St Patrick’s Day Parades

From Waler Data Base @FaceBook. Image: WA Record, 17 March 1913.

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Once we held big public parades for this special day.

It all started on March the 17th, 1601, in a Spanish colony under the direction of the colony’s Irish vicar, Ricardo Artur. Later, homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in Boston in 1737 and in New York City on March 1762. The first big public march for this day was held in New York in 1772.

The Wearing of the Green Ballad
The Wearing of the Green Ballad, Irish ballad from the uprising in Ireland in 1798;

Many Australians and Americans are of Irish descent – it was a way to celebrate our ancestry. It started in Ireland as a way to keep their heritage in a time the English occupiers – an 800 year occupation – outlawed their religion, Catholicism. Catholic children were banned from school in Ireland so “hedge schools” – underground schools, often hidden in hedgerows – flourished. Catholics were not allowed to own land, or own a house. Symbols of their religion such as the shamrock, representing the Holy Trinity, became proud symbols on St Patrick’s Day in defiance of the English; and the wearing of the green. The four-leaf shamrock of course represents good luck.

Image: St Patrick’s Day Parade, Ipswich, 1930s. Ipswich Libraries

1930s St Patrick's Day Parade

Australia held many festivities from our earliest colonial days. In 1795 Irish convicts here had a jolly good riot, celebrating St Patrick’s Day. In 1810 Governor Macquarie celebrated St Patrick’s Day with his workers. In 1825 we held St Patrick’s Day horse races; the Irish love of a horse became a part of our St Paddy’s Days. There were many many more festivities, banquets, picnics, balls, concerts, dances, sport events, gymkhanas, rodeos, public parades and more; in 1843 giant hot air Montgolfier balloons were flown. The Temperance Society desperately put on many activities to counteract a day sometimes associated with drunken revelry. In 1846 the parade was banned by a strongly Protestant government – but they couldn’t keep the Irish down. We carried on! Interestingly, as late as the 1950’s many people dressed as convicts in these parades.

May the luck of the Irish be with you always ☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️🍀

Images left to right: Decorated float in the St. Patrick’s Day Procession, Warwick, ca. 1910. State Library Qld.

Archbishop Mannix in the St. Patrick’s Day procession led by thirteen Victoria Cross recipients, Melbourne, 1920. National Museum of Australia.

Fancy Dress St Patrick's Day 1927
‘Men in fancy dress costume on horses. St Patrick’s Day Procession, Bendigo, Victoria, 20 March 1927.’ State Library NSW

Posted by Enoch Waler

Waler gelding purpose bred to help educate and advocate for Walers, in person and via Facebook and Instagram.