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St. Patrick's Day, from The Pogues to the Messenger Spacecraft

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick’s Day is an international holiday. People all over the world are invited to don their finest green garb and celebrate the cultural gifts the Irish have bestowed upon all of us. This year, New York City will be full of revelers enjoying the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but there are many other Irish-inspired cultural events (and one for the science geeks) happening on Thursday, March 17 that you don’t want to miss.  

Ireland America; The Ties that Bind and Hidden Ireland Celebrate Ireland at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center If learning about Irish arts and culture is more fun for you is more fun for you then say, drinking a pint of green beer at a rowdy pub in Midtown Manhattan, consider heading to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The library has organized a 4,000 square foot multimedia exhibit called "Ireland America: The Ties that Band," which examines key aspects of Irish performance history and its influence on American art and culture. The exhibit promises to be a visual treat thanks to the loads of videos and images on view. Or if sitting comfortably in a dark room is more up your alley, attend a screening of the 1935 silent film "The Seasons," an intimate portrayal of life in the small village of Kilkelly, Ireland. Harpist Cormac De Barra and an ensemble of Irish musicians will accompany the film with a live soundtrack at 6:30 P.M. on St. Patty’s Day. You can catch more films about Ireland and the Irish experience in the United States on Thursdays and Saturdays through May. The exhibit runs through August 13, in Manhattan.

New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade According to the parade's Web site, the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is older than the Declaration of Independence. The first march was reportedly held in New York City 250 years ago in 1762. Bronx resident and novelist Mary Higgins Clark will be this year's parade's Grand Marshal. "I think of my father coming over [from Ireland], and his brother and sister coming over, with nothing," Clark said in a video posted by the parade committee. "And each achieving a kind of business success--modest, but there." You can walk in Higgins Clark's footsteps down Fifth Avenue beginning at 11 A.M. On Thursday, in Manhattan. 

Celebrate MESSENGER! at the American Museum of Natural History For all you space geeks out there, be sure to keep your fingers crossed for the Messenger spacecraft this St. Patty’s Day. Beginning at 8:30 P.M. on Thursday, the craft will attempt to enter Mercury’s orbit for the third time. The spacecraft has been flying over five billion miles and six years from Earth, but so far has only passed by the tiniest, densest of the terrestrial planets. If successful, the Messenger will be the first spacecraft in history to enter Mercury’s orbit. As they say, the third time’s a charm! Check it out at the Natural History Museum and plan to stay a couple hours. The fate of the spacecraft won't be known until 10:30 P.M. On Thursday, in Manhattan.

The Pogues at Terminal 5 What would St Patty’s Day be without a little bit of festive drinking, debauchery and good ole amphetamine-pumped Irish folk? The Pogues go on a short East Coast tour each March, making sure to stop in the city to ring in the real celebration. The show will cost you a whopping $70 for a day-of ticket, but the band's legendary lead singer, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player Shane McGowan will no doubt provide the soundtrack to your whiskey drinking. If past shows are any indication, it’s a safe bet he’ll be the one drinking you under the table.

Irish Arts Center Book Day at the city's subway stops, post offices and transportation hubs If your idea of celebration involves burying your nose in a good book in the peace and quiet of your apartment, then be on the look out for volunteers with the Irish Arts Center who will be handing out free books by Irish and Irish American authors across the five boroughs on Thursday. Sponsored by the New York City Council, Speaker Christine Quinn and the Irish Arts Center. Books will be available bright and early at 6 A.M. until they run out. Check out what's being given out where on Twitter and Facebook. On Thursday, in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Little Ireland, Chinatown and Little Italy Tasting Tour at NYC Discovery Walking Tours Come to learn about Irish history but stay for dim sum or a slice of pizza. Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day by delighting in a stroll through former Little Ireland and ending in a tasting tour of Little Italy. Who says you have to keep your ethnic celebrations to only one country at a time? Stops include Five Points (see the movie "Gangs of New York" for a refresher), the birthplace of Cardinal Patrick Joseph Hayes, and the Church of the Most Precious Blood. The cost of the tour ($35) includes the food. Through Sunday March 20.

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