Massachusetts city, St. Patrick's Day Parade committee names Ann Lowe 2019 Rohan Award winner.
A native of Belmullet, Co. Mayo, Ireland, Ann (Burke) Lowe emigrated to America at age eight with her family – parents, John and Nora (Lavelle) Burke, sister, Mary, and brothers Sean and Desmond. They arrived in New York in December 1950 after an ocean voyage aboard the SS America. They were immediately welcomed home to Holyoke by the family that had come before them.
Ann attended Nonotuck, Lawrence, and Sacred Heart elementary schools, and graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1960. She then attended Holyoke Business School and later worked for several local businesses as an administrative assistant.
Much to the delight of her family, Ann led the 1959 Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade as Grand Colleen. This experience left Ann with a long-lasting feeling of pride and honor. Much of her work on the Parade Committee has been with the young women involved in the Colleen Pageant and the Coronation Ball. Ann has also enjoyed working with the committees on the Memorial Mass, Ambassador’s Award Breakfast, Bishop’s Mass, Grand Marshal’s reception, the Parade Committee archives, and at many other events. Ann is also a member of the Irish Cultural Center of Western Mass, having served as secretary and as a member of the Board of Directors. She is a communicant of Blessed Sacrament Church.
While working at Holyoke’s Strand Theatre, Ann met her future husband, Richard Lowe. They were married at Holy Cross Church on April 4, 1964. The couple moved to Fort Knox and Fort Devens before Richard served a year in Viet Nam with the US Army. Once Richard was discharged, the couple settled in Holyoke and raised their two daughters, Kelly and Heather. Richard passed away in 1998, but the family has grown to welcome son-in-law Jay O’Sullivan, and grandchildren Andrew and Catherine. The whole family is thrilled that Ann is being recognized with the Rohan Award in 2019, sixty years after she was the Grand Colleen!
The Thomas F. Rohan Award recipient shall be a long-standing member of the Parade Committee who has made significant contributions to the overall success of the Parade and/or this Association. In 1957, the St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke established an award to honor its first Grand Marshal, Thomas F. Rohan.
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