Born with the name Terry Nellis, Tarlach Mac Niallais moved from his home in the Newington area to the USA in the ’80s, and in a fortnight he will have a New York street named after him in the borough of Queens.
The honour comes as a result of his prolific work as an LGBTQ+ activist and will come to fruition on Friday, December 3, when the street in question will officially be dubbed ‘Tarlach Mac Niallais Way’.
Tarlach sadly died from Covid in April 2020, but the ceremonial unveiling of the new street name will be attended by his husband Juan Nepomuceno, sister Marie Burns, brother-in-law Seanie Burns, nephew Gary Nellis and Gary’s wife, Natalie Nellis.
It's with sadness that we learned of the passing of r comrade Tarlach Mac Niallais. We extend r deepest sympathies 2 his family. We remember Tarlach 4 his strength in standing up 4 LGBT rights in Ireland. U carried the banner for us, now we will carry it on for you, RIP comrade. pic.twitter.com/7O6W3XUm0y
— Sinn Féin LGBTQ (@sinnfeinlgbtq) April 1, 2020
Brendan Nellis, brother of the lifelong campaigner, spoke to Irish News about the occasion and what it means to Tarlach’s loved ones.
“The family are very honoured,” Brendan said, “He was part of what was known as the Lavender and Green Alliance (which celebrates Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture and identity) which formed in 1990.
“Since then they had agitated for legal participation in the New York St Patrick’s Day parade. That came into being in March 2016 after more than 25 years of struggle.
So sad to hear of the passing of Tarlach Mac Niallais – a truly lovely man & a staunch campaigner for human rights Ar dheis de raibh a anam This pic was taken almost a year to the day ? pic.twitter.com/BHcOVPn12y
— Louise O’Reilly TD for Dublin Fingal (@loreillysf) April 2, 2020
“That was a fantastic event. Me and my wife Patricia went over to join it. It was a really, really emotional time because whereas before they (LGBT people who took part in the parade) were stopped, ridiculed and chastised, this time there were huge crowds who cheered them on to Fifth Avenue.”
He went on to say, “Since then they have now been officially allowed to walk in the St Patrick’s Day parade. Terry was one of the stewards for the Lavender and Green Alliance. He was a strong man with a big voice. He was asked the following year to be a full marshal for the big parade.”
All are welcome to join this year's virtual St. Pat's For All celebration! This event will also honour the life & legacy of LGBT & disability rights activist Tarlach Mac Niallais, a dedicated SPFA committee member.
— Irish Consulate NYC (@IrelandinNY) March 5, 2021
As well as Tarlach’s work for the LGBTQ+ community, he was also a social work manager on a project for people with learning difficulties. Brendan described the 57 year-old activist as a “leader” and very deserving of the honour.
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