Dorothy Hayden Cudahy, the first female Grand Marshall of New York City's Saint Patrick's Day Parade, has died. Known as the 'First Lady of Irish Radio,' her popular show Irish Memories broadcast from 1943 to 1990 and was an indelible part of the New York Irish scene for five decades.
Hayden Cudahy attained the distinction of becoming the first female grand marshal in the 226 year of the annual parade, when she was 66, leading 200,000 marchers in the nation's largest and oldest Saint Patrick's Day celebration. At the time she gamely remarked it was about time Irish women took center stage instead of being left standing in the wings.
In 1984 Hayden Cudahy was the first woman, as well as the first American-born person, to be elected president of the County Kilkenny Association, where she was elected President. She was also a Trustee of The Irish Institute, and a member of the Ladies A.O.H. and many other Irish organizations.
Born on May 29, 1922 in Manhattan, before her selection for the role of grand marshall Hayden Cudahy famously remarked, 'I do not wish to be pushy, but there is no reason to wait.' That kind of spirited remark publicly challenged the parade committee and gave a measure of her own determination.
Daughter of James Hayden, a native of Ballyraggett, County Kilkenny, and Delia Brennan, a native of Curry, Co. Sligo. She married John Cudahy (1920 -1994), the son of Co. Clare immigrants, in 1947 and they had one son, Sean (1950 – 1997).
In 1960, Dorothy Hayden was one of the first meter maids for the New York City Department of Traffic and by 1982 she retired as the Chief of Administration of the Bureau of Enforcement of the NYC Transportation Department.
A mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday at 10:30 AM at St. Margaret's R.C. Church Interment Calvary Cemetery.