Margaret Healy is a Special Lady

President Margaret HealyMargaret Maud Ann Healy was born on this day a number of years ago, the eldest daughter of Thomas P. Healy and Lucy Irene McCarthy.

Thomas P. Healy was Alderman/City Councillor for St. Ann’s from 1938 until his death and Member of Parliament for St. Ann’s from 1940 until his death and even served as Grand Marshal of the Saint Patrick’s Parade in 1943

In April 1997 Margaret succeeded Joseph Quinn as president of the United Irish Societies, becoming the second woman to be so chosen, and led the organization admirably.

Following the conclusion of her presidency, Margaret was appointed the founding chairperson of the Fundraising Committee, also known as the Sponsorship and Marketing Committee. After fifteen years in the position, in May 2014, Margaret advised UIS President Beverly Murphy that she declined to continue in this role. The president duly informed the Elected Executives and Past Presidents of the news at a meeting held on May 6, 2014.

2005 Grand Marshal Margaret Healy with Matthew & Jonathan Showers. Photo by Brian SwitzerIn October 2004, a historic moment in St. Patrick’s Parade history was achieved when the United Irish Societies’ Executive Committee selected Margaret as the Grand Marshal of the 2005 Parade, making history as the first woman to be so honoured, joining her father who was Grand Marshal in 1943.

In April 2009 Margaret was presented with Gold Card membership by outgoing president Marlene Demers.

In September 2009, Margaret was honoured by her community when she was inducted into the Point St. Charles Hall of Recognition, joining a long list of notable people who have been so honoured.

In 2010 the St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal recognized Margaret for her community volunteerism in awarding her the 2010 Community Award at the annual Luncheon at the Bonaventure Hilton Hotel, adding her name to the long list of worthy recipients. Previous recipients include Joe Mell (1994), Audrey McKeown (2000), Mary McDaid (2002), and Marianna O’Gallagher (2008)

Banquet 2012 126Unbeknownst to Margaret, an extensive study of her Irish roots was undertaken at the request of His Excellency Dr. Ray Bassett, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada, to ascertain with certainty her family’s connection to Ireland. Once satisfied the ambassador authorized the creation of a Certificate of Irish Heritage for her, which he personally presented to Margaret at the UIS Awards Banquet & Dinner Dance in March 2012. The Certificate is an official Irish Government initiative to recognize the continuing emotional attachment of the descendants of those who left Ireland’s shores to the land of their ancestors. The Certificate recognizes the enduring emotional ties and sense of identity bestowed by Irish ancestry.

On May 13, 2012 in front of her fellow parishioners, family, and community members at St. Gabriel’s Church, Marguerite Blais, MNA presented Margaret with an award from the National Assembly for her involvement in the Irish community and her positive influence on Montreal life.

On February 10, 2013 Tyrone Benskin, MP visited Margaret’s house to present her with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

On February 28, 2014 Margaret attended the 2014 St. Patrick’s Society Ball as its Guest of Honour, for her years of volunteering and community service.

Christmas Basket DeliveryMargaret and her family have allowed the United Irish Societies to use their garage as headquarters for the organization’s distribution of Christmas Baskets since probably Christmas 1997 when Roberta Wheeler was the committee’s chairperson. The location is ideal as it is central to where the majority of the recipients reside, that being in the Southwest Borough-Verdun-LaSalle area.

Margaret is a true community treasure. There are not many people who can keep up with her pace and with her enthusiasm for accomplishing things. If we could, we would be wise to clone her ten times over.

On this special day, we also wish her a very Happy Birthday!

Ken Quinn, Historian

Documenting the Archives

I have been tasked with the responsibility of being the historian of the United Irish Societies since mid May and have had its archives in my possession since roughly the beginning of June after collecting them from my good friend Don Pidgeon. Since then I have been slowly documenting the contents of the archives. As of now I have documented from 1929 to 1949, over 400 items. I have seen letters of condolence, reports, notes, newspaper articles, many letters to and from John Loye, and a number of photos.

As I continue documenting the archives I know there is much work to do, with roughly 65 years to go. After the archives, there is also my own files that require documenting. I have digitized much of the files I have retained from my time as Treasurer, Parade Director, and President. In addition to that, many of the Societies’ parade photos (both hard copy and electronic) are in my possession. Before the years pass I need to tag the photos with the names of people in them. Between the official photos, those of John Gilroy, and my own, this alone is a challenging task.

If you have any items you would like to share with us or donate to us, please contact me.

Please be sure to attend our first general meeting in September.

Ken Quinn, Historian

St. Patrick’s Day parade, Montreal, 1836

A media account of the parade from 1836

Gilliandr's Blog

This is how the St. Patrick’s Day parade looked in the nineteenth-century.  There were no clowns, no animals, no drinking, etc.  A lot more sedate, but quite a large crowd anyway.


Montreal Gazette

17 March 1836


The pleasing anticipations which have been formed of a propitious morning for the festival of St. Patrick, were most woefully disappointed by a fall of snow which commenced at about six o’clock, and at the time, we are writing, it continues with unabated vigour.  This did not dampen the ardour of the sons of the Emerald Isle (what can?) to do justice and honor to the patron saint, and long before the time appointed, a large concourse had assembled at the Albion Hotel.  The other National Societies met at their separate apartments and proceeded to the place of meeting and when united, formed a most imposing and numerous procession.  At about twenty…

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St Patrick’s Day, Montreal, 1867

Taken from Ottawa Citizen, 18 March 1867, page 2.

Gilliandr's Blog

Ottawa Citizen, 18 March 1867, page 2.

From Montreal.

Montreal, 18th – The celebration of St Patrick’s Day so far has passed by quietly.  The turn-out has not been so large as in former years, the coldness of the weather probably deterring many from paying their tribute to the memory of their patron Saint.  After high mass the Rev Mr O’Brien, of Brockville, preached a most able discourse. The procession then reformed, and after marching through the principal streets of the city and through Griffintown, along the streets of which numerous arches had been erected, proceeded to the site of the new St Patrick’s Hall.  Here speeches were delivered by the President of the Society, B Devlin. His worship the Mayor, Dr Hingston and Father Dowd, after which Father Dowd proceeded to lay the corner stone.  After this was completed three cheers were given by Father Dowd, three for…

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John Gilroy – a Community Treasure

John Patrick Gilroy was born in early 1937 to Bridgit McCann and John Gilroy[1]

Gilroy 1958
John in 1958

From his childhood John has been either a participant in the annual Saint Patrick’s Parade or has been involved in its organization. He participated in his first parade in 1948 with Belmont School when Rev. Michael O’Brien of Saint Anthony’s Parish was honoured as Grand Marshal. In the early 1960s John was appointed delegate from Saint Gabriel’s Parish to the United Irish Societies meetings, which took place at the Windsor Hotel. His first year as Deputy Marshal was in 1965 and his involvement in the Parade continues uninterrupted to this day.

John chaired numerous committees on the United Irish Societies Executive Committee over the years however the two he is most known for are the Program and Entertainment Committees, which he chaired for a combined 37 years.

John at UIS 85th Anniversary

While the United Irish Societies likes to claim John as its own, many Irish organizations lay claim to him as well. John is, or has been, a member of many organizations including the United Irish Societies of Montreal, Innisfail Social & Sports Association, Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann, Bernadette Short School of Adult Irish Dancers, and in the past, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and served as president of the Innisfail Social & Sports Association.

John is a hidden community treasure. Forever setting up and tearing down audio equipment for shows and events and always with camera in hand, his dedication to the community is unquestioned and unwavering.

For his many years of loyal and dedicated service to the community, John received the Simon McDonaugh Humanitarian Award in 1995 and, in April 2001, outgoing President Elizabeth Quinn presented John with Gold Card Membership in the United Irish Societies of Montreal for his extensive commitment to the organization.

John’s dedication to the United Irish Societies’ Entertainment Committee, to the Program Committee, to Innisfail Social & Sports Association, and to the numerous other organizations he is a member of, all in the name of promoting the Irish culture in the City of Montreal, made him a most worthy recipient of the Liam Daly Heritage Award in 2014.

Outside of his Irish-related activities, John enjoys taking pictures of fire trucks and fire department related activities. His photos are known to pop up on websites such as on

John with His Excellency Declan Kelly

In the summer of 2013 John was hospitalized with serious issues. Eventually fixed up and nursed back to health, the effects of John’s illness make it impossible for him to lift heavy equipment and, generally, to lug things. With this reality, John advised UIS President Beverly Murphy that he declined to continue in the role of Entertainment Committee Chairperson, putting an end to this chapter in John’s life on May 6, 2014 when President Murphy announced the news at a meeting of the Elected Executive & Past Presidents.

Though John is no longer a member of the Executive Committee, he remains omnipresent at United Irish Societies’ events, helping with sound equipment and taking photos as well. The United Irish Societies of Montreal is indeed fortunate to have John Gilroy among its membership.

Ken Quinn, Historian

[1] Quebec, Vital, and Church Records, Drouin Collection

Thomas Lett Hackett

1877 Hackett, Thomas Lett CopyCanadianIllustratedNewsMembers of the Orange Order worldwide celebrate July 12th in remembrance of William of Orange’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. While any anglocentric public celebration in present day Quebec society, seemingly other than the St. Patrick’s Parade, is muted at best, the day was indeed celebrated in 1877 Montreal.

By all accounts Thomas Lett Hackett seemed to be a respected young man. He was the son of the late John J. Hackett of the Inspector General’s Department of the Old Province of Canada. On his mother’s side he was connected to a late Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. Continue reading Thomas Lett Hackett