☘️ Our 2020 Irish Man & Woman of the year are:

Chief Dan O’Shea and Mary McDade


Man of the Year Dan O’Shea

Dan has been an ardent supporter of the Irish Marching Society since coming to Rockford in March of 2016 and being sworn in as Rockford’s Chief of Police. When approached by the IMS early in his tenure he let it be known that he would support our organizations efforts of community enrichment though cultural education and celebration.   Dan has given his free time to help us with many fundraising events like the Kilt Contest, but also to lead his Department at the head of our St Patrick’s Parade with himself marching with other officers who volunteer their off time to participate in our parade and decorate their vehicles.  He set a fine example for community pride honoring his Irish heritage as well the heritage of all of our citizens of the Greater Rockford Area. Dan’s great grandparents on both sides came from Ireland. His father’s grandparents, James J. O’Shea and Mary Ahrens, came from County Kerry, the towns of Gortahoonig and Muckross.  His mother’s great-grandparents, James T. Coughlan and Margaret Ryan, came from County Limerick and County Tipperary.


Woman of the Year Mary McDade

Mary began attending the St Patrick’s Parade in 1997 when the family moved to Rockford from California.  It was her first St Patrick’s Parade she had ever experienced and immediately became of big fan.  Being a military family, they moved away but returned in 2008 where she became an ardent supporter of the Irish Marching Society and got involved in volunteering for the IMS in about 2010.  She accepted a position on the Board of Directors in 2012 and was elected President serving from 2016 to 2019.  Mary did a great deal for the IMS by obtaining incorporation as a Federally recognized 501(c)(3) charity.  Under her tenure the name of PaddyFest was coined for the celebration after the Parade, which boasts traditional Irish music along with cuisine.  So successful at carrying on the tradition started in 1977, that Rockford’s St Patrick’s Parade was recognized in 2019 by wallethub.com as the 9th overall Parade in the nation!  These accomplishments along with the Celtic Concert Series and fun events like the Kilt Contest were done under the cheerful leadership of Mary McDade who always had smiling Irish eyes and a laugh to boot.  Although Mary could not directly trace her Maiden name, McWethy, to Ireland she did take the DNA test to find herself 25% genetically Irish which she said explains her affinity for Irish and Celtic culture (she likes bagpipes).  So even if you don’t claim any Irish in you perhaps your DNA will prove where you get your engaging personality and charm or a bit of the Blarney!   Congrats Mary and thank you for all of your hard work improving the IMS for future generations.