ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – They “saved the world,” and are good dancers, but they also drink too much, have hot tempers and don’t always finish what they start – those are some of the things the Irish had to say about themselves as they gathered for the annual Hibernian Parade in Dogtown.
Under sunny skies with temperatures in the 60s, and trees in bloom, thousands of Irish families dressed in bright green lined the parade route on Tamm Avenue from Forest Park through Dogtown.
Among those in the parade, former Football Cardinals Coach Jim Hanifan said he’s proud to be Irish.
“The Irish saved the world, ” Hanifan said. “It was the Irish monks. They saved the books.”
Hanifan noted that the Irish “sometimes sample the fruits of heaven too much – the whiskey.” He admitted he had a sip of Jamieson himself before the parade.
Father Jim Byrnes, with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said he is also proud of his Irish heritage.
“Fun loving … I think the Irish people have a warmth about them and a willingness to celebrate and party,” Brynes said.
Asked what their faults are, Byrnes answered quickly: “Temper … they kind of blow up real quick, but they don’t carry that.”
The Dogtown parade drew large families. Children took the day off school. Family dogs found themselves wearing green T-shirts. Many enjoyed the picnic atmosphere even hours before the parade got started.
Michael John Conaway was drinking a beer under the shade trees in Forest Park, and was asked to name some good and bad traits of the Irish.
“A good trait for the Irish is …. well, actually, they’re the same — we’re hard-headed,” Conaway said. “It can be good, it can be bad. We have our way of thinking and we just don’t change.”
Others in the crowd cited their Catholic faith, their family loyalty and sense of “who they are” as among the things they identify with being Irish.
Jennifer Whalen Bartley runs the O’Faolain Academy of Irish Dance in Webster Groves. A troupe of her girls wearing curly wigs and dressed in black skirts performed clog dances on a passing float to the delight of the crowd.
“It’s not hard to get involved at all,” Bartley said. “Irish dancing is for boys, girls, kids, adults, Irish or non-Irish — there’s something in it for everyone, and there’s all kinds of journeys it can take you on.”
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