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New Orleans celebrates its Irish immigrant history with parades

Christopher Walker, Editor - in - Chief

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On March 17, along with every other city in America and many around the world, New Orleans will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

“Everywhere in the world celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. In New Orleans, where so many people have Irish blood and celebrate Irish culture, I think it’s a little different, honestly,” said Irish-parade marcher Michael Burke.

Unlike many other cities, New Orleans has several large parades a week ahead of St. Patrick’s Day dedicated to celebrating Irish culture in the city. Some of these parades are held, intentionally, along the Irish Channel neighborhood.

“Where we’re walking, a lot of my countrymen lived here when they first came over,” said Burke. “This parade, to me, is a celebration the Irish, as a people, succeeded. We survived this long.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, New Orleans is one of the most Irish-dense cities in America, coming in with a population of around 7 percent who can directly trace their bloodline to Irish immigrants.

 

The Irish came over when the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland, and a massive wave of immigrants found its way to New Orleans in the mid-1840s.

Curator of the Irish Cultural Museum in New Orleans, Patrick McCarty, said, “Generally speaking, the American public did not have a favorable view of the Irish. You have to remember, America did not have a strong Catholic presence in the United States at the time. America was an Anglo-Saxon, Protestant nation.”

“You had these massive immigrant groups, between 1.5 and 2 million Irish came over. Because of their role with Catholicism, and since many of them spoke Gaelic or Irish as opposed to English, they were willing to hold onto their culture and beliefs when they came over.”

 

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The student news site of the University of New Orleans
New Orleans celebrates its Irish immigrant history with parades