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Get lucky, dive into this pot of gold

Inside Feature

February 23, 2020

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

St. Patrick’s Day is only a month away, and Don Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bar & Grill, and his crew are working hard on preparations for its annual St. Patrick’s Day Party — which also happens to be one of the largest in the Pacific region.

“We start planning for the next one on the day after the last one,” chuckles the owner.

It’s been 33 years since Murphy hosted his first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Honolulu. Raised in Oklahoma, he spent time in Florida, Oregon and California just before finding his way to Hawaii and opening his pub in the location of the old Matteo’s Royal Tavern on Merchant Street.

“I lived in San Francisco for a while, and St. Patrick’s Day was such a big deal there,” he remembers. “It wasn’t a big deal here.”

Three decades later, Murphy’s Bar & Grill St. Patrick’s Day Block Party, with an anticipated 8,000-10,000 celebrants each year, is a very big deal indeed in the Aloha State. The event began as a restaurant party at Murphy’s, and the following year it moved outside to Merchant Street. For the past 20 years, the celebration has occupied a large footprint on Merchant, Nuuanu, and in the parking lot across the street from the pub. There’s truly something here for the Irish in all of us!

Murphy’s Bar & Grill will open at 11 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, serving lunch in the restaurant and from three big food tents in the parking lot across the street. There, guests will also find booths offering beverages, T-shirts, souvenirs and more. At noon, the Keiki Fair kicks off, with face painting, popcorn, balloons, crafts and storytelling. Then, at about 6 p.m., the big street party begins, with live music from local Irish rockers The Doolin Rakes, plus dancing, delicious spirits, lots of fun, and still more mouthwatering treats from Murphy’s.

Look for corned beef and cabbage, steak sandwiches, sweet chili salmon, a fish and chips booth, breaded shrimp, burgers, chicken, an oyster bar with calamari steaks, lobster rolls, shrimp scampi, crab cakes, fresh oysters and much more.

And this Irish event comes with plenty of aloha. About $20,000-$25,000 will be donated to local charities, including Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels, Food Bank, Hawaii Kidney Foundation, Rehab Hospital of the Pacific, HUGS and others — all from part of the proceeds from the block party.

GUINNESS BRAISED LAMB SHANK ($18.50)

Made by Murphy’s Bar & Grill only for its St. Patrick’s Day Block Party, the mouthwatering Guinness Braised Lamb Shank is based on a traditional stew from Ireland. Lamb shanks are braised in stout with plenty of vegetables and potatoes, producing a dish with so much flavor that one taste will make you dance a jig!

CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE ($18.50)

In addition to being a daily favorite at Murphy’s, this traditional dish will be featured at the pub’s St. Patrick’s Day Block Party, and even make its appearance in a sandwich. More than 2,000 pounds of corned beef will be sold at the block party, and Murphy’s will donate $2 per each pound to the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation.

ASSORTMENT OF FRESH SHUCKED OYSTERS ($3 AND UP PER OYSTER)

Stop by the Oyster Bar at Murphy’s Block Party, only on St. Patrick’s Day. Owner Don Murphy is stocking up on 3,000 oysters for the occasion, which will be served on the half-shell or as shooters. The Oyster Bar will also serve calamari steak, lobster rolls, shrimp scampi and crab cakes.

BAILEY’S CHEESECAKE ($7)

Desserts at Murphy’s Bar & Grill, made by Marion Murphy herself, are the pride of the pub. “For St. Patrick’s Day, my wife will make about 800 desserts,” says owner Don Murphy proudly. Irish Whiskey Cake, Bailey’s Cheesecake, bread pudding, key lime pie, and hot and cold Irish coffee will be available. Mrs. Murphy also sewed a St. Patrick’s Day quilt for a free raffle at the event’s keiki tent.

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