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One hundred thousand welcomes to you to my official blog of all things Irish from me, Diane Byrnes, host of the Echoes of Erin radio show on WEDO Radio 810AM.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pittsburgh Grand Marshall 2011

Congratulations to our 2011 Grand Marshall, Elaine Manning, proprietor of St. Brendan's Crossing, the Irish import shop at The Shops at Station Square. Elaine has been part of the Pittsburgh Irish community for many, many years. She was instrumental in the forming of the Pittsburgh Curragh Club almost 30 years ago.

The story goes -- after Elain opened her shop and was on a shopping trip to Ireland, she ordered some boats with the intention of hanging them from the ceiling of St. Brendan's Crossing. Great idea! However, when the boats arrived at her shop, they were massive and much too large to hang from the ceiling, they were curraghs. Oh my, what was she to do??

She established contact with some Irish guys from Galway who were living in Pittsburgh. Those guys were Marcus Flaherty and the Mulkerrin brothers, Joe, Pete, and Michael. Now as they say, the rest is history!! Elaine convinced the men they could have the boats and begin a 'Curragh Club'. That is exactly what the Irish guys did!

Marcus came from Connemara and the Mulkerrin brothers came from Minish, County Galway; curraghs were a way of life for them while at home in Ireland. In any event, they took the boats, trained others in rowing the curraghs, and became a team to be reconed with. The Pittsburgh Curragh was a team of champions for many years. Eventually they changed the name to 'The Pittsburgh Irish Rowing Club' (PIRC). The Mulkerrin brothers have made most of the curraghs for the teams around the United States.

A few years back the PIRC traveled to Ireland to compete in curragh races in County Galway; low and behold they were outstanding! The Irish were quite suprised that the Yanks did such a good job.

The PIRC is now headed up by Patrick J. Clark; he has a few Mulkerrins' in the club and they still are outstanding.


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