Cheers to being Irish in Jefferson City
St. Patrick’s a day for all to celebrate, even German friends
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Many Jefferson City residents of Irish descent laud the annual arrival of St. Patrick’s Day — and even the not-so-Irish.
“It’s one of those days when everyone considers themselves a little bit Irish,” said Jason Jordan, owner of Mortimer Kegley’s, a local Irish pub.
The immense influx of customers marks St. Patrick’s Day as “one of the biggest days of the year,” according to Jordan, though this year will be his last hurrah, as the bar will close March 21.
“I’m going to miss it,” Jordan said of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at his Irish pub.
Jordan is of Irish descent and has owned Mortimer Kegley’s for the past 10 years.
“I didn’t go into it (the restaurant industry) intending to own an Irish pub, but it was nice that it was. It tied to my Irish heritage,” he said.
Jordan plans to serve corned beef and cabbage and offer drink specials, similar to years past.
Jordan enjoys the St. Patrick’s Day crowd for its spirit of festivity, he said.
“It will be a fun, jovial crowd like every year. Everybody’s out to have a good time,” Jordan said.
Despite the occurrence of St. Patrick’s Day on a Monday, Jordan still expects an ample turnout.
“It’s one holiday where it doesn’t matter when it is. People go out for it,” he said.
Allen Tatman, owner of Paddy Malone’s, touted the St. Patrick’s Day atmosphere in his Irish pub as “very cordial” and “high-spirited but not too rowdy,” he said.
Tatman, who gives tours of Ireland in addition to owning and operating Paddy Malone’s, shared some history in regards to the contrasting celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland and the United States.
St. Patrick’s Day originated as the feast day for St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday began as a “holy day of obligation” in Ireland then became a cultural observance for Irish immigrants in the United States, he said.
“Once Irish people immigrated to the United States, it became one day they had for themselves to celebrate their Irish heritage,” he said.
Traditional Irish celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day did not include the widespread alcohol consumption now associated with the holiday, Tatman said.
“For most people in the United States, it’s a day of excessive drinking and eating corned beef and cabbage. In Ireland until 1974, the pubs had to be closed on St. Patrick’s Day. It wasn’t until the Americans came over and started knocking on their doors that the Irish got in on the act,” Tatman said.
Though many may consider corned beef and cabbage the iconic St. Patrick’s Day delicacy, the cooking of corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day originated in the United States among Irish Americans, according to Tatman.
Instead of corn beef and cabbage, most Irish consumed bacon and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, though the bacon more closely resembled what most call Canadian bacon today, Tatman said.
Along with preparing traditional Irish dishes like bacon and cabbage, Tatman will also host traditional Irish musicians at Paddy Malone’s on St. Patrick’s Day.
In addition to “seeing all of the friends that we’ve made in the last 14 years,” Tatman also enjoys the singing of traditional Irish songs and the remembrances which accompany them, he said.
“That’s what it’s all about, not drinking. It’s remembering our forefathers and mothers and all they’ve sacrificed for us to come to America and thrive,” Tatman said.
Jack Dowd does exactly that.
Originally from St. Louis, Dowd possesses a completely Irish heritage that he celebrates each year on St. Patrick’s Day.
Dowd’s maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States and lived in St. Louis, where his mother was born. His father immigrated to the United States at 18.
Upon immigrating to the United States, Dowd’s father changed his last name to Dowd from O’Dowd because Irish Americans often encountered difficulty acquiring work because of discrimination, he said.
“The Irish had a hard time finding work sometimes,” Dowd said.
Dowd’s father worked as a painter before being drafted into the Army for World War II, in which he served for five years in both Europe and Asia, Dowd said.
“I had a lot of relatives in the war. It seemed like they came from Ireland and went right to war. They were Irish but they were pro-America. They loved America,” he said.
Dowd lived with his parents and siblings in northern St. Louis among neighbors of primarily Irish descent, he said.
During St. Patrick’s Day, his family attended Mass and would host many relatives for the singing of traditional Irish songs and dances. Dowd’s aunt led the singing with piano accompaniment on many St. Patrick’s Days.
“They would sing old Irish tunes and do Irish dances. I remember watching that when I was a kid,” he said.
On St. Patrick’s Day, “… it seemed like everyone was Irish,” he said.
Because Dowd’s family did not own a car until he was in high school, he did not travel far from his home in his mainly Irish American neighborhood, he said.
“We never got too far way from the neighborhood. We thought everyone was Irish,” he said.
Though Dowd has lived in Jefferson City for 40 years, he originally moved to Jefferson City from St. Louis with the intention of staying only a year for a job with the state, he said.
“I miss the celebrations in St. Louis, but there are great ones here in this Irish pub,” he said, referring to Paddy Malone’s.
“When I moved to Jeff City, all my friends were German. It’s great to continue that (St. Patrick’s Day celebration) with my German friends,” he said.
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