Utica St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Written on February 7, 2016
The Great American Irish Festival again this year proudly sponsors the 2017 Utica St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Great American Irish Festival, Inc., was established to be the primary fundraising arm for the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley. The festival organization has as its underlying purpose the furtherance of an appreciation and understanding of Irish/Celtic music, culture and history. While the GAIF itself has been an unqualified success, it is only a means to an end. The ultimate goal of the corporation, given the rich Irish heritage in Central New York, is to establish and maintain a state of the art cultural center that will be regional in scope, exploring the history and importance of the Irish in Central New York. This facility will provide a place where the Irish culture can continue to thrive and serve as a permanent meeting site for the local chapters of various Celtic/Irish based organizations, including:the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, the Ladies of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and the Utica St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee (which was recently assumed by GAIF, Inc.). It is also hoped that the Center will eventually provide a base for anyone in the community interested in furthering their understanding of Irish culture, history, dance, language, etc. through study and research, including such interests as genealogy. The corporation’s purpose is solely for charitable and educational purposes.
Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. St Patrick is credited with bringing christianity to Ireland. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works; the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish christians.
According to different versions of his life story it is said that he was born in Britain, around 385AD. His parents Calpurnius and Conchessa were Roman citizens living in either Scotland or Wales. As a boy of 14 he was captured and taken to Ireland where he spent six years in slavery herding sheep. He returned to Ireland in his 30s as a missionary among the Celtic pagans.
Saint Patrick described himself as a “most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God.”
Many folk ask the question ‘Why is the Shamrock the National Flower of Ireland ?’ The reason is that St. Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans. Saint Patrick is believed to have been born in the late fourth century, and is often confused with Palladius, a bishop who was sent by Pope Celestine in 431 to be the first bishop to the Irish believers in Christ.
In the custom known as “drowning the shamrock”, the shamrock that has been worn on a lapel or hat is put in the last drink of the evening.
Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been – the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice. While not the first to bring christianity to Ireland, it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. The story holds that he converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the “Holy Wells” that still bear this name.
There are several accounts of Saint Patrick’s death. One says that Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 460 A.D. His jawbone was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits, and as a preservative against the “evil eye.” Another account says that St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury, England and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. Today, many Catholic places of worship all around the world are named after St. Patrick, including cathedrals in New York and Dublin city
A toast for St Patrick’s Day, “May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out.”