CUMBERLAND — Carol Hoffman is helping to raise funds for the Hooley Plunge, one crocheted shamrock at a time.

The city woman has crafted more than 400 shamrocks since the Jan. 31 death of Dr. Sean McCagh, founder of the plunge, following a battle with COVID-19.

Hoffman said she knew McCagh and his family, who own the 1812 Brewery on Mason Road, for many years.

“I really wonder what Sean would think,” she said. “Before all this, I would go to the brewery and sit and crochet. He would always ask me what I was making. Little did I know I would be crocheting hundreds of shamrocks.”

Hoffman has turned her hobby into a fundraising mechanism for McCagh’s beloved charity, the Hooley Plunge, which features hundreds of people dunking themselves in Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park for special needs charities, including the Allegany County Special Olympics.

Normally held in March, this year’s plunge has been rescheduled for Oct. 23.

Hoffman said she got the idea while visiting the Locust Post Brewery in Little Orleans. She showed a shamrock to Denise Partsch Cornwell, a co-owner of the brewery with her husband Tony, who suggested she sell them to raise money for the plunge.

“I thought that would be cool because I would like to do that and donate the money for the plunge,” said Hoffman.

The shamrocks are sold for $10 each at area businesses with all proceeds going toward the plunge in McCagh’s name. Each shamrock has a red heart with a pair of angel wings attached.

“It’s pretty much what I do all evening,” Hoffman said. “I come home from work and get started. The shamrocks have taken over but that is OK. People want to buy one because it is going toward the plunge in Sean’s name.”

She said demand has been strong.

“I’ve had people ask me for 50 at a time and I say I am only one person,” said Hoffman. “I work full time and I can only crochet so fast, but I’ve done them all. I thought I’d be happy to raise $500 but it just kept going. Kathy Stafford was pretty shocked they were bringing in the money they are.”

Stafford has handled accounting for the Hooley Plunge since the event began 17 years ago.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “She was friends with Sean and Terri (McCagh’s wife) and she loves to crochet. She has raised $2,745 so far, and she is doing it on her own. We offered to pay for her yarn and things but she said no, she wants to do it for Sean.”

Stafford said the plunge has taken in nearly $40,000 in donations in McCagh’s name since his passing.

Stafford and her husband Jimmy work with the Wamba Caravan No. 89 International Order of the Alhambra, the event’s lead sponsor. Kathy Stafford also writes the thank you notes to donors.

“Donations are coming in from all over … brewers, hospitals, Sean’s patients ... from people all over the country. Sean’s sister Erin Morrissey has been a huge help … a real advocate for it,” said Stafford.

The plunge has raised over $1.5 million for charity since its inception. In addition to the Special Olympics, funds go to Boy Scout Troop 89, numerous local schools’ special education programs, a Frostburg State University scholarship for prospective special education teachers, the Career Center and Allegany County Board of Education athletic programs.

“We want to keep it going, but you never know,” said Kathy Stafford. “Hopefully it will go on. When people realize it all stays local and helps all these other people, they will understand what it’s all about.”

The shamrocks are available at the 1812 Brewery, Corner Tavern, Locust Post Brewery, Baltimore Street Grill, Mise En Place, Haystack Sportsman Grill, Bishop Walsh School, Bedford Road Liquors, Western Maryland Dermatology and through Erin Morrissey.

To contact Hoffman, email To donate to the event via PayPal, visit or mail a check to Hooley Plunge, 312 Prince George St., Cumberland, MD 21502.

Greg Larry is a reporter at Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email and follow him on Twitter


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