Plattsburgh - (3/17/2023) | The North Country Chamber of Commerce has been hosting the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast for more than 60 years. We were thrilled to host our breakfast, to a sold-out crowd this morning at the West Side Ballroom, with more than 380 attendees. The event played off a “Tonight Show” format. With Matt Boire, CDC Real Estate, at the helm and channeling his best talk show host character, he commanded the room for more than an hour of merriment and malarky.
This special event honors the Irish person of the year, a tradition based on dedication to volunteerism, whether in business, community, or civic activities or a combination of any of these. This year we honored, Barrie Finnegan, Director of the North Country Honor Flight.
Barrie Finnegan has been an incredible nonprofit leader in our community for 10 years. He is the Executive Director of the North Country Honor Flight, an organization that exists to honor those men and women who left their homes and their families to fight a foreign enemy on foreign soil, and who gave so much in service to us all.The priority for the North Country Honor Flight is World War II, Korean War, terminally ill and Vietnam Veterans are given the opportunity to fly to Washington D.C. to visit their National Memorials at no charge to them.
Barrie’s name is synonymous with the North Country Honor Flight. He has spent countless volunteer hours reviewing applications, booking flights, fundraising, and coordinating a proper take off ceremony for each honor flight. Tasks that have not gone unnoticed by those of the North Country.
Janet Duprey, a longtime supporter, and volunteer with the Honor Flight, and last year’s Irish person of the year states, “Working side by side with Barrie is total pleasure. We always discuss issues to assure we are making the very best decisions for our Veterans. Barrie puts in more hours, does more traveling to collect fundraising money, to meet with organizations or veterans on request than anyone else I know. It's a privilege to call him a great friend, and North Country Honor Flight is fortunate to have Executive Director, Barrie Finnegan. And we are delighted to both be Irish!!”
Beyond his Honor Flight Service, Finnegan is a lifelong North Country Resident, growing up in Keeseville and graduating from Suny Cortland. His day job as a New York Life Insurance agent keeps him busy too. He is married to his wife, Lisa. He has three children Christopher, Ben and Elizabeth and one granddaughter, Mae that he adores.
"The Honorary Irishman of the Year Award has become one of the most singular honors in the North Country each year," says Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. "The list of past honorees is a litany of people who have left a lasting impact on our area, from leading officials to extraordinary volunteers. Barrie Finnegan is a perfect addition to this list, providing inspiring leadership with the North Country Honor Flights, demonstrating real appreciation for our region's veterans and, in a very real way, continuing this area's long and special relationship with our armed services. Congratulations and profound thanks to this eminent and deserving citizen. Onward and upward!"
To learn more about his work and the work of countless volunteers, you can visit northcountryhonorflight.org or follow them on Facebook @NYnorthcountryhonorflight.
The Chamber of Commerce wants to give a special shout-out to Matt Boire, for going along with us as we planned this event and for spending countless hours writing scripts and jokes, many of which were at his own expense. To know Matt in his professional life is to know a true North Country Gem, nothing like the demanding diva he portrays on stage.
We also must thank Chris Boire from Boire Benner Group, for volunteering his time, videography skills and keen eye to editing and producing top notch skits that kept the audience laughing.
Thanks also goes too: Jacqueline Kelleher, esq and Brendan Owens, esq of Stafford Owens, Justin Ihne (YMCA), Joel Wood (NC Chamber) and Alex Barie (CDC Real Estate) they were great actors, Deacon Mark Bennett for his blessing, Kelly Donoghue & Jay Lesage for being our musical guest, Marie Short and the Champlain Valley Irish Dancers, Senator Stec, Assemblyman Jones, Mayor Rosenquest, Supervisor Cashman, Adriana Favreau, Kristy Kennedy and Alyssa Senecal (Chamber) for their acting skills and Party Effect Entertainment for helping us with our AV needs.
We appreciate everyone who joined us for the festivities, and we hope you were entertained!