SAVANNAH, Ga. -- One of Ireland's top government officials says he skipped a visit to Georgia for Savannah's St. Patrick's Day parade, the largest and oldest celebration in the American South, because he doesn't want to attend a dinner where only men are allowed.
Eamon Gilmore, Ireland's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, told the Irish Times on Saturday there was no point in coming to Savannah "if one of the major parts of the program is going to be a men-only event."
Gilmore was referring to the annual dinner of the Hibernian Society of Savannah, founded 201 years ago by Irish immigrants in coastal Georgia.
The group's president, William H. Bruggeman, says that Gilmore was never formally invited but that the Hibernians would have enjoyed having him. Bruggeman says he's surprised by the fuss.