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In 1935, Father Francis O’Duignan of Longford, Ireland, came to St. Patrick as the pastor. He dreamed of building a shrine to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of his native Ireland, and to thank America for being a refuge for Irish immigrants.
In 1936, Father O’Duignan designed a cachet, which is still used today, and placed it on 500 letters to be mailed on March 17, the first St. Patrick’s Day mailing, asking for donations to help build the Shrine of St. Patrick.
The mailing grew, as folks from all over the world sent letters to be postmarked in
St. Patrick, making their ordinary envelopes collector’s items. Tiny St. Patrick, Missouri, is the only town in the world named St. Patrick that has a post office.
Realizing a dream
Twenty-one years later, on March 17, 1957, the Shrine of St. Patrick was dedicated, and Father O’Duignan’s “impossible dream” was fulfilled.
The impressive Shrine of St. Patrick is fashioned after the Church of Four Masters in Donegal, Ireland. It has 37 stained glass windows from Dublin, Ireland, interior marble from Italy and Spain, Celtic crosses and an Irish round tower. In addition, a flagstone from Ireland’s Croagh Patrick is embedded in the floor. That was done so Father O’Duignan could stand on a piece of Ireland during Mass.
The tiny post office offers the pictorial cancellation during the entire month of March, and the cancellation changes each year. This year, more than 8,000 letters were cancelled.
Each year, on St. Patrick’s Day, the town has a huge celebration in which hundreds of people attend. The holiday is celebrated much like it was celebrated in old-time Ireland. Festivities include concerts, a Leprechaun giveaway of 200 gift bags filled with goodies (some even contain crystal and china from Ireland), Irish storytellers, Mass, food, souvenirs, tours of the Shrine and museum, and much more.
I’m very proud of my little hometown of St. Patrick, Missouri, and the fact that
it has retained its Irish heritage for so many years.
Ellen - Canton, Missouri
Chicken Restaurant Got Its Start in Corbin, Kentucky
My hometown of Corbin, Kentucky, is where Harland Sanders opened his first restaurant, Sanders Court, in the front room of a gas station, in 1930. A few years later, in 1936, in recognition of Sanders’ contribution to the state’s cuisine, Kentucky Governor Ruby Laffoon made Sanders an honorary Kentucky Colonel. Through the years, the business expanded and became a chain as Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken.
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