A visit to Croke Park is a very special occasion for Leitrim people.

That certainly was the case on July 22 as a large contingent of native Leitrim exiles along with a large group from the native county gathered in Croke Park’s assembly hall for a very special event, the first-ever Hall of Fame ceremony organized by the New York GAA. 

The first honorees were Micheál O’Muircheartaigh, Jim Gavin, Joe Canning, Briege Corkery, and Mike Carty. The New York GAA bestowed its lifetime achievement honor to Carty, who was born in Aughavas but immigrated to New York with his family in the early 1960s. 

Carty got involved quickly in the bar business, and along with his business partner, Austin Delaney, opened the first Rosie O’Grady’s in Manhattan in 1975. Rosie’s, as it is affectionally known, has since blossomed to become a major Irish restaurant in Manhattan. 

Carty was deeply involved in the GAA from day one, first as a player with the Leitrim Gaelic Football Club, later as a trainer and very successful manager, winning a pair of New York championships under his guidance. 

He was not just a very dedicated manager or player, he was also very helpful behind the scenes. At one stage, the whole Leitrim team was employed by Rosie’s. 

However, it was not just the GAA that was the main beneficiaries of Carty’s time and fundraising efforts. For nearly 25 years, he ran a charity golf outing that netted over $2 million, with funds being allocated to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Ballinamore Rehab plus several other organizations. He was also on the board of directors of the American Ireland Fund.

Since arriving in New York, Carty has been a longtime loyal supporter of the New York GAA and a central figure on numerous committees devoted to the improvement and development of Gaelic Park. He spearheaded the campaign for the resurfacing and lighting of the facility a few years back. 

Currently, Carty is a major driving force behind the new building at Gaelic Park that is currently at the foundational stage which will become not just the future headquarters of the association but will also be a major cultural and social center for the Irish and Irish American communities. It is hoped that the new building will help revitalize the New York GAA and that Gaelic Park will once again become the great Mecca that it was in times past. Thanks to Carty, through his dauntless efforts, this could soon become a reality. 

It certainly was a great night to be in Croke Park as Carty’s friends and acquaintances came from near and far to honor the man, who not only became a great benefactor to Leitrim and the GAA but to dozens of organizations, clubs, and associations which benefitted from his generosity of the last half-century. He certainly was a great choice by the New York GAA for the lifetime achievement award. 

The other honorees were deserving of their awards for their contributions to the GAA through their stellar careers. Granted Carty had a respectable playing career and successful management career, but truly his accolades were unmatched behind the scenes. 

*This column first appeared in the August 3 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.

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