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.
Every neighborhood has its behind-the-scenes hero – someone who keeps things going, who always has an eye out, who everyone knows they can turn to in times of trouble.
In Dorchester, Massachusetts Doc Walsh is that guy.
According to his neighbors, Patrick 'Doc' Walsh is a kind, unassuming, and gentle soul in his late sixties. He came to Boston from Moycullen, Co. Galway in 1959 and shares the same stories as many of his peers who arrived from Ireland in the same era. He played hurling for Father Tom’s hurling club and joined the National Guard.
After his beloved wife, Breda, passed away in 1992, Doc raised his children, John, Brian and Laura, with the love and support of two parents – balancing his schedule working in construction and then running his own business with caring for them. Throughout these years, he found great comfort and strength in his community and in St. Gregory’s Parish, where he still works as an usher.
Those years inspired Doc to give back. A real local treasure, he is a regular at the Greenhills Irish bakery where he greets everyone by name and with a smile. When he asks how you are, they told IrishCentral, he waits for the answer and really listens.
Doc has a hand in all the local dances and fundraisers – often for the same Irish that arrived when he did – and the profits are always donated to a local organization.
Doc is a co-founder of the Hearts for Haiti fund. He has raised both awareness and significant funds for those struggling in Haiti. Doc is always grinding the wheel of fortune to benefit those in need, many of whom are not veiled in the tricolor.
When the Irish Social Club in West Roxbury was in danger of closing, Doc was there to help navigate its revival. The Irish Pastoral Center has also benefited from Doc's efforts. In all these cases, friends say, Doc is only seen in the background, helping wherever he is needed most.
The Milton local who nominated Doc said, “If you can, drop into the Greenhills bakery sometime and ask about our local hero. All will smile with fond appreciation for a wonderful man who makes a difference in countless ways. In case you happen to bump into Doc himself, feel blessed as you are in great company. Just don't ask him to sing his own praises. He’ll be more concerned about asking how you are!”
To learn about yesterday's unsung hero, Firefighter Kyle Hughes, click here.
* Originally published in 2014.