BATH, Maine — Legend has it that those who lean over backward and kiss Ireland’s famous Blarney Stone upside down will be blessed with a “golden tongue” — the skill of speaking eloquently.
For Bath’s third annual Blarney Days celebration, organizers have added new events aimed at exploring a common love of words shared by famous Mainers and their Irish counterparts.
The weeklong series of activities leading into St. Patrick’s Day will feature the annual parade and road race, among other activities, but this year a poetry reading and children’s storytelling event have been added to the schedule.
“That’s sort of the ‘golden tongue’ part of Blarney Days,” said Jennifer Geiger, director of the downtown organization Main Street Bath. “These are Irish-American poets, and poetry is highly valued in Ireland, so that’s a nice connection to have. [The reading consists of] Irish-American poets living in Maine, in our area, reading from their work. And of course there’s a long tradition of storytelling and poetry in Maine as well.”
On Saturday, a storybook reading will be held at the Bath Book Shop at 1:30 p.m., after the day’s road race, parade and tug-of-war competition. Then, on the next Wednesday, the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, Irish-American poet Helene McGlauflin will lead a night of poetry and fiddle music at Patten Free Library with some selections from her new book, “Tiny Sabbath.”
Sharon Pyne will add the fiddle while fellow Irish-American poets Marita O’Neill and Duff Plunkett will offer readings as well.
Joe Byrnes, who launched Bath’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2009 and whose Byrnes Irish Pub has been the unofficial headquarters for the Blarney Days bash ever since, said the poetry and readings help keep the annual celebration fresh.
“We’re trying to come up with different ideas each year to have more and more activities,” Byrnes said.
Byrnes said Blarney Days are intended to appeal to more than just those with Irish heritage. He said the activities should appeal to anyone ready to make the transition from a white winter to a green spring.
“It’s a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also a celebration of the coming of spring,” Byrnes said. “It’s a chance to get people out of their houses and have some fun. We’re hoping people will come out, spend their money in Bath, visit the stores and have a good time.”
— “Pot o’ Gold Passport Challenge;” shoppers can get “passports” stamped by downtown businesses by St. Patrick’s Day to qualify for a “Pot o’ Gold” prize.
— Nightly activities at Byrnes Irish Pub, including music and Irish trivia.
Thursday, March 10
— 5 to 7 p.m., Moonlight Madness Sale and Bath Dine-in Night, in stores and restaurants downtown.
— 7 p.m., Screening of the Irish musical film “Once,” at the Dreamland Theater at the Winter Street Center.
Saturday, March 12
— 9 a.m., 5K Shamrock Sprint and fun run, starting at Admiral Steakhouse, to benefit Fields For Our Future and the Morse High School athletic boosters.
— 11 a.m., “Maine’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade,” followed by a tug-of-war competition at Bath City Hall and an Irish blessing at the gazebo in City Park near Patten Free Library.
— 1:30 p.m., Children’s Storytime at Bath Book Shop on Front Street.
— 2 p.m., Irish soda bread baking competition at Front Street kitchenware store Now You’re Cooking.
Wednesday, March 16
— 6:30 p.m., Irish fiddle music and poetry at Patten Free Library, with Sharon Pyne, Helene McGlauflin, Marita O’Neill and Duff Plunkett.
— 7 p.m., a toast to the start of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, at Byrnes Irish Pub.
Thursday, March 17
— 7 a.m., Byrnes Irish Pub opens with a breakfast of eggs and beer, kicking off a daylong St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Bath pub and its sister pub in Brunswick.