Whether they’re putting on a parade, crowning a queen or having a feast, the West Suburban Irish do it with a smile.
“The West Suburban Irish is really a group of people that generally share Irish heritage, although not everyone is full-blooded Irish by any means. But it’s a social group that also does some good in the community,” said Mike Reilly, a member of the West Suburban Irish.
Founded in the early 90’s, West Suburban Irish has been active in the community for over two decades, most notably organizing Naperville’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“That’s something the community really enjoys because it’s the first parade of the spring, it’s the first time to get out of the house and be back outside and be with friends and neighbors again,” said Reilly.
The group of volunteers also hosts a traditional Irish mass every year around St. Patrick’s Day, cuts and sells scarves to raise funds for St. Baldricks and holds monthly quiz nights at Quigley’s Irish Pub in Naperville.
“One of the things that pervades all of the activities that we do, whether it’s the parade, whether it’s cutting scarves, because we cut scarves every year around St. Patrick’s Day, there’s always laughter,” said Reilly. “People always have a good time. And that’s what keeps the group going, because there’s a very definite social fabric to the club.”
It’s one of the favorite aspects for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade Grand Marshal, Nancy Quigley, a West Suburban Irish member and owner of Quigley’s Irish Pub.
“The people that I’ve met we’ve become friends, it’s family. So it’s been a good fit for Quigley’s as well as the community,” said Quigley.
Such a good fit that Quigley’s is the official home of the West Suburban Irish. And while they’re all proud of their heritage, you don’t need Irish ancestry to get involved and have a good time.
“First of all I have no Irish in me, I’m one of the few,” said Quigley. “But I think it’s a great heritage. I’ve been to Ireland seven times, the people are wonderful and they’re good, hardworking, fun people.”
If you’re interested in becoming a member, check out their website at WSIrish.org.
Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.