Toasts and tunes are always part of St. Patrick’s Day.
There were plenty of both around the Capital Region in 1998 and 1999. Irish Americans and their friends wore green, marched in parades, played bagpipes and drums and raised pints to salute the saint — and the coming of spring.
In 1998, the Munro Family Bagpipes and Drum Band entertained at McGeary’s in Albany. In Schenectady, folks celebrated with a march down Jay Street. Paddy Kilrain, an Albany folk singer with Irish roots, was on the road St. Patrick’s Night — performing in a Fredonia tavern.
She explained why she changed the spelling of her name from “Patty” to “Paddy.” She had seen films in which the name “Paddy” was a name for Irish drunks. And the police “paddy wagon” was always used to transport people — who had stayed out too late, with too many beers for company — to jail.
“I wanted to reclaim it and make it a positive thing,” she said.
In 1999, a verdant Jim Callery had a full house at his Partner’s Pub in Johnstown. During both ’98 and ’99, people marched in Albany’s famous St. Patrick’s Day parade. And just like this past Saturday’s parade, there were good looking Irish people on the move in emerald attire.
Folks will see the same fashion statements today.