The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in America started in the 1830s and 1840s, due to the influx of Irish immigrants due to the Potato Famine. In Ireland St. Patrick’s day was celebrated as a “non-festive holy day of obligation” (Moss 126). The Ancient Order of the Hibernians, an Irish Catholic charitable society, started organizing the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade in the 1830s (Marston). The parade and the general celebration of St. Patrick’s day was used as a way to celebrate Irish-American identity. At one point it was even the most popular ethnic celebration in America and helped develop how other people viewed Irish Americans.
Due to how Irish identity is constructed through the St. Patrick’s Day parade, who is allowed to participate acts a boundary of who can be Irish-American. Patriarchy being a component of Irish-American identity resulted in women not being able to hold leadership positions including grand marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day parade until 1989, when Dorothy Hayden Cudany host of the “Irish Memories” radio program won the nomination (Barron). This ended a 229-year ban on women being the grand marshall of the New York City parade(Barron). Also due to the importance of Catholicism, there has historically and today been a struggle over allowing LGBT groups to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Barron, James. “After 229 Years, Irishwoman to lead Parade.” New York Times. February 1, 1989.
Marston, Sallie A.“Making Difference: Conflict Over Irish Identity in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.” Political Geography 21. no. 3 (March 2002). Accessed November 10, 2018. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0962629801000518
Moss, Kenneth. “St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations and the Formation of Irish-American Identity, 1845-1875.” Journal of Social History 29. No. 1. Autumn 1995: 125-148.
“Ancient Order of the Hibernians.” Wikimedia Commons. Last updated November 2, 2011. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ancient_Order_of_Hibernians.jpg
“New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade DVIDS261036.” Wikimedia Commons. Last updated March 18, 2018. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:New_York_City_St._Patrick%27s_Day_Parade_DVIDS261036.jpg