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


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