I know… I know…. I don’t write as many blogs as I should. I suppose it takes times like this to get me to get the creative juices flowing.
When I first joined the organization it was experiencing some unprecedented advances. For the first time in its history the UIS was led by a woman, Mabel Ann Fitzgerald. Michael Spears was her vice president.
This past Sunday the United Irish Societies thanked outgoing president Danny Doyle for devoting, in particular, two years to the organization as its president. Until you’ve sat in the president’s chair you really don’t fully understand the pressures. I do believe Danny has continued to solidify the organization’s foundations for years to come.
As the organization thanked Danny, a new president was preparing to assume the position when, for the first time in over fifty years, an Irish born person takes the lead position.
Born and raised in Ballina, Count Mayo, Ireland Paul Loftus settled in Canada in 1971. With an extensive educational background, Paul is a licensed Industrial/Organizational Psychologist who conducts training seminars. He is also a well known speaker, and has spoken at conferences throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
Paul very quickly became involved in Montreal’s Irish community. In the mid 1970s Paul served as a delegate to the United Irish Societies from the Montreal Irish Rugby Football Club. He has participated in the community in various other capacities, including as President and co-founder of the Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce, Director of the St. Patrick Society, former Captain of the Montreal Shamrocks Gaelic Football Team, former President, Vice President – Entertainment, and player with the Montreal Irish Rugby Football Club, and numerous others.
The last Irish born president of the United Irish Societies of Montreal was noted Historian John J. Kenny. Born in Co. Clare in 1906, Kenny served as president in 1963 & 1964. He went on to serve as the organization’s Historian from at least 1967 through 1977, when he passed away, leaving the organization with a wealth of information and interesting documents from that era in the archives.
I wish Paul and his Elected Executive much success over the upcoming year.
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
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 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.
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.
On Monday the voice of a United Irish Societies treasure fell silent when my friend and fellow past president passed away peacefully at home.
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”