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Celebrating The Irish And Remembering Why They Came To Philadelphia

(Credit: Pat Loeb)

(Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hundreds of Irish Philadelphians celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the Memorial to the Irish Famine, at Front and Chestnut Street in Old City.

This is the tenth anniversary of the memorial, depicting starving Irish boarding a boat on one side and debarking on the other, their eyes aimed toward the city.

The preponderance of Irish judges, elected officials and labor leaders on hand was testament to the success they found here but, as with so many immigrant groups, suffering is an important part of the story.

“It commemorates the people who not only came to America, well over two million Irish people, but also a million and a half people who died in Ireland, when they were producing enough goods to feed them. The goods, the cattle, the butter and what have you went to England so they watched the Irish die while they ate. And really, that’s the only reason the Irish are here in America,” says Frank Moran, treasurer of the memorial foundation.

Philadelphia has the second largest Irish population in America, with some 200,000 claiming Irish heritage, making them the city’s largest white ethnic group.