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Mar 13, 2023

At the End of the Rainbow Meet Rumson’s Deirdre Courtney

By Lori Draz

This March, The Journal joins in the celebration of the proud, strong and lively Irish spirit. Our community is full of so many wonderful Irish folks. Let’s meet some together!

Deirdre Courtney is the marketing director of the Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade. She grew up in Clones, County Monaghan on the border of Northern Ireland. She is the sixth of eight children and said she spent a happy childhood growing up on a farm. After studying business and international marketing, she received a degree from Trinity College. She then spent some time in London and Germany before acquiring an American green card. 

“I arrived in the United States in 1994 with the intention of ‘trying it out’ for a year, yet here I am 29 years later – a US citizen. I married my best friend, Hugh McCague (my late husband), also from County Monaghan who embodied all the great Irish qualities and characteristics. Together, in Red Bank, we raised our three children – Aoife, Aidan and Gráinne – whom I am extremely proud of. They are kind, smart, quick-witted and appreciative of their Irish culture and the importance of a tight-knit Irish family when visiting their relatives.

“America has given me so many wonderful opportunities. I love it here, but Ireland will always be home. I miss the people the most. The Irish are known for their warmth, hospitality and the world’s best sense of humor. As the great Irish poet Brendan Kennelly said, ‘There’s nobody quite like the Irish, no story quite like an Irish story.’

“I worked for Waterford Crystal for 20 years, where I was blessed to work with a great team marketing a beautiful Irish product and travel to Ireland frequently.  

“St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a national bank holiday, so we had the day off school for religious celebrations. We didn’t celebrate like in the U.S. with green beer and green bagels. I recall my parents fixing shamrocks on our lapels to get blessed in church. As children, we would give up sweets for lent but on St. Patrick’s Day, we had dispensation and happily indulged in our favorite sweets and chocolate to our hearts’ content.

“In 2015, I joined the Rumson St. Patrick’s Day parade organization. It is endearing to see people embrace their Irish heritage during the month of March. The parade’s most rewarding aspect is that they give back to local charities thanks to the generosity of local corporations and individuals.

“Looking back at my childhood, I realize how truly blessed I am. I learned to appreciate the values of a strong work ethic, resilience and never forgetting where you came from. It’s true what they say, ‘If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough!’

Lá Feile Pádraig daoibh!