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Artifact: A Highly Valued Tradition

Findings from the streets, files, and hard drives of New York.


Financial records of St. Patrick’s Day 1939 and St. Patrick’s Day 2008 from the Peter McManus Café in Chelsea (the bar is operated by Peter’s grandson, “Jamo”; great-grandson Justin recently represented the McManuses in a corned beef cook-off at the Armory). Says Holy Cross history professor Edward T. O’Donnell, author of Land of Promise: The Story of the Irish in America: “St. Patrick’s Day has never been bigger—it’s marketing, but also the Irish-culture renaissance that started in the seventies, a ‘white people have roots too’ thing.”

In 1939, St. Patrick’s Day was a nonevent. Bar receipts for March 17 (a Friday) totaled $112.25—$6.55 less than the previous Sunday.

The bar earned $3,338.75 in credit-card receipts—and more than $10,000 total—last Monday. The holiday is the McManuses’ most profitable day of the year.


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