Irish Person Of The Year Giving back from Tipp to TIP!

Geraldine Brown Irish Person of The Year 2019 Photo: William C. Smith

Geraldine Browne, Toronto’s 2019 Irish Person of the Year, was born in the townland of Knockavilla, a small village approximately 7 miles from the Rock of Cashel and 3 miles from Dundrum, Co Tipperary. Geraldine is the third youngest of 11 siblings – 6 boys and 5 girls – born to Peter and Kitty Browne. Peter was a Forestry worker, and Kitty was – understandably! – a full-time stay at home mother. The Brownes are a family firmly rooted in the parish – both Geraldine’s parents grew up in the area and of the 11 siblings, Geraldine is the only one not living close to the home-place. Geraldine came to Canada 27 years ago and has worked in the caring professions here ever since, including nurse’s aid, special needs teacher’s assistant, professional nanny, and more recently as a Personal Support Worker, having spent most of 2018 back in full time study.
Over that time Geraldine has been very active in Toronto’s Irish community, putting into action in her new home the love of Irish culture that was instilled in her back in Tipp. Most notably Geraldine has been with the Toronto Irish Players (“TIP”) for more than twenty five years and has been the President since 2016, and is the co-Producer of their current production, The Land Grabber. Music and Dance have been Geraldine’s other main cultural pursuits – in particular Geraldine loves her set dancing! – and is the driving force behind “Open Door Ceilis Toronto”, organising monthly set dance ceilis and a set dance weekend annually every May, featuring a teacher from Ireland, bringing new sets and footwork to Canadian set dancers. Geraldine served as the Irish Language Officer for the local Comhaltas Ceolteori Eireann branch here and was one of the leaders in setting up a camogie club at the old Irish Centre, back in the day, perhaps seeking an outlet for the talent that earned her an All-Ireland schools winning medal back in Tipp. Other organisations to benefit directly from Geraldine’s sense of community include the Irish Cultural Society and the Benevolent Society (of which she is the current President), the annual Mass of Memory, and the Toronto chapter of Solace. Geraldine volunteered for many years at her local Church’s “Out of the Cold” program and has worked as a teacher’s assistant at Dunblaine School, a school for kids with learning disabilities. Reflecting on why she is motivated to give her time and energy to community work, Geraldine says it was what she saw her parents doing back home, and it was natural for her and her siblings to do the same. The Toronto Irish Community will show its appreciation for all that Geraldine does at a lunch in her honour on Sunday, March 3rd – all are welcome – details from