St Patrick's Day in Tucson Arizona
Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day
When thinking about Irish and St. Patrick's Day celebrations Tucson, Arizona in the American southwest is certainly not the first place to come to mind.
After all, Tucson does not have a large Irish community like many eastern cities where the masses of Irish settled and is not located along the route of the original transcontinental railroad where many of the Irish laborers who built that railroad later settled.
However, since everyone is considered Irish on St. Patrick's Day, it is not necessary to have a large population of real Irish in order to join in the festivities. Everyone loves a good time and that alone is reason enough to celebrate a holiday like St. Patrick's Day regardless of one's ethnic heritage.
The Irishman Who Founded Tucson
In the case of Tucson, the city is somewhat unique among American cities in that the man responsible for founding the city was an Irishman, one Hugo O'Conor. Of course Hugo is a Spanish, not an Irish name, but O'Conor is certainly Irish.
Unlike Eamon de Valera, the early Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and man responsible for Ireland's final break from British rule, who was born in the United States to an Irish mother and Spanish father, O'Conor was born to Irish parents in Ireland and was given the name Hugh.
Like many Irish down through the centuries, the young Hugh O'Conor was forced to flee Ireland in order to have the freedom to find success in his life.
Moving to Spain, O'Conor joined the Spanish army and rose quickly in the ranks. His skill and success in the army resulted in his being appointed by the King of Spain to implement the recommendations made in a report by another Army general to strengthen the northern defenses of Spain's North American territories from Texas to California.
Tucson was one of the sites established by O'Conor to be a key northern defense outpost.
While the Irish portion of the Tucson population is not as large as that of neighboring Phoenix let alone Eastern and Midwestern cities with large Irish enclaves, Tucson's roots were Irish from the start.
Many Come Out for Tucson's Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade
Every year, as St. Patrick's Day approaches the large red, white and blue A on Sentinel Peak (which is generally referred to by the locals as A Mountain because of the A) suddenly turns green thanks to the application of a fresh coat of new green paint applied by volunteers.
And on Copper St. a large green shamrock is painted on the pavement in front of Salpointe Catholic High School.
Then there is a always an annual St. Patrick's Day parade through the streets of Tucson and, in recent years a large festival in a local park.
Despite the area's historic Hispanic culture, its great climate has served to attract a diverse population representing many cultures. During the winter months this population increases noticeably and it is reasonable to assume that the number of Irish Americans in Tucson also increases.
As a result Tucson has many groups and organizations representing the varied cultures found in the city who, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike, sponsor festivals throughout the winter season celebrating their food and culture.
Statute of Founder Hugo O'Connor gazes toward the St. Patrick's Day Parade as it Makes its way through the area where he Built his Presidio
Parade Passes Through the Area Where the City Began
Hugo O'Conor built the Presidio or fort which became the start of the European settlement in Tucson and the parade passes through this historic area.
Two blocks away is the historic Manning House with its statute of Hugo O'Conor gazing toward the spot where his fort once stood. Standing next to his statute one can see the St. Patrick's Day parade passing in the distance.
While located in America's southwestern desert far from the eastern cities like Boston and New York with their history of Irish politicians and St. Patrick's Day Parades, Tucson's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and other festivities celebrate the city's Irish roots that go back as far or further than its eastern brethren.
Links to my Other St. Patrick's Day & Irish Hubs
- St Patricks Day
A brief biography the fifth century saint who converted Ireland to Christianity and the origins of the holiday that is celebrated around the world on his feast day.
- The Evolving Traditions of St. Patrick's Day
Green Beer along with corn beef and cabbage are traditional St. Patrick's Day favorites. Learn how these come to be associated with a day celebrating the life of a saint.
- Citizen of Both Ireland and America
Everyone considers themselves Irish on St. Patrick's Day almost 11% of Americans are of Irish descent and among these many are dual citizens with both Irish & U.S. citizenship.
- All Things Irish - Eamon de Valera
- Scot-Irish - The Other Irish
While Ireland is a predominantly Catholic nation there is also a sizable Protestant minority whose traditions go back hundreds of years. Large numbers of both groups immigrated to the United States with those of Protestant faiths choosing to be known
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Chuck Nugent