UNCW’s Paul Townend to Serve as Co-Grand Marshal of the “Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Parade”

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Paul Townend, professor of British and Irish history, will join his mother, Mary Theresa Townend, a native of Cork City, Ireland, as co-grand marshal of the “Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Parade” slated for Sept. 18.

The annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration was rescheduled for September due to the pandemic.

“We are not yet dyeing the Cape Fear River green, but Wilmington, like other southern port cities such as Charleston and Savannah, has some Irish history and heritage. As Wilmington becomes a city of transplants from all over, that sense of being part of the Irish story across the world is only going to grow,” Townend said.

The parade, scheduled at 11 a.m. on Sept. 18, will be followed by an Irish festival with food, beverages, live music and traditional Irish dancers.

“It was wonderful to be asked, and I was even happier when they agreed to have my mother serve as co-marshal,” Townend said. “She grew up in Ireland. After she came to America as a nurse in 1963 with my English dad, I grew up going to Cork in Ireland to visit her family and having them come to us in the states. My Irishness is all about hers.”

Townend researches and writes about modern Britain and Ireland. He has published several books and articles that explore these cultures, and often shares his expertise about historical matters locally and internationally. He says it is a privilege to make an academic career teaching and writing about the place he loves.

“My experience on the ground in Northern Ireland led me to realize how important history is to how people understand problems, and how they understand themselves and others,” Townend said.

The parade will begin at the corner of Nutt and Hanover Streets in downtown Wilmington and will proceed along Front Street and will finish at the festival grounds located at Market and Second streets. The parade review stand will be at Front and Market.

--Alex Churchill ’21