By Kathy McGee Burns
Michael J. Bradley is a man of many talents.
He is husband, dad, brother, son, friend, coach, businessman, investor, Hibernian, alumnus, knight, director, trustee, chairman, athlete, marshal, Realtor, salesman, commissioner, adviser, vice president, treasurer, union member, columnist, and president of almost every group on which he’s served.
But this year…we’ve got him! Michael J. Bradley is one of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame 2007 honorees.
He’ll be embarrassed that I mentioned all of his accomplishments but the Irish community deserves to know what a great guy we have among us.
Bradley is the oldest child of Michael and Bernadette Sherry Bradley. The Bradley roots are Mayo and Sherry’s are Clare and Tipperary. There were eight children, Joey (deceased), Michael, Chris, Dennis, Tom, Bernadette, Maureen and Kerry. Michael attended St. Charles (Drexel Hill), Monsignor Bonner, and Strath Haven High School. He proudly graduated from Penn State University, 1978, as a business major. I say “proudly” because it’s in his blood.
He serves on the P.S. Nittany Lion Club, P.S. Alumni Association, P.S. University Advisory Board and was president of all three. He’s proudest of being an Alumni Fellow.
At age 17, he traveled to Ireland with his grandparents, Mary (MacNamara) and Joseph Sherry. It cost him $199, and $1 to join the Ancient Order of Hibernians. They arrived at Quin, County Clare, and Michael met his great-grandfather Jim MacNamara, age 93, a silent, funny man. For the first two weeks he said little, but on the third week, he leaned over to Michael and said, “So, how are those American girls?” He spent time fishing with his cousins and once he caught a 20-pound salmon. But, alas, the hook slipped out of its mouth and the fish got away. His Granddad, the quiet man, said “The ones that get away are always the biggest”. All in all, Bradley has made 20 trips to Ireland. He feels at home here and also there. His Irish relatives always say, “Welcome home.” He has become close to one of his cousins, Seamus MacNamara, and they are godfathers to each others sons.
Michael Bradley is the president and parade director of the Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, a duty he loves above all. He set his cap for this position a long time ago. His first parade was while his mother was pregnant with him. She was watching his dad march with the Shanahan Catholic Club. When he was 18, he took his little sisters to enjoy it. He started out as a marshal, doing all kinds of jobs. Finally, Jack McNamee, Jim Kilgallen and Paul Phillips sponsored him onto the board. Then Jim Cawley, the parade director, took him under his wing and taught him everything there was to know. Since his tenure as director, he has reorganized the method of membership (now computerized), negotiated a great television contract with CBS 3, fostered a wonderful relationship with Michael Colleran (CBS 3 president and general manager) and doubled the marchers from 90 groups to 180.
Michael Bradley has a public side and an Irish side. I needn’t tell which side he treasures.
This past summer he was honored by the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center, an event which gave him his first Irish award. He also co-hosted the Irish Festival at Penn’s Landing. Bradley is also a board member of the Commodore Barry Club (Irish Center).
Michael is married to Linda or, shall I say, “St. Linda.” She has to share him with millions. He calls her his best friend. They have two boys, Mickey and Colin. During the frantic times of the parade season, his three cohorts pitch right in.
Last year, they all went to North Bend to see Penn State play Notre Dame. I asked him what he would do if his boys decided to go to Notre Dame. He said he wouldn’t care as long as they were happy.
The Bradley family is generous with their belongings. Their home at the shore is “open house” to nuns, priests, family and friends. They also donate weekend stays for charity affairs.
Michael believes that you give back to all who helped you along the way. He practices that conviction in his everyday life.
I asked a few of Michael Bradley’s friends to tell me what they thought of him. Here were the comments: “Very giving,” “Gets things done,” “Whatever he promises, he fulfills,” “He’s pro-Irish, not pro-Bradley,” “I’m proud to know the guy,” and finally, “He gets it.”
It is not easy to capture the essence of this man but he lives by these tenets:
- Go to Mass. Give back to your religion in time, talent and treasures.
- Go to college. Give back to your college, help kids get into school.
- Treasure your heritage. Being an Irish catholic is what Michael Bradley is about.
Michael lives by Joe Paterno words,”Believe deep down in your heart that you are destined to do great things.”
Just hope that Michael Bradley brings you along for the ride.
You can get your tickets to the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame Dinner, November 18, Irish Center, by calling Kathy McGee Burns (215) 619-0509, Bob Hurst (610) 832-0380, or Sean McMenamin (215) 850-0518.