St. Augustine, Florida celebrates its very diverse cultural heritage throughout the year. Most people believe St. Augustine honors only its Spanish Heritage – not so. The region also celebrates the influences of many cultures that have had a significant place in the history of the destination including the native Timucuans, French, British, African, Minorcan and Celts.
Florida’s Historic Coast is home to this especially diverse array of peoples – and they’ve all left their mark. You can experience the story of St. Augustine’s cultures through architecture, food, music, art, archaeology and, this spring, through an international celebration of the area’s rich Celtic heritage.
On March 11, Memorial Presbyterian Church will host Dublin’s Irish Tenors and the Celtic Ladies for an evening performance. With beautiful harmonies and lilting melodies, Dublin’s Irish Tenors and the Celtic Ladies’ unique blend of timeless traditional folk ballads with adult contemporary and classical songs will appeal to all ages. Their welcoming Irish charm and polished performances will win your heart and whisk you away to the Emerald Isle.
From March 11 – 13, 2016, the St. Augustine Celtic Festival takes place in the oldest City in the U.S. The sounds of the ancient Celtic peoples of Scotland and Ireland come alive at Francis Field in the city’s historic district on Castillo Drive. Celtic clans from around the world show their ancestral pride alongside the popular Highland Games’ athletes who demonstrate extreme skills of strength. At 10 a.m. on Saturday, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade marches through the streets of the city’s historic district. Vendors offer up Celtic cuisine and hand-made crafts. Scottish and Irish bands playing both traditional tunes and modernized renditions of the ancient Celtic music appear live on stage throughout the two-day festival – including Albannach, Rathkeltair, Seven Nations, Poor Angus, Scuttered the Bruce and the Dublin City Ramblers — “Ireland’s Number 1 Best Ballad and Folk Group of the Year.” Festival hours are Friday, 7 – 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 general admission or VIP all-weekend tickets $55 each. 29 W. Castillo Dr., St. Augustine. 904-315-8061 www.celticstaugustine.com
About St. Augustine’s Celtic Heritage
St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez along with 800 colonists from the northern region of Spain. The people Menendez’ hometown, Aviles, Spain, and the surrounding regions: Asturias, Galicia, and Basque, were of Celtic decent.
Florida’s first Spanish Colonial Governor Don Pedro Menendez and six more Colonial Florida Governors were of Celtic decent.
In 1784 the Spanish government stationed the Hibernia Regiment in St. Augustine with 460 Irish soldiers. The Spanish military welcomed these Irish expatriates, who couldn’t return to their homeland. They came from a militarized society with weak central authority and had a professional reputation forbravery as soldiers – a welcome resource to Spanish Florida.
Father Miguel O’Reilly was among St. Augustine’s principal pastors in the Second Spanish Period – 1784 – 1821. O’Reilly was born in Ireland where the English were still suppressing the Catholic faith. He was trained for the priesthood in Spain, and sent to St. Augustine in 1777 to minister to the Menorcans. He later became the chaplain of the Hibernian Regiment and “vicario” of the entire Colony. Here he was the teacher of Felix Varela, the Cuban writer and hero who is now up for Sainthood.
To learn more about the amazing story of St. Augustine’ Celtic heritage, visit www.celticstaugustine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/TourofCelticStAugustine.pdf
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra, and 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches. For more information on events, activities, holiday getaway and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com, become a fan on Facebook (Facebook.com/OfficialStAugustine) or call 1.800.653.2489 FREE.