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As It Was: Lakeview, Ore., Celebrates Irish Heritage on St. Patrick’s Day

Descendants of early Irish immigrants who became sheepherders and cattlemen still live in the Southeastern Oregon town of Lakeview.

Thirty-four years ago, the people of the town started its Irish Days celebration on the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s an original version of celebrating Irish roots in their own way.  It kicks off with a traditional Irish dinner on Friday night.  The next morning, the Grand Leprechaun and a Wee Leprechaun chosen from the community lead the Irish Days Parade through the downtown streets of Lakeview. 

Activities vary from year to year.  They range from a 5-kilometer, walk-or-run race called the Shamwalk to basketball tournaments, live entertainment and Gaelic games featuring potato hockey, a potato peel race to see who can peel the most potatoes in a specified amount of time, and, most original, “the outhouse races.”  Teams build custom outhouses on wheels with a brave driver and pushed by a crew.  They rush two at a time down E Street to the cheers of the crowd lining the street.

Lakeview’s Irish Days observance provides fun while honoring the town’s rich Irish heritage.

 

Sources: Liedtke, Kurt. "Irish Days: Lakeview celebration honors old country roots." Herald and News, 19 Mar. 2017 [Klamath Falls] , www.heraldandnews.com/news/.news/irish-days-lakeview-celebration-honors-ol;  Liedtke, Kurt. "Irish Stronghold: Lakeview celebrates Gaelic Heritage." Herald and News, 18 Mar. 2018 [Klamath Falls], www.heraldandnews.com/news/.news/irish-stronghold-lakeview-celebrates./arti; Morris, Elizabeth, et al. Moon Oregon. Avalon Publishing, 2007, p. 512, books.google.com/books?isbn=1566919304.

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Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.