The President of the BIS (Benevolent Irish Society) in Prince Edward Island, Canada,
George O’Connor, has been on a visit to Ireland these past couple of weeks and spent
a few days in Monaghan Town. He was accompanied by members of his family: his wife
- Linda; his son Rory and his wife - Jane. I met up with him in the Four Seasons
Hotel prior to their meeting with the County and Town mayors and other councillors.
George lives just outside Charlottetown in PEI and he has Irish roots, and in fact
his grandfather arrived there from Dublin in 1901. George’s great grandfather, Joseph,
came from Wexford to Dublin and married Alice from Malahide. They had four boys and
a girl but he was killed in a workplace accident and left Alice with the difficult
task of rearing five children alone in the mid-1800’s. Initially the boys were sent
to Artane but Alice’s father gradually took them in and helped them survive. One
of these boys was Patrick, who learned the Carpentry trade in Artane and he married
and moved to Canada in 1901 with his wife and two children. His wife died and he
remarrieed and had four boys and three girls. The youngest boy was Donald and he
was born in Montreal. He married a lady from PEI, whose surname was Forde, and they
moved to PEI. George went to University and qualified as a Social Worker and spent
his working life as an employee in the Department of Health and Social Services and
is now retired. He married his wife Linda 43 years ago and came to Ireland on honeymoon.
They hired a car, a black Morris Minor, and travelled Ireland. Last week they retraced
their steps though not in a Morris Minor. While in Kinsale last week they spotted
an old Black Morris Minor and George and Linda had to go examine it. While doing
so an elderly lady came along and it was her car. George explained his interest in
her car but she explained that hers was ten years older than the one he had. She
got into the car and off she went. It brought back many and great memories for George
and Linda. Recently his son Rory was anxious to see the Ireland V Sweden game in
Dublin and he got tickets for the four of them and attended the game on Sept 6th.
So after 43 years, and many a promise to return, they have done so and say that they
will hopefully visit again soon.
In PEI George is President of the Benevolent Irish Society. It was set up in 1825
in order to help arriving Irish people get settled and to get work. It was a charitable
organisation and, though mainly assisting the Irish, no one was ever turned away.
To be a member of the BIS one had to be of Irish descent and women were not allowed
to join until 20 years ago. It is still a very strong organisation but since the
development of social services provided by the State, the BIS now concentrates on
maintaining and developing the Irish culture and traditions. The BIS building was
in need of repair and renovation and now George spends time overseeing the work on
this project and the development of a Cultural Centre within the building. He is
also anxious to expand the membership and ensure that the Irish Heritage is preserved
for future generations. I enjoyed my chat with George and hope that he returned home
with wonderful memories and we hope that his promise to return will not depend on
Ireland playing Sweden in Dublin next time.
Our pictures below show the two Mayors with George and the other shows Willie McKenna,
Tony Murphy, Noel Keelan, Hughie McElvaney, Donal Sherry, with the two Mayors and
the visitors - Lina, George, Jane and Rory.