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Clarke will lead 64th Yonkers parade

Yonkers Grand Marshal Caitriona Clarke.

By Irish Echo Staff

Caitriona Clarke, chairperson of the board of directors of the Aisling Irish Community Center, and a McLean Avenue business owner, will lead the 2019 Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The parade, the city’s 64th annual, will take place along McLean Avenue tomorrow, Saturday, March 23. It will step off at 1 p.m.

Clarke, from Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, is one of four children born to Breedge and the late Leo Kenny.

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According to her biography, she attended Marymount College in Carrick-on-Shannon, and continued her studies in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra in Dublin.

After achieving her Bachelor’s Degree in Education, she moved to Tokyo, Japan where she taught at Seisen International School for several years.

Upon her return to Ireland in 1994, Clarke settled in Galway where she took up a permanent teaching post in Bawnmore National School in Claregalway while traveling between a number of schools as a Learning Support Teacher.

She completed her Higher Diploma in Education at NUI-Galway and also a Master’s Degree in Special Education focusing on early intervention for children with learning difficulties.

In 2005, Clarke was seconded by the Irish Department of Education to work as a facilitator for the implementation of a new curriculum in Irish primary schools. She was an active committee member for the Irish Learning Support Organization, which organized ongoing professional development courses for primary teachers.

An avid GAA fan, Caitriona was also very involved in the promotion of Gaelic games among primary school children serving for over ten years as officer and treasurer of Cumann na mBunscol, Gaillimh.

While on vacation in Spain in 2007, she met Yonkers businessman and fellow Leitrim native, Seamus Clarke. She moved to Yonkers in 2008 and the following year, Seamus and Catriona married in St. Barnabas Church. They reside in Yonkers and manage the popular J.P. Clarke’s Saloon on McLean Avenue.

Together with her husband, Caitriona has become involved in numerous community projects, most recently assisting Pastor Bob and Jean Boehler with the organization of St. Mark’s Annual Oktoberfest.

As members of the McLean Avenue Merchants Association, they were active participants in setting up both the McLean Avenue Fall Festival and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on McLean Avenue.

Caitriona became involved in fundraising for the Aisling Center shortly after her arrival in New York and also helped run the annual J.P. Clarke’s Golf Outing, which has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the organization over twenty years.

Caitriona became an active Board member of the Aisling Irish Community Center in 2011 and was elected vice chairperson in 2015. In 2017, she was elected board chairperson upon the retirement of outgoing chair, Agnes Delaney.

“Her vision and strategic planning with the Board of Directors is taking the Aisling Center in a progressive direction to serve the community,” said the release announcing Clarke’s elevation to the grand marshal role.

Added the release: “While her appointment as Grand Marshal of the Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day Parade on McLean Avenue is a great honor for Caitriona and her family, she is accepting this honor on behalf of fellow Aisling Irish Community Center board members, staff and volunteers, both past and present, who have made this wonderful community center what it is today.

“Caitriona has been instrumental in the recent purchase of the Aisling Center’s building, which they have been renting since its formation in 1996. This acquisition is wonderful and historic news for the Center and has been received with great pride and joy in the neighborhood.

“The building will not only add more space for its valuable programs and services but guarantees that the Aisling Irish Community and Cultural Center will be around for many years to come by providing the long-term welfare for the Irish and Irish-American community it serves.

“Expanding the Aisling Center building, along with its programs and services will take a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment over the coming months. Caitriona relishes the challenge and she is proud to lead the Board of Directors, staff and volunteers in securing its path to success, ensuring that the Aisling Irish Community and Cultural Center has a permanent home on McLean Avenue for future generations.”

The 2019 aides to Grand Marshal Clarke are: Bridgette (Murray) Arpa, Edward Corbett, Arthur Doran III, Michael K. Flynn, Sean Fogarty, Catherine (O’Connell) Hopkins, Margaret Kelly, and Robert Stauf.