About the Harp & Shamrock

Our Mission: Keeping Irish History and Culture alive in South Texas

Our History

In October 1966, at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, two professors and a graduate student met to inaugurate a society which would involve persons of Irish nationality or heritage to do honor to the land of their forefathers. Dr. Sean Burke; An Irish born professor, at Incarnate Word College (now University of the Incarnate Word), Joseph B. McShane; a San Antonio native, third generation, graduate student and retired Air Force Colonel, and Patrick J. Dowd, a New York City, first generation, scientist and instructor at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, gathered together planned the goals of an Irish Society.

On March 17th, 1967, the first official activity of the newly formed Society took place outside the Alamo. Twenty or so members laid a wreath at the door of the Alamo Shrine with Irish tunes played by the Central Catholic High School Band. A month later, the first officers and directors were elected. In March of 1968, the first St. Patrick's Day Parade started in downtown San Antonio with 250 marchers walking about four blocks to the Alamo.

On March 17th, 1969, we joined with the Paseo Del Rio Association to dye our San Antonio River green and rename it "The River Shannon" for a day. Since then we have continued this tradition with a special Irish show of song, dance and music at the Arnesen River Theater.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, the society has continued to further the culture and traditions of the Irish in San Antonio. In addition, members strive to be civically active volunteering to serve other not-for profit organizations. As ever, we invite all San Antonians Irish or not, to join us as we celebrate our heritage through various events throughout the year; including our annual Halfway to St. Patrick's Day Hooley every September, Donovan's Run 5k, Shamrock Scramble golf tournament, and the South Texas Alamo Irish Festival, held annually on the second Saturday in March at the University of the Incarnate Word.

H&S in the Media

Harp and Shamrock By-Laws

2017-18 Board of Directors

  • President: Melinda Britten
  • 1st. Vice-President: Elissa O'Brien
  • 2nd. Vice-President: Sean Habina
  • Secretary: Dana Goodman
  • Treasurer: Linda Grosse
  • Irishman of the Year: Kevin Dowd
  • Board of Directors: Melissa Schulz, Darryl Britten, Eileen Burke Faught, Erin O'Brien, James Gorman, Joan Moody, James McCann, Wendy Lyons, Diana Jordan, Mary Paparella, Carolyn Dowd, Kevin Dowd, John Smith, Elizabeth Hajek, Bill Merriman
  • Parliamentarian: John Smith
  • Chaplain: Rev. Rose Ann Felty

Ready to join?

Explore, enrich and celebrate your Irish heritage with us. Submit your membership application today.

St. Paddy's

For years, we've held the biggest and best celebrations of St. Patrick's Day in San Antonio.

Irish Scholars

Learn more about our efforts to financially support collegiate students with Irish heritage.