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- Erin Go Bragh! Images of St Patrick’s Day in the Visual Studies Collection


The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls...,  Visual Studies Collection, Library of Virginia.

This March we are highlighting vintage St. Patrick’s Day postcards from the Visual Studies Collection at the Library of Virginia. What is the backstory behind some of the images and symbols we associate with St. Patrick’s Day? And how did Virginians in the past celebrate this most Irish of holidays?

It may surprise many Americans to learn that St. Patrick’s Day did not become an official public holiday in Ireland until 1903. As the feast day of St. Patrick, known as the “Apostle of Ireland,” the “holy day” traditionally featured religious observances. In the United States, Irish immigrants embraced the holiday as a way to celebrate their shared heritage and honor the saint. It was in New York City, not Dublin, that the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1762 (see the Tenement Museum’s excellent history of St. Patrick’s Day in New York).

The dual nature of St. Patrick’s Day as a commemoration of the saint and an expression of Irish identity is evident in the iconography associated with the holiday. We see St. Patrick represented by his golden crozier (hooked staff), a bishop’s mitre, and shamrocks, which legend held he used to teach the doctrine of the Trinity. While the early history of these symbols is unclear, they were in use by the 17th century, when they were included on coinageread more »

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- Season’s Greetings and More!

Did you know that the Library of Virginia’s Visual Studies Collection has a Tumblr page for new acquisitions? It is called LOOK WHAT WE GOT, and the page is a feast for the eyes! At least twice a day, images of newly acquired materials ranging from holiday cocktail napkins and dinner menus to family snapshots and vacation postcards are posted for research and enjoyment.

Particularly fun at this time of year are the December holiday images. Please enjoy these seasonal selections and follow LOOK WHAT WE GOT on Tumblr to keep up with new Visual Studies Collection acquisitions.

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