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Special Dedication Part Of St. Pat’s Observance

By Staff | Mar 22, 2016

SOLBERG?REMEMBERED - Kathy Merideth, left, read a tribute to her friend Paddy Solberg as part of a dedication ceremony Saturday afternoon. A?plaque, commemorating Paddy Solberg’s association with the St. Pat’s observance in Emmetsburg and the acquisition of the Blarney Stone, was placed on the Blarney Stone in Courthouse Square. Members of Solberg’s family attended the ceremony prior to the start of the St. Pat’s Parade. -- Dan Voigt photos

The memory of a daughter of the auld sod and friend to countless area residents was highlighted Saturday afternoon during the 56th Annual St. Patrick’s cele- bration in Emmetsburg. A memorial plaque honoring Paddy Horan Solberg was dedicated in ceremonies prior to the start of the St. Pat’s Parade.

For many years, a fixture in Courthouse Square in Emmetsburg has been the Blarney Stone, a piece of the original Blarney Stone in Ireland. The story of the stone’s arrival in Emmetsburg was highlighted by Kathy Merideth, a friend of the late Paddy Solberg.

“In January of 1965, an Iowa State University professor from Ireland named Michael Grimes was on his way back to Ames from his Christmas holiday in Ireland. He met Paddy Horan, an Irish citizen and TWA?stewardess, working on his flight to the Unites States from Shannon Airport in Ireland.

Professor Grimes asked Paddy if she would be willing to do some promotional work for TWA?and for her home country of Ireland. Paddy asked where she would have to go, and Mr. Grimes said that her first trip would involve taking the mayor of Dublin to a small town in Iowa called Emmetsburg.

And so began Paddy’s great love affair with Emmetsburg, Iowa and its citizens, including two great Irishmen that started it all here in Emmetsburg – the founders of Emmetsburg’s St. Pat’s celebration – John McCain and Gary Girard.

This memorial plaque has been affixed to the Blarney Stone monument in Courthouse Square in honor of Paddy Solberg.

One of Paddy’s proudest moments was bringing a piece of Ireland to Emmetsburg.

The following year, Paddy returned to Emmetsburg with a member of the Irish Parliament for the St. Pat’s celebration. Packed in one of her suitcases for the trip was part of the Blarney Stone from Ireland – an 85-pound rock from the auld sod.

Paddy loved Ireland. She loved her roots. She never gave up her Irish citizenship and carried her green card with pride. And, Paddy loved Emmetsburg. She lived her for 46 years and became a part of the community – serving many years on the St. Pat’s celebration committee, as a 4-H leader, and 25 years on the Palo Alto County Health Board.

As anyone close to her can attest, Paddy never met a person she didn’t like and always saw the good in everyone and everything. She was a joy to be around, an if you talked with her on a regular basis as she ran her errands around town, you can probably still hear her saying “Hello lovie!”

Paddy’s family would like to thank the St. Pat’s Committee for honoring her today. She was so proud to bring this stone – a part of Ireland – to you and everyone in this town she loved so much.

May the rose rise up to meet her, may the wind always be at her back, may the sun shine warm upon her face and the rain fall softly on her plaque. And until we meet again, may God hold her in the hollow of his hands.”

Following Merideth’s dedication, members of the group Ravensfire performed the Irish Blessing as Sean Solberg placed a floral arrangement on the Blarney Stone in memory of a beloved wife, mother, grandmother and friend to all who knew her.