Irish Eclectic

The Holy Season: A Hand to St. Joseph, Who Made it All Possible

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By Brian McGowan

It’s that time of year again – March – the “Holy Season” of parades and festivities in honor of Saint Patrick, who continues to grace this column from time to time, more often than not.

Not alone in the pantheon of Irish saints, we’ve written of Saint Columba and Saint Bridget as well. It’s a trifecta that often vies for position as a first-place favorite.

But let’s pause for a moment and consider where we would be this month without the presence of yet another saint – no, not an Irish one – but one without whom there would never have been a Saint Patrick. This saint has no parades in his honor that I know of – readers, correct me if I am wrong – and his feast day falls a scant two days later than Patrick’s. I speak, of course, of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus Christ.

Now, Saint Patrick is recognized by all as the patron saint of Ireland. But in the “patron saint” category, Saint Joseph has him beat, racking up three honorifics – patron saint of fathers (an example to all of us dads and grandfathers out there); workers (he was a carpenter by trade, and his foster son, Jesus, was for many years his apprentice); and my second favorite land, Italy. And to top it all off, he has a delicious pastry named after him. It goes by three names: Saint Joseph’s Pastry, sfingi and zeppoli.

But back to Ireland for a minute, as we search for connections between Saint Joe and the “auld sod.” Did you know that he is credited with an appearance at a place the Irish hold near and dear, and to which the faithful flock each year from all over the globe? I’m speaking of Knock, a pilgrimage site revered by many, and where, on Aug, 21, 1879, Joseph appeared along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Apostle and Jesus Christ.

Knock, in County Mayo, Ireland, draws some 1.5 million pilgrims each year. While skeptics abounded, both then and now, the mystery brings comfort to many.

And now, to the topic of parades. The weather is always a tricky matter, but whatever the forecast may be, the best foot will be put forward at a number of events spanning the month of March, including many in or close to our area.  Several that I’m aware of are listed below, with dates and times as posted on various social media outlets. If I missed any, my apologies!

  • Saturday, Mar. 2, 1 p.m., Dutchess County Parade, Wappingers Falls.
  • Sunday, Mar. 3, 2 p.m., Mount Kisco Parade, Main Street, Mount Kisco.
  • Saturday, Mar. 9, noon, White Plains Parade, Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains.
  • Saturday, Mar. 9, 3 p.m., Peekskill Parade, Peekskill.
  • Sunday, Mar. 10, 1 p.m., Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow Parade, 40 Prospect Ave., Tarrytown.
  • Sunday, Mar. 10, 2 p.m. Northern Westchester/Putnam Parade, 741 Route 6, Mahopac.
  • Sunday, Mar. 10, 3 p.m., Eastchester Irish-American Social Club Parade, Immaculate Conception School, Eastchester.
  • Saturday, Mar. 16, 11 a.m., New York City Parade, Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.
  • Sunday, Mar. 17, 1:30 p.m., Rockland County Parade, Pearl River.
  • Saturday, Mar. 23, 1 p.m., Yonkers Parade, Hyatt and McLean avenues, Yonkers.
  • Sunday, Mar. 24, 1:30 p.m., Sound Shore/Mamaroneck Parade, Mamaroneck.

And once more, I share space with our fellow Celts to hail the upcoming Tartan Day Parade, held this year on Saturday, Apr. 6. The parade steps off at 2 p.m. at Sixth Avenue and 45th Street in Manhattan. April celebrates all things Scottish, following a month of celebrating all things Irish. All Celtic, say I!

And revelers, whatever your nationality or background may be, please treat these events with the respect they deserve. For more information on alternatives, visit the Sober St. Patrick’s Day Foundation ( Don’t be one of those who treats a saint’s day as an excuse for rowdyism. We all deserve better than that!

Longtime Pleasantville resident Brian McGowan was born and raised in the Bronx and is a second-, third- and fifth-generation Irish-American/Canadian, as his immigrant ancestors followed several paths to the New World. Reach him at He is the author of three books: “Thunder at Noon,” about the Battle of Waterloo; “Love, Son John,” about World War II; and “Island Prize,” about the Revolutionary War in 1776 New York. All are available at

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