Erin Go Bragh – Ireland forever
Corned beef and cabbage, green beer, and leprechauns can be found across Oakland County on March 17th for St. Patrick’s Day. The day wasn’t always celebrated with green beer and parades, but whether your heritage can be traced or not, everyone is a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!
Celebrations in the United States date back as early as the mid 1700’s when New York held the very first St. Patrick’s Day parade. Here are some of the facts about St. Patrick himself and the origins of celebration:
- St. Patrick was originally born in England, and was kidnapped by Irish pirates where he was sold into slavery. After his escape from bondage he became a missionary in Ireland.
- A hero in Ireland, there are 60 churches and cathedrals named “St. Patrick’s,” with the most famous being in Dublin.
- The wearing of green is associated with the green hills and shamrocks of the Emerald Isle, although traditionally the color blue was associated with St. Patrick.
- The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York, but the first observance of the day was in 1737 by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston.
- In 1996 the first St. Patrick’s Day Festival was held in Ireland as a three-day event, that has since grown to a five day festival that draws roughly 1 million visitors to the area.
In Michigan, the largest wave of Irish immigrants came in 1815 when one million Irish Catholics settled in the Detroit area. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is commemorated with parades and merrymaking to celebrate Irish heritage in Southeast Michigan and the contributions they made to the culture of America.
Think your family can be traced back to the early Irish settlers of the area? Find a record of your ancestors at the Archives of Michigan to discover more about your family history.