America was great but Tyrone pulls the heart strings
Dungannon Observer – Saturday 29 August 1964
Nearly all the Ardboe Irish in New York turned up at Kennedy International Airport to welcome Mr and Mrs Joseph Conlan on their recent trip. The party of one hundred who greeted the couple on their arrival included several members of their own family who arranged the all-expenses-paid holiday which lasted eleven weeks and took them all over the United States and Canada.
The airport welcome was followed by a drive through New York in a limousine to a reception in one of the city’s top-rate hotels. There Mr Conlan, a retired Lough Neagh fisherman, was reunited with his sister, Mrs Catherine Mather, whom he had not seen for 52 years. ‘I didn’t recognise her and she didn’t know me,’ he told an Observer reporter at his home in Drumaney on Monday.
Also present at the reception was another sister, Mrs Evelyn McNally, whose husband is a native of Pomeroy, and two brothers, Messrs John and Frank Conlan. In all, these four members of the family have been a total of 170 years in exile in the United States.
Mr and Mrs Conlan have two sons and three daughters in America and Canada. The sons, Gregory and Phil, are sales representatives for British Overseas Airways Corporation and Scandinavian Airlines respectively. Greg’s home is in Connecticut while Phil, whose wife and baby daughter Jean Marie are at present visiting relatives in Portadown, has an apartment in New York.
The three Conlan daughters are Mrs Margaret Dosseter, wife of a Montreal doctor; Mrs Kathleen Donnelly, and Mrs Brigid Kerrigan, both of whom reside in New York.
During their trip the couple visited the United Nations, New York’s World Fair, the White House in Washington, and President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington Cemetery.
At Arlington they met a young American, Ruth Clarke, who, on hearing they were from the Cookstown area, requested them to call on her uncle, Mr Thomas Acheson, who resides there. Although they have made enquiries they have not yet been able to get in touch with this gentleman. Should he read this article, Mr and Mrs Conlan would like him to get in touch with them.
Mr Conlan describes America as being ‘a great country’. He recalls that on one occasion he was so overwhelmed by the hospitality and the beauty of his surroundings that he turned to his wife and enquired if they had not chanced to step into paradise.
Nevertheless Ireland still called and the travellers were glad to return to their peaceful home. ‘It was all right while it lasted, but I prefer Tyrone anytime,’ said Mr Conlan.
His wife echoed this statement but then she has had the experience of two trans-Atlantic trips. Three years ago she flew to New York to attend the wedding of her son, Phil.
Mr and Mrs Conlan have nine surviving children living in America, Canada, England and Ireland. Their thirty-two grandchildren include thirteen young Irish-American and Canadians, nine London-Irish, and ten Irish. They have one great-grandchild.