A Year to remember!
2018 will be forever etched into my mind, a year I will never forget and for which I will be forever grateful when Mary from Dungloe International festival committee asked me to take on the honour of 'Opening' the festival on the Main Street in Dungloe, Co. Donegal.
Life has been wonderful, Thank God. Born in Glenties Hospital where The Comprehensive School now stands in the Hospital Location. A young Glenties man once tried to convince me that I may have had incorrect birth information, and I eventually decided to let the conversation pass when I realized there was quite an age difference and him not remembering the same said hospital!! Mum (nee Bridget Mc Loone) came from an area called Clooney, close to Narin/Portnoo, Co. Donegal. Dad (Edward) who was born in Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone worked in Manus Mc Devitt's Drapers in Glenties before coming to work in the Cope in Dungloe. I was the middle child of five, with siblings Michael, Phoncie, Noel and Dolores. We lived on the Mill Road in the fifties in what was Dan and Biddy Greene's house with the Breslins as our near neighbours. We then moved to the Quay Road.
A little learning is a dangerous thing!
Academically I probably struggled but later tried to make up for it in the University of Life!
I attended the Primary School on the Quay Road, and continued my education at the Secondary School on the Chapel Road. I was interested in Fashion Design, and headed to Claremorris, Co. Mayo for one year to study home economics.
Dublin was on the agenda next, securing a civil service positon with Posts and Telegraphs on Marlborough Street. The building where I worked was struck by the bombing on Friday, May 17, 1974 and unfortunately there were many injuries. Sadly, the little lady on the street corner did not recover from her injuries. We all loved her, as many of us purchased fruit from her stand each week (I am grateful to God that I was delayed in a shop and thus avoided the next bomb on Talbot Street when I would have been making my way to the Letterkenny Express).
The Rag Trade
Fashion Design was my forte and through the friendship of Mr. Larry Cassidy from the 'House of Cassidy' with my father, a position with the well known Fashion Designer Patrick Howard, South Frederick Street was secured. The Grafton Academy of Design and the Parnell School of Tailoring was also located close by and I enjoyed many evening classes. Later on I worked in Temple Bar (now the most popular Dublin tourist city centre area) and Merrion Square for Haute Couture. A trip to New York in 1977 helped me decide my career path. Cousin Joseph Mc Loone from Freehold, New Jersey, kindly arranged an interview in the Garment District NYC with fashion designer Paula Saker. It was a wonderful opportunity working with a very creative designer and experiencing life as an assistant designer on Seventh Avenue or better known as Fashion Avenue. I studied fabric science textiles, pattern making and art design in two well known design colleges, namely, the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Parsons School of Design. Both are located in the Garment District in Manhattan, NY. My craft and garment designs enabled me to showcase at fairs in the tri-state area over the years. I had a wonderful opportunity to experience '7th on Sixth' – Bryant Park NYC or as its known New York Fashion Week, where meeting well known fashion designers, top models, fashion editors and buyers gave me a great insight to the rag trade.
St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Donegal/Mayo Associations.
In 1983 and 1984 the Donegal and Mayo Associations requested a tweed cloak design for the St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC. Donegal Association selected a beautiful handwoven green fleck tweed from John Molloy, Woollen Mills Ardara, Co. Donegal. Mayo Association selected Blue Foxford Tweed. Bainin Tweed berets and gloves were supplied by Noreen Byrne in Annagry, Co. Donegal. Thirty five years later the Donegal Association ladies still look elegant wearing the tweed cloaks esembles in the NY St. Patrick's Day parade and over the years have even featured on NBC television, thanks to the M.C. Tommy Smyth and his wife Treasa. Tommy, over the years, has promoted NY MFD, even mentioning our 'Mary' events on live tv – Thank you Tommy and Treasa.
The New York 'Mary'
The NY 'Mary' was first established many years ago by members of the Donegal Association. Ira Goldman (RIP) kindly continued the tradition for many years, travelling with the NY 'Mary' to Dungloe each year. Then in latter years a strong hardworking NY 'Mary' committee was selected; Eileen Coyle, Mary Gallagher, Mary Ellen Foye, Renata Lose, Veronica Cassidy Barry(Veronica kindly organizes the escorts from Kings Point Academy Long Island, NY for our 'Mary' Galas). Helga Lose, Christoper Kelly, Theresa Barron and Siobhan Traynor. We would like to thank all past 'Mary' committee members as well and not forgetting all the 'Mary' families and friends. They have shown so much loyalty over the years. Generous sponsors included: International Framers Connecticut and Gweedore (thanks to Katie Gallagher Barrett); Glenveigh Contracting Astoria, Queens; O'Flanagan's, NYC; Tuttles, NYC and Cronin & Phelan, Astoria, Queens. All have enabled us to continue our 'Mary' events each year. Charities we have supported are as follows; Mount Sinai Hospital - Queens Breast Health Program for the undocumented and the uninsured; Holy Ghost Fathers Maspeth, Queens; Irish Centre Long Island City, Queens and Sr. Mary Dolores Sweeney, Sierra Leone.
A word of thanks to all our supporters
Sincere gratitude to all who have supported our 'Mary from Dungloe' Irish Gala Dances as you have contributed greatly to the above charities. Ms. Ana Rodriguez Director, Community Affairs/Volunteers is forever grateful for the numerous NY Mary from Dungloe contributions to Mount Sinai Health Breast Health Program and she has welcomed us on several occasions at the Hospital and kindly atteded our 'Mary' Gala.
A personal word of thanks
I would like to thank all the beautiful Marys over the years who have been great ambassadors and role models for NY 'Mary from Dungloe' from 2005 to present; Patricia Mc Namara, Elizabeth Mc Namara, Melanie Deegan, Siobhan Mullan, Lilly Wild, Stephanie Burke, Alice Ann Robinson, Fiona Molloy, Aimee Sara Coyle, Cheryl Ann Mc Cullagh, Sharon Margaret Brady, Meghan Grace Mc Gill and Sheena Mullan. Special thanks to you all for promoting Mary from Dungloe in New York and further afield from sporting events, Irish events, marching with the NY St. Patrick's Day Parade and fundraising events to wrapping gifts for the children from Hurricane Sandy in Rockaway beach. After each trip to Ireland the NY 'Mary' spends time with the retired emigrants at the Irish Centre Long Island City – special thanks to Paul Finnegan, Jane Mc Carter, Tony, Denis, staff and residents at the Irish Centre for all the great welcomes!
The Gala Dances
Over the years we have had many successful Irish 'Mary' Gala Dances. 2017 was the highlight for the 'Mary' committee when our very own Daniel O'Donnell accepted the invitation to be our guest. The Grand Ballroom in the 'Astoria Manor' Astoria, Queens, was packed to capacity. Daniel brought the house down by singing 'My Donegal Shore' – we will never forget his kindness and goodness volunteering a whole evening to the NY 'Mary from Dungloe' and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ann Marie Moloney former MFD and 'Mary' M.C. along with John Doherty and his wife Evelyn for numerous events highlighting Mary from Dungloe.
Non Profit organizations are an important part of my heritage. CIDNY (Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, Union Square, NY), The Donegal Association, The Altar Rosary Society, Astoria, Queens and New York Mary from Dungloe Inc. are very important bonds for young emigrants, and I count myself fortunate to be a member of each organization.
Finally, finally, to this year's Mary From Dungloe Committee, a heartfelt
I would like to sincerely thank the Director, Joseph O'Donnell and committee members of the Mary from Dungloe International Festival, Dungloe, Co. Donegal for giving me this wonderful opportunity this year as one of the 'local heroes', to open up the 51st Mary from Dungloe International Festival. Go raibh mile,mile maith agaibh.
I look forward to seeing you all there on the Main Street at the Opening on Saturday evening, July 28, 2018 at 9pm and thank you so much for supporting the Mary from Dungloe International festival. The MFD beautiful Festival Brochures are available from all the local shops and the information centre in the Ionad Community Centre (Chapel Road) or the MFD detailed website www.maryfromdungloe.com
For our Visitors, present and absent friends, a word of welcome,gratitude and fond remembrance …...
Let me welcome all the first time visitors to the 'town of sweet Dungloe' and the diaspora who return from different parts of the globe, and for those who cannot join us, I will be with you in spirit throughout the week.
For all the good wishes from friends in Dungloe, the long distance calls, gifts and letters which kept my 'Dungloe' spirit up over the last 40 years, I am forever grateful. Finally, I would like to especially remember those who are no longer with us, but are forever in our hearts.
With every good wish to you, your families and friends.
Le beannachtaí maith agus maithe an chroí
(God Bless and thank you from my heart.)
Anne-Marie Mc Cullagh