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Grand marshal brings Irish roots to Montauk

Joan Lycke will be the grand marshal of

Joan Lycke will be the grand marshal of the 49th Annual Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Credit: Handout

Joan Lycke is as Irish as they come.

“I’m a very Irish person,” the Montauk woman said. “I come from 100 percent Irish roots.”

And on Sunday, Lycke, 73, will be the grand marshal of the 49th annual Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Lycke, whose grandparents hailed from County Galway and County Kerry, was born in the South Bronx and moved with her family to Montauk in 1953 – a community she has served selflessly for decades, residents say.

“Joan Lycke is part of Montauk,” said Joe Bloecker, president of the Montauk Friends of Erin, the organization that sponsors the parade. “She’s lived here almost her entire life and for the entire time, she’s done nothing but help people. She is the essence of good in Montauk.”

Through Lycke’s dedication and vision, the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation was born. The community center today houses a senior center, day care facility and health services.

The Playhouse was built in the 1920s by Carl Fisher, said John Behan, who runs the annual grand marshal’s luncheon.

“It’s a giant of a building that was completely demolished,” he said. “Joan led the charge, raising millions of dollars. It wouldn’t have been possible without Joan. She stands out and is willing to give unselfishly of her time and effort to make our community a better place.”

Lycke, who graduated from East Hampton High School, is a longtime trustee of the Montauk Library. She was involved with Scouts when her two children were young. Lycke, who has four grandchildren, said three generations of her family have thrived in Montauk.

“It’s a place that I absolutely love,” she said. “It is a paradise. When we moved here it was five kids and a dog from the South Bronx. It was a dream come true.”

Her parents wanted a safe place for their children to grow up. Lycke’s father started a plumbing business in Montauk.

“I never thought about what a chance they took, and how brave they were,” she said. “My mother never drove.”

Although winters are hard, with business slow, Lycke, who owns the Montauk Laundromat, cherishes Montauk.

“My mother taught us to be grateful and give back when you are fortunate enough to be blessed as we have, and been given the incredible gift of being able to live here.”

Ireland is never far from Lycke’s heart. She visits often and hires college students from Ireland during the summer.

“They’ve all become family,” Lycke said.

She was thrilled to be chosen as grand marshal.

“It’s very exciting for me,” she said. “I’m honored beyond belief to be given this wonderful tribute,” she said.

To celebrate her honor, members of Lycke’s large Irish family are heading to Montauk from Atlanta, Washington, DC, Boston and upstate.

Lycke will also march in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“I can’t believe I’m 73,” Lycke said. “I’m a groovy woman – my Irish roots have served me well. I’m very grateful.”

Photo: Joan Lycke will be the grand marshal of the 49th annual Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

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