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Trending In Savannah: March Brings Irish Stories, Wit, Song and Food Inspired from Ireland for St. Patrick’s Feast and Parade

Irish St Patrick's Savannah GA | Photo courtesy Sandy Traub

Kiss Me I’m Irish hat for St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah Georgia USA | #stpatricksday #stpats #savstpats #irish

SAVANNAH, Georgia — On trend in Savannah during March each year is the festive and dominant color — GREEN! Irish Heritage Month is celebrated in America during March to coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day, the Irish national holiday and St. Patrick’s Feast.

Enjoy Irish song and music! Take in the Celtic Woman Tour in concert, March 14, 2017, at Savannah Civic Center. #CelticWoman

Green donuts at Savannah bakery - Baker's Pride

Green donuts at Baker’s Pride Bakery in Savannah Georgia USA only on March 17 each year. #savstpats

In Savannah’s southern city of evergreen forests, and green landscapes, is it possible to become even more green during the month of March?

Yes! Green is on trend in Savannah attire, as well as for food — green grits, green donuts, and green raisen sticks!

No other day is more green than the popular Savannah St. Patrick’s Day! The popular hashtag is #savstpats on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. It appears that nearly everyone becomes Irish for a day, at least during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade that happens in 2017 on March 17.  It’s a Savannah tradition you don’t want to miss! (** Check out it’s beginning dates, noted below. **)

Tip! It’s some say St. Paddy’s Day, some St. Patty’s Day. #StPaddy is correct. #StPatricksDay #StPats #sav #IrishforaDay #shamrock #kissmeImIrish #Irish #blessed #luckoftheirish #savannah #savethedate #travel

Featured ice cream flavors during March at the always on trend, and phenomenally popular Leopold’s Ice Cream (212 E. Broughton St.) are Guinness (1-17th) and Thin Mints and Cream. 

The farm-to-table and day-boat seafood are popular in our favorite Savannah eateries.  Travelers will discover more Irish food is featured on restaurant and cafe menus, plus some Savannah bed and breakfasts — Colcannon, Banger Sausage, Irish Coffee, Corned Beef Sandwiches, Biscuits (cookies), Irish Stew, Beef Stew, Mashed Potatoes, Irish Soda Bread, Potato Soup, and Potatoes Cooked in their jackets served with plenty of Irish butter!  Here’s a link we adore to Ballymaloe recipes in Ireland, if you are cooking for an Irish party fare at your place.

The city fountains run green, complimenting the color-rich garden landscapes. Irish wit and Irish laughter douse the conversations at jovial to solemn events. Irish is the music of choice, especially at Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub (17 West River Street).

AN IRISH STORY: MAJOR JOHN FOLEY, AN IRISH IMMIGRANT TO AMERICA.

Foley began life in the USA (1836) as an Irish workman, helping to build the Central of Georgia Railroad. At the time of his death (1881), he was the 7th president of the prominent Hiberian Society, comprised of Irishmen in Savannah who hosted U.S. Presidents for St. Patrick’s Feasts, usually on March 17. 

Like so many Irish immigrants, John Foley arrived in Savannah by way of London, seeking work in America. In Ireland, families were dying from the potato famine. Living among African workers in the poorer district in east Savannah, Foley like so many Irishmen and women rose from the ranks of humble workers to become prominent community leaders. The Savannah biography of prominent Irishman, Major John Foley by Glenn Carey Godbee, published by Armstrong State College is one example.* (See below)

From Irishman Major John Foley’s biography, we share a new Savannah itinerary of Irish places of interest in Savannah.

Emmet Park near Savannah River | Photo courtesy Sandy Traub to Green Palm Inn

Irish Celtic Cross is located in Emmet Park downtown Savannah GA on Bay Street near the Savannah River. Photo: Courtesy to Green Palm Inn from Sandy Traub 2017

Bay Street. Visit Emmet Park on east Bay Street. John Foley owned a liquor beverage shop on Bay Street. | Once known as the Strand and later as “Irish Green” because of its proximity to the Irish residents of Savannah’s Old Fort neighborhood, this park was renamed in 1902 for the Irish patriot Robert Emmet (1778-1803) to commemorate the centennial of his death. The Celtic Cross monument is in Emmet Park. Emmet Park remains an important center of ceremonial congregation for Savannahians of Irish descent, and a popular spot to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17!

Christ Church (28 Bull Street), overlooking Johnson Square. Major John Foley was Episcopalian. | Christ Church was the first house of worship in the colony of Georgia and was founded in 1733 with the establishment of the colony. “Before the American Revolution (1775-83) members of the Anglican Church, or Church of England, composed the largest and most influential religious group in Georgia, having been instrumental in the founding of the colony. In 1789 American Anglicans, including those in Georgia, formally reconstituted themselves as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.” Source: Georgia Encyclopedia

Greene Ward / Greene Square where Green Palm Inn (548 East President St.) is located. In his will, Major Foley bequeathed two houses and lots in Greene Ward to his nurse, Henrietta Cooper.  | “Greene Ward was laid out in 1799, as part of the second expansion of the city. To fit in the area allocated for it in the City Common, the width of the ward was reduced, resulting in a narrow Oglethorpe plan formula, complete with a central square, trust lots and tything lots.”

Irish food for St Patrick's Day in Savannah Georgia USA | Photo Green Palm Inn

St Patrick’s Day Irish food at Green Palm Inn bed and breakfast in Savannah GA USA

“Greene Ward and Square, named in May 1799, honor General Nathanael Greene (1742-1786) of Rhode Island. Washington’s Chief of Staff in the Revolution, he was in Georgia at the close of the War. ” Source: Virtual Historic Savannah Project, SCAD

Laurel Grove Cemetery (802 West Anderson St.).  Major John Foley was buried in 1881, lot 1882. | Although planned as early as 1818, Laurel Grove first opened for burials in 1853. Famous people who are buried in Laurel Grove include James Moore Wayne, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; James Lord Pierpont, writer and composer of the song Jingle Bells; Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA; Florence Martus, nicknamed “the Waving Girl”, the unofficial greeter of all ships that entered and left the Port of Savannah; and 600 Confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of Gettsyburg.

Bonaventure Cemetery (330 Bonaventure Rd.) “The only road that was ever known to carry a man beyond the cemetery. (The streetcar passed Bonaventure Cemetery in route to Thunderbolt.) — Source: Major John Foley biography, Armstrong State College.

A Savannah picnic in Laurel Grove Cemetery

A unique Savannah tip from Green Palm Inn: “Picnic in Laurel Grove Cemetery,” says innkeeper Diane McCray Crews.

“Bonaventure to me is one of the most impressive assemblages of animal and plant creatures I ever met. I was fresh from the Western prairies, the garden-like openings of Wisconsin, the beech and maple and oak woods of Indiana and Kentucky, the dark mysterious Savannah cypress forests; but never since I was allowed to walk the woods have I found so impressive a company of trees as the tillandsia-draped oaks of Bonaventure.”

“I gazed awe-stricken as one new-arrived from another world. Bonaventure is called a graveyard, a town of the dead, but the few graves are powerless in such a depth of life. The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm, undisturbable grandeur of the oaks, mark this place of graves as one of the Lord’s most favored abodes of life and light.” – “Camping in the Tombs,” from A Thousand Mile Walk, John Muir (1867)

Town of Thunderbolt (2821 River Drive2821 River Drive, Thunderbolt).  In the narrative of Major John Foley, the Coastline Railroad streetcar traveled from Savannah to Thunderbolt, a small town village on the Wilmington River and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. | Main street Thunderbolt is a short walk that parallels the Wilmington River, showcasing yachts, boats, and commercial fish endeavors. One of Diane and Gary’s favorite casual-as-they-can-be supper spots — seafood served on newspaper — is Despositos (187 Macceo Dr.), located just across the Thunderbolt Bridge.

Thunderbolt was a settlement which evolved into a shipping point for local plantation needs which also serviced the river traffic. In 1856, the Town of Thunderbolt was incorporated as Warsaw and then began its history as a processing port for the fishing community. In 1890, Georgia State College was founded for the education of African Americans. This college continues to be a historically black institution and is known today as Savannah State University.

In 1921, Warsaw’s name was restored to Thunderbolt and the seafood processing continued to play a large part in this community’s development. In 1939, yacht racing became popular and saw the construction of a yacht basin.” – Source: ThunderboltGA.org

Sgt Jasper soldier monument | Photo: Library of Congress

Jasper monument in Madison Square downtown Savannah GA – Irish Jasper Greens military unit is named to honor Sgt. Jasper, a Revolutionary War hero.

Jasper Monument in Madison Square (intersection of Bull and East Macon Streets), for whom the Irish Jasper Greens military unit are named.  Major John Foley was enlisted in the Jasper Greens.

Columbia Square.  Major John Foley’s grocery store was located on the northwest, facing Columbia Square. | The William Kehoe House and another Kehoe mansion were built by the successful Irishman and iron magnate on Columbia Square.  At the age of 9, William Kehoe’s family had left the famine and depression of Ireland. They arrived in Savannah, known to be a town where the Irish were not discriminated. Columbia Square was laid out in 1799 and is named for Columbia, the poetic personification of the United States. It is located on Habersham, between State and York Streets. Immediately west of Columbia Square was located Bethesda Gate, one of the six entrances into the town.

Facing it on the north is the “Davenport House,” one of the handsomest examples of Georgian architecture in the South. This finely proportioned dwelling, completed in 1820 was designed and built by its owner, Isaiah Davenport (1784-1827), one of Savannah´s outstanding builder-architects. In 1956 the “Davenport House” was restored by Historic Savannah Foundation as the first preservation project of that organization. In the center of the square is a fountain that formerly stood at Wormsloe, the estate of Noble Jones, one of Georgia’s first settlers.

Marshall House. Major Foley would choose leisure at Marshall House. | A restaurant in the Marshall House row, 45 Bistro (123 East Broughton St.) is a supper-only upscale eatery, serving new American entrees & wood-fired pizzas in an old-world setting dating from 1852. A convenient spot to dine when attending events, like Savannah Music Festival (March 23 -April 8, 2017), Savannah Film Festival (October 28 -November 4, 2017), or movies / shows at the historic Lucas Theatre and SCAD’s Trustee Theatre.

* MAJOR JOHN FOLEY (1813 – 1881).  The Foley family motto is “Ut Prosim”, translated “That I may be of use”.

We learn of his familiar path to Savannah from southwest Ireland near the Atlantic Ocean — Ballinclave (also Ballintlieve townland), Kerry County, Ireland. In 1881, Major Foley’s brother, Patrick Foley lived in Tipperary, a name familiar from the World War I song, “It’s a long long way to Tipperary“.

Former U.S. Ronald Reagan traces his family back to Ballyporeen in the south of the Tipperary County.

Savannah Celtic Cross | Photo courtesy Mike Jung

Irish Celtic Cross, located in Emmet Park downtown Savannah on east Bay Street. Photo: Mike Jung. Used with permission.

John Foley arrived in Savannah (1836), and worked with other laborers to construct the Central of Georgia Railroad. From 1840 he was a successful grocery store merchant on Columbia Square. He became a member of the prestigious Hibernian Society (1844), joined the Jasper Greens military unit (1845), was a Freemason (from 1851), served for a time enlisted in the Confederate cause of the Civil War, then later served as a “home guard” volunteer and medical aid (listed on Savannah Roll of Honor). During retirement periods, Foley would leisure at The Marshall House. In 1873 Foley became president of the Coastline Railroad, a local streetcar route that traveled from downtown Savannah to the town of Thunderbolt on the Wilmington River.

Earlier in the year, before his death in September 1881, he was voted the seventh president of the Hibernian Society. Major Foley’s funeral was conducted by Rev. Thomas Boone of Christ Church (Johnson Square). Foley is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery, Lot 1882. The beneficiary of his estate, valued at $50,000, went to his brother Patrick Foley in Tiperary, Ireland.

Another Irishman, James Doolan, purchased Major Foley’s home, located at 417 East York Street.  Interestingly, Green Palm Inn purchases its custom mattresses from James R. Dooner Mattress Store, surely a descendant of another Irishmany, Lt. James Dooner of the Irish James Greens (organized February 22, 1843).

** ST. PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATION IN SAVANNAH (beginnings):

  • 1812: Hibernian Society of Savannah formed by 13 Irish Protestants to help needy Irish immigrants.
  • March 17, 1813: First private observance of St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah by the Hibernians.
  • March 17, 1818: Parade by the “Fencibles” (defense force), an unidentified group.
  • March 17, 1824: First public procession by the Hibernian Society.
  • 1830: First time no parade was held. The Hibernians did meet and have their annual meeting.

ABOUT GREEN PALM INN
Featured on Wheel of Fortune, Innkeeper/co-owner Diane McCray Crews touts Green Palm Inn (circa 1897) as “The Softer Side of Savannah”. Originally sea captain cottages, the four-room Gingerbread Classic B&B shares cottage-inn comforts in the quiet of Greene Square’s residential neighborhood in the National Landmark Historic District. Fodor’s guide calls Green Palm Inn a “pleasing little discovery” and “a little gem of an inn”. BedandBreakfast.com named the cottage B&B a top pick for a holiday trip – “Top 10 B&Bs for the Holidays, 2011″. For more information: GreenPalmInn.com; Email GreenPalmInn@aol.com, telephone toll free in USA 888/606-9510, local and international 912/447-8901, 548 East President Street, Savannah, GA USA 31401. Twitter @GreenPalmInn, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Copyright © 2017 Green Palm Inn

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