Harr, Slattery honored as grand marshals for Throggs Neck St. Pat’s Day Parade

On Sunday, March 13, 2022, the Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day Parade brought Irish pride to Bronx streets.
Photo Adrian Childress

For many Irish and Irish-American Bronxites, this weekend is set to be a celebration of cultural roots.  

The Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day Parade is on Sunday, and Lois Harr — one of the grand marshals — says it’s much more than just leprechauns and pots of gold.

“When you stop and think about it, it’s lovely,” she told the Bronx Times in an interview.  

Harr’s connection to Ireland comes from her maternal grandfather, who was born and raised in Dublin in the early 1900s. 

Growing up in an orphanage, he enlisted in the British Army and served in World War I. After the war, as tensions between Ireland and England rose in the fight for independence, Harr’s grandfather saw a better future in the U.S. 

Lois Harr

“He came out here because his sister was here,” she said about the Bronx. “One thing and then another, then he met my grandmother. And so that’s our story.” 

Both her mother’s and her father’s sides are of Irish descent, Harr said, which influenced a lot of her upbringing and continue to influence her life to this day. 

“I just was interested in Irish things, not like leprechauns and popsicles and Irish things, but Celtic Knots and music and more of the traditional things,” she said. 

Harr went back to her grandfather’s home city for the first time at 50 years old. Since then she’s visited six more times — to different parts of the country and with different travel companions, most notably her husband John and two daughters Caitlin and Maura.  

A graduate of Cardinal Spellman High School in Edenwald, Harr went on to get her B.A. in political science at Fordham College, then her M.A. in religious studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary and a professional diploma in religious education at Fordham University. 

She worked at Christ the King School in Mount Eden for a decade before becoming a campus minister and adjunct instructor, and eventually the assistant vice president of Manhattan College. Harr retired from her full-time position at the college in 2021, but continues to teach a religious studies social justice course on urban issues. 

Additionally, she has volunteered and worked with multiple nonprofit organizations in her adult life — including the Methodist home for Nursing and Rehabilitation, Lasallian Women of Hope, Catholic Relief Services and the Northwest Bronx Coalition for Refugees, to name a few.

This is Harr’s first time as the grand marshal for the parade. 

“It’s really quite an honor,” she said.

Roger Slattery, the parade’s other grand marshal, said he wants to dedicate the honor to everyone who comes to the U.S. in search of new beginnings. 

“I would like to dedicate the honor that I received to Irish immigrants and all immigrants in general who come to America and find places like Throggs Neck where they can find their dreams and their hopes and get a better life,” he told the Bronx Times.

Slattery said he was raised in a “very Irish house.”

Roger Slattery

His father immigrated from the southern town of Tipperary in 1949, and his mother moved to the states from Clare region on the west coast of the island in 1950. Separately, the two came from rural working-class families and sought better economic opportunities in the U.S.

As a teenager, Slattery went back to his parents’ home country one summer to work on a farm, and got a better understanding of his own background.  

“I was exposed very young to Irish culture,” he said. 

Upon his parents’ move to New York, Slattery said there were definite cultural differences and hardships they faced as a family. 

“It is difficult for immigrant families,” he said. “My mother and father both went to one-room schoolhouses. When they came to America, they didn’t know anything about high school.” 

As Slattery grew up, he became involved in different Irish and Gaelic cultural organizations here in the Bronx. He was a part of the Bronx Gaelic League and learned more about his cultural roots through language and dance classes. But his largest Irish influence over the years has been through sports. 

Slattery was a member of the Offaly-Wexford Hurling team, as part of the Gaelic Athletic Association, in the late 1970s, and became involved with the St. Raymond’s Gaelic Football Club in the early 1990s when his sons Ciaran and Shane started to pick up the sport. He’s traveled with multiple teams, some of them collegiate, to tournaments in Ireland, England, and across the U.S.

“I’m very proud of my connection with the athletic association,” Slattery said. “I played when I was younger and I followed back through my life.” 

He said serving as one of this year’s grand marshals is an honor, and that he wants to redirect that honor to New Yorkers with similar experiences to him. 

“People come here for a better life, and all immigrants can come and see the better life that’s here in this great country we have in America,” Slattery said.

The 25th Annual Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is on Sunday, rewrote history last year by including an LGBTQ group for the first time. St. Patrick’s Day parades across the city, traditional Catholic celebrations, have long excluded queer groups from participating in festivities. The Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for example, is still denying LGBTQ groups from marching.

Lineup for the parade starts at 11 a.m. Sunday. The parade officially begins at noon on the corner of East Tremont and Lafayette avenues. The route continues down East Tremont, makes a right onto Harding Avenue and ends on Brinsmade Avenue.

Reach Camille Botello at cbotello@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-2535. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes