Remembering how Irish immigrants helped shape SF as Saint Patrick's Day celebrations return

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After a long, two-year break, the music, the dancing and the celebrating were back for St. Patrick's Day Thursday night at the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco.

"It's great to be back open. You know, spirits are high. The party's just starting," said Liam Reidy.

Reidy is the center's president.

He tells ABC7 News that after the pandemic hit the center's finances hard, he's happy to see the community come out and help put the center back on its feet - for the second time in just a few years.

VIDEO: San Francisco bars open without restrictions for St. Patrick's Day
EMBED More News Videos

It's St. Patrick's Day, and bars in San Francisco haven't seen this kind of celebration since the coronavirus pandemic forced them to shut down.



"Honest to goodness, we were really worried about the Irish Center because it had closed at the end of 2018. So we've had some rough economic headwinds here for the last couple of years," Reidy said.

For decades, the Irish have been one of the city's largest and most influential ethnic groups.

Their impact is felt across the Bay Area in fields like education, construction and religion.

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

"It's really here in San Francisco, as old as the city itself. The immigrants that came during the Gold Rush brought Irish dancing, their music, their traditions," said Eileen Mize.

And that historical presence will soon be getting a big boost as the Cultural Center raises money for a complete rebuild of their facility by 2025.

It's a project they say will preserve Irish history in San Francisco.

VIDEO: SF St. Patrick's Day events back for 1st time since 2019
EMBED More News Videos

St. Patrick's Day block parties and pub crawls are back in San Francisco for the first time since 2019.



"We have the plans submitted to the City and County of San Francisco to go from 20,000 square feet to 120,000 square feet here at this facility," said Reidy.

But until that time comes, the party will carry on with an open door for everyone, Irish or not.

"From the White House down to our own little gathering house here in San Francisco, everybody wants to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day," Reidy said.

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.