The lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day is steeped in tradition, but this year, organizers of the annual Hudson parade decided to put a spin on things.
At a gala held at the Whitlock Golf and Country Club on Saturday night, the Hudson community gathered to honour Brenda O’Farrell, the first ever Irishwoman of the year.
“It’s 2019,” said Rob Dumans, member of the parade’s executive committee. “It’s crazy to not be able to have an Irishwoman of the year. There’s no reason it should always be a man.”
“I think it was about time,” she said, adding that she saw it more as continuation than a change.
“It’s a tradition that has been slightly modernized, but where it was born from is still there.”
So while O’Farrell felt that it was a moment whose time had come, what she wasn’t expecting was to be the one receiving the honours.
“Then I was told it would be me and I had to admit, I did not see that coming. So that was a big surprise.”
WATCH: Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade Queen and her Court
For Dumas, O’Farrell was an obvious choice.
She’s known for her work as a former journalist at the Montreal Gazette, where she played an instrumental role in getting the newspaper to extend its coverage to include the Hudson area.
“I think that was really well accepted and received by this community and I think it played a big part in reflecting what this community is about,” she said.
Dumas says though, it was her community involvement that really stood out as well as her ability to see things through.
“Brenda is someone who gets herself involved in things. She started off building a backyard rink then turned it into a mixed hockey league,” Dumas recounted.
“She’s good at growing things, developing things,” he said. “She’s done a lot in the Soulanges area, typically within Hudson and Saint-Lazare and she’s proud of her Irish heritage.”
O’Farrell developed that sense of pride growing up, surrounded by family, in a small community southeast of Quebec City.
“That’s where the O’Farrells settled in Canada,” she said. “We were given an incredible feeling of appartenance.”
“We belonged there and we carried that with us. It’s a very tight-knight community, so when you go somewhere you take them with you.”
To see some of that Irish pride on display, head out to the 10th annual Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 16 at 1 p.m.