WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Congressman Richard Neal hosted Tánaiste Micheál Martin and the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin Sunday afternoon. 22News was at the Irish Cultural Center in West Springfield with what took place and why Congressman Neal hosted both Martin and Cronin.

Ever since the parade slowed down in Holyoke the Irish Cultural Center was packed with people listening to notable Irish speakers ranging from the local to the not-so-local, music, and of course eating some tasty corned beef and having a beer or two.

During the reception, Congressman Neal introduced Mairead Kearney Shea of Springfield, Massachusetts. At over 100-years-old, she is one of the two remaining Great Blasket Islanders and was the last immigrant from the Irish Islands.

And while her story is unique and amazing, it is part of a bigger theme of the Irish Immigrating to other countries and making their mark while never forgetting about their heritage.

“The young lady that we were with today was the last immigrant from the Blasket Islands, so really nice to be able to honor her here today,” expressed United States Embassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin.

At the reception, both the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland spoke as well as Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who was Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland and will be again. Both Cronin and Martin told 22News how important it is to hear stories like Shea’s, and why keeping Irish traditions and stories alive is so important in this area.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin told 22News, “A beautiful presentation to Mairead Kearney who was born 100 years ago in the Great Blasket Islands off the Kerryan coast, and people in Ireland would be amazed by that. I think that encapsulates the connection between this area, this region, the Blasket Islands, and West Kerry.”

Shea was here with her family during the reception, and now there is a new plaque honoring her inside the cultural center.

The reception ended around 3:30 Sunday afternoon, but people stayed well into the evening where they ate some corned beef, listened to some music and extended the fun of St. Patrick’s Day.