69 Joseph P. Ryan



  • http://www.crowsnest.bc.ca/fernie02.html

  • To celebrate the establishment of the Association in Thurles, Co. Tipperary on the 1st of November 1884, as one of the last events in celebrating 125 years of the GAA in 2009, Chairman Brian Farmer and the Canadian County Board is inviting members and friends of our Association to gather and remember GAA Founder Joseph P. Ryan on Saturday December 19, 2009 at a 11:00 a.m. mass in St. Mary’s Church in Cranbrook, British Columbia with a wreath laying ceremony to follow at Ryan’s grave. The mass celebrant will be Father Harry Clarke (Mayo) who will be traveling in from Castlegar, BC.

  • GAA members who are able to arrive on Friday anytime after 3 p.m. on December 18, 2009 will be provided complimentary accommodation at the Sandman Hotel and a complimentary lunch to follow the remembrance ceremonies on the Saturday.

  • Western Canada’s Connections to Two GAA Founders

  • The meeting that led to the formation of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland was held in Miss Hayes’ Commercial Hotel in Thurles, Tipperary on November 1, 1884. We can be certain that at least seven people attended the Association’s inauspicious beginning but there may have been more. There is no doubt that Michael Cusack, Maurice Davin, John Wyse Power, John McKay, J.K. Bracken, Thomas St. George McCarthy and Joseph Patrick Ryan do deserve the title of the GAA’s Founding Fathers and they are remembered and honoured in this 125th Anniversary year of the Association.

  • On April 1, Professor Mike Cronin who is the Academic Director of Boston’s College’s Centre for Irish Programmes in Dublin contacted the Canadian County Board of the GAA requesting more information about Joseph P. O’Ryan who “had little involvement in the GAA beyond attending the first meeting. A qualified solicitor he emigrated to Canada around 1899. He settled at Cranbrook in British Columbia and died there in 1918.”

  • By the end of that same day Cronin had a copy of a 24 page book that had been published by the County Tipperary Historical Society in 2002 called From Tipperary to Joseph’s Prairie: the Story of Joe Ryan, the Seventh Man in Hayes’ Hotel by Alf MacLochlainn – the husband of Ryan’s granddaughter.

  • “Amazing, I ask a question in the vain hope that you might be able to help, and I get everything!” said Cronin.

  • Ryan was born in Carrick-on-Suir in April 1857. As a solicitor he practised in Callan and Thurles. He would have known Maurice Davin well and that friendship was possibly the reason he attended the meeting in 1884. In 1899 Ryan emigrated and became immersed in British Columbia’s life with the Board of Trade, the Mining Industry, serving as a Police Magistrate as well as becoming a prominent journalist.

  • In May 2000, Ryan’s grandchildren put up a new headstone to remember him in the Old Catholic Cranbrook cemetery. In conversation with GAA President Christy Cooney in Toronto this year we spoke about the correspondence in locating the grave of this GAA founder. He mentioned that there were matters to sort in HQ’s plans for the ‘Rededication of Founders Graves’ in Ireland and that there would be more information to come in regards to the plans that the GAA would do in honouring Ryan.

  • On September 9, John Arnold, Bride Rovers GAA Club member in Cork and a member of the GAA National Awards and Presentations committee contacted the Canadian County Board with a request for assistance. 

  • Arnold wrote about the longest surviving GAA founder, Thomas St. George McCarthy, who was born in Bansha, Co. Tipperary in June 1862. Like his father, George Thomas St. John, he joined the Royal Irish Constabulary. McCarthy joined Michael Cusack’s Academy in Dublin and it was Cusack who prepared him for his Cadetship Examination in 1882. At the time of the November 1884 meeting McCarthy was stationed in Templemore. He retired from the RIC on January 23, 1912 and lived in the Ranelagh area of Dublin. He died on March 12th 1943 at the Linden Convalescent Home in Stillorgan and is buried in an unmarked grave in Deansgrange cemetery in Dublin.

  • A Fr. William Ryan (d.1966) was the registered owner of the grave in 1959 and permission was recently granted by Ryan’s relations for HQ to put up a headstone after months of diligent work by John Arnold.

  • Trying to trace any living relations of McCarthy, Arnold knew that a son called George McCarthy, had emigrated to Edmonton, Alberta. This is when the GAA members in Edmonton kicked it into high gear once contacted. Victoria and Pat Tully, John Doyle and Jason Morris slavishly researched to find if there were any living relations in Alberta.

  • They discovered that George was born in 1888 and Henderson Directory identified a Geo. E McCarthy as a clerk with Credit Foncier, a Canadian Loan and Investment company in 1937. In 1945 he is identified as a solicitor with the same company and with a residence at 9535 -109 Ave. The sleuths in Edmonton did a marvellous job ferreting out information – even going down to the old house which is still standing, very dilapidated and unoccupied. In 1949, McCarthy is recorded as a clerk with wife Alvina and in 1974 shown as retired at the same residence. 

  • His wife died at the age of 85 on March 20, 1973 leaving behind George and two step-children. George passed away January 2, 1978, at the McGugan Nursing Home at the age of 89 years.