St. Patrick’s Day in 19th Century New Haven
By Gail Hurley
This past Saturday, I was in New Haven and had a chance to finally visit both an old and newer institution with friends and family. We had the best pizza at Frank Pepe’s (totally worth the wait in line in the cold) and made our way through the maze at IKEA, wondering every 100 feet or so where that “EXIT” on the sign really was. I did miss though, a long-standing tradition of the St. Patrick’s Day parade which was held Sunday.
The New Haven St. Patrick’s Day parade dates back to 1842. In Moynihan and Hogan’s Images of America: New Haven’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, they note that in the first parade, “about 90 members of the Hibernian Provident Society, behind a banner depicting Irish symbols such as the shamrock, harp and others, began their march through the city.” An article in the Columbian Register tells of the day’s events and makes note of a “beautiful and patriotic” oration given by Mr. Robinson. That oration is freely available online through the Hathi Trust.
The Morning Journal and Courier (New Haven) reports on the parade lineup and route in an article from March 17, 1883. A year later, a March 18, 1884 article tells of the imagery of the day as follows: “The green was everywhere dominant. it appeared in all forms, sizes and places. Little girls wore big green rosettes and green paper roses, little boys wore yards of it in their buttonholes, young men adorned themselves with neckties of the prevailing color and their lady friends wore ribbons that fluttered in the soft March breeze. Green appeared on hats, from windows and on flag poles.”
St. Patrick’s Day is a day for Irish and honorary-Irish alike to enjoy. In 1999 the Library of Congress recognized the New Haven parade as an outstanding example of American folk life. This coming weekend is the Boston Saint Patrick’s Day parade dating back to 1737, the New York City Parade which started back in 1762, and countless others across the U.S.
Éirinn go Brách!
Hogan, Neil, The Wearin’ o’ the Green: St. Patrick’s Day in New Haven, Connecticut 1842-1992., Connecticut Irish-American Historical Society, 1992.
Moynihan, Joan and Hogan, Neil, Images of America: New Haven’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
Robinson, William Erigena, A. B. , St. Patrick and the Irish: An Oration, pronounced before the Hibernian Provident Society of New Haven, March 17, 1842 – freely available online https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009609475