Girls take part in New York City parade and sing at St Patrick’s Cathedral

Girls take part in New York City parade and sing at St Patrick’s Cathedral

27 March 2024

ASSUMPTION Grammar School students are back in Ballynahinch after their trip of a lifetime to New York.

A party of pupils and their teachers from the school took centre stage  in the Big Apple’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The girls had the honour of leading the Co Down section of the parade down Fifth Avenue.

Vice-principal Marcelle Orsi was chosen to be the grand marshal of the Co Down section, and her aides were head girl Clare Scally and deputy head girl 

Ciara McGeough.

It was a wonderful experience for them all with shouts of “Up Down” greeting the group while they sang and danced their way down the avenue to cheers from the two million spectators.

Mrs Orsi said: “None of us was quite prepared for the wonderful reception we received.  The girls were elated and astonished by the positive response they received.

“Obviously, there was a large number of visitors to the city for the weekend coming from Co Down, but clearly there are many people living in New York whose family hail from this part of the world.

“It was very humbling to receive such a fantastic response from the crowds.  The girls responded with singing and dancing and plenty of waving.  They felt like celebrities.”

The Saint Patrick’s weekend celebrations continued with a very special Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral where the choir and traditional group led the service. 

Many commented on the beauty of the singing with family and friends at home sharing the experience through the webcam.  Cardinal Timothy Dolan met the girls after Mass and was presented with gifts from the school. 

The students continued their celebrations with a concert at St Vincent Ferrer Church, which was attended by many Irish Americans, including the actor Geraldine Hughes, who donated to the students’ fundraising efforts.

There were performances by the school orchestra, choirs and Irish dancers, culminating with a joint piece that included students from the high school they were visiting. This finale saw both schools singing a beautiful rendition of “An Irish Blessing”.

Assumption head of music Michael Harrison said it apt to have this celebration in New York City, the birthplace of many very famous musicians who have impacted so positively on the musical culture in Ireland.

After days of performing, the students were able to enjoy some down time with visits to Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Statue of Liberty and the Top of the Rock.  They also enjoyed the Broadway show, Chicago.

A delighted Mrs Orsi added: “This trip was everything we hoped for and more.  I know our girls will never forget the day they walked down Fifth Avenue on St Patrick’s Day representing their school and their country.  They did us all proud.”