St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2017 includes Spanish and French marchers

The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17 celebrates the feast day honoring Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and the Archdiocese of New York.

Be sure to wear green or risk being pinched. Western Ireland and northwestern Spain share a Celtic culture. We are Atlantic ocean sailors.

NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade began in 1762. It marches up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street on March 17 starting at 11am.

The cover image is by Dominick Totino Photography, courtesy of the parade. For reception tickets or more information, visit

256th NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2017

The 2017 NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade is dedicated to the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, and the New York State Police.

Michael J. Dowling, president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health, is Grand Marshal in the 2017 parade.

The festivities begin with a reception at Antun’s in Queens Village, Long Island, on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 3pm.

The parade will be broadcast live on WNBC-TV 4, and live-streamed on

Latin Participants in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

377 individuals and organizations are marching in the 2017 parade. Irish regiments fought in the Latin American Wars of Independence.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio

Several Latin groups from Spain, France, and New York City are organizing on East 44th Street between Madison & Vanderbilt Ave at 11:15am.

Amigos De San Froilán represents the San Froilán Fiestas, a religious and cultural festival with theater, an international puppet festival, and a Medieval Fair, October 4-12, 2017 in Lugo Galicia, Spain.

Bagad de Lorient is a traditional Celtic music group from Lorient, Brittany, France. @BagadLorient

Casa Galicia, a Galician community center and restaurant in Astoria, Queens. (718) 932-1114

Xuntanza De Cataluna, a bagpipe band from Galicia, Spain (5)

255th NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2016

New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade marches up Fifth Avenue. The parade assembles on Fifth Avenue at 44th Street at 11am. It marches up Fifth Avenue to 79th Street. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade ends at the American Irish Historical Society on Fifth Avenue at 80th Street.

The parade was broadcast live on NBC from 11am to 3pm.

An estimated 200,000 people turned out to watch the parade in person. Millions more followed the parade in social media.

How is St. Patrick’s Day Latin?

A legend, culture, and genetics connect the people of western Ireland and northern Spain.

The Legend of the Black Irish

Irish are famous for their red hair. There is a legend that the so-called “Black Irish,” Irish with dark hair, are descended from survivors of the Spanish Armada that set out to support an invasion of England in 1588. While anchored off Calais, France, a fierce battle damaged many Spanish vessels and an attack by English fireships forced the Spaniards to leave quickly without recovering their anchors.

The damaged Armada regrouped and sailed north around England and Scotland. They tried to return to Spain down the west coast of Ireland. In that era there was no way to accurately calculate longitude (East-West position). The Armada turned south too close to land and was pushed further east by the Gulf Stream. Strong North Atlantic storms pushed the ships towards shore. Without anchors they could not prevent themselves being smashed on the rocks of the Irish Atlantic coast. The legend of the Black Irish is a great story, but it is only a story.

Gaelic Culture Connects Us

Bagpipes and tartans are popularly associated with Scotland and Ireland. Yet Spaniards from Asturia, Spain march every year in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade wearing tartans and playing bagpipes.

Asturia is a region of northern Spain between Galicia and the Basque country. It was never conquered by the Moors. Asturians play single-piped bagpipes called “Gaita asturiana” which are part of their own culture. To an American eye Asturias folk dances look like Irish dancing.

The general pattern of human migration in the region was from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Western Mediterranean and then north and south along the Atlantic coasts. The people of the Atlantic coasts were sailors. It makes sense that they would trade. I have not found any written analysis of this, but the words “Gaelic” and “Galician” seem obviously related.

Western Irish and Spaniards Share DNA

Ireland is at the western edge of Europe. It would have been one of the last regions to be settled by the prevailing East to West migrations. Recent DNA analysis of prehistoric remains in Ireland show that the earliest Irish were related to the people of Spain and Sardinia, and especially the Basque region of Spain.

Later migrations came from Eastern Europe. These would be Celtic. More recent migrants came from Scotland and Wales.

There we have the Latin connection with St. Patrick’s Day. It doesn’t really matter where you are from. Today we are all Irish!

St. Patrick

Saint Patrick was an Englishman who promoted Christianity in Ireland in the fifth century. As a young man, he was taken to Ireland as a slave. He eventually made his way back home. A vision led Patrick to return to Ireland as a Christian missionary.

The facts of St. Patrick’s life are lost in the mists of time, but many legends are attributed to him. St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. The shamrock is now a symbol of Ireland. There were never snakes in Ireland, but legend tells that Saint Patrick banished them.

Irish New York City

St. Patrick’s Day has natural importance for Americans with an Irish heritage, but it is relevant to all New Yorkers because we are a city of immigrants. The Irish were the main part of the first great wave of immigration to the United States between roughly 1820 and 1860. Most were fleeing the Great Famine of 1845-49 in Ireland. Most came through New York City. Like all immigrants, the Irish suffered terrible discrimination because they were poor and uneducated. They also suffered because they were Catholic in a Protestant culture.

England and Ireland have been fighting a Catholic/Protestant religious war for thousands of years. When the Irish arrived in New York City, they found themselves in the same fight against Protestants, but now with a native/non-native twist. The discrimination was bad in a way that we cannot imagine today as in “No Dogs or Irish.” Martin Scorcese’s 2002 American film Gangs of New York is a rich telling of the story of these bloody struggles in New York City.

Tammany Hall consolidated the Irish vote and Irish-Americans found their way into American society by entering City government and the NYPD. Today the old discriminatory views are almost unthinkable and Irish-Americans are just Americans.

This is the path to participate fully in American society.

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