The Irish in America


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Philadelphia Irish Memorial

 

Regan and I are heading to Philadelphia for a few days later this month. I have never been to the City of Brotherly Love, and I can’t wait!

 

So much to see and do …the Liberty Bell, the Barnes Collection, Betsy Ross House, and Rocky’s steps are some of the attractions I think of initially, but there is much more to Philadelphia. Over the next week, on the blog and on our Facebook page, I will feature some of what Philly has to offer for those of us interested in the Irish in America.

I already told you about McGillin’s Olde Ale House, the longest continuously operating tavern in the city, established by the Irish immigrant McGillin family. And last week I shared MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes – delicious cakes created using a family recipe straight from early twentieth century Belfast.

We’ve covered food and drink, so it seems somehow fitting (or maybe it’s ironic?) to highlight the Irish Memorial at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. The Irish Memorial is a National Monument, opened to the public on October 25, 2003. The thirty-foot bronze sculpture commemorates the Great Famine of Ireland of the 1840s and was created by artist Glenna Goodacre.

The memorial tells both sides of the story as it remembers both those who suffered and died in Ireland as a result of the Famine, as well as those who escaped the starvation and came to America. The Irish Memorial website says:

The Irish Memorial is dedicated to the memory of more than one million innocent men, women and children who perished during the years 1845 to 1850 and to the millions of Irish immigrants who found here in the United States of America the freedom, liberty and prosperity denied to their ancestors in Ireland.

I look forward to seeing the Irish Memorial at Penn’s Landing. Stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook for photos and posts when we visit Philly next week! Please leave comments with your suggestions for things not to be missed in Philadelphia…would love to hear from you!

For more information on the Philadelphia Irish Memorial visit http://www.irishmemorial.org


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Day 19 of Irish American Favorites: McGillin’s Olde Ale House

McGillinsI have never been to Philadelphia, but that is not stopping me from selecting an Irish bar in the City of Brotherly Love as one of my favorites in Irish America. I am visiting Philly later this summer, and I can’t wait to go to McGillin’s Olde Ale House. For starters, I love “olde” anything. William McGillin, an Irish immigrant, opened the tavern in 1860. Established in a row house, “Pa” and “Ma” McGillin raised thirteen children upstairs. After nearly 100 years, the tavern was sold to another family in 1958. Click here to read the history of McGillin’s.

McGillin’s is the oldest tavern in Philadelphia in continuous operation. I’ve seen McGillin’s on several lists of the Best Irish Bars in America, and in 2010 Gourmet Magazine named it one of the 14 coolest bars in the U.S. Last December USA Today said McGillin’s was one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

One reason I am looking forward to visiting McGillin’s is because I don’t think they overdo the “Irish thing”. Many Irish bars in the US seem to either go overboard with the cheesy menu item names and decor, or they are too sophisticated, with tons of dark wood and mood lighting. Both versions are trying too hard to recreate the feel of a pub in Ireland. In my opinion, it is impossible to have a truly “authentic” Irish pub in America. But what we can have is an olde tavern, established by an immigrant family in a city full of history, with friendly people, and great food and drink.

We’ll see you in July, McGillin’s!

Follow McGillin’s on Twitter: click here.