Published March 1, 2007
Events to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, will take place on March 9-10 and March 16-17 in Atlanta, sponsored by the Hibernian Benevolent Society, which was founded in 1858 by a group of Atlanta merchants to serve the less fortunate.
The annual wreath-laying ceremony will be held on Friday, March 9, to honor Father Thomas O’Reilly, whose intervention prevented General William T. Sherman from burning the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and other historic downtown churches and parts of the city. The event begins at 11:15 a.m. with a reception and tour at the Shrine, where Father O’Reilly is buried, followed by Mass celebrated by Msgr. Henry Gracz, at 12:10 p.m. and the wreath-laying at 1 p.m. at the memorial monument to the priest outside the old Atlanta City Hall, at the corner of Washington Street and Mitchell Street. Msgr. Edward Dillon, pastor of Holy Spirit Church, Atlanta, will make remarks, and city officials will make a presentation. There will be units from the Atlanta Fire Department, the Atlanta Police Department, the Fire Emerald Society of Metro Atlanta, and the Metropolitan Atlanta Police Emerald Society. BC Williams will play bagpipes. The Shrine is located at 48 Martin Luther King Drive, SW, Atlanta.
The Society will host the 2007 Hibernian Black Tie Ball at the Atlanta Marriott Center, 2000 Century Blvd., NE, on Saturday, March 10. There will be an Irish cocktail hour from 5:30-7 p.m. and a dinner from 7-8:30 p.m. followed by dancing and entertainment. The event is black tie optional and costs $85 per seat, or $850 for a table of ten. The hotel room rate is $99.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day Mass in honor of St. Patrick will be held the following weekend on Friday, March 16, at the Cathedral of Christ the King. The Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and priests of the archdiocese and will be followed by a reception with entertainment. The Cathedral is located at 2699 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations conclude on Saturday, March 17, with the 126th annual Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade and Family Festival beginning at noon. The parade through downtown Atlanta begins at Peachtree Street and Ralph McGill Blvd., proceeding down Peachtree Street past Woodruff Park, then left on Decatur Street to Pryor Street and right on Pryor through Underground Atlanta where there will be a festival with free entertainment including a U2 Tribute Band. The parade will have over 200 units, including floats, bands, military units, bagpipe and drums corps, thousands of children, Irish dancers, clowns, high tech firefighting equipment, police units, dignitaries from Ireland and Georgia government leaders and more. Last year over 250,000 attended. The Honorary Marshal this year is Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Grand Marshal is E. Neville Isdell, chief executive officer of the Coca-Cola Company, and a special guest is Gen. Charles Campbell. Catholic participants in the parade include representatives from Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Southern Catholic College, Dawsonville, and the Notre Dame Club of Atlanta.
The parade is staged by Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade, Inc., which is an outgrowth of the Hibernian Benevolent Society of Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade started in 1858. The Atlanta St. Patrick’s Day Foundation augments the parade by raising awareness and giving financial support for the treatment and research of childhood diseases. This year’s recipients include the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and St. Baldrick’s, which supports childhood cancer research.