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2010 Irish Hall of Fame Inductee: Msgr. Joseph McLoone

Msgr. Joseph McLoone and his mother, Bridget.

Msgr. Joseph McLoone and his mother, Bridget.

By Kathy McGee Burns

“. . .the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness. . .”

—The Apostle Paul to the Galatians

These attributes are the core components of Joseph McLoone, the man and the priest. He is the third child born to Patrick and Bridget and, with his siblings, a living example of the Irish American Dream.

The late Patrick McLoone, a Glenties man, had buried his mother and an Aunt and was left in County Donegal to watch over three maiden sisters. A fourth sister, Mary McGinley, who was living in America, urged him to come to Philadelphia to build a life and so he did. Pat worked for the Acme warehouse, a job held by many Irish immigrants at that time.

Bridget, who came from Ardara, County Donegal, was persuaded by her mother, Mary McHugh, (a woman of great vision for those times) to spread her wings, but not go far. Mary wanted to be able to see her daughter from time to time. She said, “When I am dead, you can go to America.” So off to London she went and 10 years later, after burying her mother, went to Philadelphia, to live with her sister, Sally Montague. She got a job working for a rectory.

The McLoones met at the Emerald Pub. With hard work, foresight, love and dedication, they raised a highly successful family.

Their son, Joe McLoone grew up in Olney, attending Incarnation School and Cardinal Dougherty. While a senior in high dchool, he thought he might have a vocation as a priest. At first, he sought out the advice of the parish’s newly ordained priest, Father Peter Welsh and then went to a retreat at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook. After this, he was sure that this was not for him.

He entered LaSalle College and during that first year wondered if he had given this calling a fair try and decided he had not. In 1984, Joe McLoone, graduated from the Seminary with a BA in Philosophy, then went on to get an M.Div. (1987) and a M.A. in Theology (1988). And to become Father Joseph McLoone, parish priest.

He would humbly tell you that he is just like any other priest, but, actually, he has made a meteoric rise in his career.

Most of his pastoral assignments have been in the City of Philadelphia; St. Anne’s (1988-91), St. Martin of Tours (1992-97), and the Cathedral Basilica of SS.Peter and Paul (1997-2001). On his fourth assignment, he became the youngest pastor of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Mt. Airy. At that time, he had only been ordained for 13 years. Commitment, persistence, enthusiasm and, as he’ll tell you, help from the Holy Spirit, was the impetus for this success.

He currently serves as pastor of Saint Katharine Drexel in Chester, a church in a diverse—in both race, economics—community. In recent years, Chester has gone from six Catholic schools to one in order to keep Catholic education available and affordable. Now Msgr. McLoone became a founding member of the recently chartered Drexel Neumann Academy. It is run on a four-prong sponsorship which includes the Archdiocese, St. Katharine Drexel, Neumann University and the Sisters of St. Francis.

With all of this on his plate, Father Joe, as he’s known to many, still finds time to live his Irish roots. He is an active part of the Philadelphia Irish community for many years: chaplain of the Donegal Association, caregiver to the Irish immigrant, friend to all the societies and the most important to me, chaplain for 10 years of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame.

His Ocean City cohort, Father Kevin Gallagher said many lovely things about his friend: “Joe is a hard working pastor who makes time for everyone in his parish. He has influenced many to return to the Catholic faith through his easy nature and pleasant way. He is a doer and a thinker. He has a special place in his heart for the sick and suffering, the downtrodden and neglected. He was very influential in my entering the seminary and has been extremely supportive of priesthood.”

Father Gallagher says that Joe McLoone is a true Irish family man, devoted to his mother, Bridget. And he’s not the only member of his family who helped fulfill the McLoone’s Irish-American dream. Brother Patrick, Jr. is managing editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. Their sister Mary McLoone Hofmann, M.D., F.A.C.P. is founding chief of Geriatric Medicine, at Abington Hospital, and second sister, Kate McLoone Burns is a school nurse at Overbrook public and Catholic schools.

Kathy McGee Burns is president of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame.


Listening to the Voices

Professor Earl Schandelmeier directs the investigation at the Duffy's Cut site.

Professor Earl Schandelmeier directs the investigation at the Duffy's Cut site.

By S.E. Burns

 “What is the point?” was what I clearly heard when I asked if a spirit would pull my hair. I remember looking at Earl, who remained his usual calm, cool and collected self.

I was at the Duffy’s Cut archeological dig in Malvern with Professor Earl Schandelmeier III, one of the four authors of  “The Ghosts of Duffy’s Cut,” the remarkable story of how two local men discovered the remains of a group of early 19th century Irish immigrants who died—or were murdered—during a cholera epidemic. While the term “ghosts” was used loosely in the early days of the investigation, it takes on a more specific meaning now. Earl focuses on what are called EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) at the site, recording an astounding number of voices that appear to be from another realm.  He has been one of the four primary researchers on the Duffy’s Cut project over the last eight years.

 In 2002, as an undergraduate history major at Immaculata University, he was invited by Dr. William Watson, and Professor John Ahtes to help with some primary research (very early source and facts checking). “Normally I am not one to volunteer, but for some reason, this one time, I immediately said that I would do it.” He set off the next day for the Chester County Historical Society, located two articles, and made one phone call back to Dr. Watson; and has not looked back since. In 2006 they applied for a non-profit status and the Duffy’s Cut Project was born. 

Intrigued by EVP’s myself, I found it very fitting to talk to Earl about “these spooky voices from beyond” this week as Halloween is quickly approaching.

Q. What are your religious beliefs?

A. Tibetan Buddhism with western influences. My entire life I was raised as a Presbyterian, (hardcore mother and grandmother while father was as equally atheistic) but I always knew, felt differently. From past lives, to divinity, the spirit world, to karma, I later learned that my intuitive beliefs were fully and completely encompassed within a religious philosophy that I had known  nothing about, had never been exposed to, and that were diametrically opposed to everything my family believed.

Essentially, the Dalai Lama teaches, (and this point is extremely important in my own life) that the Buddhist should not proselytize, but instead should work in guiding others to seek personal enlightenment in their own, personal way. We should act as an example to all people, of all religions, exemplifying the love and compassion necessary to reach Nirvana. Each person has their own path to walk, all I can do is attempt to personify the love and compassion I wish to see in the world which of course is much easier said than done. 

Q.  Are there any conflicting issues with what you are doing at Duffy’s Cut and your belief system?

A.  No, in fact just the opposite. I like to think that what we are doing, uncovering the mystery of what happened to the men who died at Duffy’s Cut, shedding light on potential murders of some of the men, telling their story to the world for the first time, actually personifies my belief system. I have worked in this project for so long because I feel a great compassion for the men; a need to help preserve their memories, but also in a spiritual sense, bring them peace and help them move on. 

Q. What is an EVP, and how does it work?

A.  EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomena – essentially the voice or communications believed to be coming from the spirit realm. Recently, I have been using a Franks Box, or specially designed radio frequency scanning device, that is thought to pick up and record these communications. The technology is relatively new, ten years old, and works on the following premise:  By taking a radio receiver and using it to continuously scan or sweep either AM or FM frequencies, and mixing in the white noise, the spirits can manipulate and use this energy as sort of a “telephone” to our world.

Of course as you scan the radio frequencies you expect to hear any number of assorted words, and sometimes even phrases coming through, however, what we look for is distinctly different than those radio interruptions. To be considered  EVP’s the communication must come through over top of the white noise and radio, or fall above or below the white noise and radio bands. In each case there is a clear and distinctive difference – the argument between skeptic and believer in this new technology lies in whether this distinction actually signifies contact with the spirit realm. 

Q.  Do the voices answer your questions? If so, are any of them not related to the deaths of Duffy’s Cut?

 A. Yes, during several sessions conducted near the site we have had some very strange answers recorded with the Franks Box EVP device. We have had answers seeming to come both from men who died there in the summer of 1832, but also from a number of other places and time periods as well. It is difficult to isolate any one particular entity, so we are often at the mercy of the entity that is the strongest (having the most energy to expend speaking with us) and is also willing to speak.

To get these EVP’s I like to compare it with deep sea fishing. You must troll with questions (often focused on emotion) until you get a lucid/sentient response. Then you ask follow up questions until you lose contact. When you do make contact it becomes like opening a door to a crowded dance club – you scream out questions, one or more people hear you, some respond, some seem to want to pass the message on to someone you may have asked for, while others  bully their way forward and won’t allow anyone else to speak. There are also EVP’s that seem to be less sentient, lost in the moment of their death, and can recall nothing but those final minutes of their life. All of their responses are narrowly focused and specific; they are also most easily enticed to come forward through emotion.

There can be very long periods of silence between the doors being opened (contact), sometimes five minutes, sometimes an hour. Contact can last for a few seconds, to as long as ten minutes in some cases – with specific individuals returning over multiple sessions (these sessions must be offset by at least three hours). Finally, there is almost always a distinct lifting and clearing feeling at the end of contact. 

Q. What are three of the most interesting words or messages you have recorded?

A.  In my experience with the Franks Box, we invited the Chester County Paranormal Society to investigate the site; they have some of the clearest EVP’s I have ever heard there.

For example:  When asked to curse – “F-ing whore.” Naming one of the Duffy’s Cut team members – “Dr. Watson.” Where are you? – “The Abyss.”

In addition, when asked what they thought of the contractor they worked for, Mr. Duffy, – “The devil.” 

Q. Has an EVP or anything else paranormal ever frightened you at the site?

A. I have never been frightened by anything paranormal at the Duffy’s Cut site. I have has other experiences that have left a deep- seated  sense of respect for what I am searching for, a bit of a healthy trepidation, if you will, but those stories are for another time. 

Q.  Is there a particular question that you are apprehensive about asking during an EVP session?

A.  No, although I think that one must be careful not to call forth anything that might have malicious intent, malevolent, something “evil”, or even “demonic” in nature. 

Q. What do your family and friends think of your involvement with the afterlife?

A. My wife is interested, she will listen to the final results, the EVP’s, video, but does not physically participate in my investigations. My son is 13, and as such, I keep him isolated from most of my work with the paranormal. I keep only a few close friends, and they are open minded and very interested. It would be extremely difficult to tolerate me with a closed mind!

News, People

Ghost Story 2


Kathy McGee Burns

Kathy McGee Burns

By S.E. Burns


When she was a child, Kathy McGee Burns had a close relationship with her uncle, Hugh McGee. Their bond never wavered, even after a business rift between her father and his brother tarnished the brothers’ relationship. When Kathy was in her early thirties, married, with nine children, her beloved uncle fell ill with lung cancer. She visited him at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, and it was here that he gave her a mysterious message. At the end of her visit, she told him that she would come back to see him the following week. Her uncle said: “Don’t forget, and if they tell you I am gone…don’t believe them.”

The next message she got from her uncle came, unbeknownst to her,  after his death.  “One night my dead uncle appeared by my bedside,” says Burns, who is former president of the Donegal Association and the next president of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Committee.

As someone with a strong interest in the paranormal—and, in the interest of full disclosure, Kathy’s daughter-in-law—I was impressed with how fearlessly Kathy shared her story and how much it sounds like other stories I have read and heard about people whose strong  connection in life survives the death of one. But that’s part of Kathy’s philosophy—to not be afraid to contemplate the unfathomable and embrace every experience that life sends her way, however perplexing it may seem.

Recently, we sat down at her kitchen table to talk about her experience with the man she called Uncle Hughie.

Can you describe your uncle’s appearance and where exactly you encountered him?

My uncle appeared at the foot of my bed. It was 1 in the morning and I woke up to see him there.  He looked like he did when he was a young man.

What were you feeling at this moment?

I was not startled. I knew he was dead and was appearing to me, so I wanted to ask him what it was like…being dead. He said he didn’t have time to tell me.

How did he communicate to you?

We communicated without speaking. We knew what the other was feeling and thinking.

What was the purpose of his visit?

He asked me to tell my Aunt Mary that he loved her (they did not have a happy marriage at the end). He said there was money hidden in the house and where to locate it. I specifically looked at the clock after he left me. It was 1 AM. I woke my husband Mike, and told him Uncle Hughie had just been there and what he said. Neither one of us was surprised. Maybe we should have been, but it seemed very natural to me. My mother called me at 8 AM. When I answered I said, ‘I know Uncle Hughie is dead.’ I asked her his time of death and she said 1 AM. I told her of my experience and she became furious with me and told me not to say a word to anyone. My family was very uptight about those kinds of things.

Why do you feel he chose you to share this with?

He chose me because we were very close. He and Aunt Mary had no children for a long time. My father and he were in business together and they lived seven houses away from us. I was always down at their home, visiting  or staying the night. I loved him very much. He served in World War II, in Iwo Jima. My aunt moved to Norfolk, Va. to be able to see him. Since she was alone there, my brother Timmy and I took turns staying with her.

Have you ever felt his presence since this encounter?

I have never felt his presence around me again. He said he would come back and tell me what it was like, but he didn’t.

At what age did you feel comfortable enough with yourself to share this story? 

I have always felt comfortable talking about this. I was a precocious child. I was always embarrassing my mother. I eventually told my aunt about the money and she found bank books exactly where he said they were.

If possible, is there one living person you would visit after you pass and why?

It goes without saying that I would love to visit my family, but if I were to only pick one person, it would be Denise Foley [editor/writer for].

For several reasons: She “gets” it. She is a wonderful woman with a deep spirit. She and I would be laughing our heads off. I could do some writing for the internet…

Editor’s Note: Denise Foley edited this story and found the surprise ending very scary. Happy Samhain!


Music, News

Singing for the Swells

John Byrne at a recent World Cafe Live performance with his band.

John Byrne at a recent World Cafe Live performance with his band.

By John Byrne

I had just landed in Dublin in late July. My wife, Dorothy, turned on her phone and saw that there was a message from Laura, the booking manager from World Café Live, inquiring as to whether or not we might be free for a gig on Monday, September 13th. Now, I run the Trad and Ballad Session at Slainte every Monday—and I don’t like to mess around with regular gigs at a place where we have a great relationship with the owners and staff. So I told Dorothy to tell Laura that I do have a booking that day but if it’s a big deal we can definitely look at working something out. Laura replied, “Oh, it’s a big deal.”

Zoom forward about 6-weeks and we were at the Constitution Center on 6th and Arch setting up the sound for our performance at the Presidential Reception for the Liberty Medal Presentation. The Liberty Medal folks had contacted the World Café folks and asked them to recommend a band for the show; they had recommended us. The room was pretty bare and some workers were milling about moving tables and chairs out of the room. We finished setting up the sound and ran through a few songs to make sure everything was quality. We were set to play from 5pm until just before 7pm when all the VIPs would move outside for the presentation itself.

All of our background checks came out clean (ha!) and all that was left for myself, Maura Dwyer, Andy Keenan and Chris Buchanan was to show up respectably dressed and do what we do. There were rumors of Bono showing up although the official word was that he would show up only on the giant video screen to the right of the stage – this turned out to be the case.

On the day we arrived about 3:30 PM, escorted through the waiting crowds by big blokes in black suits, and couldn’t believe the transformation that the room had made. An area that functions as the cafeteria had been completely transformed into an indoor English country garden complete with park benches, fountains, patio furniture, excellent English-themed food, and an enormous arrangement of flowers and trees. At 5 PM we were given the signal to begin and as the VIPs were led into the room we began with the tradition tune “Merrily Kissed the Quaker” following it with one of my own compositions “A Song With no Words.”

There were politicians and faces from local and national news, photographers from Philadelphia Style Magazine, and all-in-all a very polite and appreciative crowd. About 6:45 PM, President Bill Clinton, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mayor Michael Nutter and others were ushered past the room to the stage. The guests followed to their section as we played “I’m a Man You Don’t Meet Everyday”….and that was it. 

We got to stand to the left of the stage and watch the speeches, the moving video tributes from Bertie Ahern and Bono and the beautiful performance given by the Irish Tenors. A little after 8 pm we were asked to move our sound equipment as the VIP Room was to be transferred into the Press Room after the presentation. Once again, the big blokes in the black suits appeared to escort us, and by 9pm we were playing “Merrily Kissed the Quaker” again, this time at Slainte, preparing for our show the following night at World Café Live with The Young Dubliners. One of the TVs in the corner was showing highlights of the presentation—by then it all seemed just a little surreal.


Celtic Woman: A Review

Fiery fiddler Mairead Nesbitt takes center stage. Photo by Brian Mengini

Fiery fiddler Mairead Nesbitt takes center stage. Photo by Brian Mengini

By Brian Mengini

A jam-packed crowd filled the Mann Center to see and hear the angelic voices of Celtic Woman last weekend as the group, founded by Riverdance’s David Downes and Sharon Browne. They brought a nice mix of songs from their new CD, “Songs from the Heart,” and favorites from past recordings.

With voices that are classically trained, Celtic Woman can send you into a drift with their soft ballads then bring you back in with a fiery fiddle solo by the irrepressible Mairead Nesbitt. Nesbitt is sexy, energetic and passionate with her bow. Watching her play is an almost spiritual experience; she can take you to church! Celtic Woman is backed by a group of male singers who add a nice undertone, two percussionists and a full band.

The backdrops and sets were magnificent. The lighting, the ethereal gowns, the heavenly voices create a sense of magic, while the pipes and fiddle carry you back to ancient Ireland. From the time you sit down till the concert ends, you will sway, dance, sing, toe tap and leave feeling full!

News, People

Crowning Glory: Inside the Miss Mayo Pageant

That's Kaitlyn, third from left.

That's Kaitlyn, third from left.

By Kaitlyn Linsner

Since I currently live in Philadelphia and am Irish-American, I would have to refer to myself as an Irish Philadelphian. And as an Irish Philadelphian, of course, I am interested in all things Irish in Philadelphia. I heard about a Miss Mayo pageant in the area and wanted to write about it, but instead I became a contestant.

The Mayo Association is a nonprofit Irish organization that consists of descendants from County Mayo. The group has been around for 104 years. Through different fundraising events, the Mayo Association has worked with other organizations to help in the construction of the Galway Cathedral in Ireland and the Irish Memorial at Penn’s Landing. They have also given donations to Philadelphia charities and assisted physically and mentally challenged children, both here in the states and across the pond in Ireland.

The Mayo Association’s main fundraising event is the Mayo Ball, held annually at the Irish Center located in Mount Airy. The Mayo Ball combines music, dancing, food, drink and the elegant Miss Mayo pageant. I decided to test my Irish heritage by attending this ball and also competing in the pageant, which resulted in a highly entertaining night.

After sending in my Miss Mayo application, I had to buy a formal gown for the big event. On November 7, I was dropped off at the Irish Center. I was draped in black silk, my head covered with hair spray and bobby pins. There were 12 other contestants mainly from the Philadelphia area, ranging from ages 17 to 24, all of Irish ancestry and eager to compete for the grand prize: a round trip to Ireland. The new Miss Mayo has other duties, such as representing the association in the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade and also making appearances at other social events.

We all arrived around 5 p.m. in our pageant garb and anxiously sat around, waiting to be interviewed by the four mysterious judges waiting in a different room. We then attempted to make small talk with each other, but really this was a way to scope out the competition. Who was wearing the nicest dress? Who had the nicest earrings? And, of course, who has the most qualifying attributes? We talked about our high school endeavors, and I became witness to what low-key pageant girls like to emphasize.

“I don’t really like to give speeches although I was captain of the speech team in high school.”

“Oh, I just threw my hair up in like a half-hour and re-used a prom dress. Yeah, thanks, I know it looks really nice, but really I don’t put much effort into what I look like.”

As we all know, of course, the judges are really looking at what’s on the inside.

I was contestant number 10, and as each girl resurfaced after her interview, the others discretely preyed on her knowledge, wanting to know what kind of questions were asked in order to formulate some exceptional responses beforehand.

I didn’t quite care. I entered into the interview hoping to fully express my undying love for Ireland and service through my responses. The four judges sat on a panel, I sat awkwardly close in front of them and answered questions for about five minutes. They were, of course, on a time limit because the dancing, food and drinking was more important. I’d have to agree.

After the interviews, the 11 contestants and I ate some sandwiches and fruit (must keep the pageant girls skinny) and then took some solo and group photos. I guess this was my first shot at modeling; it took me 10 minutes to decide where to place my arms.

We then entered into the large ballroom where there was a large stage and many tables filled with guests of all ages dressed to the nines. The music started and soon the Irish were jiving, waltzing and smiling through set dances as the band played old Irish hits.

Around 9 p.m. we had to line up with our escorts to walk across the ballroom. Two bagpipers led a group of about 30 Irish dancers from the Rince Ri School of Irish Dance. As they danced, we lined up with our escorts. I did not have one and was assigned to walk with the president of the association’s husband. A large age gap, yes, but at least his tux matched my dress.

We walked across the ballroom, lined up onstage in front of the eager audience and then waved when we were introduced. I tried to stand like a pageant lady, which of course means I had no idea how to stand, and I believe my wave looked like a cross between Miss America’s delicate gesture and a raptor claw.

Then the festivities continued. Supposedly the judges were watching our every move, and this prompted me to talk to strangers and do the twist with a nun. I tried to learn dances and had to hold myself back from guzzling pints of Guinness. I was not completely sure if an Irish pageant condoned drinking.

11 p.m. rolls around. It’s decision time. We all congregate around the stage, and some girls giggled, trying to decide who they think the winner is. The dang photographer kept snapping photos, and since most of the girls knew I was writing a story on this, they began to ask me if I was a spy who actually knew the results from the get-go. Not true.
On stage we go, and sweating in the spotlight I stood waiting as the MC started to announce the winners. Second runner up, first runner up and the winner is… not me.  The new Miss Mayo is Caitlin Lotty, and she is all smiles and instantly congratulates all contestants with so much joy even I could not stop smiling.

“I am totally floored! I can’t believe this!” Caitlin said. And as she was crowned and given flowers, all the guests clapped and clapped as her mother jumped around with excitement.

Cue the music and dancing, and everyone continued to drink and be merry. I had a pint of Guinness, did some networking and left with a large grin.

I lost the pageant, yes, but I now know of an adorable Irish tradition located in a great Irish center in Philadelphia. Although this experience does not quite add up to a free trip to Ireland, I still had fun. Cheers, Mayo Association, thanks for a good night.

News, People

2009 Hall of Fame Special Award: Breandan O Caollai

Breandan O Caollai

Breandan O Caollai

By Kathy McGee Burns

Breandan O Caollai, deputy consul general of Ireland, will receive a special award at the 9th annual Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame Dinner. He has become a favorite friend and special angel to the Philadelphia Irish Community.

He was born in and proud of an area, 5km north west of Dublin City called Cabra. Breandan said this is a Badge of Honor.He was educated at St. Declan’s Christian Brothers School. He received a BA and H.Dip.Ed from the University College Dublin.He also has an MA from the Institute of Public Administration. In the evenings, he furthered his education by doing graduate work at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

Breandan is married to Carmel and has a son, Eoin and teenage daughters, Fiona and Siobhan. He has been in America for three years and resides in New York City. Prior to the US, he has served his government in Italy, Belgium and the UK.

Breandan has a special affinity for Philadelphia. It is difficult to uproot children and take them from familiar surroundings but the O Caollai’s first trip to the City of Brotherly Love was the ice breaker. The family was the guest of Jean and Russ Wylie (former President of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick) who took them to dinner at the Hard Rock Café. For Fiona and Siobhan, this was the best treat and brought big smiles from the O Caollai’s teens.

Even through his wonderful worldly travels, Breandan finds Philadelphia to be a fabulous place. He describes it as “a beautiful city rich in history and yet modern in thinking.” He vividly remembers walking the “green path” in Center City, a trip made from the Commodore Barry Statue to the Irish Memorial to Penn’s Landing. He compares his first sight of the Memorial to that of Iwo Jima which is in Arlington, Va. It had a great impact on him.

One of his favorite places is the Irish Center. He refers to it as a hive. You can go from room to room and enjoy the sheer warmth and discover pieces of Ireland; the ceilis, the County societies, the GAA, the fireside room, the big ballroom and the 32 County Flags that encircle the ceiling. It gives everyone an appreciation of both sides of our world.

Breandan O Caollai’s opportunity to say thank you to Philadelphia was the role he played in bringing the Naval vessel LE Eithne to Penn’s Landing. It was a wonderful experience for all of us. The ships captain, John Barry, entertained the Irish community with a cocktail party aboard ship, designed to let us see the genuine hospitality of the Irish Navy and the beaming faces of the sailors, men and women alike.

We reciprocated by hosting a football game between the crew and the GAA followed by a great party at the Center.

Breandan will spend one more year in America. He says he will be sad to leave. “This has been a tremendous experience for me,” he says. He told me he will never forget our great vitality and our ongoing support of the Irish peace movement. “Ireland could never have peace without the help of Irish America,” he says.

News, People

2009 Irish Hall of Fame Inductee: Joe Montgomery

Joseph E. Montgomery

Joseph E. Montgomery

By Kathy McGee Burns

“A Gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”—George Bernard Shaw

Joe Montgomery’s friend and long time associate, Bob Gessler, says, “Joseph Mongomery is the gold standard for what it means to be an Irish Gentleman.” Joe is being honored by the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame on November 15th, as it celebrates its 9th Annual Awards Dinner.

His whole life represents service to his country, religion, profession and heritage. He is the ultimate family man and true friend to all. Born in 1919 (yes, that makes him 90), he is the son of John J. and Rose Moran Montgomery. Joe’s father had been sickly off and on following World War I. He died when Joe was 10, forcing him to be “the man of the family.” This was during the Depression years.

Rumor has it that Joe Montgomery’s fathers people were from Cavan but we definitely know that Rose Moran’s family came from County Mayo. His Great Grandfather David Moran served in the Civil War, first on the USS Galena, commissioned in 1862, an unclad screw steamer that was part of a unit of Admiral David Farragut. Later he finished his service on the USS Philadelphia.

Joe was a dutiful student at Epiphany of Our Lord School (11th and Jackson), serving as an altar boy and a choir member. He also attended the Purple and the Gold, Roman Catholic High School. While he was there, he played for a team called the “Mighty Mites,” named for their collective lack of height. Three of his teammates went on to be champion players for St. Joseph College: Matt Goukas, Dan Kenny and John Mc Mena-

Montgomery enlisted in the Army Air Corp, 1939, and spent 44 months in Panama and the Pacific Theatre. He managed to rise to the rank of top sergeant.

Marriage was easy for Joe, all 55 years of it, because he had captured the heart of the beautiful, Mary Collis. Mary, whose family was from Sligo, was a member of Trans- figuration Parish. Joe sang in their choir from 1937 to 1980. They had three children, Kathleen, Patrick and Joanne. Mary was Joe’s right hand. When I mentioned her name, there was glee in his voice and he said, What about her! She was the only one for him and he was the only one for her. “Mary made me look good.” They worked side by side in all they did. Mary passed away in 1998.

Joe worked as a Teamster for 35 years retiring in 1981.

Joe Montgomery’s dedication to service for others and especially for Irish causes defines his character. Here are some of his accomplishments:

  • He is the Past President of the Irish-American Societies of the Delaware Valley and honored as their Man of the Year in 1983.
  • Past President of the Commodore John Barry U.S.N. Society
  • Past Chairman of the Philadelphia Chapter National Immigration Committee
  • Past President of the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Committee
  • Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Parade 1993
  • Advisory Committee of the “Treasures of Early Irish Art”

Joe told me that the year he was Grand Marshal there was a terrible blizzard. The rules state that there is no rain date but the then Mayor, Edward Rendell, insisted that the march go on the following week.

Joe Montgomery’s greatest love is his AOH, Division #65. He served as tpresident for 42 years and now holds the title of president emeritus. He has also been the state AOH president, served four terms as Philadelphia president and in1992, Joe was awarded the highest honor: Gold Card Life Member.
He is also the recipient of an honor unprecedented in the history of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. On the 100th Anniversary of Division 65, the members decided to name the group after Montgomery. All AOH divisions are named after deceased members. But Joe had once commented that given his long-time service to the AOH, that maybe when he died they would name the division after him. At the ceremony, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney said Joe was the first person he ever knew that got his dying wish while he was still alive.

“Those fellows couldn’t treat their own fathers better than they treat me,” Joe told me. During the 2007 national convention in New Orleans they bought him a first class plane ticket. When he balked, they said, “You are first class.”

Fellow Div. 64 member Jim Kilgallen says Joe Montgomery is king of the one liners. A few of his best:

  • John McDoe would give an aspirin a headache
  • John McDoe could start a fight in an empty room
  • John McDoe is as cold as a landlady’s heart
  • John McDoe is as popular as a widow with a pension.

All of his AOH brothers have stories to tell about Joe Montgomery. Pat Mulhern said Joe doesn’t have an enemy in the world. “At conventions, everyone knows him; they run up to him and practically kiss his ring.” I asked Joe Martin what was interesting about Joe. He laughed and said “Everything about Joe Montgomery is interesting.”