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The Irish Evening welcomes everyone!

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and the planning for the festivities is well underway. Pat Martin and Kathleen Hackett are St. Patty’s Day veterans, having been celebrating their whole lives. They have been a part of the Valley’s annual Irish Evening for many years and are looking forward to this year’s event, which will take place at the Huntingdon Legion on March 16.

It costs $10 to attend, and any excess money made is donated to local organizations.

Last year $700 was donated to seven different organizations; $100 each to the Betty Riel Foundation, Heritage Elementary, Residence Elle, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Huntingdon County Hospital, I am Heshima, Melissa’s Sunshine Camp’s housing cause, and $115 to the Chateauguay Valley for Ukraine cause.

 

There will be Irish entertainment of all kinds on offer at the Huntingdon Legion on March 16 PHOTO Gleaner archives


This year, the event will start at 1:30 in the afternoon, instead of in the evening. “We’ve changed it to an afternoon this year, because we realized that a lot of our clientele are in their nineties and they were driving on the icy roads last year, and we said, okay, let’s make it an afternoon,” says Hackett. She adds that the event is never shorter than three hours, and it will include fiddle players, Irish dancing, singing, and more. Martin herself will be singing as well.

Hackett shares that everyone is welcome at this event. “It’s a time for everybody to pull out their Irish roots – anybody that’s got any inkling of Irish in them. [And] what’s really nice about St. Patrick’s Day, you don’t have to be Irish. Anybody can be Irish for that one day.”

There is strong Irish heritage in the Valley and Martin says, “It’s so important to keep your roots. And the Irish have always – especially over in Ireland – been very mindful of the ancestors of the people that came before.”

To Hackett, the traditions that come with St. Patrick’s Day are important to pass down to the next generation so that they are not forgotten. “I know that I wanted my children to experience the same thing I had growing up. So, of course, I made them get up on stage and I made them dance and I made them sing and I made them play the piano. And if you don’t do this with the children, they don’t pass it on,” Hackett says. Her entire family loves celebrating these traditions and have continued even though they are no longer kids.

Hackett appreciates how being a part of this community brings folks close to those around them. “If you’re Irish, you’re related to just about everybody in Huntington, just about everybody that can trace the roots back. I would never want to leave this area just because of the roots. I love knowing that my best friend is my cousin,” she says.

Though Martin wasn’t born in Ireland, she has visited many times and encourages anyone who can to experience it firsthand. “I fell in love with it… and the feeling you have when you go there, even if you’re not native-born Irish… the traditions are there, and the sayings are there, and it’s just an unbelievable feeling. It’s like you’ve come home,” she says. She promises that one also experiences coincidences, and that the “Luck of the Irish” is unavoidable.

Hackett says that pub culture originated with Irish immigrants. “What people did is when they immigrated, they brought the idea of the pub all around the world. You cannot go anywhere in the world today and not find an Irish pub.” A big part of what has historically kept Irish culture alive is the live music in these pubs, and the annual Irish Evening honours the sentiment.

Anyone who is hoping to participate in the Irish Evening this year can contact Hackett at 450-264-9385.

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