Plenty of opportunities to get your Irish on this weekend

Bill Gibbons has always made it his tongue-in-cheek mission to “force Irish culture down everyone’s throats.”

He’s living up to that promise by making this a St. Patrick’s Day weekend around the Harbor by hosting a bevy of music and activities in Hoquiam and Ocean Shores.

Gibbons, owner of Galway Bay Irish Restaurant in Ocean Shores and the 8th Street Ale House in Hoquiam, is letting revelers get an early start with free Irish music at both venues (you must be 21 or older to attend) tonight.

Music continues Saturday centered around an all-ages “Irish Hoolie Variety Show” that night at the 7th St. Theatre. Admission is $10.

Acts set to perform are Hank Cramer & Friends performing Irish ballads, storyteller and musician Dan Hausler, the high-energy Irish band Heavy Hammer on pipes and drums, the Our Lady of Good Help Men’s Choir, Irish step dancers and Irish fiddler Cynthia Bjore.

“All those bands playing at the Hoolie will also be playing at the pubs all weekend,” Gibbons said.

Irish-American musician and former Daily World reporter Jacob Jones will join the fray later and will be among the acts bringing music to both venues all day Sunday — St. Patrick’s Day.

“And we’ll be serving the Irish tradition of corned beef and cabbage at both places all weekend,” Gibbons noted.

If you’re feeling the need to burn some calories prior to loading up on Irish fare and libations Sunday, the City of Hoquiam if offering a St. Patty’s Leprechaun Dash — beginning at Durney Insurance at 8th and J streets — at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Entry fee is $5 or $15 if you would like a commemorative T-shirt. Pre-registration begins at 9 a.m. There will be 10K, 5K and two-mile runs along with a two-mile walk.

If you need more walking, dash out to Ocean Shores by 1 p.m. for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which begins at Galway Bay and winds its way down to the Shilo Inn and back to Galway Bay.

“Anyone who wants to walk along in it can,” said Gibbons, who will be parading as St. Patrick himself. “There will be horses and old cars and bagpipers and drummers.”

“I’m staying busy,” Gibbons said of his St. Patrick duties. “I’ve got to do something. Otherwise, I’d be drinking in the pub all day long, which actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

Galway Bay and the Ale House will each host an Irish trivia contest on Sunday afternoon for Irish-themed prizes.

Those will be followed by more Irish music until 11 p.m. Sunday at both venues.