NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton St. Patrick’s Association recently named Ken O’Brien as their parade marshal and Meggan Gilboy as the 2024 James Brennan Award winner ahead of the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

O’Brien, a longtime Northampton football coach, will lead the Northampton contingent during the parade on March 17.

“Being an Irishman, it’s a great honor to be the marshal,” O’Brien told Reminder Publishing, during a phone interview.

According to an announcement, the Northampton parade marshal is awarded every year to “a resident of Northampton who is of Irish Descent and has distinguished him or herself through their civic, family, career contributions and has supported Irish culture in our community.”

O’Brien joined the Northampton St. Patrick’s Association around five or six years ago. He was recently influential in starting the organization’s newest program called Heritage Nights, where different speakers talk about different aspects of Irish culture and history.

Since joining the association, O’Brien has been more entrenched in his own Irish heritage. For example, he said he got in touch with his roots by visiting Ireland back in October at the age of 71.

“The association really increased my interest in going back to Ireland and looking at where my grandparents and great grandparents came from. I’m way more Irish than I thought I was.”

Outside of his work for the association, O’Brien also served as a football coach in some capacity for 47 years, spending 40 years with Northampton High School and 12 years as their head coach before moving on in 2012. He then spent five years as an assistant football coach at Williston Northampton.

Gilboy, meanwhile, earns the James Brennan Award as a Florence resident who spent four years as the president of the Northampton St. Patrick’s Association and currently serves on the association’s board.

The award is given annually to a member of the association who “has actively committed their time and efforts in helping the association carry out its goals. The person chosen is one who serves on committees, helps plan and works at functions, volunteers’ time, energy and ideas to keep the association vital, vigorous, vibrant and fun.”

“I’m honored that the past Brennan Award winners acknowledged me and my work that I’ve done throughout the years,” Gilboy told Reminder Publishing. “It’s a great award and a great community.”

When asked about her greatest accomplishments while part of the association, Gilboy said she is so excited to see their annual Jack Dunphy Toy Drive grow over the years.

“We started out just supported the Toys for Tots, but now we’re supporting local schools and the community,” Gilboy said. “It’s great that we can raise money throughout the year and support other places.”

A release from the association sent to Reminder Publishing describes Gilboy as someone who brings fun and enthusiasm to everything she does.

“Meggan has been influential in making all of the Northampton St. Patrick’s Association events and initiatives successful,” read the announcement. “She helps whenever she can and has a kind word for everyone she meets. We are honored to have her represent us in Holyoke this year.”

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