At the closing of the year 1933, a small band of men of Irish and Irish-American heritage held a meeting in the back room of Mickey Burns' tavern on Fleming Avenue. Their purpose was to form a fraternal organization consisting of men of Irish birth or extraction. Apparently all the friends agreed they had to move forward with their plans.
In January of 1934 a meeting was held in St. Aloysius Mission Theatre. There and then the Ironbound Irish American Association was formed. The objectives were to 'foster and encourage friendship, understanding, social and cultural activities among its members, and to encourage and participate in such lawful exercises and activities as will promote and advance the interests of its members in the United States.' The Association was to remain forever non-sectarian and non-political.
As the membership grew at a rapid pace in the Ironbound community, meetings were held in various locations. Plans were already underway for the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New Jersey to be held on Broad Street in the City of Newark. With a greater enthusiasm, the men kept moving on. Of course the Ironbound Irish were in the thick of things. Naturally, the Ironbound Irish American Association was one of the first to belong.
So on went the organization for many years, marching on Ferry Street to the "Point," then up Fleming Avenue to Cavanaugh's Tavern on Market Street, and then boarding the buses to Pennsylvania Avenue to the start of the Parade.
The annual parade route remained the same for many years until a drastic change occurred in the Broad Street area. The parade was moved to Vailsburg. Of course, the Ironbound Irish did not agree with the move. Certainly we were not the only organization to disagree.
So came a time of inactivity...
By 1985, the 'Ironbound Irish' had become an organization on paper only; most of the members had moved away, died or lost interest. Tom Gerrity was told by Jim Stapleton that our parade charter was still intact. Tom called around and arranged a Saturday meeting in Golda's back room. A few of the sons and grandsons of our founding fathers came together and decided to put the "Banner" back on the street. Having decided to march again, wearing traditional high hat and cutaway tails and carrying walking sticks, we have since marched in Vailsburg, Nutley, Broad Street, Union, Belmar, Jersey City, Mulberry Street, [Kearny, Seaside] and wherever the "Good Lord" sends us.
In 2009, the Ironbound Irish celebrated its 75th Anniversary. The organization has continued to flourish and progressed to a point of sponsorship for many charitable causes, most notably Project Children, Ironbound Little League and the Ironbound Community Service Organization.
-Dick Glynn, Historian
In September of 1935, Rev. Joseph C. Lennihan, one of the priests from St. Patrick's Cathedral, originally of County Cork, indicated his interest in an Irish parade in Newark. He made arrangements to meet with the Four Masters Garlic Association and the Brian Boru Irish War Pipe Band to call a meeting in early January of 1936.
Father Lennihan presided over the first of many meetings at St. Patrick's school hall. Meeting attendance grew to include many tavern owners such as Mr. O'Grady, Mr. Lenihan and Mr. Ruane. The organizations present included Antrim Down, The Emerald Society, The Ironbound Irish and many others from Harrison and East Newark. Officers were elected and great progress was made.
The first Newark Parade was held on March 15, 1936. The first Grand Marshal was former Mayor of Newark, Charles P. Gillen. The parade boasted a line of march with nearly 30,000 as a squadron of planes roared overhead. The Newark parade has continued on a yearly basis and the Ironbound Irish are both proud and humbled to have been there from the start.
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Registered 501 (c)(3) Charitable Organization.