Owen Roe McGovern (1917 – 2011)
Owen Roe McGovern was born on a farm in Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan on December 1, 1917. He was the eighth of ten children born to Owen and Mary (Dolan) McGovern. It was from these humble beginnings that Owen learned about hard work, family, God, and Irish football.
At twenty-three years of age, Owen Roe enlisted in the Irish Army and served from 1940-45. While in the Service and stationed in Co. Longford, the Co.’s GAA noticed Owen and invited him to play for their team; Owen accepted. Word got back to the Cavan officials that one of their own was playing for another Co., and Owen was asked to return to his roots and play for Cavan. If not for Co. Longford, I would have never had the opportunity to play for Cavan, he would say. No one from the western part of Co. Cavan ever really got “noticed”. In 1945, Owen Roe made it onto the mighty Cavan team, played in three consecutive All Ireland Finals (‘47-‘49), winning two ‘47 and, 48 with the 1947 Cavan versus. Kerry game being the most famous, played in the Polo Grounds in NYC, the only time the final was ever played outside of Ireland.
Owen moved to Dublin after retiring from Cavan football but still played some serious club football with Clan na Geal. It was in Dublin that Owen met his wife, Philomena McGovern from Dowra, Co. Cavan. They wed in January of 1954 and had their first child, Gerald in 1955.
In 1957, the family decided to make the big move to America. They settled in Elizabeth, NJ, to be near Owens’s sister, Rosaline. Three more children, Owen Jr., Mary, and Brian rounded out their family.
In 1963, Owen, along with his
partner Bill Morley, opened Morley & McGovern’s Irish pub in
Roselle Park, NJ, a gathering place for both the Irish
immigrants and Irish-Americans from near and far. Owen
assisted many Irish immigrants coming to this country
whether to find work or a place to stay until they were
nights a week, Owen could be found at his pub. People loved to be around him, and his business thrived. Many couples met in his establishment and later married.
In his spare time, Owen loved to hunt and fish, as well as, cheer on his favorite sports teams: Yankees, Giants and Notre Dame. Owen was a testament to the many organizations in which he was a member, including Morley McGovern Assoc., Frank McGovern Assoc., Joseph Nugent Assoc., The Union Co. Friendly Sons of St. Patrick’s, The Knights of Columbus #253 (4th degree) and St. Mary’s GAA club Swanlinbar Cavan.
Owen had been a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Elizabeth for over 50 years. Married for 57 years, he is survived by his wife Philomena, his children and the light of his eyes, his twelve grandchildren: Erin, Kerry, Colleen, Siobhan, Bobby, Nuala, Sean, Shannon, Siobhan, Brian Jr, Aislinn and Aileen, as well as, many nieces and nephews. Owen is truly missed by many; his fun-loving and compassionate spirit will continue to live on in the hearts of those lucky enough to have known such a remarkable man.
He was the owner of the Morley
& McGovern's Irish Pub, Roselle Park, the 1999 Union Co. St.
Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal and The Friendly Sons of
St. Patrick of Union Co. 1992 Irishman of the Year. He was
known for his devotion to family and friends, as well as his
consideration for others. Throughout the years, this proud
and humble Irishman had assisted many Irish immigrants
coming to this country. Mr. McGovern passed away on May
Owen Roe was the eighth of ten children born to Owen and Mary (Dolan) McGovern, in Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan, Ireland, in 1917. He served in the Irish Army from 1940-45 before joining the Cavan Senior Football team in '45 where he won two All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medals in 1947, '48. He lined out at right halfback when Cavan won the National Football League in the 1949/50 season. Owen was a proud member of St. Mary's GAA Club in Swanlinbar.
Owen is a testament to the many Irish-American organizations in which he was a member, including Morley McGovern Association, Frank McGovern Association, the Knights of Columbus #253 - Elizabeth (4th Degree), a gold card member of the Joseph Nugent Association, and a member of The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.
Owen had been a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Elizabeth for over 50 years. He is survived by his beloved wife, Phyllis, of 57 years; their children, Jerry and his wife, Ann, Brian and his wife, Yvonne of Cranford, Owen Jr. of Elizabeth, and Holly and her husband, Bob Fitzsimmons of Pittstown; as well as, his twelve loving grandchildren: Erin, Kerry, Colleen, Siobhan, Bobby, Nuala, Sean, Shannon, Siobhan, Brian, Ailing, and Aileen; and older brother, Joseph, of Ireland and many nieces and nephews. Owen Roe is sorely missed. His fun-loving and compassionate spirit will continue to live on in the hearts of those lucky enough to have known such a remarkable man.
Click HERE to view video tribute to Owen Roe McGovern