On March 17,
2012 we will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with our 16th Annual St. Patrick's
Day Parade. In 1996 a group of men from the Ancient Order of Hibernians,
a group originally founded in Ireland in the early 1500's, marched down
King Street; thus resurrecting Charleston's annual St. Patrick's Day
There is evidence of St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the city going
back to the mid-eighteenth century when groups like the Friendly Sons
of St. Patrick met to celebrate the day. The Hibernian Society, founded
in 1799, and reconstituted in 1801, used March 17 for its banquet. Parades
began in the nineteenth century and were usually led by the various
Irish militia units. Noted Irish Charlestonian historian Donald Williams
has found the earliest parade taking place on Broad Street in 1823 when
the Irish Volunteers paraded after a speech by Bishop John England.
By the end of that century the processions had grown substantially in
size and length. Usually starting at the Irish Volunteer Hall on Vanderhorst
Street they proceeded down King to Broad and over to Meeting and back
to Calhoun Square dropping off the various groups at their respective
halls along the way. These larger parades continued into the twentieth
century but stopped in the mid -1920's when many of the city's Irish
organizations folded. By the 1930's all that remained was the Hibernian
Banquet, joined in the 1940's by a Knights of Columbus dance. In the
late 1950's the Knight of Columbus began celebrating Mass in St. Patrick's
Church and then in the early 60's walked over to their hail on Calhoun
Street for a luncheon afterward. The luncheon soon replaced the dance
as the major focus of the daytime activities. In the 1970's the Hibernian
Society began their short parade along Broad Street to the Hibernian
Hall. The major parade was revived in 1997.
Now let us learn a little history of St. Patrick and his contribution
to our Christian heritage. In the 5th century as a young boy of sixteen,
Patrick was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He was held captive for
six years in Ireland. During his captivity he learned the Celtic language
which upon his release enabled him to share Christianity to the Irish
as he traveled for over two decades throughout Ireland. It is said that
St. Patrick used the Shamrock to help explain the meaning of the Holy
Trinity to the Irish. The Shamrock with its trifold leaf symbolized
the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Today, we honor St. Patrick, the Patron
Saint of Ireland.
Celebrations in 1856 here in Charleston were as follows:
"St. Patrick's Day"
"The day was appropriately celebrated by the various Irish military
companies and societies of the city.
The Irish Volunteers celebrated their anniversary with usual ceremonies.
They assembled at their rendezvous at 9 o"clock AM, and marched
thence to St. Patrick's Church, where an appropriate and impressive
address was delivered by P.N. Lynch, D. A. After the services at the
Church they proceeded in company with the Emmet Volunteers, to Magnolia,
where they spent some time in target exercise. Each was performed with
the usual skill and spirit. The company then returned to the City and
In the evening they reassembled at Military Hall where (they had) and
sumptuous repast. After the company had done ample justice to the tempting
viands that had been placed before them, Captain Magrath, the chairman
of the evening announced the following regular toasts:
1. The Day We Celebrate
2. The President of the United States
3. South Carolina
5. The Press
7. Our Guests
The festivities of the evening were further interspersed with songs,
sentiments, and speeches, and at a late hour the Company and their guests
dispersed well pleased with the incidents and exercises of the joyous
Charleston Mercury, March 18,1856
As some may say for certain Irish eyes were smiling when they arrived
at the foot of Charlotte Street in the 1800's. It is well known to the
Irish community the many contributions made by the early Irish immigrants.
From the meads to the waterfront to the public servants of Charleston,
the Irish helped make Charleston one of the most treasured historic
cities in our beloved Country.
Today we honor, celebrate and share our Irish Heritage.
Cead Mile Fate
(a Hundred Thousand Welcomes)
Erin Go Bragh (Ireland Forever)
A special thanks