The Founding Years
Written by the late Richard Hayden
Former Chairman of the Longford Association in London
When the Longford association was formed forty years ago, it gave me great pleasure to be a founder member. Paddy Keegan served as Chairman for the first seven years and was a truly great Chairman- not only as regards to Longford affairs, but the welfare of young Irishmen arriving fresh from home, many jobless and homeless.
As well as his chairmanship of the Longford Association, Paddy was spending two to three nights at the Irish Centre, trying to keep the centre afloat during difficult times. Astonishingly he kept up that pace for 30 years. He finally took over as professional administrator of the centre until the day he retired.
The association was going well and we decided to run our first dinner dance. Our patron, Bishop James McNamee, was guest of honour and it’s a night I will never forget.
The management provided a beautifully draped chair, likened to a throne, and a red carpet. The plan was that guests would move along the caret, kneel down and kiss His Lordship’s ring. Then it happened- a young lady knelt down in a great state of fluster, grabbed the Bishop’s hand and, kissing his ring, got up from her knees and gave him a great slobbery kiss on the cheek for good measure!