Donna Coyle is a hard person to know. Although her smile is infectious and her mild manner makes her very approachable, this classy woman does not bring attention to herself.
She’s the widow of Mike Coyle, an icon in New Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day scene. On this 30th anniversary of the Shamrock Club’s Grand Parade, Donna was voted in and accepted their request to be the 2014 Grand Marshal. Subsequently, her three daughters were invited to judge the event.
Donna’s husband Mike, of Scottish decent, is hailed by many as the man who dared to create a false Irish wake and take it on the road (covering exactly one block in New Dublin’s downtown.) This spurred a group of Irish New Dublin descendants from the area to create a grand parade. Thirty years later, a small contingency of mourners has turned into parade entries 100-plus strong.
At the beginning of this trek, Donna was involved in the fun. As the years went by, she opted out for a quieter setting, one she preferred over the raucous celebrations.
Donna Coyle’s maiden name is Collins, born in North Dublin (Northport), the daughter of Elzy and Jeanette (Suprise). Elzy was an upholsterer by trade. The family of five, including siblings Joyce, Everette and Dick, lived in a brick house on that hilltop village. She attended school in the same building that is home to Mukwa Town Hall today.
Donna worked at Schultz’s dine store in New Dublin, making floral arrangements among other things. In later years she worked hard at the school lunch program.
Donna Collins married Mike Coyle and raised five children with him – Brian (deceased) Mark, Diane, Beth and Paula. Donna was the one who stayed the course. Mike brought home excitement after a long work day at his tire center in New Dublin.
Judy Barrington-Fields (at the time) and her then husband Kenny, spent nearly every spare moment having good times with their families. “We’d have sleepovers for the kids on the weekends. When summer came we all camped at either Pine Grove or Circle J.
“Mike always loved St. Patrick’s Day,” said Donna. “He was in every parade, of course, since he started the thing. Oh, I guess that last one he was too — he got a ride from the Shamrock Club. Carrie (Katerzynske) gave him a ride in a golf cart, and he was real close to the front of the parade. So he could say he was in the parade.”
Paula finished the story. “He watched the whole parade. It was his first time ever, ever and he loved it. He absolutely loved it.”
Used to be the wake was always on March 17,” said Donna.
“Mom would write in an excuse for us to get out of school so we could join the fun,” said Beth.
Beth and Paula have good memories of their dad being grandpa Coyle to their kids. They shared that Mike drove up to their schools with the hearse to pick up his grandchildren. “They were just beaming and always so excited to tell us about it, every year,” recalls Beth.
Donna is appreciative of the Shamrock Club for keeping this idea of Mike’s going.
“Last month I went with Judy to the annual art show, and saw in the program that the Shamrock Club donated to,” Donna explained. “I’m proud of that team of people, they really give back and work hard to get that Irish week taken care of. I guess last weekend they were one of the top dogs that sponsored the Marching Band from the UW (Madison). They raise money and so they can do things like that for the community. That’s really great.”
Paula and her family can’t wait to go out for corned beef and cabbage each year. “We all watch the parade and this year we’ll be watching it from the judges stand,” said Beth. An excited Paula nodded. “It’ll be so much fun to see again and know that dad and mom have been a part of it all these years.”