On March 17, 1917 New Hampshire, along with many other places in the United States, celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. No one knew that 20 days later, this country would be at war [announced April 6, 1917].
In New Hampshire where there were many of Irish descent to celebrate the day, but most of the celebrations were in private homes. The Portsmouth Herald of 17 March 1917 announced: “Preparations are being made for the celebration of ‘St. Patrick’s day in the morning’ in New York City on the usual elaborate scale, and there will be exceptional interest in the event this year owing to the world conditions and conditions in the ‘fair green isle’ from which the followers of good St Patrick come.”
A hint of things to come could be found on page four where an entire story was focused on U.S. Navy recruitment. The next day on 16 March, the same newspaper noted that the “Sunshine Club was very pleasantly entertained” at the home of Charlotte Clarke of Lutts avenue, decorated in honor of St. Patrick’s day. “Refreshments of ice cream, cake, candy, and peanuts were served.” On the same page a story noted that “The Girl Scouts are busy these days studying first aid treatment and the Morse code of signalling.” [The story continued with information on the location of local recruitment stations for navy and army].
The Nashua Telegraph, Nashua NH, on 16 March 1917 was pretty low key when it came to celebrations, but Speare Dry Goods Co. held an advertisement for St. Patrick’s Day Shoppers [see graphic of advertisement above] that included “Emerald green Silk Hose in the hosiery department at 59c and $1.00 pr; and “Bright green taffeta Ribbon, 5 inch width…25c yd At the ribbon secion.” A boxed advertisement touted a combination St. Patrick Day Basket Ball and Dance, Lowell vs Nashua was planned for O’Donnell Hall. The cost was 25 cents, with dancing after the game 10c extra.
That same newspaper reported on “Emperor of Russia Driven from His Throne,” and the Russian Revolution. Other stories in the mix included a visit by former Massachusetts Governor Walsh in Milford NH. A much smaller notice also from Milford briefly mentions that about 80 women gathered at the invitation of Mrs. James J. Howison , Mrs. John McLane and Mrs. Edward Ellenwood to lay plans for the formation of a local chapter of the Red Cross. 50 women signed as charter members.
On St. Patrick’s Day itself, 17 March 1917 the Gaelic celebration was downplayed for news of unrest in the world. Stories of interest included welcoming soldiers of the Signal Corps home from the Mexican Border. Page 5 did include a notice that Sacred Heart School pupils had held at St. Patrick Concert, with the hall being filled to capacity (600 people) the evening before. The children wore costumes and the event began with an overture of “Killarney My Home.” The clothing was described as “boys in the front row of the chorus wore pink swallow tail coats, white trousers, vests of the Irish flag and pink stockings. The coats were trimmed with shamrock. The boys in the rear wore green trousers and white shirts.”
The list of names from New Hampshire of men and women who died during this Great War (WWI) include many Irish born and of Irish origin including Bradley, Burke, Collins, Doherty, Flynn, Murphy, and others. [see the entire New Hampshire list].
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