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St. Patrick's Day Brings Out the Irish

No Green Beer for "Real Irish" in Great Falls

Is St. Patrick’s Day the busiest day of the year at the Old Brogue Irish Pub in Great Falls?

“By far,” said Mike Kearney, owner of the Old Brogue in Village Centre. In McLean, McKeever’s Pub in McLean Square will also be celebrating.

Neither of them will offer green beer. The Brogue will have live music, and at McKeever’s, the Irish tunes will be provided by CD.

But for the truly Irish, a pub is the only place to be on March 17.

Both will be serving shepherd’s pie.

“Everybody else has all these gimmicks,” said Lori McKeever, a former server who became the owner of McKeever’s.

“Ours is like being at home and having a big party with everyone you know,” she said. “It’s just like a big neighborhood party. We get a lot of regulars,” she said.

McKeever’s has Guinness Stout on tap and also offers Irish whiskey . The pub is a sponsor of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s offer for a free cab ride home for anyone who doesn’t want to drive.

ON THE WEEKEND before St. Patrick’s Day, a small tent goes up in front of the Old Brogue at Village Centre on Georgetown Pike.

The first of the hardy Irish patrons usually arrive at 6 a.m., three hours before the tent opens. The pub itself opens at 10 a.m., Kearney said, and by 11 a.m., the restaurant is filled.

At noon, the Flying Cows of Ventry begin playing Irish folk music; they continue to 5 p.m.

For the 18th year, Barry Nelson has played in the afternoon and he will be back this year from 1 to 6 p.m. Ted Garber and PennyWhistle will play until the restaurant closes.

“A few hardy do stay from open to close,” said Kearney.

Although the Brogue has served as many as 89 kegs of beer on St. Patrick’s Day in years past, the public appetite is slowly growing to prefer less alcohol and more food, including Irish dishes like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, lamb stew, and bangers and mash.

“We never serve green beer. That’s because we’re real Irish,” Kearney said. His patrons prefer Guinness Stout, Harp Lager, and Moling’s he said.

“We do have a designated driver program. We have taxis here, and we recommend that you bring a designated driver. We give them a special wrist band and don’t charge them for soft drinks or non-alcoholic beverages,” Kearney said.