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Music piped in at gala

More than 200 people attended a St. PatrickâEUR(TM)s Day fundraiser for Hospice of Washington County.

More than 200 people attended a St. PatrickâEUR(TM)s Day fundraiser for Hospice of Washington County.

March 18, 2006|By CANDICE BOSELY

HAGERSTOWN

Her T-shirt read "American by birth, Irish by the grace of God." She had green ribbons in her hair and wore two pairs of shamrock earrings in her ears and a leprechaun pin on her shirt.

While countless people like to claim on St. Patrick's Day that they possess a bit of Irish blood, Mary McGarity can discuss in-depth her family's exact roots in Ireland.

She did just that with a visitor Friday night at the second annual St. Patrick's Day Gala, held at the Pangborn Council Knights of Columbus building on Leitersburg Pike.

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More than 200 people attended the event, which is a fundraiser for Hospice of Washington County.

Traditional Irish music and food ? Irish stew, corned beef and several vegetable dishes, including cabbage ? were offered.

And, of course, alcoholic beverages were in no short supply. Merlot and chardonnay were served in paper cups, while the Coors Light beer came in plastic cups.

When someone asked Jack Koch, who was in charge of serving the drinks, why there was no Guinness ? a traditional Irish beer ? available, he said it was simply a timing issue.

A proper pour of Guinness takes a couple of minutes, while pouring a Coors from the tap takes just seconds.

The bar was where McGarity was to be found, although she asked for a cup of ice water.

Her Irish forebears came from a suburb of Belfast, after migrating east for work during the potato famine. Horse-shoeing became the family's business, she said, and her uncle patented several types of horseshoes.

Events like the gala help showcase to younger generations what it really means to be Irish, McGarity said.

She said it's important to know traditional Irish songs like "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling."

Even though in Northern Ireland the weather can be dreary, McGarity said the people there know how to throw a party, laugh and enjoy life.

"We've taken all our children over there to learn how to be happy," she said.

Lisa Zanella, who handles community relations for Hospice of Washington County, said proceeds from the gala are used to help families and patients who cannot pay for Hospice's services.

It also helps with grief and bereavement care programs, which are available even to those who are not receiving Hospice services.

Last year more than $2,000 was raised at the event.

Dave Flynn, a Knights of Columbus member who helped coordinate the gala, said he expected that amount of money or more to be raised this year.

Meanwhile, back at the gala, Jean Thomas, wearing a full costume, described herself as a leprechaun.

"St. Patty threw me in the back of the car and said we're going to a dance," she said.

A pot of gold wasn't awaiting, though. Thomas said she planned to help out by washing dishes.

"And I'm a neighbor of Ireland. I'm Welsh," she said.

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