On the day when Ireland and Irishness is celebrated around the world, the 17th March is an annual reminder of the enduring and proud connection between Celtic FC and Ireland.
It was in the week of St. Patrick Day 1892 when Michael Davitt, the famous Irish patriot and former Fenian prisoner, formally opened the new Celtic Park – where the team still plays today – by laying a sod of Donegal turf which, the Glasgow Observer noted, “contained a splendid bunch of shamrocks growing in the centre.”
Before he left to walk down Janefield Street to kick off the game against Clyde at the first Celtic Park, he stated that he “was delighted to have the honour of laying the centre sod of the new park which belonged to the Celtic Club. He could assure them that the prowess of the Celts was well known and appreciated by their countrymen byeond the sea, who were proud to witness the successful efforts of an Irish team in Scotland. He hoped they would have much prosperity on their new ground, and that no Saxon would be able to cross the sod of Irish turn now laid without sustaining defeat.”
The Irish flag continues to fly above Celtic Park, testament to the identity of the men who laid the foundations for Scotland’s premier football club in difficult times – and the supporters who will ensure that it always will.
In valley green, on towering crag, Our fathers fought before us, And conquered ‘neath the same old flag That’s proudly floating o’er us. We’re children of a fighting race, That never yet has known disgrace, And as we march, the foe to face, We’ll chant a soldier’s song.