Meade named ‘Irish Mother of the Year’

Lisa Depies
Rosemary Meade of Geneseo has been named the 2009 St. Patrick’s Society Irish Mother of the Year.

When the St. Patrick Society of the Quad Cities kicks off its 2009 Grand Parade on March 14, Rosemary (McGuire) Meade of Geneseo will be at the forefront.

Meade was named the society’s 2009?Irish Mother of the Year. She is the 23rd woman to hold the title of Irish Mother of the Year, and the second in her family. Meade’s sister, Lolita (McGuire) Dierickx received the honor in 1998.

In 1997, a sister of another type received the nod. “I was nominated a few years ago, but was beaten out by a nun,” laughed Meade, who said she was “speechless” when she learned she was this year’s honoree.

She is very proud of her Irish heritage and both she and her husband,?Lorin, are of Irish descent.

“The Irish are a people who’ve known a lot of hardship in life, yet they’re known for being very supportive of each other, especially in the big families,” she said.

Meade said her own family exemplified the Irish tradition. “If you had a need the family was there,” she said, adding it was an Irish aunt who helped raise her own mother.

Meade’s family is originally from County Fermanagh. She said her paternal great-grandfather immigrated first to Canada before coming to the Quad Cities area.

Though her connections to Ireland are strong, Meade, herself, has only visited the Emerald Isle once, in 1993. The trip, said Meade, was a spur of the moment journey. Her husband, Lorin, a former band teacher in the Geneseo School District, was at work his last day before retirement. “I called him on his last day and asked if he wanted to go to Ireland,”?she said. Space on a tour had opened at the last minute, and the pair left for Europe just days after.

She said the couple were impressed by the “kindness and friendliness” shown to them by the Irish people. “They were just so welcoming.”

Meade is the mother of eight and has 19 grandchildren. She said her own family has embraced its Irish heritage.

“Every year, we have a family float in the St. Patrick’s parade,” she explained, adding the family has also hosted St. Patrick’s Day parties following the parade.

Billed as the only two-state St. Patrick’s parade in the nation, the Grand Parade starts in Rock Island and concludes in Davenport, Iowa.

“It’s a party atmosphere with people enjoying their heritage and having fun,” said Meade.

Even those who aren’t Irish are invited to be “Irish for a day.” “Everyone’s welcome,” said Meade.

The Grand ?Parade starts at 11:30 a.m. March 14 at 23rd Street and 4th Avenue in Rock Island.

For more information on the St. Patrick Society or a map of the parade route, visit www.stpatsqc.com.