Longford people know how to throw a party and in New York ex-pats and visitors alike lived up to this reputation when the County Longford Association of Greater New York gathered to honour three remarkable Drumlish ladies. These ladies are Maggie Reilly, Lena Kelly, and Linda McKeon.
Guest of Honour on the night was Maggie Reilly of Barraghmore, Drumlish. A daughter of Pat and Maureen Collum, Maggie went to New York in 1989 and became a keen member of its GAA sporting community. She married Phil Reilly of County Cavan, and together they have three daughters, all of whom are also involved in GAA sports.
Also recognised on the night was Linda McKeon, Drumlish. A daughter of Pat and Josephine McKeon, Linda is a former student of Moyne Community School. In 2006 Linda moved to New York and joined the Cavan Ladies Football Club. During her time there, Linda has won four New York football championships, six All Star awards and was named New York Player of the Year 2007. Linda is the proprietor of the Randal Og Pub in the Bronx. Members of Linda’s family travelled from Ireland to New York to attend the prestigious event.
The Distinguished Service Award (in honour of the late Louise McKeon) was presented to Lena Kelly (sister of Louise McKeon). Born in Kilmahon, Drumlish, Lena is a daughter of Bernard and Catherine McGann. Upon moving to New York, Lena became involved in County Longford Ladies Auxillary and the Bronx Gaelic League.
Her sister Louise also joined her in these interests and together they served on committees including teaching Irish and ceilí dancing. On March 11 last at the Astoria World Manor, brother Eugene McGann travelled from Ireland to support his sister Lena and pay tribute to their sister, Louise.
In 1967 Lena married Pat Kelly from Drumintee, County Armagh, and together they had two sons. Today Lena volunteers with the New York Audubon Society. She also loves to travel.
Louise McKeon died on July 30 2011. She was the Recording Secretary at the time and known to be an active and energetic person
The County Longford Association of Greater New York renamed the Distinguished Service Award the Louise McKeon Memorial Award in her memory and they honoured Lena Kelly with the first presentation of the award.
The event, which took place at the Astoria World Manor, was the 121st annual dinner dance of the association and it attracted guests from near and far, with some travelling from the county itself to support family members.
In a statement, President of the Association, Mr Michael Prunty said: “I am proud tonight to pay a much deserved tribute to our honourees. Guest of honour Maggie Reilly from Barraghmore, Drumlish, Louise McKeon ‘Memorial Award’ presented to Lena Kelly from Kilmahon, Drumlish and Special Recognition Award recipient Linda McKeon from Cloonaugh, Drumlish, for their outstanding contributions to our association over the past years”.