Former New York GAA chairman, John Riordan, (on right) being presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by New York County Board chairman, Laurence McGrath, at the GAA's annual dinner dance at Gaelic Park back in March. Photo by Nuala Purcell.
By John W. Riordan
Tributes have been paid to John Riordan, a true legend of New York's Gaelic Athletic Association, who passed away peacefully on Monday evening after a long battle with cancer. He was 72.
A native of Liss in West Kerry, Mr. Riordan arrived in New York in 1964 and settled in Brooklyn before finding his feet as a young immigrant with the game and Gaels he loved.
He would go on to dedicate his life to the GAA, serving the association in most capacities for over fifty years.
He was elected chairman of the County Board in 2009 but he managed to fit in almost everything else, not least of which was his constant presence as a Kerry Football Club stalwart from the early 1970s onwards.
A longtime chairman and delegate for the Kerry club, Mr. Riordan will be remembered most affectionately for the help and support he offered the many players who passed through the club's ranks during his time. He is also being memorialized this week by his first GAA club, the Brooklyn Shamrocks.
In March, the annual New York GAA dinner dance saw its biggest attendance in some years after it was announced that Mr. Riordan would be there to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“John Riordan was a legend around the New York GAA and particularly at Gaelic Park," chairman Laurence McGrath said.
"He was Kerry to the core, and he will be sadly missed by all his friends, not only in the New York GAA but in the broader GAA family. His sad passing will leave a huge gap in the life of the Park.”
A dedicated member of the Kerry County Association and a doyen of the Irish community in Brooklyn and beyond, John is survived by his wife Mary, daughters Irene, and Kathleen, son-in-law Joe, and grandchildren Ashleen and Grace.
There will be a wake Wednesday 2-4.30 p.m. and 7 to 9.30p.m. at the Ralph Aievoli and Sons Funeral Home, 1275 65th St. in Brooklyn. A Funeral Mass will be held Thursday morning 10.30 a.m. St. Ephrem’s Church, 929 Bay Ridge Parkway, Brooklyn.