Published Mar. 6, 2023
BY GRAYDEN MILLER
Chintzy leprechauns and excessive sugar can begin to characterize America’s conception of the Irish. In an attempt to preserve the culture and contradict stereotypes, Irish citizens debunk misconceptions of the sparsely celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Carmel.
“The Irish community is not well represented in Carmel,” says John Johnston, who is native to Dublin, Ireland, and has a self-proclaimed strong connection to his culture, despite the little Irish representation he sees in Carmel.
Taking place on March 17 and originating in 1631 as a widely commemorated day to honor the death of St. Patrick, St. Patrick’s was once a holiday that included frequent trips to a Christian church and musical gatherings. Johnston explains that America extensively commercialized the holiday and that St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t celebrated in his hometown. He says that big cities such as San Francisco and Chicago celebrate the day, but some insist that Carmel has fallen through when compared to other holidays.
Despite arguably attracting a small, niche audience, a select few local associations work to represent the Irish and educate Carmel on the culture. The Celtic Society of the Monterey Bay organizes non-profit performances by musicians of Celtic descent, including the Irish, Scottish and Welsh. Shows tend to be once a month, typically with a concert on St. Patrick’s Day.
“It’s kind of a mutual relationship,” says Gloria Rosson, president of the society’s board and concert director. “By performing, it keeps the culture going and provides work for Irish musicians.”
One of the first performing musicians in the Celtic Society that emigrated from Dublin, Michael Black says that St. Patrick’s Day stereotypes the Irish, but its celebration can outweigh the negatives.
“Singing songs in the native language enhances our culture, and people who watch learn about Ireland,” says Black, who continues to include Irish step dancing in his performances, along with teachings of Irish history.
In addition to drawing attention to the Irish community, Johnston adds that a small country like Ireland might appreciate global recognition while starting a holiday that spreads positivity.
Clare Cook, a senior at Carmel High School with an Irish passport, adds that while St. Patrick’s Day brings together Irish culture and unifies people, the way the day is celebrated takes away from the tradition itself.
“The Irish don’t hang around all day at pubs,” says Cook. “St. Patrick’s Day is an even bigger deal here than it is in Ireland.”
Although not completely abiding by authentic tradition, Carmel’s Irish pubs celebrate St. Patrick’s Day through its many interpretations. O’Callahan’s is one among three of the local pubs. Caesar Bautista, the manager of O’Callaghan’s Irish Pub, explains that the owner relies on his family’s distant Irish connections to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day properly.
“We adequately represent St. Patrick’s Day in two or three spots,” says Bautista. “Although we know that the Irish dislike green, we dye our beverages green and have live music.”
Bautista adds that they serve traditional Irish dishes, such as lamb and rosemary, roasts and shepherd’s pie.