A Who's Who of Grand Marshals


The McKay brothers are very proud of their Irish heritage and have roots in counties Tipperary, Cavan, and Galway. Both brothers have visited Ireland many times.

Marilee Fitzgerald, Director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, was chosen as Washington, D.C.’s Grand Marshal. Fitzgerald fits the 40th parade’s theme of “A Heritage of Education and Community Service.” She oversees 194 schools in 12 countries and seven states that offer education to the dependents of our uniformed service personnel.
Fitzgerald also serves as the Principal Deputy to the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy. This year’s parade in the country’s capital is on March 13th.

Parades Around the World

In Ireland St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with with parades around the country and a festival lasting four days in Dublin, the nation’s capital.  This year’s parade promises to be truly spectacular.  In honor of Dublin being named  UNESCO City of Literature, the festival parade will bring a specially commissioned short story “Brilliant” by Roddy Doyle to life on the streets, with some of Ireland’s finest performers taking part.  Marching bands from across the globe will also take part, in what is billed as the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  Boxing champion Katie Taylor, 24,  will serve as this year’s grand marshal.

Since 1824, Montreal has been hosting Canada’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  The three-hour event features floats, bands, community organizations and cultural groups. This year’s grand marshal is Father John Walsh, whose roots lie in Killarney and Cork. Father Walsh is an active member of the Irish-Canadian community and is known for his work on News Talk Radio CJAD.

The largest Irish event in Japan is the Tokyo St. Patrick’s Day Parade, organized by the Irish Network Japan. It began in 1992 for the purpose of introducing Irish culture to the Japanese people. With the support of the Irish Ambassador to Japan, James Sharkey, the parade took off and is now entering its twentieth year.

In the Caribbean, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations continue for an entire week on the volcanic island of Montserrat. Montserrat, whose people are a mix of African and Irish, is the only nation in the world other than Ireland that considers St. Patrick’s Day a national holiday.    The celebration includes parades, pub crawls, feasts, and  festivals.

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Sydney, Australia, the  “Book of Kells” will serve as the inspiration for the costumes, groups, music and floats within the parade.  This annual event is one of the largest in the world, comparable to the parades of New York and Ireland.

This year, the Irish Hungarian Business Cycle organized all of their Hungarian Irish groups for the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Budapest. The theme for the parade is “Green For The Day,” as all are welcomed to come out and celebrate Irish Culture.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and parades are also held in Greece, Turkey, Dubai, Rome, Germany, New Zealand, Great Britain, and many other countries. The month of March continues to show that St. Patrick and Irish culture have had quite an influence around the world.

UPDATE: In the print edition of Irish America, we listed the Shanghai St. Patrick's Day Parade as one of the international celebrations. The parade, and the four-day Féile Shanghai festival it was a part of, have since been canceled due to major crackdowns by the government and police force on public gatherings throughout China.

The ban on public gatherings and any media coverage of them began after word began circulating online of a "Jasmine Revolution," which apparently encouraged people to take "afternoon strolls" as a sign of resistance against the Communist ruling party. 

A member of the parade committee issued the following statement to the Irish Times, under the condition of anonymity: "The parade is off. We were told by the Public Security Bureau we could not have a public gathering. We're bitterly disappointed as we spent two months working on it, but that's life."