Michael “Mike” Connolly
Michael Desmond Connolly, 83, of Fort Myers, FL, passed away peacefully Sunday evening, July 1st, in Avon, CT, in the company of his loving family.
Born July 12, 1934 in Drim, Milltown, Co. Galway, Mike was the son of James Peter Connolly of Wellpark, Co. Galway and Margaret (“Maud”) Flannery of Milltown.
He emigrated in 1961 on the S.S. America from Cobh to Hartford, CT where he met his beloved wife Mary (Moore) of Terenure, Dublin.
They married in 1966 and together raised three children in Newington. From his earliest years, Mike lived a life of faith, family, music, and hard work.
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Growing up, he worked for his father who started a traveling shop business in the family home place in Drim, from which they sold sugar, flour, tea and other groceries. Throughout his teens and early twenties, Mike drove a delivery truck for Carton Brothers, an Irish food company, during which time he also sang in dancehalls throughout Ireland.
After emigrating, he worked as an apprentice butcher and meat manager for Grand Union Supermarkets, and eventually started a family business, Mike Connolly Landscaping, which he owned and operated with his wife Mary for more than 30 years.
Throughout his life, Mike held his Irish heritage close to his heart through a love of music – and cooking – which he shared generously with his family, friends, and the community. He served as Chairman, President, and Vice President of the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury, CT and an officer and board member of the United Irish of Southwest Florida; President of the Hartford Gaelic Football Club; Chairman of the Irish American Golf Club, and was honored as Grand Marshal of the Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1990.
He was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and a longtime retreatant at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center. Mike built countless friendships in Connecticut and Florida through his passion for golf. His love of singing brought joy to his life and those around him, from church choirs and minor league baseball games to Irish events and living room singsongs.
He sang many years with the St. Mary’s Church Choir in Newington, with which he toured to Jerusalem and Rome, including an audience with His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and after retirement with the St. John XXIII Church Choir and the Legends’ Choraliers in Fort Myers.
In addition to his wife of 51 years, Mary, Mike is survived by his children, CDR Desmond Connolly, USN (Ret) of Papillion, NE; Jarlath Connolly and his wife Marisa Tamayo of Canton, CT; Aidan Connolly and his husband Roberto Achacoso of New York and Los Angeles; his sister Joan Deering and her husband Frank of Ratoath, Co. Meath; his brother Jarlath and his wife Anne of Drim; his grandchildren, Erica, Liam, Brian, Aidan, TJ, and Kathleen; and many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, and friends.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother Jimmy and sister-in-law Anne; his sister Mary Hamil and brother-in-law Mickey; his brother Tom and sister-in-law Peggy; and his daughter-in-law Diana (Zehrer) Connolly.
A Memorial Mass was celebrated on Saturday, July 7th at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, 303 Tunxis Road, West Hartford.
Burial followed at West Meadow Cemetery, Newington. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations in Mike’s honor to Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, www.holyfamilyretreat.org.