St. Patrick’s Season Reminds Us of All of our Irish Heritage

Twelve months ago, after several weeks of intense preparation, and developing a robust March St. Patrick’s season program for the Center, we were broadsided just days prior to kicking off several annual activities. Participation in the parade, attending St. Patrick’s church for mass, and hosting hundreds of members at our post-parade party, all fell victim to the strict Shelter in Place (SIP) order handed down by the city. While the 2020 Grand Marshals dinner passed off without incident on Feb 28, as we honored Con Lyons, little did we know how our entire world would change within two short weeks, with the onset and spread of Covid-19.

Nothing has been the same since. We continue to wear face masks, wash our hands more frequently than ever before, and maintain social distance where possible. Many of our older members have been housebound all year, and while some of our members contracted Covid-19, they thankfully made a full recovery. Many of the children of our members are still not back in school or college, and with the end of the scholastic year approaching-these students may not be back until the Fall. Several legacy hospitality establishments in the area closed during the year, e.g. Cliff House, Seal Rock, and Marcellos. The Irish Center, as a cultural institution was lucky to be able to rely on its members to come to our aid, as part of the St. Patrick’s Appeal, which helped fill in the void of not being able to generate any revenue in March. Our move to outdoor dining commenced in June, as soon as the city lifted the SIP order. Since then we have figured out our way around many obstacles to keep our membership engaged, bills paid, capital preserved, and even maintained our cultural programming activities.

Thankfully, the 170th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade will happen this year, although online in a new virtual platform, delivered by the United Irish Societies. Throughout the City and across the country, Irish Centers, bars, and restaurants will dust off the Irish decor, hats, and flags, round up Irish musicians and dancers and start boiling the corned beef and cabbage so that we might all feel a bit of hope: adorning our green socks, our Irish Aran sweaters, our green baseball caps, t-shirts or GAA County jersey. Saint Patrick’s Day is a day that we honor a Saint from the 5th Century who became one of the Patron saints of Ireland, right next to Saint Brigid and Saint Columcille.

It’s been a busy month behind the scenes here at the Center. We finally got to install the new canopy in the back parking lot on February 3rd. The total investment in the tent structure was close to $10,000. The canopy should provide shelter from the wind and rain. Many thanks to all the volunteers, who came out to help with the installation. While it took several hours to put the frame of the structure together, it took less than a minute to hoist it into place! We did hire some professional riggers to guide us. Kevin Humprey and his carpet cleaning crew did an absolutely amazing job on the carpets on the west side staircase and St. Patrick’s room. Superbowl Sunday brought out many Wawona Gates patrons, and there was a lot of cheering when San Mateo native Tom Brady hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy.

On February 21st, our first annual Irish Bread-making competition drew a record 69 entries. The selection of bread varied in presentation, size, variety, composition, and texture-no doubt reflecting generations of family recipes, and regional influences. Congratulations to all the winners. The biggest winner on the day was the St. Vincent De Paul Society (SVDP) homeless outreach center at 525-5th Street. All the baked competition bread was donated to the SVDP. Another “Sold Out” sign went up early online for the Irish Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, Feb 28. Over 160 patrons dined on pancakes, sausages, and fruit hosted by the Millbrae Pancake House and Java Beach Cafe. We honored the deceased members of the UICC at St. Gabriel’s church on the morning of February 28th.

During February, we expanded the Irish Shoppe retail offerings to include Fresh Irish Soda and Brown bread, from Fiddlers Green, in Millbrae. You can order online or get to the Shoppe early on Saturdays to purchase a loaf. More recently, we have started to sell Donnelly Irish sausages, black and white pudding, and Irish rashers (bacon). So stop by any day that we are open at Wawona Gates and say hello to Josephine Brogan. Free local delivery is available to those that are house-bound, and you can use the order form in this month’s Bulletin to purchase your favorite Irish goods. Phone orders are also welcome.

The Spring retail boutique will take place on March 6th and 7th. This was a very successful venture last December, so come out and browse all the local artisans, artists, and mom and pop retailers selling their goods and services.

The 2021 United Irish Societies Grand Marshals Dinner will be a Grab and Go from the Center on Friday, March 12th in association with Knights Catering. See the UIS advert in this month’s Bulletin to score $10 off each order.

A gentle reminder that the deadline for the Leo Walsh Educational Scholarship Program is Sunday, March 14th, 2021. Since its inception in 1994, more than 500 scholarships have been awarded to eighth-graders and high school seniors entering the next level of their education. Check our website for details.

Our very own Anne Cassidy Carew is doing the 1k/5k/10k Spar Craic Run (or walk) on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th. Our friends in San Jose will also be doing a virtual run during March. Online at:
Try something new this year. Create new traditions.

Virtual events are now quite common across the globe. On Saturday, the UICC is a co-sponsor of the International St. Patrick’s Day celebration which hosts several local artists and musicians, as well as those in Ireland. Check it Online at

Join us for our very own “Paint the Bridge Green” produced event in association with Bosca Beagaí on March 17th and also on the 20th. A virtual event that gathers musicians and dancers from around the world to perform in your own living room.

On behalf of us all at the United Irish Cultural Center, we would like to wish everyone an enjoyable, safe and healthy St. Patrick’s day.

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

Liam Reidy, President of the UICC