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Year-round Irish culture: Pittsburgh is greener than you realize

| Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 7:27 p.m.

Dublin anyone could understand. New York City, too. Even Boston. But Pittsburgh?

Bang on n'at.

Pittsburgh — and western Pennsylvania — is among the hottest of hotbeds for Irish tradition and culture, according to wheretraveler.com. The magazine ranked the top spots around the globe for St. Patrick's Day parades in 2017 and Pittsburgh made the top 10.

Why? Because its parade is the second largest in the United States, trailing only New York.

But yinz probably knew that, especially if you ever bunked off work to attend the parade, drink some green beer or even go on a tear.

You don't have to wait for the parade to celebrate the Irish and Ireland around Pittsburgh. There are plenty of ways to get in the spirit of the green year round, don't ya know?

If you like to dance, for example, a wedding with a cookie table isn't a requirement. The Pittsburgh Ceili Club gives members the chance to dance to traditional Irish music all around the city all year long. And what is Ceili dancing? Think square dancing, but with plenty of high-stepping, for couples or even lines of men and women, carried out to hornpipes. Some of the music dates to the 1500s.

You say you like your Irish a little more tough and tumble? In that case, check out — or even get involved with — the Pittsburgh Gaelic Athletic Association . The association supports men's, women's and youth Gaelic football teams. If you've never seen the sport imagine American football, rugby and soccer all rolled into one. It's been played in Ireland for hundreds of years. And yeah, it's intense. But the locals are good at it, as evidenced by their several regional and national championships.

There's a Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club , too. The group offers the chance to hit the water in a curragh, or canvas-covered rowboat, and enjoy the “cultural and competitive” aspects of rowing.

The boats have been around in their current design for about 1,000 years, but the sport of competing in them is relatively new in the United States, having hit our shores only in the 1980s.

Pittsburgh was one of the first cities where it took root, and it remains a force today.

If you prefer your Irish entertainment to be a little more refined, there's the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre . It's all about “enlightened entertainment” based on the three critical yet basic tenants of live production: authors, actors and performances are held at several locations around the city.

They aren't just for watching, though. You can participate in some of the Theatre's events yourself. An annual murder mystery dinner, for example, is a regular who-done-it that challenges guests to solve a crime. How much fun is that?

Of course, there's nothing to Irish as bagpipes. Those who love to hear the haunting tunes can do so courtesy of the Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums group — a collection of law enforcement officers who perform all over the city and region.

Add it all up and there's plenty to do in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania to get into the Irish spirit. So finish reddin' up, put down your chipped chopped ham and crack on.

Sponsored by Essey Tire & Wheel Center , 5200 Rt. 51 South. Essey Tire is giving away tickets to the Pirates home opener at 1:05 p.m. April 2 versus the Minnesota Twins. Like Essey Tire on Facebook and look for an upcoming post on how to win!

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