News, People

2010 Irish Hall of Fame Inductee: Vince Gallagher

 Vince Gallagher with fellow radio host Marianne MacDonald.

Vince Gallagher with fellow radio host Marianne MacDonald.

By Kathy McGee Burns

 There’s a dear little isle in the Western Ocean
An island of purity, holy and grand
Whose name fills its daughters and sons with emotion
When heard on the shores of a far distant land.
It’s Ireland, God Bless her.

This is the song Vince Gallagher loves the most. He carries Ireland in his heart and soul. In turn, we all get to share Ireland with him because of his dedication to the Irish Center, where he has served as president for many years. He has worked very hard to bring that “dear little isle” to Philadelphia where we, the immigrants, exiles, descendants and lovers of Ireland, can feel at home again.

It’s fitting that Vincent Gallagher, the Founder of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame, is being honored at the Tenth Anniversary of this great organization (his baby).

Ten years ago Gallagher, a native of Ardara, County Donegal, attended an awards presentation in New York and found himself unhappy with the way the Philadelphia honorees were being treated. They weren’t getting enough attention. He complained to his friend and fellow Ardara native, Jim McGill, who said, “Why don’t you show them how it should be done?”

Several well-placed phone calls later, Vince had his committee and the Delaware Valley Hall of Fame was born.

This is what makes Vince Gallagher so brilliant. He knows how to put people together….and they all want to work for him.Burly, funny, sentimental, laughing, generous, talented, all of these adjectives describe Vince.

Here is a tribute to Vincent Gallagher from his friends and family:

Mary Crossan
President of the Donegal Association
There are people who tell you what you want to hear and then there is Vince, who tells it like it is! Vince is the busiest and the most generous man on the planet. He is the Past President of the Donegal Association and continues to work bringing in ads for a successful Ball. He is currently President of the Irish Center which is a tireless job. But he has a good team and the place looks great! We know that Vera is Vince’s first love and music is his second. He also bowls twice a week, works a full time job and still has time to support many worthwhile causes. Congratulation, Vince, on a well deserved honor.

Nancy Potts
The first time I met Vince Gallagher, I was a student in college. I had come home for the weekend to find him sitting at our kitchen table, only to learn he was dating my Mother. I was the only one of five children living at home at the time, and because of this I felt it was my duty and responsibility to be my Mother’s protector. To say I was a little suspect of this stranger would be an understatement. Furthermore, I couldn’t understand a word he said. But, as is Vince’s way, he disarmed us all with his warm way and quick wit; and proved to be a caring, loving and honorable man. The highest compliment that I can give to Vince is that I have come to love and respect him in a way that only a daughter can love a Father. Vince is a man of integrity and all who know him are better for it. Our entire family congratulates Vince on this wonderful honor. It is well deserved!

Denise Foley
DVIHOF Board member

There are three things I love about Vince Gallagher:
1. When he’s telling a funny story—and he’s often telling a funny story—he starts laughing so hard that you can’t understand him and you start laughing because you can’t help yourself—his laugh is so contagious. Someday I hope to stay with him to the end of the story.
2. He has a heart as big as Ireland. When Vince finds out someone is in need, the first thing he does is reach in his pocket. He’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever met in my life. And he is also one of those people who’s happier if the beneficiary of his generosity doesn’t know it came from him. He’s not after gratitude or praise—he acts from his heart. There are a lot of people in the Irish community who don’t know that the help that came out of nowhere, just in the nick of time, came from Vince Gallagher.
3. Seeing Vince with his wife, Vera, never fails to touch my heart. His love for and devotion to her is tender and true.

Gerry Timlin
Friend, Musician, co-owner, The Shanachie Pub in Ambler
I couldn’t be happier that Vince is going into the Hall of Fame. It’s difficult to think of anyone more deserving of this great honor. Vince contributes so much to the Irish community in this area by way of his never ending effort to help the Irish culture, tradition and music. His radio show, the Irish Center and everything else he does, most of which goes unnoticed by many, is a reflection of the man himself. Always giving! Vince can’t say no and that’s just who he is. I was asked to play and sing a song at the dinner and I’m not only happy to do so but I’m honored. Over the years, Vince has been a wonderful friend and I want to congratulate him on this award which I think is long overdue. Well done, Vince and thank you for all the great times.

Rev. Msgr. Joseph McLoone
Vince Gallagher is the type of person every organization needs. He is a worker. He does not wait to be asked, he just goes about doing it and is happy for others to pitch in and help. He quietly and efficiently gets things done. He is very faithful to his dear wife, Vera. He outwardly looks a little stern but is a very kind, caring and compassionate person. Vince and my mother are from the same town. We share the same Donegal roots.

Rosaleen Ferry
Vince’s Sister
From the moment Vince was born, he was a welcomed guest in the Gallagher family. He was the youngest of nine and loved by each and every one of us. [Rose Gallagher, his Mother was 46 yrs old at this time and her bright-blue eyed boy weighed over 11 lbs]. Madge, his older sister, actually named him. All the sisters would help to take care of him. Baby Vince would crawl into his Mom and Da’s bed early in the morning. One day, he startled them by saying,” Up early, on the go! Up, Up, nine o’clock and the clock is slow.” Vince sang before he talked. On the farm, where the Gallaghers were raised, everyone was out to the hayfields or on to the bog, but the youngest was always missing. Vince would be sitting behind the fence or a load of turf, singing a song. He played the tin whistle and his favorite song was “Doggie in the Window.”.Vincent is very good-natured. He would do anything for you. If he had a $1, he would give away 50 cents.
He is Irish to the backbone. He will help anyone…let them be you, let them be sick or let them be strangers!

Michael Bradley
Friend, Director of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Vincent Gallagher is one of the most kind, hard working and generous men I have ever met. Occasionally he can be straightforward and tell you something that you don’t want to hear, but the answer is always honest and you know exactly where you stand. That is what I love about him; there’s no beating around the bush, he doesn’t have time for that. Yes, and occasionally he is not the most detailed oriented; I’ve gotten the phone call where he shouts into the phone “MEET ME AT THE IRISH CENTERRRRRR” and then hangs up before you can ask when or where! The Irish Center would not be where it is today without the hard work and money (out of his own pocket) of Vince Gallagher. The Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame is complete now that its founder, Vincent Gallagher, is a member. Vince, Congratulations, best wishes, and sit back and enjoy your day for once in your life, and let everyone else wait on you for a change! You deserve it!.

The Boyce Family
Vince Gallagher’s passion for the Irish Community has made a difference for so many, particularly for the hundreds of musicians who learned from and performed with him over the years. In fact, most of our family started performing with Vince at a very early age. His encouragement and support greatly contributed to our collective dedication to and love for Irish music. Whether or not you’ve ever shared the stage with Vince, it’s hard not to enjoy his singing, his candid performing style, and his bazillion song repertoire! As a leader of organizations, Vince helps others figure out what’s needed to get a job done, and without hesitation, rolls up his sleeves to get it done. The renovations at the Irish Center are a result, in part, to Vince’s hard work. Thanks to the tireless efforts of him and many others, the Irish Center is a welcoming home for the Irish in Philly. Vince is also a good friend. He’s there when life is grand, and he’s there when life throws the odd curveball. Regardless of the need, Vince supports others, often at their loneliest of moments and without anyone knowing about it. A person in need becomes a friend of Vince. Vince uses his talents to add good to the world and to the community. We’re so glad to have his good heart, his dedication to the traditions, his fast moving pace, his unmistakable BIG laugh, and his lovely voice in our lives. He’s made an impact on Irish music in our area and beyond, and through his great example, particularly for our family, musicians who learned the business and art from him, will continue to keep the music alive as a result. We wish Vince the best as he receives this well-deserved recognition.

So now, Vince, we’ve heard from so many who love, admire and respect you. You are a man of a million friends…not bad for a Irishman who comes from the home of the Patriot, Warrior, and the Bards…his own native land.

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

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