Local family drives Arch Bishop in St. Patrick's Parade for 20th year

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - In the Ireland household, St. Patrick's day is tradition. It all started with Joseph Ireland III, but folks around here just call him Joby.

The first of his ancestors born in America, Ireland and his wife Laurel moved to Savannah for his new job at the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation. They planned on only spending one year in Savannah until the family fell in love with the Irish heritage and culture. Ireland felt Savannah and the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade embodied every important core value.

"Faith, family, and friends, and in that order," Ireland said. "It's really a celebration and opportunity for the family to get together."

When Joby and his wife Laurel tied the knot, St. Patrick's Day, for her, turned into more than a pinch without green.

"Once Laurel met my family, she realized what she was getting into," Ireland said.

However, Laurel admitted the Irish heritage is a strong reason behind why their family remains so close.

"My true calling! But, once I married into the Ireland Family, it's one of our biggest celebrations."

For their three kids, son Joseph IV, daughter Cecilia, and daughter Shannon, March 17 is a party, but also a family reunion. As Joseph IV pointed to a photo of them as kids at the St. Patrick's parade he said, "We're probably like 5, 3, and 7 right there. Here's Uncle Johnny. He used to always die his Go-T green. That was a pretty big hit."

Everyone in the family has a part in the magic. Laurel helps design the parade magazine each year, and the daughters were Irish dancers in the parade every year growing up.

"It's so fun to run up to the crowd and do dances for them because they just go crazy. They think it's awesome," said Ireland's daughter, Shannon.

You'll always find Joby behind the wheel of this 76 El Dorado driving the Arch Bishop. He noticed the Bishop didn't have a car in the Savannah parade over two decades ago. Ireland then bought the car in Chicago, and drove it all the way down the east coast with his mother..." top-down" he said. This will be the twentieth year in a row driving the car in the parade, and the friendly competition still strong.

"I felt he needed a car that was equal in stature to the Grand Marshal's car," said Ireland. "Frankly I think mine is a little bit better looking than the Grand Marshal's car."

The vehicle is decked out with a lucky shamrock, lucky license plate, and lucky prayer card from St. Patrick.

"It wound up here one year, and it has never left, so he is always protecting us in the car," Laurel said.

However. the Ireland family says they're just lucky to be part of such a special day remembering their heritage. They say their car will be second in the parade, behind the Grand Marshal's.

Copyright 2018 WTOC. All rights reserved.