Food & Drink

Cue the corned beef: Catholics can eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day, Baltimore archdiocese says

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year, but Baltimore’s Catholics can still help themselves to some shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage.

Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore will have permission to eat meat for the holiday on March 17, Archbishop William E. Lori announced this month. Traditionally, practicing Catholics must abstain from eating meat on every Friday during Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter.


It’s not the first time that the church has given a reprieve to the no-meat rule for St. Paddy’s Day. The last time the holiday fell on a Friday, in 2017, the Archdiocese of Baltimore granted a dispensation then, as well, according to an archdiocese spokesperson. So did Catholic leaders around the country, with more than 80 dioceses offering some sort of exception, according to the Catholic News Agency.

Shepherd's pie at The James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant in Baltimore. Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore will have permission to eat meat for St. Patrick's Day on Friday, March 17.

Tradition plays a role in the dispensation. Irish dishes like corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew and shepherd’s pie are a staple of many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which honor the patron saint of the Emerald Isle.


“St. Patrick’s Day is such a big international celebration and certainly a big day in the church,” said Christian Kendzierski, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. “Our traditions involve eating meat.”

At Mick O’Shea’s, those meat-filled dishes make up a hearty chunk of sales. The Irish bar on Charles Street will be serving “all the good Irish stuff,” from corned beef to Reuben sandwiches and stew, said co-owner Stephanie Webber. There will also be some modern twists to the traditional fare, like Reuben egg rolls.

Webber said the St. Patrick’s Day dispensation is good news for the bar: Catholic customers, she said, wouldn’t be able to partake in some of the holiday’s most popular dishes “unless they got the pass.”

Mick O'Shea's is expecting a strong turnout for this year's St. Patrick's Day celebrations, which fall on a Friday.

In his dispensation, Lori encouraged archdiocese members who choose to eat meat on the holiday to “engage in some additional act of prayer, service to the poor, or almsgiving.”

Kendzierski said Catholic schools plan to participate in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade with floats and a delegation from each school. An official St. Patrick’s Day Mass will be held March 12 at the Basilica of the Assumption.

As for Webber, she’s expecting a strong turnout at Mick O’Shea’s for the festivities this year, which include live music sets.

“We’ll be a full house all day, all night, especially since it’s on a Friday,” she said. “It’ll go all night long.”