PHILADELPHIA (FOX 29) - It’s hard to imagine in the long history of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Sean McMenamin has never been a Grand Marshal.
He still remembers his first Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which he attended a month after he immigrated from Ireland, 53 years ago.
“It represents our culture, which sometimes we have a hidden culture. People don't realize all the writers, musicians, and dancers who have influenced the world," McMenamin explained.
When he's not leading the parade down Market Street you can find this County Mayo-born expat from Cheltenham at the Commodore Barry Arts and Cultural Center, known as The Irish Center in Mt. Airy.
“As we walk into the club here this probably has more memories than any place in Philadelphia,” McMenamin explained, "I met my wife here.”
His wife passed away nine years ago. Since then, he has been keeping busy by keeping The Irish Center running.
“Nearly every Irish person that is in the Philadelphia area has probably been here,” he said.
McMenimin is now president of the center that houses dozens of Irish clubs and associations across the region.
"The Irish Center is just more than a building. It’s an entity that holds the Irish no matter where they are,” McMenamin explained.
There is a library on the second floor serves as a treasure trove of Irish history.
“What you’re looking at here is what is known as the famine pot. It was where the poor people were served a mixture of soup and rabbits, whatever it was, that probably kept them alive outside the estates of these big people,” he explained.
For a guy who literally grew up in the backyard of where St. Patrick once lived, he is living proof of the deep Irish roots that stretch all the way to Philly.
"I represent every Irish organization, whether you’re great great 5th generation of whether you just came," he said.
This Irishman’s goal is to use his platform as Grand Marshal to help continue the legacy of this center, and to hand over the torch to the next generation of Philly Irish.
FOX 29 is your home for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. You can watch all the festivities live on Sunday, March 10 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The parade will also be rebroadcast on FOX 29 on Sunday, March 17 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.