The modern city of Tucson got its start in 1775 when a red-headed Irishman picked this spot along the river for a Spanish presidio. The native First Farmers preceded the Spanish and Irish by, oh, 3,800 years, but the early appearance of Hugh O'Connor, known by the Spanish as Hugo Oconor, helps Tucson lay claim to an Irish heritage.
The kickoff to the town's annual month-long St. Patrick celebration is Friday night. While musicians from Ireland and Scotland are playing traditional music at Berger, the Phoenix band Sea Merchants will be belting out Irish rock, Pogues-style, at the Surly Wench Pub. There will be tippling: the music is part of the Great Irish Toast, a fundraiser for the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival. 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 27.
For a quieter contemplation of Ireland, visit the abstract paintings of Rebecca Crowell at the Bernal Gallery, at Pima Community College West through March 13. Her moody works are inspired by the Irish countryside.
The Tucson St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival frolics forth on Sunday, March 15, two days before the saint's feast day. The parading dancers and floats set out at 11 a.m. from 16th Street and Stone Avenue, then head north up Stone to Ochoa. From there they march east two blocks to Armory Park, where a festival of music and dance, goes on until 5 p.m. Irish food, beer and crafts for sale.
Auld Dubliner on University Boulevard is a year-round Irish music hotspot, with music sessions open to all every Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. But on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, plenty of other venues also go Hibernian. Hotel Congress promises live music and Irish food on the plaza, and a Guinness toast at 10 p.m. Check music listings for festivities in other bars on the big day.
Ireland was once known as the isle of saints and scholars, and those of the latter bent can delve into a two-part course, "The Irish Diaspora in North America." Bob McCue, who lectures around town on all things Irish, looks at Irish immigration from the 18th century on, and examines the 1840s Great Hunger that pushed a million starving refugees to North America. McCue also surveys Arizona's Irish. $40; 10 a.m. to noon, March 23 and 30, at the UA. 621-0250.
Altan, a 20-year-old powerhouse of Irish traditional music, joins up with Chicago fiddle wiz Liz Carroll for a concert at Berger on March 28. Local dancers provide the step-dancing and soft-shoe prancing. Hailing from Ireland, the band members play an array of instruments, from fiddle to whistles to accordion to strings. The two vocalists, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh (also a fiddler) and Daithi Sproule (a guitarist) sing in English and Irish. www.inconcerttucson.com.
The charming Irish movie "Once," about a couple of musicians in Dublin, became a charming Broadway play that won a Tony for best musical in 2012. Now it's touring the country. Tucsonans can see it courtesy of Broadway in Tucson at Centennial Hall March 31 to April 5. www.broadwayintucson.com.