Kathleen Alcock was born in County Donegal as the oldest of three children. In 1958, at the tender age of 19, Kathleen set sail to America and an uncertain future. During the next three years, Kathleen lived with her aunt in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and worked in the hotel industry.
In 1961, Kathleen set off for New York and another uncertain future, working for the next four years in Schraff’s Restaurant in Manhattan. After returning to Ireland just before Christmas, 1965, she met her husband, Thomas Alcock, by chance on a trip to England to meet friends. They wed in February 1967, and this year celebrated their 44th Anniversary. They are the proud parents of three grown children and have 12 grandchildren with another one expected in March 2012, just in time for the step off of this year’s Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Parade.
In the early 1970s, Kathleen decided to follow her dream and opened her own Irish handcraft and gift shop business as an extension to her own home in County Donegal, allowing her to run her home and business at the same time. In the early 1980s, Kathleen opened her second Irish craft shop in Donegal town. After the opening of this second shop, Kathleen became involved heavily in organizing tours and events for various Irish American associations and produced a visual travelogue of Donegal’s history, scenery, and folk traditions for tourists. While visiting New York in 1986 to promote her completed video of Donegal, Kathleen visited Rockville Centre where she instantly felt a connection to both the town and the people.
This instant connection led Kathleen to open Kathleen’s of Donegal at 10 North Park Avenue in March of 1987. Kathleen’s of Donegal will celebrate its 25th year of being in business in March of 2012,
During its long tenure in Rockville Centre, the shop has provided a hand knit sweater to the late President Ronald Reagan and Belleek porcelain china to former President Bill Clinton. In addition, Kathleen’s of Donegal has donated hand knit sweaters to New York Governors and traditional Irish walking sticks to the Grand Marshals of the St. Patrick’s Parades in both New York City and Rockville Centre.