A heroic fireman, who emigrated to Canada in 1980 and received a prestigious bravery award from the City of Toronto Fire Department, said “Dundalk will always be my home” whilst visiting the town last week.
Kevin McGahon, who is originally from St Patricks Terrce, The Happy Valley in Seatown, last week recalled his life growing-up in Dundalk and his work in Canada in an interview with The Dundalk Democrat and Harry Lee from The Gathering History Project.
Kevin received the bravery award after he saved an elderly woman from a burning house.
“Natural gas was the cause of the fire in a house,” Kevin recalled, “A postman pressed the doorbell and that’s how the fire started.
“There was three houses affected by the fire and an elderly lady was in one of the houses. Fire and smoke surrounded the lady, it was very traumatic. She had the fear of god in her eyes.
“The house was falling apart, she couldn’t move. I had to take off my mask and put it on the woman. I then moved all the bricks so I could safely get her out of the house.
“We were very lucky. Ten minutes after getting out of the house, the entire property collapsed.”
Although he does not talk about the award, Kevin admits that he is honoured.
Despite living in Canada for 33 years, Kevin still has the Dundalk accent.
“I love the town,” he says of Dundalk. “I try to come back as oftenn as I can, it’s a great town.
He recalls growing up in the Seatown area.
“Happy Valley was a great place to live as a child. My mother Eileen Greene and my Grandmother both lived there. I played with the Dundalk Young Irelands in GAA and I was a member of the Seatown Athletic Club.
“I was a keen basketball player and I had trails in Dublin to represent Ireland, although I was not selected.”
Kevin remembers his teenage years vividly.
“I often think about going to the Redemptorists Hall on Friday night for the disco and the women would stay on one side, the men the other.
“I was always a pretty confident, but shy teenager. These was a lot of chasing involved in those days to meet a girl,” laughed Kevin.
Kevin attended the CBS, but he cannot recall positive memories.
“I have a lot of memories of the CBS, but a lot of them are not great,” said Kevin, “They are not happy memories, they are memories of abuse.
“When I look back, it wasn’t a nice experience for a kid to go through.”
Having worked in McArdle Brewery and then a printing company on the Coes Road, Kevin got a job in Canada in the printing trade.
He later got a job in the Toronto Fire Department and has not looked back since.
“Canada is a great place to live, but Dundalk will always be my home,” Kevin added.
If you know somebody who is returning home this year and would like to share their experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org