St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated by parades in the city of Buffalo as long ago as 1848, but the tradition lapsed several times.
The parade pictured here, in 1915, was the first after a lapse of around three decades.
On March 4, 1915, The Catholic Union and Times ran an article headlined, “Parade feature to be revived this year.” The story said, “After a hiatus of more than 30 years, Buffalo Irishmen and sons of Irishmen will this year feature a great parade in honor of the patron saint of the old land … St. Patrick.”
The Buffalo Courier reported, “St. Patrick’s Day this year will be celebrated with probably the best parade of its kind Buffalo has ever seen, although it has been twenty-seven years since there was a public demonstration.”
Edward J. Duggan was grand marshal of the parade in 1915 and parade chairman was William J. Shaddock. This photo, marked with numbers many years ago with the names written on the back, shows 1.) Anthony J. McGowan, 2.) Assessor William Burke 3.) William Shaddock, parade chairman 4.) John B. Edwards 5.) Congressman William H. Ryan and 6.) Edward J. Sheehan marching across the Louisiana Street bridge.
The photo was provided by Molly Naples, the granddaughter of McGowan.
According to the Buffalo Evening News, fine weather improved turnout for the 1915 parade, in which many of the marchers were men from South Side parishes “wearing high hats, frock coats, carrying blackthorn canes and winning cheers along the route for their fine appearance and good marching.”
Naples wrote that her grandfather left his home in Ireland at age 16, fleeing famine and depression. He settled in Buffalo and became active in politics in the First Ward. He owned the Elk Street Tavern and was assistant superintendent of the Elk Street Market and Black Rock Market.
In submitting the photos, Molly Naples wrote, “A professional probably took the photograph because hardly anyone owned a camera back then. I am very fortunate to have an old photograph of such a happy occasion."
Mary McGowan Naples — Molly Naples' mother and Anthony J. McGowan's daughter — will turn 93 next week.