The History of the Harp & Shamrock Society of Texas’ Statue of Saint Patrick of Ireland
Our 260-year-old wood statue of St. Patrick.
The Harp & Shamrock Society’s wooden statue of Saint Patrick of Ireland was carved in Portugal around 1755 and came over with early Irish settlers ending up in a church in San Angelo, TX. It was in San Angelo for some 50 years prior to its move to San Antonio. His Excellency Stephen Leven Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and titular bishop of Bure, (1956-1969), knew of the Harp and Shamrock Society in San Antonio. His Excellency Bishop Leven was appointed the third Bishop of San Angelo on October 20, 1969. His installation took place at Sacred Heart Cathedral on November 25 1969.
The 260-year-old wood statue of St. Patrick was given to the Society by his Excellency Bishop Leven. The statue was originally offered to Dr. Sean Burke, an Irish born professor, at Incarnate Word College (now University of the Incarnate Word). Dr. Burke insisted that the statue be given to the Harp & Shamrock Society of Texas for their eventual Irish Cultural Center. The statue arrived in the 1968 and was temporarily stored in a member’s, Joe Rainey Manion¸ garage at 134 Cave Lane, San Antonio.
Joe and Billie Manion in Front of Their House (photo provided by Kevin Dowd)
The statue of Saint Patrick was introduced to San Antonio through participation in several Harp & Shamrock Society Street parades and at least one Halfway to St Patrick's Day Hooley. President Tom Molly presented the statue to the Institute of Texan Cultures in March of 1979. There it became part of the Irish Exhibit.
It remained on display till 2002 when the Institute moved it to storage, where it fell into disrepair and was damaged. The Society recovered the statue from a storage room at the Institute surrounded by naked mannequins in a back corner. “It took some time to move stuff out of the way just to get him out”, Kevin Dowd recalled. The statue was damaged including a hand that was broken off.
Institute of Texan Cultures (source)
The Society committed money to restoring the statue and Steve Mattick found the man for the job. An artist Raphael Paz, who refinished the statuary for San Fernando Cathedral was looking for the next challenging project when he got the call. His eyes lit up when he saw San Patricio for the first time. The repair work was done at Joe Lopez’s Gallista Gallery, 1913 South Flores Street. The Harp & Shamrock Society was able to display the partially repaired statue at the 2014 Halfway to St Patrick's Hooley.
While the repairs continued, the Society started looking for a new home for it. J.T. Norris, Professor of Accounting at the University of the Incarnate Word and a member of Harp & Shamrock took the statue to his home for safe keeping. There it stayed for a year while the hunt for a more permanent location was conducted.
Left to right, in front of the statue: Kevin Dowd, artist Raphael Paz, Terry Peak, and Robert Meade during the installation in 20142
The luck of the Irish brought the Harp & Shamrock Society to the office of the University of the Incarnate Word president, Dr. Louis J. Agnese. The delegation from Harp & Shamrock spoke of an Irish Cultural Center as well as holding festivals and Irish football and hurling on the campus. Dr. Agnese gave the go head for the festival and the games as well as for the display of the statue on campus. A fitting home for St Patrick was found on the second floor of the UIW J. E. and L. E. Mabee Library The statue was installed November 1, 2014 and remained there until September of 2021.
Allison Mulvey with the statue in 2022.
During the Summer of 2021, UIW decided that they could no longer house the statue in the library as it was being prepared for renovation and there was no other location in the university suitable for the statue of a Catholic Saint. Harp & Shamrock Society President Allison Mulvey negotiated to retrieve the status from a UIW storage location and bring it to her home in the Marymont area of San Antonio.
Here the status was given a prominent location in the Media Room to watch over all the world. It resides here today. The paint on the, “Uncle Pat’s” statue crosier was damaged while at the University of the Incarnate Word and is awaiting more repairs.
– Gerald Mulvey March 2022
This history was made possible through the collaboration between the following Harp and Shamrock Members supplying stories, facts, and photos: Margret Burke, Joan Moody, Allison Mulvey, Mary Jo Quinn, Kevin Dowd, J.T. Norris, and Terry Peak
2 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is Back, 2014, Harp & Strings Vol.47, no.4, Published on Feb 13, 2014, Article here. Accessed March 3, 2022