On Tuesday, March 26, we celebrated the 248-year history of the Philadelphia Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland with music, talks, and an exhibit. Founded in Philadelphia in 1771, the Society is the second-oldest, continuously meeting Irish organization in the United States. The Society has made a number of contributions to Villanova University and recently partnered with the Library’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement department to digitize their historical materials, which can be viewed in the Digital Library.
The evening began with a social hour at 5pm, featuring refreshments and live Irish music from the band Irish Mist, featuring featuring Tom McLaughlin on banjo and spoons; Mary Tracy on fiddle, and Paul Harris on bass and guitar.
Talks began shortly after 6pm. As the exhibit curator and event organizer, I opened with a brief overview of some of the Irish connections in Falvey’s Distinctive Collections.
Dr. Joseph Lennon, Associate Dean of International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives and Emily C. Riley Director of Irish Studies, then spoke about the value to scholars of digitizing collections and making them freely available online.
Finally, our main speaker was Joseph P. Heenan, Past President of the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and current Chair of the Scholarship Committee and Chair of the Society’s Historical Records. Heenan gave an overview of the Society’s history and accomplishments.
After the talks, people had the opportunity to mingle some more and examine the materials in the exhibit cases. Everyone enjoyed a fun evening in honor of the Friendly Sons!
The exhibit will be on display through the end of May. If you can’t make it to the library to see the exhibit, Society materials that have been digitized so far are viewable online in the Digital Library with more to come.
All photos courtesy of Regina Duffy, unless otherwise noted.
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