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Paul O’Dwyer Award – Mary Nolan

Presented in memory of Paul O’Dwyer, a native of County Mayo who served in the New York City Council and was a nationally recognized civil rights leader and defender of the Irish cause in the U.S.


Irish-born community activist Mary Nolan is receiving the Paul O’Dwyer Memorial Award.
A native of County Limerick, she was one of nine children born to John and Margaret O’Dea. She attended Kilfinny School and a high school run by the Sisters of Mercy, both in the village of Adare.
She immigrated to the U.S. in December, 1953 and settled in Park Slope, where she joined St. Thomas Aquinas parish. Four years later, she wed fellow Irish immigrant Daniel Nolan, now deceased. They moved to Bay Ridge, where they joined St. Patrick parish and raised four children. She is the proud grandmother of 10.
Like Paul O’Dwyer and so many others who arrived on America’s shores from the Emerald Isle, Nolan has dedicated her life to serving others.
A founding member of the Brooklyn-Staten Island Charter of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement, Nolan has also served on the board of directors of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, Flushing. Every September at her home parish, she sets aside a day to provide immigrants with any information available on visa changes.
She is staunch supporter of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, a nonviolent, nonsectarian group that works to bring about peace with freedom and justice.
Nolan sits on the lay advisory board of the Diocesan Irish American Apostolate, under current chaplain and Limerick native, Father Brendan Duggan, and serves on Community Board 10, representing Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
She is the president of the Commodore John Barry Club of Brooklyn, a group that promotes the contributions of the Irish-born U.S. naval hero.
She is a founding member of the Bay Ridge Irish Rovers Minor Football Club and was elected as a trustee to the minor board of the New York Gaelic Athletic Association.
In 2010, Nolan was recognized with the Shining Star Award from the Catholic Migration Office of the Diocese of Brooklyn. She was named one of Brooklyn’s “Extraordinary Women” by Kings Country District Attorney Charles J. Hynes in 2006.