Category: Archive

Austin Delaney, popular restaurateur, dead at 70

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The cause of death was cancer.
Delaney, who was 70, was a native of Carrowkeel, Irishtown in County Mayo. He is immediately survived by his son J.P., daughter Anne Marie, and son Dermot as well as three grandchildren, nephews and nieces.
A funeral Mass was held for Delaney on Monday at Holy Name Church on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan after which Delaney’s remains were flown back to Ireland for burial in what his newspaper death notice described as his “beloved County Mayo.”
“This was tragic. Austin will be sorely missed,” former Irish Echo publisher, Sean Finlay, who attended the church service, said.
“Austin was a standout and standup guy, a friend to many, many people who came to New York from his county and all over Ireland,” said Finlay.
Delaney was widely known in the bar and restaurant business, not least for his founding roles in two of New York City’s best known Irish hostelries, Rosie O’Grady’s in midtown, and Harbor Lights at the South Street Seaport. Delaney was also a passionate follower of horse racing and was himself an owner with horses stabled in Florida.
Delaney’s career, much of it established working alongside his business partner of four decades, Mike Carty, was a classic tale of an immigrant making good.
The New York Times, in a report on Monday’s packed funeral Mass, stated that it was said that Delaney had arrived in New York with a union card and just five shillings in his pocket which, in 1963, would have been worth about a dollar.
Over the years, as he made many dollars, Delaney never forgot his roots or his earlier circumstances and was known for his generosity towards fellow immigrants.
“He didn’t believe you should pull the ladder up after you. It was not only about leaving the ladder for others to climb, but reaching down with a hand to help,” Ciaran Staunton, a fellow Mayo native and president of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said.
Staunton said that Delaney was low key about the frequent financial help he gave to good causes, and needy individuals.
“A lot of people who came here felt like they were adopted by Austin,” Fr. Frank O’Shannon said of a man who was also his friend during his eulogy at Holy Name.
“He was one great man to work for,” said Patrick O’Rourke, general manger of Harbor Lights
“He made his mark in this town. He was a legend,” said O’Rourke, who added that Harbor Lights had remained open the last few days.
“We didn’t close down because he wouldn’t have wanted us to,” O’Rourke said.
“Austin was one of the last of that great foundation generation of Irish immigrants in New York in modern times, a generation that included other Mayo immigrants like Paul O’Dwyer and Frank Durkan,” said attorney Sean Downes.
In lieu of flowers, the Delaney family said that Austin had requested that donations be made to O’Dwyer Cheshire Home, c/o Patrick O’Connor, Market Place, Swinford, County Mayo.

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