ALBANY FALLS INTO STEP WITH ITS IRISH HERITAGE

CAILIN BROWN Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B1

Date: Thursday, March 14, 1996

Correction: ***** CORRECTION PUBLISHED MARCH 15, 1996 ***** A story Thursday on St. Patrick's Day parades in Albany had conflicting start times. The North Albany parade kickoff is at noon on North First Street, while the larger city parade begins at 2 p.m. at Quail Street and Central Avenue.

ALBANY -- The city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade will be led this year by Joe Fitzgerald, who traces his roots to Limerick -- better known as North Albany. The neighborhood earned its Irish nickname after immigrants settled there in the 19th century to work in its lumberyards.


Fitzgerald, 59, tagged along in his first local St. Patrick's parade, in North Albany, 46 years ago. He'll maintain that tradition when he joins his North Albany Limericks in their annual march just prior to Saturday's big parade down Central Avenue. ``There was a North Albany parade before there was an Albany parade,'' said Fitzgerald, a graduate of the old Cardinal McCloskey High School and Siena College.


North Albany's first parade was held in 1950, one year before the full city's inaugural parade.


In fact, before graffiti was called that, the words ``North Albany Against the World,'' used to be painted on a wall at a baseball diamond in that part of town, he said.


Nearly one in three of Albany's 101,082 residents identified themselves as of Irish ancestry in the 1990 Census.


Albany's 46th annual parade will begin at 2 p.m., as it does every year, at Central Avenue and Quail Street. It will proceed east on Central Avenue and cross over to Washington Avenue and State Street before ending on Broadway. The march should take about 90 minutes, according to parade chairman Michael Foley.


Parade-goers should be in for a decent time of it, with dry weather forecast for the day. Lows should range from 25 to 35 and the high could reach 45, according to the National Weather Service.


Saturday's events will begin at 10 a.m. with a traditional Mass celebrated by Bishop Howard Hubbard at St. Patrick's Church on Central Avenue.


``The parade has a religious origin in honoring St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland,'' Foley said. ``It's a very special day for the Irish heritage. A lot of people see it as a rite of spring.''


After Mass, Fitzgerald plans to hurry to North Albany for the noon parade kick-off there, where a special stop will be made at the flagpole on the Menands-North Albany line to commemorate two former members of the Limericks who died during 1995. A brief eulogy will be said for the late Assemblyman Richard Conners, who was a Limerick, and funeral director Ronan Campion, who was a grand marshal of the parade, and the flag will be flown at half-staff.


The North Albany parade begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at the North Albany American Legion 1610 on North First Street and proceeds up North Pearl Street to the Menands line, then down Broadway and back to North First.


Besides the North Albany Limericks, other long-time parade participants include the Albany Men's Hibernian Division 5, the Ladies Hibernian Divisions 1 and 2, the Menands St. Patrick's Club, South End Irish, Colonie Irish, Noraid, and the Watervliet Ancient Order of Hibernians.


The Albany parade has never been canceled, and has been postponed only once -- in 1993, when a blizzard forced a date change.


Troy's St. Patrick's Day parade will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday in South Troy. It will start at Monroe and Fourth streets and move north to City Hall.