Irmo is the name of a small incorporated city of approximately 11,000 people just west of South Carolina's capital city Columbia; the greater Irmo area straddles the border of Richland and Lexington counties.
The city's name comes from the first two letters of the names of two men from the Columbia, Newberry, and Laurens railroad, C.J. Iredell and H.C. Moseley. According to Irmoinfo.com, the railroad chose to build a train depot in what is now Irmo "because it was the precise distance from Columbia for refueling the wood-burning locomotives." The area incorporated in 1890 centered around that train station. However, Columbia has grown quite a lot in the intervening years; there is not really much left of the original 10-mile space between the two cities.
Before the train station, there had been German and Swiss settlers in the area between the Broad and Saluda Rivers (and just as with the "Pennsylvania Dutch", English speakers mispronounced the German self-description "Deutsch" as "Dutch," so the area was sometimes called "Dutch Fork" -- now commemorated in the names of some area schools). The locals were small farmers; the rocky red clay soil of the area did not make for plantation farming. What few large houses had existed were burned during Sherman's "March to the Sea" during the Civil War.
The town was still a sleepy little place of less than 500 residents for many years, despite the construction of the then-largest earthen dam in the world across the Saluda River, which created Lake Murray in the 1920s for the Lexington Water Power Company (now South Carolina Electric and Gas). The town now calls itself the "Gateway to Lake Murray" on its official websites, since the lake has become a major recreational area for Columbia-area residents.
In the 1960s, a spur to both Irmo's and Columbia's growth was the construction of of Interstate 26 and the nearby intersection of Interstate 20 shortly thereafter.
An annual event is the Okra Strut, started in 1973 as a fundraiser for the local Woman’s Club, which raising money for a new public library. A local radio personality, Gene McKay, saw a local hardware store called ""The Ancient Irmese General Store" and had jokingly described the “ancient Irmese” as “a farming tribe who lived off okra"; this spurred the celebration centered on the vegetable. The two-day celebration held each September now usually includes such events as a golf tournament, a street dance party, an okra-eating contest, foot and bike races, and the Okra Strut Parade, ending at a fair site. The library has long since been built, but the money raised now goes to other public improvements. (Indeed, the "Welcome to Irmo" signs as roads cross the city limit announce that the town is "Home of the Okra Strut.")
Visiting relatives who live just outside the town limit