Celebrating St. Paddy in Dundalk, Ireland
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 12:42

Dundalk residents recently gathered to watch the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dundalk, Ireland.

Two Dundalks share more than just a name

by Nicole Rodman

    In 1847, Henry McShane left his hometown of Dundalk, Ireland, to start a new life in the United States.
    Establishing himself in America, he opened a bell foundry in Baltimore in 1856.
    When the foundry burned down in 1894, the McShane family built a new foundry on land off the Patapsco River. It was at that time that Henry’s son, William, named the area after his father’s birthplace.
    Today, Dundalk remains tied to its historical roots, with street names and celebrations honoring McShane and the town’s Irish roots.
    In Dundalk, Ireland, as in Dundalk, Md., an annual St. Patrick’s Day parade brings out citizens eager to celebrate their heritage and the history of their town.
    Far older than her American namesake, Dundalk, Ireland was granted a charter in 1189.
    The name Dundalk comes from the Gaelic name Dún Dealgan, meaning “Dalgan’s Stronghold.”
    Sitting just south of the Northern Ireland border, the town is halfway between Dublin and Belfast.
    The population of Dundalk is approximately 37,000.
    In a 1995 article in The Eagle, former editor Wayne Laufert  pointed out the many common names shared by both the Irish and American towns of Dundalk.
    Such familiar names include Dundalk, Ireland streets such as Fairgreen Road (which runs through St. Helena Park) as well as Avondale Park.
    Villages near the Irish town include Dunleer and Ardee, both of which are street names in the younger town of Dundalk.
    Like Dundalk, Md., much of Dundalk, Ireland’s economy is based in manufacturing.
    Many of the Irish Dundalkians work at textile mills, breweries and tobacco companies.
    Sports also play a large role in life in the Irish town of Dundalk.
    While Dundalkians here in America cheer on the Orioles at Camden Yards, Irish Dundalkians root for the Dundalk Football Club at their Oriel Park stadium.
    Other popular sports teams include the Dundalk  Rugby Football Club and the Dundalk Cricket Club (which our own Bill Gates wrote about in the Feb. 27 issue of The Eagle).
    Like our own Dundalk, Dundalk, Ireland, recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a parade.
    Seeking to connect with their namesake town, the Dundalk (Ireland) Chamber of Commerce sent pictures and information of their parade to share with fellow Dundalkians here in America.
    One of the most anticipated events of the year, the 2013 Dundalk, Ireland St. Patrick’s Day Parade drew nearly 20,000 spectators and 2,000 participants.
    Under cold but clear skies, a variety of floats, vehicles and costumed performers wound through the streets of the town.
    With a theme of “Reviving Traditions,” the parade began at Patrick Street and traveled through Dundalk, down Clanbrasil Street and Fracis Street to Park Street before ending at Dublin Street.
    The parade included a number of bands and floats from community groups.
    According to the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce website (at www.dundalk.ie/news/) participants in this year’s Dundalk, Ireland, parade included the St.Patrick’s Scout Group and the Carlingford Pipe Band.
    While the parade celebrated Irish history and tradition, multiple cultures were represented in the day’s events.
    As the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce noted in a message to The Eagle, “‘Reviving Traditions’ is the theme of the Parade but we also like to see new traditions created.”
    To this end, the parade included participants such as Nigerian group Yorubu, Polish group Simul Polonia and a samba band. 
    Though most Irish people are of Gaelic descent, modern Ireland’s population is ethnically diverse, due to immigration to Ireland from other countries around the globe.
    Similar to the Dundalk, Md., Independence Day parade, the Dundalk, Ireland St. Patrick’s Day festivities did not end with the parade itself.
    In the town’s Markey Square, a variety of musical acts and other festivities provided lively entertainment to attendees.
    Included in the musical lineup was The Down & Out Bluegrass Band, an Irish band playing American bluegrass music, as well as the 30-piece Dundalk Brass Band.
    The day’s festivities even included a performance by Paddy Mac and the Long Riders, an Irish band specializing in American country and Southern rock music.
    The day’s festivities were overseen by parade grand marshal Oliver Callan, a well-known comedian on Irish television and radio broadcaster RTE.
    One person who knows first-hand the similarities between Dundalk, Ireland and Dundalk, Md. is Maryland native Kevin Kane.
    Kane has visited Dundalk, Ireland, a number of times as an employee of Prometric testing company.
    Prometric is a sponsor in many Dundalk, Ireland-based events, including the St. Patrick’s Day Parade as well as Dundalk’s annual Tain Festival each summer.
    Of his experiences in both Dundalks, Kane noted, “The similarities I see in Dundalk, Ireland, and Dundalk, United States, include hard-working people who hold dear their families and their faith.”    
    He added, “And, when cheering for our hometown sports clubs or celebrating a holiday, such as St. Patrick’s Day, we know how to have a good time.”
    While the two Dundalks may be an ocean and three thousand miles apart, the similarities between the two towns more than make up for the differences.