While St. Patrick’s Day is not widely celebrated in Ireland, Americans have embraced the holiday with the wearing of the green, Irish food, and traditional Irish music. In Neosho, the Irish heritage of the railroad workers who first laid track in the area continues in St. Canera’s Catholic Church.

While St. Patrick’s Day is not widely celebrated in Ireland, Americans have embraced the holiday with the wearing of the green, Irish food, and traditional Irish music.  In Neosho, the Irish heritage of the railroad workers who first laid track in the area continues in St. Canera’s Catholic Church.  
The number of Catholic workers, some of which remained in Neosho, included other nationalities, but the name of the local parish came from Bishop John Joseph Hogan of the Kansas City, Mo. Diocese.
The ground to build a Catholic Church was granted by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in 1871. The site at the corner of Hill and Woods Streets overlooks downtown Neosho and was once known as Lloyd’s Hill. Missionary priests served the local Catholic population and in 1876, ground was broken and a foundation laid for a church. Lack of money put the project on hold until 1880 and a small 30 by 50 foot wooden building was erected.  The church was not formally dedicated until May 23, 1889, when former missionary priest and then Bishop of the Kansas City Diocese, John Joseph Hogan, came to Neosho.
He dedicated the church and named it after St. Canera, a sixth century Irish saint who hailed from what is now Cork on the western coast of Ireland. As an Irish immigrant himself, its likely Hogan chose the name for the significance of the saint’s protection for sailors and fishermen.  
Although many monasteries in Ireland at the time accepted both men and women for a religious life, St. Canera chose St. Senan’s monastery on Inis Cathaig, also known as Scattery Island. Since that monastery accepted only men, Canera was rejected but vowed to live a solitary life as a religious hermit for what remained of her life.  
She died there in 530 AD but the site where she lives has long been under the sea. It is marked by a small flag off the coast of Scattery Island.  The ruins of the monastery that rejected her still stand today.
St. Canera, also spelled Cannera, Kinnera, Conaire, and Cainder, is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen.  For centuries, Irish sailors heading out to sea have saluted her grave to show respect.  She is invoked in prayers and a long standing tradition of carrying pebbles from Inis Cathaig continues today.  The present church replaced the original building in 1950.
    On St. Patrick’s Day, as Americans celebrate all things Irish, it’s a good day to reflect on a little piece of local Irish history.