Friday, January 06, 2023

By Trevor Quinn

A Foxford native has made headlines in New York after she opened her pub and home to 45 strangers for Christmas.

Mary O’Halloran, whose family ran a small shop on the Swinford Road in Foxford in the 1980s, had been living in New York for over 30 years and runs a popular Irish pub near the East Village. On Christmas Day, she hosted 45 people of varying nationalities as part of a charitable initiative organised by the Humans of New York (HONY) social media outlet. Each year, HONY partners people who do not want to be alone for Christmas with host families or individuals. However, in this case, Mary went above and beyond the call of duty by hosting the huge gathering at her pub.

Mary O’Halloran getting ready for her big Christmas Day event in New York.

“It was pretty simple but it was really beautiful and it was just perfect and people loved it,” she explained. “They did not want to be alone or by themselves and it was just basically an act of kindness, people were just very happy.”

Mary said she made all of the food herself, assisted by her family and friends.

“We had an amazing Irish ham and cabbage dinner with mashed potatoes, and they just loved it. A lot of these people have never had something like this before so for them they loved that this was a real Irish dinner.

“Every big party I have at Mary O’s I make Irish ham and cabbage. My husband and four of my children were here and then four of my regular customers came and they had also nowhere to go for Christmas and they came and they helped me do all the extra work that was needed.”

Mary moved to the Big Apple nearly 32 years ago and operated her popular pub on the city’s east side until the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, forcing the closure of her busy bar two days before St Patrick’s Day.

Mary’s longshoreman husband was stranded in the Aleutian Islands for nine months and Mary was left to provide for herself and her six children, while also finding time for home-schooling. It would have been easy for her to feel despondent, but instead she started cooking dinners for emergency workers at a nearby hotel which brought limited money, and then she turned to baking scones, using her mother Teresa’s homemade recipe.

Mary O’Halloran, front row, second from right), with some of her guests.

A group of Irish musicians who played every week at her pub helped her to set up an online store so that she could sell her scones to friends and acquaintances. Her story made headlines on the Humans of New York blog and orders for her scones were soon coming in from all over the United States. In fact, she is still fulfilling orders that were made during the dark days of the Covid lockdown! She is adamant that everyone who ordered a scone will get one.

“The Humans of New York story was amazing but I’m still working on my scones. I think it’s a very Irish thing not to accept handouts, I wouldn’t want anything for nothing.”

Not surprisingly, Mary’s latest kindly gesture has generated a huge online response with many people lauding the Foxford native for her festive kindness.

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By Western People
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