IRELAND, W.Va. (WBOY) — Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is part of Irish culture, and in the area of Ireland, West Virginia which was settled by an Irishman named Andrew Wilson, an annual celebration of the Irish culture is held. 

Locals of Ireland say many years later, Wilson became affectionately known as “Old Ireland” to the settlers of that area. Through in-depth research by local residents, they discovered that “Old Ireland” had lived to enjoy 114 springtimes. The average lifespan at that time was approximately 38 years. This is the 41st celebration of the Irish Spring Festival.  

“The annual tradition of the walk to Blarney Rock is what is the ringing in of Spring, the vernal equinox. So, every year, no matter what time it comes in, as we know it varies from year to year, we meet here at the community building, it takes about a 40 or 45-minute walk to the rock which is right above Ireland that looks down here on our little community building. And people stand, they ring in Spring, they have coins, they stand eggs on end during the vernal equinox,” said Stephanie Singleton, President of the Shamrock CEOS Club that also sponsors the Irish Spring Festival.  

On Friday a reception will be held for the new Irish Spring Festival King and Queen. Candidates who are at least 60 years old held a penny fundraiser; one penny counts as one vote for King or Queen. It serves as one of the largest fundraisers of the year. 

“A lot of our festival is centered around traditions. Being the 41st year it brings so many family and friends together, kind of what we know of a homecoming, a reunion of sorts, people that grew up together, children who grew up her with their families their friends that come back,” Singleton said. “It was started as a fundraiser but we really have that key of a fun-raiser, we keep things free or low cost. So, any size family can come and enjoy it, enjoy the weekend, different events of all ages, you know, parade, good wholesome food, events, Irish Road Bowling is very popular that was started in 1995 here on Wildcat Road and it has become very big as we know throughout the state.” 

Many festivities will be held at the Ireland Community Center from March 17 through March 20 for residents and visitors to celebrate their Irish heritage. If you would like the get involved in the festival in Lewis County, you can attend the following events:  

  • Friday, March 17
  • 7 p.m. Irish Jig (Square Dance) 
  • 7 p.m. Costume Contest begins 
  • 8 p.m. House decorating contest winners announced 
  • 8:30 p.m. Costume contest winners announced 
  • 9 p.m. King and Queen coronation 
  • Saturday, March 18: 
  • 10 a.m. Scavenger Hunt 
  • 10:30 a.m. Kite Fly 
  • 10:30 a.m. Tour De Shamrock (10.5-mile bike tour) 
  • 11 a.m. Foul Shooting Contest 
  • 11:30 a.m. Harp Concert Rehearsal (Ireland U.M. Church) 
  • 1 p.m. The “March” Parade 
  • 2 p.m. Harp Concert (Ireland U.M. Church) 
  • 2:30 p.m. Road Bowling 
  • 3 p.m. Beginners Harp Workshop (Ireland U.M. Church) 
  • 4 p.m. Just Ducky Sweepstakes (Duck Race) 
  • 4:30 p.m. Budding Shamrocks (Talent Contest) 
  • 6 p.m. Luck O’ the Irish (Bingo) 
  • Sunday, March 19: 
  • 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Irish food and drinks 
  • 12 p.m. Snake Chase (5K Walk/run sponsored by Mon Health) 
  • 1:30 p.m. Road Bowling 
  • 2 p.m. Frolic in the Field (Children’s Field Day at Mabel’s field) 
  • 4:30 p.m. Fried Potato Contest 
  • 6 p.m. Unicorns, Gremlins, and Shmoos (Pet Show) 
  • Monday, March 20: 
  • 4:55 p.m. Assent to Blarney Rock 
  • 5:24 p.m. Vernal Equinox 1st Day of Spring 
  • 6 p.m. Stone Soup