Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - March 19, 2010

'It's great to be Irish!'

Tri-Valley celebrates St. Pat's Day

by Jeb Bing

It's been a week for seeing green throughout the Tri-Valley, and we aren't talking about the environment this time.

St. Patrick's Day celebrations started early this year because the actual day to applaud the Irish patron was Wednesday. By Irish proclamation, the week-long celebration ends today.

Pleasanton merchants seized the advantage with Irish-themed merchandise ranging from flags and banners outside the Berry Patch on Main Street to fancy green-iced cakes at Primrose Bakery and even a green-garbed dog at Murphys Paw.

For those with a taste for green beer, it was a do-it-yourself exercise at the Hop Yard Alehouse and Grill where owner Otis Nostrand pointed to a California rule that no longer allows bartenders to serve green beer because of a state health code that prohibits tampering with already-certified products. So, with a squish of dye that Nostrand and others provide, the beer can still come out green.

Perhaps the largest private party celebrating St. Patrick's Day is at Kathleen and Bronco Hinek's home in Kottinger Ranch. It was started 12 years ago by the couple, who are both 100 percent Irish. Last Saturday, more than 200 invited guests came to eat corned beef and cabbage sandwiches, bread and enjoy Irish soda and other Irish-inspired beverages.

Always, though, the biggest celebration is the Dublin (California, that is) St. Patrick's Day parade and fair, which was celebrated last weekend, where Mayor Tim Sbranti and the City Council waved to thousands of spectators along downtown streets for the two-hour-long parade. Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) wasn't far behind.

But perhaps the most genuine Irish politician in the parade was County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, an Irishman whose ancestors hail from Cork County in Ireland.

The largest county on the Emerald Isle, in Cork County three things are taken very seriously, Haggerty said: sports, food and politics.

This may explain many things about Haggerty who has served on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors representing Tri-Valley communities for the past 13 years.

"My dad was the Irish in the family and I have many great memories from St. Patrick's Days of past," said Haggerty. "I've been told that when my ancestors immigrated here the family name was originally O'hegerty. After their arrival in the U.S., and like so many immigrant families, O'hegerty evolved into Haggerty."

Descended from immigrants, Haggerty has a deep appreciation for the contributions of those that come to this country seeking to work towards a better life for themselves and their families.

"I encourage my children to learn about and enjoy the best of their Irish heritage," he said. "My daughters learned Irish dance and I always enjoy watching them perform. And riding in the Dublin Saint Patrick's Day Parade and all the related festivities has become a fun tradition that the entire family looks forward to each year."

Haggerty, by the way, lives in Dublin, a fitting place for an American descendant of a Cork County O'hegerty.

This was the 27th year that Dublin has hosted its St. Patrick's Day Festival. The two-day celebration included a pancake breakfast, parade, street fair and the annual Shamrock 5K Fun Run & Walk marathon. With an estimated 100,000 at this year's event, Dublin's observance of the Irish holiday is right behind San Francisco's, although Dublin, Ireland draws half a million people to its week-long event.

Throughout the two-day festival, more than 100 arts and crafts booths filled Dublin's Civic Center parking lot, selling wares, some even with an Irish flavor. Irish music, carnival rides, international foods and drink added to the attraction for the thousands who trekked through the fair both days.

We were there, too, with representatives of the Pleasanton Weekly and TriValley Views and our online editions of those two newspapers as well as www.sanramonexpress.com and www.danvilleexpress.com demonstrating to the public how easy it now is to access local news.

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