At the recent St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Main Street in Kings Park, you may have taken note of a very spry, energetic woman wearing a white winter coat, jeans, Kelly green beret and scarf and Irish flag Converse sneakers. She could be seen walking up and down the parade route, shaking hands and hugging nearly everyone she passed. With every recognition came a huge smile; people generally burst into smiles when you mention Peggy O’Neill Gilmartin.
If you don't know Gilmartin, you will probably find someone who does. She is one of nine siblings who loved to play with other large families in Kings Park. Perhaps you went to high school with her and watched her excell in varsity sports such as volleyball, field hockey, softball and basketball.
She also spent 25 years working as a dental hygenist in Dr. George Tiernan’s dental office in town. When Dr. Tiernan sold his business to Dr. Gentile, Gilmartin was a very welcome part of the deal. She continues to bring smiles to Dr. Gentile’s patients.
Peggy has an obvious love for her hometown of Kings Park. Dr. Tiernan tells of how all of her girlfriends teased her when she started working for him at 17. They were all going into NYC and making 25 cents an hour more than she was. While her friends were riding the train and living the city life, Gilmartin would work arrive at work at 9 a.m. and leave at 5:05 p.m. running out the door in her softball uniform.
“She was a crackerjack," says Tiernan. " She had such quickness she could learn anything you gave her. Her personality was such that every patient loved her and they kept coming back because of her.”
While working for Dr. Tiernan, Gilmartin met the love of her life, John Gilmartin. The two married and settled down on Kings Street and had two daughters, Kiera, now 29 and married with a daughter and Caitlin, 27.
After 16 years of marriage, her husband died from a very aggressive form of leukemia. Peggy says that it was the love and support of her family and her friends here in Kings Park that got her through that horrible loss. Rather than focus on the sadness of the loss, Gilmartin smiles broadly when her husband is mentioned and tells stories of the joy he brought her.
She continued working for Dr. Tiernan and pursued her nursing degree at Farmingdale State University while raising her two young daughters. During her training, Gilmartin not only cared for her patients’ illnesses, but she also taught each of them the importance of dental hygiene.
Children know Gilmartin as the school nurse from Park View Elementary where she is known for making the kids giggle and smile when they are feeling their worst.
When not working, you can find Gilmartin enjoying the simple things in life: dinner at her favorite Kings Park eatery Ciro’s, evening walks on the boardwalk, gardening in her pristine yard or spending time teaching her the ways of the Irish to the apple of her eye, granddaughter Lily Cait.