Inspired by the need to promote young Irish-Americans; in the fields of business, labor and government including police and fire, law and judicial, “The Irish Society” was conceived in the Fall of 1974. A centering point for the varied Irish American groups, and a forum to provide strength in promoting the interest of the Irish community.
Attending that first meeting were the legendary John McCullough, Tom McNulty, Jim O’Neill, Hon. Phillip Carroll, Mike Dougherty, Jim Lennox, Hon. Francis Rafferty, Austin Meehan (Treasurer),Hon. Eugene Maier, Mike Stack, Ray Oates, William Meehan, Jim Lee, Hon. Joseph Glancey, Hon. Thomas White (First President), George E. Costello (First Executive Director), John Morris (President), Steve Gallagher (Counsel), Joe O’Deonnell (Vice-President), Thomas Walsh, Joseph Crosley, Bill Kelly, Ed Williams, Tom McCareym Mike Doyle S.J. (Chaplain), Hon. James McDermott, Hon. James Crumlish, Thomas Holt, Tom Kane, Hon. James McMonigal, Jack Keenan, Jim Manion, Barclay Vincent, and many others that represented and valued the strength and vitality of the Philadelphia Irish American Community. The officially charted “The Irish Society” in the Spring if 1975 with headquarters in the old Sir Francis Drake hotel.
Over the last thirty three years the stories are many with “The Irish Society” donating, millions of dollars to charitable causes and personal cases. “The Society”, initiated the largest Irish picnic ever held in the Delaware Valley at Eden Hall in Torresdale, and hosted Irish football, boxing, hurling and numerous athletic events. Boxing at Wildwood Convention hall in 1980 with teams from Canada, Ireland and the Delaware Valley with football games and Irish music was actually the precursor to the now famous Irish weekend. Scholarships and essay contests on a national level. Concerts at Robin Hood Dell with Carmel Quinn, Maureen O’ Hara, introduces Sean Fleming, Blackthorn and groups from Australia, Canada and Europe. Hosted the play “The Country Boy” with the Dublin Theater group. Irish art shows with Edmund O’Sullivan and book readings with authors such as Matthew Cullidan’s, “Quest for the Galloping Hogan.” Many Irish political causes for freedom and human rights in Ireland as well as for Irish causes in Philadelphia and America. Hosting meetings with Gerry Adams and Marin McGuiness on human rights, and recently joining with Seamus Boyle at AOH #39 in meeting with members of the victims of Collusion in Northern Ireland. The Irish Society, annual toast to St. Patrick and banquets have become Philadelphia legends. Also Honoring Ed Keenan following in the tradition of “Man of the Year” Honorees, Hon. Frank Rizzo, Daniel Keating, Jim White, Sandy Muller, Dan Grace, Bob Heenan, Jack Delany, Austin Meehan, Jr. and Robert Sweeney.
Over many years “The Society,” has enjoyed a warm closeness with the Emerald Education Committee, with many of our members receiving honors from such an esteemed institution.. Members honored include George E. Costello, Hon. Thomas White, Hon. Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, Hon. James Melinson, Mike Doyle, Seamus Boyle, Ed Keenan, Hon. Seamus McCaffery, Jim Lee, Jim “Daddy Wags” Wagner, John Dougherty and many others.
“The Irish Society” continues strongly with Joe Cleary as the Executive Director, and Ed Costello President, Tom Brady Vice President, Austin Meehan Treasurer, and Rev. Joseph Campellone O.S.F.S. Chaplain. Board members include Nancy Lennox, Tom Walsh, Joe Crosley, Jim Lennox, Mike Doyle, Seamus Boyle, Daniel Grace, Joe Coughlin, Mike Driscoll and John Dougherty, Jr., Sgt of Arms Pat Ghegan with emeritus members Hon. Francis Rafferty, Joe O’Donnell, Sandy Muller, Jim Lee, Tom Kane and Bill McDonough.
We thank-you very much for honoring “The Irish Society.”