This letter was submitted in reaction to The Irish Voice Editorial, "Another sad St. Patrick’s Day - we hold out hope for a grand party in 2022", published on IrishCentral.

I must confess to being both saddened and disappointed with the editorial in last week’s issue, “A Sad St. Pat’s,” not only for the tone of ennui and despair but because it does not accurately portray the very active response on the part of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (and many other Irish American organizations) to cope with the unfortunate reality that we cannot have our traditional St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations this year.  

The Hibernians have not “lowered the flag“ (most of us would fly the Tricolour and not the “shamrock flag”) and have not, as the editorial implies, surrendered to “wait till next year” when it comes to recognizing our heritage.

The Hibernians have created a very active March program in support of Irish American Heritage Month; we believe that we have shared the details with both the Irish Voice and IrishCentral. 

We released our first Irish American Heritage Month tribute video on March 1.  We have been doing daily profiles of Irish American men and women on our website and social media highlighting the important contribution that the Irish have made to America.  

We have a series of webinars, open to the public, on topics of Irish interest.  We are working with the Gael Scoil of New Jersey to promote daily features of Irish heritage and culture specifically crafted for children and their young attention spans.  We may have put away our marching apparel, but we have put on our work clothes.

As the editorial correctly points out, nothing can replace our parades and it is right to be saddened by their cancellation.  Their importance cannot be underestimated, as for many of us watching a St. Patrick’s Day parade was the first moment of self-awareness of our Irish roots.  

Perhaps the lesson of COVID-19 is that we have focused too much on the “party” aspects of St. Patrick’s Day and not enough on its true meaning and the spirit of Irish American Heritage Month.  Yet, our history tells us that the greater the challenge the harder the Irish work to overcome it.  

The great miracle of the Irish is that we still persist, despite Vikings, Normans, Elizabeth I, Cromwell, Trevelyan, and the Know-Nothings; how sad if we now let a virus defeat us.  The Hibernians understand that “hope is not a plan,” and we are working to promote our heritage even if we can’t walk in our local parade.   

To quote the ending line of the Hibernians 2021 Irish American Heritage Month video, “We all are going through some hard times right now, but the Irish are no strangers to hard times and we will come back stronger than ever.”

* Neil Cosgrove serves on the National Board for the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

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