Newport’s Mayor, Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, has joyfully approved the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to be held on Saturday, March 12, 2022. This parade has become an intrinsic part of the Irish history in Newport, Rhode Island. It regularly attracts 50,000 participants and spectators, is broadcast on local radio and television, and has earned recognition as the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the state. It had to be canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19 and everyone is eager for the tradition to return for its 66th year. The parade begins at 11:00 am. Attendees are treated to two hours of silly clowns, reenactment units, police units, fire trucks, and other local organizations. Of course, no parade is complete without music. Feel the energy of fife and drum corps, marching bands, and bagpipe troops.
Stay in one of the fabulous inns and bed and breakfasts of Newport and attend all of the weekend events. The Big Daddy Award Ceremony and Pre-Parade Party is held the night before. The free event has hors d’oeuvres and a DJ. The award recognizes the business that provides the largest financial support to the parade.
Stick around after the parade for a free family-friendly afternoon full of music, step dancers, and face painting. The celebration also features a “How Green Am I” contest with cash prizes.
Continue your Irish immersion getaway by visiting the Museum of Newport Irish History. The museum is open special Friday, Saturday, and Sunday hours during March. The center opened in June 2011 and it focuses on Irish immigration to Newport County from the 1600s to the present. The museum quickly became a Newport attraction with more than 1,500 people exploring the museum in its first two seasons.
The Museum strives to promote a calendar of “All Things Irish” that occur in the area each March. The 2022 calendar is currently being developed but here is a sneak peek at some upcoming activities:
- Trolley Tour of “Irish Newport” – Two narrated tours will be held on March 5, 2022. They include stops at The Forty Steps on Cliff Walk and the Barney Street Cemetery. Reservations are required as space is limited.
- Michael F. Crowley Lecture Series – The Newport Irish Heritage Month lecture will be held on March 23 at 6:00 pm. The lecture will share information about Patrick J. Boyle who served as the mayor of Newport 17 times. The lecture will be held at the Wayfinder Hotel with an option to view it live-streamed via Zoom. More information will be available about this event soon. The lecture series is celebrating its 20th season. Be sure to check for future topics.
- Dancing at the Forty Steps – Irish immigrants used to hold informal dances at this location. Everyone can relive the fun on Sunday, March 27 at 3:00 pm. There will be performances of live Irish music and dancing.
- Historic Irish Cemetery Tours – Take a 30 minute tour with a local historian. Tours will be held on three Sundays in March (6, 20, and 27) at 12:30 pm. Reservations are requested for these free tours, and tax-deductible donations are always welcome. St. Joseph’s Cemetery (affectionately known to locals as the Barney Street Cemetery) was established in the 1830s and has been lovingly restored. It houses approximately 26 stones, many carved from white stone. Mysteries still surround some of the deceased but volunteers from the Museum of Newport Irish History are diligently working to discover more about the Irish immigrants that called Newport home.
- Irish Walking Tours – The Museum of Newport Irish History is working on three self-guided walking tours. Brochures will be available in Spring 2022 from the Interpretive Center.
Explore these Newport sites on your own to explore more Irish Heritage:
- Forty Steps – In the late 1800s, 40 steps were added to the scenic Cliff Walk. They lead to the bottom of the cliff but don’t have a real final destination. The steps to no-where became a meeting point for servants who worked in the mansions in the city. The steps were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and we were rebuilt in 2014. Scan QR codes along the Cliff Walk for more information about the history of the area.
- St. Mary’s Church – The church was established in 1828 as the first Roman Catholic Church in the state. The church is perhaps best known for the wedding of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier to John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1953. It is said that they always sat in Pew #10 when they visited Newport on the weekends.
- Fort Adams – Construction of the fort began in 1824. Irish immigrants were key workers in the construction. The number of Irish working on the fort was the impetus for the start of St. Mary’s Church.