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Gallagher leading, Rooney honored in Pittsburgh parade

Pittsburgh Parade Grand Marshal Mike Gallagher


By Irish Echo Staff

The Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and the Pittsburgh Steelers will honor the tenth anniversary of the late Daniel M. Rooney being named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade set for tomorrow, Saturday, March 16.

This year’s grand marshal is Mike Gallagher.

Dan Rooney, who served as ambassador and chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, lived a life rooted in faith, family, football and Ireland, said a parade release.

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Stated the release: Steelers’ representatives including players B.J. Finney, Shaun Squisham, Matt Spaeth, Louis Lipps, staff and members of the Rooney Family, will be participating in in the parade. They will be riding in a branded Steelers Ford Truck, the Official Truck of the Pittsburgh Steelers, compliments of Neighborhood Ford Store.

The Steelers Ford Truck will be followed by the Pittsburgh Steeline and Steelers mascot Steely McBeam.

Added the release: “Dan Rooney made an unforgettable impact on his city, his team and his community.

“Among Mr. Rooney’s many accomplishments, he is most known as the one who led the Pittsburgh Steelers organization through its long and steady rise to become one of the most elite professional sports franchises in the world. In Pittsburgh, he was an icon with many community and philanthropic interests.

“From 2009 through 2012, Mr. Rooney served as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. This Pittsburgh native son was one of the most highly respected and beloved Irish-Americans.

“Today we join members of the Steelers and Rooney Family to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Ambassador Rooney’s tenure in Ireland.”

Pittsburgh’s parade, which is run by the Irish Society for Education and Charity, has roots going back 148-years but has amassed a non-stop record since 1950.

Grand Marshal Gallagher was born and raised in the Sheraden neighborhood of the city, on the west side of Pittsburgh. The seventh of eight children, he was raised in a tight-knit family steeped in Irish pride and a love of music. His father, John, was a singer with a live radio show on WWSW called “John Gallagher Sings Irish Songs.”

According to a profile from parade organizers, Gallagher followed in his father’s footsteps and began singing in Pittsburgh Irish pubs 45 years ago. He married his wife, Marlea Mary Gallagher, 38 years ago and considers himself “the luckiest husband.

“Together, Mike and Marlea raised their three sons, Brendan, Daniel, and Johnny, and their daughter, Mary-Kate. Mike considers the most important aspects of his life to be his faith, his wife and family, and his music.

“Mike’s involvement in the Irish community stems much farther than his 45 years of performing. He is a long-time member of Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #4. In addition, he has performed yearly at the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, and recently received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pittsburgh Irish Festival.

“Mike’s musical accolades include seven recordings, featuring traditional Irish ballads, guest performers, and Mike’s own compilations. He has performed at venues in the Pittsburgh area including, but not limited to, Riley’s Pour House, Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle, and the Blarney Stone. Mike’s son, Johnny, has continued the tradition of Gallagher family musicians, and is currently performing as a local Irish singer throughout the Pittsburgh region. His family are no strangers to the Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day parade either. Mike’s daughter, Mary-Kate (née Gallagher) Langer was the 2012 Miss Smiling Irish Eyes Queen.

“In addition to his dedication to bringing traditional Irish music to the Pittsburgh community, Mike is a devoted and faith-filled husband and father. His four children have blessed him and Marlea with ten grandchildren. A member of the Bishop’s Latin School Alumni Association, Mike has been a cantor at Holy Innocents church, Saints Simon and Jude parish, St. John of God church, and St. Raphael’s parish. Mike credits his faith and his family with supporting him through the ups and downs of life, including a current battle with cancer.”

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