BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — For many, St. Patrick’s Day is up there with Cinco De Mayo as one of the most anticipated party days of the year.
A day of fun and merriment which anyone can enjoy.
However, many people might not know a bout the holiday’s connection to Celtic history and Irish heritage. The City of Beckley decided to teach people about that history by holding a Celtic Heritage Week.
The director of Beckley events, Jill Moorefield, said the city used to hold a similar festival back in the 90s. She spoke about the event’s impact on the city.
“We just thought it would be a nice thing to bring back, an event in March and be able to tie in some of the businesses and organizations downtown and just give people another reason to celebrate,” said Moorefield.
The week started on Saturday when a group of people learned about and played a sport called Irish road bowling. Irish road bowling predates the creation of golf. It involves throwing a small metal ball down a road at a pre-set distance, usually a mile and a quarter.
The winner is determined either by who can cover the distance in the fewest throws or who went the furthest past the course’s end point on their final throw.
Mark Witt, who began playing in 2005 and has competed in the game’s North American Finals, said he hopes to bring the sport to more people’s attention.
“In West Virginia, they do it in almost all of the state parks and this, what we’re doing here is how it started,” said Witt. “I’ve never seen anyone do it, they kind of question it once you told them about it but once they did it, they came back and did it.”
Witt holds the West Virginia record for fewest throws needed to cover a mile and a quarter distance, just 12 throws on a course in Pipestem.
On Sunday, a concert was held at Raleigh Playhouse Theater where Irish musician Patrick O’Flaherty played some traditional Celtic music. O’Flaherty was born in Galway on the west coast of Ireland and moved to the US in 1972.
He said he hopes the celebration of Irish heritage in Beckley will inspire someone to start a new business.
“What I hope for is that people will like it and then they will come back to Beckley more often and maybe somebody will open an Irish pub over here,” said O’Flaherty.
Irish themed lunches and specials will be available this week at local restaurants like Fruits of Labor and the Historic Black Knight Country Club. Fosters on Main Street plans on hosting both lunch and dinner specials on St. Patrick’s Day.
O’Flaherty gave some recommendations to Irish and non-Irish folks alike on how to best enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day.
“On St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th, everybody is Irish,” said O’Flaherty. “You don’t have to drink green beer either. Just drink Guinness and scotch and Irish whiskey.”