Hibernian of the Year helped bring St. Patrick’s Day parade to A.C.

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GALLOWAY – Manus McGettigan plans to get up around his usual 6:30 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17, and do what he’s done for the past 50 years – spend the day with customers at McGettigan’s 19th Hole Tavern.

Manus McGettigan at Historic Smithville’s Irish Festival where he was named Hibernian of the Year last October. Manus McGettigan at Historic Smithville’s Irish Festival where he was named Hibernian of the Year last October.

McGettigan, who will turn 85 Aug. 1, said he wakes up early and usually goes over to the tavern across from Seaview Resort and makes sure everything is OK around the bar.

“I’m retired now,” he said. “But you have to have something to do.”

McGettigan is the reigning Hibernian of the Year – an honor bestowed at Historic Smithville’s Irish Festival last October.

Other honors through the years include being named man of the year by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

In 1990 he was grand marshal of Atlantic City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade – an event he helped originate in an upstairs room at the Town Tavern.

“Our first grand marshal was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Tom Sullivan – who earned the honor during World War II,” McGettigan said. “He’d come to the bar where I worked in Atlantic City and one day asked if I’d ever seen a Medal of Honor license plate. I hadn’t, but then I did and we got him to be our grand marshal.”

McGettigan’s 19th Hole, which he bought with his wife, Anne, in 1962, had a float in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Atlantic City Saturday, March 10.

“I rode on the float,” McGettigan said. “We had our granddaughters doing the step dancing on it. We’ve had a float in the parade every single year.”

Manus McGettigan and Anne Gallagher were both baptized in the same church in Donegal, Ireland, as infants.

“She came from the same place, but I never knew her there,” McGettigan said. “It was when we both lived in Philadelphia that we met. We got married the next year. We’ve been married 57 years now.”

The McGettigans moved to Atlantic City where Manus McGettigan went to work in a bar owned by his brother and started their family that would eventually include six children – three boys who all live in this area, and three girls – one local and two who live near Philadelphia.

“After that I managed the Irish Pub when it first opened,” McGettigan said. “We bought the 19th Hole from a Mr. Weaver in 1962.”

McGettigan was drafted into the Reserves during the Korean War and spent time in Indiana and in Germany.

“I wasn’t even a citizen until I came out of the service,” McGettigan said. “I had to wait five years before I could apply.”

The years have been good to him, said McGettigan who professed both his love for the United States and his pride in his Irish ancestry.

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