Patrick Griffin was born in Athlone, Roscommon, Ireland and came to the United States on his own when he was 29 years old, leaving his parents, two sisters and brother back in Ireland.
“I was sent over by my company to New York. I really liked the U.S. and decided to move to Boston to be with some distant relatives,” he remembers.
While living in Boston, Patrick visited friends in Rhode Island and liked how friendly and welcoming the people were. In 1992, he moved to Rhode Island where he had the opportunity to purchase a bar. “The bar was a foreclosure, and I thought I could flip it around,” recalls Patrick.
During his first five years in Rhode Island, Patrick spent much of his time and energy working and building his bar – Patrick’s Pub. Shortly after its opening, he realized that there was no Irish parade in Providence. “I decided I would put a group of people together to bring the parade back again.” To this day, Patrick is the Providence’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade committee president. The parade is of the largest in Rhode Island.
Patrick loves many things about Rhode Island – the close proximity to everything including the beach, ski slopes, and the Boston airport. He also loves the four seasons of New England. “Rhode Island is a beautiful place to live and the people are so nice.”
He usually returns to Ireland once a year, sometimes twice, to visit his family. He has taken his son and daughter back about five times now. Patrick is very proud of his two children, having a successful business and keeping the Providence parade going for 20 years. He says it’s a great accomplishment, especially when you’re an immigrant and you have to make yourself known.
“The challenge for anyone coming to this country – no matter what country you’re coming from– is the immigration laws are so challenging. I feel bad for people trying to come to the United States right now because the immigration laws aren’t up to par. It can take you years, sometimes a decade, and thousands of dollars.”
His advice to other immigrants, “Come to America and realize how welcoming and nice the people are. If you don’t mess up or get in any trouble, you will do well in America. It is a great country with great people. Networking is huge – find people from your country and they will help you get started. I can’t thank enough the people who helped me get started.”