Neale native Oliver Browne is to be honoured by a leading Irish community group in New Jersey, on the night before Mayo play New York in Gaelic Park, New York.
Goalkeeper on The Neale team that won the club’s only ever Mayo Minor Football Championship title in 1980, Browne has been named as Clubman of the Year by The Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Essex Chapter, based in West Orange, New Jersey.
Oliver Browne lives in Summit, New Jersey, with his wife of 22 years, Jackie McCarthy Browne, and sons Jack (19 ), Luke (17 ) and Seamus (13 ). He runs a successful electrical business locally and has been an active member of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh since 2007.
Welcoming the news, Browne said: "I am very honoured to be getting this presentation. The Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh are one of the premier Irish organisations in the Garden State and Tri-State area, and have a large clubhouse in West Orange. We strive to keep our Irish culture and traditions alive so they can be passed on to future generations. We do this by hosting many gatherings and events, including evenings of Irish music, song and dance, Irish history readings and an annual exhibition of Irish sports. The fact that the dinner is taking place on the weekend that Mayo footballers play in New York makes it all the more special for me."
A large group of family and friends from Ireland and America will attend the presentation dinner on Saturday, May 4 — Mayo Day – at the Mayfair Farms, West Orange.
The citation from The Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh noted that Browne “is a loyal member of our order who has tirelessly contributed his time and energy as a member, committee head, trustee and officer. He has chaired the Exhibition of Irish Sports for many years, a family event that features boys and girls' Gaelic football matches and men’s rugby and hurling games.
“He also formed a committee to commemorate the 1916 Rising, where the Proclamation was read aloud and the new flag of the Irish Republic was raised high over the club deck.”
Annually the order hosts a volunteer head shave for paediatric cancer research. This September’s event is expected to top its inception goal of $1,000,000 in funds raised since the first event 10 years ago.
Browne is a member of the Knights of Columbus Springfield NJ, and a volunteer Eucharistic Minister and lector at Overlook Hospital, Summit, NJ.
He grew up in Aughafadda, The Neale, second youngest of six children, Noel, Mary, Tim, Tom, Oliver and Pat, born to Oliver snr and the late Noreen (nee Gunnigan ) Browne. He attended The Neale Primary School and Ballinrobe Vocational School, and played Gaelic football at all levels for The Neale GAA.
He served a four-year apprenticeship as an aircraft mechanic in the Air Corps, based at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnell, Dublin, and attended night school at Bolton Street College of Education where he gained a City and Guilds of London Diploma in aeronautical engineering.
During his years in service, he excelled at sports, winning the 1983 All-Army Inter Apprentice 3,000m title, and featured on the Air Corps Apprentice Gaelic football team that won the All-Army Inter-Apprentice title. He was a member of The Air Corps Engineering Wing team that won the Defence Forces Medical Services Cup in 1987 and 1988.
He served a total of nine years in the Air Corps and volunteered to serve with the 64th Irish Infantry Battalion United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL ). This proved a very dangerous mission. Four young Irish soldiers of the 64th Battalion, including Ballinrobe’s Corporal Fintan Heneghan (RIP ), gave their lives in the service of peace. Following his discharge from the Air Corps, Browne worked extensively throughout Europe on aircraft maintenance contracts, before moving to the USA.
Tickets to the event are available for $100 and include cocktail hour, open bar, dinner and dancing to The McLean Avenue Band. There will also be performances by The Shillelagh Pipe Band and the DeNogla-Ardmore School of Irish Dance. Tickets and further information on the event are available at www.shillelaghclub.com/dance
On the day before the dinner, Friday, May 3, Browne will host a Mayo GAA Fans Gathering at the Shillelagh Club, 648 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, New Jersey – just 30 minutes from the George Washington Bridge. The gathering will feature a full bar, live music and free food. A benefit raffle on the night will raise funds for the Friends of Darragh / Kevin Bell Repatriation Fund. Darragh Walsh was a Neale footballer who died tragically in a car accident 2013 in Qatar at the age of 22.
“Anyone who is in New York for the game should come along to this event – it will be a great gathering of Mayo supporters, and I am sure we will be joined by GAA fans from many other counties too,” said Browne. Further details on the Friday night Mayo GAA gathering are available at https://goo.gl/d9CwxS.