CLEVELAND, Ohio - It's time to get your green on. Even if you're not one of the 14 percent of Cuyahoga County residents who claim Irish ancestry, it's easy to get into the St. Patrick's Day mood. All it takes is a little green - money, that is. Here are some must-visit shops for all things Irish, great Irish movies and tunes perfect for any green gathering.
Call this scone central this week. Each year, the shop sells close to 500 bags of scones by the end of St. Patrick's Day, not to mention hundreds of loaves of soda bread. Lines form out the door in the morning. The West Side favorite for more than 50 years also sells Irish, Scottish, Welsh and British treats, including Black Magic candies, Thorntons toffee, Irish bangers, black-and-white pudding, homemade sausage rolls, Barry's Teas, Irish butter and jams, Irish butter toffees, even Batchelors Irish peas and Irish sodas such as Club Rock Shandy. Gaelic Imports also has a big selection of Claddagh rings, window stickers and flags from the region.
: A gift store that sells everything from T-shirts, caps and sweats to Celtic jewelry, christening gowns and First Communion dresses, hand-woven sweaters, scarves, crystal, pottery and more. They also have teas, jams, cookies and other Irish treats.
Irish This lovely Fairmount Circle shop runs the gamut from elegant Galway crystal and Belleek china to Claddagh rings and wedding sets and Irish rugby jerseys. You'll also find Irish books and CDs, hand-knit woolen scarves and sweaters, children's toys, crosses and other religious items, christening gowns, county flags, black-and-white pudding and Kerrybrown butter for your Irish baking needs.
Music: There's more to Irish music than U2, or the Chieftains. Here's a guide to some of the best sonic imports with an Irish accent.
Irish Rovers, "The Unicorn" (1968): An early hit from the Irish-Canadian band most responsible for introducing North America to Irish music.
Thin Lizzy, "Whiskey in the Jar" (1972): Yeah, they were Irish, something many fans of the classic rockers seem to forget. And they did a fierce take on the traditional Irish ballad "Whiskey in the Jar" in the early '70s that would be perfect to play this week.
The Undertones, "Teenage Kicks" (1977): Is there a better anthem to the fleeting joys and freedom of youth than this exuberant, New Wave track? Not many. Unlike their fellow Northern Ireland punks Stiff Little Fingers, Derry's The Undertones preferred to focus on teen angst, young love and lighter pop fare.
Stiff Little Fingers, "Alternative Ulster" (1978): Formed at the height of The Troubles, this Belfast punk band was sometimes called Ireland's answer to the Clash. But this politicized band is very much IRISH, not British. "Alternative Ulster, " one of their biggest singles, is a call for the young of Belfast to rise up and make a new land: "Take a look where you're livin' / You got the Army on your street / And the R-U-C dog of repression / Is barking at your feet / Is this the kind of place you want to live? / Is this where you want to be? / Is this the only life we're gonna have? / What we need is / An Alternative Ulster."
U2, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (1983): One of the legendary Irish band's most political songs, from 1983's fantastic "War" LP, pays tribute to the Irish freedom-fighters slain by British troops in 1972. Their call for peace features in the elegiac chorus: "How long... / How long must we sing this song / How long, how long...'cause tonight...we can be as one / Tonight..."
The Chieftains, "Carrickfergus" (1988): Since 1962, these Dublin legends have played for everyone from the pope to a show on the Great Wall of China. They have won six Grammy awards and been nominated 18 times. There is no shortage of must-listen Chieftains material, such as the melancholic "Carrickfergus" from 1988's "Irish Heartbeat."
The Pogues, "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" (1988): Celtic roots, punk rock, pub balladry and tearful emotion combust in the fierce sound of these Dublin punk legends - as on the folksy title track to their 1988 album.
Movies: The Irish aren't as well known for their movies as their music, but there's a rich culture of films about and made in Ireland. Many of them focus on politics and The Troubles, but there are some lighter ones, too.
"The Quiet Man, " 1952, directed by John Ford: The lush Irish countryside provides the backdrop to this moving John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara tale of an Irish-American trying to reclaim his family farm in Inisfree.
"The Commitments, " 1991, directed by Alan Parker: The film adaptation of Roddy Doyle's tale of working-class Dubliners who get together to form an American-style soul band was a worldwide hit - and is considered the best Irish film of all time by many. It also exposed the world at large to the genius of Colm Meaney.
"If I Should Fall From Grace: The Shane McGowan Story, " 2001, directed by Sarah Share : In addition to featuring some of the worst teeth ever on the big screen, this doc shines a surprisingly insightful light on the Pogues troubled but talented frontman.
"Bloody Sunday, " 2002, directed by Paul Greengrass: James Nesbitt leads the cast in his gripping, verite style look at one day in Northern Irish history: Jan. 30, 1972, when British army paratroopers killed 13 civil rights demonstrators in Derry city.
"In America, " 2002, directed by Jim Sheridan: This semi-autobiographical Irish-American immigrant tale captures all of the scariness and promise a young family feels coming to New York City in the 1980s.
"The Wind that Shakes the Barley, " 2006, directed by Ken Loach: A moving period drama about the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War in the 1920s, focused on two brothers from County Cork.
"Philomena, " 2013: A heartbreakingly beautiful film by English director Stephen Frears about one woman's fight to find her lost son, stolen from her by the Catholic nuns of the Roscrea Convent, in the 1950s - a common practice with illegitimate children at the time. But it's a also a film about hope, faith and never giving up - with a knockout Oscar-nominated performance by Judi Dench