Methuen State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell helped kick off what she called “St. Patrick’s Month” with a luncheon March 11 at the Merrimack Valley Golf Club with Colie Ryan from The Irish Cottage and featuring the nationally recognized McTeggart’s Irish Band and Irish step dancers from the Rita O’Shea School of Dancers.
The campaign event for Campbell, which she plans to make an annual shindig, was billed as “Celebration of Irish Culture and Music” with an annual donation going to a local veterans organization.
This year’s donation will go to Hoppy Curran’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Scholarship Fund. “Hoppy’s organization has done amazing work to help and honor Veterans,” Campbell said. “This year, because of the 50th anniversary of the Tet offensive, we felt that this was a perfect fit.”
Campbell noted in her remarks that we still have a long way to go to honor our Vietnam veterans, who Campbell said “simply answered the call to serve their Country when many of wealth and privilege ran in the opposite direction.”
State Secretary of Veterans Affairs Francisco Urena spoke at the event honoring the Veterans in attendance and also speaking passionately about the work ongoing in the Commonwealth and challenges facing our Veteran populations.
Campbell, a veteran herself, thanked Urena for his great work and told the audience that he is always on the road speaking with veterans and Veteran Service Officers to find out directly what is working and what is not.
“We in the Merrimack Valley are so proud of, and thankful for the Secretary’s public service,” Campbell said.
The McTeggarts had everyone singing and clapping and tapping their feet and Campbell herself led a sing-along of the chorus of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
Ryan introducing Campbell, who is well known for signing off-key, with a good natured warning to everyone that she sings to her own key and music, and it is uniquely her’s – he wished everyone good luck trying to sing along.
But it was a definite improvement from previous events, noted Campbell, because of the great band and everyone singing along with her.
Some of the dancers from the Rita O’Shea’s School of Dancing hailed from Methuen and are
very accomplished in the world of Irish dancing. Firefighter Jim Garrity started the event with his powerful and inspiring rendition of the National Anthem, and Ryan followed, leading the singing of the Irish National Anthem.
More than 200 people attended the event and Campbell said that Ryan’s connections in the Irish community bringing the great band and dancers made for a great event.