In the middle of February every year, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Glen Cove Division 8, hosts what it calls a “hooley,” a traditional Irish word for an informal house party whose attendees bring food and drink. Roughly 100 people brought out their green to celebrate this year’s hooley at the Church of St. Rocco on Feb. 16, enjoying a huge buffet and traditional Irish music performed by musicians Patrick Shields and Luke Powers.
While the hooley is a time for merriment and celebration of Irish culture, the Hibernians also crown their grand marshal and aide to the grand marshal for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This year’s honorees are Grand Marshal Patrick “Patsy” Furlong and Aide to the Grand Marshal Marina O’Neil.
About an hour into the celebration, Furlong and O’Neil ceremoniously entered the hall, following a pair of bagpipers. They were then presented their honorary sashes by Lisa Forgione, the St. Patrick’s chairwoman, to a round of thunderous applause.
Forgione said that Furlong and O’Neil were easy choices for the honors, which are decided by members of the parade committee. “[Furlong] is such a great member of the Hibernians of Glen Cove,” Forgione said. “He’s always there for the parades and everything, so he was an easy choice.
“And then Marina — the day she joined the Hibernians [in 2009], she became an officer, and she’s been ever since,” Forgione continued. “They were very easy picks because they do so many wonderful things for the community.”
Furlong and O’Neil said they were excited and honored to be chosen. “[It’s] overwhelming. I’m humbled by it,” O’Neil said. “I just want to continue doing what I’m doing, volunteering and helping the [Hibernians] in any way I can.”
Asked about his reaction when he heard that he would be grand marshal, Furlong said, “I was dumbfounded, really, shocked, because I never thought that I’d be grand marshal one day, but now I’m really thrilled and honored.”
He jokingly expressed his disappointment that he would be unable to march this year as the parade’s leprechaun, because he will be wearing the sash instead of the green suit and beard he has worn every year since the mid-2000s.
The hooley serves as the opening of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration for the Hibernians as well as its first fundraising opportunity for the parade. The event is funded entirely by the group, and they rely primarily on donations from individuals and businesses. The organization also receives funding from a yearly journal it publishes, which includes advertisements for its benefactors along with everything readers need to know about the parade. For more information on the journal, go to glencove-irish.org.
This year’s parade, Glen Cove’s 31st, will kick off at 1 p.m. on March 17. It will start at the intersection of Forest Avenue and Dosoris Lane, then make its way down School Street and on to Glen Street, ending at St. Patrick’s Church at 235 Glen St. A post-parade party will follow in the church hall.