Weekend Break: Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Old St. Patrick’s Church

Weekend Break: Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Old St. Patrick’s Church
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CHICAGO — Bag pipes, Irish dancing and Guinness pouring.

These are some of the sights and sounds that remind Chicagoans that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are getting into full swing.

Two of those big celebrations are being put on by Old St. Patrick’s Church, the historic West Loop institution.

On Monday at 7:30 p.m., Old St. Pat’s will host its Siamsa na nGael — a celebration of Irish music, dance, songs and stories — at Symphony Center, 220 South Michigan Avenue.

Then, on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the church will host Shamrockin’ the Block at 625 West Adams Street.

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Monday night’s event gives Chicagoans a chance to see the Gardiner Brothers, coming all the way from Ireland to showcase their famous Irish dancing. Between them, the brothers have won more than 40 Irish dancing titles and have performed all over the world.

“We’re actually American-born,” one of the brothers explains. “We were born in Denver. So it’s a huge honor to be in America during St. Patrick’s week as Irish Americans.

“Chicago is one our favorite cities in the world, and obviously there is a huge Irish population here, and they are some of the best in the world at celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. So we’re delighted to be here.”

Said Old St. Patrick’s Church spokesperson Maura Keller: “It really just shows how strong Chicago’s Irish culture is, that incredible dancers and artists like the Gardiner Brothers are saying, ‘Yeah, I want to come join you. I want to celebrate with you guys.'”

Tickets for Siamsa na nGael can be ordered at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra website, CSO.org.

And what should attendees expect?

“They should be prepared for a really gorgeous day of song and storytelling,” Keller said. “We’re Old St. Pat’s, but this year we are celebrating women, and we’re celebrating Ireland’s female patron saint, Saint Brigid.

“We’ll be telling her story, a story of welcoming and inclusion. And we’re going to have a lot of fun along the way.”

In Saturday’s Shamrockin’ the Block, patrons can enter the Pot O’ Gold Raffle for a chance to win the $20,000 grand prize. All proceeds will go toward supporting Old St. Pat’s various ministries. Tickets are available at the door.

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“Old St. Pat’s is over 175 years old, so the fact that here we are, almost two centuries later, still celebrating our heritage, still celebrating our culture, really just shows the resiliency,” Keller said.

Of course, you can’t talk about St. Patrick’s Day celebrations without learning to pour the perfect Guinness.

Guinness Brewers Ambassador Jimmy Callahan has instructions for doing just that.

“You’re going to pop the can open, the widget inside is going to release,” he demonstrates. “And you want to gently pour at a 45-degree angle.

“… As we say in Ireland … ‘(clink).'”

Callahan also notes that the party will continue Saturday after Shamrockin’ the Block at the Guinness Open Gate Brewery, 901 West Kinzie Street, in the West Loop.

Visit oldstpats.org for more information.

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