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Faculty Expert Spotlight

Turning the City Green! Georgia Southern celebrates Savannah's 200th St. Patrick's Day Parade

· 2 min. read

Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest in America, right behind New York City and Chicago.

Comprised of Irish heritage, marching bands, traditional dancers and elaborate floats, people come to Savannah from all over the world to participate in the local parade.

And as the city looks to commemorate the 200th St. Patrick’s Day Celebration this year, Dr. Howard Keeley, the director of Georgia Southern University's Center for Irish Research, is a crucial member of the global Irish community. Notably, he said the fact that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are still prevalent and evolving come down to several things.

Firstly- he says that people with Irish heritage in Savannah have such a hyper-local pride. There were three main neighborhoods the Irish settled in- East Savannah, Yamacraw, and Frogtown - and a lot of local Irish people now can trace their lineage back to one of those neighborhoods. He also says that Irish immigrants were received very well into the Savannah community unlike in some other places, such as the Northeast.

That cultural integration has allowed Irish pride to be woven into the fabric of Savannah and he says that Irish people also love to share their heritage with others.

So, it’s only natural that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have continued on for this long.

”It’s the Irish and everybody else. There’s a phrase that has come into being, I think it was coined by the Irish government, but when you think about the phrase it makes so much sense. And that is ‘affinity diaspora’, so diaspora referring to the Irish that live abroad, but affinity meaning anyone can be Irish. That you align with certain values that Ireland wants to stand for, values of inclusion, values of cultural vibrancy, and you know, Ireland is welcoming,” said Keeley.

Keeley was recently in the news for receiving the 2023 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad from the Government of Ireland. It is the highest honor the country of Ireland can give to a person who is a non-resident.

This will be an exciting event, and if you're looking to speak to Howard Keeley simply click on his icon now or contact Georgia Southern's Director of Communications Jennifer Wise at to arrange an interview today.

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Dr. Howard Keeley

Assistant Professor

Dr. Howard Keeley is the director of the Center for Irish Research and Teaching at Georgia Southern University

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Last updated: 1/9/2024