By Jaya Franklin and Daniel Silliman
Monday, March 17, many people across the country will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day by drinking green beer and eating Irish foods. Restaurants in Henry and Clayton counties are inviting people to come out and join the festivities.
Quinn O'Neill, the owner of Redz Restaurant in McDonough, is planning the restaurant's second annual St. Patrick's Day Rooftop Patio event.
On Monday, patrons can dine on a $25-Irish cuisine, while sitting on the restaurant's rooftop. The experience will include music by local bands. Afterward, customers can receive a free ride home, within a 10-mile radius.
"I selected St. Patrick's Day and New Year's Eve, because people like to go out those days," said O'Neill, an Irish-Catholic who named his restaurant after his son, Connor's, red hair.
Redz is located at 32 Macon Street in McDonough. Doors open at 3 p.m., and festivities will kick off at 4 p.m..
Joe Garofalo, owner of Irish Bred Pub in McDonough, will have live entertainment, food, beverages and giveaways for customers who want to get in the St. Patrick's Day spirit. The pub just recently opened its doors for business, and the owners are inviting the public to come and join them in celebrating the "national holiday."
"Everything Irish will be on special," said Garofalo. "We will serve traditional corned beef and cabbage, boiled potatoes, homemade Irish stew, shepherd's pie, and fish and chips." The bar and restaurant will have a full selection of Irish whiskeys and Irish beers.
The location plans to giveaway shirts, hats, and beads. Garofalo said people should feel welcome to the establishment because of its good food and name. He said the word pub means public house, center of activity or a meeting hall.
The McDonough branch is located at 716 Ga. Hwy. 155 South. It is the main franchise location. The place includes a dance floor, 13 flat screen televisions and an open bar.
While some people are thrilled about attending the wide range of festivities, the day celebrated by wearing green also has a deeper meaning. St. Patrick holds a place in Christian tradition, and some area priests point out that the man's legacy carries an important moral lesson.
Jimmy Adams, ordained priest and the chaplain at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in Fairburn, said Patrick is a good example of faithful zeal.
According to the church's tradition, Patrick was kidnapped as a child, taken to Ireland, sometime around the year 400, and forced into slavery. He escaped and returned home. When he became an adult, he returned to Ireland, where he had once been a slave, and became a missionary, preaching and converting the local kings from their religions to the Christian faith.
"He was relentless in his zeal and worked tirelessly to convert the people to Christianity," Adams said. "Patrick is a witness to us, how we need to be filled with that same kind of zeal with our faith."
Adams said there is a lot unknown about Patrick, such as how he escaped and how he decided to return to the place where he was enslaved. But God's call on his life seems clear.
"Of course, we don't know all he went through or how he made that decision [to return]. That's been lost to history, but I have a feeling it was probably difficult. I firmly believe that God was calling him and God never calls us to do anything that, deep down in us, we really don't want to do," Adams said.
Berry Griffin, the priest at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Morrow, said Patrick serves as a reminder about the ways God can work.
"It's interesting," Griffin said, "how God uses awful circumstances, in the long run, for good. The theological thing, with St. Patrick, is that God can redeem any circumstance. Even things that seem hopeless, God can use."
There might be other lessons to be learned from the saint who seems to symbolize Irishness, though. Like, Griffin said, not making assumptions about people.
"Patrick's not Irish," the priest explained. "I think we assume that he was Irish. I always assumed that he was. But he was from Britain."