“Try to do something good for someone else,” is among the lessons Jack McCarrick wants to pass on to future generations.
And he has seen it in his children, and his children’s children, like his grandson Thomas, who is almost 7-years-old and in the first grade.
“He’s very outward and open to other people,” McCarrick said. “And he always tries to do things for other kids in his classes.”
It’s too early to tell for McCarrick’s granddaughter Kelsey, who, at 21 months, is “fending for her own right now,” but “a very happy child.”
McCarrick is one of the two grand marshals for the Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day parade. He is a first-generation Irish American, and has visited Ireland many times, which he calls his second home.
“To me, St. Patricks Day itself has to do with the saint and what he did for Ireland, that is, he came and he brought Christianity into the land where it didn’t exist before,” he said. “He wasn’t the first one to go there but he was the first one who made such an impact.”
McCarrick celebrates the holiday each year with traditional music, going to church, and ultimately celebrating his heritage.
“A lot of people think it’s a day to go out drinking and things like that,” he said. “I don’t view it as that myself.”
McCarrick, who has six younger sisters, has lived in Throggs Neck for most of his 68 years, except for the first 4.5 years of his life when he lived at Washington Avenue and 178 Street, and some of his 20s in City Island. But even when he lived up the Sound, he stayed connected to the Irish community in Throggs Neck, attending Sunday Mass at the St. Frances de Chantal parish, where it’s still easy to find him.
At the church, he is a part of the choir and Holy Name Society, and he writes the newsletters and chairs the blood drive. He has been the recording secretary for the Throggs Neck Homeowners Association for more than two decades and is a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
His mother and father, who met in New York after both immigrating from Ireland in the late 1940s, joined family members who had already come to the United States for better financial opportunities. His father ended up becoming a bus driver, and McCarrick thinks Michael Quill’s influence as co-founder and president of the Transport Workers Union had something to do with it.
“Because [Quill] was Irish, I think he was able to contract other workers who were also Irish,” McCarrick said. “I think ethnic groups tend to, out of necessity or just naturally, congregate among themselves for the most part.”
McCarrick, who works as an IT specialist at Canon, has been to every Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day parade, either marching or stationing himself by the grandstand on Tremont and Harding avenues with his Canon camera in hand to capture the event.
But over the years, he has noticed younger Irish Bronxites moving to Rockland County or Connecticut.
“I’ve wondered myself, are people giving up on the Bronx, or on the city, or not?” he asked.
He finds comfort, however, in both seeing younger generations that do stay around, and knowing that those leaving are spreading their Irish Catholic values to other communities.
Lucky for him, his three children, all in their 30s, have stuck around the Bronx.
His two sons are part of the International Union of Elevator Constructors bagpipe and drum band, which will be leading the parade this year, leading their father’s horse-drawn carriage — even though McCarrick insists he doesn’t mind walking. His daughter is a math teacher at Fordham Prep.
McCarrick watches his children attend Mass with his grandchildren, and sees them embrace lifelong connections with relatives in Ireland.
“They revere their Irish heritage,” he said of his offspring, a ripple effect of his own admiration of his parents’ culture.
Reach Aliya Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.