Remembering Aloysius “Al” Darbyson

pmc10 0314 pats parade 0192 (2)The first recollection I have of Al Darbyson was an encounter at Hurley’s Irish Pub one evening in March in the mid to late 1990s. In those days, the Marshals’ pre parade meeting took place in one of the many downtown pubs, quite probably Cheers! on Mackay Street in this case. I can’t recall the meeting, not for any reason of over consumption but because they all followed the same format. The Parade Director gets up, introduces everyone of special note in attendance, and goes over final details of the upcoming parade.  Questions are asked of the Parade Director, many the same by the same marshals year in year out. Although fantastic social occasions, it was easy for one meeting to blend into the next in my memory over time. Continue reading Remembering Aloysius “Al” Darbyson

Michael Collins Pays Tribute to Grey Nuns and Famine Irish in Montreal on Celtic Trail of Tears — IrishCanadianFamineResearch

From the Irish Times: Why are 6,000 Irish buried under a Montreal traffic island? Michael Collins finds an unusual Famine memorial during his 900km run about 20 hours ago Michael Collins in Canada The second day’s run begins under dark skies for Michael Collins. Photograph: Anne Petersen The Black Rock in Montreal marks the […]

via Michael Collins Pays Tribute to Grey Nuns and Famine Irish in Montreal on Celtic Trail of Tears — IrishCanadianFamineResearch

Week 21 – Part of My Legacy: GoFundMe

I was shocked and saddened to learn of Trisha Reid’s passing. Trisha was a Parade Princess in 1998, my first year on the Elected Executive and therefore invited to numerous functions along with the Queen & Court. May Trisha rest in peace and may her family be comforted by the many fond memories they have of Trisha.



I’m struggling.

I’m struggling with pain more than ever before. It looks like the cancer is fighting back despite my wildest efforts to wrap up my gloves and face off in the ring. I made it this far before going down for round 1 and now I need you all to help me get back up.

Both Arianna and Claudia dropped everything to be by my side this weekend along with some of my true friends to help me mitigate this pain and face the good and the bad of this nasty disease.

There is no good time to do the next step. It’s one of the more important pieces for me to find peace and to let go for the village to catch those I love.

Please be gentle. Please be kind. Please remember what it’s all about.

I wish to leave a legacy

A brief two months after…

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Rest in Peace, Ken O’Donnell

The United Irish Societies of Montreal is going through a difficult time. Longtime historian Don Pidgeon passed away February 8. His funeral was celebrated February 20 at the historic St. Patrick’s Basilica. Earlier this week we were informed that another longtime member, Ken O’Donnell, passed away in hospital following a recent illness.

Continue reading Rest in Peace, Ken O’Donnell

Don Pidgeon Will Not Be Forgotten

On Monday the voice of a United Irish Societies treasure fell silent when my friend and fellow past president passed away peacefully at home.

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Reading at the Mass in Griffintown-Saint-Ann Park

The last time I saw Don was in late November when he was spending some time at the new super hospital. I was off work that day, was headed in to town, and thought I’d drop in unannounced to say “Hi”. The sun was shining and he had a beautiful view from his window, so beautiful that he was enjoying a late morning nap in his chair. I could certainly relate. Warmth and sunshine beaming through a huge window is a recipe for a good nap. So Don didn’t see me. We were often in touch via e-mail. I would send an e-mail asking a question or simply to say “Hi” and to see how he was feeling. My last e-mail to him was sent Sunday evening to let him know an old friend sent his regards, having explained to the friend was gravely ill. Before that I sent a quick e-mail letting Don know we miss him and that we hoped to see him at one of the many Irish events if his health permitted. Don replied in an uncharacteristically short e-mail “Thanks, Don”


Continue reading Don Pidgeon Will Not Be Forgotten

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

Everyone Loves a Parade

July 1st is largely known as “Moving Day” in the Montreal area, when many people renting their homes play what can be best described as the housing market’s version of musical chairs, a stress filled and serious game where no one wins.

July 1st is also known across the country as Canada Day. Big celebrations and small neighbourhood celebrations are plenty. For 38 years Montrealers have had the privilege to enjoy a parade celebrating Canada and its diversity and yesterday was no different.

Wet street and smiling faces

 Rather than stand on the sidewalk and take pictures of all participating units, as I  have done the previous two years, this year I walked with the Montreal Irish Community contingent, comprised largely of members of the United Irish Societies of Montreal and St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal. It was great to see AOH President Victor Boyle, Fergus Keyes from the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation, and a hearty contingent from Bloomsday Montreal. The weather forecast called for rain, and rain it did. Thankfully our unit was placed toward the beginning of the parade. While it drizzled as we walked along, the skies opened up as we arrived at the reviewing stand at Phillips Square. The message I take away from this is God is on the side of the Irish. Continue reading Everyone Loves a Parade