John O'Neill, Founder, Mayo Men's Association circa 1905
As early as 1901, it has been recorded that Mayo men in Philadelphia began working together to help each other as they adjusted to life in America.
In 1905, three Mayo men, John O'Neill of Foxford, Martin Clarke of Castlebar and John Green of Newport wrote the constitution of the Mayo Men's Association of Philadelphia. The membership grew to over 500 in 1914. At that time, the organization welcomed ships coming in from Ireland to the port of Philadelphia, taking care of all young travelers who didn't have any family or friends to greet them.
In the early days, the Mayo Association (in conjunction with the Galway Society of Philadelphia), raised a large sum of money for the relief of the families at home who were sufferers in the fishing boat disaster.
The Feis Erinn Concert, at the Academy of Music, was financed in part by Mayo funds, and the success of the concert was due in great measure to the enterprise of Captain Michael Cavanaugh, a member of whom the Mayo Society was very proud. The success of the concert was so great that the committee in charge was able to refund the Mayo loan, a very unusual circumstance in Irish Fraternal experience.
When the Irish Race Convention of 1932 issued a directive that a Federation of Irish Societies be organized in the cities of the United States, the Mayo men took an active interest in the Philadelphia organization.
John J. Kelly and Patrick Callaghan of the A.A.R.I.R, Tom Minnick of the AOH, with Mike Prendergast and Tom McDonough of the Mayo Association comprised the organization committee. Theirs was a Herculean task.
Irish Societies were disorganized: no one seemed to know the address of any other than his own. The questionnaire, which produced a semblance of representation, and the constitution of the Federation of American Societies of Philadelphia for Irish Independence, were children of Mayo's representatives. The formation of the Commodore John Barry Memorial Association was a natural follow-up to the Federation.
In 1966, women were admitted into our Association as full members and the name was changed to the Mayo Association of Philadelphia. In 1981, Attracta O'Malley became the first women President. Today, the association is comprised of immigrants and descendents of emigrants from County Mayo.
The Mayo Association has helped many people and causes over the years. They worked with other Irish organizations in charitable endeavors, mostly notable being a donation to aid in the construction of the Shrine in Knock, County Mayo. We have raised funds for Western Care in Castlebar, Aras Attracta in Swinford and St. John of God in Westville Grove, New Jersey. These organizations help mentally and physically challenged children.
We have also supported the disadvantaged around the world, including but not limited to the Kosovo Relief Fund and the famine relief fund in Somalia. Our proceeds are directed to helping the less advantaged and to restoring communities through cultural and artistic expressions.
We are a major donor to the Irish Memorial at Penn's landing in Philadelphia, a national monument, dedicated to the memory of more than one million innocent men, women and children who perished during the years 1845 to 1850, and the millions of Irish immigrants who found here in the United States the freedom, liberty and prosperity denied to their ancestors in Ireland.
Our main fundraising event, the annual Mayo Ball, is one of the most elegant and enjoyable social events of the year, featuring top area Irish musicians and the annual Miss Mayo Pageant.
Every year we celebrate a special Mass dedicated to Our Lady of Knock. In 2002, our members unanimously voted to make Our Lady of Knock our Patroness and Protector. On August 21, 1879 the Blessed Mother along with St. Joseph & St. John the Evangelist appeared on the gable of a church in the small farming village of Knock in County Mayo. On their right was an altar with a cross and the figure of a lamb. The apparition was seen by 15 people, ages 6 to 65 who watched for 2 hours in the rain. Every year, on the third Sunday of August, the Mayo Association organizes a special mass to commemorate the miracle that occurred. All Irish Center county associations are invited to attend.
Past Presidents of the Mayo Men's Association & Mayo Association
1965 1966 - Thomas Horan
1967 - Thomas Moffitt
1968 1969 - Thomas Cunniffe
1970 - Tom Howley
1971 1972 - Sean McMenamin
1973 1974 - Thomas O'Malley
1975 1976 - Jack Martin
1977 1978 - William B. Gillard
1979 1980 - John Tuffy
1981 1982 - Attracta O'Malley (first woman president of the Mayo Association)
1983 1984 - Jim Holleran
1985 1986 - Ted Rodgers
1987 1988 - Thomas O'Malley
1989 1990 - Eileen Tuffy
1991 1992 - Edward Prendergast
1993 1994 - John Durkan
1995 - Jim Holleran
1996 1997 - Tony Walsh
1998 1999 - Attracta O'Malley
2000 2001 - Bob Hurst
2002 2003 - Patricia Sweeney (Granddaughter of founder John O’Neill)
2004 2005 2006 - Frank X Cantwell
2007 2008 2009 - Maureen B. Saxon
2010 2011 2012 - Rosaleen Megonegal
2013 2014 2015 - Sean McMenamin
2016 2017 2018 - Eileen Conboy Barrilli
1905 - John O'Neill
1906 1907 - Patrick O'Neill
1908 1909 - Patrick O'Brien Jr
1910 1911 - John M. Green
1912 1913 - William Meenihan
1914 1915 - Bernard Kearns
1916 1917 - James McLaughlin
1918 1919 - Dr. Auther Keegan
1920 1921 1922 - Tom McLaughtin
1923 1924 1925 - James Cunniffe
1926 - James Duffy (died between election and inauguration)
1926 1927 1928 - John McNulty
1929 1930 1931 - John M. Green
1932 1933 - Michael Prendergast
1934 1935 - John M. Green
1936 1937 1938 - Thomas Donough
1939 1940 1941 - Michael Dalton
1942 1943 1944 - Martin Towey
1945 1946 1947 - Eugene Rose
1948 1949 1950 - William F. Moran
1951 1952 - James Moran
1953 1954 - William F. Moran
1955 1956 - John Lyden
1957 1958 - Mickey Cavanaugh
1959 1960 - William B. Gillard
1961 1962 - Thomas Cunniffe
1963 1964 - Robert Gillard
Past President's Award Honorees
2008 Tom Staunton
2009 Kathleen Murtagh
2010 Sr. James Anne Feerick
2011 Maureen Brett Saxon
2012 Andrew (Butch) & Pat Harley
2013 Rosaleen & Bill Megonegal
2014 Marianne MacDonald
2015 John & Eileen Tuffy
2016 Mark & Olivia Hilpl
2017 Holly Conboy, Susan Conboy & Karen Conboy-Carroll
2018 Lisa Maloney
1998 Helen Degrand
1999 Andrew Browne
2000 Joe & Kathleen Boyle and Pat & Ann Hynes
2001 Eileen D'Angelo
2002 Tom & Attracta O'Malley
2003 Sean McMenamin
2004 Bob Hurst
2005 Patricia Sweeney
2006 Mike Gallagher
2007 John & Eileen Durkan