Looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in authentic Irish style? Book a seat on wee Island Airways (adults round trip, $106) and fly 32 miles across Lake Michigan, from Charlevoix to Beaver Island—Michigan’s own Emerald Isle. This 55-square-mile island, with a year-round population of just 450 people, is awash in Gallaghers, Gillespies, Boyles, McDonoughs, O’Donells, McCaffertys … descendants of an Irish migration to the island at the end of the 19th century. Expect miles of stunning and empty shoreline, quiet forests, a couple of beautiful lighthouses and a hearty Irish welcome when you land—that is if you are wearing green.
The official St. Patrick’s festivities are as wholesome and down home as an alumni basketball game at Beaver Island Community School (tip-off at 5:30 p.m.), where you can taste and vote for your favorite crockpot recipe in the Chili/Soup/Anything You Can Put In a Crockpot Cookoff.
Get the backstory on the greatest basketball rivalry in the Great Lakes: Beaver Island vs. Mackinac Island!
Beaver Islanders share their favorite crockpot recipes with us!
- Coconut Carrot Soup, from Larissa McGinnity
- Plain Ol’ Chili, from Kerry Smith
- Crockpot Lasagna, from Dawn Marsh
After the game you’ll want to amble over to the iconic Shamrock Bar for its the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration—surely the biggest and wildest in the Great Lakes—for live music and authentic Irish dishes like Bangers and Mash, Guinness Stew, Corned Beef & Colcannon, Fish & Chips to name a few.
Sleep it off and then go on back to the Shamrock on Saturday for the Clan-na-gael games, including a shopping cart race, tug of war, fish toss and games inside the bar.
Two lodging establishments stay open year round on Beaver Island, Emerald Isle Hotel (231.448.2376) and Erin Motel (231.448.2240). Both have all you’ll need—including the fact that they are within walking distance of the Shamrock!