March 2007 Issue
Green All Over
Dublin, Ohio, celebrates St. Patrick's Day in style.
Insie the Brazenhead Irish Pub in Dublin, an 82-year-old chap with a twinkle in his eye reminisced about the first day he donned a green top hat, shamrock tie and emerald-colored jacket.
It was March 19, 1988, and Bill Doty was about to become the Grand Leprechaun, presiding over the city's St. Patrick's Day parade. The honor was bestowed upon the retired postmaster not for his heritage but for his community service.
"I'm really Welsh," Doty says.
Doty's sentiment aptly describes this Columbus suburb, where being Irish is secondary to seeming to be Irish. Dublin isn't really Irish, you see. It was founded in 1810 by German immigrants. Yet Dublin has adopted the Irish persona in a big way. The Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau recently began promoting "Irish Is An Attitude" as the city's tagline, and that "attitude" culminates in a St. Patrick's Day celebration, drawing more than 35,000 for a festive time that includes a parade, music, dancing, food and drink.
"People here in Dublin use the city's name as an excuse for a celebration," says Scott Dring, the bureau's executive director. "You don't have to have Irish in your blood, just in your soul."
So, is Dring Irish?
"Not that I know of," he says.
And neither were the city's founders. Dublin got its name because its German settlers had the help of an Irish surveyor named John Shields, who platted the town. The settlers were so thankful that they allowed Shields to name the area. In accepting, he said:
"If I have the honor conferred upon me to name your village, with the brightness of the morn, and the beaming of the sun on the hills and dales surrounding this beautiful valley, it would give me great pleasure to name your new town after my birthplace, Dublin, Ireland."
Dublin's status as an upscale suburb of Columbus is a recent phenomenon: It didn't become a city until 1987. Thanks to a residential and commercial explosion led by Jack Nicklaus and his Muirfield Village golf course development, Dublin has grown to more than 40,000 people today.
Many of them, as well as people from around Ohio, will turn out March 17 for the St. Patrick's Day celebration, now in its 27th year.
The day begins at 7 a.m. with the Dublin Lion's Club Pancake Breakfast. Some 600 people annually cram into Sells Middle School for raffles, entertainment for children and all-you-can-eat plates of pancakes and sausage, with proceeds supporting local charities. "You create something in the community that people really expect, and they turn out to support you," says Dublin resident Ron Robbins, who has sported a green jacket every year since 1986 while serving up hotcakes and links. "It's really rewarding."
So, is Robbins Irish?
"My parents tell me I have very little Irish background," he says. "But I play the part."
The breakfast is followed by a 5K run through the streets of historic Dublin, and the St. Patrick's Day parade at 11 a.m. The 90-minute procession features floats, Irish dancers and plenty of music by more than 500 local marching-band students.
"The role of music in an Irish celebration is enormous," says Robert Gibson, Dublin Jerome High School band director and three-year Dublin resident.
His band of 160 students will help lead the parade, playing traditional favorites "The Irish Washerwoman" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." (Other participating high-school bands include the Dublin Coffman Shamrocks and the Dublin Scioto Irish.)
Each Dublin Jerome band member will wear a green and gold uniform with a Celtic knot insignia on the back, representing the school's team name, the Celtics. "That's spelled with a 'C,' but pronounced with a 'K,' Gibson clarifies.
Pardon, but is Gibson Irish?
"No, but my wife is," he says.
The daylong Blarney Bash takes place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and features, of course, Irish music and dancing. About 50 students from the Richens/Timm Academy of Irish Dance in Dublin will perform wearing black clothing with embroidery in the colors of the Irish flag: green, white and orange. Director Ann Richens, who grew up in Dublin, Ireland, says dancing is a big part of her homeland's culture. She took dance lessons as a child, as did most Irish children.
"We always danced to entertain people," Richens says. "It just continues in this country, even more so than in Ireland."
For Richens, who operates three studios in Ohio and Indiana and has taught Irish dance in the Columbus area for 30 years, Dublin's embrace of Celtic culture recalls her birthplace. "Ireland has come here in a way," she says.
"The audience loves our hard-shoe dancing and great choreography. While there is a lot of beer drinking, there's also a lot of people who sit in the audience hour after hour listening to great music and enjoying the dancing as well."
Even when it's not the Saturday nearest March 17, or the first weekend in August when the Dublin Irish Festival is held, the city boasts Irish characteristics. Fire hydrants, for instance, are painted green and many storefronts display shamrocks. Several Irish-themed restaurants and shops have emerged, including the authentic-looking Brazenhead Irish Pub and an Irish and Celtic retail shop called Ha'penny Bridge Imports of Ireland.
Annemarie Hickey works part-time at Ha'penny. She moved to America in 1963 from Dublin, Ireland, and has lived in Dublin, Ohio, for 15 years.
"It makes you proud to be in this town," says Hickey, whose 10-year-old daughter, Reilly, will step-dance at the Blarney Bash. "There's so much Irish in the city. You don't have to be Irish to appreciate it."
WHEN YOU GO...
St. Patrick's Day Events
Saturday, March 17, 2007:
Dublin Lion's Club Pancake Breakfast, 7â€“11 a.m., Sells Middle School, 150 W. Bridge St., Dublin. All-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage breakfast. Cost: adults $6; children $4.
St. Patrick's Day Parade, 11 a.m., Metro Center (west of Frantz Road and south of Bridge Street), Dublin. Features floats, bands and Irish step dancing.
Blarney Bash, noon â€“11 p.m., Crowne Plaza Hotel, 600 Metro Place North, Dublin. Entertainment includes Irish music, dancing, contests and storytelling for kids. Free before 4 p.m.; $5 cover after 4 p.m. for guests 18 and older.
For more information, contact the city of Dublin at 614/410-4400, or visit www.dublin.oh.us.
Where to eat, drink and sleep:
Dublin Village Tavern, 27 S. High St., Dublin, 614/766-6250. On St. Patrick's Day, order this restaurant and bar's Irish stew or corned beef and cabbage.
Brazenhead Irish Pub, 56 N. High St., Dublin, 614/792-3738. Stop by this authentic-looking Irish pub March 16 and 17 for live Irish music by the Capital City Pipes and Drums and free party favors.
Ha'penny Bridge Imports of Ireland, 75 S. High St., Dublin, 614/889-9615. Store offers a wide selection of Irish and Celtic items including books, music, baby clothes, Guinness merchandise and woollen socks and sweaters.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 600 Metro Place North, Dublin, 614/764-2200. This 217-room hotel includes all-new rooms, a remodeled restaurant and a new deck.