On March 13, 1963 William Sheridan drove his wife Elsie to the Coombe Hospital in Dublin. They were having a baby and the daughter Elsie had longed for would soon be here…. and at 10 minutes after 11pm out popped John instead. Life has never been the same. John is the second of five children. Raised in Dublin, John credits his father for his singing voice and golf swing and his mom for his soccer prowess… and boy can she still dance.
After graduating from High School in 1980, John joined CIE, Ireland’s national transportation company. His longtime girlfriend Miriam finally agreed to marry him in 1985. It helped that Miriam’s house was on John’s bus route and he would often pull the bus up and stop by for a cup of tea. If there were only two or three passengers they would be invited for tea as well. Can’t make this stuff up.
The struggling Irish economy of 1987 led the family to a difficult decision, they would head to America. They arrived in JFK with 2 year old Mark and Scott who was just 4 weeks old. They knew nobody. In the years that followed daughter Zoe (the only Yankee) completed the family. John had tried driving buses in New York but there was a problem, he felt the bus handled better on the left side of the road. His passengers didn’t agree. With bus driver no longer on his resume John found work installing kitchens. Often working 7 days a week to provide for his young family John learned his trade and learned it well. This year his company “Euro Space Craft” turns 24 years old. Even though he gets the occasional call from folks looking for NASA he still has no intention of changing the name.
John, an avid golfer and soccer player all his life has also become an relentless volunteer. His volunteer work began with his children and their sports activities. So it was that as his children grew, his life as a volunteer grew with them. Looking back now he’s spent 20+ years volunteering his time teaching children how to play and act on the soccer field. He served on the Old Bridge Soccer Executive Board for years as Director of Training. During those years and for many after he was a permanent fixture on the Old Bridge Soccer fields working with and encouraging kids in the art of the sport.
In 1999 John joined the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh, Old Bridge and began volunteering his time in a new way, promoting Irish Heritage. He has run countless fundraisers since then helping causes related to the club and community. There is no worthy cause that John will not support. He has been a member of the FSOS for 15 years and served as its President from 2010 to 2012. He began volunteering his time to the Belmar\Lake Como Parade Committee in 2009 and joined the committee in 2010. He has served on the NJ Irish Festival Committee for the past 6 years and is chairman of the festival this year.
Some know John as a generous, kind hearted guy from Dublin. His friends know him as this and more. He is a wicked practical joker. If you want your toes painted, a mustache added or an eyebrow shaved then fall asleep at the end of the night with John nearby. Never ever let him get your hotel room key or you may return to a life sized wooden horse in your room, beds stacked on each other floor to ceiling or the bathroom completely filled with all the furniture from the room. Unless you can read Chinese or you have a friend who can, never let him touch your cell phone. One word of caution from the FSOS to all those attending parade related functions “Do not let John near the microphone, John is not shy and he will talk… a lot”.
Today, John is all at once proud and embarrassed to be honored as Grand Marshal. Neither he nor Miriam could have foreseen this when they came here all those years ago. Together they have made a life for themselves, their children and changed the lives of so many others in the process. If a helping hand is needed John (and Miriam) will be there to provide it. If more hands are needed John will organize them too. Never content to stay on the sidelines it seems John will continue to be active in the Irish community for years to come. And if that’s not the luck of the Irish, what is?
MARY BOYLE CRERAND KEANEY
Mary was born in the Roseville Section of Newark, New Jersey, in 1933 to Helen and Michael Boyle. Mary was their fourth child born after three brothers, Bill, Jack and Jim. Following Mary, brother, Owen, and sister, Dottie, were born. Mary grew up in Newark and attended St. Rose of Lima Grammar School and Good Counsel High School and then graduated from Central High School.
Mary’s grandparents were born in Ireland Her father’s family left County Mayo in the 1880’s to find work in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, in the coal mines. Though there were many children, only four left to come to Newark, NJ, to find other work. Her mother, Helen, was an only child but had a large family on her grandmother’s side. Helen was born in New York City, but upon the death of her father went to live in Riverton in County Sligo with her grandmother, Catherine Tahaney. Helen at the age of 9 returned to Newark, NJ, with one of her aunts upon the death of her grandmother. Helen met Mary’s father at one of the Irish dances in the downtown area and were later married. Mary’s parents were active in the St. Patrick’s Parade in Newark and many other Irish associations. Mary’s father worked in Hahne’s Department Store as a Stationary Fireman and he later died in a work-related accident when Mary was 9 years old. The Tahaney family were very supportive to her mother and a great influence to her family in the their growing up years.
At 21, Mary married Charles Crerand from Bloomfield, NJ. Both of Charlie’s parents were from Kilmacrennan, County Donegal. They raised their family in East Orange, Doddtown section. Mary has four sons, Michael, Chuck, Martin and Paul. Three of the sons married. Mary’s daughters-in-law are Donna, Maureen and Tina. Mary has 5 grandchildren, Charlie, Richard, Courtney, Molly and Emily and they are Mary’s pride and joy.
Mary’s husband, Charlie, died at 50 from cancer and Mary was a widow for 11 years.
In 1990, Mary joined the Women of Irish Heritage, and there she met an old school mate, Cornelius “Joe” Keaney, as he tended bar at the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Club House, in West Orange. They dated and married on December 26, 1998, at Holy Name Church in East Orange, and moved to Brick, NJ. Both Mary and Joe became active in the Irish community. Joe joined the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh of the Jersey Shore, and later passed away on March 20, 2007. Mary is the current President, of the Women of Irish Heritage Jersey Shore, and has been their Treasurer and Trustee. Mary has lived at Greenbriar for the last 15 years, and is presently the Treasurer of the Greenbriar Association, a position she has held for six years.
Mary’s first job was with Ballentine Brewery in Newark in 1955. After retiring as the Comptroller and Office Manager after 15 years from Bennett Heat Treating & Brazing Company in the Ironbound section of Newark in 1994, Mary continues to work as a bookkeeper for small businesses on a part-time basis. Since 1995, she has been working as a bookkeeper for Industrial Water Management, Inc., in Linden, and at the law office of Linda Piff in Wall since 1996.