PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Every March 17th people all over celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. There are not many cities that have a celebration as large as Pittsburgh’s.
KDKA Radio’s Larry Richert got the celebration started with a visit from an Irish Catholic priest at Duquesne University, the owner of the oldest pub in Ireland, and the most famous Irish-American in Pittsburgh, Ambassador Dan Rooney.
Fr. Naos McCool is the assistant Dean for student formation at Duquesne University. He has spent the past 14 years in Pittsburgh. Fr. McCool points out that the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is so large in the United States because of all the citizens that claim Irish decent.
“The biggest ethnic group in this country is after the Germans is the Irish and they bring their own culture and traditions with them,” he said.
How do Ireland’s citizens celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
“It is a public holiday. It is also a church holiday,” he said.
He says it is also a holiday that families spend together. He says it is also the the kickoff of tourist season.
Tourism is important to Ireland’s economy.
“We get approximately eight million-plus visitors to Ireland [a year], that’s almost twice the population [of Ireland] every year,” he said.
A large proportion of that is visitors from the United States.
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland where should you go? The Brazen Head is Ireland’s oldest pub and Fr. McCool says, “It’s a nice place to go and have a quiet drink.”
John Hoyne, the owner of the Brazen Head, joined Larry to talk about the connection that Pittsburgh has with the place where a pub has stood since 1198. Hoyne says they will spend the day pouring pints and musicians will be performing.
Hoyne passed the phone to Vinnie, a man who was getting ready to perform later in the evening. Vinnie says he is dating a Pittsburgh girl. Vinnie told Larry that he was wearing a shirt that says, “I’m an Irish Steelers fan.”
The connection between Pittsburgh and Ireland is strong thanks to Steelers owner Dan Rooney being the former Ambassador to Ireland for President Barack Obama.
Mr. Rooney says he is celebrating the holiday with dinner and then Wednesday, Rooney will attend the Ireland Fund Dinner. It’s dinner that will feature Pulitzer Prize winner author David McCullough as the keynote speaker.
Mr. Rooney says that St. Patrick’s Day, “is picking up in Ireland.” This year, according to Hoyne, is the biggest St. Patrick’s celebration ever.
Listen the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.