Photography

Michael J. Penny

September 30, 1951 ~ June 1, 2020 (age 68)

Obituary

Michael (Mike) Penny of San Francisco, California. Died peacefully on June 1, 2020. Survived by his beloved partner of 37 years, Melanie Argilla. Dear brother of Tom (Bridie), Joe (Noreen), Theresa RIP (Arthur) Roffi, Brendan (Doris), Ernie (Collette), Pat (Christine), Margaret (Jimmy) Allen, and Vincent (Mary). Loving uncle to Bertie, Brendan, and Kevin Penny in the San Francisco Bay Area and many nieces and nephews in New York, England, Australia and Ireland. Missed by his cousins and countless friends all over the world.

Mike was born September 30, 1951 to Joe and Mary (née Cosgrove) Penny of Cloghan’s Hill, Kilmaine, Co Mayo.  He was the second youngest of 9 children. 

His love of Gaelic football began on the fields of Kilmaine, where he played underage football. Times were tough in Ireland in those days and Mike immigrated to London in 1967 at the young age of 16. He was looked after by his older sister and brothers. Mike played Gaelic football for the South O’Hanlons and the London county team. While he wasn’t a giant of a man, he could field a ball at midfield with the best.

After 5 years in London, Mike moved on to New York and played with Sligo, winning 2 New York Senior football championships. He also spent time in Chicago and played for St. Brendan’s. Mike had many long-time friends from his years in New York and Chicago. 

Mike, along with a gang of friends, came to San Francisco in 1978, where he became one of the founders of the Sean McDermotts GFC. The Sean McDermotts won two San Francisco Championships during Mike’s time playing with the club. 

In the early 80s, Mike headed north to Alaska where work was more plentiful, as oil pipelines were booming. After his return to San Francisco, Mike continued to be involved in the GAA. When his playing days were over, you could often find him refereeing a game or roaming the sidelines of the Polo Fields with a bucket collecting donations, his trusted companion Lassie at his side. In 1994, Mike helped to form Golden Gate Ladies football club and spent some time on the sideline as their first manager. He was inducted into the North American GAA Hall of Fame in 2001.

Mike was the most faithful Mayo fan and always travelled to watch his native county in their quest for the Sam Maguire. He would drive the length of Ireland to collect that prized ticket for Croke Park.

Mike was a frequent visitor to New York and enjoyed so many great times with Ernie and Theresa, their families, and his cousins.

St Patrick’s Day was Mike’s favorite time of the year. He marched annually in the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade, carrying the Mayo flag his first ten years and then moving up to carry the Connaught flag for the last 31 years. Marching down Market Street, calling out to well-known faces and strangers alike in the crowd, he was in his element.

Mike was very proud to be from Mayo, and a very proud Irishman. He supported all things Irish wherever he traveled, helping to organize benefits for the needy and employment for newly arrived immigrants.

Mike was a jack of all trades. He tried his hand at everything over the years. There was no job too big or too small. There wasn’t a place in San Francisco you could go where Mike Penny didn’t meet someone he knew. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

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