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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: St. Patick's Day in decades gone by

  • There was a time when Hawley, PA had its own St. Patrick's Day parade.
    It is little wonder given the strong Irish heritage in Hawley, thanks to the plentiful jobs on the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC) gravity rail works and the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal. These operations converged in Hawley in the mid-19th Century and attracted dozens of families emigrating from the Emerald Isle.
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  • There was a time when Hawley, PA had its own St. Patrick's Day parade.
       It is little wonder given the strong Irish heritage in Hawley, thanks to the plentiful jobs on the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC) gravity rail works and the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal. These operations converged in Hawley in the mid-19th Century and attracted dozens of families emigrating from the Emerald Isle.
       As has been well discussed in this series, the Irish particularly from County Mayo settled in their own neighborhood called Shanty Hill, set up by the PCC. This area later became Marble Hill. Its Irish legacy is little known today, which could in part be remedied by a nice historical marker sign on Columbus Avenue- a green one of course.
       Other Irish made their abode in East Hawley.
       St. Philomena's Catholic Church, today known as Queen of Peace, remains a testament to the Irish faithful of Hawley who established the church in 1852.
       We needn't go that far back to reference to Hawley's nod to the Irish. Just a century or so will do. The March 21, 1913 edition of The Citizen gives us an account, under the "Down Hawley Way" column. Although the correspondent isn't named, it may have been a man named Woodward, whose last name is on some columns. Others were by Helen P. Cooke, who as you may recall from a recent installment led the Camp Fire Girls in Hawley and was a noted poet. This piece, however, implies a writer of the male gender.
       The account begins with a bit of rhyme.
    "Oh merrily rang the music
    As folks marched up and down,
    In the good old way
    On Patrick's day,
    In joyous Hawley town."
        "Monday was St. Patrick's Day in 'sweet Hawley under the hills' just the same as it was in Honesdale and everywhere else in the wide, wide world. Nearly everybody you met wore a sprig of green, and those who were not 'a-wearin of the green' wore a lonesome look just as if they had missed or forgotten something.
       "The main event in town was the evening entertainment at the Odd Fellows' hall by members of St. Philomena's choir and the Cadets of temperance. The entertainment was of a social, musical and oratorical character. All of the selections were along lines pertinent to the day and decidedly appropriate. The poetical, romantic, historical, legendary and musical sides of the land where grows the shamrock all had their proper place on the programme, and the audience was well pleased with what they saw and heard.
        "Time was when March 17 was the annual occasion for a street parade. We never saw but one or two, yet we heard about them in our boyhood days. We don't like to refer to such things, but in those days there was not the understanding between nationalities and religious denominations that happily exists today. That was in the days when there were two prominent classes in both Honesdale and Hawley, one known as 'railroaders' and the other as 'canalers." There was never any love between these two classes, and it didn't take much of a remark, or a very large 'chip on the shoulder' to provoke a fight. Indeed, an innocent little remark like this, 'St. Patrick is just as good a man as Fourth of July ever was,' has been known to 'start things' than it is to stop them after they are started. Happy are we that:
    Page 2 of 2 - 'Now we know each other better ... Since the mists have rolled away.'
         The last St. Patrick's day parade that Hawley had was several years ago, and it is of such a memorable character that a word or two about it will not be out of place here and now. Hawley arranged for a grand parade, and societies from Honesdale and Port Jervis were to take part in the demonstration. Then a whopping big snow storm.
         'E.V. Murray, who died three or four years ago, was then in his prime, and hitching four strong horses to a snow plow he proceeded to break roads through the streets. Frank Curran says he rode on the plow and that the snow was nearly two feet deep. Furthermore the ride was a cold one. The parade took place all right, and the people had a good time; but the custom of parading is giving way to celebrations along literary and musical lines, and it is much pleasanter to sing and orate about the 'dear little shamrock' in a well heated and well lighted hall, than it is to hunt after the beautiful bit of natural green beneath the snow drifts."
       St. Patrick's Day in Hawley made the front page in The Honesdale Citizen on March 23, 1910. Called a "grand affair" in the headline, we learn that about 70 people attended a banquet hosted by the "A.O.H." [Likely, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.] A large group came down from Honesdale. The banquet was held at the Standard Opera House on Church Street (located next door, just up the hill from the Methodist Church). The national colors of the United States and Ireland decorated the hall.
       After the banquet, Rev. H. J. Burke, pastor of St. Philomena's Church in Hawley, spoke about the conversion of St. Patrick and the effect this had on the world. Rev. F. J. Dunn then gave a "glowing tribute" to the fervor of the Irish in spreading Catholicism.  Prothonotary M. J. Hanlan then delivered a patriotic address concerning the role the Irish had in building America.
      "The affair was one of the most enjoyable ever held in Hawley and will be long remembered by those present," the unnamed writer concludes.
         A reference to the St. Patrick's Day parades is found in Discoursing Sweet Music by Kenneth Kreitner (1990) which examined the local bands of Wayne County around the turn of the century. We find Hawley's Eddy Cornet Band played in the town's parade on March 17, 1897. The Memorial Day Parade, however, had the greatest patriotic fervor in Hawley, as in other local towns.
      

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