Jokes, yolks & Irish folks: 38th annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast draws a packed house

  • Michael J. Ahearn Jr., the recipient of the James Brennan Award, listens as Brian Joyce makes jokes at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Matt O’Connor leads the group after the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • William O'Riordan, the St. Patrick's Association 2018 Marshal receives his plaque from Meggan Gilboy at the St. Patrick's Day Breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • The St. Patricks Day Breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • The St. Patricks Day Breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • Scott Coen was the guest speaker at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • William O’Riordan, the grand marshal of the Northampton contigent that will march in Sunday’s Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade, at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. The breakfast is sponsored by the Northampton St. Patrick’s Association. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Matt O'Connor leads the group after the St. Patricks Day Breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • William O'Riordan, the St. Patrick's Association 2018 Marshal, carries the flag while Tess Collins waves after the St. Patricks Day Breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • Right,. Michael J. Ahearn Jr., the recipient of the James Brennan Award, listens as Brian Joyce makes jokes at the St. Patrick's Day Breakfast at the Hotel Northampton Friday morning. —CAROL LOLLIS

@BeraDunau
Published: 3/16/2018 8:19:50 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A rules change thrust William “Duke” O’Riordan into the spotlight for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, though truth be told the Goshen resident has long been a natural fit to serve as parade marshal representing Northampton.

And don’t worry, the honor hasn’t gone to the head of the longtime figure in the preservation of Irish history and culture in the city.

“The jello shots are still going to be on me,” O’Riordan told more than 200 people at Friday morning’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at Hotel Northampton.

Thanks to a change in rules that now allows someone from outside Northampton to represent the city contigent in the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Sunday, O’Riordan was a natural choice to receive the honor.

The sold-out 38th annual breakfast presented by the Northampton St. Patrick’s Association celebrates camaraderie and community through shared stories and jokes. While this year’s event certainly had its share of one-liners, it also carried a somber note.

A moment of silence was held for the late Rep. Peter Kocot, the longtime representative for the 1st Hampshire District who died after a battle with cancer last month. His place at the breakfast was marked with a red rose.

The Rev. Francis Riley gave a blessing, after which he sung “Sitting on The Bridge,” a cheeky song complete with  his own accompaniment on guitar.

Mayor David Narkewicz kicked off the joke telling.

“Donald J. Trump walks into a bar, and immediately lowers it,” said Narkewicz.

Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Suzanne Beck said that her role at the breakfast was to be the “least funny person.” She used her time to highlight the success of Northampton’s refugee and resettlement program, and noted how stark a contrast this was to the national mood around immigration.

“That’s a really good story that we can share today,” she said.

Scott Coen, a longtime sports broadcaster formerly of Channel 40, said that he was asked by Michael Ahearn Jr. if he believed in free speech, because that is what he would be asked to give at the breakfast as its guest speaker.

“If you know Mike, that’s his usual routine,” he said.

Coen said that although he has a Jewish last name, he is an Irish Catholic. Nevertheless, his wife is a Jewish woman and they raised their daughter Jewish. He said that although his wife did give him the option of raising their daughter Catholic, there was a condition — he would have to take her to church every Sunday.

“Father, with all due respect,” Coen said.

He went on to note that his daughter ended up becoming a Buddhist.

Coen said that the last time he was standing in front of so many Irish Catholics he was getting beat up by nuns at his New Jersey Catholic school, and noted that one nun in particular had targeted him.

“She probably did think I was Jewish after all,” he said.

Coen also waxed sentimental about his two Irish grandmothers, and credited Carlton Fisk hitting a home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series with sending him to Massachusetts.

Brian Wilson closed out the dinner by taking cracks at those assembled.

Wilson noted the attendance of City Clerk Pamela Powers.

“And of course she is ably escorted by Mr. Pam Powers,” he said.

Noting both the legalization of marijuana and the election of a new sheriff, Wilson said that media would no longer be able to use the introduction: “Please welcome the high sheriff.”

Wilson also confirmed that there was no truth to the rumor that Ahearn Jr. employs his father at the funeral home to prevent him from wearing sweat pants all the time.

He also read out the top 10 phrases that O’Riordan would never say. They included “The Brits are just misunderstood,” “Alcohol? Never touched the stuff,” and “Shush, President Trump is speaking.” The number one phrase “Duke” would never say was “Who is Margaret Thatcher?”

In addition to honoring O’Riordan with its highest honor as the Northampton contingent’s marshal for Sunday’s parade, the St. Patrick’s Association also recognized Ahearn Jr., who received the Brennan Award. The Brennan is named for the late James Brennan, a founding member of the association and past marshal.

High school senior Emma Tauer was presented with the Joan Tobin Citizenship Award, while fellow senior Christopher Carey was awarded the William F. O’Connor Shanachie Award.

Greg Molinowski was awarded the first Patricia M. Ahearn Community Volunteer Award, an honor that visibly moved him.

“I’m speechless,” he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy