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Kathy McGee Burns


Kathy McGee Burns: Blazing Her Own Parade Route

Kathy McGee Burns, receiving the Inspirational Irish Women award.

Kathy McGee Burns, receiving the Inspirational Irish Women award.

On Sunday, March 13, when Kathy McGee Burns officially presides over the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, as only the second female president since its 1771 debut, she is going to have some very special guests marching with her.

The little girl who grew up in the Philly suburbs with no knowledge of her Irish roots is now the woman leading the parade. And joining her will be her McGee cousins from Donegal.

That moment has been a lifetime in the making. Because the same father who instilled in McGee Burns the belief that she could be anything she wanted, do anything she put her mind to, was the equal to anyone … was the same father who, like so many of his generation, denied his own Irish-ness.

“It’s incredible to me,” McGee Burns marveled. “I see my whole life as a journey. I don’t know how I got here, but I did.

“I always had this draw to being Irish …. Wondering, where was I from, where could I claim as my heritage? But my father, Timothy McGee, never talked about his family.

“He grew up very poor. His father, Hugh McGee, was the black sheep of the family. He was an alcoholic who left the family. My grandmother, Mary Jo Callahan, raised my father and his brother with the help of her mother and sisters. She cleaned houses to put food on the table.

“My father was a very well-known high school athlete, but he couldn’t pursue any of the offers he got along those lines. He had to take care of his mother and her sisters. So, he started as a clerk in the Acme. He prided himself that you could come to his counter, and he would add up all the prices in his head–this was before there were machines to do it.

“He started making bouquets of flowers to sell in the store. And from that, he built up a business as a wholesaler florist. He became a successful businessman, and created a life for his own family that was far different from the one he grew up with. He had a house at the shore, was a member of country clubs. We were very comfortable.

But he wouldn’t talk about his Irish roots.

It wasn’t until he was on his deathbed that McGee Burns was able to get a tiny clue from him about how to go about finding her family. He told her that all the relatives lived in Bridgeport: “Kathleen, every McGee in Bridgeport is related to you.”

By this time, McGee Burns was married and raising nine children of her own. And her nagging desire to acknowledge and embrace her own Irish-ness had been heightened during the dark days of the 1981 hunger strikes.

“There I was, watching Bobby Sands starve to death while my own son, Tony, who was the same age, was going to college in Chicago. I kept thinking about Mrs. Sands, how heartbroken she must have been…and how my own son was just starting his life.”

“My country, the country of my ancestors, still wasn’t free.”

McGee Burns began her journey. And her first step was to get out the phonebook and look up every McGee in Bridgeport. She sent a letter to each one of them. And she got the response she was looking for.

“Once I had enough information to trace my roots back to Donegal, I decided to join the Donegal Society. The first time I went to a meeting, I literally walked in as a stranger. They asked me who my sponsor was,” McGee Burns laughed. “I didn’t even know I needed a sponsor!”

But from that inauspicious beginning, she went on to become the first female president of the Donegal Society. And she continued on her path to discover exactly where she came from.

On a trip to Donegal about 10 or 12 years ago, a friend had a surprise for her. He told her, “I found someone who can help you find your roots. We have an appointment with him at Gallagher’s Hotel in Letterkenny at 1:00.”

Kathy won’t forget that moment: “A man came walking towards me. He looked just like my brother. He said, ‘Hi, my name is Hughie McGee. Does that name sound familiar to you?’ Well, my brother, my uncle, my nephew, my grandfather and my great-grandfather were all Hughie McGees. We sat down and did a study of our families. We both had a great-great grandfather named Cornelius McGee. His Cornelius McGee married a Kate Cannon; mine married a Kate Brogan. We had all these similarities, but couldn’t pinpoint where our families intersected.”

It wasn’t until this past summer that DNA was able to accomplish what a paper trail had failed to do: prove beyond a doubt that these two McGee families are closely related. The McGees from Gweedore, County Donegal, donated their DNA for comparison with McGee Burns’ own brother Hughie, and with the results, a once lost heritage was reclaimed.

The circle will be made complete on March 13, when Hughie McGee, his brother Paul McGee and wife Noreen, and nephew Paul McCool and wife Roisin join Kathy McGee Burns and her family, including her brother Hughie, in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Someone has been directing this from somewhere–either from up above, or down below,” McGee Burns laughed. “But the feeling I will have as I march up that aisle to address the congregation at St. Patrick’s Church for the parade Mass will be for every McGee and every Callahan that came before me.

“I represent a culmination of all their dreams, hopes and wishes. We are all going to be in that Church together. And I’ll be saying ‘thank you’ to all my Donegal ancestors.”

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A Singular Honor for Sister James Anne Feerick

Sister James Anne, receiving flowers at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2008.

Sister James Anne, receiving flowers at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2008.

Sister James Anne Feerick, I.H.M., longtime dedicated Catholic school educator, is the 2011 Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day grand marshal.

Sister James Anne has been a member of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary since 1960. Currently, she is director and teacher at the IHM Educational Center in Bryn Mawr. Earlier in the week, she was named the recipient of the Mayo Association of Philadelphia’s 2010 President’s Award—so you could say that this was a spectacular week for this stellar graduate of West Catholic Girls High. (Sister is also the longtime chaplain of the Mayo Association.)

Associated with the parade for many years—as a judge since 1985 and, in 2008, a member of the Ring of Honor—she dates her involvement in the parade back to 1956, when she first started marching in it.

It would be hard to find anyone more steeped in Irish tradition than Sister James Anne. Going back to her youth, she was a violin player who performed on Will Regan’s Irish Hour and was secretary of the old Irish Musicians Union in Southwest Philadelphia for two years.

Of course, people who know her also recognize her as a superb Irish dancer. She started as a student at Sean Lavery School of Irish Dance in West Philadelphia (from 1949-1960), and she’s been on her toes ever since. As an educator, she often taught students Irish dance as a way of developing coordination.

Fittingly, the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association chose as its 2011 theme: St. Patrick, Bless Our Religious Sisters Who Serve, Inspire and Educate.

Sister James Anne is the first woman selected as grand marshal since Rosemarie Timoney, in 1997.

In what apparently marks a banner year for Irish women, Kathy McGee Burns, previously 1st vice president of the parade association, was elected president. She is only the second woman to serve in that capacity. (The first was Marie C. Burns, 1993-1994.)

McGee Burns already is a very busy and accomplished woman. She is the first president of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame. She also was the first woman president of the Donegal Association. In 2010, she was selected to receive one of the first Inspirational Irish Women awards. Also in 2010, she was named winner of the third annual Joseph E. Montgomery Award from Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 62.

The board also elected two new members, two new board members, Mike Driscoll, owner of Finnigan’s Wake and a longtime notable parade booster, and police Sgt. John Stevenson.

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!



“Nothing Stops Me”

Kathy McGee Burns

Kathy McGee Burns

Kathy McGee Burns grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia where, except for her sister, she was the only Irish girl in the neighborhood.

“I didn’t have much of an ethnic identity,” she says. “My family was well-to-do: We belonged to three country clubs. We were bused to Catholic school because there were no Catholic schools in our neighborhood. I never knew Irish people did step-dancing. The only Irish record we ever had was Bing Crosby and we only played it on St. Patrick’s Day.”

Yet this “clueless” Irish girl went on to become the first woman president of the Donegal Association of Philadelphia, the first president of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame, and next year will be only the second woman to serve as president of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Committee, which oversees the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a Philly tradition since 1771.

That McGee Burns had time to discover her Irish roots is miraculous. By the time she was 21, she was the mother of six children under the age of 4. After the seventh, she became a single mother and enrolled in Montgomery County Community College to get her associate’s degree. It took her eight years. Then another eight years to get her bachelor’s in medieval history at Chestnut Hill College.

In the midst of all that, she met and married Mike Burns, the love of her life, and had two more children. At 50, she entered Temple University Law School where she joined the Brehon Law Society and it was there she had her Irish epiphany.

“In Ireland, Bobby Sands and the other hunger strikers were starving themselves to death, and Bobby was the same age as my son Tony. I thought, here I am, with a son that age, and I thought of Mrs. Sands, waiting for her son to starve to death. What would I give my life for? Of course, my children. And I started getting interested in my roots—but I had no idea where we were from.”

Her father could give her only one clue. “We’re related to every McGee in Bridgeport, PA, Kathy,” he told her. So she contacted every McGee in Bridgeport until she found one who offered one slim lead: the lines to an old song they’d heard their parents sing, “We come from Donegal where they eat potatoes, skins and all.”

Of course, she did find her family in Donegal. “Nothing stops me,” she says. In fact, there’s very little Kathy McGee Burns sets out to do that she doesn’t accomplish. Today, she is a successful realtor, a cancer survivor, and grandmother of 13 who knew what she was really looking for when she began that search for her roots. “I grew up in Flourtown,” she says, “but the Irish community is my real hometown.”


Three New Honorees for AOH Joseph E. Montgomery Division 65

Kathy McGee Burns and Mickey Walsh

Kathy McGee Burns and her "date" Mickey Walsh.

As she received the third annual Joseph E. Montgomery Award from Ancient Order of Hibernians Div. 62 on Sunday—the first woman to be given the award—Kathy McGee Burns joked that the event was her “second date” with another award-winner, Mickey Walsh, former president of the division.

The two had actually met when she was 16 and he was 20 and a lifeguard at the Jersey shore. She explained that he had invited her to his 21st birthday party as his date, though because she had lied about her age, he didn’t know how young she was. They didn’t meet again for several decades when she saw him sitting on a stool in the bar at the Irish Center—a home away from home for McGee Burns, who was the first woman president of the Donegal Association and current president of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame, just two of the many organizations in which she takes a leadership role.

“I went up to him and asked him if he was Mickey Walsh,” she told the crowd at the Spring Valley Banquet Center in Springfield on Sunday, April 11. “He said, ‘Yep.’ Then I asked him, ‘Do you remember your date at your 21st birthday party. He said, ‘Nope.’”

The man of few words laughed heartily along with the rest of the audience.

The AOH—the Joseph E. Montgomery Division, the only AOH named for a living person—is in its third year of its Fleadh an Earraigh, honoring those who live the AOH motto of friendship, unity and Christian charity.

Also honored this year were James Feerick, a 43-year member of AOH Div. 65. The eldest of six children born to James and Anne Frank of County Mayo, Feerick, a lawyer and graduate of Villanova Law School, is also a musician who played with the All Ireland Orchestra and with local musicians Tommy Moffit and Joe Burke. He has served on the board of the Philadelphia Irish Center, and is a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick the Knights of Columbus Trinity Council in Upper Darby, the St. Thomas Moore Alumni Association, and the Mayo Association, for which his sister, Sister James Ann, serves as chaplain.

Harry “Mickey” Walsh, also the son of Irish immigrants, a Navy Reserve veteran, ran the family business, Walsh’s Classic Tavern in University City, until 1996 when the business was sold. He is a former Democratic ward leader in Philadelphia’s 27th Ward and worked as a liaison between the juvenile courts and parents of troubled teens to help keep families together. He was the first president of the Haverford Hawks Youth Ice Hockey Club and has volunteered at the Irish Immigration Center in Upper Darby.

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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.

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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.”


2009 Irish Hall of Fame Inductee: Pat Egan

Pat Egan

Pat Egan

By Kathy McGee Burns

Egan Family Rules

  1. Go to church every Sunday (and be on time)
  2. Go to College (and they all did)
  3. Vote in every election (and try to make that a Democratic vote)

When I arrived at Bridey Egan’s home to interview her, I was delighted to see a very large, 3-story, white-washed stucco twin Victorian with six bedrooms. I could just imagine it burgeoning with the laughter and frolicking of the family of 12 Egans in their younger years. The inside was full of family portraits, mementos and a lot of memories. We sat around the kitchen table and talked about her late husband, Pat, who will be inducted into the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame on Sunday.

In the townland of Clydagh, a rural area, south-west of Headford , County.Galway, lies the farm in which the Egan family called home. This community is nestled on the north eastern shore of Lake Corrib, the second largest fresh water lake in Ireland. The parents, Thomas (called Kenny Egan) and Nora Walsh Egan raised seven children there. Patrick was the oldest. He attended Clydagh National School, which is now150 years old. In May 1948, at the age of 24. he came to America, settling in Bryn Mawr with his Aunt Sarah McMahon. He wanted to better himself and had no desire to be a farmer. This was after the war years and immigration had opened up. He took menial jobs to get started and soon became a lineman for Suburban Water Company.

Typical of a young, single Irishman, he attended the 69th Street dances. This is where he met and fell in love with the beautiful Mayo girl, Bridget Feeley. She and her sister, Frannie, had come to Fishtown on a lark, never intending to stay. Bridey’s encounter with Pat Egan certainly changed the mind of the daughter of Michael and Margaret Feeley of Ballyhaunis.

Pat and Bridey were married for 57 years and had 10 childre: Mary, Peggy, Noreen, Tom, Bernadette, Anne, Michael, John and Joe, and Frances. They lost a daughter, Patricia, at the age of 10 weeks. They settled in Ardmore and became parishioners of St. Colman’s.

Patrick Egan was involved with the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) from 1948 to 1954. He played for Galway and captained the team. In the early days, there was very little local competition so the team traveled to various states, including New York and Washington. His son, Mike, told me that as much as he loved Irish sports, he was very much Americanized and encouraged his sons to play football. He was also an avid Phillies fan. The family regretted that Pat was not alive to see the Phil’s win the championship last year. Knowing him, they said, he was probably calling the shots in Heaven.

There was a lot of Irish culture in the Egan home—plenty of Irish music and the beloved Sunday radio shows. Pat was a member of the Galway Society from 1948 to 2007. He was president many times over.

A stone mason most of his life, he rebuilt the steps of St. Colman’s Church. In 1994, he was featured on the TV show, This Old House, and was considered an expert in the lovely work he did. I saw some of his beautiful designs, which are on the front porch of his home. After his death, someone wrote a note to Bridey saying that they would think of Pat every time they climbed the steps of St. Colmans.

The only other Egan to come to America with Pat was his brother, John. They were best friends and fellow Phillies attendees. John was the youngest of the Galway Egans and served as best man at his brother’s wedding.

Patrick Egan was grateful to all the Irish who helped him when he came to the Phila-
delphia area and he in turn helped many others. Michael Egan told me that his father was intelligent, honest, hard working, tough, dignified, a gentleman and a caring human being. Although he had a limited formal education, he was well read. He devoured several newspapers each day, loved crossword puzzles and had a fabulous vocabulary. His love of knowledge made him adamant about each of his children getting a college degree. Pat realized the vast opportunities that this country presents and the surest path to taking full advantage was a good education.

Bridey said how much fun he was. That’s why she married him. John Egan said that they were a devoted couple, very much in love.

Mike shared some funny stories. One of Pat’s passions was Monday night bowling,
so much so that the family joke was if Mom died first she can’t be laid out on Monday night. Dad wouldn’t be able to make it!

The other story was about Pat’s strict curfew rules, especially for the older children. Some young man had brought one of the girls home past curfew. Pat chased him down the driveway, caught up with the lad and said,” Don’t come back if you can’t get my daughter home on time.” They never saw that guy again and thankfully he relaxed his rules after the first six children.

When Bridey and I were finished talking, she shared some of the many cards she received after Pat’s death. I think these sentiments people wrote clearly defines Patrick Egan:

“We have memories of enjoyable conversations, friendly exchanges, and assistance with community efforts.”

“His elegance, gentleness, religious commitment and work effort will continue to inspire us.”

This is the measure of a good man.