James Byrne, Grand Marshal of the 2022 St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Honorary Grand Marshals: Pat Aherne, James “Frank” Masterson, Marie Doherty, Margaret Kerns, Charlotte Shultz
Grand Marshal – James Byrne
James “Jim” Byrne was born in San Francisco, CA to Irish immigrant parents originally from Swinford, Co. Mayo. He was raised in San Francisco’s Excelsior District and attended Epiphany Grammar School and Saint Ignatius High School in San Francisco. He graduated from UC Davis in 1977 and received his Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, CA in 1980.
After graduating from law school, Jim established his own law practice in San Francisco in 1983. His office is currently located in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco and is mostly confined to immigration law. His practice of immigration law includes deportation defense, family-based immigration, and employment-based immigration.
When he first started his practice, Jim often travelled to Fresno, CA to represent Mexican immigrants applying for green cards in federal immigration court. Many of these immigrants were farmworkers who had come to California’s Central Valley through the Bracero Program. Jim would meet his clients in the basement of St. John’s Cathedral in Fresno to prepare them for their court appearances in San Francisco.
Jim was the lead attorney in the landmark case Wauchope v US Department of State (Ninth Circuit) in 1993 which declared a law which discriminated against women in derivative citizenship cases unconstitutional. Prior to 1993, a person born outside the United States before 1941 could only claim American citizenship through a U.S. citizen father and not a U.S. citizen mother. After the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision, Congress changed the law to reflect the court case.
Throughout his decades of practicing immigration law, Jim has represented thousands of clients from all over the world. He has represented several Irish nationals, arrested and convicted for their involvement in the armed conflict in Northern Ireland, in deportation proceedings and in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Jim has volunteered once a month for the last twenty-two years at the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center Immigration Clinic in San Francisco’s Richmond District. There, he advises people from all over the world on their immigration cases.
In 2021, Mayor London Breed nominated Jim to serve as a San Francisco Police Commissioner. After the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to confirm Byrne to the Commission, Jim was sworn in by Mayor Breed on April 21, 2021.
Jim is married to Maureen O’Neill from Fresno, CA. Jim and Maureen have lived in the same house in the Sunset District for the last thirty-seven years. They have four children, Peter, Noreen, Timothy, and Daniel, and two grandchildren, Catherine and Francis.
Honorary Grand Marshal – Pat Aherne
Pat Aherne was born in Drominarigle, Newmarket, County Cork on March 27, 1946, to Dan and Elizabeth (Daly) Aherne. He was the eighth child in a family of 16 (8 boys and 8 girls). Some of Pat’s fondest memories growing up were playing football with his siblings in front of the house and his father piling them into a wagon to head off to watch a match. When he was old enough, he enjoyed playing alongside his brothers for their local team, Boherbue.
Pat attended school until he was 16 and then went to work as a carpenter’s apprentice. It was a privilege at that time to be taken on as an apprentice, but after two years Pat was tired of working for little or no money. Jobs were very scarce in Ireland and he decided it was time to head to America.
In 1964, he left Shannon Airport with Jim Kennelly (RIP) as his guide and landed in San Francisco to join his sisters Betty & Tess, while brother Dan was serving in the U.S. Army. Younger siblings Bridget, Chris and Kate would follow on in the years to come.
Pat missed home, but shortly after arriving he began his long involvement with the Irish community in San Francisco. He started playing football for the local Cork team and joined the Rebel Cork Benevolent Association. He found work as a carpenter and lived in an apartment building on Stanyan St. occupied by young Irish. Later, he would move out to 18th Avenue in St. Anne’s parish and lived with Mike Brosnan, Dan McAuliffe, Ed Sullivan & Neil Murphy.
In 1965, Pat met the love of his life Ann Moriarty at a dance at St. Johns. They spent weekends going to dances at the KRB, Mercury and Richmond Halls, the Carousel Ballroom and benefits at Picketts. Sundays were spent at Balboa Stadium watching and playing GAA. Pat played for Cork until the team folded and then played for Kerry. Ever the dutiful boyfriend, Pat was supportive of Ann in her endeavors as well. She was very busy with performing and competing for the Ann Healy School of Irish Dancing and playing the bagpipes in the Kennedy Girls Pipe Band, started by the legendary Sheila Brosnan. Pat & Ann loved going to the Irish picnics, whether it was just for fun or he was working setting up the dance floor and bartending.
Pat & Ann were married in 1968 and together they raised 3 children. Patrick, Jim and Eileen. Over the years, Pat worked as a carpenter for Brosnan Brothers and when the economy slowed, he moved on to the Moore Manufacturing, working with Dan McAuliffe and John Singleton. In his spare time, he enjoyed playing softball for a team out of Hennessey’s Bar (now O’Keefe’s) with the likes of Sean Kerrisk (RIP), Sean Healy, Mike Gallagher, Denis Mehigan and Mike Driscoll.
After Pat became disabled by a serious auto accident in 1977, Ann went back to work and he became the original Mr. Mom. Pat loved fixing things and always had some elaborate project to keep him busy. Pat & Ann enjoyed annual vacations to Pine Grove on Cobb Mountain, playing games of 25 by the pool by day and gathering at Irish families’ cabins at night.
Pat was always very proud of his three children and four grandchildren and faithfully attended each and every game of soccer, basketball, baseball, lacrosse and wrestling. Patrick and Jim graduated from St. Ignatius and Eileen went to St. Rose and Notre Dame Belmont. Patrick married Martina Colombo in 1995 and they have two children, Erin (23) and Aidan (19). Patrick recently retired from the Hillsborough Police Department and Martina is a nurse at Ralph K. Davies. Jim married Erica Terry in 2000 and is a San Francisco Police Captain, while Erica works at UCSF Hospital. Eileen married Mayo man Bertie Penny and they have two children, Ronan (18) and Sarah (15). Bertie is a general contractor and Eileen is a stay-at-home mom and manages Bertie’s paperwork. Bertie is President of the Gaelic Athletic Association here in San Francisco, so the family tradition carries on.
Pat was an adventurous grandfather. With his grandchildren, he enjoyed walks on San Bruno Mountain picking blackberries and exploring nature. There were trips to the zoo and aquarium, along with weekends away to Gilroy Gardens. There were sleepovers and mornings at the kitchen table, looking out the window for hummingbirds and Pat’s favorite pet, the coyote.
It was always Pat’s dream to have youth Gaelic football in San Francisco and he was a founding board member of the SFYGAA. He also coached his children’s teams and more recently coached his granddaughter’s soccer team. He was his children’s and grandchildren’s biggest cheerleader in every facet of life.
Pat and Ann welcomed countless Irish visitors into their home. There were many visits by his numerous nieces and nephews, always welcome and well taken care of by Uncle Pat. He helped many J1ers find work and places to stay. Many have become lifelong friends. Pat was a proud member and past President of the Rebel Cork Benevolent Association. He was a member of the UICC even before the Center was built. He was also a member of the Kerry Club.
Pat enjoyed hunting pheasant with his longtime friends Brendan Looney (RIP), Dan McAuliffe and Ger Murphy. He liked stirring the pot and talking politics with Denis Guiney.
He loved Ireland but was a proud American citizen. Pat loved his family and was very affectionate and did not hesitate to show it. He was open-minded yet never afraid to share his opinion.
Honorary Grand Marshal – James “Frank” Masterson
You knew him as “Frank” or “Francie” – he was a compassionate listener and typically preferred that role as he got to know you, but regardless of where or when you met him, you’d be met with great enthusiasm when the conversation turned to his family, Ireland, football, golf, carpentry, or cycling. Though this is Frank’s first time being honored as a Grand Marshall, he is no stranger to Market Street, representing the SF GAA and Carpenters Local 22 in the Parade for as many years as they would let him. He also has a reputation for joining the Saint Paddy’s Day Parade in Sydney – but in a strictly unofficial capacity.
Born in Ardra, Co. Leitrim, Frank and his five siblings learned the meaning of hard work at a young age on the family farm. In his free time, Frank played a bit of football, winning the 1977 Leitrim Junior Championship with the tenacious Drumreilly team. In 1969, he made the very difficult decision to physically depart from his family and friends in Lovely Leitrim – though anyone who met him knows his heart never truly left. He next moved to London, where he worked by day and went to trade school by night; then to Flushing, New York, where he first joined a Carpenters Union; to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he worked on the pipeline, grew a glorious beard, and met some fellow Young Irelanders, who finally helped him make his way home to San Francisco in 1977.
Frank met Janette Gibson in 1978 at the Abbey Tavern on Geary Boulevard, and they married on April 25, 1981. As soon as they married, because he had impressed the only person who mattered, Frank shaved his beard into the mustache you knew and loved.
In the 90s, Frank and Janette were regular fixtures at the Polo Fields as their son, PJ, played soccer and football on Saturdays and the SF GAA (most importantly, the Young Irelanders and the Sean McDermotts, teams he helped found) games were on Sundays (after mass, of course). Frank picked up golf and, with his typical determination, practiced for years and years but was never able to outdrive his son. In 2010, Frank and Janette began to cycle competitively, and Frank joined the Peninsula Velo Cycling Club, who brought him in with open arms to coach him on how to dominate that sport. In ten years of competitive cycling, Frank made 10 appearances at the Huntsman Senior Games and 5 at the National Senior Games. He won 77 medals including a gold medal at the 2019 National Senior Games in the 40k event – which was his proudest cycling achievement.
During his 40+ years as a proud Brother of Carpenters Local 22, Frank served as Warden on the Executive Board and Delegate to the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, San Francisco Building Trades Council, and San Francisco Labor Council. He was a meticulous, detail-oriented, master carpenter who was well respected and admired by his peers and colleagues at Kaiser Hospital and City College of San Francisco, where he worked the bulk of his career. Frank was forced to retire in June 2019, when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. A few days after his passing, test results came back confirming his treatment had worked and he was cancer-free.
To say Frank was an active man is an understatement. He left Ireland so he could experience the world, and he could never sit still because he felt it was his responsibility to keep moving. He was a selfless, determined, fiercely loyal provider for his family. He took great care in being detail-oriented and becoming skilled in whatever he did, and he truly loved life. Wherever Frank went, the Irish Community welcomed him, and he always tried to give back more than he was given – which, as you can be sure with the Irish, was a lot.
Honorary Grand Marshal – Marie Doherty
Marie passed a way in San Francisco, on Saturday, April 25, 2020. Dearly beloved daughter of the late John and Mary Doherty from County Mayo and County Sligo, Ireland. Marie was a native San Franciscan who loved her City, her faith and her heritage very much. Marie graduated from St. Charles Grammar School and St. Vincent High School in San Francisco. She worked as an executive secretary for U.S. Steel for many years.
Marie was an active member of many organizations that highlighted her Catholic faith and her Irish heritage. In her younger years she was a member of the Young Ladies Institute (YLI) Drill Team. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Marie joined the Junior Ladies Hibernians in 1944. Marie and her mother, Mary were founding members of the St. Francis Division #1 of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH). Marie held many offices in the LAOH on the state, county and divisional levels, serving as president of the California State LAOH from 1995 to 1997. Marie was granted National Life Membership with the LAOH in Boston in 2006. Marie was a member of the Women’s Club of St. Paul’s Parish and served as president. Marie was very involved in fundraising activities with the Restoration Committee for St. Paul’s Church after the church was damaged in the 1989 earthquake. Marie was an active member of the United Irish Cultural Center and enjoyed many of the activities and friends that she met there.
Marie was always very devoted and generous with her friends and family. Marie had an infectious laugh and a smile for everyone. Marie held all of her many friends close to her heart. May Marie rest in peace in heaven with the angels and saints.
Honorary Grand Marshal – Margaret Kerns
Margaret Anne (McGowan) Kerns (and yes, her family and close friends refer to her as Margaret Anne, although most people who met her as an adult just call her Margaret) was born April 21, 1932 in San Francisco to a large extended Irish family on both sides. She went to school at St. Paul’s beginning in first grade, graduating from high school in 1950 and was a proud member of the St. Paul Alumnae. She married Clark Kerns, also from a large Irish family, in 1953 and they went on to have 9 children. She had to work after high school, but took college courses whenever she could throughout our childhood, earning a Bachelors in Music from Notre Dame, Belmont about 25 years later and subsequently earned a Masters of Pastoral Ministry from USF. She taught at both St. Paul’s High School and Immaculate Conception Academy.
Throughout her life, the pride of being Irish was always present. She was proud of having been a member of the Rebel Cork Ladies Drill Team (I think that’s how I remember her referring to it), even though her families had not come from Cork! She played the piano for Healy School of Irish Dance in the late 50s and later, most of us older kids danced with Healy, also. Later on, she was always happy to play for the Mass preceding the parade every year and was excited to ride the Cable Car in the parade for several years towards the end of her life.
Music was Margaret Anne’s life. Literally. She began playing piano in 3rd grade and started playing the organ for Masses at St. Paul’s when she was in 7th grade. When we were growing up, she imparted her love and skills to all of us with piano, recorder and guitar lessons, as well as having us sing in various choirs and at Masses at Holy Angels and St. Andrew’s (Daly City). She went on be the organist and Choir Director, later being named the Parish Music Director, for almost 60 years at Holy Angels parish in Colma beginning in the early 60s, after we had moved to Daly City. She also taught Religious Education at Holy Angels for 53 years and worked with the Youth Ministry Program at St. Peter’s in Pacifica for a decade. Sometime after moving back to her childhood home when my Dad died, she began playing for the Sunday evening Mass at St. Paul’s. She also volunteered her love of music at Music Makers (SF Rec. Dept.) and at Alma Villa Senior Living Center, as well as playing for the monthly First Saturday Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery. In the hospital during the last few days of her life, she was planning the songs for the following week’s Masses at Holy Angels.
Honorary Grand Marshal – Charlotte Shultz
Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, who passed in December of last year, was San Francisco’s longest-serving unelected public official. Hailing from a small town in the Texas panhandle, Shultz adopted San Francisco as her hometown in the 1960s and served 10 mayors for a total of 51 years, all of them unpaid through her work with the Office of Protocol.
Commended by the San Francisco Chronicle as the “city’s premier party giver” in support of many causes, Charlotte staged countless celebrations, parades, and other civic events. Among the international figures she received in San Francisco over the years were Queen Elizabeth II of England in 1983; Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang on his first official visit to the U.S in 1984; Pope John Paul II in 1987; Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990; and Prince Charles and Camilla in 2005, to name a few.
In addition to her work for the City of San Francisco, she also served as the Chief of Protocol for the State of California for Governor Jerry Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was also chair of the San Francisco Host Committee and the San Francisco Special Events Committee and highly engaged with many of the City’s major arts organizations.
Her enthusiastic civic adoration was only matched by the love she shared with her late husband, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz who died in February of 2021.