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HomeMiscellanyOf the orange and the green, on St. Patrick’s ’18

Of the orange and the green, on St. Patrick’s ’18


Bob Mackin

La fheile Padraig sona duit!

Horgan with Ireland’s Ambassador to Canada, Defence Minister and Chief of Irish Defence Forces. (Twitter)

That’s how you say Happy St. Patrick’s Day, the Gaelic way. 

(It’s pronounced “lah-leh PAH-drig SUN-uh gwitch.”)

The happiest day of the year takes on special meaning in Victoria in 2018. There is a distinct Celtic flavour again in the Legislature and the orange-clad party in power owes it to the Green Party for the privilege of governing. (In Ireland, the orange and the green have a whole other meaning, as covered by the Irish Rovers at bottom.)

Premier John Joseph Horgan’s father Pat came to Canada from County Cork. Tragically, he passed away when young John was just 18 months old.

B.C.’s 36th premier isn’t known to play hurling, but lacrosse. He is a devoted follower of the Victoria Shamrocks.

B.C.’s first premier was Irish. John Foster McCreight, a Trinity College Dublin graduate from Caledon in County Tyrone. He was in B.C.’s first post-Confederation government in August 1871. The Canadian Encyclopedia cites the former judge’s “lack of political experience, seemingly aloof person and outspoken opposition to responsible government and other reformist policies.” Newpaper editor William Smith, better known as Amor de Cosmos, succeeded McCreight in 1872. 

George Anthony Walker from Newry in Northern Ireland had two stints as premier, 1874-1876 and 1878-1882.  

(Clockwise, upper left) McCreight, Walker, Hart and Elliott: B.C.’s Irish-born premiers.

Walker’s time in the top office sandwiched Andrew Charles Elliott (1876-1878), who came from an unspecified area of Ireland. 

John Hart from Mohill, County Leitrim was premier during World War II. The Liberal led a coalition with Conservatives from 1941 to 1947 which kept the CCF, the forerunner of the NDP, out of power. Hart’s legacy was the B.C. Power Commission, the forerunner of BC Hydro.

Horgan’s predecessor as leader of the NDP is health minister Adrian Dix. His late father, Dubliner Ken Dix, was a prominent Kerrisdale insurance salesman. 

Press secretary Sheena McConnell is one of many Irish names in Horgan’s office. 

Christine Kennedy (assistant deputy minister), Eleanor Mulloy (executive coordinator) and Judy Cavanagh (executive director) are three others.

Another former NDP leader, Joy MacPhail, is ICBC’s chair. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan doubles as the TransLink Mayors’ Council chair. Corrigan’s grandfather came from Ballinakill in County Laois. 

Érinn go Brách!

Bob Mackin is a descendant of Joseph Patrick Mackin (born St. Patrick’s Day, 1855) and Catherine Byrne of Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland.