A look back on Irish heritage in the Electric City

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania is a melting pot of ethnic diversity and one of Scranton’s ethnic annual parades is right around the corner.

“The Irish in Northeastern Pennsylvania have a long history and heritage because they were one of the first groups who came to the anthracite regent to find work not only in the coal mines but in the iron fields, the Lackawanna Iron & Coal company was a big employer of the Irish right here in Scranton,” explained Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus.

Moran-Savakinus is the director of the Lackawanna Historical Society she has been working with the society since 1991 and became the director in 1997.

“People from Ireland were already familiar with how to work in the mines. It was mainly the welch, but the Irish had a little bit of that too. Plus the desire to find a better life. You found a lot of Irish families coming here,” said Moran-Savakinus,

“Sometimes they would just send the sons or their husbands first to come in and find the work. But they weren’t afraid of the work because they had such a bad life in the old country, they wanted to find a new life here. And they would work at whatever they had to do to get there,” explained Moran-Savakinus.

Many of the immigrants who came to this region had a very large and close family bond.

“I think that the Irish are typically are thought of as being close and large families, kind of the extended family that idea, which applies to most immigrants that came here I think. You came in, first, they sent the husbands and the sons might have come in, then they would have their families come in. Then maybe their neighbors would join them,” stated Moran-Savakinus.

Those family bonds would eventually turn into ethnic community bonds.

“You had these neighborhoods kind of grow up out of where we came from before. We’re familiar with you, we know you, we are going to work with you. We are all going to live in the same community. We are going to go to the same church, go to the same bars, so you had these ethnic neighborhoods,” Moran-Savakinus explained.

Moran-Savakinus remarked that the people from this area hold on to their traditions and that’s part of the reason why this parade is celebrated the way it is.

“It is one of the largest parades in the country. I think that people who live here still like to hold on to their cultural traditions. So any chance we have to celebrate, one of their cultures, we go all in. And I think that the st. Patrick’s day parade is a great example of that,” said Moran-Savakinus.

The Saint Patrick parade steps off just before noon, preceded by a mass at St. Peter’s cathedral. If you can’t make it to downtown Scranton for the festivities

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