Thursday 31 March 2016

Fr John Corridan

Michael Dillon, a Corconian whose mother ,Mary Corridan  mentioned below compiled the following article on his uncle Fr. John Corridan .
Through this blog , Michael and his family have reconnected with their cousins in New Zealand as a result of the article written by Jeremy Taylor and the Drombeg Corridans.....a great story !!

Many of us know of Father John Corridan the anti-corruption priest who was the inspirational character for Father Barry in the 1954 movie classic On the Waterfront. But some of us also knew another Father John Corridan, curate in ordinary parishes in County Kerry and an inspirational priest who improved the lives of many of the most deprived and marginalised people in the communities in which he worked. 

Father John was born in 1926 to Michael Corridan and Anna Curtin who owned a small farm in Murhur, Moyvane, in North Kerry. He was the eldest of three children; Denis was two years younger and Mary seven. He attended primary school in Moyvane; St Michael's Secondary School in Listowel and completed his secondary education at St Brendan's, the Kerry diocesan school in Killarney. He attended Maynooth College where he gained a BA and trained for the priesthood. He graduated in 1951. 

He was initially assigned to parish duties in Oldham, Lancashire and on return to Ireland worked in a number of parishes in Counties Kerry and Cork. His final position was in the Knocknagree sub-parish of Rathmore. He died of cancer following a brief illness in November 1982. 

Father John was a man at ease with himself, his family and his parishioners.  In an understated manner he helped build significant resources for the disabled (particularly those with learning difficulties) and support for their families during the 1970s and early 80s. This culminated in the opening of a day care centre in Rathmore which was posthumously named after him.  He was an enthusiast for the reforms within the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council, highly active in the Legion of Mary and an effective spiritual leader of his community. His commitment and approachability earned him the deep respect and affection of his congregation. His life and work provides an alternative narrative to the role of the Catholic Church in Ireland during what is now frequently portrayed as a troubled period.  

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Marie Corridan 1948 Olympic Gold Medal Winner

Norwalk's Golden Girl -- In 1948, Mortell left London with a legacy

This is the second in a series of stories featuring former Olympians from the area as we look back during this year's Summer Games on their Olympic experience.
Marie Mortell couldn't wait for the 2012 Summer Olympics to get here. She even said so in an interview four years ago during the 2008 Games.
You couldn't blame her, either. After all, the first week of competition is always swimming, her favorite sport. That alone got her excited every four years.
But this year's Olympics were going to be even more special since they were being held in London, the same city she won a gold medal in swimming at the 1948 Summer Olympics as a member of the U.S. 400 meter freestyle relay team.
Back then she was an 18-year-old young lady from Norwalk, Connecticut known as Marie Corridon, and it would be 60 years before the city would produce another Olympic medalist when rower Dan Walsh won the bronze at those 2008 Games.
But Marie Corridon Mortell is still the only Norwalker to ever win Olympic gold.
Sadly, Mortell passed away May 26, 2010 at the age of 80, a little more than two years away from the Olympics she badly wanted to see.
"She would've been glued to the TV," her daughter, Sheila Mortell Stolarski, said from her Weston home the other night. "She would've been excited to see all the swimming. But I think she would've been a little disappointed the 400 meter relay (her mom's Olympic event) only get the bronze.
"She was talking about these Olympics even back in '08," Stolarski added. "She thought it was really neat that they were going to be back in London. I think she would've been ecstatic.
"But she got excited every four years. She lived for that."
Marie Corridon was actually born in Washington, D.C., but moved to Norwalk when she was two and grew up in East Norwalk.
"My father (Dr. J.Donald Corridon) was from Norwalk so when he was through with medical school my father and mother came here," Mortell said in an interview in August 2008 as the Summer Games in Beijing were about to begin. "I still go back to Washington and I love it, but I've always considered Norwalk my home."
And for a good part of her life, it was. She attended St. Joseph School in South Norwalk, learned to swim at the local YMCA, and was only seven years-old when she won her first competitive race at the Longshore Country Club in Westport.
By time she was 12, Corridon won her first major title, the 100 free at the Senior Metropolitan Championships in New York. Soon she began swimming AAU meets around the country and by the time she was in high school at Sacred Heart Academy in Stamford, she was regarded as one of the best swimmers in the country.
In fact, as a freshman at Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., Norwalk's Marie Corridon became the first American woman swimmer to break the one-minute barrier in the 100-yard freestyle when she won the national AAU championship in Daytona, Fla., with a time of 59.9 seconds.
"It was like running a four-minute mile," she said during that interview in August 2008. "I didn't expect to do it so it was a surprise to me also."
It also earned her an invite to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Detroit, where she finished second in the 100 meters to qualify for both the individual event and as a member of the relay team in the upcoming Olympics.
An 18-year-old Corridon was one of 300 American athletes -- and one of only 38 women -- to go to London for the 14th Summer Olympiad, and the first in 12 years because of World War II.
"Mom said there was still a lot of rubble all over the streets leftover from the war," Stolarski said.
They were also the first televised Olympics and on Aug. 6, 1948, an American audience back home saw Corridon swim the opening leg on the U.S. women's 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay team that set a new world record with a time of 4:29.2, beating Denmark by four-tenths of a second and the favored Dutch by more than two seconds.
Back in Norwalk, Corridon's hometown celebrated. Mike Errico, the sports director at radio station WNLK, dubbed Corridon "Norwalk's Favorite Daughter" and the city threw a parade for her when she returned.
"I was 13 at the time and it was an exciting thing for Norwalk in '48, especially right after the war," Jim Corridon, Marie's younger brother said in 2010 after her sister's passing. "She definitely put Norwalk on the map and drew a lot of attention to our little town. Most of the swimmers back then were from Florida and California. There was a lot of hoopla in Norwalk after she won."
But while 64 years has passed since she won her gold medal, Marie Corridon Mortell's legacy still lives.
In fact, it was alive and well on Monday. The Norwalk YMCA remembered her during a ceremony attended by Sheila and her sister Kate, who brought their mother's gold medal to show the young swimmers in attendance.
"My sister and I want to keep her place in Norwalk history alive. I think it's important to keep that legacy and her memories going," Stolarski said. "I know there are a lot of older people still in town who remember my mom, but we want a lot of younger people to know who she was, too.
"You should've seen the look on all the kids' faces when we told them she was the only gold medal winner from Norwalk I think she would've been so pleased to see all those young people touching her medal and watching how they smiled. It was beautiful."
The Mortell sisters brought the actual medal their mother won, but a replica of the medal that their mom had made for her seven kids will be on display in the Norwalk Y's main lobby for the duration of the Olympics for others to see and appreciate.
"Mom was very humble about her medal," Stolarski said. "Unless you knew mom pretty good, you might not she was an Olympic gold medal winner. She was humble about it."
She was even humble about around her family as her seven kids were growing up.
"No, never. She was just Mom," Stolarski said. "She was just Mom. She never even talked about the gold medal.
"But if you did talk to her about it, she would make sure you knew she wasn't a former Olympian."
"There's a bond with all Olympians," Marie Mortell once said. "And we never want the word 'former' or 'ex' put in front of Olympian. We're always Olympians. I saw a headline in a paper once that said 'ex-Olympian.' We're not ex-Olympians. Once an Olympian, always an Olympian."
"That was on of her favorite sayings," Stolarski laughed. "And she loved being around other Olympians. She spent time with Kristine Lilly and met Dan Walsh after he won his bronze medal."
Mortell met Walsh the night the city of Norwalk threw a celebration dinner for him. At the end of the night, Norwalk Mayor Dick Moccia presented Walsh with a key to the city, and then surprised Mortell with one of her own … 60 years after her Olympic moment.
"That was such a nice surprise for mom," Stolarski, who accompanied her mother to the dinner, said. "She didn't expect that. She just wanted to be there for Dan."
Back in 1948, Marie Corridon could have very well won a second gold medal, an individual one in 100-meter freestyle. While the 262 U.S. men Olympians flew to London, the 38 women went by ship.
"Can you imagine if they did that now," Stolarski asked.
Less than a week after the Olympic Trials, Corridon and her teammates boarded the SS America and on board was a small pool that the swimmers trained in during the trip.
"They would have belts tied to our waist so when we were swimming we'd go nowhere, but we still got our training in," Mortell explained. "But it caused me to get bursitis in my arm and I had to stay out of the water for three days and I lost time training.
"I had swelling in my upper are and I couldn't lift it or do anything. By the time we got to Europe it was a little better."
But it wasn't 100 percent and she was eliminated in the 100 free semifinals.
"If I didn't have the injury, I felt maybe maybe I could have won the gold medal in that event, too," she said.
Fortunately, by the time the 400-meter freestyle relay came up, Corridon felt better and swam the opening 100-meter leg in 1:09.2, setting the tone for the Americans' exciting first-place finish.
Many felt she would have won the 100 meters, too, and many thought four years later a 22-year-old Corridon could have contended for another gold medal, or two, at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.
"After the '48 Olympics, it was all about seven kids," Stolarski, the fifth oldest of her seven kids, said. "But she stayed in swimming through us."
Indeed, all five daughters were outstanding swimmers at Norwalk High. Kate and Sheila helped lead the Bears girls swim team to their only state title in 1977. Maureen and Kate both made it to the Olympic trials, while Sheila just missed qualifying, and Margaret and Marie also enjoyed stellar careers. All five received college scholarships for swimming.
And all 11 of Mortell's grandchildren are swimmers, too. Last weekend, Stolarski's son, Edward, won four events at the Connecticut Age Group Championships, while his cousin, Jack, won two. Mortell's two grandsons finished one-two in the 100 and 200 backstrokes in the 13-14 age group.
"Before the race, they said to each other, 'Let's keep it in the family,' " Sheila, who recently won six events at a Masters swim meet, said.
Now Stolarski hopes her mother's gold medal will inspire more young swimmers, like the ones at the Norwalk Y on Monday who got to touch the medal.
"It should inspire young people to have hopes and dreams," Stolarski said.
Ann Curtis, the last living member of that 1948 U.S. gold medal-winning 400-meter relay team, just passed away this spring in California. Jackie LaVine of Illinois and Brenda Helser, also from California, both passed some time ago, and then Mortell in 2010.
So the four of them are all together again, and, who knows, maybe they're watching the 2012 Summer Olympics in London from above, 64 years after they won the gold there.
If they are, then Marie Corridon Mortell got her wish after all.

Sunday 17 January 2016

The Kiwi Connection

The following is a note I received from New Zealand that  Jeremy Taylor would like to share with you. It is very self explanatory and quite sad really but the power of the Family overcomes everything. If anyone can relate to this  or any relative, we would love to hear from you..

My name is Jeremy and I'm writing to you from Christchurch, New Zealand.
I write to you as I wanted to share a brief story regarding our branch of the Corridan's.
My grandparents, Jim and Johanna Lanigan (nee CORRIDAN), arrived in New Zealand in 1951 with the intention of staying here for a couple of years. 65 years later Jim has sadly passed away but Grandma is alive and well having turned 86 this last September (2015).
Starting afresh in a new country without family isn't an easy thing to do. Fortunately where they settled, a small town called Greymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand,  there was a large Irish community and the gradual transition of becoming a 'Kiwi' begun.
Their daughter, my mother Mary, from a very early age expressed an interest in her Irish heritage and her extended family 'back home'. This keen interest lead Mum into researching our family's history. When Mum started gathering the necessary date and names it seemed to be only by pen and paper and was a very slow and tedious process.
With Mum passing away in 2001 the family tree research stopped. It wasn't till early last year when a conversation with Grandma reignited the families interest in finding out where they originated.
My grandmother is the 8th and youngest child to Peter and Bridget Corridan (nee WALSH) from a little rural area just outside of Listowel called Drombeg.
Life on the small dairy farm was a simple one but a very challenging one. Even though Grandma was the youngest and wasn't necessarily involved in all the farm tasks she realised that a lot of hard work was put into providing food for all.
Grandma was only 7 years old when her mother Bridget passed away. She recalls it being a tough time for all but with her older siblings all contributing more around the house they continued life on the farm.
Grandma recalls school quite vividly. She attended Tullamore National school and Presentation Convent with her sister Catherine and to this day still slips into Gaelic if she is counting up card scores.
TB struck the family twice taking their father Peter and sister Bridie. The family now parentless initially spent some time with relatives but soon returned home where their brother John took over the running of the farm.
Peter's brothers Michael and Martin helped the family out as best they could. As the story goes 'Martin was living in London working for the BBC' and helped by taking in the oldest of the girls Maureen. Grandma recalls being lined up as a family when uncle Michael visited them on a Sunday. In addition to being asked how they were and what they'd been doing, they were also asked if they were behaving themselves.
With Maureen now living in Manchester post World War 2 and the limited prospects they had in rural Ireland they all gradually moved across to Manchester, England.
Life in Manchester was very different to what they'd experienced back home. Understandably they stuck together and mingled with the many Irish that populated  Manchester back then.
For some of Grandma's siblings travelling as far as Manchester was far enough. Grandma however wanted to follow her sister Elisabeth to the USA but was unable to secure sponsorship….lucky for me.
During a live-in nanny job Grandma met an apprentice tailor called James Lanigan. Jim wasn't initially to my grandmother's liking but with his Mayo determination and 'twinkle toe' dance steps he eventually won her over.
The young couple married in 1950 and were soon heading to New Zealand after encouragement from Jim's sisters and extended family already living in NZ. Even though they planned to return to the UK after 2 years they still felt incredibly emotional. That being said they joined in with the crew and passengers of the 'Atlantis' in singing 'Now is the hour' as they departed Southampton.
Their voyage took them through the Mediterranean Sea, Suez canal, Red Sea and across the Indian Ocean to Perth, Australia. After a brief stop they sailed south of Australia and landed in Wellington and to the middle of a waterfront strike.
With the arrival of my mother in 1952 and with a bright future ahead Grandma and Jim decided to stay in New Zealand.
The last 12 months has been a mixed bag of emotions for Grandma. She has recounted many stories during our conversations over numerous cups of tea - more happy than sad. Even though she only spent her earlier years in Ireland she considers herself to be Irish and a Corridan and is fiercely proud of both - something I'm pleased that has been passed on to subsequent generations.
One memory of my own though will be with me forever. The author of this website, Paul, forwarded me a photocopy of a picture of an old farmhouse and wondered if she might have any information about it. Watching her face when she first saw it was amazing. There was instant recognition as it was the farmhouse her and her family lived in all those years ago. To whomever forwarded it on - Thank you!!
Of Grandma's family there remains just the two. Her older sister Elisabeth is alive and well in New York. They speak weekly and would love to be together but sadly the demands of travel would be too great.
That being said, from that one farmhouse in Drombeg, there are Corridan's scattered around the world - New Zealand, Australia, USA and England.
From a personal perspective I'll carry on digging into the family tree. Grandma recalls stories of family moving to the USA. Some even moving 'out west' never to be heard of again. Sounds very exciting.  I have no idea where this journey of discovery will go and how far I'll get back but if you're somehow related or relate to this story I'd love to hear from you.
Best wishes to you and your loved ones.
Jeremy (aka Kiwi Corridan)

Monday 21 December 2015

Brother Jude and Tony Corden

 I have been corresponding with Brother Jude (Jerome Corden) one of the Corden Family in Waterbury. Bro Jude entered St Josephs Trappist Abbey in Spencer Massachusetts. Perhaps it is the Irishness in his blood but recently they started brewing their own beer  at The Abbey. The bottled beer is so successful that the Liquor stores in Mass. cannot keep it on the shelves. Even to look at the elegantly poured beer on their website would give you a thirst !!!Bro Jude is very proud of his Irish Ancestry and of  his American Family. Recently I had the great pleasure of meeting his only brother Tony who visited me in the summer with a couple of very colourful New Yorkers and  Tony presented me with their Family History. Their Families are so close that

Perhaps it is a lesson to us all !!

Tony Corden presenting copies of " The History of The Corden Family in Waterbury" by Charles Mitchell Corridan

John Thomas Corridan aka Jack Corridan

Rmember that great College Athlete I highlighted last year. Well as you know , Jack passed away in 2005 in Blairsville GA,.
I received a note recently from his very proud son Shawn which contained the Certificate below in which his Bravery and Courage for his Country during World War II were recognised at the very highest level by the most powerful man in the World

"Finally managed to get him buried at a beautiful National Cemetery in Georgia with full military honours"

What a lovely memory !!

Monday 4 May 2015

Michael Corridan, Duagh & Toronto

June 27, 1926 - December 29, 2014

Michael "Mike" Corridan
Passed away peacefully at home after a valiant battle with cancer. Beloved husband to Lorraine. Survived by his brother Martin (Ireland) and sister Kate (Louisiana,USA). Eternally grateful to the Lord for a long life. A very special thank you to the exceptional team of caregivers at CCAC and the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care.
Friends may visit at TRULL FUNERAL HOME, "North Toronto Chapel" 2704 Yonge Street (5 blocks south of Lawrence Avenue) on Friday January 2, 2015 from 1:00-3:00pm and 6:30-8:30pm. A funeral service will be held in the chapel on Saturday January 3rd at 10:30am. Reception to follow. Burial at Mt. Hope cemetery. Online condolences can be made at www.trullfuneralsyonge

Monday 17 November 2014

Sean Corridan R.I.P.

The following Obituary appeared on the Abbeyfeale Blog last week.
Sean was son of Tim, son of Tom , son of Tom of Foildarrig, son of Thomas and Margaret.  Sean was predeceased by his brother Kieran who was killed in a road traffic accident a few years ago and was a Clerk in Listowel.

We extend our deepest sympathies to all his Family

It was with a deep sense of sadness and loss that we learned last week of the death in London of Seán Corridan formerly of Kilmanihan, County Kerry.

Seán and I were classmates at St Ita's College, Abbeyfeale in the late sixties and went through all the many trials and tribulations associated with studying for the Intermediate and Leaving Certificate Examinations.

Seán had a roguish smile and a quick quip and a cheerful word for everybody. He never took himself too seriously and displayed a healthy disregard for authority.

We were involved in numerous practical jokes and harmless pranks down through the years, often with quite hilarious and unexpected consequences.

If any bit of mischief or devilment occurred in the classroom or out in the yard, Seán usually had some involvement!

We occasionally “collaborated” on homework assignments. One day the headmaster, Jim Kelly, hauled us out in front of the class. We had presented what we thought were two immaculate maths papers. Unfortunately, they were both identical – and wrong! Jim demanded an explanation.

Great minds think alike, sir?” suggested Seán innocently.

And fools seldom differ” replied Jim, with feigned severity as he drew a thick red line through both papers and banished us down to the back benches.

Jim always held Seán in high regard and, in our final year, he appointed him Sports Captain of the school. Seán took the whole thing in his stride but we suspected that he was secretly delighted to be given such an honour.

We had a fairly decent football team at the time. However, we were competing in the Kerry Colleges championships and were drawn against the likes of Listowel, Tralee, Castleisland, Dingle and the famed St Brendan's College in Killarney. Many of their players would later go on to become household names with the great Kerry teams of the seventies.

Kerry footballer, Billy Doran, had joined the teaching staff and both he and Seán took charge of training the team. Seán's dressing-room talks were legendary, and when we raced out on to the pitch he had us believing that we could crash through brick walls.

Seán played at midfield but, in truth, he roamed all over the pitch cajoling, encouraging and giving a helping hand wherever it was needed. One moment he was kicking a superb point from a seemingly impossible angle out near the sideline, the next he was fielding a high ball in his own square and lofting a mighty clearance out the field. It was inspirational stuff and it lifted the whole team.

We didn't always win – but we didn't always lose either. Anyway we could be relied upon to give a good account of ourselves or face a lively lecture from Seán!

When our school days ended the class dispersed and slowly scattered to the four corners of the earth and most of us eventually lost touch. Seán finally settled in London where he joined the Kingdom GAA Club. He went on to win seven London County titles with the club and also played a major part in the founding of Fulham Irish in 2006.

Many fulsome tributes were paid to Seán last week and the following article by Seán Moriarty appeared in the Irish World newspaper; 
"Tributes have been paid to Sean Corridon who died last week after a short illness.

The Kerryman was a loyal servant to the London GAA and had many claims to fame. He was part of the mighty Kingdom team of the 1970s and has seven London county championships medals to his name.

He was instrumental in the setting up of Fulham Irish when that club was founded in 2006 and in 2011 laid claim to be the oldest footballer ever to grace a GAA pitch when lined out for Irish in a reserve championship game at Ruislip. He was ever-present at Ruislip and could always be relied upon to the thankless jobs like linesman or umpire.

Fulham Irish issued a statement on his passing last week. It said: “It is with great regret that Fulham Irish GAA received the news of the untimely passing of Sean Corridan.

Sean was a one of the very few people involved with the London County board who offered unflinching support during the difficult period that Fulham Irish GAA came into existence in 2006. Sean was easily identifiable as a genuine gentleman who always had the player at the forefront of his thoughts.

In 2009, Sean joined Fulham Irish GAA to get involved with the running of the Senior football team. He remained a dedicated member right through to the end and could always be relied upon to help out when required, always there, always ready to help out.

One of those occasions happened in 2011, when the Fulham Irish Reserve team were playing a match against St Kiernans. Playing with only 14 players, the game was close enough. To make the numbers up to 15, Sean pulled on a jersey at half time but unlike others who do this, he stayed on the field for the duration of the game, twice catching the ball and laying it off for scores.

One of the sweet victories for the club after which Sean was researching whether he was oldest player to ever play in London. We offer our sincere sympathies to his Family and wide circle of Friends. May he rest in peace.”

He was also well-connected with the St Joseph’s club in London.

On behalf of everyone involved with St. Joseph’s, we wish to extend our sincerest sympathy to the Corden family following the recent sad passing of Sean. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time. Sean will be very sadly missed by everyone in the Joe’s.”

Mr Corridon was a life-long member of the Kerry Association London.

Secretary Tara Cronin said: “ It was with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Sean Corridon. Sean was a long standing member of the Kerry Association in London and has been involved with us for a number of years. Sean was an integral part of the committee and he will be missed. My deepest sympathies to his wife and family.”

Sean is survived by his wife Mary, children Dawn and Derry and granddaughter Beth."
(C* Seán Moriarty. Irish World.)

We offer our condolences to Seán's bereaved family, relatives and friends, and perhaps we might end with a quote from Hamlet which we both learned at school all those years ago;

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.  Rest In Peace, old friend.