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Cape Cod in summer: As green as the saltmarsh

By Anonymous, June 27, 2013

Sláinte! To your good health on Cape Cod, and there is plenty to chose from here, from the Gaelic to the seashore. Cape Cod is closer to Dublin than to Boston, so it should be no surprise that there’s an eclectic range of Irish pubs, restaurants, culture, and accommodations on this fragile spit of sand. The sons of Erin are in bloom from Bourne to Provincetown.
For Irish music and fare, among the best are Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub and restaurant in Falmouth; Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Hyannis; O’Shea’s Olde Inne in West Dennis; The Pub at the Cape Cod Claddagh Inn in West Harwich; and the legendary Cape Cod’s Irish Pub in West Harwich.

At Liam’s, 273 Main Street, Falmouth, (508-548-0285;, one can find live entertainment and a menu of freshly prepared Irish favorites and creative contemporary cuisine, a large draft beer selection and an extensive wine list. Live entertainment features the likes of Danny Quinn and Liam himself. Raised in Castle Derg, County Tyrone, Maguire has traveled throughout Europe, Canada, and the US as a professional entertainer. His rich baritone voice captivates and draws a crowd into a song.
Also try Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub, 334 Main Street, Hyannis, (508-862-9430; Other locations are in Harvard Square and Kendall Square. All offer a full menu of comfort food, Irish specialties, seafood, Angus burgers, and some of the best Irish music this side of Cape Cod Canal. Doyle ought to know; he’s from the old sod.
Further up Cape, you’ll come across O’Shea’s Old Inne, 348 Main Street, West Dennis, (508-398-8887; with down-home Irish entertainment and food from fish ‘n chips, to shepherd’s pie and Irish Stew, washed down with great draft beers and fine wines. Proprietor Joseph O’Shea has attracted an impressive lineup of Irish talent: Dave Hickey, Cats &Dogs, Sean Brennan, Beth Terrio, Patsy Whelan, Terry Brennan, and others. “We always enjoy a bit of the blarney,” says O’Shea. “Celtic musicians are welcome to join the session. Bring your fiddles, guitars, boxes, whistles and dancing feet for a mighty time at O’Shea’s Sunday Session!”
The Pub at the Cape Cod Claddagh Inn, 77 Main Street, West Harwich, (508-432-6333; is also worth a stop. It’s part of the Claddagh Inn, which combines a homey bed ‘n breakfast ambiance with an intimate Irish pub atmosphere. The home-cooked food is excellent here.
Just about everyone in these parts has heard of Cape Cod’s Irish Pub, 126 Main Street, West Harwich, (508-432-8808; The pub, overlooking Herring River and the bucolic Herring Marsh, offers live music, dancing, food and an extensive line of beers and wines to wet the whistle. Live music features Brendan O’Reilly, Mark Hennessey, Joshua Tree, the Slackers, Casterbridge Union, 57 Heavy and others.
And for premier Irish excellence, stay at the Cape Cod Irish Village on Route 28 in South Yarmouth, (508-771-0100; Established in 1976 by Noel Henry and family, the Village offers comfortable guest rooms, a restaurant, along with the Irish Pub, featuring traditional Irish entertainment.
To cool off during the day, take a trip to the Cape Cod National Seashore on the Outer Cape, a place where naturalist Henry David Thoreau said “a man can stand and put all of America behind him.” From Eastham to Provincetown, the Cape Cod National Seashore, established by President John F. Kennedy, offers some of the nation’s finest shoreline, from flat sandy beaches to sand dunes that reach for the sky. In all, there are 40 miles of beaches, marshes, ponds and uplands that support an impressive array of species, not to mention the fine hiking and biking trails.
We suggest you take in:
Coast Guard and Nauset Light Beaches in Eastham; Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, and Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro.
For hiking, try the Fort Hill Trail in Eastham, the Great Island Trail and Atlantic White Cedar Swamp in Wellfleet, and the Beach Forest Trail in Provincetown.
For biking on the Outer Cape, ride the Cape Cod Rail Trail from Brewster to Wellfleet.
While in Provincetown, visit the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. It is a hoax of history that the Pilgrims first landed on Plymouth Rock. The Pilgrims’ initial landfall was Provincetown. They spent five weeks there exploring Provincetown, present-day Truro, Wellfleet, and Eastham. The Mayflower was anchored in Provincetown Harbor, where the Mayflower Compact was signed, the first written constitution in the New World. So much for the Plymouth myth.
On the bayside, visit historic Wellfleet, Orleans, Brewster, and Barnstable Village. You’ll find plenty of Irish wash-a-shores in these parts; most of them friends of mine. In the Wellfleet Harbor and town center area, the Pearl, Sol, Mac’s Shack, Winslow Tavern and the Wicked Oyster are all great places to eat; on the ocean side, try the Beachcomber on a bluff above the ocean. In Orleans, stop at Johnny Murphy’s Land Ho in Orleans for lunch, dinner, or a cold one. Murphy’s cherubic face smacks of Ireland. Also try Joe’s Beach Road Bar & Grill on the road to Nauset Beach in East Orleans, and visit Mahoney’s in the town center. In Brewster, you can’t go wrong at the Brewster Fish House, or on the rooftop Ocean Terrace overlooking Cape Cod Bay at Ocean Edge, owned by the distinguished Corcoran family of Milton and Boston. In Barnstable Village, cozy up at the Barnstable Tavern, or drive to nearby Hyannis for an assortment of restaurants and shops on Main Street. In Hyannis there are regular ferry and plane services to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
Up Cape in Sandwich and Falmouth you’ll find an assortment of museums, trails, shops, and restaurants. In Sandwich along Route 6A, seek out the Heritage Museum and Gardens, the Dexter Grist Mill, and the Sandwich Glass Museum. The Daniel Webster Inn in the heart of Sandwich is a great place to stay, dine, or enjoy a beer or wine, or walk across the street to the Belfry Bistro, once a historic church, renovated now for fine Cape cuisine. Since the Irish are filled with guilt, the confessionals are closed, but the place has a helluva kitchen! The Bee-Hive Tavern up Route 6 in East Sandwich is also a great eating spot.
Falmouth and neighboring Mashpee are places to themselves, a mix of shops, restaurants, great beaches, and hiking trails, all isolated from the rest of the Cape. Spend the day here, or better yet stay through the night. You can catch a ferry to the Vineyard in Woods Hole just outside Falmouth Center. If you like to bike, try the Shining Sea Bikeway; it follows the original route of the old New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad that used to run from Buzzards Bay, through North and West Falmouth, around Woods Hole, and into Falmouth Station.
All in all, Cape Cod with its people, vast shoreline, saltmarshes, and pubs reminds one of Ireland. While there are no leprechauns here, you’ll feel lucky you came.
Greg O’Brien is a regular contributor to the Boston Irish Reporter and the author/editor of several books about Cape Cod and the Islands.