That memory gives her a sense of perspective as its current president. She knows that it is quite possible that many of the next generation will become active in time.
“It’s hard to tell,” she said.
“They are involved with their children’s activities, with sports,” she said. “I understand that. People are busier now. Two parents are working.
“I always hung around people who were Irish,” said Crossan, who came from Glenswilly in 1961. “But I didn’t get involved with the Donegal Association until my children were older.
“Once we did get involved in the 1980s, we stuck with it,” she said.
Now, she’s at the helm as the Donegal Association prepares for its 121st Ball on Saturday, Nov. 28. On this coming Saturday, Nov. 7, the Mayo Association will hold its 104th Ball.
“We go to each other’s events,” Crossan said about the memberships of the Philadelphia area’s biggest county organizations, which both attract more than 500 people to their annual event.
“We do a lot of things together, which is lovely,” said Maureen Brett Saxon, the 48th president of the Mayo Association.
But they’ve been interconnected in other ways, too. In the early 1960s, the current Donegal president began dating a young Irish American whose father was from her native county. They had one other aspect of their heritage in common: their mothers were from Mayo.
Jim Crossan was very much outnumbered when he became active in the Donegal Association in 1987. “It’s not at all unusual now. There are two Irish-Americans on the committee,” Mary Crossan said. “More and more are joining. They have a great interest in their background.”
The Mary of Dungloe and the Miss Mayo contests are a reflection of that phenomenon. “There are 14 vying for the title this year,” Crossan said about the former.
Some things don’t change, however. The county organizations remain true to their traditional “social and benevolent” functions. The Mayo Association has already raised $6,000 ahead of Saturday night’s event for young people who suffer from mental and physical handicaps.
Meanwhile, a week after their ball, 48 members of the Donegal Association will travel by bus to New York City. They will visit the Irish Famine memorial, meet with members of their sister organization in the city and take in the Christmas show at the Radio City Music Hall.
For more information about the Donegal Association email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.philadonegal.com. For more information about the Mayo Association contact: email@example.com or visit www.mayoassoc.com.