FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Westchester Legislators Celebrate Irish American Heritage Month, Honor Two County Residents
White Plains, NY – The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) celebrated Irish American Heritage Month tonight at its regular meeting and honored two county residents, Deborah Carlin Polhill and John Gallagher, for their community service, wide accomplishments and good deeds. White Plains virtuoso fiddler Brian Conway, the last American to have won the prestigious Senior All-Ireland fiddling title, performed during the celebration as well.
Following the colonial migrations, the United States enjoyed the greatest influx of Irish during the 1840s as Ireland suffered the Great Famine. Many Irish immigrants took on the difficult work of constructing America’s infrastructure, while others assumed positions of leadership. Among those leaders were signers of the Declaration of Independence and Presidents of the United States. Still others enjoyed great success and influence in the arts and literature.
“Hungry but hopeful, poor but perseverant, Irish Americans seized the opportunity to work hard, enjoy success and pursue the American Dream,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) in his remarks. “From social activists to business leaders, athletes to clergy, and first responders to soldiers, distinguished Irish Americans have made indelible contributions to our national identity.”
Deborah Carlin Polhill, a longtime resident of Peekskill, was introduced as an honoree by Legislator Bill Ryan (D-White Plains) and Legislator John Testa (R-Peekskill). A former U.S. Postal Service employee who has also held several positions at Peekskill City Hall, Polhill has served on Peekskill’s St. Patrick’s Committee for more than two decades and co-hosted cable television coverage of the parade for the past several years. Polhill has been active at the Paramount Center for the Arts, serving on the board and as its president. She is an accomplished vocalist, performer and writer.
John Gallagher, an Ossining resident for over forty years, was introduced as an honoree by Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) and Legislator Michael Smith (R-White Plains). Gallagher helped run the family business, Gallagher Dodge, until it closed and he retired in 1989. Since then he has been involved in prison ministry through an organization called Residents Encounter Christ, and also worked with inmates in Hudson Link, which provides educational opportunities and arts enrichment at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Gallagher’s other volunteer efforts include those on behalf of Ossining Rotary, Habitat for Humanity, Knights of Columbus, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and KINDLE (Kids in Namibia Deserve Love and Education), a not-for-profit entity which works directly with AIDS orphans and was founded by his daughter MaryBeth.