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Lori Gallagher Honored as St. Patrick’s Day Grand Marshal

The University of St. Thomas William J. Flynn Center of Irish Studies, and its director, Lori Gallagher, JD, will take center stage at the 2011 Houston Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Gallagher has been chosen as the Grand Marshal for the 52nd Annual Houston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2011.

“I am honored to represent the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies,” said Gallagher. “We have endeavored to preserve Irish heritage and culture through our academic, study abroad and cultural outreach programs, and we hope to keep what it means to be Irish alive.  This is a testament to our heart-felt work.”

The Houston St. Patrick’s Day Parade has a rich history. The first parade dates back to the 1880’s when it started in “Irish Town” by the old St. Patrick’s Church on Harrisburg and ended in Market Square. The parade continued for many years until the Depression and World War II took priority, but in 1960, with support from a group of Irishmen known as the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the parade returned to Houston. During its most recent 51-year run, sponsored by the Houston St. Patrick’s Day Parade Commission, the parade has grown to be one of the largest parades of its kind in the nation including over 100 entries celebrating Irish culture. 

Throughout its history, a diverse group of people has been represented and honored as Grand Marshal. Former Grand Marshals include movie personalities, Dennie O’Keefe and Dennis Day, NASA astronauts Robert Crippen and Brian Duffey, football greats Dan Pastorini and Jim Kelly, former Houston Mayor Jim McConn, and former UST President Dr. Joseph McFadden. Gallagher will join the ranks of these distinguished individuals in March.

The University of St. Thomas Irish Studies Program at the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies has been named as one of the top Irish Studies programs in North America. The University established the Center in 2003 with support from The Irish Society, a community-based nonprofit, nonsectarian organization. Gallagher has been the director of the program since its inception. She oversees the academic programs in the Irish Studies minor and graduate concentration, as well as the Ireland and Northern Ireland study abroad programs. She organizes 9-12 public cultural outreach events per year and actively fundraises year-round for the Center and its programs. 

In 2009, Irish America magazine named Gallagher as one of the “Global Irish 100,” a list of the most revered and influential “sons and daughters of Erin”, and Irish Voice newspaper honored her as one of the top “100 Irish Educators”. Gallagher was among the first to receive the Texas Irish American Leaders Award given in 2009 by Irish Echo newspaper, and she was honored at the Mayor’s Gala for the 2009 Houston International Festival featuring Ireland.

In addition to working full time for the Center for Irish Studies, Gallagher is a lecturer in Irish Studies and an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas. She practiced law for 18 years at the Houston law firm, Andrews Kurth LLP, where she was chair of the appellate section and a partner.

Gallagher earned undergraduate degrees in English and journalism and a law degree from the University of New Mexico. She also earned a postgraduate degree in Irish Literature from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, on a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship.