As Sacramento once again prepares to come alive with a variety of activities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, one local organization believes in making the celebration of Irish heritage and traditions a yearlong activity.
The club is also very well connected with the Arden, Carmichael and Land Park areas of Sacramento, explained Chris Brown, a South Land Park resident, who grew up within a lion’s roar of the Sacramento Zoo.
“We have about 15 members from the Arden and Carmichael areas and about a dozen more from the Land Park area,” Brown said. “Our many valued members span from Grass Valley to Lodi and areas throughout Sacramento. We couldn’t expand our club into the future without our founding and new members. But we also have plenty of room for more members who have interests in things Irish.”
Shamrock Club member Jane Lamborn, a 25-year resident of Carmichael, said that the club is a very enjoyable and educational organization.
“I joined the club three or four years ago and it’s just a lot of fun,” Lamborn said. “It’s a great group of people. They have that quick wit when you’re with the group and they’re friendly and open and welcoming. They promote Irish culture and Irish history, so you get a chance to learn about it, to enjoy it and they’re just a great group of people.”
Lamborn added that much of her interest in the club derived from the fact that her mother is half-Irish and her stepfather is 100 percent Irish and that she enjoys learning about Irish music and dance.
“They (her mother and stepfather) traveled extensively in Ireland, they lived there for a short period of time and growing up with her, I really learned about Ireland and that background,” Lamborn said. “I discovered the club when I went to the Scottish games in Woodland and they were there with some of their members playing music and I stopped to listen to the music and learned about the club. A lot of the enjoyment in learning (through the club) is with music and dance, so you’ve got bagpipes, fiddles, flutes, drums and they really promote music, which I particularly enjoy and that caught my attention.”
Putting on the parade
As the capital city’s only Irish club, the Shamrock Club is presently working with the Old Sacramento Business Association to bring the city’s 14th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade to Old Sacramento on Saturday, March 13 at 1 p.m. Other sponsors of the event are the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation, Fanny Ann’s Saloon and radio station, Mix 96.
Participants in this year’s parade will include the White Hackle Pipe Band, the Sacramento Fire Department Pipes and Drums corps, the Ophir Prison Marching Band, Irish dancers in Celtic costumes, tartan-clad Highlanders and Gold Rush re-enactors.
The Shamrock Club, which selected Kitty O’Neal of radio station KFBK 1530 AM as the parade’s grand marshal, encourages parade participants to “Go Green by Wearing Green.”
Lamborn said that the parade is a fun celebration of Irish history and culture.
“It’s a chance to experience Irish music and dance, to see the people in the community who participate in those activities and to learn a little bit about it,” Lamborn said.
Additional information about the parade can be obtained by calling the Old Sacramento Business Association at (916) 442-7644.
Hearts in Ireland
Emphasizing that Irish heritage is mostly recognized one day per year in the United States, Shamrock Club Vice President CJ Kennedy said, “Everybody wants to turn Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but we’re active preserving the heritage of Ireland the whole year round.”
“We want to be known as a well-known, nonpolitical and nonreligious club in Sacramento and the Northern California region that is serious about Irish heritage, but we also want to just kick up our heals and have a good time, too.”
In addition to meeting on the second Wednesday of every month, the group also makes sure to work the attendance of live performances of Irish music and various Irish-related field trips into its schedule.
Activities of the club have included social nights at de Vere’s, the Fox and Goose and the Streets of London pubs in Sacramento, an annual Christmas party and a trip to the United Irish Cultural Museum in San Francisco.
Upcoming club events will include Celtic Heritage Night at the Sacramento River Cats game on July 1 and a “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” party in September.
The organization, which has met in Sacramento at SMUD and de Vere’s Irish Pub, began in 2005 through the efforts of its founder Chris Brown and about 15 other founding members.
Brown, who is serving in his fifth term as the club’s president, said that his idea to establish the club derived from his love for his own Irish heritage and the fact that Sacramento was without an Irish club.
“There was an Irish club in Sacramento that failed and there was a point in time that there was no Irish club (in Sacramento),” said Brown, who is a member of fourth and fifth generation Irish families in Sacramento. “So, we founded the Shamrock Club in late 2005 and built it from the ground up.”
Historic and honored
Unlike many Irish clubs, which were established in and around the political difficulties in Ireland, the Sacramento club, Brown explained, took a different route in its formation.
Sacramento’s Shamrock Club, which is affiliated with about seven Shamrock Clubs throughout the nation, patterned itself after The Shamrock Club of Columbus, Ohio.
And because of its growth, Sacramento’s club, which consists of about 100 members, reached a level and ability to assist a group in New Jersey in its efforts to form a Shamrock Club.
Brown, who graduated from Bishop Armstrong High School in 1965, said that the Sacramento club is on a course to grow extensively during the next two years.
“We have survived the test of time and we’re into our sixth year and we have been continually growing,” Brown said. “We’re gathering more and more kindred spirits, but not just kindred spirits, but people who are willing to take an active part in ensuring the longevity and the expansion of the Shamrock Club.”
Brown said that 80 percent of Sacramento’s Shamrock Club members are of Irish heritage and the remaining 20 percent of the club members “just enjoy things Celtic and want to be a part of the group.”
“It’s just a fun group of people,” Brown added.
For more information regarding The Shamrock Club of Sacramento, including how to become a member, call Brown at (916) 447-6511 or visit the Web site www.shamrocksac.com.
E-mail Lance Armstrong at email@example.com.