Background: Connolly has been appointed grand marshal of the 39th annual Greenwich St. Patrick’s Parade on Sunday, March 17. A life-long Greenwich resident, he still serves as what he calls the world’s oldest altar boy at Sacred Heart Church in Port Chester.
What do you do?
“I am semi-retired. I am a self-taught artist. I owned a sign business and lettered yachts in Connecticut and New York. At 82 years of age, I am a real Greenwich townie! I attended St. Mary’s Grammar School in Greenwich and from there went to St. Thomas Seminary for two years.”
Tell us about your Irish heritage.
“I am very proud of it, it means a lot to me! My father was born in Co. Carlow. He died in 1949, on his birthday. He came to Connecticut when he was 25 years old. His sister came here as well. She had a hairdressing business. My dad was a popular tailor. He had his own business. He learned the trade from the old country.
“When he died I ran the tailor shop for a few years, before I was drafted. I was in the Marines for two years.
“Mom’s parents Michael Moran and Michael Moran were from Cork and Galway. She was born here.
“I do have a bit of an Irish brogue. I used to ask my mother why and she would tell me it was because I loved my father so much!”
What are your childhood memories of St. Patrick’s Day?
“I was a drummer in the Greenwich Police Pipes and Drums Band. I have always loved the parade and the songs. I am always very proud on St. Patrick’s Day.”
Have you ever been to Ireland?
“Once, about 15 years ago. I went to Ireland with my son, his wife and my grandchildren. We went to Co. Carlow and we traveled the Ring of Kerry. It was such a wonderful trip! I said to my son while I was there how I didn’t think I would ever make it to Ireland. It was like a dream!
“The weather was pretty cold. I tried to go in the ocean but it was freezing. I love the water but I could only go in up to my ankles. We stayed in a B&B. It was charming. I really enjoyed the full Irish breakfast.
“I met one local and explained I was visiting from the States. I told him that he may want to put the street signs in the same place! We had a job finding them; they were up on walls, etc. The man said to me, ‘You see sir, Dublin is only 1,000 years old, and some things take time.’ I just love the Irish humor!”
What does being grand marshal of the 2013 Greenwich St. Patrick’s Parade mean to you?
“I have been active in the Irish community all my life and I am humbled by this invitation. It means a lot to me. I don’t know why I deserve it but I will make the most of it.”