Saluting The Heroes Who Are Our Fathers
It’s been said that Dad’s are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, storytellers and saints. My father was no exception.
Let’s tackle the “saint” clear away. My father, Ned Gahan, was blessed with his youngest child (me) at age 50. Can you imagine having a baby at fifty? Well, I sure couldn’t imagine that. There are 11 years between my favorite (and only) sister and I. Quite a span to be managing a large brood of children. I’m not sure that it qualifies him as a saint, but it sure qualifies him as something. You be the judge.
Although I may not have always known it, felt it or showed it, (I was a boy for Christ’s sake!), in many aspects my father was my hero. He was a great salesman in the bar trade business. He was also an entrepreneur, turning his day job into another money-making opportunity by setting up his own bar and catering service for sporting events. Fortunately for me, I was too young to work these events, but my brothers had to serve their time in the “family business.” It was his work ethic and the way he managed his customers that makes him a hero in my eyes today. My father would do inventory management for his customers. He went into their storehouse and wrote orders, knowing in advance what to expect in the week ahead. My dad would walk back in and say “you need this and that.” They trusted him for years to do what is right for their business and to not oversell.
My father was also very generous with his time and money. Although he was busy with his work and other activities, he made a point to be active on the boards of charities and sports organizations. He always had a little more to give, providing loans to people less well off and never expecting to get it back. I’ve tried to personally incorporate many of his heroic traits into my actions in business and within the community. A little generosity always seems to go a long way.
I’d say that my Dad’s adventurous spirit was evident at an early age. He cycled to Germany with a friend in June and July of 1939 and was amazed at how developed the German State was. He was impressed with their hospitality and how the local people loved to talk to a couple of young, Irish lads who would ride 3-speed bikes across Europe. War broke out a month after he got back.
Many of his adventures also revolved around sports. He loved sports and sporting events. It’s a passion that I also share. He was a season ticket holder before that concept even existed. I have great memories of meeting famous people at these events. He’d bring me forward to shake their hand. Looking back, these introductions may have been an ingenious way of using me as a prop to get better seating. But I’m sure his intentions were good (said with a little wink)!
As for the storyteller, my father was most passionate about politics. Amazingly, but not unusual for the time, my dad never went to school beyond the 8th grade. His formal classroom education may have been short, but his learning never stopped. My father was very well read. He always stayed on top of worldly affairs and economics. In fact, he loved to read the election results with tabulated data from the very complicated proportional representation system. My father would scour through the details of each count, understanding where candidates were eliminated. He got into the details of whose votes transferred and why.
My father himself was very political, which got a bit edgy at times. Again, he’d bring me to meetings and conventions where he’d find someone famous or a celebrity. You got it, I was the prop brought forth to look cute and shake hands. My father ran for office once, unsuccessfully. Perhaps he should have thought about a different prop?
My dad was very loyal, a singer of the song of Irish brands. “Burn everything British except their coal”....but we're over that now. He was always keen to support local businesses and the people who ran them. It was a personal thing for my father that has played a large part in how we manage Biddy Murphy today. We don’t want to be another vendor. We always strive to be a partner with our suppliers, mixing business with a bit of storytelling, getting to know each other as people and being more than just numbers. We want to bring real Irish crafts to a broader audience.
Like my father, we’re committed to share the joy of Ireland and excited to sing the songs of our genuine Irish suppliers. We are excited to share the success of our maker-partners like Caulfield Country Boards who turned a struggling family window company into a generous woodcrafts business who recently used their talents to serve people needing supplies to fight the spread of COVID. We also love to share the incredible pieces made by our friend Simon at Lee River Goods who uses ancient methods to handcraft heirloom quality leather goods perfect for Father’s Day or any other gift-giving occasion.
As we celebrate Father’s Day by paying a little tribute to my father, Ned, we also want to wish health and happiness to all of the Fathers out there. May you continue to live extraordinary lives, wearing the hero's cape disguised as a Dad.