“Good times, good friends, good health to you and the luck of the Irish in all that you do.” Although this Irish Christmas proverb could (and should) be applied to every party and gathering you attend this holiday season, none fit the bill better than Ellicottville’s annual Irish Christmas.
Slated for Friday, Dec. 4 from 6-10pm at the Ellicottville Brewing Company, Irish Christmas is a celebration of hope, health and holiday. It couples benevolence with laughter; its impact is philanthropic and dynamic. It even goes as far as a tractor and trailer doctored up with Christmas decorations parked in front of EBC, where you can leave your gifts that will be donated.
Before it became the iconic event it is today, Irish Christmas was an idea stemming from one man’s attitude that no child should wake up on Christmas morning with no presents to open. Ellicottville’s Bob McCarthy, the mastermind and driving force, said that above all else, this event fosters hope.
“Everyone deserves something,” he said. “If a child wakes up on Christmas morning and doesn’t have a gift, then that’s tough going. The idea behind Irish Christmas is to get the community involved and to feel the spirit of the holidays.”
Irish Christmas, which has been hosted at the Gin Mill since its genesis, moves to EBC this year for one sole reason: more room.
“As such an iconic event, it simply outgrew our regular spot,” McCarthy said. “So many thanks to Ed and Maribeth Rick at the Gin Mill, whom have been our generous hosts for so many years. Now, with a larger location, we’ll be able to accommodate the hundreds of people that come out for it.”
One of the most exciting additions to this year’s Irish Christmas will be a ‘Taste of Ireland.’ Much like Ellicottville’s Taste, local restaurants will create and serve some delicious samplings native to the Emerald Isle. Madigan’s, Tip’s Up, Villaggio, The Silver Fox, Katy’s Cafe, EBC and Hamburg’s Ilio DiPaolos will all be on location.
Music will be provided courtesy of Ellicottville resident and County Clare native Jerry Dixon. And a dear friend of McCarthy and local legend Hughie Dunne, Andy Guthrie, will be making the trek from Ireland on Dec. 1 to serenade the lasses with his Irish ballads.
A fan favorite at Irish Christmas is the ‘Pie Auction,’ where 10 pies are donated by locals to be auctioned off with a handmade wooden piece from McCarthy. Last year, he made pie boxes. This year, he’s thinking outside the proverbial box.
“The pie boxes were great, but they’re pretty specific to what you can use them for,” he said. “So this year, I built chests. They’re all made with wood from an older local barn, and I think as a utility piece, they’ll be much more versatile. It would make for a great Christmas gift or something for your child’s bedroom. They have a lot of character.”
McCarthy continued, “The money stays here, as do the gifts. Everything that’s left over goes to the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department. There’s no charge to the event, unless you’d like to sample some fine food or a nice beer from Dan (Minner, EBC’s Brewmaster). It’s an unbelievable event, and we can’t wait for it.”