Diocesan News

The Great Irish Fair Makes a Big Comeback!

  • The honorees, including Brenda Malley McCabe (left), Martin P. Dunne, and Maura Coughlin, were fitted with their sashes following the Mass. (Photos: Paula Katinas)
  • Chief Brehon Kevin Cummings and Colleen Queen Caroline Ingram both said they were looking forward to people coming to the fair.
  • Andy Cooney and His Band had a little fun before launching into their first song.
  • The Buckley School of Irish Dance was just one of several performing acts that took the stage of the amphitheater at the fair.
  • Tablet Editor Emeritus Ed Wilkinson (right) introduced honoree Frank DeRosa, former director of the Public Information Office for the Diocese of Brooklyn, at the award ceremony following the Mass.
  • Talented students from the Buckley School of Irish Dance wave to fans during rehearsal.
  • Honoree Megan O’Malley said her fellow award winners inspire her to be proud of her Irish heritage and speak out about it more. She is pictured with honoree Frank DeRosa.
  • Liz Kenny sold Belleek china, tea towers, and hand-made ornaments at the fair.
  • A pillow with the famous Irish saying was one of many Celtic-inspired items vendors were selling at the fair.
  • WCBS-TV reporter and anchor Dick Brennan, an award winner at the fair, congratulates Colleen Queen Caroline Ingram.


CONEY ISLAND — Irish eyes are smiling again!

After the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to go virtual last year, the Great Irish Fair was back live on Sept. 25, with all of the music, dancing, and good times that have been associated with the event over the years.

The 40th Annual Great Irish Fair, celebrating the cultural and religious traditions the Irish brought to the U.S., took place at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island from morning to night. The fair is sponsored by the Irish American Building Society.

Andy Cooney and His Band started off the music portion of the day with Celtic-flavored tunes that had the audience tapping their feet.

And there were lots of performances by Irish step dancers, like the Buckley School of Irish Dance, whose timing and precision impressed everyone who watched them.

Fourteen Irish-Americans who have worked to improve the lives of others were honored at an awards ceremony at the fair.

Caroline Ingram, a Rockville Centre teen named the fair’s Colleen Queen, said she was honored to be included in this year’s group of awardees. “They’re all amazing. They inspire me to do better,” she said.

In addition to Ingram, the winners were: Kevin Cummings (Chief Brehon), Dick Brennan (Celtic Cross Award), Maura Coughlin (Al O’Hagan Award), Derek Warfield (Bard of the Fair), Brendan Leavy (Thomas Cuite Memorial Award), Martin P. Dunne (Paul O’Dwyer Memorial Award), Brenda Malley McCabe (Katherine Slattery Woman of the Year), James J. Wrynn (St. Thomas More Award), Father Brian P. Dowd (Father Michael O.F.M. Memorial Award), FDNY Battalion Chief Lenard Phelan (Captain Timothy Stackpole Memorial Award), N.Y.P.D. Inspector Megan O’Malley (Patrolman Edward Byrne Memorial Award), Kevin Browne (Firefighter Thomas Phelan Memorial Award) and Frank DeRosa (Bishop Joseph Sullivan Memorial Award).

Like Ingram, O’Malley was moved by her fellow honorees. “I think they inspire me to speak out about my Irish heritage,” she said.

The day began with a morning Mass celebrated by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who praised the Irish for their contributions to the Catholic Church in America.

“It’s nice that the Great Irish Fair is back after COVID,” he said prior to Mass. “It’s a wonderful event, and it raises money for Catholic education. That’s important.”

Father Christopher Heanue, director of the Irish Apostolate for the Diocese of Brooklyn, described fond memories of going to the Great Irish Fair when he was a child. “It was always a lot of fun.”

The Great Irish Fair was founded by the late Al O’Hagan, an Irish-American community leader who served as a government liaison for Brooklyn Union Gas for 35 years. The first fair was held in an area near the Brooklyn Bridge. The event moved to Coney Island several years ago.