Colonel Patrick Kelly (1822-1864)
Patrick Kelly was born in Castle Hacket (near Tuam), County Galway. He emigrated to the U.S. at about 14 years of age. He worked in New York for a number of mercantile firms before acquiring the Decatur House, a tavern and hotel, on 8th Street. He was one of the early members of the 69th Regiment in the early 1850s and at the outbreak of the Civil War went to the front with the regiment and fought at Bull Run. His rise in rank was quick. He was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 88th Regiment (another unit composed of Irish) and then later colonel. He and the unit fought with the Irish Brigade at such major battles as Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Part of the time he served as commander of the Irish Brigade. During the Battle of Petersburg he was killed while leading an attack on the Confederate lines. His body was taken back to New York for his funeral and burial in Calvary Cemetery. The present tombstone was erected by the Galway Association of New York.
George U. Harvey, Queens Borough President (1881-1946)
George Harvey was born in Galway, Ireland, of Thomas Frazer Harvey and Alice Upton Harvey. His parents were each descended families mainly with property in the Dublin area. George was taken to Chicago at age 5 in 1886, but returned to live in Ireland where he received his early education. The family lived at Corrig Castle, Kingston and Holyrood Castle, Sandymount. Thomas Harvey, the rich businessman father of George, was an intimate of both John Redmond and Michael Davitt, the Irish nationalist leaders, who urged him to run for parliament. Thomas refused because it would have meant loss of his United States citizenship. Alice Upton Harvey was an accomplished pianist and composer, at one time well known in Dublin and London. George returned to the United States early in first decade of the 1900s and continued his father’s publishing and commercial interests in the confectionery industry. In World War I, George served as a company commander in the 308th Infantry, part of the famous “lost battalion.” After the war, he was elected as a Republican alderman from the Borough of Queens and after helping expose corruption involving local sewer contracts was elected as the Borough President, an office he held for 14 years. Harvey Park located in the Whitestone section of Queens is named in his honor. A bronze plaque there recalls his memory.
James J. O’Kelly (1840-1916)
As a young man, O’Kelly joined the French Foreign Legion and served and fought with the Emperor Maximillian in Mexico in 1866. He became a reporter for the New York Herald and was esteemed for his battle reporting during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. As a war correspondent during the Indian Wars against the Plains Indian tribes, he reported on the loss of General Custer and his men. He was a Fenian sympathizer and a friend of its New York leader, John Devoy, and was induced to return to Ireland to stand for parliament. In 1880, he was elected M.P. for Roscommon and became an associate of Irish leaders such as Charles Stewart Parnell.
Dr. Dominick Bodkin (1833-1902)
Bodkin was born at Briar Hill, Galway, and came to the U.S. with his parents at age 10. He trained in medicine and served in the American Civil War with the Union Army on many battlefields. After the war, he completed his training at Cooper Union and New York Medical School and set up a practice in Brooklyn. He was very active in Roman Catholic charitable activities, including the Roman Catholic Orphan Society. He often gave free medical care to the poor Irish immigrants and other needy individuals of his neighborhood.
Justice Frederick Smyth (1832 –1900)
Frederick Smyth was born in Galway and came to America at age 17 in 1849. His father was the High Sheriff for County Galway, an important position within the ruling elite. Although he had received a good education in Ireland, he continued his studies in New York and in 1855 he was admitted to the bar. He served first as an Assistant District Attorney, Commissioner of Public Schools (1863-65), and Recorder of the City of New York in 1880 for the next 14 years. After leaving this office he was elected a Justice of the New York Supreme Court.
Thomas Faye (1802-1890)
Thomas Faye arrived in New York from Galway in 1810. His father provided for a good education for his son, but when he died suddenly young Faye was forced to become a clerk in a wall-paper manufacturing firm. He quickly learned the trade and became a major manufacturer of the product, which in those days were found in practically every home. He introduced a number of innovations including the first use of machinery to manufacture the product. He was considered one of the early pioneers of the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, erecting a splendid mansion there in 1860. He was a close friend of newspaper owner and politician Horace Greeley. He is buried in Brooklyn’s Green-wood Cemetery.
Joseph Burke (1817-1902)
Joseph Burke came to America in 1830 from Galway where his father was a physician. A child prodigy, he learned to play the violin and started on a career on stage that included dramatic and comedic performances following his stage debut in 1824. Although admitted to the bar in New York, he never practiced law. Instead, he served as accompanist to some of the leading singers of the day including the “Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind. He toured with her throughout the U.S. in 1850-51. During the period of the “Great Hunger,” he put together benefit performances of classical artists for Irish relief. At the time of his death his nephew, Charles H. Burke, was the United States Congressman representing South Dakota.
Patrick Ford (1837 -1913)
Patrick Ford emigrated to Boston before the Civil War. At the outbreak of hostilities, he joined the local Irish Regiment, the 9th Massachusetts, and served valiantly. He had worked for the abolitionist paper of William Lloyd Garrison in Boston, an experience which enabled him to found his own weekly newspaper, the Irish World, in 1870 in New York. The new weekly not only became the largest Irish-American publication, but for a long time had the largest circulation of any weekly newspaper in the United States. The Irish World was an essential advisor to Irish immigrants and their families and offered guidance in areas such as labor relations, temperance, education and American and Irish history. Ford became the personification of opposition to English rule in Ireland and used the newspaper as a vehicle to support nationalist efforts in the old land and in America. The newspaper helped organize 2,500 branches of the Irish American Land League and collected nearly $500,000, a huge sum for its day, for the cause of land reform in Ireland. Ford became a strong supporter of Parnell and the Irish Parliamentary Party in Ireland. In America, he often switched from one political party to another. During the furious 1884 presidential campaign, he was a strong supporter of his friend James G. Blaine, the Republican, whose mother was Irish-born. The paper, through its Irish language articles and regular column, did much to lay the groundwork for the Gaelic Revival early in the 20th Century.
Lucy Gill (Rev. Mother Irene) (1860-1935)
Lucy Gill came to America from County Galway as a young immigrant in 1868. Eight year later she entered the Ursuline Order of Nuns. She later became Provincial Superior for the Order and was the founder and long-time officer of the College of New Rochelle. The college, begun in 1904, was the fifth Catholic Women’s College to be founded in the United States and the first in New York State. It is now the largest Catholic college for women in America. The Mother Irene Gill Memorial Library, named in her honor, was founded in 1939.
John Dillon (1834-1910)
John Dillon came to New York in 1853 from Galway. He and a number of brothers established a large painting firm along Fourth Avenue in 1856. The brothers were master painters and decorators, and John, the eldest brother, was the inventor of many trade and household articles such as an extension ladder, extension plank, compound hammer and fire extinguisher.
Michael Norton (1835-1888)
Michael Norton arrived in New York as a boy from Galway. Joining the labor force at an early age, he developed a strong stature and a skill for boxing. He was matched against the notorious Tammany leader and leader of the Munster faction in New York Irish politics “Fatty” Walsh, but before the match took place both were arrested. After a period in the 15th New York Volunteers in the Civil War, he was elected as an alderman in 1865. After several terms as alderman and later as a State Senator, he was elected a Justice of the Civil Court. Known as “The Thunderbolt,” he broke with the Tammany Hall and the “Boss” Tweed faction in the 1871. Until his death as a result of an unsuccessful operation, he was constantly at loggerheads with the dominant force in the Democratic Party, Tammany Hall. For many years, he kept a hotel that was the favorite of politicians at the western tip of Coney Island. Although the hotel is long washed away, this point is known as “Norton’s Point,” and is a familiar landmark for mariners in this busy section of New York harbor.
Michael J. Logan (1836-1899)
Michael J. Logan was born at Curraghaderry, Tuam, Co. Galway and educated at St. Jarlath’s School. In 1871, he emigrated to Brooklyn and in an 1872 letter to the Irish World announced that he would teach Irish to interested students, after which he began classes near his home at a local Catholic School. He believed that Irish could be learned quickly, providing that textbooks were available that were not expensive as well as being “plain and easily understood.” He also emphasized a daily goal to increase Irish language vocabulary by at least ten new words a day for each serious student. In 1882, he established the first monthly bi-lingual publication in the Irish language to be published anywhere in the world, including Ireland, known as The Gael. He helped organize many additional schools for the study of the language in other parts of the United States and devoted almost all his free time in the promotion of the ancient tongue of Ireland. He regularly wrote letters and furnished articles for publication in the Irish-American weeklies and other newspapers in Ireland. He is considered to have been “the father of the Gaelic language movement in America.”
Anthony Duane (1679-1747)
Anthony Duane was born in Cong, Co. Galway in 1679, a descendant of the ancient Irish family of O’Duana, a branch of the O’Hara family. Anthony Duane joined the Royal Navy and first came to New York while in service. A biographer stated, “in 1698 among the officers of the British fleet stationed in New York harbor was Anthony Duane, a handsome young Irishman, whose cleverness in speech, pleasant manners, and fine appearance made him universally beloved.” He quickly fell in love with a local girl and settled in the city in 1702. Duane had a knack for land investment and became rich buying and selling property in the city and near Schenectady. The town of Duanesburgh was named in his honor as was Duane Street in downtown Manhattan. His son James became Mayor of the City of New York.
Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore (1829-1892)
Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore was born in Ballygar, Co. Galway, in 1829 where he was raised “amid uncles, aunts and cousins” who were numerous in the vicinity. Gilmore was a natural musician and at age 15 was already a music teacher. He trained with the Athlone Band and was especially proficient on the cornet. He emigrated first to Boston and by the 1850s was performing all over the United States including at the inauguration of President Lincoln in 1861. During the Civil War, he served as a military bandmaster and after the war in 1873, he came to New York. He acquired Gilmore’s Garden, the site of more than 600 of his concerts. Gilmore’s Garden later became known as the original Madison Square Garden. He was not just a bandmaster but an impresario, staging huge musical programs of more than 2,000 musicians at a time for audiences in excess of 50,000 people. He toured widely across the continent and to the capitals of Europe. By the time of his death, it was said that “every man, woman and child in the country knew him by reputation.” Although he was known as “the most famous bandmaster in the world,” it is his successor John Phillip Sousa whose name is better known today. Gilmore’s grave is located in First Calvary Cemetery in Queens.