Grief spanning an ocean after young man's death

John McGee was known to most who knew him as Danny. Facebook photo.


By Ray O’Hanlon

Communities on both sides of the Atlantic were in a state of stunned disbelief and deep mourning this week after the death of a young GAA footballer who was fatally felled by a punch outside a Queens bar early on Thanksgiving morning.

John “Danny” McGee never recovered consciousness and was pronounced dead in hospital after being struck by a man who subsequently surrendered to police. Reports indicated that he had gone into cardiac arrest after being struck.

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St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church in Woodside said a memorial Mass Saturday for the 21-year-old who played for the Father Manning Gaels Gaelic football club.

McGee was a hugely popular young man and his tragic death has left many in the Irish/Irish American community in shock.

The sense of sudden and deep loss is no less in County Longford. McGee’s parents, Colleen and Don, live in the county as does his brother and sister.

“This is a tragedy beyond words. He spent the final hours working overtime to get the Thanksgiving dinner and all the preparations for Thanksgiving in order,” said the Rev. Kevin Ables during the memorial Mass.

“He was the sweetest, funniest young man. I loved him as one of my own,” Madeline O’Boyle, Subscriptions Manager at the Irish Echo and a mother of three sons, said.

“I knew Danny his whole life. You just lit up when you met him,” O’Boyle, who attended the Mass in St. Sebastian’s, said.

McGee’s remains were due to be flown back to Ireland today for burial in county Longford after the Medical Examiner’s office completed its examination.

McGee was born in New York and had a job working in an apartment building in Manhattan. The Sunnyside Post reported that he lived in an apartment in Sunnyside.

Being a U.S. citizen with his family living in Ireland the 21-year-old had a life in two countries before his life came to its tragic end.

The fatal incident occurred outside the Gaslight bar on Queens Boulevard. The man who surrendered to police is Steve O’Brien, 25. O'Brien, reportedly a Dublin native, was released on $25,000 bail as it remains to be determined precisely what charges he might ultimately face.

Reports indicated that he was booked on an assault charge after turning himself in at the 108th Precinct.

“This is a tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s family, however, Mr. O’Brien is not guilty,” the New York Post reported defense lawyer, Matthew Gartenberg, as stating.

The Irish Sun reported that McGee had played football in Longford for the Father Manning Gaels. He was also a talented soccer player.

“Everyone in the club is shocked and saddened at the tragic passing of Danny McGee in New York,” the club posted on Twitter.

“Loved by all who knew him he was a star for St. Vincent’s at each age group and played senior with us shortly before emigrating. Our deepest sympathies to his family and friends. RIP.”

Longford County Councilor, Martin Mulleady, expressed shock at McGee’s death.

“I knew him very well. He was very well got and comes from a highly respected local family. Danny was a very talented GAA player who played up until under-21 level with Fr Manning Gaels. I coached him myself when he was younger.

“And Danny was also a very accomplished soccer player. It’s awful, awful news to get and my heart goes out to his family at this time.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and the Irish Consulate in New York has been providing assistance for the McGee family since the Thanksgiving morning tragedy.