The Glee Club
There is a common thread that binds members of the Celtic world. Some say it is the gift of story. Some argue it is our love of country. Still, others contend it is our love of song. In fact, they are all correct.
The original Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Glee Club began in the kitchen of Joseph I. C. Clarke in 1913 in New York City. The complement of New York singers numbered twenty-three and boasted the gifted composer Victor Herbert. One of Mr. Herbert's gifts to the original Glee Club was The Hail of the Friendly Sons. In 1981, Past President Robert E. Manley attended The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Banquet in New York and was duly impressed with their Glee Club. This was put into a report for the Trustees of the Cincinnati Society and stirred the interest of several members.
It was in September 1984 that then President Seamus Roche had lunch with Declan O'Sullivan and Bill Burke at the McAlpin's Tea Room on West Fourth Street. They discussed the idea of forming a choral group to mirror the one in New York. Approval was needed by then Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Richard Ormond. While being a stickler for tradition, Dick was in full support of the idea under two conditions:
It had to be "right," and it couldn't cost the Cincinnati Society anything.
The secretary of the New York Glee Club, and friend of Declan O'Sullivan, Mr. Tom Dolan, was very helpful and encouraged them to proceed. He also sent along a number of the musical arrangements sung by the New York Glee Club including those that were originally penned by Victor Herbert.
The first practice sessions were held at the College Conservatory of Music in January of 1985. Founding members included:
First Tenors: Tom Sheeran, Jack Murray, Jim Fitzgerald;
Second Tenors: Declan O'Sullivan, Paul Lindsay, Jr., Tom Geoppinger, Buck Shiels (later became Baritone);
Baritones: Seamus Roche, Joe McDevitt, Raphael Patrick (Ray) Carr;
Basses: Gerry Mulvany, Mike Quinn, Jim Meakin, Bill Heekin, P.D. Cain.
The first director was David Bodie, followed quickly by Joe Piazza.
A concert at Seton High School, in conjunction with Irish comedian Hal Roche, attracted Tim Garry Jr. to the group, saying it was "Love at first listen." By the time the inaugural Banquet performance was given on March 17, 1985, Tim Garry Jr., Bill Reilly, Dan Roche and Tito Bigelow had rounded out the original group. Since that time the Glee Club has performed at every Friendly Sons Banquet and marched in every St. Patrick's Day Parade... to standing ovations.
The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Glee Club in Cincinnati