For the last 15 years, every grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Rockville Centre had received an authentic Irish sweater, donated by the local Irish gift shop, Kathleen’s of Donegal.
This year, shop owner Kathleen Alcock will be dressing herself for the parade on next Saturday.
Alcock, 73, has been selected as the grand marshal for the parade’s 16th year, and is the first woman to hold that title.
“She’s just a great Irish woman,” said Sean O’Rourke, parade committee president. “She’s done a lot of charity work, and she’s always been there for the parade.”
O’Rourke was the person who submitted Alcock’s name to the parade board for consideration as this year’s grand marshal.
“The board went with it,” said O’Rourke. “She is a very hard working person, who cares a lot about her family, her church and the community.”
Alcock, an Irish immigrant, came to America in 1987 looking to open an Irish gift shop. She visited the Rockville Centre area and decided that it was exactly where her shop needed to be.
“When I was visiting Long Island, I went to Rockville Centre, and absolutely fell in love with the place,” said Alcock. “I’ve been so fortunate to have the store here, the community spirit in Rockville Centre is unbelievable.”
Alcock moved with her husband, Tommy, and two sons Thomas and Patrick. Her daughter Kathleen, remained in Ireland. Alcock said that they’re all very excited for her.
The Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day parade starts at noon March 24.
When Kathleen’s of Donegal opened, there were originally two owners, Alcock, and her partner, Richie O’Shea. The two met during O’Shea’s Irish tours to Ireland where he would stop at an Irish shop, owned by Alcock. That was over 30 years ago, and he says that he couldn’t think of a more deserving person to be the parade’s grand marshal.
“Kathleen is a very respected, well liked, involved in charities and community,” said O’Shea. “We’re giving her all of the support that we can, she really is very deserving of the honor.”
Alcock, a humble woman, still can’t believe that she will be the center of the events this year.
“I never expected it,” said Alcock. “It’s an unbelievable thing and an honor that for the rest of my life will be very special and close to me.”