Imagine yourself walking downtown in Ireland, listening to Irish medleys. The flutes, the bagpipes, and the fiddles fill the air with an ambiance of celebration. The aroma of corned beef and cabbage, fresh baked soda bread and scones and bratwurst cooking in the restaurants fills the streets. The first St. Patrick’s Day took place on March 17, 1762. The holiday is a celebration of the work of St. Patrick and takes place every year on the anniversary of his death (believed to be on March 17, 461). I was surprised to learn that St. Patrick is the patron saint and apostle of Ireland. He was actually not Irish. He was Roman Britain, but he was brought to Ireland as a slave when he was only 16 years old. When he ran away and escaped his owners, he wound up at a monastery and converted to Christianity. He is ascribed as being the man who brought Christianity to Ireland because after he converted, he went back to Ireland and challenged the Druids at Tara Hill to see who’s God was real. After several rounds of challenges, the God of Christianity proved to be the real God, so the story says. The King bowed down to his God. St. Patrick is known for the spreading of Christianity throughout Ireland. The real celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day began when Irish soldiers came over to the United States to fight in the English army. These men wanted to remember the culture of Ireland, and so they decided to have a parade and marched through New York City.
Now, you might ask how the parade in Olde Town Conyers came about, and the answer to that is few men who decided they wanted to have a St. Patrick’s Day parade! Bill Spivey was at Beasley’s pharmacy and “Charlie came by the drug store and said come on Bill, let’s have a parade.” There’s a video which was done by Darrell Everidge, of three prominent men of Conyers, GA, Bill Spivey, Bill Rodgers and Charles Walker. The video was done in the year of 2016, which was the last year that all these wonderful men were all alive. They told the story of how the “fastest growing” parade began. Charlie is the very well-known former Mayor of Conyers, Charles Walker. This took place on St. Patrick’s Day of 1979 or 1980. They could never agree on which year this happened. The next year, Walker and Spivey told the media they would be having a parade and Tom Berry from the newspaper “come runnin’ up the street with a step ladder,” so he could stand on the step ladder to see over the crowd. Walker said, “the crowd didn’t materialize,” because they didn’t tell anybody else. They came around the corner and Berry had a puzzled look on his face while he stood on that ladder and he said, “is that it?” It was Charles Walker and Bill Spivey walking down the street. The next year, Bill Rodgers joined in, and they never missed a parade, except that one year when they all went to Dublin, Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. They call the Olde Town Conyers the “fastest growing” parade because “it used to double every year,” said Walker. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Conyers may have started with just two men walking down the street, but it has undoubtedly grown since those days into one of the most significant events of the year.
There is yet another man who has added his flavor and put effort into making the St. Patrick’s Day parade and party thrive in Olde Town Conyers. Greg Burch is the owner of Celtic Tavern Restaurant. The restaurant opened on Memorial Day of 2001. The restaurant was owned by a school teacher named Lynn Maddox. They had a tiny menu, and they only served beer and wine. Greg said, “This is one of the first places I visited when I moved to Conyers in 2000.” He hosted the open mic night at the Celtic, and when the owners wanted to sell, Greg bought the restaurant. This year will be their 10th St. Patrick’s Day since owning the restaurant. There is a lot of history in that little building. In the back of the building is the first public shower, which is no longer functioning. On the back patio is the first city water tower. Greg also has some history worth sharing. His family, the O’Moore family, came over to the United States in 1976 and they landed in New York. Their family lived in Rochester, NY which has an immense Irish flavor. The whole community celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. They start celebrating at the beginning of the week. He said, “they close down the streets, and the city brings out the busses which you can ride for only $1.” He is very familiar with the Irish culture because his mother always made them aware of it. Greg quipped, “are you going to ask me if I like Guinness?” He said he actually didn’t develop a taste for Guinness until he drank it in Ireland. I asked him if it was better in Ireland and he said, “I liked it, I liked the temperature, and the head is creamier.” He said every night after work, around 5:30, he has a short Guinness to finish off the night. What a gem to have in Olde Town Conyers, Greg Burch, and The Celtic Tavern. The Celtic has something going on every night, which includes Trivia, Open Mic Night and Poker Night. The only night when something isn’t going on is Monday because that has been named, “Chill Night.” The Celtic has a lot of character. Greg says, “it’s been a good ten years.” Greg Burch also wants to say thank you to the Celtic’s customers, “because without them, they would not be open.” He is very appreciative of his regulars because they are like his own family. Thank you, Greg, for giving us an Irish flavor in little Olde Town.
Come out to Olde Town on Friday, March 16th for the “World’s Fastest Growing St. Patrick’s Day Parade” which starts at 4:30 pm. Following the parade, the 9th Annual World’s Shortest Endurance Run sponsored by the Rotary Club of Rockdale County will take place. The run is .1 mile in length, and the race begins at 5 p.m. After the parade is over, the streets will be closed off, and The Celtic Tavern and Tin Plate will be hosting the St. Practice Street Party. For the 10th year in a row, there will be live music played by the Stratocats. On the following day, which is St. Patrick’s Day, there will also be another street party hosted by The Celtic and Tin Plate. It will be a weekend of laughter, Irish music and food and a whole lot of GREEN! Come join us, won’t ya?