Seattle's Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Annual Banquet
By CATHOLINE BUTLER
John Costello Jr. is the president of the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Seattle and this month they are preparing to celebrate their 68th annual St. Patrick's banquet.
The society has changed over the years since the original focus was to get-together for a banquet and party on St. Patrick's Day and now the main focus is to raise money for a charitable auction.
"When the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick was first formed, it was all men who got together for a banquet on St. Patrick's Day," said John. "But that changed in the mid-nineties when my father, who was the president of the Society at the time, invited Archbishop Thomas Murphy to attend the banquet.
"The Archbishop told members that he would never attend another banquet unless they allowed women to join the Society. So from then on, women were part of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.
"It takes us about five months to plan the banquet and charitable auction. The charitable auction is now our primary focus. The main reason that we have our annual banquet is to raise money for the Friendly Sons Scholarship at Seattle University Law School which is currently at $75,000 and is the largest private scholarship at Seattle University.
"The members are responsible for collecting items for the auction and Kip Toner who has his own auction company and has been the auctioneer for years at the banquet, comes in and does the auction for us. This year we will have a very special guest from Ireland, John Bruton, the former Irish prime minister."
Every March, the Seattle Irish Heritage Society presents Irish Week and they are also responsible for the St. Patrick's Day parade in Seattle. John Costello Jr., along with his family and other Society members, will be proudly marching in the parade as they have done for many years.
Speaking about his own Irish heritage, John said, "my ancestors emigrated from Limerick in the 1860s to the Kent Valley, which is south of Seattle. Both my great-great-grandfather and my great-great-grand-uncle grew hops in the Kent valley. We still have relatives in Ireland."