Martin who?

NOTES AND COMMENTS

November 12, 1999|By John O'Ren

Who's Who in America" lists 18 O'Malleys, none of them from Baltimore. Eight are in law, five in science or medicine. Surely the editors will want to include the first to be named Martin, the first to be in mayoring.

History, to be sure, has its O'Malleys. Tops, perhaps, would be Grace O'Malley, the pirate. In the 1500s, she "plundered British merchant ships off the stormy Connemara coast," her husband helping; later she met Queen Elizabeth I "as equals." The church has its O'Malleys: Father O'Malley in the films "Going My Way" and "The Bells of St. Mary's." Bing Crosby was only half-Irish, but he could sing real green.

Some O'Malleys are of lesser repute. There are still bars in Brooklyn where you had better not say aloud, "Walter F. O'Malley!" Brooklyn had a baseball team, until Walter moved it to Los Angeles. And look over your shoulder before invoking J. J. O'Malley.

On small wings, with a cigar as wand, he flitted in and out of the 1940s comic strip, "Barnaby," by Crockett Johnson. Barnaby was a Doonesbury sort, only much younger; J. J. was his self-appointed, self-seeking godfather. Wonderful stuff; once the strip went after medicine's orthodoxy -- a dragon walked in, lettered "Socialized Medicine."

The Sun wiped the words off.

Life should be so whimsical at Holiday and Fayette Streets. As Martin O'Malley takes up his new calling, Baltimore, a city whose placename is right off the map of Ireland, observes that City Hall has been home to two mayors with a Mc (McLane, McKeldin), but this will be our first O'.

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