Background: A past president of the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, Betty McLoughlin resides in Bayside. This year she was the grand marshal of the 62nd annual St. Patrick’s Parade in Mineola, Long Island.
When did you immigrate to the US?
“I arrived on July 25, 1962, in search of a better life, from Belmullet, Co. Mayo.”
You lived in Philadelphia before moving to New York City. What was your first impression of the Big Apple?
“I thought New York was a great place to live, plenty of Irish dance halls and lots of friendly people. I loved the energy and the sense of possibility.”
You are the past president of the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens. How did you first get involved?
“I became a member 30 years ago. The Irish American Society became a home away from home. I attended many different functions and always had fun. I made lifelong friends at the Irish American Center. It is a place of welcome, and over the years the members have provided great support for each other in good times and bad. I enjoyed every minute of my time as president.”
What do you think is the main difference between the current wave of Irish emigrants arriving here compared to your generation?
“When people emigrated 40 years ago they made tight connections with other Irish people. Visits home were rare and contact was mainly letters. To meet someone from your hometown at a dance was a chance for news and a catch-up about your family and friends in Ireland. There was a wonderful spirit of cooperation between the Irish in America when I first came to this country.
“I think that the recent emigrants are more fluid. For some the move isn’t for life as it was 40 years ago. I think it is important to offer as much help as possible to the new wave of Irish emigrants who face different obstacles than we did 40 years ago.”
What was your grand marshal experience like?
“It was a fantastic experience walking in the Mineola parade, the NYC parade, Glen Cove and Rockville Centre. It was such an honor to represent the Irish American Society and is a memory to last a lifetime. To see the entire city celebrating Irish culture, song and dance makes me proud to be an Irish American in New York."