Honoring Pat Roche's Legacy

A few weekends ago, founder Mark Howard was afforded the great honor of inducting the legendary Chicago dance teacher, Pat Roche into the Irish American Hall of Fame. To say the lineup of honorees was impressive would be an understatement. Alongside Dorothy Day, Kathleen McNulty, James J. O'Connell, Rev. L. Scott Donahue, Mother Mary Gerald Barry, O.P, Fiona McEntee, and Sen John McCain Pat Roche was inducted for Art & Humanities.

The Trinity Booster club celebrated the evening with Rie McGarry, Kevin Trant, Dominick Owens, Leslie Owens, Anne Leonard, Sarah Russell, Mark & Agnes Howard at a table up in the Erin Room of the Irish American Heritage Center. Also in attendance was the entire Roche/Boyle clan.

Pat was a Doonaha, County Clare native that dedicated his life to promoting Irish music and dance in the United States by way of Chicago where he started America's first ceili music band, the Harp and Shamrock Ceili Band. Mr. Roche became the Master of Ceremonies for the Irish Village at the Century of Progress Worlds' Fair in 1934, where he choreographed hundreds of performers at Soldier Field.

By the 1950s approximately a dozen Irish dance schools were operating in Chicago, nearly all of them born of Pat Roche's vision. Margie Dennehy was one of Pat Roche's students who took his teachings to even higher competitive ground. Margie and her husband Dennis went on to train Mark Howard.

Mark's induction speech which captured the essence of Pat Roche to a tee brought the entire Roche/Boyle family to tears as everyone raised a glass to toast to Pat's life and legacy. The speech concluded with a short Trinity Academy performance done by dancers Lucy Barnes, Kathryn Williams, Makena Kapusinski, Ella McPeak, Avery Boeldt, Kate Pratt, Sarah Evangelisti, Kylie O'Brien, Madeline Clohisy, and Maizie Pleuss so a special thank you to these dancers for getting on stage.

Many of you know of Pat Roche because of the feis, but what you might not realize is Trinity would not exist without him. In 2002, Mark Howard ultimately founded the Chicago Pat Roche Feis with the intent to honor Pat's legacy for future generations. The First Pat Roche Feis was instantly the largest in the world.

None of it would have happened if it were not for the innovative spirit of Pat Roche. We wanted to go ahead and share the full speech with all of you so you could have a glimpse into what a special evening it was for the Roche/Boyle family, Trinity, and the entire Irish community in Chicago!