Syracuse’s 38th St. Patrick’s Parade will set off on March 14, 2020 with Grand Marshals John Francis McCarthy and Sean Kirst. Details on the theme and honorees are below. Applications to march in the Parade will be accepted starting January 1st and are due no later than Friday, February 28, 2020.
20/20: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Like Ireland, Syracuse in the spring is a vision in green! The 38th annual Syracuse St. Patrick’s Parade will celebrate the picturesque beauty of the Emerald Isle and the rich history of Irish and Irish-American artists. From ancient illuminated texts to modern painting, photography and more, Ireland has a proud artistic heritage. That tradition has been shared everywhere the Irish have come to call home, from the Four Green Fields to the hills of Central New York and beyond.
Sean Kirst has been an Upstate New York journalist for more than 45 years. He held his first reporting job as a teenager and worked for newspapers in Dunkirk, Niagara Falls, Rochester and here in Syracuse, where he spent 27 years – most of them as a columnist with The Post-Standard – before joining The Buffalo News more than three years ago.
He is the recipient of many journalism awards, including the Ernie Pyle Award, given annually to one American journalist for writing about the dreams and struggles of everyday people. He received the national excellence in column writing award from the Society for Professional Journalists, Capitolbeat’s top national award for column writing about state government and was named to the Wall of Distinction by the Syracuse Press Club for lifetime achievement in journalism. For the last three years the New York News Publishers Association, an organization that includes the state’s largest newspapers, has awarded Kirst its distinguished column writing award for his work in Buffalo.
Kirst has also been honored by the federal Department of Justice for sensitivity to victims of violent crime, while the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence gave him its 2019 national media award. He has received honorary degrees from Onondaga Community College and Le Moyne College.
Over the years, Kirst has given many talks – including two TedX presentations – about the importance of storytelling in journalism, especially in a digital age, and he is the author of three books: The Ashes of Lou Gehrig, Moonfixer, and The Soul of Central New York, published in 2016, a collection of stories and observations about greater Syracuse that became the fastest-selling book in the 76-year history of the Syracuse University Press. The England-based Tolkien Society credits Kirst with serving as founder of international Tolkien Reading Day, now celebrated around the world.
In Syracuse, he often wrote about the city’s deep Irish heritage, including tales of the lore surrounding the storied traffic signal on Tipperary Hill and accounts of the legendary Kathleen Hayes Rollins Snavely, who at the time of her death at 113 in 2015 had become the oldest living person ever to be born in Ireland.
Kirst and his wife Nora, a city schoolteacher in Syracuse, have three grown children: Sarah, Seamus and Liam.
John Francis McCarthy
John Francis McCarthy, renowned photographer, is a native of Tipperary Hill and the grandson of Irish immigrants from Cork, Tipperary and Clare. In the 1940s, Tipperary Hill had the color and character of an Irish village; sixty square blocks on the city’s far westside bordered by a park, and enclaves from Ukraine, Poland and Italy. John’s grandmother, Katie Donovan, née Burke from Ballyboy Co Tipperary, brought Ireland home to him with recitations from memory of fairy tales, mythological hero tales and poetry.
In the 1960s, after visiting Ireland, it was clear to John why the Irish had settled in the hills and valleys of central New York. John saw neighbors in the faces of the Irish people. He was enchanted by the artful and memorable use of language. In Ireland, John connected the legacy of Bardic Schools to Tipp Hill’s gathering places where storytellers held court; street corners, store fronts, parks, schoolyards and pubs. Ireland’s Bards were forced by Penal Laws to meet in sympathetic estates, cabins and finally, public houses where learning and poetry was shared with the peasantry. Storytelling is Ireland’s greatest gift to the world.
Education was always a priority for John. Perhaps it’s the reason he sampled so many schools; Niagara, LeMoyne, San Jose State, Oregon and Portland State University where he received a degree in history. He has had a varied working life: he worked as an ironworker beside his father, managed a Riverboat Restaurant on the Willamette River in Portland and published a tabloid paper, reported for the North Coast Times Eagle, managed the ski rental shop on Mount Hood and later traded his guitar for a ticket on the last ’60’s flight from Seattle over the North Pole to London.
John’s photography has been included in juried shows, museums and other venues including Utah’s Bountiful Art Center, the National Press Club, Washington, D.C, LeMoyne College, Schweinfurth Museum Auburn, Image City, Rochester and to compliment a visit from Irish writer Frank McCourt in Oswego. John’s first of several books, The Finger Lakes, was commissioned by Oxford University Press, Toronto, in 1982.
In March 2020 through April 5th, John’s Irish images will be on display in Albany’s Repertory Theater during a production of Frank McCourt’s, “The Irish and How They Got That Way.” Photography has taken John to Ireland, Hong Kong and throughout the United States as well as the length and breadth of the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.
John resides in Skaneateles, New York where he opened a gallery several years ago.
Gael of the Year
John Tumino – John Tumino is a first-generation American citizen born to immigrant parents. The oldest of four brothers, he grew up in Syracuse, NY. In 2002, John and his brothers opened Asti Caffe on Syracuse’s Northside. John served as President/Chef of the corporation until 2011 when he and his wife, Leigh-Ann founded In My Father’s Kitchen, a not-for-profit corporation.
In My Father’s Kitchen is a faith-based organization offering non-denominational and non-discriminatory assistance to homeless people through direct street outreach. IMFK outreach staff build relationships with chronically homeless individuals. Through their outreach, staff identify and work to meet the unique needs of homeless people who are not yet ready to leave the streets and who refuse to stay in emergency shelters. As a result, IMFK provides food, clothing, basic necessities and medical/mental health care to homeless individuals where they live on the streets, on a consistent and compassionate basis, until the homeless individual is comfortable accepting help and working with community agencies to secure housing.