John McCarthy ’75 | September 2, 2020
My father owned one of the two “Catholic” funeral homes in Springfield, Illinois, and as such participated in various civic organizations. His favorite was the Sons of Erin, an Irish fraternal organization that hosted an annual gala to raise money for a couple of small local projects and one or two modest college scholarships awarded to deserving students of Irish descent. (The organization has since progressed to become the Sons and Daughters of Erin.)
My father died unexpectedly in 1966 but John Fitzgerald O’Brien, the president of the Sons of Erin Springfield chapter and a cousin by marriage, always gave my mother a couple of tickets to subsequent dinners. In 1974, while a junior at Notre Dame, I returned home for a quick visit and to accompany my mother to that year’s Sons of Erin dinner — appropriately scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day.
The featured speaker that evening was Jim Crowley, one of the Notre Dame’s football legends immortalized by Grantland Rice as the Four Horsemen way back in 1924, 50 years prior. Crowley mingled with guests during the cocktail hour and commenced speaking as dinner concluded. I recall he began by stating that his topic would be nothing serious, adding that he might, however, talk about football.
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