Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 15 March 2013 00:00
When he stepped onto American soil in 1959, Patrick Sexton was unsure where his feet would take him. In 2013, the 40-year Floral Park resident found his footing atop a chariot overlooking locals at the St. Patricks Day Parade in Mineola and Garden City on March 3, as its Grand Marshal.
Sexton was born in Ahey Bridge, Miltown Malbay, County Clare, to Patrick and Kathleen Sexton. He is one of eight children, Chris, John, Mary Ellen, Kay, Margaret, Theresa and Thomas, who died as an infant.
Chris had preceded his journey to America. Pat stayed with him in an apartment on 47th Street in Woodside, Queens. Known as PJ to his family and friends, he also lived in the Bronx. He spent several years playing junior and senior football and hurling in Gaelic Park.
“Through the years, I’ve been very involved in the center,” he said. “It’s all volunteer work.”
Though he longs for his home country, he doesn’t miss the rainy days in Malbay.
“You have to pick the right time to go for good weather.”
Sexton was employed in construction by Mitchell Contracting and then joined Local 608 Carpenters and Joiners of America in 1969 until his retirement five years ago.
His work didn’t stop there. Sexton helped renovate the Irish American Society headquarters in Mineola.
“We donated our time and fixed up the center to what it is today,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place to go to.”
In 1968, Patrick, married Mary Ann Sheridan of Raven Hill, Shrule, County Mayo. They are the proud parents of four children; Patrick, Ellen, Mary and Michael and 11 grandchildren; James, Brendan, Sean, Emily, Meghan, Deirdre, Collin, Patrick, Claire, Ryan and Anna.
Sexton said he feels a great source of pride and a cherished privilege to be chosen as Grand Marshal for parade.
“It’s hard describe the way I felt,” Sexton said of his Grand Marshal appointment. “There was someone else in the running, Geraldine O’Brien. They called the names and put them on the bulletin board and they voted. It was a great honor and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Sexton has been a member of the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk & Queens since 1977 and has served on the board of directors. He loves to dance and has chaired many society dances.
Sexton is also a member of the County Clare Association where he has served on the board of directors as vice president. When hung up hammer and nails, he took up golf and was a member of the Irish American Golf Society.
“Grand Marshal PJ Sexton and his aides did a great job putting it all together,” Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said.