Montreal’s Irish community is mourning the death of one of their own.
Margaret Healy was born in Pointe-Saint-Charles on July 30, 1931 to Thomas P. Healy and Lucy Irene McCarthy. She passed away in a long-term care facility on Sunday after several years of declining health.
She was 88.
Healy grew up in Pointe-Saint-Charles in Montreal’s Sud-Ouest borough, but also spent time Ottawa, where her father was a member of parliament.
“Margaret always told me the story about how when she was up in Ottawa with her dad she would be running up and down parliament with somebody named Paul Martin,” recounted historian Ken Quinn of the United Irish Societies of Montreal. Martin would later go on to serve as Canada’s 21st Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006.
Maybe it’s those early experiences that helped shape Healy into the woman she would become.
“Margaret was a real gem,” said Quinn.
“She was one of those people in the community who was comfortable walking with the regular folk like us or walking in the houses of power like parliament or city hall or wherever else that she needed to be to get things done.”
Healy joined the United Irish Socities of Montreal in the early 1990s and served a two-year term as president, only the second woman to ever do so, but it was her fundraising skills that really set her apart.
“Once she left her presidency, she rolled up her sleeves an got busy to try and raise some funds for the parade which is an expensive endeavour,” Quinn said.
“She wanted to make sure that the parade was left in a better financial standing than it was when she joined the organization and she was very successful at that.”
In 2005, for the 181st edition of the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day parade, Healy served as Grand Marshal — the first woman to ever be granted the honour.
Her involvement in the community didn’t stop there.
Healy was a businesswoman and lifelong volunteer, donating her time numerous Irish Catholic organizations in the city.
“She was a very persistent person, a very tough person, loving, a woman of faith. She was quite entrenched in the community and we’re going to miss her,” Quinn said, adding she was equally devoted to her family.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Marc Miller, represent the riding of Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Sœurs, paid tribute to Healy on social media, calling her “force of nature and pillar of the Irish community in Montreal.”
“She will be deeply missed,” he wrote, offering his condolences to friends and family.
The United Irish Socieities of Montreal and the St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal, with which Healy was also involved, shared news of her passing on social media.