March Memories

March 17 is a special day on our calendar because it marks the return to God of our beloved patron saint in the year 461 AD.  It was in that year that a humble missionary, destined to become the most prominent of all our Saints, passed to his eternal reward.  Today he is revered around the world as Saint Patrick, patron Saint of Ireland, the Archdiocese of New York, the nation of Guiana, and hundreds of towns and parishes across the globe.  It is a source of pride to see international landmarks bathed in green light such as Niagara Falls the Pyramids, the Leaning Tower of Pizza, the Empire State Buildings and other world famous historic icons in recognition of the Irish.  There are many other events which occurred on this day throughout history which should make it memorable; for example on March 17:

in 1963, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was beatified

in 1900, the Montreal Shamrocks won the Stanley Cup

in 1899, An Claideamh Soluis (The Sword of Light), the official newspaper of the Gaelic League first appeared;

in 1897, Bob Fitzsimmons beat Gentleman Jim Corbett for the Heavyweight championship

in 1889, Harry Clarke, the most celebrated stained glass artist of the age, was born in Dublin;

in 1877, Irish patriot and 1916 martyr Micheal O’Hanrahan was born

in 1871, the first professional baseball league – the National Association of Professional Baseball Players – was founded at Collin’s Saloon on Broadway and 13th St in New York;

in 1858, in a Dublin back room, James Stevens and Thomas Luby founded the Irish Republican Brotherhood, which led the growth of Fenianism in America;

in 1852, novelist Rev Patrick Augustus Sheehan was born in Mallow, Co Cork;

in 1804, Jim Bridger, American scout, fur trader, and mountain man, was born;

in 1776, the British evacuated Boston leaving the city to the American patriot army. General George Washington made the password of the day “Saint Patrick”;

in 1766, a Saint Patrick’s Day Dinner in New York invited local Irish regiments to attend and they marched in military manner to the banquet with fifes and drums and all, and a parading tradition was born.  Twenty toasts were offered that evening, the nineteenth of which declared “may the enemies of Ireland be tormented with itching, without the benefit of scratching“;

in 1762, before the United States was even established, the first St Patrick’s Day celebration was held in New York City at a dinner hosted by John Marshall near St Peter’s Church in New York City;

in 1737, the first St Patrick’s celebration in America was a dinner sponsored by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston;

in 1014, High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, marched from Kincora, his stronghold at Killaloe, Co Clare, bound for Clontarf, and the battle that would break Viking power in Ireland;

Despite the many memorable events that have taken place on this special day, the entire world pays attention to only one.  With the possible exception of Christmas and New Year’s there is no other feast so universally celebrated.  Regardless of the demeaning antics of some amadons, the recognition afforded our heritage in March is enough to make us walk a bit taller on that day and to respect our patron saint even more.  It is up to us to polish, not tarnish, that image.  Beannacht na feile Padraic duit.