’s Pub and P.J. Henry’s are convenient alternatives, located less than five minutes down Lancaster Avenue.

Find your pot o’ gold this St. Patrick’s Day on the Erin Express pub-crawl. This annual pub-crawl takes place March 9 and March 16. The Erin Express is a bar hopping bus ride from bar to bar on St. Patrick’s Day. It usually stays at one bar for about 2 hours and it is off to the next bar to get your drink on. Depots where you can catch a 1:30 p.m. bus that takes you all over town will be stationed at these (and other) Irish bars. The crawl is good because it allows you to interact with different crowds in different drinking establishments and offers a safe, sober ride to each. Just make sure you have a designated driver for the way home because the crawl does not provide door-to-door service.

Or if your more up for a concert here is the skinny on an Irish New York band playing at the Theater of Living Arts 8 p.m. Mar 17. “Politically-charged Celtic darlings Black 47 have become favorites both inside and outside their hometown of NYC. While they’ve played gigs on the other side of the Atlantic, they’re most celebrated in the Big Apple, where they play the pubs and club circuit. It’s anyone’s guess who might show up at their shows, revolutionaries, bookies or even Liam Neeson to hear the bellowing brogue and theatrics of front man Larry Kirwan. Kirwan dishes out his political and social views as freely as the Guinness flows. But the band’s hard-earned respect and self-deprecating sense of humor keep things from getting preachy. Among the trombones, tin whistles and uilleann pipes, there’s even a little silliness in their attitude,” courtesy of

No matter what you decide to do always remember to be safe. For a day when the beer is green, the shamrocks are lucky and everyone is Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

If you’re just looking for an old Irish pub to throw a few back then here is a listing of Irish bars in Philadelphia.

McGillin’s Old Ale House
This friendly, family-run tavern is one of the city’s oldest watering holes.
1310 Drury Ln, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 735-5562

Paddy’s Pub
Want style? Go elsewhere, friend. This is a place for no-frills drinking.
228 Race St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 627-3532

Fergie’s Pub
Good pints, good atmosphere, good jukebox, no TV – the perfect pub.
1214 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 928-8118

Black Sheep
Refurbished townhouse transformed from dive bar to upscale Irish pub.
247 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 545-9473

Cavanaugh’s Restaurant
A college bar done right.
119 S 39th St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 386-4889

Blarney Stone Mace’s Crossing
A stuccoed boathouse just a bit removed from the water doubles as a preppy pickup bar.
1714 Cherry St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 564-5203

Smokey Joe’s
Watering hole of choice for Penn’s faculty and thirsty student body.
210 S 40th St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 222-0770

University City Irish Dive
has sports, Guinness and karaoke.
3929 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 222-5340

Westy’s Tavern & Restaurant
Unassuming taproom is the destination of choice for drinkers of every stripe.
1440 Callowhill St, Philadelphia, PA

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Catherine Dilworth

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