Westport man honoured in USA

Posted in Connect on July 30, 2019.

Westport native Austin McGreal has been honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Brehon Law Society annual ceremony in Philadelphia. Austin McGreal (85), an attorney, is a founding member of the Brehon Law Society, a professional association organised to foster the profession of law among individuals of Irish ancestry. The society is comprised of judges, lawyers, law students and their friends.

In honouring Austin McGreal, whom they describe as a ‘distinguished attorney’, the Brehon Law Society said he has had ‘a profound impact on the Philadelphia legal community and has represented his Irish heritage with pride and distinction’. “Austin McGreal’s service to the community remains unparalleled, and the Brehons are proud to take this opportunity to honour Austin with this award,” the ceremony heard.

Born in Portumna, Co Galway, in 1935, Austin grew up on the family farm in Loughloon, Westport, in the shadow of Croagh Patrick. His older brother, well known local priest Fr Micheál Mac Gréil, describes him a ‘a very heroic man’. Austin trained as a carpenter in PJ Kelly’s on the Castlebar Road in Westport before moving to England and then the USA. He arrived in the USA in 1953 and shortly afterwards volunteered for the draft, saying ‘if young Americans were signing up, so should I’. He served in Japan and after returning to the USA, he studied at St Joseph’s University.

During that time he met his now wife Margaret Bennett, whose family originated from Newry, Co Down. Margaret encouraged him to pursue a legal career at the University of Maryland School of Law. Upon graduating, Austin returned to Philadelphia and started a long and successful legal career. “Guided by his mentor, Judge McClanaghan, Austin stayed true to his Irish work ethic: hard work, honesty and respect. He was a founding member of the Brehon Law Society, and even suggested its name.

Austin continues to practice law with the same enthusiasm as the day he passed the Bar, 55 years ago,” the Brehon Law Society ceremony heard. Austin and Margie McGreal have two daughters, who are also lawyers. He is a brother of Fr Micheál Mac Gréil (Loughloon), Lt Colonel (retired) Pat McGreal (Rampart Wood, Westport), Fr Owen McGreal (Wales), the late Sr Mary Gregory and the late Lt Colonel Seán McGreal. “Our father wanted to ensure we all got a Leaving Cert, which was not very common at the time. When you consider from the six of us were two priests, two Lieutenant Colonels in the army, a nun and an attorney in the USA, we all did well,” said Fr Micheál.

  • Article: Edwin McGreal; The Mayo News, Tuesday July 30th 2019

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