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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day festivities, the Board of Commissioners at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) paused to recognize the consul general of Ireland to the Midwest with a resolution to inspire international collaboration and the luck o’ the Irish.

Commissioners presented the resolution to Kevin Byrne, the consul general to the Midwestern United States in Chicago, during a Board meeting on March 7. In addition, commissioners presented resolutions to the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Shannon Rovers Irish Bagpipe Band and honored the contributions of Irish Americans and labor leaders John J. Fitzpatrick and Mary G. Harris “Mother” Jones.

Board of Commissioners celebrate St. Patrick's Day at board meeting
The MWRD Board of Commissioners presented resolutions to Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade officials, Irish Consul General to the Midwest Kevin Byrne, the Shannon Rovers Pipe Band and labor leaders in commemoration of St. Patrick’s Day.

“We proudly recognized Consul General Kevin Byrne and thanked him for his partnership forging new relationships that promote our work here in Chicago with his native Ireland,” said MWRD President Kari K. Steele. “We congratulate our resolution recipients and thank them for their many contributions, and we wish everyone a safe and wonderful St. Patrick’s Day.”

Consul General Byrne has been serving in his position since 2020 and is proficient in seven languages, having served in the European Commission followed by a stint as a political affairs assistant and parliamentary liaison officer at the Mission of Japan to the European Union. With the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland, he has served as vice consul and deputy head of mission at the Consulate General of Ireland in San Francisco. 

John J. Fitzpatrick, an immigrant from Ireland, served two tenures as president of the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL), the second of which lasted four decades. He is credited with advancing the CFL’s fight for social, economic, and racial justice. During his presidency, Fitzpatrick formed many alliances in the labor movement and supported numerous other unions, including the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, which was the first African American led union in the United States. Under Fitzpatrick’s leadership, the CFL also fostered the organization of service workers and other trades.

“I am very humbled to be honored by the MWRD alongside labor leaders and the Shannon Rovers, the hardest working band in the world. Nowhere celebrates St. Patrick’s Day like Chicago and nowhere celebrates better than Chicago,” Consul General Byrne said. “It is clear and evident the Irish pride that people hold in their hearts here. It is a pride for the contributions of immigrants, not just Irish immigrants, but all immigrants from across the world who have helped build Chicago.”

Known for organizing and advocating for mine workers and tradesmen across the country, Mary G. Harris “Mother” Jones, inspired women and children to be involved in worker strikes and to fight for child labor laws. An immigrant from Ireland, “Mother” Jones fought for all laborers regardless of their race, age, or gender.  Her fiery rhetoric and no-nonsense attitude toward the labor movement led to her being once labeled as “the most dangerous woman in America.”

“We thank the contributions of the Irish and Irish American leaders who have been active in the Chicago area labor movement, laying the groundwork for our hard-working staff at the MWRD today working for generations to protect our water resources through various trades and skills,” said MWRD Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn. “Thank you to our labor leaders, the Shannon Rovers, the queen’s court and St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers and participants for joining us at the MWRD to recognize these contributions and commemorate St. Patrick’s Day.”

The downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held this year on March 16, stepping off at 12:15 p.m. along Columbus Drive between Balbo Drive and Monroe Street. This year’s parade will honor Peter O’Brien, Sr., president and CEO of Mado Management, LP as the grand marshal and Patrick Kennedy, of the Kennedy Forum, as the guest of honor.  The theme of this year’s parade is “Mental Health is Essential.”

Shannon Rovers
St. Patrick's Day Queen at board meeting

The Shannon Rovers and members of the St. Patrick’s Day Queen Grace O’Connor and Cara Walsh from her court joined the MWRD to kickoff St. Patrick’s Day festivities. 

Press Release

Established in 1889, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is an award-winning, special purpose government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management in Cook County, Illinois.


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