Mainers from Bangor to Portland turned out early to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday. The Irish-American holiday usually calls for drinking, wearing green and lots of sing-alongs. This year is no exception to that rule.
Lincoln residents Laurie and Shawn Ireland stayed in a Bangor hotel Friday night so they could hitch a ride on a shuttle just before 6 a.m. Saturday morning to Paddy Murphy’s, a staple Irish pub in downtown Bangor.
“This has always been on Shawn’s bucket list,” said Laurie, taking her last sip of an Irish coffee as the waitress set a bloody mary in front of her. It was 7:30 a.m. Shawn smiled and raised his Guinness.
“Any excuse to drink in the morning. These were his idea” Laurie said, pointing to their green shirts that read, “Dear liver, today will be a rough one. Stay strong.”
Nearby, Jason Powell, who had flown in from Australia to visit a friend, was just topping off his third Guinness. He was pacing himself for a ski trip later in the day, he said.
His friend, Hermon resident Abel, who opted not to give his last name, ordered scotch eggs and corned beef hash. Powell ordered a fourth round.
Abel grabbed the full beer, urging everyone around him to do the same.
“Alright lads, here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting and drinking,” he said in a believable but fake Irish accent.
“If you cheat, may you cheat death. If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart. If you fight, may you fight for a brother, and if you drink, may you drink with me.”
The lads swigged their beers.
“Any excuse to drink at 6 in the morning, I’ll put a green shirt on, sure,” Powell said.
Portland’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities started at 5:30 a.m. when 100 or so adventurous types plunged into the cold Atlantic waters off the East End Beach while raising money for the Portland Firefighters Children’s Burns Foundation.
At the same time, day drinkers were lining up outside Old Port bars, ready for 6 a.m. openings, pints and breakfast.
At noon, the Irish American Club of Maine’s parade ran the length of Commercial Street, from the Portland Fish Pier to Franklin Street. Irish dancers, local clubs and pipe bands braved the blustering winds and below-freezing temperatures to take part in the annual event.
Troy R. Bennett contributed to this story and Alex Acquisto contributed to the video.
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