For the month of March (also known as Irish American Heritage Month) IrishCentral is tapping into the heartbeat of the Irish American community. The Unsung Heroes series features inspiring individuals from across the US who do extraordinary work in their communities and respective fields. From advocates to artists, from local legends to dedicated educators; from a high school baseball team to dynamo nuns in their 80s, these people are making a difference and to them we tip our hats in thanks.
At 14-years-old old Tommy Patrick has racked up 30 belt buckles and two champion saddles bull riding. Not only is this Irish American Colorado native a successful athlete but he’s also heavily involved in the community.
His mother, Kelly, nominated him to be recognized as part of IrishCentral’s Unsung Heroes saying “He always puts everyone’s needs ahead of his own.” No more so than in the September 2013 when the floods slammed the Loveland community along the Little Thompson River. Tommy worked tirelessly, moving balls of hay away from the creek as water levels continued to rise, clearing massive amount of debris, removing downed trees, repairing fences, and looking for lost valuables.
Kelly said “Tommy is always helping out the younger, and up and coming little bull riders, and sometimes the older ones too, in the chute and out.”
She added “Tommy promotes the highest standard of conduct and sportsmanship in everything he sets out to do. He believes it is important to keep our Western and Irish heritage alive in America. And promote beneficial relationships between people and organizations interested or involved in the sport of bull riding and all of rodeo, and to promote consistently humane treatment of animals.”
“The most humble and polite Irish cowboy you will ever meet”, Tommy’s Irish roots go way back.
Kelly explained “Tommy’s great-great-grandparents on his Mom’s side came to America in 1888. They came from Rosslea, in County Fermanagh. His great-great-grandmother was Rose McKegney. Rose’s mother, Sarah, was a lace maker and his great-great-grandfather Michael McCloskey, his father was a farmer.”
From the age of four Tommy wanted to be a bull rider. Eventually, when he was eight, Kelly allowed him to go to his first Junior Bull Riding events. She recalled “He did fall off and I’m sure it hurt, but he didn’t run to me crying, the kid was smiling ear to ear, and said I want to get on another one. I just dropped to my knees.”
Tommy’s bull riding career is going from strength to strength Kelly explained that he “has qualified five times for the World Youth Bull Riding Finals, in Texas, and has even won competitions around there. Not too bad for his short time that he has been have been riding bulls.”
A real Irish cowboy and a hero in the making.
Learn about yesterday's Unsung Hero, a senior citizen who gave up his Meals on Wheels so someone else could eat, here.
* Originally published in 2014.