Irish heritage group seeks members

From left, Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who first proposed the village’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, poses at last year’s event with the parade’s three grand marshalls thus far: Howard Riley (2017), Ray Scollin (2018) and Mike Ryan (2016). (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake Irish and Gaelic Organization is hosting an open call for membership and an invitation to its first meeting, upstairs at Bitters & Bones bar at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

SLIGO, an acronym that also references County Sligo, Ireland, is an offshoot of a small, informal group based around the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, started at Mayor Clyde Rabideau’s suggestion in 2016.

“One of the things about the group is we want it to be a group that does meaningful things while at the same time not taking ourselves too seriously,” said John Muldowney, a founding member of the group. “We want people to join for social reasons, for service reasons — for whatever reasons they have as long as they are interested in promoting the concepts that we have, as far as Irish history, Irish heritage, Irish-American history.”

A main goal of SLIGO is to build a committee something like the Winter Carnival Committee, based on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the village, according to Ray Scollin, another founding member of the group.

“We’re hoping that we can grow the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Saranac Lake into a major event,” Scollin said. “We have a real budding opportunity here.”

Muldowney stressed that this group is open to anyone — having Irish heritage is not necessary. Neither is being Catholic, a prerequisite for the largest Irish heritage group in the U.S., the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

“It’s open to anybody who wants to further the interests of the group,” Muldowney said. “We want a broad demographic. We want young people, we want men and women, we want anyone who is interested in participating.”

Outside of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and surrounding events, Muldowney said the group will be looking at other ways to bring Irish and Irish-American cultural events to Saranac Lake. He said he’s been in contact with the curator of the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany about some exhibit sharing in the future. Scollin said they’ve also looked at bringing hurling events to the Can-Am Rugby Tournament held in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid annually.

“We’re open to membership of any type; we’re open to ideas of any type,” Muldowney said. “We just want to get this organization moving with a primary focus on St. Patrick’s Day and then spread from there.”