Oscar Wilde, McSorley’s & 3 More Bits of Irish Heritage from Our Hunts

Irish eyes are smiling here at Watson Adventures. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and since we make a bigger deal about it than actual people from Ireland, we can’t help feeling a little green (and corned beefy).

In honor of the most cabbage-oriented holiday we know, check out these Irish highlights from some of our favorite public and private scavenger hunts.

1. Irish Art at the Art Institute of Chicago

You’ll find plenty of nods to Irish art and heritage in Chicago, on our hunts and otherwise. Two of our favorites are very different: The Irish Question, DeScott Evans’ painting of, well, potatoes, and the so-called Oscar Wilde Teapot, Jame Hadley’s skewering of the famed Irish author and aesthete. The former appears uncomplicated from afar but challenges viewers to puzzle over its meaning. The latter takes a dig at Wilde, and skewers Darwin’s theory of natural selection. That’s one busy teapot! (Image via Daderot, Wikimedia Commons)

2. St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, New York

When you join our SoHo Chocolatey Scavenger Hunt, you’ll discover a famous church watching over Mulberry Street. The Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral, or Old St. Patrick’s to pretty much everyone, was built between 1809 and 1815 and served as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York until 1879. At that point, the big, famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral across the street from Rockefeller Center (which you can see on many of our private hunts in Midtown Manhattan) dethroned it. The first and third Godfather movies filmed scenes there, and Pope Benedict XVI named Old St. Patrick’s a minor basilica in 2010.

3. The Famine Memorial, Boston

As you uncover the Secrets of Old Boston with us, you’ll find the Boston Irish Famine Memorial. Erected in 1998 to mark the 150th anniversary of Ireland’s Great Famine, a period of devastating famine and starvation that occurred in the 1840s and ’50s. In the pair of statues, which stand along Boston’s famed Freedom Trail, sculptor Robert captures the desperation of Ireland’s starving poor and the gulf between them and the secure, well-fed upper classes—a theme that resonates across the globe even today.

4. Tarantino’s, San Francisco

The Wharf’s Weird Wonders private hunt includes a stop at Tarantino’s, an Italian seafood restaurant built in 1922. Try the cioppino, it’s fantastic. Oh, the Irish connection? Tarantino’s was founded by Irish fishermen who brought their daily catch of crab and salmon there—to this day, the waiters wear shamrock pins as a nod to the eatery’s history.

5. McSorley’s, New York

Last but not least, there’s McSorley’s. A New York institution, McSorley’s Old Ale House has changed little since its founding 161 years ago. Sawdust lines the floor, and cobwebs cling to decor and memorabilia that haven’t been altered or removed since 1910. Famously, McSorley’s only began admitting women after a legal battle in the 1970s. Find the city’s oldest Irish tavern on our Secrets of the East Village Hunt.

You don’t have to be (or pretend to be) Irish to find more fun! Visit the calendar to see all our upcoming public hunts.