The proud son of a south Donegal woman is to lead one of America’s oldest St Patrick’s Day parades.
Danny Harrell (79), whose mother was born in Drimarone, near Donegal town, has been appointed the 2023 Grand Marshal of this year’s Philadelphia parade.
The Irish in Philadelphia first celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in 1771, five years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Danny will be leading the way down John F. Kennedy Boulevard and through the city streets on Sunday, March 12.
According to the Irish Star, he has been described by many as ‘an admired coach, a devoted family man and a faithful Catholic servant’ whose titles in the past include ‘AOH Man of the Year’ and ‘St. Anthony DiPadova Man of the Year.’
But Danny said this most recent honour is ‘his biggest one yet’, and that he’s looking forward to paying tribute to his Irish heritage, and representing Philly, next weekend.
“People nominated me to the committee to be Grand Marshal without me knowing so it came as a huge surprise but I’m very proud, and I know my mum would be, too. It’s a very humbling thing,” he told the Irish Star.
“It’s keeping me busy already. I’m getting phone calls left, right and centre, and I need to attend various functions and fundraisers before the day itself, but I want to attend them. It’s a lot of fun and overwhelming, in a good way.”
Danny’s mother, Agnes McDaid, came to the states in 1928 at the tender age of 15, where she met his father, James Harrell, who was from Philadelphia.
The pair tied the knot at Villanova University and had seven children. Danny was in the ‘middle of the pack’, with two older brothers and an older sister on one side, and a younger sister and two younger brothers on the other.
Danny’s mother rarely talked about Ireland, but only because she never wanted to leave, he suspects. She possessed many other traits that harked back to the Emerald Isle, though, such as a fiery temper and a ‘beautiful brogue’.
“She had a gorgeous accent and was very clear and well-spoken. Whenever she got mad, her accent would come out stronger than ever, and that’s how I knew I was in big trouble”, Danny joked.
“She would also forget my name and call me all my brothers’ names before she got to mine.”
Read the full report on www.irishstar.com