With loud friends, anyone can win 'Faces of Ireland'

With loud friends, anyone can win 'Faces of Ireland'

Amanda Lambert, 26, of Pawtucket, and Kit Miller, 45, originally from Pawtucket, were last year's Faces of Ireland winners and got the chance to walk in the 2013 Pawtucket St. Patrick's Parade.

PAWTUCKET - Not much says "Pawtucket" like the annual "Faces of Ireland" contest, an event that has grown ever more popular as the traditional kickoff to the city's St. Patrick's Parade festivities.

Tom Rogers, co-chairman of this year's parade with Arthur Brunelle, said he expects the 2014 version of the contest, on Feb. 16 at the Celtic Pub on Broadway, will have more people involved than ever before.

"This is the big kickoff to St. Patrick's Day," said Rogers. "It's a fun day."

The rules for the 32nd Faces of Ireland contest will once again be as relaxed as the atmosphere in the pub. All you need to score a win is to have your friends cheer the loudest for you, said Rogers. Anyone can nominate themselves right up until the time of the contest, he said.

Judges will decide who they believe draws the loudest applause, and the man and woman who achieve the highest decibel level will be named this year's Faces of Ireland, their names immortalized in the parade booklet for as long as parades are held in Pawtucket. If the judges can't decide who got the most applause, there will be dual winners.

So what, exactly, makes for a great "Irish" face?

"It's pretty vague," said Rogers, smiling. "We've had winners that aren't even Irish. Anybody can win."

The Faces of Ireland may not be the most cutthroat event ever, but the people who come out are very competitive and "have all intentions of winning," said Rogers.

"You get people who run every year who want to win so badly and never have," he said. "You get newcomers with more friends. That's the whole key to it."

The Faces of Ireland event will run from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16. There will be music by the Rhode Island Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums and the Tom Lanigan Band and raffles all afternoon, with "good stuff" like wine and liquor baskets up for bid, said Rogers. The kitchen at the Celtic Pub will be open for corned beef sandwiches, he said.

This year's Pawtucket St. Patrick's Parade, again sponsored by the St. Patrick's Parade Committee and the city of Pawtucket, is scheduled to take off on Saturday, March 1, at noon. Ray Mathieu, the longtime former owner of the East Side Checker Club, will be the grand marshal.

Past winners of the Faces of Ireland contest

* 1983 - Jim Croakin and Leo Madden

* 1984 - Tom McVay

* 1985 - Mike Sullivan

* 1986 - Maureen Magill and Joseph McCabe

* 1987 - Linda Magill Chuch and John Egan

* 1988 - Dolores Connelly Dermondy and John Francis "Jack" Duffy

* 1989 - Jamie Moran and Patrick Smith

* 1990 - Bridget Finn and John Conway

* 1991 - Jean Rice and A. Earl Morrisey

* 1992 - Peggy Ritchie and John McHenry

* 1993 - Colleen Johnson and Arthur Brunelle

* 1994 - Keri McCormick and Bob Shippey

* 1995 - Myra Gillen and Ryan Fitzgerald Leville

* 1996 - Kathy Johnston and Greg Spychalla

* 1997 - Lynn Farrell and Tom Scanlon

* 1998 - Heather Walsh and Dan Kelleher

* 1999 - Joe Sadlier, Joanie Wallian and Paula Burns

* 2000 - Cindy McCabe and Tommy Regan

* 2001 - Sheila Malloy and Neil Dalton

* 2002 - Pat Kearney and Vincent O'Neil Jr.

* 2003 - Al Kelly and Donna Brady

* 2004 - Liz Mulcahey Robinson and Bob Mulhearn

* 2005 - David Boisclair and Ann Marie McVay

* 2006 - Kelsy Cublin Duffy, Keavin Duffy and Roberta Cordeiro

* 2007 - Meaghan McCormick and Bill Mcllmail

* 2008 - Julie Ann Kulazc and Robert Howe

* 2009 - Bethany Parker, Ed Malloy and Joan Duffy

* 2010 - Stacey Houle, John Callahan III and Rose Durette

* 2011 - Sue Peterson and Jim Conroy

* 2012 - Rory Costigan and Joe Flanagan

* 2013 - Amanda Lambert and Kit Miller