Column: How an Irish American celebrates St. Patrick’s Day


Photo by Haley Flavin

Haley Flavin, Staff Writer

March brings exciting things: the end of the bitter cold, the beginning of spring, and for the Irish, St. Patrick’s day. For some Irish Americans, the month is filled with Irish music, celebrations with family and friends at pubs, and everyone decked out in green, Irish-inspired clothing.

That is how it always has been for me.

As a child, I always knew that St. Patrick’s Day was a very important holiday to my family. I was raised in a Roman Catholic household as the daughter of two very Irish parents, one of whom attended the University of Notre Dame, home of the Fighting Irish. 

I at first struggled to understand the significance of my heritage and its importance to my family, but in recent years, I have come to appreciate my background and how my family came to be what it is today. My great-grandfather snuck onto a ship from Ireland to get into the United States so that he could start our family in America. I will forever be thankful for the bravery of my ancestors for taking those steps to help his immediate family and generations to come.

What started as a feast day of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, has become the March 17 holiday celebrated all over America. He is remembered in the Catholic church and in Irish culture for his explanation of the Holy Trinity in comparison to the Irish clover, better known as the shamrock.

When the potato famine hit Ireland in 1845,  many citizens fled to the United States to escape. Like many immigrants, they faced discrimination and hardship, but continued to persevere for the good of their families. The St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations were a way for them to show the strength of the Irish immigrants and how they overcame their discrimination.

This year, my family went to Gaelic Park, located on the South Side of Chicago, to celebrate the holiday. The venue was filled with fun music, good food, and the company of many passionate Irish. A popular Irish band among my family, The Larkin and Moran Brothers, performed. The rhythm guitarist Dan Larkin discussed his favorite part of attending Gaelic Park.

“The best part has to be seeing all of the Irish families come here,” Larkin said. “It is good to see now, especially that people are bringing their children and loved ones to gather for this celebration. I would keep doing this forever if I could.”

This year I, along with many other Irish Americans, am looking forward to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I hope that people of non-Irish descent will also try to learn more about the holiday that means so much to me and my family.