Home from the USA, Charlestown in Co. Mayo

(from 'The Western People’)

After forty nine years absence, a Charlestown Patrolman from Chicago, visited home, the year was 1949.

That man was Patrick Kinsey, a brother of Miss Brigid Kinsey, (McKinsey) of Church St, who was a dressmaker. He had a very colourful life as an American Cop or patrolman.

Standing six feet three inches and of a powerful build, he is accompanied by his wife, Mrs Agnes Kinsey, formerly Agnes Gallagher of Lurga, and a sister of Mrs Kilcoyne, Lurga. When interviewed by our correspondent, who asked him what was his most thrilling experience? He replied good humouredly: "Well I married a local girl". He is the proud father of a family who seem to be bent on upholding justice in the USA - he has two sons in the Police Dept, one son a Lawyer and a son-in-law in the Police.

All have seen active service with the US forces, serving on the Continent, as well as in Manila and Japan. When further questioned about his experiences as a Patrolman, he was very reluctant to discuss his activities, as he seemed to be still adhering to the rule that the Police force must not give the Press anything.

His wife, however, reminded him of a few incidents, one of which was about apprehending a burglar who had broken into a Pork shop and was making his get-away down an alleyway, before Patrolman Kinsey came on the scene. As the Burglar failed to stop when called upon, Mr Kinsey drew his gun, fired, and dropped the burglar in his tracks with a leg wound. He had a side of bacon under his arm, and was - an Irishman.

Again he refused to be drawn out and gave the reason why. He did not wish to hurt the feelings of burglars or their relatives by divulging anything about their lives, which might be put in The Western People, because he added: when our fellows get The Western over there, everybody over there with a drop of Irish blood reads it from top to bottom, and then we pass it on, and after all I would not embarrass anyone. His wife remarked "anyway he is one of those that never made many arrests". When asked what was the worst type of criminal and the most dangerous, the immediate reply was "The Italians". The beat had to be doubled in the Italian Quarter of Chicago and frequent shootings were due to feuds, which had started in Italy years ago, members of the Mafia Society being particularly bitter and callous. After them came the Negroes, they too were treacherous and very hard to trace as they looked so much alike.

Asked if he ever came in contact with Capone, the notorious, he replied quite casually, that he had, several times. On one occasion he was assigned to visit Capone's house and was met by Capone's wife at the door. After a few formal questions were asked and answered, Mrs Capone offered him a drink saying "I suppose you would run me if I offered you a drink?" The reply was in the negative and he was seated in the parlour and was offered a beer and a double shot of brandy. Capone's mother hurried downstairs with a wealth of spaghetti and the leg of a chicken. Very nice people, he commented.

He explained about the great working of the vast forces of the FBI and the methods used to combat crime. The Irish Garda Siochana were, in his estimation, having a swell time with a lot less work to do. They carried themselves very well and with a good military bearing. This was very true of the Charlestown Guards, and he concluded, all of them very good looking men.

Mr and Mrs Kinsey are staying in Ireland for some time and we wish them every enjoyment on their holiday. In April 1949, Mr. Patrick Blake was another Charlestown man to return home for a holiday, after 22 years in America. He lived in Long Island, New York, and was a carpenter by profession, working in the Todd shipyard in Brooklyn. Pat served in the repairing of ships such as the "Brooklyn", "Destroyer", Philadelphia", "Washington", and "Manhattan".

This clean cut, well-spoken gentleman is better known to American radio fans as "Paddy Blake and his Irish Americans". Pat broadcast regularly over the American network. He himself conducts the seven-piece Irish-American dance band and he played Irish songs only. Mr Blake was by then an American citizen, but as he said "My heart is here in Ireland". He was married to an Irish girl, formerly May O'Shea, from Tipperary. He had two sons and one daughter. His elder son was a commercial artist while the younger one was a photographer. His daughter entered the Church. Pat was once a "Western People" newsboy and proud of it. He was often disappointed when he could not get a copy in Times Square in the international news agencies.

When questioned as to Mr Truman's unexpected win in the American Presidential Election, he attributed it to overconfidence on the part of the Republican supporters who stayed away. Another reason was that the people dreaded a recurrence of the '29 slump, which resulted in the change of Presidents. Pat voted for Mr Dewey, although he was a Democrat since he went to America, because Truman turned a deaf ear to the deputation sent by the Irish Republican Party, for Truman's intercession in the Border question back home. He predicted that Dewey would be elected next time and that Mayor O'Dwyer would go back again for another term in office.

Regarding the Irish situation, Pat said that in Ireland they should not take a Republic for the 26 Counties, it should be all or none.

He enjoyed his stay and had his accordian with him. He was a brother of Martin Blake, better known as "Son", who was a drummer, crooner and accordianist in Wimsey's band, Tubbercurry. He stayed with his mother in Barrack St Charlestown and had an enjoyable time.

In the late 1970's he retired to his home place and died here.

© Cathal Henry 2005