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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pioneer Cranbrook resident being honoured as founding member of Ireland's Gaelic Athletic Association

A founding member of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland 125 years ago, who emigrated to Canada and started a new life in the Kootenays, will be honoured in Cranbrook on Saturday December 19. The GAA is the biggest sports organization in Ireland today.

Joseph Patrick Ryan will be remembered at a mass at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church at 11 a.m,. with a wreath laying ceremony to follow at his grave in the cemetery here. The mass will be celebrated by Father Harry Clarke and Father Conrado Beloso, and attended by civic dignitaries including Cranbrook Mayor Scott Manjak who will later place a wreath on Ryan's grave. Ryan died on March 25, 1918 in Cranbrook.

Terry Segarty of Cranbrook who is organizing the event at the local level said that members of the Knights of Columbus celebrating 125 years in Cranbrook and members of the St. Vincent De Paul Society would be attending. He noted that Ryan was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus of St. Mary`s Parish.

Segarty added that the celebration remembering Ryan's involvement with the founding of the GAA is one of the final events in the celebration of the association's founding in 1884 and will be attended by Brian Farmer, of Toronto, president of the Canadian Gaelic Athletic Association, as well as other GAA members. Other dignitaries include John Keane Rosemount, the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Seattle as well as Paul McGarry, vice president of the Seattle Gaels and Jim Cummins, chair of Seattle's Irish Immigrant Support Group.

While attending a mineral exhibition show in Chicago in 1913, Ryan wrote glowingly about his adopted country and city. He said that the minerals, `` grasped the eyes and attention of many thousands of people whom fruit and grains did not concern in the slightest and once you had them in conversation it was no trouble to preach the general doctrine that there is no country like Canada and that British Coliumbia is its jewel.``

Ninety-one years after his death. Joseph Patrick Ryan, a son of Ireland who greatly contributed to the early development of Cranbrook and British Columbia, is being honoured here by the Gaelic Athletic Association which he helped found in his homeland 125 years ago. The GAA web site says in part that at 3.00 p.m. on Saturday 1st November 1884, a small group of men ... met in the billiard-room of Miss Hayes's Commercial Hotel in Thurles, and there founded the Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes. Patrick Ryan was there.

In an editorial appearing in The Cranbrook Herald after Ryan died, printed between heavy black bands top and bottom, the newspaper said in part that “a gloom was cast over the city” when his death was reported calling him “Judge Ryan” who “possessed fluency of language to an unusual degree ... his Irish brogue and wit will long be remembered.” It added that as mining reporter for the Herald his place would be difficult to fill.

Ryan who was born in Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary, in April 1857 became a solicitor in Ireland before emigrating to Canada in 1899 and becoming involved in the life of British Columbia with the Board of Trade, the mining industry, as a Police Magistrate and prominent journalist.

In a memoir on Ryan's life, his son-in-law Alf MacLochlainn describes him as “a voluble, articulate life -of-the-party” person during the years he lived in Canada.

The Cranbrook Herald of March 28, 1918, gives an overview of Ryan's life in Canada. “Cranbrook lost one of its best known residents through the death of Joseph Ryan ... It is about eighteen years since Mr. Ryan came to Canada from Ireland. He settled first in the West Kootenay, where he spent some six years as a broker and doing conveyancing, his legal training in the land of his birth proving of great value... He moved to this district about twelve years ago undertaking secretarial work in connection with mining undertakings... He was Police Magistrate for several years.

“While not having practical mining experience, Mr. Ryan was a student of geology... He was always optimistic being described as the best advertising medium in the district .”

The Herald also reported on Ryan's funeral which was held in the Roman Catholic church. It reported that Mrs. J.E. Kennedy sang 'Face to face” with deep feeling while the pallbearers were N.A. Wallinger, John Miller, William Greaves, Joseph Brault, Frank Goddens and A.L. McDermott.

Ryan lived in Kimberley before moving to Cranbrook in about 1906 where he became involved in Conservative party politics, but his real interest became the Board of Trade, as his son-in-law notes that he wanted to promote the east Kootenay and Cranbrook in particular. By 1910 he had established himself as a public relations officer for the area. He was appointed to prepare a mineral exhibit relative to the mineral wealth of the St.Mary`s Valley for the Spokane Fair. He showed mineral exhibits twice there, once with his friend Noel Wallinger, and at shows in Lethbridge and Chicago.

1 comment:

John O'Flynn said...

As we recall the first anniversary of this gathering in 2009, I want to wish Michael and all of the great people in Cranbrook a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2011.

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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