Lands of Exile
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Culture and Customs: Traditions, folklore, and more.
Tara Hall, Headquarters for 'Fighting 69th' and Irish Brigade Memorabilia, online at Fighting69th.com.
Irish Culture and Customs: Traditions, folklore, and more.
ACHILL ISLAND, COUNTY MAYO – The pound of the big bass drum enters my consciousness. Am I dreaming? An ass brays. A cock crows. I look at the clock. It is 6.30. Dawn has not yet broken. I am on Achill Island. The beat is that of the big drum of the Dooagh Pipe Band. It is the 17th March, and I am nudged awake by this ghostly sentinel calling the pipes and drums of the island to a day of celebration.
No pom-poms here. No floats, no insipid imitation of foreign parades, no line dancers, no commercialism. I join a stream of island residents and a few visitors making their way on quiet roads to the sound of the band. Dawn breaks to the skirl of the pipes and the beat of the drums in an open field.
Moving out, they march past knots of bystanders tumbled from their beds. They have come to view this ancient early morning tradition unique to this picturesque island. Emigrants return here from all over the world for this special day, dramatically, albeit temporarily, boosting the island's normal population of 2,700.
Outside the chapel, in turn, they play a selection of tunes before Mass. Afterward, the bands march to Dookinella, a village at the other end of the island. Mass is celebrated here again, after which junior bands join the senior ensembles in a massed-bands spectacle. Small boys look on, tap on drums bigger than themselves and gaze admiringly at the color, pageantry, and swagger of the senior pipes and drums. After the massed musical extravaganza, the bands move down the road to march from village to village all day long.
The future of this unique celebration of St. Patrick's Day is assured by the look in the eyes of the children as they wait impatiently for the day when they too can take their place among the massed saffron and green, the pomp and swagger, the wild call of the pipes. — Joe McGowan
DUBLIN – In Ireland's capital city, the weather was sunny, an aberration, according to most Dubliners. That brought out a large, enthusiastic crowd. As always, the crowd hailed from all corners of the globe. — News Reports
LIMERICK – In Limerick, residents of "The Treaty City" representing numerous nationalities were invited to march in the city's "One City, A World of People" parade. The final pair up the route at parade's end were definitely nonnatives. Africa or perhaps India would have been a reasonable guess for the birthplace of the two elephants that brought up the rear. The two were part of an American circus and proved to be the hit of the parade with the appreciative crowd. — News Reports
LONDON – After a spat of wintry weather, the sun emerged for the St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival, which has become one of the largest celebrations of the year in the capital city. London's large Irish community turned out in force to watch the parade and participate in the Festival in Trafalgar Square. For the first time, the famous fountains in the square were dyed green. Thousands crowded the square to sample Irish food being sold in booths and to listen to a musical lineup headed by the Saw Doctors. — News Reports
Entertainment included Dervish, Teada, Tempest, Molly's Revenge, Golden Bough, Black Irish Band, Michael Lucey Irish Band, and Anne Lister.
Plans are already underway for the Twentieth Anniversary of the Calaveras Celtic Faire. Festivals come and go, but the Calaveras Celtic Faire remains one of the largest Celtic festivals in the western United States. — George Trainor
The pipe major is Bill Driscoll of Concord, Calif., who also founded the band. He has taught the bagpipes for many years. He also founded the Irish Heritage Pipe Band. A late lunch at O'Reilly's Pub was the perfect end to the day. Located at 622 Green Street, it has wonderful Irish food and, of course, a great pint! (Read more about the parade at SFGate.com.) — Lisa Watson
It was a fine, sun-lit spring day, with wind gusts over 50 miles per hour. The Grand National was unfurled and made about 100 yards before a zephyr snapped the gallant staff at the first brass-extension. 1st Sergeant Rolan saved the day by producing spare colors and staff from his wagon. The parade rout overflowed with a teeming crowd, about four to seven deep. Festivities continued at the Hockman homestead with a corn beef & cabbage dinner. — Color Sergeant G.K. Elliott
WINTER PARK – On a picture-perfect day reminiscent of the blue sky and green landscape of Ireland itself, Winter Park, Florida, celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a grand parade.
The flowers in the park were complimented by an undulating sea of green shirts, hats and beads as the marchers proclaimed pride in their heritage. Inspired by the scene, children danced an Irish jig while misty-eyed seniors were lost in thoughts of days long ago.
Since everyone is Irish on March 17, a wee bit of the love and lore of the old sod entered every heart. — Dot Jervis
CHICAGO (SOUTH SIDE) – Chicago's South Side Irish Parade is actually the resurrection of the great parades of the '40s and '50's on the Irish south side that were so big Mayor Daley ordered it to the LOOP, at the request of the Chamber of Commerce.
Beginning as a parade of families, the South Side Parade continues to honor neighbors and institutions that help people. This year's parade, held on Sunday, March 13, featured Co-Grand Marshals Little Company of Mary Hospital and the Gus (Evangelides) Foundation. The Gus Foundation helps victims of childhood brain tumors and is named after the late Gus Evangelides, who succumbed to brain cancer just short of his second birthday.
More than 160 marching units marched past the reviewing stand, which featured Councilor Patrick Sheehan, Lord Mayor of Cork City, and Eddie McGrady, representing South Down in the United Kingdom Parliament. Units from the police and fire departments of Newark, Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York, and Houston marched with the South Side Irish.
The Sunday immediately before St. Patrick's Day is the traditional date for this event. Mark your calendars, and join us in '06. — Patrick Hickey
The firefighters were protesting the order by Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta that all firemen had to wear their dress blue, regulation caps. Since 1970, many firefighters had worn green berets while marching. Protesting firefighters gathered on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in green berets and civilian clothes to protest the order.
SUNNYSIDE (QUEENS) – This was the sixth annual "St. Pat's for All" parade born from the New York parade's prohibition of gay groups from marching. Founder Brendan Fay announced before the start of the parade: "Welcome to New York City's inclusive St. Patrick's Day parade. We're here to celebrate the spirit of Ireland and our Celtic heritage." (Visit the parade's website at http://www.stpatsforall.com/.) — News Reports
SEATTLE – This year's St. Patrick's Day parade in Seattle, the city's 34th, was seemingly the most contentious worldwide. Controversy developed when Cecil Calvert, the Unionist mayor of Lisburn, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, decided to lead the parade carrying a Union Jack. Calvert, who had been invited as a gesture of healing the Unionist/ Nationalist divide in Northern Ireland, insisted later that he was not attempting to make any political statement, or cause any problems, by carrying the flag.
All along the route people in the crowd jeered him, and some even hurled objects at him. Some bystanders compared his gesture to marchers carrying a Confederate flag in a parade honoring Martin Luther King. The Union Jack, they say, was the flag that symbolized the military occupation of Ireland.
John Keane, a spokesman for the parade organizers, said officials tried to dissuade him, but did not want to censor him by refusing to allow him to carry the flag. Keane later reportedly said, "I was disappointed in him, but I was also disappointed in the reaction of some people. They allowed him to provoke them." It would seem likely that the incident made similar invitations in Seattle or elsewhere less likely, which would seem unfortunate for all involved. — News Reports
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