Savannah’s Celtic Cross Monument was dedicated on December 3, 1983 as part of the celebration marking the 250th anniversary of the founding of Savannah and the colony of Georgia. At the direction of Mayor John Rousakis, committees were formed among the various ethnic groups in Savannah to develop plans for monuments to represent the rich cultural diversity of the city.
The late Dr. Paul Jurgensen was selected to lead the Irish Monument Committee. A Celtic Cross was chosen as the design of the monument, symbolizing the heritage and faith of the Irish in Savannah. The monument was carved of Irish limestone from County Roscommon in western Ireland and was paid for entirely through private donations from the local Irish community. The inscription at the base of the monument reads:
TO AMERICANS OF IRISH DESCENT
PAST – PRESENT – FUTURE
ERIN GO BRAGH
Emmet Park was the logical choice for the location of the new monument. This sprawling park running parallel to Bay Street was formerly known as the “Irish Green” for it was a place of recreation and gathering for the early Irish of the city, which largely resided in the nearby Old Fort district. The green was formally named Emmet Park in 1902 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the death of famed Irish patriot, Robert Emmet, who was a hero to the local Irish community at that time.
The first Celtic Cross Ceremony was held in 1986 and continues to this day. The several Irish societies of the city join the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee for Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and then process to Emmet Park for the ceremony at the Celtic Cross Monument. The events of the day are a tribute to the first St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Savannah, nearly 200 years ago. This year’s Celtic Cross events will take place on Sunday, March 8th.