Hudson County Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with Parades and Parties

Cover by Anthony Piscitelli
Cover by Anthony Piscitelli


Cover by Anthony Piscitelli

Everybody’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day

 By Sally Deering


Saint Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Ireland’s rich culture, a nod to its heritage and a deep reverence for an Irish missionary who loved his country and became Ireland’s Patron Saint in the 7th Century.  Fast forward 14 centuries to 2011. Parade and party revelers are preparing for March 17th, shopping for shamrock-speckled ties, pointy Leprechaun hats and green lipstick while bars everywhere are stocking brewskies for those who regard St. Paddy’s Day as the perfect excuse to get hammered, plastered, clobbered, blotto, juiced, loaded and obliterated. You don’t have to be Irish to get jiggy at your local watering hole; everybody’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day.


But is that the only way to celebrate the Emerald Isle?


Not here in Hudson. Towns like Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne which mirror New York City on New Jersey’s waterfront join the Big Apple and other cities with celebratory parades, corned beef and cabbage dinners and other ‘green’ events in honor of Ireland’s beloved St. Patrick and the country that brought James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Sean O’Casey, WB Yates, Spencer Tracy, Liam Neeson, Maureen O’Hara and the Celtic Women, into our lives.  

  Hoboken Wears the Green

On Sat, March 5th, Hoboken’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off at 1 p.m. at Washington and 14th Streets with 2011 Grand Marshal Billy Noonan leading the march. He will be joined by Irishwoman of the Year Kathleen Caulfield Critides, Irishman of the Year Tom Foley, Honorary Irishman of the Year Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano, Irish Policeman of the Year Kevin Houghton and Irish Firefighter of the Year Jim Wallington.


Brian Keller of Hoboken’s Parade Committee cited Billy Noonan as a great pick for this year’s Grand Marshal because of his volunteerism and participation in many Hoboken community associations. Noonan has been a key member of the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee for ten years; served as Commissioner and Chairman of the Hoboken Housing Authority; was active in the Hoboken Rotary Club and very involved in its charities like The Gift of Life and Literacy Program. 


“We are extremely honored to have Billy Noonan as this year’s Grand Marshal,” Keller says. “Through these and other activities, Billy has proven himself to be a tireless supporter of our community and its people.”


Jersey City Raises the Irish Flag

On Sun, March 13th Jersey City celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with its 49th annual parade beginning at 12:30 pm. On the morning of the parade, St. Aedan’s Church offers a Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Hudson County Irish Peace Mass at 10 am.

Jersey City’s 2011 Honorees are Grand Marshal Lt. Michael Kelly of the Jersey City Police Department, Irishman of the Year Bob Cavanaugh, Jr., Irishwoman of the Year Mary Paretti, Irish Police Officer Mark Hennessey, Irish Firefighter Captain Mark Lee, Honorary Irishman of the Year Oren K. Dabney, Sr., Honorary Irishwoman of the Year Rachael Riccio and “Miss Colleen” Katelynn Lambert.


The week leading up to Jersey City’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is filled with events. An Irishwoman of the Year Party for Mary Paretti is scheduled at Brennan’s Pub and at Henry’s on the Hudson/Harborside Atrium  a party for Honorary Irishman and Irishwoman of the Year;  the Jersey City Police Department’s Emerald Society will host its annual dinner dance and there’s an Honoree Investiture at St. Patrick church and a Grand Marshal party, too.


Bayonne Brushes Up its Blarney

On Sun, March 20th at 1 pm, Bayonne kicks off its 30th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade that begins on Broadway and 5th Street and marches up to 39th Street led by Grand Marshal Bill Conway and his Aides Pegeen Ryan Hansen of the Irish American League, Bonnie McGrath of the County Donegal Association and Brian Hess from the County Cork Association.  Following the Parade, celebrations will be held at St Andrew’s Parish Hall on Broadway and 4th Sts, from 2:30 – 6:30 pm ($10 admission for 16 and older,) where bag pipe bands will perform and there’ll be dancing, refreshments and a salute to the Grand Marshal and his Aides


The Pipes, the Pipes are Calling

Is it coincidence that Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne are holding their parades on different days?  No siree. Pipe bands are in such great demand to play on Saint Patrick’s Day, the parades have to sync with their schedules. After all, what would Saint Patrick’s Day be without bagpipers swaying through the streets in Tartan kilts, playing those haunting Irish Hymns and folksongs that can bring a tear to smiling Irish eyes?


This marks Hoboken’s 25th annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and Helen Cunning of the Parade Committee, who has been at the helm for the past 25 years, is pulling out all the stops booking 25 bands in honor of the event. Bagpipe bands in Hoboken’s parade this year will be:

the Pipe & Drum of Bergen County Police Pipe Band, the Pipes and Drums of the AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Cork County Pipers, the Jersey City Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe and Drum, Clan Na Vale Pipe Band, the Bergen County Firefighters Pipe Band, the Somerset County Police Pipe & Drum and leading the Parade down Washington Street, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Pipe Band.


“Hoboken is a very special place and we feel it our duty to start the season off in a big way,” Cunning says. “We’ve always had outstanding bands and this year will be no different.”


In order to accommodate the 100,000 people expected for the parade’s turnout, the Port Authority plans to add extra PATH trains, Cunning says.


Saint Patrick of Ireland

 According to Wikipedia, “St. Patrick was a Christian missionary who is most generally recognized as the patron saint of Ireland.  Two authentic letters from him survived, from which come the only universally accepted details of his life. When he was about 16, he was captured from Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

We observe St. Patrick’s Day on the date of his death, which is celebrated as both a liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland, it is both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation and outside of Ireland, it can be a celebration of Ireland itself.”


Ode to Ireland

To honor Saint Patrick’s Day, let’s go back to WB Yeats who was born in Dublin in 1865 and was the son of Irish painter John Butler Yeats. WB Yeats spent his childhood in County Sligo and became involved with the Celtic Revival, a revolutionary movement against the cultural influences of English rule in Ireland.  Appointed a senator of the Irish Free State in 1922, Yeats is remembered as an important cultural leader, a playwright and founder of the Abbey Theater and as a highly-regarded poet awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923.


Here is one of his WB Yeats famous poems about the Ireland he loved:


“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and a noon a purple glow,

And evening’s full of the linnet’s wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


Cover by Anthony Piscitelli

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