Mayo County Council was delighted to present the Grand Marshal of the New York City St Patrick’s Day parade, Brian O’Dwyer, with an iconic Foxford Woollen Mills Michael Collins Rug, at a function in New York on Friday March 15.
Brian O’Dwyer became the third member of his family to lead the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York, following in the footsteps of his father, City Council President Paul O’Dwyer, who led the parade in 1974, and his uncle William O’Dwyer, the 100th Mayor of New York City, who was Grand Marshal in 1938.
Mr O’Dwyer’s father and uncle were natives of Bohola and the Attorney and Immigration Activist has retained his strong Mayo ties over the years. In early 1922, Foxford Woollen Mills presented a specially commissioned Travel Blanket to General Michael Collins to mark his appointment to Commander-in-Chief of the newly established Irish Army. The rug was in his armoured car at the ambush at Béal Na Bláth in August 1922 and was used to wrap the body for transportation to Cork. It was recovered at Shanakiel Hospital by Nurse Nora O'Donaghue and later donated to the National Museum.
Foxford Woollen Mills have reproduced the blanket in conjunction with the Michael Collins House, Clonakilty, Co Cork, and to mark the occasion of leading the New York parade, Mayo County Council presented Brian O’Dwyer with the commemorative rug.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes, said: "Mr O’Dwyer has long served as an advocate for the Irish-American community in New York, focusing on immigration rights and reform for Irish citizens immigrating into the United States as well as supporting investment and development throughout Ireland, particularly here in Mayo. It was our honour to present him with the historic Collins Rug to mark the occasion of his leading the 258th St Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York City."
Leas-Cathaorleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Michael Loftus, added: "It is always an historic occasion when someone of such strong Mayo roots is elevated to the most prominent honour in Irish America. Brian O’Dwyer and his family retain their strong Mayo connection and it was with a sense of pride we were able to present him with the historic Collins Blanket."