On March 17th, everyone is Irish! This week we will celebrate the annual tradition of St. Patrick’s Day and our Irish heritage by wearing green, drinking green beer, and eating corned beef and cabbage. But where did this all come from?

The traditional Irish St. Patrick’s Day feast consisted of pork and potatoes. However, in the mid-1800s when Irish immigration exploded, pork and potatoes were too expensive here in America for the new settlers. Therefore, a cheaper alternative of corned beef and cabbage came to be a new Irish-American tradition!

Why green? Traditionally, the color was blue and was known as St. Patrick’s blue. This changed when green became more associated with Ireland and became known as Emerald Isle for its luscious green landscapes. The shamrock also contributes to green culture, as this is what St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity. Nowadays, here in the U.S., we wear our green to represent solidarity with Ireland and our Irish culture, cheers!

Alpena Irish History – The Owens Block in downtown Alpena was owned and operated by Irish immigrant Peter Owens. What you now know of as the banquet room adjacent to John A. Lau Saloon, used to be a funeral parlor and furniture business where Peter made and sold picture frames along with various other items made of wood. The Owens block continued to provide for local businesses for 130 years, thanks to an Irish immigrant with the dream of becoming a business owner. Sadly, this portion of the Owens Block burned down in 2020.

Alpena Irish Traditions – Put on some green, grab a friend and head out for some corned beef and cabbage and green beer at one of Alpena’s restaurants/pubs –Alpena Food/Drink

St. Patricks Day celebrations happening in Alpena – March 15th – 17th

  • Irish Band BLACKTHORN – Thunder Bay Arts is pleased to announce the Irish Band BLACKTHORN – Friday, March 15 from 7:00-8:30 PM at Art in the Loft. Come join the pub-like atmosphere with a St. Patrick’s Ceilidh (pronounced KayLee). Snacks are provided along with a cash bar. The event is free and open to the public. Reservations required – call or email TBA. TBA members receive priority for admission due to limited capacity.
  • St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at PIFCider – Come join us for a toast to St. Patrick! Live music with Conor Larkin from 7-9 pm. March 16thSt. Patrick’s Day is often associated with beer, but we should make the case for cider. Cider has been an integral part of Irish culture and history for centuries. The temperate climate and fertile soil of the Emerald Isle make it an ideal place for apple orchards, and the Irish have been making cider from these apples for generations.
  • St. Patrick’s Celebration at The Black Sheep – Spring is near, but we’re not waiting! We’re going Irish for a day, we’ll be serving our from scratch right here Corned Beef Dinners all day long, and enjoy the lively music from Birch Road’s String Band! March 17th
  • St. Patrick’s Day Karaoke at The Hideaway – Come celebrate with us at the Hideaway Tavern on March 16. Karaoke with hot Donna starts at 6 PM drink specials, delicious food, and a ton of fun await you.

A very special thanks to the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library, Special Collections, for their contribution!