On May 16, 2013, the Tampa Bay Rays major league baseball team will honor Florida's Irish at a home game against the Boston Red Sox. This inaugural Florida Irish Heritage Night will be a treat for the Florida Irish community, for Rays fans and for visiting Red Sox fans. The preliminary program for the event includes a Celtic music performance by an Irish band and commemorative Florida Irish baseball caps.
May 16 is also St. Brendan the Navigator's feast day. Irish Saint Brendan and his band of monks may have been the first Europeans to visit Florida. The written accounts of his early 6th century voyages mention animals and vegetation that may have been palm trees, alligators and manatees. Native American legends mention an ancient visit by a group of white men in white robes who carried staffs and chanted. Vikings legends refer to the southeastern coast of North America as "Greater Ireland". Whether or not these legends about St. Brendan are true, Florida has been a home to the Irish for over 400 years. Today, 2 million residents of Florida claim Irish ancestry.
Come to Tampa Bay on May 16th to celebrate your Irish heritage, to hear some Irish music and to watch a great baseball game. The Tampa Bay Rays play at Tropicana Field near downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Tropicana Field is an all-weather stadium.