Patrick F. Walsh, for several decades one of New York’s most popular Irish-American bandleaders, died recently at his home in East Hampton, N.Y. He was 88.
A native of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Mr. Walsh graduated from the Christian Brothers Secondary School, trained as a classical violinist, and began his professional career at the age of 16 in Clonmel’s cinemas, where he accompanied silent films.
Arriving in New York City in 1928, he soon established a dance band that grew into a big-band style orchestra. He performed at major hotels until his retirement in the early 1970s, providing music for dinner dances and balls sponsored by various Irish county organizations and such groups as the Scottish Saint Andrew’s Society and the New York State Liquor Dealers Association.
Featuring daughter Maureen as vocalist, his band enlivened the annual galas of the United Irish Counties Association when they were held at the Waldorf Astoria. In 1964, he played for the New York State Democratic Convention that gave then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy the Senatorial nomination. In 1967, along with other naturalized American citizens of renown, Mr. Walsh was awarded New York City’s Certificate of Achievement by Mayor John V. Lindsay.
Mr. Walsh served for many years as a judge of violin and other music competitions at New York’s annual UICA Feis. In addition to his musical career, he was a bartender in the Commodore Hotel for 30 years. He was a member of the Tipperary N&B Association, East Hampton AARP, East Hampton Power Squadron, Knights of Columbus, and Musicians Union Local 802. In younger days, he played Gaelic football, most notably on the New York championship teams of Waterford (1938) and Galway (1943).
He was married for 56 years to the late Kathleen Kearney Walsh, a native of Tullamore, Co. Offaly, who was also a prominent figure in Irish circles. In 1961 the couple built a summer home in East Hampton, L.I., retired there in 1976 and two years later co-founded the Irish-American Club of East Hampton. In June, 1998, the club presented Mr. Walsh with a certificate of appreciation for his stewardship, music, and acts of kindness.
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He is survived by his sister, Sr. Mary Cecily Walsh of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of Tenafly, N.J., a son, John Maurice, of Riverdale, two daughters, Maureen Hossbacher of Brooklyn Heights and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy of Jackson Heights, four grandchildren, Ann Marie Walsh Woods of Riverdale, Patrick F. Walsh of Bronxville, Kathleen Walsh Mousouroulis of Port Washington, and M’ve Breen D’Arcy, age 11, and by a great-granddaughter, Margaret Catherine Woods, age 2.
The Rev. Donald J. Desmond offered a funeral Mass on Aug. 15 at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton. Burial followed in the church cemetery on Cedar Street. The family has asked that memorial contributions be made to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978.