“It began in Yonkers at “The City Club.” It started in June of 1954. They scheduled the very first dinner for March 16,1955…”
The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in the County of Westchester, was formed and founded in the City of Yonkers by Senator William F. Condon on June 21, 1954. Former Mayor William J. Wallin, then Chancellor of the New York Board of Regents, filed the charter in the office of the New York Secretary of State, listing 124 members of the Society.
The first membership meeting of the Society was held at the City Club of Yonkers, New York, on November 15, 1954. Senator “Bill” Condon was prevailed upon to serve as Chairman of the Board of Stewards after having refused to serve as the First President. The Senator, instead recommended the election of William J. Curtis, as the first President, as well as the election of the following outstanding men in the community who served as the first officers of the Society. 1st Vice-President, Thomas Walker; 2nd Vice-President, William J. Wallin; Recording Secretary, John Tobin; Corresponding Secretary, Daniel F. Crowley; Historian, Oliver J. Harper; Almoner, Frank J. Hand; and Treasurer, Edmond Xavier.
The first St. Patrick’s Day Dinner was held the evening of March 16,1955, at the Hotel Gramatan in Bronxville, N.Y. In addition to our two guest speakers, Hon. Thomas J. Brogan, and the Very Reverend William A. Donaghy, the President of Holy Cross College, other honored guests included our own beloved Bishop Flannelly (Most Reverend Auxiliary Bishop of New York), and Monsignor John M. Fearns, President of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, who later became the Most Reverend and Auxiliary Bishop of New York. Bishop Fearns has served as the Chaplain of the Society, and one of our principal speakers in 1959.
Subsequent dinners since that first historic and memorable feast have been held at Tappan Hill Restaurant in Tarrytown, N.Y.; Westchester Town House in Yonkers, N.Y.; Schrafft’s, Eastchester; Tarrytown Hilton, White Plains Hotel, and the Rye Town Hilton.
Those dinners featured a galaxy of Irish and Irish American orators. From Judge McGivern’s rousing salutation to “Kings, Princes, Priests and grammar school graduates,” at the 1956 Dinner there has followed an endless parade of kingly, princely, priestly, and scholarly speakers.
Besides our own Bill Condon, the kingly have surely included a former President of the United States, Richard Nixon; a Vice President, Dan Quayle, and a nearly President of the United States, Eugene McCarthy; United States Senators O’Mahoney, Keating and Buckley; Governor Malcolm Wilson, and Mayor Bob Wagner; Irish representatives Boland and Donlon and United States Ambassador to Ireland, John Moore; Governors Byrne of New Jersey, Casey of Pennsylvania and Keating of Oklahoma.
The princes were those of the Church, Cardinals Spellman, Cook, O’Connor and Egan and Bishops Griffiths, Fearns, Kearney, Wright, Broderick, Comiskey and Mestice; and Holy Priests, Monsignors Carroll-Abbing, President of Boy’s Town of Italy, and Moore of West Point, to name but two.
The great Catholic Universities have sent their prized scholars, beginning, as noted above, with Fathers Donaghy and Brooks, Presidents of Holy Cross, Presidents Gannon and O’Hare of Fordham, Driscoll of lona, Scanlan of Manhattan, Bulger of UMass, Deans Mulligan and McLaughlin of Fordham Law School and Dean O’Keefe of Biscayne Law School. Notre Dame sent its football coach, Dan Devine.
The bench has been frequently represented since Justice McGivern of the Appellate Division confided to our 1956 dinner audience that the Irish youth of Hell’s Kitchen wound up either on the Bench or in the Chair. He was followed by United States Court of Appeals Judges Mulligan and Meskill, U.S. District Court Judge McLaughlin, Appellate Division Justice Kilkenny and Dermot Dunleany, District Judge of Dublin, all of whom similarly avoided execution.