Loretta Brennen Glucksman. University of Limerick photo.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Loretta Brennan Glucksman, a hugely popular figure in the Irish American community, will be the grand marshal for the 2018 New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Brennan Glucksman will lead what will be the 257th march up Fifth Avenue, and in so doing will become only the fifth woman to wear the grand marshal sash.
The decision to confer the honor was made at a meeting of the parade board earlier this week.
Brennan Glucksman is one of Irish America’s leading philanthropic figures and has continued in this role since the passing of her husband, Lewis “Lew” Glucksman, in 2006.
Just a few weeks ago, Brennan Glucksman, chairman emeritus of the Ireland Funds, became only the second recipient of the Kennedy-Lemass medal at a ceremony in Ireland.
The medal honors a U.S. Leader of Irish heritage who has worked to strengthen the relationship between Ireland and the United States and is presented by the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland at its annual Independence Day lunch in Dublin.
More than 700 people attended the ceremony at which Brennan Glucksman was conferred with the medal, the Irish Independent reported.
Those attending included Reece Smyth, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy who said that the philanthropic efforts by Loretta Brennan Glucksman in the educational and cultural space were “profound.”
Said Mr. Smyth, and as the Independent reported: "If we are looking for a testament to the fine traditions of Irish America, we need look no further than Loretta Brennan Glucksman.
And there were similar tributes from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and outgoing Irish ambassador to the U.S., Anne Anderson.
"She has inspired us all and it is very fitting she should be honored in this way," said Mr. Varadkar.
Ambassador Anderson described Brennan Glucksman as a "towering figure in Irish America.”
She will also now be a leading one in the literal sense on the biggest Irish day in the calendar.
During her eighteen year tenure as chairperson of the American Ireland Fund, Brennan Glucksman oversaw contributions of over €300 million - of some more than €500m raised to date - in support of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development on the island of Ireland.
Alongside her late husband, she has been a champion of the University of Limerick for over twenty years, helping to fund many key projects and serves as Chairman of the University of Limerick Foundation.
Brennan Glucksman has served on numerous boards including IDA Ireland, The National Gallery of Ireland, The National Library, The National Concert Hall, The Abbey Theatre, Trinity College, University College Cork, The Royal College of Surgeons, Smurfit School of Business at the University of Dublin, and Cork Airport Authority.
Previous women grand marshals of the parade were Dorothy Hayden Cudahy, Mary Holt Moore, Maureen O’Hara, and Mary Higgins Clark.