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April 04, 2016

Here's the latest with the East Falls shamrock scandal

Tommy Doyle was there when the street-art tradition was launched, says man who questioned original story

Neighborhoods Traditions
East Falls Shamrock Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

For the past 57 years, Tom Doyle has painted a shamrock in the middle of the Ridge and Midvale avenues in East Falls for St. Patrick's Day. The neighborhood marker was long a source of mystery in the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood.

I know what you’re thinking: Hey writer guy, you said there wouldn’t be any more stories about the East Falls shamrock-painting hullaballo, so why am I reading the first paragraph of a third dispatch in this series right now?

Well, you’re right. Promises made on March 28 have now been broken, but for good reason.

On Monday, we received a follow-up email from Tommy Grimes, the man who was among those involved in painting the landmark street art at Ridge and Midvale avenues early on in the pavement-greening narrative.

A summarized version of the correspondence is as follows: Upon further investigation, Tommy Doyle was, in fact, there at the beginning (but the chronology still doesn’t match the number “57” being painted upon the shamrock).

Here’s what Tommy Grimes shared with PhillyVoice, which we’ll now share with you:

Information has belatedly come to me regarding the Shamrock saga.

It would appear that circa 1965/66, my brother Dan and Tommy Doyle were indeed drinking together and discussing doing something for St. Patrick’s Day. Thus began the start of the tradition of the Shamrock at Ridge and Midvale.

So I therefore offer my apology to both you and Tommy Doyle for misinformation.

I do however still question the 57-years statement for the reasons mentioned previously. I also stand by the fact that up until 1964 I do not recall ever seeing a Shamrock painted at the above intersection.

It takes a classy guy to want to correct the record amid swirling controversy in the neighborhood he once called, and some of his kin still call, home. 

Thanks for stepping up with this new information, Mr. Grimes, and here’s hoping this lays the controversy to rest once and for all.