Friday, March 12, 2021

The Love of Irish

As a part of celebrating Irish-American Heritage Month during March, we're taking this opportunity to highlight one of Dartmouth's most beloved sons of √Čire. Sidney Joseph "Irish" Flanigan (seen here on the right next to classmate Lou Lewinsohn) was a member of the class of 1923, a social butterfly, and an inveterate jokester. While a student, he was a member of Phi Delta Theta, Green Key, Casque and Gauntlet, the debating team, the Dartmouth Players, and served as manager of the hockey team. His senior year on campus, he was chosen as the unofficial mayor of Hanover by the student body in a mock election, likely in part because of his campaign's pro-alcohol stance that good-naturedly thumbed its nose at Prohibition.

After graduation, Irish was nearly as active in Dartmouth matters as he had been during his undergraduate days. He served as his Class President, Assistant Class Agent, and Newsletter Editor for almost fifty years. He was also the President of the Alumni Council and the Dartmouth Alumnni Association of Westchester County and even did a stint as Secretary for the New York City Association. In 1953, he co-founded Aquinas House and later took a leave of absence from his career in insurance to fund-raise nationally for a building for the Catholic student center. Nearly a decade later, he was inducted into the Sovereign and Papal Order of the Knights of Malta, one of the highest awards that the Catholic Church can bestow upon its laity. He also received the Dartmouth Alumni Award around that time, the citation for which read, "Dartmouth is written on the heart of Irish Flanigan, just as he is close to the hearts of thousands of Dartmouth men."

A photograph of an older Flanigan sitting in a chair looking bemusedOne of the reasons for Flanigan's stature among his fellow alumni was his self-sacrificial philosophy of life. He once said to his classmates, "Regardless of one's station, it is given to all to be generous. But the word self must be shoved far into the background so that the heart will have room to enjoy the real happiness and pleasure that comes only in doing for others -- without thought of praise, favor, or reward." Irish Flanigan passed away in his sleep on September 22nd, 1973. In a move that his classmate Charles Zimmerman characterized as "typical" for Flanigan, he had spent a good part of that very day "extending kindness and good cheer" towards two friends who were laid up in the hospital.

Zimmerman went on to pay tribute to Flanigan in his obituary in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine's Class Notes, saying "1923 and Dartmouth have lost an irreplaceable son, one who brought good cheer, good faith, good spirit, and goodness to everything and to every one he touched. All of us are better because of him."

To learn more about Sidney Joseph "Irish" Flanigan's amazing life, come to Rauner and ask for his alumni file.