Irish History

JLD3IzneSxabrGLhnJmHpg_thumb_b31c   Irish History – Col. Bob Bateman


From Liam Murphy Co-Historian Westchester County

— The New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade — 
Monday Morning, 16th March, 11 AM to 12noon
Conversations with Claudia 
Interview with AOH & Parade Historian John Ridge
— WVOX 1460 AM — —
The first New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was held in 1762, fourteen years before the Independence of the United States.  In 2011 Ancient Order of Hibernians and Parade Historian John Ridge finished a landmark history: 

 Celebrating 250 Years of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

John Ridge will be interviewed, live, on the history of the New York Saint Patricks Day Parade, by Claudia McDonnell of Catholic New York, on her WVOX 1620 AM radio show, Conversations with Claudia, at 11 AM, on March 16th, 2020, the Monday morning before Saint Patrick’s Day Claudia has, insightfully, covered the Parade for many years as a journalist, revealing things new, different and interesting, every time.
This is a book which can be begin to be judged by its cover, truly celebrating 250 years of the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.  It gets better as you read.  John Ridge, had earlier written a carefully researched and documented short (180 pages plus 24 pages of illustrations) history, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York (1988), which made him the logical candidate to write the history of the first quarter-millennium of the Parade.  John actually spent a couple of years in additional research (nothing John publishes is hearsay; it must be documented or it doesn’t make the final cut) aimed at producing a true historian’s magnum opus on the Parade.  (See attached)
Just in case you don’t happen to be in the listening area for WVOX 1460 AM, broadcast from the top of a hill in New Rochelle (overlooking Long Island Sound), you can easily listen on-line, via the following link: .

Celebrating 250 Years of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade


By John T. Ridge & edited by Lynn Mosher Bushnell

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, Inc. &

The Quinnipiac University Press, 2011

This is a book which can be begin to be judged by its cover, truly celebrating 250

years of the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. It gets better as you read.

The author, Hibernian historian John Ridge, had earlier written a carefully

researched and documented short (180 pages plus 24 pages of illustrations)

history, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York (1988), which made him the

logical candidate to write the history of the first quarter-millennium of the Parade.

John actually spent a couple of years in additional research (nothing John

publishes is hearsay; it must be documented or it doesn’t make the final cut) aimed

at producing a true historian’s magnum opus on the Parade. After all of that

research, and writing, the publishers told John that they felt that a profusely

illustrated coffee-table type book would be better received. At the formal book

launching, earlier this year, John told me that it was as much effort to rework the

text into the new format, as it had been to do the original work. Reading the book

is proof positive that he has given us the distilled essence of the original work,

without losing the essentials in the transformation – truly a masterful, an

entertaining and an informative accomplishment.

Just as the impact of the Parade is more than music and the reading of the

banners of the marching units, and even more that the brilliant commentary

and descriptions by Tommy Smyth on NBC-TV, so too does the book have a

major visual impact. The editor, Lynn Bushnell, has artfully chosen literally

hundreds of authentic images to illustrate the story of this celebration. There are

illustrations from before photography through photos from the 2010 Parade. It is a

visual treat as well as being a most engaging and interesting text.

Although the festivities seem straightforward enough, it is really a súgán of

religious, civic and ethnic strands, which come together into a celebration

that seems universal, at least in the Western World. Patrick, bloodlessly, brought

the message of Salvation through the Christian Faith to the people of the land

where he had previously been held in involuntary servitude for some seven years

(which goes a long way to explaining the anti-slavery social gospel of Patrick, in

addition to his preaching the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

Waterford historian James Doherty has explained how Irish Franciscan Friar Luke

Wadding, OFM, convinced the Holy Father in Rome (1632) that Saint Patrick’s

Day, March 17th, become a Feast Day of the Church Universal. For the rest of

the story, we must look to the New World, specifically to the island of Manhattan.

In The Island at the Center of the World, Russell Shorto argues for the huge

debt Americans owe to the culture of Dutch Nieuw-Amsterdam, the first place in

the New World where men and women of different races and creeds (including

Irish-speaking Catholics) lived in relative harmony, and successfully petitioned

for greater autonomy, “one of the earliest expressions of modern political

impulses: an insistence by the members of the community that they play a role in

their own government.” The contrast with English-occupied Ireland was

unmistakable, as was the contrast with the English Puritan Massachusetts Bay

Colony. A later contrast would also be noted in 1776.

When, in 1664, James, Duke of York and of Albany, arrived to take possession of

this thriving commercial colony, Nieuw-Amsterdam became New York.

Significantly, Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant, on behalf of the City Council,

insisted upon the preservation of the Dutch Liberties. James, who was already a

believer in toleration, readily agreed. James later succeeded his brother Charles II,

as James II & VII. The operative point here is that, over the years, there have

probably been more immigrants enter this country through New York, than

through any other port, and that one of the first things they experience about being

American has been, is, and continues to be – toleration. The value of this lesson is

not just for those who settle here, but also for those who continue to settle in the

rest of the continent – the American way.

One thing which the Irish discovered in America, was a relative freedom to be

Irish, something denied in Ireland, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on

government policies in London – which, at times, included both cultural and

physical genocide (e.g., the “Penal Laws,” and before that, the “Statutes of

Kilkenny” and, most excessively, Cromwell’s dictum to send the native Irish

“to Hell or to Connaught,” as described so well by historian Peter Berresford

Ellis, and by historical novelist Walter Macken.

The celebration on the streets of New York is really an American celebration. It is

an Irish-American celebration – with continuity from 1762 – because the Irish in

New York were the first significant self-conscious minority ethnic group in town.

The celebration is at the same time religious (Holy Patrick, Patron Saint of

the Irish), civic (a patriotic American demonstration that immigrant and

native alike enjoy the freedom of the streets of the city) and ethnic (offering

our Irish culture for the enrichment of American life). Each of these elements,

in and of itself, is worth celebrating; together the effect is synergistic – that is that

the whole celebration is actually greater than the sum of its parts.

The Parade showcases “Irish” organizations and their “Irish” contribution to the

mosaic of American life. It is not intended to be the vehicle for special interests,

whether for the saving of Saint Bridget’s Church, for opposition to abortion,

“legal” or otherwise, or for the legitimization of a homosexual life-style. This is

dealt with properly on page 64. The only “political” banner allowed (since 1948)


It is not that my interpretation of this “High Holy Day” as it is known among

many of New York’s Irish, is the only one that can be honestly held. There are

alternative interpretations. On ABC-TV’s Good Morning America, for Saint

Patrick’s Day, 1977, the late Johnny Concannon (then public relations officer of

the Parade Committee) arranged for me to “debate” Malachy McCourt on the

nature of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Now the problem with debating

Malachy is that, even when you disagree with him, everything he says tends to be

so entertainingly well-spoken that you hate to interrupt him. But, when I sought to

make the point that Irish Christian Brother Charles B. Quinn of Iona College (later

1982 Grand Marshall) had made in class concerning the good fit between Irish

culture and tradition, and Roman Catholicism, which has come to express itself in

the idiom of Irish speech — n both languages, Malachy thundered, “Irish

Catholicisim! I’ll tell you what Irish Catholicism really is – Irish Catholicism is

a thin veneer of Christianity hammered over the hard oak of Irish paganism!

That’s what Irish Catholicism is.”

Malachy and I did agree, however, in our closing comment, on the necessity

that Ireland should be free of all foreign domination, and that the parade

might help with the message. [This opportunity would never be greater than

in the 2016 — 1916 Centennial – New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.]

The Parade has always had a military escort for “the Irish societies parading on

Saint Patrick’s Day.” Since 1851 that escort has come from the 69th Regiment of

New York, whose lineage goes back to the acceptance into the New York State

Militia of the First Irish Regiment of the “Irish Brigade of Young Ireland” on the

21st of December 1849. The purpose of having Irish regiments in the New York

State Militia was not only the security of the State of New York, but also to train a

military cadré to assist in the future liberation of Ireland. John Ridge has written

most poignantly about the Regiment’s participation in the 1944 Parade, where an

escort from the 69th New York State Guard (mostly World War I veterans, too old

for active service in the Second World War), preceded some 300 members of the

“Old 69th”, mostly wounded men returned from combat in the Central Pacific.

There are a number of illustrations of the 69th in the book, and one of the most

striking photos is on page 88, where a three-star private soldier of the 58th

Infantry Battalion of the Irish Army Reserve Defence Force (known to many who

remember 20th century Ireland, as the FCA – An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúl) is standing

to attention as he “watches U.S. Army soldiers pass.” The only problem is that

there were no U.S. Army soldiers in the 2010 Parade; the passing bye troops were

of the 1st Battalion / 69th Infantry of the New York (Army) National Guard –

the “Fighting 69th.” An honest mistake, to be sure, but one which could have

been easily avoided had the captions been reviewed by another set of eyes, this

time with military experience. The dramatic effect of the photo would be

enhanced by a quantum leap were it identified as an Irish Irish Battalion

saluting an American “Irish” Battalion. There are a few other inaccurate or

inadequate captions (e.g., on page 114, the “Young Colonials” being identified

merely as “Fife and Drum Corps”).

The only real sins, as far as the photos are concerned, are sins of omission.

Although Michael Flannery, who was out in Tipperary in 1916, and was, in 1983,

one of the most controversial Grand Marshalls ever, appears properly in the text

on page 28, his image is nowhere to be seen. Wild Bill Donovan, Alexander

Anderson, Geoff Slack and Joe Healey – all of the 69th- at least for their historical

value, with their photos, should be in the book, especially General Healey, in

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, investing John Cardinal O’Connor, Patrick’s Day,

as an Honorary Member of the Regiment. The Irish Brigade Civil War reenactors,

many of whom portrayed the “Irish” 69th Pennsylvania (organized by

69th New York cadré) in the movie “Gettysburg,” who precede the image of

General Thomas Francis Meagher (as Port Láirge), Commander of the New York

Irish Brigade, on the County Waterford banner, and who appeared so

impressively, in color, on WPIX-TV, only appear in a tiny B&W photo, page 60.

That said, there is a wonderful write-up on the late Frankie Beirne, past

Chairman of the Parade Committee (page 62), with a terrific photo on the facing

page. There is also an excellent photo of Hon. Albert Reynolds on page 29. On

page 84, the photographer has captured Msgr. Robert Ritchie, the Rector of Saint

Patrick’s Cathedral, and on the facing page, the interior of the Cathedral during the

Mass for the deceased members of the 69th Regiment. My own favorite photos,

however, are in black-and-white: a 1909 photo of the Kerrymen’s Patriotic and

Benevolent Association, on page 21, with their banner on parade; and, on page 78,

from 1965, “Marchers from Cardinal Dougherty High School, Philadelphia, PA.”

Celebrating 250 Years of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is

definitely a “keeper” to be treasured, and not only by historians, sociologists and

anthropologists, at least for the next 250 years of the New York Saint Patrick’s

Day Parade. ###

Is mise, i Cairdis, Aontacht agus ar Críostaí Carthanachta,

† Liam

Liam Ó Murchadha, Staraí

Bord Contae Westchester

Ord Ársa na nÉireannach i Merica (AOH)

Athchuairt ar 28 Deireadh Fómhair 2015

The Man Behind the Green Mile

Saint Patrick’s Day is on virtually every calendar printed in America, in Ireland, and in many other parts of the world. Yet although Patrick died in 461 A.D., it was not until  1632 that the Feast of Saint Patrick < Lá Feile Phádraig > March 17th was added to the calendar of the Universal Church. The man responsible for this, and, derivatively, for Saint Patrick’s Day Parades and Celebrations – including the green line on the Queen of Avenues, was an Irish Franciscan priest from Port Láirge – then in the Eternal City, Luke Wadding, OFM.

The man behind the long green lines…

By James Doherty, Port Láirge, IRELAND /

    From his perch as rector of the Irish College of St. Isidore in Rome, Waterford-born (October 16, 1588) Franciscan Friar Luke Wadding welcomed a steady stream of refugees from the land of his birth — men forced to leave Ireland to pursue their vocations. He came to understand then, perhaps better than any man, that the fate of the beleaguered land of his birth was tied to the fate of the Church in Ireland.

    Fortunately, Wadding, despite a humble mien, was shrewd, committed and in a unique position to bolster both church and country, though today his role as a relentless advocate for Ireland is little known. Perhaps his most astounding legacy is, quite simply, the hundreds of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations worldwide. By his unstinting, largely unsung, support for his people, he vastly extended the fame of the Irish for centuries to come….

Arms and an envoy for Ireland

Two passions drove Wadding: his Franciscan order (Order of Friars Minor – OFM), and the advancement of the Catholic cause in Ireland. In 1625, Wadding established the Irish College of St. Isidore in Rome. Dozens of St. Isidore’s trained Franciscans were martyred after they returned to Ireland. Under Wadding’s leadership, St. Isidore’s served as an unofficial embassy and refuge in Rome for Irish Catholics.

Wadding’s support for the Irish cause was not limited to matters of faith. When revolt

broke out in Ireland in the 1640s, Wadding encouraged Owen Roe O’Neill, a nephew of “The Great O’Neill,” Hugh, to return to Ireland to support the rising. Wadding also gained the assignment of Giovanni Battista Rinuccini as papal nuncio to the Irish Confederate government, thus achieving diplomatic recognition for an independent Ireland (along with arms, 20,000 pounds of gunpowder and 200,000 silver dollars).

After the Irish forces under O’Neill were victorious at Benburb, County Tyrone, on the 5th of June 1646, Wadding performed a Te Deum (a liturgical ceremony of celebration) and hung the captured English standards in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Wadding’s most enduring achievement was the addition of St. Patrick’s Day to the official Christian calendar. Prior to Wadding’s intercession, St. Patrick’s Day was not recognized by the Vatican as a feast day. Despite this, while rector of St. Isidore, Wadding encouraged his students to remember St. Patrick every March 17th, the date of Patrick’s death, but the commemoration was not widespread, even in Ireland.

When Pope Sixtus V published the first comprehensive list of saints in 1588, it included Patrick. … Another focus for Vatican reform efforts was the breviary, which comprised the daily prayers to be recited by members of the Church’s religious orders.

A saint becomes an occasion

Due to the increasing number of saints and the masses accorded to them, the correct recital of the necessary daily prayers became an ever-more complicated task. In 1629, Pope Urban VIII appointed Wadding to a commission to reform the unwieldy breviary. During this process, Patrick Comerford, bishop of Waterford, wrote to Wadding, stressing the importance of including St. Patrick in any new list of feast days accorded to saints. Comerford wrote, “for your life … endeavour that at least a semi double (a type of feast day) be accorded to St. Patrick.”

As part of his work on the breviary, Wadding campaigned successfully to insert March 17th into the official Christian calendar as a feast day. This gave the Irish Catholics an officially recognized patron and figurehead, which would act as a rallying point through the ages. This recognition was, in fact, the major impetus in the creation of St. Patrick’s Day as we know it. When the commission concluded its work in 1632, John Roche, another Irish bishop, wrote to Wadding to thank him for including St. Patrick, stating, “God reward you for including his feast in the Roman calendar.” The inclusion of St. Patrick in the breviary was a major coup for the Irish church.

For the Irish and, in particular, the Irish abroad, St. Patrick became as much a symbol of Ireland as the harp or the shamrock, and there were numerous instances of the name of St. Patrick applied to the names of Irish units serving in foreign armies. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York … in 1762, and today it is the longest and oldest in the world (fourteen years older than the Independence of United States). Since 1851, it has been led by the 69th Regiment of New York, on their Unit Day, March 17th.

After a month-long illness, Wadding died 18th November 1657, in his 70th year. He lies buried in Rome, in his beloved Church of St. Isidore. A mural of St. Patrick watches over the humble tomb of friar Wadding. To this day, Wadding is remembered with reverence in both the college and by members of his Franciscan order).

In 1903, Wadding’s hometown became the first city to declare St. Patrick’s Day a public holiday. Wadding is remembered in Waterford with a statue and a street that bears his name. He is also the namesake for the library at the Waterford Institute of Technology.

Meanwhile, the faithful in those long green lines parading through cities and hamlets, large and small, far and wide, can be forgiven if they believe they get their marching orders from St. Patrick. The modest Port Láirge friar, Luke Wadding, OFM, would prefer it that way. WGT

Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of the Archdiocese of New York. The new Saint

Patrick’s Cathedral was begun by New York’s first Archbishop, County Tyrone-born

“Dagger John” Hughes, in 1858. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the seat of the tenth

Archbishop of New York, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

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