MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Two staples of Ireland in the South Orange/Maplewood area will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the usual enthusiasm this year.
Cryan’s Beef and Ale House in South Orange and St. James’ Gate Publick House in Maplewood plan big, though unique, celebrations.
At Cryan’s, located on 24 1st Street, festivities began on “St. Patrick’s Eve.”
“We start March 16 with the ‘Lighting of the Shamrock’ at midnight,” owner Jim Cryan said.
The lighting is celebrated with champagne toasts and an expected crowd of a couple hundred patrons, according to Cryan. It has been a tradition at Cryan’s for the last 20 years.
Something new this year will be the addition of a statue of St. Patrick that now adorns Cryan’s, which was previously housed at the recently closed Sacred Heart Church in Vailsburg.
“St. Patrick’s day in Ireland has everything in the country closed,” Cryan said. “There are no bars open, there’s no celebration and it’s a holy day of obligation. So it’s so nice to have St. Patrick here himself on the 17th.”
With the statue’s position in a bar being a topic of controversy with the Archdiocese of Newark, Cryan plans that the statue will be moved to a mausoleum sometime after the holiday.
Cryan’s opens for St. Patrick’s Day at 10 a.m. The beef and ale house will also place host to Susan Gillespie, who will be performing at noon.
Over in Maplewood at the St. James’s Gate Publick House, located at 167 Maplewood Ave, things start a bit earlier in the morning for owner John Meade and his staff.
“What we’ve been doing for the last five years is opening at 8 o’clock in the morning,” Meade said. “A lot of people take the direct line into the city so we usually get 70 to 80 people for breakfast and a pint or two for the day. We have a couple of bagpipers come in for breakfast.”
Two bagpipers are hired for the biggest day of the year for Meade’s establishment, but the owner says anyone is welcome to come in and join in playing music.
St. James’s Gate boats 15 beers on tap, seven of which are from Ireland. Included in those is the newest addition of Kilkenny’s Irish Red, a beer that the pub is one of the first in the country to carry.
A place for traditional Irish cuisine, St. James’s Gate will have its usual Irish menu available. The pub ordered more than 500 pounds of corned beef in anticipation of the holiday, as well Irish soda bread imported directly from Ireland, and four different Irish cheeses that include Cashel Bleu and Kerry Gold.
“People don’t hear about Irish cheeses but they’re incredible,” Meade said.
Meade will also have approximately 30 people working throughout the day, a number he estimates is 20-30 percent more than a regular work day.
While both establishments have early start times, don’t expect early closings: both will close at two the following morning.
“It’s our biggest day of the year and it’s our biggest month of the year,” Meade said. “It’s like St. Patrick’s month.”