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The Springfield Union News
February 11, 2002


By Nancy H. Gonter


Holyoke - Irish tenor John McDermott has been selected to receive the ambassador's award for the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

"We are especially pleased this year in the aftermath of Sept.11, that in additional to his exceptional musical talent, our recipient, the Irish tenor John McDermott, is just as celebrated for his support of veterans' causes," said Kateri B. Walsh, who co-chaired the ambassador award selection committee.

As she announced the award at a St. Patrick's Committee meeting yesterday at the Wherehouse?, Walsh held a cellular telephone that connected her to McDermott was in Toronto.  Parade committee members cheered loudly so McDermott hear their reaction to his selection.

"Thank you for this great honor," McDermott said as the phone was held up to the microphone so members could hear his words.

The ambassador award, given each year to someone who has promoted relations between Ireland and the United States, was given last year to Elms College Professor Thomas F. Moriarty, who directs the Irish Cultural Center there.

McDermott, who lives in Boston and Toronto, started singing professional at age 39 and has since made nine albums, including three that have gone platinum. His first record was "Danny Boy."

In explaining his selection for the award, Walsh said McDermott's singing has brought Americans in touch with Irish culture.

"His career has led to a resurgence of interest in Irish and Celtic music," said Walsh, who got to know McDermott in 1999 during one of his performances.

Walsh said McDermott and her husband, Daniel M. Walsh III, Springfield's director of veterans s4ervices, have become friends because McDermott has contributed proceeds from his conerts here to veterans.

McDermott's help has allowed the creation of a music room at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, which McDermott has visited while in the area.

Throughout his career, McDermott has worked on behalf of veterans, according to information supplied by the St. Patrick's Committee.

He has formed a non-profit foundation and created two transitional homeless veterans residences/  HE also entertains regularly at veteran's and senior citizens' residences and hospitals.

McDermott will be honored at breakfast before the parade on March 17.  Tickets are $12 and may be obtained from Parade Committee members.