Savannah, and Georgia as a whole, has a long connection with Ireland. In the early years of Georgia, much of the backcountry was settled by Northern Irish immigrants of Scottish and English descent. Later on in the 19th century, Savannah’s prominence as a major port city in the Southeast attracted more recent Irish immigrants, whose descendants include both myself and Savannah’s own Flannery O’Connor. This Irish connection, in addition to the pleasant spring weather and lax open container laws, make Savannah a great place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, albeit not as well-recognized as New York or Boston. With this in mind, here are five pubs across Savannah where you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day:
Kevin Barry’s: Last year, the Irish Pubs Global Federation voted Kevin Barry’s the “Most Authentic Irish Pub” in the world, out of more than 1,000 other entries. One bartender, Brian Tillman, was also a finalist for Bartender of the Year. The owner has made a point to attract Irish musicians, and in recent years his establishment has earned plenty of media accolades for offering an “authentic” Irish experience.
Molly MacPherson’s: It might be Scottish, but you can’t forget Ireland and Scotland’s connected history. Named after an Irish tribe (the Scoti) that took control of the region from the Picts in the early Middle Ages, everybody in Scotland has got a little bit of Irish in them. With this in mind, this lively Scottish pub could be a great place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; the food is tasty, and you can get Guinness as well as Scotch whisky.
O’Connell’s Irish Pub: After a day by the river, this is the place to go. An authentic local watering hole with great bartenders, it’s considered by many to be one of Savannah’s best kept secret. Even if it’s pretty small, it’s also considered one of Savannah’s most authentic (even if if hasn’t won any accolades from the Irish Pubs Global Federation). The walls are covered in Irish memorabilia ranging from sports jerseys to family coats of arms to pictures of the Emerald Isle.
McDonough’s Restaurant and Lounge: This Savannah institution doesn’t just offer plenty of Guinness and classic American comfort food, but also karaoke on the weeknights. St. Patrick’s Day is on a weeknight this year, so head down and get ready to sing your favorite Irish drinking song (find a good one; you don’t want to be one of the dozens of people lining up to sing either “Danny Boy” or “Molly Malone”).
Six Pence Pub: England and Ireland have a storied and difficult relationship, made even more complicated by the many Irish who have settled in England (it’s estimated that 10% of the UK’s population has at least one Irish grandparent). So to celebrate that connection, you might want to celebrate at one of Savannah’s top British pubs. This place has got an impressive beer list, which includes a fair share of Irish brews.