Vancouver woman keeps St. Paddy’s alive

Irish native reminisces about homeland’s food, festivities

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter


photoDublin native and longtime Vancouver resident Breda Yeates co-founded, co-owns and co-directs the Yeates Academy of Irish Dance in Portland. Her granddaughter, 7-year-old Brónagh Kelly, is a student.

(/The Columbian)


There are a number of local St. Patrick’s Day celebrations from which to choose. Here’s a sampling:

Clark County

Irishtown Bar & Grill

St. Patrick’s Day celebration including Irish food, Irish beers, 14 hours of Irish music and Irish dancers, seven Irish bands and the Molly Malone Irish Dancers. Ages 21 and older only.

When: 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Thursday. Entertainment begins at 11:30 a.m.

Where: 11600 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Suite F, Vancouver.

Admission: $5 cover charge starting at 2 p.m., $10 cover charge starting at 5 p.m.

Telephone: 360-253-1479.

On the

Brickhouse Bar & Grill

St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring traditional Irish dancing, music and cuisine.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday. 21 and older only after 9 p.m.

Where: 109 W. 15th St., Vancouver.

Admission: Free.

Telephone: 360-695-3686.

On the

Paddy Hough Parade

The parade brings together Hough Elementary School students, staff and community members to celebrate the neighborhood’s history.

When: 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Where: The parade begins at Hough Elementary School, 1900 Daniels St., Vancouver. The parade marches north to West 24th Street and goes east to Main Street. It goes south on Main Street and turns east onto East McLoughlin Boulevard. The parade ends at Daniels Street.

Admission: Free.

Telephone: 360-313-2107.

On the

Dulin’s Cafe

Celtic Muse, performing traditional Celtic music on harps and woodwinds. The restaurant will serve a special St. Patrick’s Day menu.

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Where: 1708 Main St., Vancouver.

Admission: Free.

Telephone: 360-737-9907.

St. Paddy’s for Parks

Shorty’s Garden and Home hosts the 21-and-older St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The event includes live music by the Patrick Lamb Band, and food and beverages will be available for purchase. All proceeds benefit the Parks Foundation of Clark County.

When: 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Where: Shorty’s Garden and Home, 10006 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.

Admission: $15 in advance, and $20 at the door. Tickets include admission and one beverage. Tickets available through

Telephone: 360-487-8370.

On the

St. Paddy’s for Kids

The free family day is filled with activities for children and adults. Nonprofit groups will be on hand to provide information and hands-on learning activities focused on topics such as worm composting and exploring nature in the backyard.

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Shorty’s Garden and Home, 10006 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.

Admission: Free.

Telephone: 360-487-8370.

On the

Portland area

Kells Irish Festival

Annual Portland St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring Irish food, drink and entertainment.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday. The festival tent is usually for those 21 and older, but minors are allowed until 5 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub, 112 S.W. Second Ave., Portland.

Cost: $20 cover until 4 p.m. and $25 after 4 on Thursday (includes a festival T-shirt), $20 admission to watch an Ireland versus United States boxing tournament on Friday, and $10 cover after 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Telephone: 503-227-4057.

On the

People throughout the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but for those with Irish heritage, this Thursday’s holiday has special meaning.

“People are very proud to be Irish, especially on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Dublin native Breda Yeates, who has lived in Vancouver since 1977. “They like to hear Irish music. They like to get together with friends and have corned beef and cabbage.”

For Yeates and her husband, Peter, that Irish identity is a way of life. The Yeateses own Irishtown Bar & Grill in Cascade Park. Breda Yeates, along with business partner Molly Malone Mannenbach, also founded, owns and directs the Yeates Academy of Irish Dance in Portland. Yeates’ daughter, Sinead Yeates, is the academy’s instructor and choreographer.

Yeates, 63, started doing Irish stepdancing at the age of 4. She danced competitively in Dublin and spent three years dancing on a variety show for a local television station.

Dance is an important part of Irish culture, as is music, according to Yeates.

“It’s part of who we are,” she said.

Yeates goes back to Ireland every year or two for the Irish dancing world championships, but hasn’t been back for St. Patrick’s Day since moving to the United States.

She has fond memories of celebrating the holiday in Dublin during the 1950s and ’60s, though, and keeps many of those traditions alive today here in Vancouver.

In the following interview, edited for space and clarity, Yeates reflects on what St. Patrick’s Day means for her.

Growing up in Dublin, how did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

The first thing we would do was go to Mass. Then we’d come back and have a traditional Irish breakfast that consisted of Irish sausages, black-and-white pudding, which is a meat dish made with pigs’ blood, rashers, which are similar to bacon, eggs, fried tomatoes, and white or brown Irish soda bread.

Then, we’d go to the parade in Dublin, where they’d have all the marching bands and Irish dance schools. They’d have floats, but they were simple, nothing too elaborate. The bands would play, but the dancers would march, not dance.

After the parade, if it was a nice day, we’d go for a picnic. Or we’d get together with friends, go for a drive. At home, we’d play Irish music and have a dinner of bacon and cabbage or kale.

Did you have traditions we observe here, like drinking green beer and wearing green?

No green beer, but we had to wear everything green. I went to Catholic school, and on St. Patrick’s Day we’d always wear a St. Patrick’s medal on a sprig of fresh shamrock. We’d wear green stockings, a green dress, green socks. We always had to wear as much green as we could put on. I had a green headband with my name spelled out in Gaelic — Bríd.

How can people capture the true St. Patrick’s Day spirit here?

By going to hear live Irish music and see Irish dancing and going to an authentic Irish place.