First-timers at the annual Irish Cultural Dinner in Birmingham might at first think it is all just fun and games – a fraternity party for adults wearing green. They quickly figure out that the fun time actually produces a greater good.

The annual dinner/entertainment event raises tens of thousands of dollars to transport needy children to and from their health procedures.  Have you ever thought about that?  Insurance and Medicaid may pay for the procedures, but what about ambulance or other transport to and from?  That’s where KidOne Transport   comes in. It covers and arranges the transportation of the sick or injured child when needed.  Kid One | Transporting Children to Better Health

Birmingham’s annual Irish Cultural Dinner is usually on the weekend closest to St. Patrick’s Day, which is always on March 17. This year, 2024, the dinner is on Friday, March 15.  The Ides of March.  Beware the Ides of March.   

The event is at 7 p.m. at the Stadium Club of Protective Stadium, located adjacent to the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center at 1020 24th Street North.

Tickets to the event:  Support Birmingham Irish Cultural Society — Anedot

(Pay no attention to Anedot’s listing of the wrong day of the week. The event is hereby confirmed for Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m. The Ides of March.) 

Miniature donkeys outside the entrance.

Scottish bagpipers.

The men of the society dressed in costumes of green, ranging from classic formal Irish suits to outlandish mishmash outfits.  

You’ll hear Irish music, see Irish dancers, and of course enjoy Irish food.  Past year dinners have served herb and garlic roasted Cornish hen, corned beef with cabbage, lemon and buttered salmon, Irish stew from the recipe of Marty Connor’s grandmother, bread pudding with whisky sauce, and more.

The Birmingham area is quite cosmopolitan. There are organized heritage groups, events and restaurants featuring: The Old South, Greeks, Italians, Lebanese, Germans, Cubans, Scots, African-Americans, Japanese, Chinese, and Irish. Who have I left out?  

“Birmingham doesn’t have a whole lot of truly Irish people,” event chieftain Marty Connors said. “But you don’t have to be Irish to appreciate the country.”

The Irish Cultural Dinner was started in 1981 by political consultant Connors and the late Paul McMahon. They hosted a St. Patrick’s Day dinner in a private condo.  The popular event has grown into larger and larger venues as the years went by.  Now, Protective Stadium.

The Birmingham Irish Cultural Society is a group of men who aren’t all Irish, but who all enjoy having a good time celebrating Ireland’s most recognizable holiday.

“St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland,” Connors said. “He brought Christianity to the isle. So, this is not about girls in tank tops. Ultimately, it’s the celebration of friendship, fraternity and the patron Saint of Ireland,” which, Connors said, is something every member can appreciate regardless of their heritage.

You will see dozens of politicians and elected officials there (who will be Irish for at least this one night).  State Senators Dan Roberts, April Weaver and Jabo Waggoner. Former Birmingham Mayor William Bell. Jefferson County Commission President Jimmy Stephens. Commissioner Joe Knight. Centerville Mayor Mike Oakley. State Rep. Arnold Mooney. State Rep. Mike Shaw.  Former Secretary of State John Merrill. Former State Rep. Jack Williams. Former State Rep. Johnny Curry.  Hoover City Council member John Lyda. Shelby County Judge Patrick Kennedy. Steve McClinton, Hoover City Council member.  (We predict that those we left out will e-mail 1819 News for inclusion.)

The event is called “the most political non-political event.” 

This year’s dinner, with its March 15 date, is after the Alabama primaries, which were set on March 5. But it still precedes the runoff on April 16 and the general election on November 5.

Here’s an idea: Use all that political influence to change Alabama’s primary date during presidential cycles to AFTER the Irish Cultural Dinner, maybe after March 17. Problem solved in the future.

“We usually have a larger turnout on election years,” Connors said. “It’s one of those events that you want to stop by when you’re running for something.”

“Show the fatted calf, but not the thing that fattened him.” __Irish Proverb 

Jim Zeigler is former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor.  You can reach him for comments at