No matter what the weather brings, there’s going to be a lot of green this side of the pond on March 17th. That’s because in America, St. Patrick’s Day is an even bigger deal than it is in the land of Éire.
All across the U.S., the day is cause for high-spirited celebration; in Ireland, it is a primarily a religious holiday. And while St. Patrick (who died on March 17th in 461 and wasn’t even Irish!) is the patron saint of Ireland, it was Irish immigrants to America in the mid-19th century who kicked the festivities into high gear.
Fleeing from a deadly potato famine, predominantly Catholic emigrants from Ireland were originally discriminated against in their new country but steadily entered and influenced the workforce, local churches, business enterprises, political institutions, and more. On January 20, 1961, one child of Irish ancestors became President of the United States.
Irish immigrants are largely to credit for the many parades and activities that have made St. Patty’s Day such a merry occasion in America. It was their way of saying, “We’re proud of our heritage, and we’re here to stay.”
Chicago, where several Irish descendants reside, was recently named the best city in which to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It is home to three major parades (the South Side Irish Parade being one of the largest in the world), an 8K Shamrock Shuffle, and a river that’s been dyed bright green every March 17th since 1962. What began as a pollution detection measure has become a beloved tradition for many Chicagoans.
Chicago is also home to countless bars and restaurants that will serve up corned beef, cabbage, Gaelic music and gallons of green beer. And for those who want to escape the pub crawls and raucous revelry, cultural meccas like the Irish American Heritage Center offer live music, food, drinks, dancing and activities for the whole family.
The shamrock spirit has permeated far beyond Chicago city limits. Heck, even as far south as Champaign-Urbana, the “unofficial” celebration of St. Patrick’s Day at the University of Illinois has become a legendary occurrence (complete with an annual letter of warning to parents of students).
In Naperville, there’s a St. Patrick’s Day parade and 5K and celebrations across the city. Quigley’s Irish Pub in downtown Naperville is a prime spot for lads and lasses to throw back a pint in celebration. It is also known as “home” to the West Suburban Irish.
The spirit of St. Patrick is alive and well at Monarch Landing, too. As luck would have it, on March 16th Irish dancers from a new company run by the daughter of our spiritual wellness coordinator will entertain us.
On the day itself, March 17th, we are most fortunate to host live music from Gavin Doyle, straight from Ireland and one of the country’s best baritone voices, teamed with Carlyn Lloyd on flute and Jon Warfel on piano. This emerald gem of a concert from our Artist Series will feature pennywhistles, dulcimer and drums as well as a sing-along and stories that will take us all back to Ol’ Sod!
This St. Patty’s Day, whether or not you find a four-leaf clover or a pot of gold, raise a glass to the day that brings out the Irish in all of us.