The Donnybrook’s in the Details

That time Brian Hickey tried to do a nice story on East Falls’ painted shamrock… 

*UPDATED for 2019 — scroll down for links*

If you’re new to East Falls this fall or winter, you may have noticed a fading smear of green paint in the road at the intersection of Ridge & Midvale. It’s not graffiti, but a 50+ year tradition that takes place here every St. Paddy’s Day.

Until 2016, the ritual’s origins and methods were cloaked in mystery. But last year local journalist Brian Hickey took a fateful pub crawl that led him first to a great tale of beer, camaraderie, and Irish pride — then almost immediately into a two-fisted neighborhood feud.

Brian endured weeks of angry calls, emails, comments, and even a knock on his door. Seems some Fallsers felt very strongly that the guy Brian interviewed for his piece had gotten the shamrock story all wrong. Or did he?

Read all about it on, where Brian does not hold his frustration back. He also shares real admiration for the spirit behind this colorful gesture enduring over half a century in the Falls. Who’s and how’s aside, there’s still a lovely takeaway:  What started out as a childish prank has turned into heart-felt memorial for friends & family now gone.

Perhaps one day neighborhood businesses & residents could support a campaign to embed a brick shamrock permanently into the asphalt at Ridge and Midvale?

East Falls historically has skewed Irish, after all  —  from the glassblowers working in our Mills since colonial times, to maids and nannies serving the 19th Century mansions & estates along Schoolhouse and Wissahickon.

Something tells us St. Bridget would approve.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day, East Falls!

2017’s SHAMROCK HAS BEEN PAINTED! Read Brian’s post on this year’s covert operation, with pics & video…

UPDATE 2019:  Another great article on Tommy Doyle and East Falls’ famous shamrock, this time by ABC news — it’s the 60th anniversary, yo! NBC10 has the video, too.

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