Food & Drink

You can't have St. Patrick's Day in Detroit without the Old Shillelagh

Hand in hand



The Old Shillelagh, Greektown's three-story Irish bar, hardly needs an introduction. Every metro Detroiter has spent an evening of revelry inside the massive monument to drink and debauchery, and every metro Detroiter can spin a tale of outrageous hijinks that occurred inside the iconic brick building.

Many of those Detroiters will be recalling St. Patrick's Days from years passed: a day, sometimes unseasonably warm and sometimes outrageously frigid, spent slamming shots of Jameson and chugging cold cans of Guinness near one of the establishment's many bars or under the adjoining heated tent.

Just like in past years, the Old Shillelagh will hold a massive party on March 17. They'll open for the day at the early hour of 7 a.m., ready to do the Irish proud until the wee hours of the next morning. There will be two heated tents, live Irish music inside, and a DJ spinning top 40 hits outside. And, of course, the place will be packed with locals who take the holiday very, very seriously.

If the Old Shillelagh were like any other bar, they'd stop there. But this is Detroit's Irish bar we're talking about. So, a celebration of St. Patrick's Day is a three-day fete fit for even the drunkest of Irishmen. The party begins on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, March 12, when the heated tents will be buzzing with live music and day drinkers. Next, on Sunday, a huge party to coincide with the Corktown parade takes place. They'll have a free shuttle running to and from the parade route all day long, plus live entertainment on the second floor and a DJ spinning on the rooftop deck.

If all that drinking, dancing, and general merriment makes you feel exhausted, you're not alone. And while many metro Detroiters have the sort of drinking stamina that would make Dionysus weep tears of pride, some of us just want to have a beer and a corned beef sandwich every once in awhile.

And that's what makes the Old Shillelagh one of our favorite places in the city. Yes, they throw down when it comes to drink-y holidays like St. Patrick's Day (and Opening Day, and Halloween, and New Year's Eve, and, you know, any random Tuesday). Yes, the floor might be sticky and the bass might be pumping during the midnight hour, but it's a perfectly chill place to grab a cold brew and a giant burger for lunch.

Last year Thrillist recognized this great drinking establishment and put it on a list of the best Irish bars in America, making mention of its annual St. Patrick's Day celebration and noting that it offers shuttles to nearby sporting events. We'd like to add that we've never seen a bar quite as beloved by locals as the Old Shillelagh.

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