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Late Rodgers Forge resident's devotion to Irish heritage honored in street dedication

With the wind not only at their backs, but swirling all around them, more than 50 people gathered in downtown Baltimore Friday morning for the dedication of Sally Murphy Way, named for the late Rodgers Forge resident and first female grand marshal of Baltimore's St. Patrick's Day parade.

Murphy, who died in late 2010 after a life dedicated to serving the city of Baltimore and the local Irish-American community, was honored by the local and national chapters of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians with a stretch of downtown named in her honor.

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"Sally touched the lives of many in so many ways," said Carole Franz, past president of the Maryland State Board of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, during the ceremony.

Located on Pratt Street between Charles Street and Light Street — where the St. Patrick's Day parade viewing station is each year — a red street sign was unveiled that will remind passersby of a person cherished across the Baltimore community.

This year's St. Patrick's day parade is scheduled for Sunday, March 11, at 2 p.m.

Among those gathered were past and current leaders of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, City Council members William Cole IV and Mary Pat Clarke, staff and administrators from the Institute of Notre Dame and several of Murphy's friends and family.

After members of the Ladies Order of Hibernians — donning their green, white, and orange sashes — brought in a set of flags, the ceremony started with a performance of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," by the choir of the Institute of Notre Dame, Murphy's beloved alma mater.

Following a blessing from the Rev. Joseph Simmons, state chaplain for the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, and an acknowledgment of the gathered officials by President Kathy Lay, remarks were given by leaders of the state and national orders that spoke to Murphy's dedication to her heritage, faith, and school.

Franz spoke of Murphy's dedication to their group, and how she'd spare no expense in making every event, be it the parade or a simple afternoon tea, absolutely perfect.

"She wanted the best for the LAOH and the Irish community," she said. "Sally was a true lady in every sense of the word."

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Susan Blum-Legg, president of the Baltimore County division of the ladies' order, said Murphy was "living history, connecting us to our past and where we come from, and showing us where to go."

Those standards, Franz said, have carried on through the group even after her passing.

"The Maryland LAOH is what it is today because of her guidance and constant reminders of how to act," Franz said. "She deserves this (recognition), and we trust you will remember her fondly whenever you see Sally Murphy Way."

Lay presented at $1,000 memorial donation to the Institute of Notre Dame, which was represented by President Mary Funke. Lay and Clarke recognized the efforts of Cole, who they said worked to make the street dedication a reality.

Clarke said Murphy, who took her turn as grand marshal in 1999, set a standard for all Irish women to aspire to.

"She was not the fluorescent green Irish," Clarke said. "She was of the dignified, ladylike-but-don't-mess-with-her Irish that carried on the tradition and heritage, and brought us into the mainstream of American life."

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