Jim Reardon of Havertown was there because of Christmas 1976, the day he returned to his Dublin home after visiting friends to learn that it wasn’t because of a card game—“we were a great house for cards,” he says—that the house was teeming with people in the middle of the night. Reardon’s father had been found dead. Laid off after 50 years at the same job, he committed suicide.
Siobhan Towey Regan of Glenside was there was there for her cousin, a young man in his 20s, who also killed himself.
Joan Freeman of Dublin was there because of her sister, Catherine. A 54-year-old mother of four, she too died by her own hand.
The Conshohocken St. Patrick’s Day Parade may only stretch out for a mile, but it’s jam-packed with marchers, bands, dancers, and floats. The sidewalks in this small town are also jam-packed, and there seem to be more people every year. It’s become such a tradition, some families show up decked out in green with food, drink, lawn chairs and even tables!
The festivities started with a 5K race up and down Fayette Street a few times, an outing that also brought out families who were running together.
John Tobin was grand marshal.
You can see our photos of the parade and the 5K below.
The Dropkick Murphy’s front man Ken Casey doesn’t just give his name to his charity, The Claddagh Fund—he gives his all. When DKM blew into town last weekend for a sold-out concert, part of its 20th anniversary tour, at The Electric Factory, Casey and crew carried a banner in the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade promoting the band and the charity, which raises money to help underfunded nonprofits in Boston and Philadelphia.
One of the Boston-born Casey’s pet projects is any organization that serves military veterans, so he met with some from one of the Claddagh Fund’s grantees, Healing Ajax, backstage before the show, where they mingled with fans who made donations to the fund to get into the meet-and-greet.
Healing Ajax is a peer support program in which veterans help other veterans adjust from the battlefield to the homefront. Many of the vets are young men from the Iraq and Afghanistan fronts who may be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, or other mental health issues.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney recalled the first time he ever met Paul Doris. Doris, who was born in County Tyrone and came to the US in 1974, drove Kenney and then Mayor Ed Rendell to the Philadelphia airport to meet Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, who had finally gotten a visa to come to the United States. On the way in Doris’s station wagon, said Mayor Kenney at Thursday’s pre-St. Patrick’s Day Parade ceremonies at City Hall, he and Doris gave Mayor Rendell a short course in Irish politics before he met the famed Northern Irish politician. “Not being Irish, he really didn’t know much,” said Kenney.
So when Kenney hugged Doris, this year’s parade grand marshal, it was the real deal–two old friends, in different places in their lives, meeting up again and bonding over Irish things.
Kenney used the moment to draw a parallel between the antipathy towards the immigrants of today and the Irish immigrants who came to the city in droves, fleeing starvation and oppression in their native land. “As we debate this issue, let’s remember 1844 when a group called the ‘know nothings,’ or nativists” burned down two Catholic Churches and took part in a “pitched battle” with troops at another because of anti-Catholic and anti-Irish sentiment. That bigotry was “directed to us very vigorously and violently,” said the mayor, the first Irish mayor in this very Irish city in 20 years.
You can’t walk through Gloucester City, NJ, without bumping into an Irishman. It has the ninth largest Irish population in the US and has had its share of Irish Festivals, but never a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Until last week.
Photographer Bob Glennan was there and he captured all the joy and fun at Gloucester City’s first.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is hoping that the folks who’ll be wearing the green for the next couple of weeks will be willing to part with the green too—and we’re not talking soda tax here.
Through a unique partnership between the Office of the City Representative and the nonprofit Citizen Diplomacy International (CDI), the mayor is asking the Irish community—and everyone else who feels Irish on St. Patrick’s Day—to donate to a special fund for two of the region’s largest and best known nonprofits established to end hunger and homelessness. It will run through the end of March, which Kenney will be proclaiming Irish Heritage Month at city hall ceremonies on Thursday, March 9.
You’ll be hearing more about the “Wear Green, Give Green” initiative during this Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade which is being broadcast for the first time on Fox29 TV and, if you stop in to a pub for a pint along the parade route, you can read about it on your coaster, made and donated by Condrake, a Philadelphia printing firm.
For the first time in its 16-year history, the Philadelphia-based Irish American Business Chamber and Network gave its top award—the Ambassador’s Award—to a company founded in Northern Ireland. The ceremony took place on Friday, February 26, at The Union League in Philadelphia with more than 400 people in attendance
The IABCN honored Almac, a pharmaceutical and health care development company with North American headquarters in Souderton, where it employs more than 1,000 people. The company was founded by Sr. Alan McClay in Craigevon, Northern Ireland.
Also honored were IACBN founder, Bill McLaughlin and his wife, Natalie, who run McLaughlin & Morgan, a business and development firm in Philadelphia (the Taoiseach Award) and Msgr. Michael Doyle, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Camden whose work has led to many improvements in the city’s waterfront area.
Some old favorites–Albannach, Screaming Orphans, Timlin & Kane, Searson, the Brigadoons, Jamison, the Hooligans–were back, but there were some new acts at this year’s Mid-Winter Scottish & Irish Festival. We saw Gabriel Donohue with Vonnie Quinn, the Mudmen, McLean Avenue and, while Brother wasn’t there, Angus Richardson and Drew Reid were and they joined Albannach on stage to make it Albannach Plus 2.
We sampled Scottish barbecue (pork and peat!), fish and chips, McDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes, bacon chocolate (yes, you read that right–it was good), Guinness (thanks Sean Crossan!) and, for the umpteenth year in a row, did not have haggis. (We tasted some in Bethlehem at Celtic Fest–we don’t like liver.)