The month of March is Irish Heritage Month and for the Manhattan College Gaelic Society, one of the longest-running clubs on campus, it is a busy time.
The Gaelic Society first becomes active during the month of October as they hold their first kick-off meeting of the academic year. In the following months leading up to March, they typically stay active through a variety of fundraisers.
The club has a very eventful March each year. Their opening event is Irish Night and their highlighted event is marching in New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade which takes place on Fifth Avenue.
“Every March we have Irish Night and it’s an opportunity for students to embrace the Irish culture and traditions, and get ready for the month of March and the parade coming up,” said Gaelic Society president Jaclyn Marchetta.
This year’s Irish Night was held in Smith Auditorium on March 8 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The event was put on by the Multicultural Center in conjunction with the Society and its members.
“The Multicultural Center puts on all the heritage month opening dinners and lunches and so this is one of those heritage [events],” Multicultural Affairs Director Hayden Greene said. “So we do them for Black History Month, Irish Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, Latino Heritage Month, all of them.”
The Society is advised by Manhattan alumnus Fiona Delaney (class of ‘11) who is associate director of student life at MC.
Delaney has served as advisor for the club for nearly four years. She inherited the advisor role from Tom McCarthy from the alumni department. In her position she helps with coordinating some aspects of the events hosted by the Society. However, she gives credit to the students for their work on Irish Night among other events and stressed their importance in keeping the club alive.
“I think the students are what makes this event work obviously,” said Delaney. “Without them we wouldn’t have the club still running.”
For Marchetta, the best part of the club is the main event, which is the parade.
“I would say the opportunity to march in the parade [because] not many schools take advantage of that,” Marchetta said on what she feels is the best part of the club. “And I was a freshman when I first marched and I was blown away just by marching.”
The way the parade enfolds is that people first sign up through Google Drives that are sent out by the club. Once signed up, the marchers meet at 9:00 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day at Kelly Commons, take the 1 train together (free of charge), go to the Club Quarters hotel (which is on 45th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenue) where they can network with alumni and meet people from the College, have breakfast and line up at 11:00 a.m. before marching the streets of the city.
The Society has seen its ups and downs and perhaps at these parades, past members look back on their time with a once very large club. Though the current group of students is an increase in comparison to a few years ago, the club is still looking to rival the sizes of the past.
“I joined because I noticed that it wasn’t as popular as it used to be at Manhattan College and I wanted to start it up again because I’ve heard so many alumni in the past [mention] how big Gaelic Society was and how much fun they had so it was my job as a sophomore to make the club more well known and really just embrace the culture,” Marchetta said.
When Delaney took over as advisor nearly four years ago, there were only about three members who showed up to the first meeting. That is a far cry from a decade ago when the club would boast about 50 members.
Under Marchetta, the club has taken some strides to regaining that notoriety as one of the larger clubs at MC.
“It’s one of the more active societies on campus,” Greene said about the club now. “They do a lot of work. They’re very very interested in maintaining and keeping the Irish culture on campus.”
One of Marchetta’s goals for the club was to embrace the Irish culture and this embracement is a large reason why junior Tara O’Shea joined the club.
“I joined because I wanted to embrace my Irish culture more,” O’Shea said. “I usually would go to Ireland with my family every year, but I wanted to be able to kind of take that with me into college.”
The Gaelic Society is not just for Irish-Americans, but is rather opened to all. O’Shea stressed that and encouraged people of all backgrounds to join the club.
“We’re very inclusive,” said O’Shea. “It’s not high commitment. It’s not something you have to do every week.”