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Sláinte!

Irish pubs boast blend of tradition, camaraderie

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 2:53 p.m. CDT

The Feast Day of Saint Patrick is a festival of the introduction of Christianity to Ireland. It is celebrated with a boisterous joviality that almost seems counterintuitive to the pious origins of the holiday. History has been redefined and the floodgates shatter for local Irish pubs and restaurants in March to allow for celebratory observances of Saint Patrick’s Day.

Irish Times in Brookfield is one of the local Irish pubs that invite you to observe your celebratory rites within its welcoming walls. Owner Martin Lynch described his pub:

 “It’s a very cozy, homey atmosphere. It’s often been described as walking into a pub in Ireland rather than an Irish pub in America. It’s a very authentic – a very warm feeling. A lot of people say it’s like coming home.”

In Downers Grove, Ballydoyle Irish Pub has a similar vibe.

 “It has a well-worn feeling, like a nice comfortable shirt,” owner Phil Cullen said.  “None of the tables match, the chairs wobble a little, and the pub looks like it has been there for years.  Ballydoyle is not what we think an Irish pub should be, it is just like a pub in Ireland.”

The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, it’s in the pour.

“Guinness and Jameson are our two most popular Irish beverages,” Cullen explains.  At the pub, we pour the ‘perfect pint’ of Guinness.  That means that we pour the beer at the proper temperature, in the proper glass, and a two-part pour. It takes a little more time, but the smooth, creamy goodness makes it worth the wait.  Of course, our most popular whiskey, Jameson, is on tap at the pub.”

In Willow Springs, Irish Legend boasts a bold history, welcoming customers to an owner who immigrated from Dublin. Styled as close as possible to the pubs you’ll find in the Old Country, the owners and manager Jessica Colangelo fill the walls with trinkets and memorabilia straight from Ireland. The building itself is more than 100 years old, and has a colorful history.

 “There are underground tunnels,” which Colangelo says harken back to Prohibition.

Although Irish Times has a lively vibe every day, Lynch explained that they have special plans in March. “We have a huge big beer garden patio. We’ll be putting a big tent up for Saint Patrick’s Day and having a live band.” To aid in the festivities Lynch said, “We have more than 25 different beers on draft. We have over 80 different beers and a massive selection of Irish and Scotch whiskey.”

Once you whet your appetite with a traditional refreshment, it’s time to indulge in Irish fare. The Irish Times has you covered, with fish and chips and shepherd’s pie to fill you stomach. Corned beef and cabbage, an Irish-American favorite, is homemade at The Irish Times.

 Ballydoyle offers a traditional Irish Boxty, a potato pancake filled with chicken, vegetables, pot roast, steak, or corned beef.   “It was an Irish family’s staple in the home,” Cullen explains, and now it’s a customer favorite. “They are made fresh to order and will bring you back to Ireland.”

It’s that combination of comfort food and camaraderie that keeps people returning to Irish Pubs and restaurants across the suburbs. Cullen relays a clever Irish toast… “There are good ships, there are wood ships, there are ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships, may they always be!”

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