Grand Marshal 2023

Pat Uniacke, Grand Marshal of the 2023 St. Patrick’s Day Parade

HONORARY GRAND MARSHALS: Nicole Killigrew, Jerry Keohane, Katherine (Katy) O’Shea, Mike Alvers, Barry McGrath

Grand Marshal – Pat Uniacke

Patrick Martin Uniacke was born March 10, 1954. He was the sixth of thirteen children born to Michael and Bridie living in rural Craughwell, Co Galway. Pat’s father was the local hurly maker and with eight brothers and four sisters they were never short of players for a puck around the back field. Hurling was in his blood as his grandfather, Brian, held three Galway Senior Hurling medals. 

After completing the Leaving Cert in 1973, he spent the summer in San Francisco working for his uncle, Jim McNamara. He returned home at the end of the summer to serve his time as an apprentice Joiner. After a year, he moved to Dublin and his work eventually took him around the country shop fitting for Roche Stores. In 1982, he went to the Gaza Strip working with a company that built the Palestinian Cultural Center. After two years, he returned to San Francisco for the summer and with work too plentiful to turn down he ended up staying and starting his own business. 

Pat hurled for the SF Gaels and in 1985, he captained the team that won the North American Senior Hurling Championship; the first club from San Francisco to ever win a Senior Championship. They went on to win the NACB Senior Hurling Title again in 1988, this time playing with 4 of his brothers alongside him. Unfortunately, Pat broke his ankle during the Semi Final in Balboa Stadium that weekend, which ended his days of being an active player. He got involved in the administrative side of the GAA and in 1989 was elected North American County Board (NACB) Secretary, where he served for four continuous terms. It was during this time that he met and married, Una Halpin, in June ‘93 in Chicago. The following November, he was elected Chairman of the NACB and served in that role until the birth of his first child, Rory, in 1997. During this time he also represented the NACB at Central Council for five years until 1998. Pat took a hiatus from an active role in the GAA while adding three more children to his family, Orla in ’99, Pearse in ’00, and Roisin in ’02, then got involved again when his children began to play. In 2008, he served as Chairman of the Treasure Island GAA Development which developed 20 acres of sports fields and a clubhouse and continues to facilitate the scheduling of events held there. In 2009, he was awarded the President’s Award by then President of the GAA in Croak Park, 

Nicky Brennan. Later that year he was awarded Citizen of the Year, by the San Francisco Law Enforcement Emerald Society. In 2018, he was elected Chairman of the San Francisco Famine Memorial Committee that he continues to chair to this day, in addition to Chairing the Galway Association of San Francisco. 

Honorary Grand Marshal – Nicole Killigrew


As a baby, Colie was a happy camper; she was happiest in the jogging stroller being entertained by Mother Nature, sporting events, and around furry friends. Her sister, Rachel, and Colie spent lots of time at various GAA events with their dad, John and this is where Colie’s love of football began! She played competitive Gaelic featuring in many Youth and Adult North American Championships and one of her proudest moments was in Boston in 2009 when, at the young age of 16, she was awarded MVP in the intermediate championship while playing with our local ladies’ team “Saoirse”. 

Colie was a passionate animal advocate! In kindergarten she took the classroom rabbit home; in middle school, she volunteered at the Humane Society. In college as a full-time student, she went to Thailand to volunteer in a dog shelter and an elephant sanctuary. She loved helping sick and neglected animals. In August 2013, Nicole rescued her furry BFF Nala (without parental consent) and in 2020 Nicole rescued Saoirse, her mischievous tripod from the side of highway five while on route to LA (medical foster fail!). Last August she asked her brain surgeon “when can I get back horse riding?” 

Her sister (Rachel) and Colie are eighteen months apart “Irish twins, and they did everything together, from country concerts, inseparable on the soccer field, road trips, peloton classes, and Gaelic football teams. They went to the same middle and high school and ended up playing soccer together at, Cal Poly Pomona (CPP). In June 2016, they graduated together, which was a very special moment for Colie as she completed her undergraduate in Pre-Vet, while she battled advanced cancer. “Sista Souls 4ever”. 

On August 20, 2015, Colie was diagnosed with advanced metastatic cancer and while this changed life as we knew it, it never changed Colie’s ability to “Be happy, not because everything is good but because she could see the good in everything”. She has a powerful story demonstrating tenacity and resilience. It’s a tough journey requiring cancer treatment at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK), New York. She went through so much; two liver resections, one colon resection, multiple lung resections, brain surgery, 7+ lung ablations, 150+ systemic chemo infusions, 8+ Hepatic Chemo Pump (HAI) infusions, 17+ drains, many other procedures, and too many ER visits to count. She knew what it took to be a good nurse, and her dream was to be a great oncology nurse; It was always her plan since she was accepted into the Bellarmine Nursing program annually from 2017 until 2022. 

Colie was an athlete and she loved to travel, especially back to Ireland. During her tenacious and graceful battle with cancer, no one would have known she was sick, and she chose not to share or focus on her cancer battle. Despite all she went through, she never complained, she hopped on the Peloton, she ran half marathons, and she lived her life to its fullest with the most positive outlook. She managed to travel to Ireland to visit family most years, Israel to visit friends, and many other places in the United States in between doctor’s appointments. 

Nicole was blessed with great community friends, Sarah, Jess, Ashley, Tori, and Deborah who consistently kept in touch loving, and encouraging her every step of the way. A couple of years ago she met her boyfriend Rich, and they spent so many happy times together in San Francisco and New York. Rich and Colie were that fairy tale romance; their relationship began slowly and blossomed into a beautiful love story. We know Colie felt cherished and so loved with Rich; they had so much fun and exciting plans for the future!

“Goodbyes hurt the most when the story wasn’t finished”

Honorary Grand Marshal – Jerry Keohane

Jeremiah “Jerry” Keohane was born to a family of Irish immigrants in San Francisco on January 9, 1955. Jerry’s father, Daniel Keohane, arrived from Clonakilty, County Cork on June 30, 1930, and Margaret Keohane his beloved mother, born in Castlederg, County Tyrone immigrated from Liverpool just after serving in that City’s civil defense throughout WWII. Jerry grew up just steps away from the United Irish Culture Center in the Sunset District. 

Jerry and his five brothers attended St. Gabriel’s elementary school and Riordan High School. Jerry went on to study Fire Science at City College of San Francisco. He joined the San Francisco Fire Department in 1978, serving more than 30 years in the Department and retiring as Captain. He was deeply proud of the SFFD and the firefighters he was honored to serve with. During his time in the SFFD, he spent numerous hours volunteering for the San Francisco Firefighters’ Toy Program and regularly represented the SFFD in the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

Jerry was a jack of all trades. Whether it was operating the Shell gas station on West Portal, playing and coaching multiple soccer teams (including many years coaching the San Francisco Fire Department’s soccer team), working construction throughout San Francisco, cooking up delicious meals, or acting as Mr. Fix-it for all who asked, he mastered it all. Jerry was also a member of the first youth Gaelic football team from San Francisco to travel and play in Ireland. But most importantly, Jerry was extremely proud of his Irish heritage. He was a long supporter of the UICC and considered it his second home. He and his bride, Cheryle, even celebrated their wedding reception at the Center. Today, they would have been married for 37 years. Jerry was extremely devoted to his family, especially his two daughters, Kaitlin and Jenna. He was a coach, a teacher, a volunteer, a cheerleader, a protector, and the best friend to both. To say he was super dad would be an understatement. 

Jerry would be honored to be bestowed the title of Honorary Grand Marshall this year. He loved the Irish community in San Francisco and carried some of his fondest memories from the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

Jerry passed away peacefully at home with his family on June 19, 2019. His spirit of generosity, faith and merriment lives on through his family. And we continue to feel his love and support from heaven.

Honorary Grand Marshal – Katherine (Katy) O’Shea

Katherine (Katy) Mary O’Shea was the dearly beloved daughter of the late John M. and Mary (Minnie) O’Shea and the sister of the late Michael J. O’Shea. Katy was a native of San Francisco, graduate of St. Paul’s Grammar School, Class of 1944, and of St. Paul’s High School, Class of 1948. 

Immediately after high school graduation, Katy went to work for the United States Government at Letterman Army Medical Center in the Presidio and retired after 43 years of service, 35 of them as Chief of Medical Education. 

All of her life, Katy was an active member of St. Paul’s Parish, was on the Parish staff, chaired the Preservation Committee, maintained the Preservation Fund, and established the Parish’s major fundraising event, the annual Auction and Dinner Dance. She also headed the committee for the 1980 Centennial year-long celebration of the parish. Katy was indeed a daughter of St. Paul’s! 

Katy was very involved with the Irish community in San Francisco. She was a dedicated and loyal member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, St. Francis Division #1, and a charter member of the United Irish Cultural Center. Katy held many offices in the LAOH on the state, county and divisional levels. Katy was a National Life member of the LAOH. 

Katy became a BVM Associate on August 4, 2013 at a beautiful ceremony held at the BVM Motherhouse in Dubuque, Iowa. Marilyn Highlander-Pool was her BVM Associate companion. 

Katy loved St. Paul’s Parish, the BVM sisters and the high school. She treasured the gifts that each person has and willingly shared. She was a woman of deep faith, with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Rosary. Friends were very important to her, and she had many. Katy was Irish, loved being Irish, and loved everything and everyone Irish. Her favorite color was green. 

These last several years have not been kind to Katy. Dementia is an unforgiving and slow disease. It takes our loved one away to a place where they alone reside. 

Sincere and heartfelt gratitude go out to Marilyn Highlander-Pool and the McDaid family: Rosaleen, Harry, Megan, Kelly, JC and Rory. They were the family that Katy always wanted, but never had. Their loving care, kindness, gentleness and patience with Katy allowed her to stay in her home on Noe Street which was her wish and desire. They filled her life with their love, and best as she could, Katy loved them too. — Rest in Peace, Katy

Honorary Grand Marshal – Mike Alvers

A native San Franciscan, Mike came from a very proud and respectful Irish family from the Aran Islands. At a time when the Irish came here from their homeland and names were changed from Otuathail to O’Toole and “Irish need not apply” was thrown about, his family dug their heels in and forged on to create a very successful family life here. 

Mike, often referred to as Mic, Bro or Big Mike held onto to that Irish pride all his life. 

Joining Carpenters Local 22 at 18, he became a journeyman carpenter and worked for the City and County of San Francisco for 35 yrs. Always involved with the Union on some level, he became the go to guy for the float construction for the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the city. He had high expectations of himself to do the best for this event every year. It became all consuming during February and March. 

An avid fisherman and diver, he loved the water so much. Never enough “bottom time” was a catch phrase often heard from him. 

Married for 36 yrs to Colleen and devoted father to Michaela, Michael was a family

man. Family was hugely important and evident in how he displayed his love to his

wife and daughter as well as to his 6 siblings and 11 nieces and nephews. Parties at our house carried a legend of their own. 

In 2019, he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, he was given 6 months to live. It took 3 1/2 years to get the Big Guy. He dug his heels in and lived it on his terms, enjoying his 805’s and shots of Jameson along the way. “No Pressure”

Honorary Grand Marshal – Barry McGrath

Barry McGrath, known to many as Baz, or in his younger years Ned, was born on the 27th of April 1983 to John and Bernie McGrath, from the parish of Lackagh, in Co. Galway. Barry and his three siblings, Emma (eldest), Lisa and Brian grew up in Cregmore. Never afraid of hard work, Barry spent many days helping out on the family farm. Outside of his family home, he grew up surrounded by the love, support and camaraderie of his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who have always looked out for each other. In due course, Barry extended this love and support, to his nephews Ben (15), Eddie (4) and Timmy (3) whom he adored. 

Barry always had a keen interest in sport and he played with his local sports clubs, Turloughmore Hurling Club, Claregalway Football Club and Cregmore-Claregalway Soccer Club where he made lifelong friends, developed skills of team-work and enjoyed the social side of sport as much as time on the pitch. Similarly, Barry made firm friends during his school years in Cregmore and Carnmore National Schools, Presentation College Athenry, National University of Ireland, Galway, and his much enjoyed, one year of study abroad, in Alcala de Henares, Spain. Following his graduation in 2006, Barry moved to Dublin to start a new chapter in his life where he pursued a career in accountancy and it goes without saying he flourished. 

Always in search of a new adventure, in 2014, Barry entered a Green Card lottery, which he was lucky enough to win and he began planning his next big move. Unfortunately, Barry’s father John (aged 56) died unexpectedly on 27th May 2014. His loss, left Barry and his family bereft, so much so, that Barry nearly declined his green card, but with the support of his family he reconsidered this decision and on 9th September 2015, arrived in San Francisco. Here, Barry was employed by PWC, where his hard work resulted in him climbing the ranks to ultimately take up the position of Senior Manager in January 2022. 

Alongside this, he drew on his interest in sport to establish his community of friends outside of work. He was an active member of St Joseph’s Hurling Club, Sons of Boru Celtic GFC, Legal Aliens Soccer Club, Shamrock Harps Soccer Club and Teetotalers Golf Society and he enjoyed golfing with his friends in Sunnyvale. He also held the role of Treasurer of San Francisco GAA and was appointed Chairman of St Joseph’s Hurling Club in January 2022. 

True to form, during his time in San Francisco, Barry successfully established a life and career for himself and along the way impressed as a witty, loyal, caring friend to many. Although he became an American citizen in September 2021, Barry returned home regularly to spend time with family and friends in Galway and always remained proud of his Irish heritage. He embodied the Irish sense of community, through his friendships and roles in the various clubs and organizations along with his willingness to pitch in wherever help was needed, from water-boy, to referee, to delegate. 

While inquisitive by nature, Barry was wise with his words; he played his own cards close to his chest, preferring to quietly watch, before offering his own apt and often wry observations. Without doubt, Barry’s loyalty and commitment to his family and friends is a quality that was evident from a young age and was returned tenfold by the many who came to say their final goodbyes, in San Francisco and Galway, following his untimely passing on the 29th of January 2022, in San Francisco. Barry now rests with his father John, in Lackagh (Old) Cemetery, Co. Galway, RIP.