Community leader Mary Nolan dies at 89

Mary Nolan of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, passed away peacefully Thursday, August 17, 2023 at 89 years of age. The eldest daughter of the eleven O’Dea children, Mary was born in Kilfinny, Adare, County Limerick, Ireland on May 25,1934. Following her sister Stacia, alongside her sister Peggy, and shortly ahead of sister Bridie, Mary emigrated to the United States in December of 1953.

The O’Dea sisters settled into the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn upon arrival and within a couple years, Mary met her future husband, Daniel Nolan of Nenagh, County Tipperary. Mary spent a week on the RMS Ascania and traveled 3,500 miles to America to find a fella from forty-five minutes away! They wed in 1959 and by 1965 the Nolans would relocate to Bay Ridge, with four children in tow – John, Maureen, Donal and Carol.

The Nolan clan embedded into the Bay Ridge community, where Mary was a congregant of Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church for fifty-seven years, and she worked for nearly thirty as a clerk at Off Track Betting. Aside from the parish and the ponies, she was passionate in her advocacy for the communities she held dear, particularly the Irish, immigrants, and the people of Bay Ridge.

Politically engaged and focused to drive change, she was a founding member of the Brooklyn-Staten Island Chapter of the Irish Immigration Reform Committee as well as the Bay Ridge Irish American Action Association. Mary served on the Board of Directors for the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and volunteered time to various other neighborhood interests for the Brooklyn Irish, most specifically the Commodore Barry Club.

Mary’s dedicated efforts were rewarded throughout her life. She was named one of Brooklyn’s Extraordinary Women in 2006, was the recipient of the 2010 Shining Star Award from Catholic Migration Services, the 2014 O’Dwyer Award for Public Service, and was an honored dignitary at the commissioning of the U.S.S. Barry in 1992.

An aficionado of Irish music and culture, a fine glass of wine, and the company of her family and friends, Mary had a sharp tongue, a quick wit, and was never accused of holding back her opinion. For that, she was valued in high regard. Her name carries weight in the streets of Bay Ridge and her legacy within the Brooklyn Irish community will live on. She will be sadly missed and never forgotten by those who knew her.

Mary was predeceased by her loving husband Daniel, son Donal, siblings Nora, Ann, Timmy, Johnny, Stacia, Peggy, and Bridie. She is survived by her sisters Josie O’Neill, Lizzie O’Dea, and Catherine Reidy, her children, John, Maureen (m. John Piasecki), and Carol (m. Michael Zirngibl), her ten grandchildren, her great-granddaughter as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Visitation was held Tuesday, August 22nd at McLaughlin & Sons Funeral Home, 9620 Third Avenue, Brooklyn. Mass was held Wednesday, August 23rd at Saint Patrick’s Church, 9511 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn. Burial immediately followed at Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th Street, Brooklyn.

The family requests those who wish to express their sympathies do so by making a donation to Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in her name.Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

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