|The passing away of Dennis Gallagher on April 22 at his home in northwest Denver is a huge loss to the Denver community and to the vast community everywhere who loved and admired him. Ebullient, caring, witty, intelligent – Dennis charmed, persuaded and delighted everyone who met him. There was nothing he couldn’t do. Not only did he serve as Denver City Auditor, Denver City Council member, State Senator and State Representative, he uncovered the buried Mezuzah at Golda Meir’s family home in West Denver, helping establish the home’s authentic link to one of Denver’s most distinguished residents.
Dennis was proud of his Irish heritage and that was part and parcel of who he was. He often spoke of the importance of “helping the stranger among us,” in accordance with the Irish wisdom passed down to him by his mother in particular.
A few years ago, I was walking past the Robert Burns statue in City Park and noticed a group of people gathered in a shaded area to the side. I came closer and recognized Dennis reading passages from Burns’ poetry to the group. I learned the group was Denver’s James Joyce Society.
Just last summer I ran into Dennis at a backyard event in my neighborhood and asked him about the Society and its connection to Burns and the statue in City Park. We talked about the happy circumstance of the statue of Robert Burns facing the statue of Martin Luther King in this middle section of City Park.
To my delight, Dennis wrote me a letter following up on our conversation and here is a portion of it:
“Joyce had two volumes of Burns’ poetry in his library in Italy. There are lots of illusions to Burns and his poetry in Finnegan’s Wake, not so much in Ulysses.
“The James Joyce Reading Society of Greater Metropolitan Denver was founded on Joyce’s 100th birthday in the back room of Danny Sullivan’s pub on Court Place, gone alas like our youth too soon. Founders, Ned Burke, Robert Ross whose dad was born in Scotland, and myself. Ned is in heaven now chatting with Joyce about various passages in the texts. Bob is still with us and can recite Burns vastly from memory. We meet every first Tuesday every month at different homes. We are reading Ulysses for about the 7th time.
“Love the Burns statue in City Park and that he and MLK are close enough to hear each other is very fitting…Dennis”
Dennis invited me to a meeting of the James Joyce Reading Society and I didn’t make it. What a mistake! At least I know that Dennis is in Heaven now, chatting it up with Ned Burke, James Joyce and his old buddy, Robert Burns to boot!
I feel a celebration of Dennis Gallagher’s beautiful life around City Park’s Robert Burns statue coming during Summer, 2022. There will be poetry.
– Georgia McCracken Garnsey, Editor, City Park Friends and Neighbors newsletter