Mar 15, 2024 - Holidays

Portland Irish Festival goes bigger than ever

Revelers in a tent in Portland at the Kells Portland Irish Festival

Revelers at the Portland Irish Festival. Photo: Courtesy of Kells Irish Pub

Over three decades, Gerard McAleese has grown Kells Irish Pub's St. Patrick's Day celebration into a three-day festival across three venues with multiple forms of entertainment.

Why it matters: What used to consist of the Yeates Irish dancers, Gaelic folk music, and a U2 cover band, has grown into an official piece of the regeneration of downtown Portland.

The big picture: This year's festival, which starts Friday, features the Holy Family Boxing Club, representing Ireland.

What to expect: The Portland Irish Festival now includes an Irish musical instrument petting zoo, Irish cuisine (McAleese lists a lot of pasties) and currach boat demonstrations.

Check out: Sami Rouissi, a Frenchman who toured Europe with an Irish group for eight years, and Pauric O Meara, a one-man boy band from Dublin.

  • Acts shuttle between Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Kells Irish Pub on SW 2nd Avenue, and Kells Brewery on NW 21st Avenue, which is run by McAleese's son Garrett.
  • And yes, there is still a U2 tribute band, TribU2.

Sunday's charity race, the Shamrock Run, is now also part of the festival.

  • Runners don't have to pay the $30 cover charge if they show their medal.

But back to the boxing.

  • There are seven bouts, starting Friday at 7pm, and the fighting is sanctioned by Golden Gloves, meaning the fighters have to be matched by win record and weight.

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