Delaware County Council was joined by members of the Springfield St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, the Grand Marshal of this year’s parade and students from the McDade-Cara School of Irish Dance to announce March as Irish Heritage Month during the March 6 council meeting.
Over 34 million Americans claim Irish ancestry. The early settlers of Pennsylvania included many farmers who came from the green shores of Ireland, and through their hard work and determination helped forge American democracy. Many Delaware County natives can trace their ancestors to those who braved great hardships to travel to the United States from Ireland in the 1840s to escape famine and oppression.
March is nationally recognized as Irish Heritage Month, a month to celebrate the rich Irish history and heritage. This year marks the 39th anniversary of the annual Springfield St. Patrick’s Day Parade, taking place on Saturday, March 16th. This year, Tom Curtis, Sr. was chosen to be the Grand Marshal of the parade. Mr. Curtis has been a native of Springfield for the past 48 years, where he raised his family and now enjoys times with his grandchildren. He has served with various charitable organizations such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Knights of Columbus Council, St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the Springfield American Legion. He has been spreading and keeping the Irish music culture alive by performing traditional and modern Irish music for the past 40 years, keeping Irish music relevant to the younger generations in our community. Mr. Curtis has been playing Irish music at weddings, funerals, private celebrations and parades for decades. This will be his 39th year playing at Duke’s Tavern in Springfield on Saint Patrick’s Day.
During the council meeting, students from the McDade-Cara School of Irish Dance performed classic Irish dances. For more than five decades, the school has been dedicated to preserving and enhancing the rich tradition of Irish step and figure dancing for Delaware County and surrounding communities.
In 1962, the late Maureen McDade McGrory founded the McDade School of Irish Dance. As the daughter of Jimmy McDade, leader of “The All-Ireland Orchestra,” Maureen truly loved the tradition of Irish music and dance. Maureen sadly passed away in 1993 after battling cancer, but her legacy lives on through the many dancers who learned from her, over the thirty years she taught dance. Today, the McDade-Cara School carries on her tradition, believing that instruction in step dancing develops not only the physical abilities of children but also strengthens their self-esteem as they master the progression of dance steps. The school also provides an atmosphere where children and teens build relationships that last a lifetime.