Americans of Irish ancestry number about 44 million and have contributed to the achievements of the United States. This month, County Council recognized Irish-American Delaware County residents who celebrate their expression of Irish heritage and culture.
“Once a year, on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish,” said County Councilman John McBlain. This year, St. Patrick’s Day is Thursday, March 17.
A highlight of activities celebrating Irish heritage and to honor Ireland’s patron, St. Patrick, are parades. The 37th annual Springfield St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held last Saturday.
The Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which started in 1771, five years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, took place last Sunday. County Council recognized the leaders of both parades: Joseph “Steve” Burns, chairman of the Springfield Township St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and Michael J. Bradley Jr., of Haverford Township, director of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“Planning these parades is an enormous undertaking and both Steve and Mike work hard to make them more exciting each year for residents to join in the celebration,” McBlain said.
Councilman Michael Culp recognized Patrick Mulhern, the 2017 Grand Marshal for the Springfield Parade, who is a longtime resident of the township. Mulhern is a veteran civil servant having worked for 34 years with various federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“As a courageous leader, Pat was one of the first federal law enforcement officers to volunteer as an air marshal after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks,” said Culp.
Chairman Mario Civera recognized Barney Boyce, the 2017 Parade Marshal for the Philadelphia Parade. Boyce has lived in Upper Darby for more than 50 years and is originally from Milford, Donegal County, Ireland.
After moving to the United States in 1957, Boyce was drafted into the US army where he served in Germany for two years. “Barney has been contributing to the Irish community for more than 60 years,” said Civera. “The entire Boyce family is well-known in the community for lending their musical talents and time to efforts that support the preservation of Irish culture.”
Councilman Colleen Morrone recognized Brigid Gallagher. of Haverford Township, who was selected as Philadelphia’s Rose of Tralee in April 2016. An Archbishop Carroll graduate, Gallagher has spent the past year serving as an ambassador of the Irish community.
Last August, she traveled to the Rose of Tralee International Festival in County Kerry, Ireland, along with over 60 other Roses from cities all over the world. The Rose of Tralee festival and ceremony is one of the most watched television programs in Ireland each year, and is one of Ireland’s longest running festivals.
“Selected because of her outstanding character and Irish decent, Brigid is a successful career woman, who is highly motivated and driven. At the age of 26, she is the executive director of the Philadelphia Veterans House, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for veterans,” said Morrone.
To conclude Council’s March meeting, dancers from the McDade-Cara School of Irish Dance in Springfield performed. The school is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the rich tradition of Irish step and figure dancing. The instructors say that being involved in Irish dance develops overall physical abilities in addition to self-esteem as they master the progression of dance steps.
Instructor Annmarie Sheehan attended with dancers Grace Mulholland, Riley McLaughlin, Norah Maeve Bice, Lauren Rendel, Haley Brooks, Addie Sullivan, Tara Mairead Sheehan, Brianna Shovlin, Sarah Bernadette Breault, Caitlyn Breslin, Erin Berge, and Maggie Conway.