March is the national Irish-American heritage month and both celebrating and wearing o’ the green is in full swing in Savannah. So, we thought it would be a wee bit of fun to share some trivia tidbits about our city’s long and storied Irish heritage, its St. Patrick’s Day events and the Irish spirit that is alive and kicking in Savannah to this very day. So, here goes.
The arrival of the Irish goes back to Savannah’s beginnings.
Some historians say that a handful of the settlers who arrived with James Oglethorpe in 1733 on the good ship “Anne” were Irish. Others report that the first Irish arrivals came in 1734 when storms at sea and starvation onboard forced a small sailing vessel carrying Irish servants to dock in Savannah.
The first recorded birth in the colony of Georgia was on St. Patrick’s Day.
It seems that Savannah was destined to have a special connection to St. Patrick’s Day from the very start. The first English child born in Savannah – the colony’s first city – came into the world on March 17, 1733. Henry and Hannah Close had a baby girl. They gave her the same name as the colony – Georgia.
Savannah’s first St. Patrick’s Day observances date to the early 1800s.
It was March 17, 1813, when members of the Hibernian Society – which offered aid and assistance to needy Irish immigrants – took a short trek through the streets of Savannah to Independent Presbyterian Church for a private observance of the death of Saint Patrick. That same society invited all local Irishmen to join them in a public procession in 1824; it became the city’s inaugural St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Savannah’s present-day St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the world’s biggest.
As well as being a really big deal in Savannah, the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is said to be the second largest in the U.S. (right behind New York) and the third largest in the world (some call dibs on second place). With more than 350 units and up to 15,000 people, the parade is about three hours long.
To date, three U.S. presidents have attended our city’s St. Patrick’s Day events.
President Taft didn’t make the parade in 1912, but he did participate in the anniversary celebration of the Hibernian Society. In 1962, former President Truman visited the parade. President Carter reportedly participated in the parade a half dozen times, once during his term as Georgia’s governor.
Emmet Park is named for an Irish orator and hero.
In its early years the park was known as Irish Green due to its proximity to the Irish residents of the Old Fort neighborhood. It was renamed to Emmet Park in 1902 to pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of the death of Robert Emmet who was executed for leading an Irish uprising against Britain’s rule.
Acclaimed Irish-American writer Flannery O’Connor was a Savannah native.
O’Connor’s birthday falls about a week after St. Patrick’s Day; she was born in Savannah on March 25, 1925 into an Irish Catholic family. Every year on her birthday our city holds a lively parade and street fair to celebrate this award-winning Savannahian.
Savannah is home to one of the world’s top Irish pubs.
Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub has garnered several impressive accolades. ABC News cited the gathering place as one of the Top 5 Irish Pubs to Visit on St. Patrick’s Day. It has also been ranked among the top 10 Irish bars in North America and in the U.S. by IrishPubsGlobal.com and America’s Best and Top Ten website, respectively. Irish Pubs Global also named it the “Most Authentic Irish Pub” in the world for 2016.
Yes, Savannah did dye the river green… once and sort of.
Locals made one attempt at coloring the Savannah River green on St. Patrick’s Day in 1961. Twenty boats pumped dye into the water behind City Hall. But, the luck of the Irish wasn’t with them that day as the result was more green streaks than the river running green. Our city’s fountains do flow beautifully green, though, leading up to and on the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.
Image source: commonswikimedia
Have a marvelous March and a stupendous St. Paddy’s Day. As always, St. Patrick’s Day festivities are among the main events in our city during the month. Check out our March events blog “Celebrating All Things Green” to see all that’s going on. And, of course, contact the ERA Evergreen Live Love Savannah Team anytime regarding your real estate needs.