Ireland and his wife, Nancy, a music teacher at Holmes Elementary School in Spring Lake, decorate their house in green and hang shamrock lights at this time every year.
“It's one of our favorite holidays because we like traditional Irish music so much,” he said.
Ireland has traced his ancestry to just outside of Belfast in Northern Ireland.
“Since then, there's been a lot of mix,” said Ireland, who owns Three Leaf Press, an independent design and publishing company. “I'm less than one-eighth Irish.
"Having that last name, my whole family has an interest in Ireland and Irish music," he added. "It was great when we went to Ireland. When they find out our name, they buy you a drink.”
Ireland said he and his family will celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year at the Curragh Irish Pub in Holland. Between food, drinks, cover charge and decorations, he figures on spending close to the National Retail Federation's estimate of $35.27 per person for the special day.
St. Patrick's Day spending is expected to grow to $4.7 billion this year, which is about 2 percent of the country of Ireland's Gross Domestic Product for the entire year. The National Retail Federation's survey indicates more than 84 percent of Americans will wear green and 23 percent will decorate their home or office.
The Grand Haven Fraternal Order of Eagles, 22 N. Second St., will be celebrating with decorations, green beer, and a corned beef and cabbage dinner on Saturday night. The club's Chester Cook and John Lemke have been slow-cooking the meal all week in 13 countertop roasters.
Along with the 320 pounds of corned beef, 100 pounds each of cabbage and potatoes, and another hundred or so pounds of carrots, turnips and onions, Cook said the Eagles will likely hit $4,000 in bar tabs, which would be up $1,000 from last year.
“We figure this one will be a record,” said Cook, adding that it's the first time the dinner has been open to the public. “We should be serving over 200 dinners. We have an Irish band coming.”
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