St. Patrick's Day in Seattle

  • By John Keane
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2207
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Though the Irish in Seattle have always celebrated St. Patrick's Day, there was no official St. Patrick's Day Parade in Seattle until 1972. Before (and after) that first official procession, the late John Doyle Bishop, a flamboyant couturier, dodged police each March 17th to paint a green stripe down 5th Avenue in downtown.

The 1972 parade was held as a solidarity march in response to the killing of 13 civil rights demonstrators in Derry the previous January. A new organization, the Irish Festivities Committee, took over the organizing of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 1973 and also organized a Proclamation Luncheon at which local politicians proclaimed March 10-17 as Irish Week.

In 1982, the first official visit of a representative of the Irish Government to Seattle occurred when the Consul General from San Francisco participated in the Irish Week Proclamation Luncheon. We have now progressed to the point that in 1998, an Irish Government Minister, Sile De Valera, participated in Seattle's Irish Week celebrations and St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Addendum by Mary Shriane: John Doyle Bishop (deceased) was the first honorary Grand marshal of the first St. Patrick's Day Parade. Two women were the people who actually got the permits and who "organized" the community to hold the parade. Several members of the business community were supportive -- John Doyle Bishop; Mick McHugh; the McLaughlin Brothers, Frank and Joe; and owners of the Dublin House, to mention a few. Tom Sheehan, Fr. Harold Quigg, the Tompkins family, and many others were the grass roots innovators. Bernadette Noonan and Mary Shriane (me) were the persons who went to the Mayor and Police Chief to get permission for a Procession. We didn't have the money to pay for a permit.



By John Keane, President, Irish Heritage Society, 1998; Addendum by Mary Shriane, March 20, 2001.

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