Tag Archives: Savannah

On Robert Emmet, St. Patrick, and Irish Savannah

I’m on business in Savannah, Georgia, which claims to have America’s second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, in large measure due to its once thriving native Irish population and subsequent generations of Irish Americans.

According to Visit Savannah:

As the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution moved masses of people into the larger cities in the north for factory work, jobs began to fill, and eventually Boston, New York and others turned the Irish away at the ports to keep work open for “native-born Americans.” But Savannah was one of the few port cities still open to the Irish, still in need of an able workforce for its shipping, agricultural and railroad industries. Savannah’s Irish heritage and cultural groups filled and multiplied, and its neighborhoods spilled out into the general population.

Emmet Park, a grassy strip on a bluff overlooking the Savannah River, is a year-round focal point of the city’s Irish heritage. It is named, of course, after Irish patriot and orator Robert Emmet. Here’s the historical marker erected by the Georgia Historical Society and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee:

At the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, site of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Mass, a statue of St. Patrick stands near the front entrance. Ireland’s patron saint is also depicted in one of the church’s stained glass windows.

See my 2014 post on Irish Savannah, from Arcadia Publishing’s popular “Images of America” series.

Images of America series adds 20th Irish-themed title

Arcadia Publishing, the South Carolina-based press for the popular “Images of America” series and other local and regional history books, has released a new Irish-themed title: Irish Savannah.

Local author Sheila Counihan Winders has collected over 200 vintage photographs tracing the history of the Irish in the southeast Georgia river port. Not surprisingly, many of the images come from the archives of the Catholic Diocese of Savannah.

Irish Savannah (2)

“When people think about the Irish in America, they always think of the northern states,” Winders wrote. But the Irish have had a presence in Savannah since the city’s founding in the mid-1700s.

This is Arcadia’s 20th Irish-themed title. I wrote in April 2013 about the release of Irish Pittsburgh. The publisher has released similar image collections for such expected locations as Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, plus unusual spots including Arizona and Butte, Montana.

What’s next? “We don’t currently have another Irish-themed book in the works, but are always open to suggestions for titles and/or authors,” Natalie Miller, Arcadia’s southeast publishing editor, told me in an email.

One place noticeably missing from the “Images of America” Irish list: Washington, D.C. That sounds like a project worth tackling.