On St. Patrick's, Pop Monaghan Spread Green All Over Town

March 17, 2007|By JACQUES KELLY

The postman must have thought our home was an Irish law firm when the letters addressed to Kelly, Monaghan or O'Hare arrived at Guilford Avenue. These are the surnames of my father, grandfather and great-aunt.

My father celebrates this feast day by having his friends come to the house; my grandfather, Edward Jacques Monaghan, did it the other way around: Each St. Patrick's Day, he made a grand tour of Baltimore, winning friends along the way. Pop Monaghan was an ambassador of the green.

It was a day for his best suit, vest, shirt and bow tie. Also, the gold watch chain and pocket watch, a Hamilton he favored. He hated wristwatches. Like others of his generation, he considered them unreliable and unmanly.

He liked the preaching of the Rev. John Sinnott Martin at the old St. Vincent dePaul Church near today's main post office downtown. (Father Martin also handed out little pamphlets containing some of his thoughts.) I can still see a big Chrysler appearing at our front door - his ride downtown.

Pop liked to circulate downtown and take a break from the household of 12 (including six grandchildren) for a few hours. Front Street was a short hop to Little Italy, where he would spend the afternoon. If his stocks were doing well, he might order Wight's Reserve, his favorite Maryland rye made in Cockeysville.

He also had his little amusements. When a waitress handed him a check, he might settle up in silver dollars. People he met and liked might get a liitle gift, a pocket notebook or small treat. He could work a crowd, talk to strangers and make an impression.

He was a social man, and he needed a roomful of people to tell his stories to. (In some cases, the same story might be told two or three times during the course of the day.)

Pop Monaghan's tales were economic in words. There was the time he was applying for a job about 1910, and the man doing the hiring asked him about his education. Pop replied that he had attended the University of Notre Dame. The employer said, "I've never heard of it." Pop replied, "You will."

By the end of the afternoon, Pop was heading back north. He knew the domestic laws of the house where we all lived. There was a strict 5 p.m. attendance enforced at the head of the table. On St. Patrick's Day, Lily Rose, who was not Irish, produced an aromatic corned beef and cabbage dinner - heavy on the cabbage, which she liked. Pop had it with hot mustard and horseradish. He liked rice pudding for dessert and got it. Absolutely no alcohol would be served.

Pop Monaghan died the day after Christmas 1963, and we received his friends at the old Henry W. Mears funeral home at Calvert and Madison streets. Pop seemed to have made friends with half of Baltimore; we are still trying to figure out just who all his mourners were.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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