Shamrocks, Leprechauns and the Luck of the Irish


Posted Mon, Mar 13, 2017

Spectators of all ages enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Denver on March 11. [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

DENVER — The “Feast of Saint Patrick,” held on March 17, commemorates Saint Patrick who was known as the “Apostle of Ireland,” whose missionary work helped convert the Irish people from practicing Iron Age Celtic paganism to Christianity. In this aspect, St. Patrick is said to have “driven the snakes out of Ireland.”

The Denver “St. Patrick’s Day” Parade is a long time tradition organized by volunteers dating back to 1889. It has become one of the most culturally diverse local celebrations. Coloradans from all walks of life join in to celebrate Irish culture and festivities. A cold wet morning in Denver on March 11, didn’t deter spectators from visiting downtown to celebrate the festivities.

“All my Irish family are here having a good time and having some fun, making some noise!” — Jim Donnelly [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

Much hooping and hollering could be heard from Jim Donnelly, who is no stranger to this event, joining his family every year to celebrate Irish culture and heritage.

“I’ve been coming forever, probably for about 20 or so years,” Donnelly said. “We’re from New York so my parents always celebrated the parades there. My niece is an Irish dancer as well, dancing both the parade here and the parade in New York. Favorite part is just being around all the other people. It means everything. It’s part of my heritage. My grandparents and their grandparents were all Irish. My favorite year was probably three or four years ago. It was just so crowded, the weather was perfect! Lots of noise and a really good time.”


Molly Hartman in Irish costume at St. Patrick’s Day parade. [Photo: Duane Hirschfeld]

Molly Hartman, 25, a former dancer of the parade for about ten years, has been a part of the festivities since she was about five or six years old. Watching the Irish dancers is nostalgic to her, bringing back memories of her childhood.

“It’s great to see the young little girls do that and keep our Irish heritage. I think they do such a good representation of not only the Irish culture but a lot of the other different cultures that we have in Denver. St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of where I came from and where my roots are. It’s difficult because I know that a lot of people think of today as a big day to just go downtown and get drunk. To me, it’s celebrating my heritage and of my family coming over from Ireland, trying to make a new name for themselves here,” Hartman said.

For as far as the eye can see there was a sea of green, children in absolute awe at all the colorful floats. People of all ages cheered and celebrated as the sound of bagpipes echoed their Irish ancestry. The aroma of Irish cuisine filled the air as many partied with Irish ales and whisky. Coloradans were truly in high spirits during this fun-filled afternoon in Denver.

Watch Tok’s video coverage of Denver St. Patrick’s Day parade and an interview with John McGah:

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About Kavann Tok

Kavann Tok is a freelance Denver-area journalist. Website:

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One Response to “Shamrocks, Leprechauns and the Luck of the Irish”

  1. Linda Hirschfeld Says:

    The Shamrock parade is one of Denver’s oldest traditions. Glad Kavann is keeping it alive and taking time to explore the avenues of entertainment.


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