St. Patrick’s Day on the San Antonio River Walk

Nancy and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by the San Antonio River. We started at La Villita, the oldest riverside village. The Little Church of La Villita, built in the village in 1879, is now home to a non-denominational congregation holding regular services and hosting weddings. Hundred-year-old buildings around the church housed art and crafts. In a pathway behind the church, food booths offered Irish, German, and Mexican delicacies and green beer. Delightful.

A short walk through La Villita led to concrete seating on a grassy slope across from the Arneson River Theater. Seating was separated from the theater by the San Antonio River, which was green on St. Patrick’s Day. Music groups and dancers performed on stage as river barges cruised by. Floats carried The Irish Singers and The Harp and Shamrock Society, interspersed with barge loads of tourists. Nancy spotted a flat bottom boat of Scottish invaders playing bagpipes.

Thirty-four and a half million Americans list their heritage as primarily or partially Irish – seven times larger than the population of Ireland (4.68 million). Irish is the second-most common ancestry among Americans, falling just behind German.

Nancy is English, Scottish, and Irish. She’s thoroughly English when she’s reading or writing, Scottish when she’s thinking about business or bookkeeping, and Irish when she’s having fun. With surnames in her mother’s family of Scanlan and Duffy, Irish probably predominates. But her father William Phillips Glass’s ancestors were from Glasgow. Naturally, there was a wee bit of slipover.

I identified with the Irish contingent and insisted that Nancy tell my stories. Aggie (Agatha) was reminiscent of Agatha Christi, and the surname Mundeen (never mundane) was surely Irish. Of almost six million surnames in the US Census, however, only about five lines were Mundeens (originally Munden). The origin of the name was unknown, but the meaning was said to suggest “an inquisitive and inventive person who likes to get to the very bottom of things and to rummage in books.” No wonder.

An Irish proverb says, “There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were.”

Photos of St. Patrick’s Day by the San Antonio River are at

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