There are plenty of family-friendly ways to get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, from a free dose of Irish step dancing in Dorchester to the annual parade in South Boston. But perhaps the most authentic and enjoyable way to immerse the whole family in the Irish experience is right around the corner—at your neighborhood pub.
Kids at the pub? Absolutely. In Ireland, you see children in pubs all the time, especially in rural areas. Traditionally, the pub is the cultural focal point of the town. “Gathering as families is very important in Ireland. And for a whole variety of reasons—some as banal as the weather—the most ready place is the pub,” says Brian O’Donovan, native of West Cork and host of A Celtic Sojourn on WGBH 89.7 FM. “They’re open to all without invitation and provide warm, congenial spaces to chat with neighbors, find out what’s happening, share or listen to a song or tune, or even join in a dance. I think that tradition and welcoming atmosphere has passed over here to their American equivalents."
Now, be sensible: I’m not recommending that you drag your kids to the jam-packed downtown pubs after work on Friday, where the drunken revelry of St. Patrick’s Day can rival that of New Year’s Eve. But if there’s a true Irish pub in your neighborhood, it’s likely fine to bring the kids for lunch or an early dinner—and some places even go out of their way to welcome the whole family.