The very idea of a community rests heavily on the premise that individuals living in it feel a connection and responsibility toward their fellow community members.
The Irish, as we all know, have an especially strong sense of community, one that is only enhanced by migration across oceans and borders.
The Irish community in the New York area, which functions daily on a wide variety of levels, was saddened in the last week by the loss of two outstanding members. Two men whose lives were dedicated to the simple idea that what talent and energy they possessed was not just for their own use and gratification, but was meant to be shared.
Patrick Duffy and John Joe McGovern may have lived in different boroughs and worked in different fields, but both represented the very best we have come to expect from the kind of people who make the Irish sense of community something different, something special.
Pat, a financial advisor who once wrote a popular business and finance column for the Irish Echo, was involved in many levels of the community — from the professional to the social to the charitable. An immigrant himself, he felt a special bond with others who knew the uncertainty that comes with being a new arrival. He used his professional skills to help ease the transition for many young people who came to the U.S. during those peak immigration years stretching from the mid-1980s well into the ’90s. The large crowds at his wake and funeral Mass are testament to the esteem in which he was held.
John Joe McGovern, meanwhile, was perhaps best known as an owner of the wonderfully named Break for the Border taxi company. But he was more than a successful businessman. He delivered food to the homeless, volunteered at the Aisling center, and was an active member of the GAA, among many other activities. “If he heard of a need, he was there,” a colleague said.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
We, the community, should be thankful for what Patrick and John Joe gave in the course of their lives, just as we are saddened by their untimely passing. But good deeds live on. And just as we know that Patrick and John Joe made life better for so many others, we also know that others, inspired in ways great and small by the lives and work of both men, will take on the task of advancing our Irish and American communities in the days ahead. May they both rest in peace.