"I think Americans - and a lot of Americans are Irish - celebrate St. Patrick's Day more than the Irish do in Ireland. That's what I think," declares Ireland native Francis Garvey in a thick and musical brogue.
A resident of Oak Bluffs for the past 20 years, Mr. Garvey, employed by Island Food Products (IFP), was in his 30s when he moved from Ballinlough, County Roscommon, in western Ireland.
To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, he makes the traditional bacon and cabbage dinner. Bacon. "You eat corned beef and cabbage here. But when I was growing up in Ireland, we'd have bacon and cabbage. It's the biggest dish in Ireland," he says.
Another Irish native, 26-year-old Adrianne Clancy, who has lived in the States for six years, moved from Wexford, in southeastern Ireland, where she grew up celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
With a musical lilt of her own, she says, "We had a parade in our town, and on St. Patrick's Day, we would wake up, go to church, then go right to the parade."
Mr. Garvey has fond memories of a parade also. It was his family's tradition, he recalls, to travel to Dublin every year for the annual parade. Well, maybe not only for the parade.
"We'd have to go to the pubs, right?" says Mr. Garvey, eyes twinkling. "Everybody dresses up, goes to O'Connor Street in Dublin for the parade. They're all happy to be drinking; everybody wishes cheers to each other. Everybody is Irish on that day."
Ms. Clancy, says, "I think when you're younger, it's more about church, the parade, dressing up in green clothes, and being with your family. When you're older, it turns into more of a drinking holiday, more about food and friends."
Some St. Patrick's Day traditions are ageless, according to Mr. Garvey, such as the wearing of the green. And he confirms that native Irish drink green beer, something that is plentiful in bars and pubs on St. Patrick's Day in the States.
"People would be wearing green hats, St. Patrick's Day beads, drinking green beer," he says. "It's a day every Irish person looks forward to." And, he adds wistfully, "Most people in Ireland get the day off; I used to."
Ms. Clancy, who works at Sharky's Cantina in Oak Bluffs, explains, "I usually work on my birthday (March 15) every year in order to have it off. St. Patrick's Day to us is like the fourth of July here. The whole country stops."