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Celtic Cowboy readies for St. Patrick’s Day

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-13 20:14:50-04

GREAT FALLS — St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and the premier Irish Pub in Great Falls is getting ready.

From corned beef and cabbage to the menu favorite of fish and chips, gallons of Guinness and jugs worth of Jameson, the Celtic Cowboy has been steadily gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day.

With Western Art week taking over the town and the celebration falling on the start of a weekend, this Irish Pub might just be ready to swim in a sea of green.

Corned beef and cabbage is always on the menu at The Celtic Cowboy. But when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, owner Peter Jennings says they see about a tenfold increase in orders.

“We prepare about 250 pounds of cooked corned beef, and corned beef tends to lose a lot of weight,” said Jennings. “So we wind up precooked, weighing about 400 to 500 pounds.”

“The briskets we get are not cleaned,” said Celtic Cowboy chef Greg Rogers. “We have this inner musculature fat running the center.”

Rogers says many of the briskets people buy in grocery stores usually has almost no fat. He says the briskets the Celtic Cowboy gets are cooked slowly to let the fat break down and make the meat more tender.

As of Friday, March 10, Celtic Cowboy kitchen worker Chuck Fitzgerald had already prepared about 70 pounds of corned beef in anticipation of the big day.

For those who might not want to battle the crowds for their corned beef fix, Jennings says the dish is rather easy to prepare.

“You can use a crockpot. You can boil it” said Jennings. “The way we cook it is we put it in water and cover the pan tightly and cook it at 350 for about 3 hours.”

Ironically, for an Irish pub, corned beef is not the most popular menu item. Jennings says that honor goes to fish and chips.

“You know, we have that on the menu seven days a week, so that'll be available as well,” said Jennings. “And yes, we've brought in about ten times the amount that we normally have in a week.”

For those who choose to partake, Jennings says the food goes down well with some authentic Irish adult beverages.

“Guinness is our best seller,” said Jennings. “We have Guinness, Smithwick’s, Harp and then we have another beer from Kilkenny called Fullers, and we sell a lot of the Irish products.”

Jennings says they will have green beer, it just won’t be Irish. The bar also has over a hundred whiskey offerings.

The Celtic Cowboy also has a selection of non-alcoholic beverages and sift drinks.

If the past is any indication, Jennings says most St. Patrick's Day patrons are well behaved, not looking for trouble but instead an enjoyable time.

“Last year, actually, the only fight I had was the day before St Patty's Day, which if you're a Butte person or have been to been to Butte, you’ll know that’s St. Urho's Day, the patron saint Finland,”said Jennings. “But no, that was just random. But people are pretty good. You know, they're down here to have a good time.”

Adding to the excitement is a St Patrick’s Day parade on Central Avenue beginning at 4:15 and the festivities of Western Art Week.

“Yeah, it kind of doesn't matter what day St Patrick's Day falls on, but the weekend days tend to be even bigger, obviously, because everybody has the time,” said Jennings. “But it'll be a it'll be a busy day. It always is.”

For Montana Catholics who don’t want to miss out on corned beef but are concerned that St. Patrick’s falls on a Friday during Lent, both Montana Dioceses issued a dispensation from abstaining from meat on March 17, 2023.

In a statement to parishes, Bishop Michael Warfel of the Great Falls-Billings Diocese said he is requiring Catholics in the Diocese who eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day to abstain from meat on Wednesday, March 15.

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