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Richard D.
Democrat IL

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  • Remembering Michael Joseph O’Shea

    by Senator Richard J. Durbin

    Posted on 2013-12-13

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    DURBIN. Madam President, as I often point out, our country is a country of immigrants. And the City of Chicago, almost without rival, is a city of immigrants.

    Earlier this week, Chicago lost a wonderful adopted son.

    Michael Joseph O'Shea--``Joe,'' as his friends and family called him--was born in Ballynacally, County Clare, Ireland in 1937.

    He came to America in 1959, when he was just 18 years old, and like so many sons and daughters of Ireland before him, he quickly made Chicago his home.

    You knew Joe O'Shea was Irish before he ever opened his mouth. To borrow a phrase from Eugene O'Neill, he had the map of Ireland all over his face. And his face was rarely without a smile.

    There's an old Irish saying: ``Bricks and mortar make a house, but the laughter of children makes a home.'' Well, there was a lot of laughter in the home that Joe and his wife Mary made on the South Side of Chicago.

    Joe and Mary were blessed with four children: Michael, Daniel, Colleen, and my friend Sean, through whom I got to know Joe.

    In addition to the laughter of children--and later, grandchildren-- the O'Shea home was filled with something else almost as beautiful: the sounds of Irish music.

    Joe O'Shea was a past president of the Chicago Irish Music Association and he was one of the best Irish accordion players you have ever heard, or ever will hear.

    In 2000, Joe was honored to play for President and Mrs. Clinton at their annual St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House. In the audience were many of the leaders of his adopted land as well as the Prime Minister and other visiting dignitaries from Ireland. It was a proud moment that Joe treasured.

    Joe's love of Irish music and dance and his masterful, joyful performances will help to keep that part of Chicago culture vibrant for many years to come.

    Like many Chicago families, the O'Shea family has split loyalties when it came to baseball. But they are united in love and support for each other.

    Loretta and I wish to express our deep condolences to Joe's wife, Mary, their children and their two beloved [[Page S8804]] grandchildren, Declan and Delaney O'Shea, and to Joe's many friends in this Nation and in Ireland. May your cherished memories comfort you in this time of sorrow.


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