MAHOPAC, N.Y. - County Executive MaryEllen Odell has been named grand marshal for the 42nd annual Northern Westchester-Putnam St. Patrick’s Day parade, which will step off on Sunday, March 11, at 2 p.m. on Route 6 in Mahopac.

Irish blood runs thick through Odell’s veins with both of her parents being of Irish descent. Her maternal grandmother, Mary Agnes O’Neill, was from County Waterford, Ireland. Her paternal great-grandmother Julianne O’Neill, whom Odell refers to as Nanny, was from the County Cork, Ireland.

Julianne was an inspiration in Odell’s life. She was the oldest of 11 children. When she was 14 years old, her parents sent her to live with the Hogan family in the United States because of the famine in Ireland. She did not get to return to Ireland until she was in her 60s.

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Julianne married Jack O’Brien and they had five children. They had nothing, but they had strong backs, willingness to work, faith, family and love of America.

As a child, Odell said she remembers “Nanny” having the grandchildren packing up their old clothes, toys and books to send to their cousins in Ireland. She also remembers her great-grandmother cherishing a framed tapestry of an Irish cottage by the sea alongside the Scared Heart of Jesus.

Born in Yonkers to Muriel Edith (nee Helwig) and Ronald Hicks, Odell is the eldest of four children. She was raised in Carmel with her siblings, Michelle, Brian and Laura. Wanting to give her children—Hope and David—the same type of upbringing, she bought her childhood home and raised her children there.

A Roman Catholic, Odell has been a congregant at St. James the Apostle Church for more than 50 years.

In 1995, Odell co-founded the Carmel Sports Association. She also became an active member of the Hamlet of Carmel Civic Association, the Carmel Industrial Development Agency and Putnam Economic Development Council. She sat on the executive board for the Gold Star Mothers statue in Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park, as well. She is also a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge No. 704.

Odell was named an honorary veteran by the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council in 2007 for her patriotism and advocacy for veterans’ services. Before his death in July 2016, James O’Neill named Odell an honorary member of the Knights of Columbus Our Lady of the Lakes Council 6318.

She is currently serving her second term as Putnam County executive. Prior to that, she served five years in the county legislature.

Odell said that being the 2018 grand marshal of the Putnam-Northern Westchester St. Patrick’s Parade is truly an honor and thanked the WestPut Setanta Gaelic Football Club for nominating her. 

Article courtesy of the Northern Westchester-Putnam St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee