Dave and Sue Tennie have accepted the roles as Irish Man and Irish Rose for the 2015 weeklong events in New Dublin the week of St. Patrick’s Day.
You do not have to be Irish to be an Irish Rose and Irish Man. However, it helps when family heritage comes up in conversation.
From Stephensville, Dave’s father, Arnold Tennie is 100 percent German. His mother Kathleen (Crain) Tennie is 100 percent Irish.
“So I guess that makes me a meticulous drunk,” Dave said. A stoic face breaks into a grin. Dave is an only brother to seven sisters. Jane, Anne, Mary, Barb, Margie, Kathy, and Connie all preside in the area.
Irish Rose, Sue (Klatt) Tennie, is thrilled to carry the Shamrock Club’s yearly tradition of selecting an Irish Rose. Her father is German-Irish, and she is German-Syrian on her mother’s side. She has one sister – Barb, and three brothers – Dave, Tom, and Jim.
“We’re close, but the Crain Clan has us beat,” she said.
Natives of New London, the two attended parochial school at Most Precious Blood and graduated in the same high school class. Sue said they were part of the kids who hung out together, and it was all natural to have Dave for a life-long friend and husband. It is evident in the respect Dave and Sue have for each other that a marriage of 42 years could surely last as long again. The couple’s family includes Katie, Michael, Shawn, and Sara.
Following a 1999 trip to Ireland, Dave shared stories of his trip, including the highlight of seeing the Cooney family homestead. In Ireland, the Cooney’s were neighbors to the Foy and Mulroy families. Sitting for hours with his mother, Kathleen (Crain) Tennie, Dave was anxious to learn about her family heritage.
History from the Crain family research indicates that Dave is the fifth generation of Crain descendants to live in the United States. In the 1850s, Crain family emigrants arrived by ship to New York City. Securing trains to Chicago, countless Irish families continued to destinations throughout the eastern part of the United States.
The Crain’s traveled north into Wisconsin, arriving at Fond du Lac. At that time in U.S. history, the railroad tracks ended there. Steamboats took them through Oshkosh and up the Wolf River to the furthest navigable point; Johnston’s Landing, where Northport stands today. From the Wolf River, the Irish settlement of Lebanon was an uphill climb, just a mile or more away. The Crain’s arrived to join the friends who had been neighbors in Ireland.
In 1985, the year New London had a first official St. Patrick’s Day parade, one lane was blocked for traffic as the parade made its way from the back of Old City Hall on Pearl and North Water Streets, past Mid Town Restaurant to the Grand Theatre parking lot.
Dave said his own family and a few others in the Crain Clan marched the route. Out of wood, Dave cut out four pieces of plywood and hinged them together to create one huge shamrock. He mounted it on a small lawn wagon pulled by a lawn tractor, and away they went, children in tow.
“We use that wooden Shamrock to this day, only it’s on a hay wagon along with dozens of young and old clan members,” he said. “Dozens more walk aside the float, and we are all proud to be one of the best clans since the beginning.
“My mother’s clan is proud to be marching in the parade,” he added.
Dave corresponds with cousins, aunts, and uncles; relatives scattered across the United States.
“They come to the parade every year, most of them,” he said. “We have easily had 100 Crain Clan members book out hotels for miles around.”
Sue said she likes parades, “I would rather watch the parade than be in it, so I am on the sidewalk with my family and everyone else.”
Once the clan float was passed to another clan member, Dave invited his wife to join the Shamrock Club. “I wanted to help out, since we had so much fun being in the parade.”
After some years in the club, Dave was elected president. He credits his wife for being an exceptional secretary. She did the typing, sent out fundraising mailings, and arranged with Dave the tier system for sponsorships.
Sue countered his praise for her, sharing that his enthusiasm is endless. The couple is no longer active, but remain members and staunch supporters of the club.
Dave feels the Shamrock Club of New Dublin represents what he called a smaller version of the United Way. The club gains monies from local businesses and organizations, puts on a great parade, and with any leftover monies, gives back to the community.
“We’re glad to be a part of the Shamrock Club. It is truly a great honor to represent the club this year,” Dave said. “Sue is a natural ambassador, doing such a great job for the city and now as the Irish Rose. I am every bit a proud husband.”
The Irish Rose and Irish Man will attend the weeklong events. Both are looking forward to seeing many friends along the way.
“We are in the middle of moving to a new home,” Sue said, “and wouldn’t you know? Out of all our boxes, I could not locate my box of green outfits. But I finally did this week, and now I’ll be using most all of them.”