St. Patrick's Day in O'Neill: Nebraska's Irish Capital

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O'Neill, NE On Saint Patrick's Day you're wearing green, eating corned beef and cabbage, and maybe singing with an accent. But in O'Neill, the festivities far exceed all that.

When the calendar reaches March 17th, the small town of O'Neill suddenly balloons in population.

"The last few years we probably went from 3,700 people to almost 7,000. We've had great weather and it's just really turned into a big family event," said Scott Poese, a Board member of the Chamber of Commerce.

And this year they're adding to their Saint Patrick's Day by turning it into Saint Patrick's week.

"Because of state basketball we decided to celebrate this coming Saturday so since St. Patty's is on a Monday we decided to make it a week full of fun," said Poese.

And the whole week will have dozens of events.

"The green horse, and then the big old Irish dancers, the bars! That's the big thing. And they also have Green Eggs and Ham up at the Elementary, that's getting to be really big. They have, this year again, the Husker Hoops where a lot of the Husker guys versus a lot of our O'Neill people. It's a good time," said O'Neill native Shelly Campbell.

Most of the celebrating will begin Friday and stretch the whole weekend.

While St. Patrick's Day is a fun day across the country, residents in O'Neill say if you haven't celebrated it there, your missing out.

Campbell said, "I think they said on Spring Break we're one of the #3 top places to come and to celebrate on St. Pat's."

That's due to the reputation the small town has gained world wide.

"We've been known for having the world's largest shamrock and we've also been known for having the world famous green horse and now we have the world's largest Blarney Stone so we just make it larger for St. Patrick's Day in O'Neill," said Poese.

Another larger item is sales in local bars, like a favorite of many residents the Good Timin' Bar.

"We got all the orders coming in, they'll come in tomorrow and Thursday, yep. We about triple what we usually do, yea," said Dick Thomas, the Manager of the Good Timin' Bar.

For a list of all the Irish activities in the state Irish capital, click the link to the St. Patrick's Day PDF on the city's website.