Community Lifestyles

Irish American Heritage Society names its 2024 dignitaries

(Featured photo is of the Gene and Ann Marie McManus Family. Courtesy photo)

Each year, the Irish American Heritage Society recognizes its dignitaries at the Grand Marshal’s Ball.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade Grand Marshal, the Irish Lady of the Year and the Irish Family of the Year were announced at the Feb. 3 event.

Russ Gambill, courtesy photo

Russ Gambill is this year’s parade Grand Marshal.

A native of Augusta and lifelong member of St. Mary’s on the Hill, Gambill can trace his ancestry to County Cork, Ireland. He’s been an active member of the Irish American Heritage Society for as long as he can remember, according to a news release from the organization.

He was the organization’s president and is the 18th member of the society to serve as both president and parade grand marshal. His father also held that distinction.

Gambill is a graduate of Aquinas High School and the University of Georgia.

Patricia Armstrong Nichols is this year’s Irish Lady of the Year.

Nichols, who attended Mount St. Joseph, Aquinas High School and Augusta College, has connections to other previous dignitaries.

Her family is a past recipient of the Family of the Year award and her older brother is a previous Grand Marshal.

Her husband’s military career took the family out of the area for many years, but Augusta called her home.

 The award took her by surprise.

Patricia Armstrong Nichols. Courtesy photo

“Receiving an honor like this never entered my mind,” she said in the release.

This year’s Irish Family of the Year is the Gene and Ann Marie McManus Family.

Ann Marie McManus went to Aquinas, and her parents were distinguished charter members of the Society in 1978, the news release continued. Her mother, a previous Irish Lady of the Year, was a native of Killybegs, County Donegal. Her father was a Grand Marshal, while her brother ran the parade for several years and also served the Society as President.

 Gene McManus was raised in Aiken and met his wife in college.

“Committed to serving the Augusta community, this year’s Irish Family has volunteered their time generously, from Co-Presidents of the Aquinas High PTO to President of the Boys and Girls Club, and even to President of the Irish American Heritage Society in 1997,” the news release said.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, March 16 in downtown Augusta, according to the organization’s website.

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