Pittsburgh Happenings: April Activities
By Diane Byrnes
Many things have occurred since last I submitted my column, so I want to take a few steps back and give an update. The information is important, and about the Royalty of our St. Patrick’s Day Parade that took place March 12. 2022.
Peter Shovlin, Sr. was chosen as our St. Patrick’s Day Grand Marshall. Peter has been one of the mainstays of Irish traditional music in our region for decades. He and his wife Sheila (RIP) were two of the founders of the Irish Centre of Pittsburgh, with Pete as a charter member of the Centre.
At one time, Pittsburgh had many Irish-born residents; they needed a place to gather, so the Irish Centre was created. It has served many functions over the years. Peter and Sheila were some of the creative forces involved here, with Peter serving as a member on the Board of Directors, Treasurer, Vice-President, and in 1980, President.
Not only is Peter a fiddler, but he makes them too. He has played for many Feis, every one up until 2000, that took place during the summers. He is a founder and was chairman of the Irish Centre Feis.
These dance events grew and needed a larger venue. Now they usually take place at one of the airport hotels, which are more accommodating to out-of-town guests.
Peter made beautiful fiddles for each one of his eight children and their children, along with fiddles for special purposes. Echoes of Erin was a beneficiary of a fiddle that was used for a fundraiser a few years back as well.
The entire Shovlin family actively participates in our Irish culture. Three of Peter’s children, Liz, Sheila, and Peter, Jr. are the proprietors of and teachers at The Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance. They have taught many of our young people how to step-dance, both hard shoe and soft shoe, with several champions among them.
Often times they are invited to showcase their skills for many of the national and international shows that come to town. Peter’s sons, Peter Jr., Johnny, Michael and Kevin have all been step-dancers, winning many awards. His daughter Patsy (RIP 2007) was a dancer and organizer for the Feis’.
Peter Shovlin, Sr. is a treasure in our midst. I have had the pleasure of knowing Peter for a long time and have even shared a jar or two in his company; he is a treasure in our midst, and such a lovely human being He is also an excellent choice for the Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day 2022 Grand Marshall.
A party to celebrate the Grand Marshall was held at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle in The Strip ~ what a wonderful gathering! Peter had such an impact on so many lives over his ninety years that they wanted to come share their congratulations in person. I had conversation with so many friends and acquaintances; it was marvelous and a great testament to Peter’s impact and influence with so many friends along with many workers in the City of Pittsburgh.
Miss Smiling Irish Eyes
Our Miss Smiling Irish Eyes and her Court included three beautiful young women: MacKenzie Ridge is a freshman at North Carolina University. Her parents are Dan and Bridie O’Connor Ridge, who live in Mt. Lebanon.
Erin Mary Burkhart is part of the Court. She is a senior at the Pitt-Johnstown Campus of the University of Pittsburgh. She and her parents, Mike and Kathleen Riser Burkhart, live in the Fox Chapel area. Tom Riser, Erin’s grandfather, was a previous president of AOH Division 23 in Lawrenceville.
Zoe Mulkerrins, the second young woman of the Court, is a senior at Seneca Valley High School. Zoe and her parents, Mike and Sarah Connolly Mulkerrins, are from Seven Hills in Butler County.
Mike Mulkerrins and his brothers Joe and Pete are originally from Minish, County Galway. They have been Curragh boat builders, including ones that many of the teams across America have used in their races.
St. Brigid’s Court
With March being Women’s History Month, this honor is most appropriate. St. Brigid’s Court is an acknowledgement of women who have endured physical hardship through sickness or some other impairment which has affected their lives. This year, the winners are Theresa Lynne Cruell with her court, Madeline McClain. Both of these women have endured much physical pain and hardship throughout their lives.
Hibernian of the Year
The Hibernian of the Year award was presented to Bob Kelly of AOH Sean MacBride Division 32. Bob is a previous President of Division 32 and is now Treasurer of the Allegheny County Board of Directors.
A Book About Carrick
John F. (Jack) Webber is writing a book about the South-Hills community of Carrick, settled in 1853 by J.H. O’Brien from Carrick-on-Suir River, Ireland. If you know anything of Carrick, an Information Index is available and can be sent to you by email; contact Jack firstname.lastname@example.org.
AOH Sean MacBride Division 32 in Carnegie will begin a weekly Fish Fry at the Ukrainian American Citizens Club through Good Friday, April 15th.