GIRARDVILLE — The 10th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade is coming to Girardville in Schuylkill County tomorrow. Folks there call it the biggest small parade in the world, but it’s the borough’s history that draw in thousands of people every year.
Year after year, 15,000 to 25,000 people stop in Girardville for the St. Patrick’s Parade. The idea for the parade was born a decade ago right here in Girardville’s Hibernian House, named for its Irish heritage.
“They were talking about the fact that some of the local cities and towns had parades, but we thought we could put a better, bigger one on. Ego. And we did,” said Joseph John Wayne, who owns the Hibernian House.
Joseph John Wayne owns the building, which serves as a bar and hotel. It’s also the house formerly owned by Jack Kehoe, the alleged king of a secret organization of coal miners known as the Molly McGuires.
Joe is Jack Kehoe’s great-grandson. It wasn’t until he was in college that he learned the story of Jack Kehoe.
“I started asking questions of family members. I soon learned just how bitter people were about it, how beaten down they were,” said Wayne.
In the late 1800′s, Jack Kehoe and 19 others were executed, accused of terrorizing the coal companies and their officials. Joe still has Kehoe’s shackles.
Joe was one of the people who helped prove Jack Kehoe’s innocence. He was pardoned by the pennsylvania governor in the 1970s. Now, Joe keeps his legacy alive in the Hibernian House.
“I restored it. That bar was basically the way things were. It’s all plank and so forth. It’s original flooring. The bar is african mohogany, which you can’t get anymore,” said Wayne.
He also has plans to renovate the upstairs hotel rooms to pay tribute to the coal mining history here. The Hibernian House is joe’s way of celebrating St. Patrick’s day all year long while keeping history alive.