The United Irish Societies
of Montreal crown a queen
Kathleen Brown-Vandecruys and her princesses will represent Montreal’s 195th St. Patrick’s Day parade
By Laura Flynn
Plaza Centreville Downtown was a hive of excitement on Saturday night, February 3, as members of the Irish community of Montreal and neighbouring surroundings gathered for the United Irish Societies of Montreal’s selection of the Queen and Court, who will exclusively represent Montreal’s 195th St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The public speaking event, which was hosted by CTV’s Lori Graham, saw thirteen women with Irish origins, aged 18 to 25, compete for the crown in front of a panel of seven judges: Andrea Bobkowicz (Investment Advisor and Treasurer of the St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal); Jackie McDonagh (General Manager of Aer Rianta International); Kathleen Weil (Minister responsible for Relations with English speaking Quebecers), Paul Karwatsky (News Anchor CTV Montreal); Sarah Murphy (Parade Queen 2014); Sterling Downey (Montreal City Councillor); and Tony Cunningham (Education Manager – World Anti-Doping Agency). The judge’s advisors were Dr. Michael Kenneally and Dr. Rhona Kenneally of Concordia University.
The public speaking event… saw thirteen women with Irish origins, aged 18 to 25, compete for the crown in front of a panel of seven judges…
The selection incorporated three rounds. In the first round, all of the contestants introduced themselves, speaking about their background and Irish roots for two minutes. During the second round, each contestant spoke on a unique topic about Irish culture that they had researched prior to the evening. Subjects discussed included Thomas Darcy McGee, selected work from the poets Seamus Heaney and Patrick Kavanagh, and Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland. In the third and final round, the five selected finalists answered an unseen question, “What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing today’s young people?” A common theme of integrated technology and / or social media featured in the responses.
Entertainment was interwoven throughout the rounds, with singing from Christine and Lisa Forget; traditional music from The Shamrock Band, comprising of members of the Montreal Shamrocks Gaelic Athletic Association; dancing from the Bernadette Short Dancing School; and stand-up comedy from Jeff O’Brien. At the start of the evening, community volunteer, Francis Baddeley, sang the Irish and Canadian national anthems accompanied by Terry Clahane on keyboard. The 2017 Parade Queen, Mary Lynne Loftus, gave her departing speech, thankful for what the year had given her and the joy she had visiting Ireland in the summer.
‘The crowning of the Queen brought a fun-filled evening to a close and simultaneously brought the Irish celebration season into full swing.’
Other celebratory moments of the evening included: a short awards ceremony; and Elizabeth Quinn, the new Grand Marshall of the parade and the second female to be one in the parade’s history, being welcomed to the stage by outgoing 2017 Grand Marshall and former mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre.
The event concluded with the announcement of the Queen and Court: McGill graduate, Kathleen Brown-Vandecruys (23), as Queen, and Darragh Kilkenny-Mondoux (24), Olivia O’Keeffe (24), Taylor Pogue (22), and Lauren Tracey (22) as the court princesses. Brown-Vandecruys is presently working for the City of Dorval’s Aquatics and Sports complex while waiting to become an Infantryman for the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves’ Canadian Grenadier Guards Regiment. Her Irish ancestry can be traced back to her mother’s family who came from Crossmaglen, County Armagh as well as Newry, County Down. Along with her responsibilities representing this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade as Queen, Brown-Vandecruys received a trip for two to Ireland courtesy of Air Canada Rouge.
The crowning of the Queen brought a fun-filled evening to a close and simultaneously brought the Irish celebration season into full swing.