IN NEW IBERIA — The month of March is recognized as Irish-Heritage month, and kicking off St. Patrick's celebrations is the City Hall's fountain being dyed green by the Fir Marseal Nua Iberia, which is Gaelic for the New Iberia Marching Men.
In the past they've attempted to dye Bayou Teche green; however, it was too difficult due to the bayou's deep, dark waters. So, they settled with the fountain but still needed to make scientific adjustments. Joshua Murrell, a member of Fir Marseal Nua Iberia, who also works at a laboratory says to successfully pump the fountain with the green dye, he had to hand build a plumbing machine just to support the pumping system for the fountain.
"I have some engineering background so they said ok you do it, you fix it you got some ideas, so I said yeah come on I can do this better. So they said alright, they let me design it and I built it. It's real good, it's made to handle enough dye for this fountain." said Murrell.
This green fountain will begin to fade after a few days, so another Irish gentleman will need to check the water and maintain it to keep the vibrant color until the end of the month. Jodi McDonald, Head Captain of The New Iberia Marching Men, who helped form the organization 12 years ago when they realized that in New Iberia, no one was hosting and celebrating Irish culture. Even though, New Orleans was one of the biggest ports of Irish settlers hundreds of years ago. Even our current President Joe Biden as well, is of Irish ancestry and officially proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month just a few days ago.
"Over the course of the next two weeks, I'm going to just come periodically and I'm going to keep it this color until we pass St. Patrick's Day," says McDonald.
This dye is vegetable-based, 100% biodegradable and even safe enough to drink, although not recommended because it may turn your teeth green.
McDonald can remember when he was a child and his parents would celebrate this day with green food coloring and a pint of beer. This annual dyeing of the fountain, is meant to proudly showcase Irish pride in New Iberia.
"Resilient, preserving, it's a strong heritage we helped build America," says McDonald.
Irish-Heritage Month celebrations continue with the 11th annual St. Patrick's Day March next
weekend, where bagpipers from New Orleans will be playing.