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St. Patrick's Day parade grand marshals look back

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Michael and Maureen Moriarty are the husband-and-wife duo who will be grand marshals at Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Michael has been president of the United Irish Societies, the Kerry Athletic Club, the United Irish Cultural Center and was the longest-serving president of the San Francisco Gaelic Athletic Association. Maureen was inducted to the CYO Hall of Fame in 2010, is athletic director for the Epiphany Parish and is the corresponding secretary and a coach for the Irish Football and Hurling Youth League.

What will your responsibilites as grand marshal involve?

Mike: Mostly we will be leading the parade with all of the Irish groups behind us. We will attend many of the different functions leading up to the parade, many of which are places where elderly Irish people reside.

Maureen: Essentially we will be representing the Irish community. It is a celebration of our heritage and of all that the Irish have given to the community. It will be a fun couple of weeks.

How does it feel to share the title of grand marshal with your spouse?

Maureen: I think it’s fun, but I feel very strongly that Mike is an excellent grand marshal. He has given up an emorous amount of his time to be part of the community. He has served many more positions than I have and he’s extremely proud of his Irish heritage. I will be proud to be beside him because I honestly feel that he is very worthy.

Mike: I was watching the “Late Late Show” broadcast from Dublin, Ireland, on Feb. 25 and Dermot O’Neill, the green gardener who has his own televsion show on RTE [in Ireland], was on. He has gone through cancer and come out on the other side. He sang the song “[When you are in love it’s] the loveliest night of the year,” so I just think it’s fantastic that I will have Maureen with me. She has seen me through a lot of things. It will probably be the happiest day of my life.

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Why do you think it’s important to be in and stay involved in the Irish community?

Maureen: It’s really about a sense of pride and knowing and promoting your heritage. My mother was involved in a lot. She dove into the Irish community because she didn’t have any family here when she immigrated in 1929. She made the Irish community in San Francisco her family. I’m very sports-oriented because my father loved baseball and taught us a lot of sports at a young age. I support Gaelic because I think it’s one of the best sports in the world. When we were younger, we lived for the weekends because of the dances and the after dances. We’d be up until 6 in the morning and go to Mass on the way home.

Who has influenced you and given you inspiration?

Mike: I’d say my father. From the day we arrived in San Francisco from Ireland, he got us involved in the Irish community, such as the Kerry team and other Irish teams, and then he continued to do so.

Maureen: All of my family. I don’t think I ever really understood what it was like for my parents to come out here. They made sacrifices to come here and make a better life for us and them and provide more opportunities. I have great respect for people who leave behind their home country and their families. It inpsires me and makes me want to make them proud.

Do you have a philosophy of life that you live and work by?

Mike: I always try to do my best. I give my full attention to whatever I’m involved in. I think that has helped me through the years. I had a very good education from the nuns in grammar school to the brothers in high school. They always taught me to do my best and that’s what I’d like to continue to do.

Maureen: To be proud of what I do, so I try to do it well. Many things can go wrong, but it’s up to you to decide how to handle them. No matter what comes or goes, I try to see the best in it. Life isn’t going to be perfect, but every day is such a blessing. If you get up and you feel well and happy, then you are really fortunate and lucky. Be true to your friends because they are important in your life. It’s very important that you give back and that you are there when you are needed. Bascially life is great.

What has been your greatest achievement so far in your life?

Maureen: Raising our son.

Mike: Being with Maureen and our son.

Do you think San Francisco puts on a good show for St. Patrick’s day?

Mike: Yes. Definitely. It’s the 160th parade. It’s been running since San Francisco was born in the Gold Rush of the 1850s when everyone started coming here. We are now giving back to the people who came at that time and formed the Police and Fire departments, etc. The Irish have always been a main part of San Francisco since its birth.

Maureen: I think we do a fantastic job. It’s so well organized and run. It’s something to be very proud of. Comparing the size of The City to others in the U.S., we do an amazing job.

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