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St. Patrick's Day Ball in Lincoln, 1878

St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in Lincoln in 1878 with an evening ball. The Daily Nebraska State Journal on March 19, 1878, reported: "St. Patrick's Day, like the Fourth of July and Christmas, only comes once a year, but when it does come it means enjoyment in the fullest sense of the word; and for down right fun give us an Irishman all the time. If there is fun to be had, he will have it, cost what it may. The street processions, so common in the larger cities of the country, were dispensed with in Lincoln. The usual church services, however, were had, and the evening was given to dancing.

"Those of our citizens who were formerly residents of the Emerald Isle, whose fathers and grandfathers were wont to wear the shamrock plucked from the green knolls of Kerry, and whose arm was ever ready to defend their rights against all kinds of encroachments, . . . celebrated in proper style the day of their patron saint. And although far away from the land of their birth and the scenes of their childhood, the day--so dear to every Irishman's heart--was gloriously commemorated.

"To say it was an evening of enjoyment would not half express it. From 9 o'clock in the evening until the sweet notes of the meadow larks were heard in the morning, was the dancing kept up. It was a perfect jam of the beauty and gallantry of Lincoln, with quite a sprinkling of young folks from our neighboring towns of Seward and York and many of the towns on the line of the B. & M. At midnight it was estimated that three hundred people were in the ball room and galleries. One of the managers informed us that he had taken in two hundred and ten tickets at the door and they were still coming. It was without exception the best attended ball ever given in Lincoln, and the beauty of the whole affair was, that there was nothing to mar the pleasure of any one. Everything passed off as merry as a marriage bell, and all went home declaring they had fun enough to last a year. There were many pleasing incidents connected with the ball which our already crowded space forbid us from mentioning; but the old 'Irish Jig,' danced by some half dozen couples, as the old folks used to dance it years and years ago in the old sod, was one among the many attractions. It will be a long time before those who were present last night will forget the St. Patrick's ball of 1878."

(March 2001)



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