Happy St. Patrick's Day

With this Gaelic toast to your health (pronounced "sLAWN-cha"),
we welcome you to WashingtonPost.com's online celebration of St. Patrick's Day.

shamrock Study the history of St. Patrick's Day.
shamrock Rent movies about Ireland.
shamrock Discover local parades and pubs.
Beer graphic
shamrock Learn about Saint Patrick.
shamrock Read about Ireland's literary greats.
shamrock Explore Irish music.
shamrock Find out about beer.

St. Patrick's Day History

Derby St. Patrick's Day as we know it is more of an American holiday than an Irish one. In the 18th century, Irish immigrants to the United States celebrated their common heritage on the holiday dedicated to Ireland's patron saint. Parades marking the occasion can be traced back to 1737 in Boston and 1762 in New York, although these were much simpler than they are today.

Back then, St. Patrick's Day was not celebrated by most Americans. The holiday — and the Irish immigrants — were scorned by their neighbors.

In the 1800s, brutal Penal Laws enacted by English rulers, coupled with the epic Potato Famine in Ireland, forced thousands of Irish emigrants to seek refuge in the United States. Between 1820 and 1920, 4.5 million Irish citizens emigrated to America. Most arrived with little but the clothes on their backs.

In response to the massive influx of Irish immigrants, the Ku Klux Klan and the Know-Nothings, a national political party popular at the time, began to promote anger toward the Irish. Many job advertisements ended with the line, "No Irish Need Apply."

Pot of goldTime changed the public sentiment. After helping build New York's Erie Canal, Irish-Americans became fixtures in education and politics. The election of Irish-American John F. Kennedy to the White House in 1960 was an important step in the assimilation of the Irish community. Today, Kennedy is only one of many prominent Americans with the look of the Irish.

Since it was first celebrated here more than 200 years ago, St. Patrick's Day has grown in strength and popularity as a national cultural holiday. Many believe the celebration — often marked by intoxication — goes overboard.

Since the 1700s, St. Patrick's Day has been a celebration of community and camaraderie. So whether you're drinking Guinness or grape juice, get together with friends and have fun.

Irish Movies

Keeping your celebration of St. Patrick's Day quiet this year? Head to the video store!

Celebrations and Pubs

Washington's annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade was at noon Sunday, March 16. Bands, floats and drill teams were featured along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets, NW.


And for the other celebrations -- at the pubs:

shamrock Going to be in D.C.? The choices include: Ireland's Four Provinces, Nanny O'Brien's Irish Pub, Kelly's Irish Times and the Dubliner Restaurant and Pub.

shamrock If you're near Bethesda, check out Flanagan's Irish Pub.

shamrock Residents of Alexandria can enjoy themselves at Murphy's Grand Irish Pub and Ireland's Own.

shamrock You can find out more about pubs all over the United States in Irish Pubs Online.

About St. Patrick

Ireland's patron saint was born at the turn of the 5th century to an Irish family living in Britain. His father was a minor Roman official.

St. Patrick was captured by Irish raiders at the age of 16 and spent six years in Ireland in slavery, working as a shepherd. He eventually escaped to France where he trained as a cleric. He returned to Ireland about 432 and spent 30 years preaching and founding churches.

Trying to spread the Christian word through Ireland, he won converts by combining Christian customs with well-known pagan ones. He used the shamrock to illustrate the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity (God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

It is popularly believed that St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland. It is more likely that this colorful story arose because the snake was a revered pagan symbol and he drove paganism out of Ireland.

shamrock Learn more about St. Patrick or Ireland.

Literary Greats

Despite its size (Ireland is only slightly larger than West Virginia) and its difficult political situation, Ireland has produced writers of much-revered classics.

Celtic Sounds

Ireland has also spawned a large number of impressive musical performers.

U2 Photo

Beer on the Web

Recently, beer has become more than a hobby for many. Here are a few links that can teach you more about beer and its appreciation.Mug of beer

We hoped you enjoyed your visit to the Irish side of WashingtonPost.com.

© 1996 The Washington Post Company

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