White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators kicked off Irish-American Heritage Month with a virtual ceremony on March 7th that highlighted the life experiences of two Irish-Americans – Anne McPherson, former White Plains City Clerk, and Oliver Charles, proprietor of Yonkers’ “The Butcher’s Fancy” – and paid tribute to their civic accomplishments.
Chairwoman Catherine Borgia (D–Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton, Ossining, Peekskill) convened the celebration by talking about the Irish immigrant experience of coming to America in search of liberty and opportunity from a country that has had more than its share of hardship. She referenced her Irish grandmother who came to America as a maid and said, “For centuries, Irish-Americans have played a crucial role in helping define the soul of our County and our Country…the story of Irish-Americans has always been one of strength and perseverance through adversity. . .through it all, the Irish spirit has endured – the love of music, dance and storytelling, the sense of humor, and the affirmation of life through celebration.”
Legislator Ben Boykin (D-White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) presented a proclamation to Anne McPherson saying, “Anne is both an outstanding Irish-American and an outstanding citizen who has given so much to our great City of White Plains. She has been a successful and self-motivated civil servant who, while working full time, achieved an undergraduate degree in business, and certifications as both an accountant and a paralegal from top institutions. Anne has been blessed with some special gifts as well such as a photographic memory, and the knack for writing poetry and Irish step dancing. Anne loves all things Irish, she is a former Grand Marshal of our parade, and has been a member of the White Plains St. Patrick’s Day Committee for the past 14 years… we are lucky to have her!”
McPherson said, “I want to thank Legislator Ben Boykin for this honor. I am recently retired as White Plains City Clerk where I became acquainted with Legislator Boykin. During the 28 years I worked with the City I learned how vital government services are to the public we serve. There is no task in government, be it snow removal or dog licenses, that does not touch people at the local level. I wanted to take this opportunity to say what a privilege it was to spend that large a part of my career in service to others.”
She then shared her cherished memories of growing up “Bronx Irish” which evoked the image of a lively and close-knit community rich with the aforementioned enjoyment of song, dance and conviviality.
Legislator David Tubiolo (D – Yonkers, Mount Vernon) is a longtime supporter of the Irish-American community, and a proud supporter of The Gaelic American. Tubiolo presented a proclamation honoring his McLean Avenue friend and neighbor, Oliver Charles, “McLean Avenue is the heart of the Irish community here in Westchester and beyond – often called the 33rd County, the Emerald Mile, and the “Grafton Street” of America. Oliver Charles is a wonderful person who, through his successful gourmet Irish food shop, ‘The Butcher’s Fancy,’ has been able to give back. In times of need, whether it be Hurricane Ida, the situation in Afghanistan, and most recently during the terrible COVID pandemic, he has donated food and service generously and without hesitation, showing himself to be a true leader in the community.”
Originally from Aughavas, County Leitrim, Oliver Charles immigrated to the United States in 1976 and worked at a number of gourmet locations before opening The Butcher’s Fancy on McLean Avenue in 2000, and since then has had his business featured in a large number of media outlets, most notably: The New York Times, BBC News, and CBS’s “The Early Show.” In 2015, The Butcher’s Fancy received an award from Westchester Magazine as the “Best of Yonkers Uniquely Specialty Store.” In 2015, Oliver was honored by the American Irish Society as its “Irishman of the Year.” He is ably assisted by his wife, Elizabeth, and their four children, Brendan, Katie, Krista and Noreen.
Charles humbly thanked Legislator Tubiolo for the honor and stated simply, “I want to thank all of those who have supported us over the years, particularly those of McLean Avenue. I also want to thank my family and say I am proud to be from Yonkers, and proud to be living in this great country of America.”