St Patricks Day 2011 – Dublin Kerry Association March in New York Parade – by Sheila Prendergast
To celebrate St Patrick’s Day 2011, the Kerry Association in Dublin was fortunate enough to receivean invitation from the Kerrymen’s P&B Association in New York to march behind the Kerry banner inthe NY St Patrick’s Day parade – 17 th March 2011. This invitation was issued to the Association as the Dublin Chairperson at the time, Kerry O’Donnell, had long standing connections with the Parade Committee in NY. We were told that as an Association outside NY we would have to wear a distinguishing sash, which we did wear with pride.
On leaving our very centrally situated hotel in Times Square, we assembled early in the morning of the 17th and were given instructions as to the exact time and correct marching formation for the parade on its way down 5 th Avenue. Association members were joined by family and friends from places as far afield as Sydney, Australia, Heuston Texas, and San Diego, California. Following the conclusion of the march, the Dublin contingent was told by the Marshalls that we “kept perfect time – marching six abreast and had razor sharp straight lines throughout the three miles.” The perfect weather on the day added to the enjoyment and the waving and applauding from those on the sidewalks shouting out “Chiarraí Abú” – “Up Kerry” as we passed by is something we will never forget.
The following day we were fortunate enough to be invited for afternoon tea to the Consulate General of Ireland building where we were entertained by both American singers and some of our own troupe from Dublin.
No trip to the Big Apple would be complete without a visit to the Waldorf Astoria. Members took this place to their hearts and as the “Manhattans” were consumed, tales of the “olden days” were told by Kerry people who had left the county decades previously.
Another highlight of the visit was an invitation to their gala ball issued to the Kerry Association in Dublin from the New York Kerrymen’s Association. This was a formal black tie event and pride of place at the top table was taken by our own Kerry O’Donnell (Chairperson) and Marion Walsh (President). Following our visit, women were allowed to become members of the Kerrymen’s P&B Association and now, six years later, the county society has proudly inaugurated its first female president – Loretta King – a second generation Irish American whose maternal grandparents came from Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry. The ball was also attended by Dónal O’Grady, the Lord Mayor of Killarney at the time.
On the following days members were seen out in force shopping in Macy’s and other precincts and some ventured as far afield as Woodbury Common (the world’s finest shopping centre – we were told). Others went to shows on Broadway, and nobody wanted to come home.
It is hoped that a similar trip can be organised sometime in the future. Mary Donohue has vast experience following this successful trip and she won’t need much persuasion in organising another visit to New York, New York.