Category: Archive

Frank Patterson’s last wish fulfilled

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Pierce O’Reilly

There will no doubt be a tear or two in Carnegie Hall this Saturday night as family, friends and fans pay their final farewell to Irish tenor Frank Patterson. Patterson refused to cancel this pre-booked concert last June while on his deathbed.

"You can cancel all my concerts around the world but not Carnegie Hall," he told his wife, Eily O’Grady, a few days before he passed away last June. "If I have to be there in a wheelchair, I want to fulfill that date", he said. That concert will be my way of saying thanks and goodbye to the Irish and American people."

Patterson died a few days later in Memorial Sloan-Kettering from a brain tumor. He was buried in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

"We were blessed in so many ways", Eily recalled recently. "We traveled the world together, met popes, presidents and politicians and enjoyed every minute of it."

From boy soprano to a featured role as the fictional tenor in John Huston’s last film, "The Dead," Patterson achieved more than most during his short stay on earth.

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Although he sang in auditoriums and cathedrals, entertained movie stars and TV audiences, he found his greatest joy in sharing his gift of song in hundreds of small parish halls and churches throughout Ireland and America. These charitable events provided both spiritual and financial enrichment to causes that continue to sustain life and promote peace and unity among many communities.

For Patterson, however, the highlight of his career came in 1979 when he was invited to be the soloist at the Papal Mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin, during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland. Singing before 1.3 million people and over a half a billion television viewers around the world, Patterson enthralled the parishioners.

Patterson played his final concert on Sunday June 4 at Regis College in Weston, Mass. It was the first time ever in public that he opened and closed a concert with his wife and son.

"Looking back now, I think Frank knew it might be his last concert," Eily said. "After our final song that night he turned to me and Eanan and said, ‘Let’s go out on a high, we’ll give one final blast to "When Irish eyes and smiling."

The list of entertainers on Saturday night at Carnegie Hall includes Ireland’s leading violinist, Geraldine O’Grady, with her daughter Oonagh Keogh, the traditional group Na Casaidigh, Regina Nathan, Eanan Patterson, Frank Conlon, Eily O’Grady and the Irish Harp Orchestra. The Hibernian Festival singers, Gaelic Singers of New York, Maire O’Brien, and 100 Champion Irish American Dancers will also perform, as will the N.Y. State Court Pipes and Drums.

Tickets are on sale at Carnegie Hall Box office at (212) 247-7800.

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