Letterkenny Shopping Centre
Hi everyone! My name is Caroline McGrotty, I’m 28 and I’m honoured to be the Dublin Mary in this year’s 50th Mary From Dungloe International Festival. I am a native of Dungloe with my family extending back almost 100 years in the town. In 2001, I moved to my mother’s hometown of Dublin. I go back to Dungloe often to visit my father and escape from the bright city lights and noise to enjoy the many tranquil beaches of The Rosses! Coming from Dungloe is something I'm very proud of and I treasure the memories I have of growing up there. I carry Dungloe always with me in my heart; the community spirit in the town has strongly influenced my career progression and values.
I am an honours graduate of the Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity College Dublin with a Diploma in Irish Sign Language Teaching and a Bachelor in Deaf Studies. I also hold a Higher Certificate in Equality Studies from UCD. I'm passionate about advocacy and equality for the Deaf and wider Disability Communities.
Currently I work as Project Co-ordinator at AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access & Disability) managing paid internships for graduates with disabilities and supporting multi-national employers to be inclusive. I also work in RTÉ as a Presenter, on the News With Signing and Weather With Signing.
In my spare time, I like to volunteer; I have been volunteering with the Deaf Community for over a decade, holding various positions in different organisations including Vice-Chairperson of Deaf Village Ireland where we developed and built a state of the art community centre based in Cabra. Now I sit as Vice-Chairperson of the Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) where we promote access to quality interpretation.
For the last two years, I've also volunteered at the RDS Christmas Day Dinner serving meals for the poor and homeless – this year, I have been asked to organise a Christmas Day Dinner for Deaf people who may be isolated. This April, I completed a fundraising trek over the Andes in Peru in aid of the Irish Deaf Youth Association. It was an extremely tough challenge and one that I will never forget! Nothing can prepare you for the altitude sickness however it was all worth it. I managed to trek up to 4,435m above sea level and we raised lots of money for a great charity!
The Festival was the highlight of my year growing up and it still is! Living on the Chapel Road meant I was close to all the action; hearing the live music on Main Street, playing and running around in The Dome while it was being set up and catching a glimpse of a celebrity doing their sound check. I was also part of the Festival Parade for a few years as I played the accordion in St.Crona’s Dungloe Band. BUT, my absolute favourite part is waiting at midnight on the Main Street, be it wet or dry, for the new Mary to be escorted from the crowning and welcomed onto the Main Stage. Now I get to experience what it is like from a Mary’s perspective!
The opportunity to represent Dublin this year as the Dublin Mary is not only a huge honour for me but it means I can hopefully make the festival accessible to all, especially the Deaf Community as I am Deaf myself.
I would like to extend my thanks to Letterkenny Shopping Centre who are sponsors of the Dublin Mary 2017.