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2024 Irish Walk of Fame Auction

Cheers' to St Patricks Day with custom Nebraska copper mugs.

O'Neill NE St Patricks Day Celebration. March 13-17th

Ten Thousand.

10,000 people in town. That’s what they used to say. I don’t know where that number came from; if it was an educated guesstimate or if some entity had a way of tracking it…or if it was nothing more than an urban legend.

That’s how I always described it, though. It was a sincere depiction because it’s what I was always told and it’s what I always believed to be true.

I remember the pride with which I described my hometown’s St Patrick’s Day celebration to college buddies or out-of-towners who simply didn’t understand: “Our population is 3500 and there’s over 10,000 Irish in town that weekend.”

Their eyes would always widen a bit, but they believed me. Many of them would find their way to O’Neill to see for themselves in the years following…most of them still talk about the good time they had.

I didn’t know it at the time but many years later my path would lead me to the good fortune of sitting across an old kitchen table from Jr Adamson, scribbling down details and memories of St. Patrick’s Days gone by as I prepared an Irish Walk of Fame induction speech. Junior spoke jovially whenever he spoke but when he told St Patrick’s Day stories there was always a little extra sparkle in there.

I got to learn about the birth years of our town’s prideful celebration; about the band of Irish brothers that held big ideas for their hometown pride, and about the building of the legacy that has become “O’Neill St Pat’s”. Those old boys had big motors. For years and years they spent months and months on the road promoting. Party tricks and promo handouts, flyers raffles and rounds of beer - this was their language of love for lobbying northeast Nebraskans to come give the green weekend a try. That young group of good ol’ boys surely sang the song of hard work with regards to their recruitment and fundraising, but I well know they had a darn good time doing it.

Work and play aside, it is certainly undeniable: the legacy those guys built has been astounding. Putting together a celebration well-known statewide is no slight task, not to mention one that stands tall for half a century or more. Granted - the promise of green beer lends a definite advantage.

Personally, I’ve always been proud of our town and our people. I’ve known O’Neill and Holt County people to be among the nicest I’ve ever met. I’ve watched us come together in the tough times and lift those up that need it the most. I wouldn’t trade my upbringing, here, for anything else you could dream up.

I’m proud of all of our celebrations and that sense of community that we are capable of…and I’m proud of our green beer. I’d put our St. Patrick’s Day weekend up against any annual celebration in the state.

I’ve noticed a trend in the past handful of years and it seems to be heading upward. The local excitement around St. Pat’s Weekend seems to be building from a flat spot in recent years. I don’t know if that’s just my perception or if that’s a real trend but I am hopeful it continues.

We need energy. We need effort. Most of all, we need fun and the kind of people who know how to have it. The Irish Walk of Fame has been a great addition to the heart of O’Neill’s St Patty’s Day weekend; it’s just a newer batch of young folks with big motors interested in the same old thing: good times, community, and prolonging the legacy of our town’s green heartbeat.

Handlebend started a little tradition last year: we built a special set of custom copper mugs. We’re hopeful that our little “pot-o-gold” will help do it’s part to build excitement around the big weekend. Each year, we’ll design a special edition set with new artwork. 2024's design is "Home Grown Luck". Because we're all lucky to have been raised on the edge of nowhere; and because the lifestyle it has taught us helps that "luck of the Irish" find us a bit more often.

Ten thousand people.

I don’t know what era those numbers are from, or if we hold a candle to them today…but we surely still know how to have ourselves a time.

We’re auctioning off one of the two exclusive sets. The second-annual design will go to the highest bidder. Proceeds are donated to the Irish Walk of Fame.

So, in the name of the good ol’ boys - let’s raise a bunch of money, and maybe a little hell. Cheers fellow Irishmen!

Put on your green and lets spread the good word!

 - Michael Stepp The Auction will be held at Handlebend after the Chug Run on Wednesday, March 13th. Approximately 7:30 pm.

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