Irish heritage in NY celebrated ahead of St. Patrick’s Day

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Bono of U2 reportedly once said “the Irish built New York.”

While that might be a slight exaggeration, everyone at the Irish Heritage Celebration at Brooklyn Borough Hall might agree that the Irish built Brooklyn.

“The built all the bridges, they ran the saloons, they put out the fires,” Sheila O’Hagan McGirl told PIX11, quoting a famous song,” “they controlled city hall and they patrolled the streets of the city,” she added.

With a traditional Irish band, the Brooklyn Bards, it was a magical, musical night celebrating all things Irish in an “embrace your hyphen” night of Irish-American culture hosted by the Brooklyn borough president.

It was complete with corned beef, shepherd’s pie and soda bread and performers from the O’Malley School of Irish dance of Marine Park.

There were lots of speeches about what the Irish contributed to life in New York City, particularly when you consider by 1850, the Irish made up a quarter of the city’s population.

“They settled in Park Slope, Bay Ridge and they made this borough what it is today,” Brian O’Dwyer, the nephew of New York City Mayor William O’Dwyer told PIX11.

But it was the Brooklyn Borough President who said we must embrace our hyphens and remember all immigrants struggles.

“People often think of immigrants as South and Central Americans, Eric Adams told PIX11. “But in Boston there are Irish immigrants who are being deported. They overstated their visas. We are all in it together,” the Borough President added.

And to 7-year-old Anne Martin, she danced to celebrate her grandfather’s award and her own Irish heritage.

“I love my culture and Irish music,” Anne told PIX11.

So come Saint Patrick’s Day, celebrate Irish American culture and “embrace your hyphen.”