Take thousands of revelers who cash in a vacation day just to party, add copious amounts of alcohol and you have what one bartender likens to Mardi Gras in New Orleans ? St. Patrick's Day in Cleveland. It's a recipe for outrageous behavior, the stuff of which tall bar tales are made. We asked owners and employees of some local Irish pubs to share their favorite stories from years past.
Kevin Kelly, co-owner of the Public House in Cleveland, fondly remembers the morning of St. Patrick's Day 2002, when a horse named Murphy stopped by with an officer from the Cleveland Mounted Police Unit.
"A few [off-duty] firemen saw [the officer], waved her over and told her to come on in for a cup of coffee," he recalls. "We had the horse tied up outside the back door when one of the fellas walked over and started feeding him carrots, kinda coaxed the horse closer to the door." When the patron's friends saw the horse actually stick his head through the entrance, they insisted he join them for a drink. "They untied him and pulled him right into the Public House, gave ol' Murphy his first sip of Guinness before he headed down to the St. Patrick's Day parade."
Seamus Elbert, a bartender at The Harp in Cleveland, retells the events of a St. Patrick's Day evening when he was working in the tent on the restaurant's outdoor patio.
"Everybody was drinking Guinness, doing the shots of whiskey that they do once a year," Elbert says. "This one guy and the woman who was with him were particularly obnoxious." Suddenly, the lights in the tent went out. When power was restored several minutes later, Elbert ? and a number of other patrons ? discovered that the man and his female companion had retired to a corner of the tent behind a giant inflatable pint glass of Guinness to engage in an intimate act. "They didn't stop immediately, either!" Elbert marvels. "People just started pelting them with [plastic] shot glasses!" The couple finally adjusted their clothing and walked out of the tent hand-in-hand.
A few days before St. Patrick's Day 2004, John Bowers, proprietor of Mullarkey's in Willoughby, got a call from a woman asking if he could open the bar an hour and a half earlier than his scheduled 8 a.m. start on the holiday. "I said, ?I don't know if I can do that, but for sure we'll have people here at 7. You can help put down the barstools, and we'll take care of you then,' " John recalls. He then asked why the woman wanted to come in so early, if she was just getting off work at that time. "She said, ?Oh no, we're all coming in before we go to work.' When I asked where she worked, she told me, ?A nursing home.' ... Sure enough, at 7 o'clock there's a knock at the door. There was a group of six ladies between 30 and 45 years old just sitting outside, ready to come in."
Patrick Sullivan, owner of Sullivan's Irish Pub & Restaurant in Lakewood, says a number of male patrons showed up in kilts for his first St. Patrick's Day in business last year. One, a regular who volunteered to work the door, actually turned a profit by wearing one.
"He kept getting so many requests from females as he was checking their IDs to check under his kilt that he started charging $1 a peek ? unbeknownst to me, of course," Sullivan says. "I think he made $20 or $30."
Last year, Sean O'Donnell, bar manager at Flannery's Pub in Cleveland, was closing up at 4:20 a.m. when one of the staffers heard a noise in a private room at the back of the restaurant."We walked in, and we found a young man asleep on a table," O'Donnell remembers. The guy was painted green from head to toe with the exception of his hair, which sported an orange-, white- and green-striped paint job inspired by the Irish flag. Two plastic horns like those handed out to spectators at the annual St. Patrick's Day parade were stuffed down the back of his shirt, and the words "I live in Kirtland" were written on his forehead. "It took us 15, 20 minutes to wake him up," O'Donnell continues. "He couldn't really talk, but he kept saying 'Kirtland.' We got an address in Kirtland out of his wallet, figured that was where he lived, pooled our money together and called a cab driver. We each put in $30 apiece to get this kid home. ... We got a call the next day from his parents. He actually lived in Strongsville. They weren't expecting him at 6 o'clock in the morning, passed out, dropped off by a cab at the front door."