By BRAD BAUER
Special to The News and Sentinel
MARIETTA - St. Patrick's Day is still a few days away, but on Sunday nearly 150 people gathered in Marietta to celebrate their Irish heritage with food, song, dance and drink.
Photo by Brad Bauer
Members of the Irish Dancers, of Athens, perform a number Sunday at the Lafayette Hotel during the 30th annual Irish Gathering, sponsored by the Monsignor Donal O’Carroll Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. About 150 area residents participated in the event, which also featured a traditional Irish feast and music.
The annual Irish Gathering, now in its 30th year, is held every year on the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day by the Washington County Division 1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
The order is an Irish Catholic men's organization with the goal of preserving Irish culture and heritage in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Robert Riordan, 44, of Coolville, said the event, held at the Lafayette Hotel, has grown to become something of a family reunion.
How to become a member
- The local chapter of Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians is welcoming new members.
- Must be a Catholic in good standing with the church and be Irish by birth, descent or by marriage.
- The order welcomes members from both Ohio and West Virginia.
- The ladies order meets on the last Monday of each month at the Sacred Heart Retreat House in Coolville.
- For more information or to join, contact Brynn Riordan at (740) 667-6802 or firstname.lastname@example.org
"There is a very real commonality in our heritage, and through this event - the song and dance and traditions -we can pass this on to our children, like they were passed on to us," Riordan said.
Chip Rogers, a long-standing member with the local Hibernians group, said many Irish families settled in Ohio in the early 1800s as construction began on the Marietta, Columbus and Cleveland Railroad.
"Whether you're Irish or not, this is the time of year when everyone gets into the spirit," Rogers said.
Some 34 million people claim Irish heritage, which is 10 times the population of Ireland. Though St. Patrick's Day is often used as an excuse to indulge, the holiday has strong religious ties. The leaves of the shamrock are used to represent the Holy Trinity and the holiday itself is in honor of both Irish heritage and St. Patrick, Rogers said.
In addition to dance, the Sunday gathering featured a feast of shepherd's pie, corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and Waldorf salad.
Long-time Hibernian and event coordinator Peter Corcoran, of Marietta, said there are always many familiar faces at the event, but some new ones, too.
"We love seeing new faces and meeting new people," he said. "A lot of people think that if they aren't Irish or Catholic they aren't welcome here and that's not the case at all. Anyone interested in our heritage is welcome."