In October 1966, at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, two professors and a graduate student met to inaugurate a society which would involve persons of Irish nationality or heritage to do honor to the land of their forefathers. Dr. Sean Burke; An Irish born professor, at Incarnate Word College (now University of the Incarnate Word), Joseph B. McShane; a San Antonio native, third generation, graduate student and retired Air Force Colonel, and Patrick J. Dowd, a New York City, first generation, scientist and instructor at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, gathered together planned the goals of an Irish Society.
On March 17th, 1967, the first official activity of the newly formed Society took place outside the Alamo. Twenty or so members laid a wreath at the door of the Alamo Shrine with Irish tunes played by the Central Catholic High School Band. A month later, the first officers and directors were elected. In March of 1968, the first St. Patrick's Day Parade started in downtown San Antonio with 250 marchers walking about four blocks to the Alamo.
On March 17th, 1969, we joined with the Paseo Del Rio Association to dye our San Antonio River green and rename it "The River Shannon" for a day. Since then we have continued this tradition with a special Irish show of song, dance and music at the Arnesen River Theater.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, the society has continued to further the culture and traditions of the Irish in San Antonio. In addition, members strive to be civically active volunteering to serve other not-for profit organizations. As ever, we invite all San Antonians Irish or not, to join us as we celebrate our heritage through various events throughout the year; including our annual Halfway to St. Patrick's Day Hooley every September, Donovan's Run 5k, Shamrock Scramble golf tournament, and the South Texas Alamo Irish Festival, held annually on the second Saturday in March at the University of the Incarnate Word.
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Harp and Shamrock By-Laws
- President: Melinda Britten
- 1st. Vice-President: Elissa O'Brien
- 2nd. Vice-President: J. Sean Habina
- Secretary: Dana Goodman
- Treasurer: Linda Grosse
- Board of Directors: Darryl Britten, Carolyn Dowd, Kevin Dowd, Elizabeth Hajek, Diana Jordan, Todd Keller, Wendy Lyons, James McCann, Victoria McGrady, Patrick Molloy, Joan Moody, Erin O’Brien, Barbara Patrick, Melissa Schulz, John Smith
- Chaplain: Rev. Rose Ann Felty
- Irishman of the Year: Kevin Dowd