I was in Savannah last year for the celebration. This year I will be celebrating a trifecta of St. Patrick's Day, March Madness & Spring Break week in Las Vegas. It will be my first such trifecta even though I have been to Vegas over 50 times in the last 30 years. I hope to find a pot of gold at the end of the Venetian Poker Room rainbow.
Savannah has been celebrating its Irish heritage in Savannah for almost two centuries. Traditional Irish values and customs of old are mingled with the vibrancy and charm of a city whose quirky personality comes out in those who call Savannah home and those that are just here to visit! Most do not know that the first parade was a small private affair 179 years ago for a group of men of Irish heritage to honor the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick - a Catholic priest. Over the years, the parade has became a public event that grows in size every year. To this day, the true Savannah St. Patrick's Day celebration remains a deeply religious family event that features authentic Irish music, Celtic dances and great food!
In the early years of the parade, it was not uncommon for an Irishman, sometimes two, to serve several years as marshal. From 1824 to 1846 there was no marshal. The first marshals were Michael Finney and Henry James in 1847 and 1848. The title "Grand Marshal" did not come into use until 1870.
In 2002, my dad, Eddie Fahey was elected Grand Marshal. He is 82 years young and will be in this year's parade on Wdnesday with his great grandson, Fintan Fahey, who was born March 16, 2009.
The grandson of Ann Dooley and Michael Andrew Fahey of County Roscommon, Ireland, and the son of Anna Zipperer and James Michael Fahey, my dad grew up in the predominantly Irish Catholic Old Fort neighborhood on the eastside of Savannah's downtown. He attended the Marist School for Boys, which later became Cathedral Day School, and St. Bernard's, a high school in Alabama run by the Benedictine Monks.
He joined the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee in 1949. He is a charter member and past president of the Irish Heritage Society, executive secretary and past president of Sinn Fein Society, and a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.
This year will mark "Big Daddy's" 78th St. Patrick's Day parade in Savannah. It will be Fintan's first.
A resident of Tybee Island for more than 30 years, he was president of the St. Michael's Parish Council, the Home and School Association and the Men's Club. He is a past president of the Cathedral Pastoral Council and was O'Brien's assistant at St. Peter's on Wilmington Island from 1992-2008.
"Ed is as comfortable comforting the bereaved and visiting the sick as he is laughing with friends or setting fire to green grits ... He is a big man with a big heart who loves the day we celebrate St. Patrick."- 2002 Parade Committee Chairman
"1992 was the year that I lost my wife of 43 years, Martha Bradley Fahey, and it was a really tough time for me. I was seriously thinking about going back to St. Bernard's to become a Benedictine brother, but Father O'Brien would have none of that. He said, 'You can just stay right here and help me at St. Peter's."
His close friendship with the longtime pastor of St. Peter's spans almost 40 years. Father O'Brien was elected Grand Marshal of the 2009 parade and my dad was one of his aides.