The Irish have been here in Florida for over 400 years. The Irish came to Spanish “La Florida” in the 1500’s, first as missionary priests and mercenary soldiers in the employ of the King of Spain, and then as planters, traders, shop keepers, doctors and administrators. Three of the “Spanish” Governors of “La Florida” were actually Irish military officers. Father Richard Arthur (a/k/a Padre Ricardo Artur), the parish priest of St. Augustine and ecclesiastical judge of “La Florida”, started the first public school in America before 1606 at St. Augustine – it was open to children of both sexes and all races! Since that time, the Irish in Florida have played key roles in the history and heritage of this state.