Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like the Irish

From Irish breakfast to “the pipe experience,” here’s all the authentic details.

If Tim Herlihy can’t recommend a good bar to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, he’s in trouble. An Irish whiskey professional, the Irishman serves as the ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W. We talked to the County Louth native, who now calls the East Village home, for some tips on how to properly celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in the city. Pro tip: embrace the Irish breakfast.

How would you have celebrated back in Ireland?

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a holy day. It’s a public holiday. It’s very much a family affairs day. A fun thing I would have done is go with my younger brother and sister to the parade, take it all in, then start off the day with an Irish breakfast. Eventually I’ll end up at a local pub for playing around with my mates.

What’s in an Irish breakfast exactly?

It’s eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, though the delicacy of the Irish breakfast is the black and white pudding — which is intestines. It may sound awful, but I’ll eat yours if you don’t fancy it.

How do you now celebrate in New York?

I do a lot of the same things I’d do back in Ireland. I’d have an Irish breakfast, I’d try to check out a bit of the parade, I’ll come up with a very good pub crawl to do. They don’t necessarily have to be Irish bars, either. I think that’s pretty important — you don’t need to have an ‘O’ or a ‘Mc’ in your surname to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

What are your favorite Irish pubs here?

I’m in the East Village — I tend to skip the restaurants, there are great Irish pubs around here. I’m a big fan of Swift (34 E. 4th St.), Cooper’s (87 2nd Ave.), Dempsey’s Pub (61 2nd Ave.) and Slainte (304 Bowery). That’s my go-to soccer bar.

Where do you go for a traditional Irish breakfast?

The last one I had was at Slainte. Lillie’s by Union Square (13 E. 17th St.) does a great Irish breakfast. Dempesy’s and St. Dymphna’s (118 St. Marks Pl.) also do a good Irish breakfast. You’re pretty much going to get the same lineup at each place, it might just be a heartier portion depending on where you go.

How does music play into the day?

The whole atmosphere is real key, and music definitely plays into that. The parade is the best spot to go. For anyone that’s been to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, it’s quite the pipe experience. The hair will stand on the back of your neck as you stand on Fifth Avenue as they come marching by. A lot of bars will also put on what we call an Irish trad session. The 11th Street Bar (510 E. 11th St.) does a good traditional Irish session on a Sunday. Dempsey’s and Swift do one on a Tuesday and Dead Rabbit (30 Water St.) on a Monday. They also have a suburb Irish whiskey collection.

What do you do for dinner?

I probably prioritize the liquid lunch a little too much, but I know a lot of people enjoy their corned beef and cabbage. That’s very much an American dish, though. In Ireland, we wouldn’t serve it ourselves. The spud — Irish slang for potato — is definitely an option on the day.

What else is important?

The Irish are known for their toasting. I’ve become a bit of a self-proclaimed toast master. I always do my best to have a toast for every occasion. My reservoir of toasts gets tested on St. Patrick’s Day.

Last but not least, do you wear green?

I definitely don a bit of green, though not necessarily a ‘Kiss me I’m Irish’ T-shirt.

Meredith Deliso