The Irish Person of the Year (IPOY), is the Irish American Society’s annual award to one of its outstanding members. The award recognizes the recipient’s commitment to the promotion of the social and cultural goals not only of the Irish American Society but also of those of other Irish organizations in the area.
At the Irish American Society Christmas party I was introduced by our year 2000 Irish Person of the Year, Mr. Bill Powers. Bill told everyone that the selection for Irish Person of the year 2001 has been made and the selection was, Frank Dunigan.
After the congratulations and accolades were made, the selection settled in and the realization of it all hit me. Wow, what a wonderful and thoughtful honor to be chosen IAS Irish Person of the Year. I was and I still am very happy just to be a part of the IAS but this honor was totally unexpected. Thank you.
I was born in a small home on Broadway, across from Holy Name Catholic Church in Cleveland, Ohio. My parents were Arthur James Dunigan and Mary Leona Soules; my mom’s mother was an O’Brien. At an early age my parents and I moved to Lakewood, Ohio a blue-collar suburb on the near west side of Cleveland. Lakewood had a population of approximately 60,000. Most of the people were Irish immigrants or of Irish decent. The Power’s, Murray’s, Andrew’s, Foy’s, Daniel’s, Rooney’s, Gannon’s, McNulty’s and more were all neighbors. There was not much in the way of transients in Lakewood. They had traversed enough. So our neighborhood was a real stable and a solid foundation for the Irish youngsters. St. James Catholic Church was a focal point for most of us. The church was run by Monsignor John Gallagher a wonderful, but a very scary man and he always rammed the fear of God into a lot of us.
Lakewood had an ordinance stating that there could not be any alcoholic beverages served within 400 feet of any church. There were four Catholic churches strategically located around Lakewood and of course there were other churches as well. There were several more pubs in Lakewood, but not within 400 feet of any church. The pubs were a meeting place for a lot of the Irish families on Friday nights because of the Fish Fry’s and fun for the young and old.
As my friends and I grew up we became active in many groups. One of the groups was The Irish American Club a place we always went to after the Cleveland Browns Games to drink beer and shoot darts. Another was The Emerald Civic Society. There were 200 members only and a waiting list of several hundred other men that wanted to join. The reason for the Emerald Civic Society was to preserve and grow the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Downtown Cleveland, all collected funds that were left over (a tidy sum each and every year) were given as scholarships to the Irish children for school and/or higher education. When I left Cleveland to venture to Dallas, I had to give up my memberships to the Irish American Club and the Emerald Civic Society.
My wife, Eva Lee (Eve) Powers, grew up in Lakewood a few blocks from me and went to St. James as well. Eve and I have three wonderful sons; Scott Francis, Mathew, Arthur and Daniel James. We are also blessed with six Grandchildren. They are Elin Marie, Bailey Katherine, Dane Christopher, Sean Francis, Madison Leigh and Dolan Ryan. All of them are Gods great gifts.
Another part of my life for the past 19 years has been A Brite Company. A Brite was a thought in my mind until late 1982. In November of 82, I made the thought a reality. My Company is dedicated to research and developing metal finishing and environmental chemistry products. I can honestly say that I have led a full life, giving all my time to my family, my Company and building relationships with so many wonderful people that have a common love for the Irish.
After Eve and I came to Dallas we I were disappointed that we could not find any Irish groups to join up with. Someone mentioned the NFL or Nick Farley’s Lounge. The NFL was the place to go and it was there that I found the IAS. Eve and I became on and off members for a few years and finally decided that we would like to get involved, thanks to the likes of Phil and Sue Faulkner.
In the IAS I have held many seats on the Board of Directors and was President for two years in the 90’s and still active today. I have been active with the Dallas Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Project Children and The Texas Rose of Tralee Center. But, most of all, I am very proud to be part of the Irish Community here in Texas.