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    A few words in tribute to my father

    By Noreen Bowden | May 13, 2013

    I’ve been quiet of late, not because of any lack of things to talk about in the diaspora realm, but because I’ve been busy with some other things, mostly having to do with my father – I minded him for about six months before he died this winter, and since then I’ve been dealing with all the things involved with tying up the affairs of a well-lived eighty-year life.

    I think my dad deserves a mention on this site. The experiences of him and my mother, both emigrants from the 1950s-era outflow, were the inspiration for my initial interest in emigration. They always remained as proud of being Irish people as they were of being American citizens, switching their passports to blue and raising their children in suburban New York but always calling Ireland “home”.  They – like so many others of their generation – maintained their loyalty to Ireland throughout their whole lives. If I’m honest, I’ve sometimes questioned whether this loyalty  has always been fully deserved, and it’s probably this question more than any other that has inspired my work on this site. But that’s for another day.

    I was really moved by what one of my friends wrote to me after my dad’s death: “Your Dad was part of the best generation to represent us in the States – they repaid their hosts by working hard, raising families and living by good values. You can be very proud of him.” And I am.

    I’ll just repost his obituary here:

    Columbus (Colm) Bowden died in New City, New York on Jan. 19, 2013, a week before his 81st birthday. Colm was born in Balleen, Freshford, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland on Jan. 27, 1932. He came to New York in 1958, after a few years working in England for the Ford auto company. He married Teresa Philbin from Castlebar, Co. Mayo, in 1964, moving to New City to raise their family in 1968. Colm spent most of his working life as a New York City bus driver. After retiring from MABSTOA in 1987, he worked for the Town of Clarkstown for ten years.

    Colm was much loved by his daughters, grandchildren and many friends and family. He will be remembered for his kind spirit, loyal friendship, generous heart and gregarious laughter. An enthusiastic card-player, he enjoyed frequent games of 25 at the Irish Center in Blauvelt, where he also spent numerous happy Sunday mornings cheering for the Kilkenny hurling team. He maintained strong ties to his native country, visiting relatives and old neighbors often; he phoned his sister Lena every week until the end of his life. Colm was very proud to have been named the Kilkennyman of the Year in 1985 by New York’s Kilkenny Association. An avid reader, he always kept up with the news from home, often with clippings sent by his late sister Kit, and the daily papers. A faithful Catholic, he was also a lifelong Pioneer after taking ‘the pledge’ at 18. After his retirement, he joined the Clarkstown Senior Citizens’ Club, where he made many new friends.

    Colm loved travelling. Happiest behind the wheel, he drove to explore America and visit friends in such far away places as Montana, Florida and Canada’s Prince Edward Island. He celebrated his 70th birthday with a train trip across the country to San Francisco and his 75th birthday with a journey that fulfilled his lifelong dream of visiting New Zealand and Australia.

    Colm is survived by two sisters in Ireland, Lena Downey and Lil Cahill; his daughters, Eileen Feeley of Alexandria, Virginia and Noreen Bowden of New City; and his two grandchildren, James Colm Feeley and Katherine Teresa Feeley. He will also be missed by his many nieces and nephews in Ireland and America. He was predeceased by his sisters, Margaret, May, and Kit (Sister Ethna), and his brother, John. His beloved wife, Teresa, died in 1986.

    Back to normal programming soon.

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