Alfie Pakenham, RIP / USA ~ New York / Connecticut

Alfie Pakenham, RIP / USA ~ New York / Connecticut

Alfie was well-known and loved by many musicians and dancers in Ireland, as well as the States…..

Alfie Pakenham, RIP

On Tuesday, 1st July, New York and Connecticut area dancers and musicians alike were stunned by the sudden loss of our dear friend Alfie (Alfred J.) Pakenham. He was tragically killed in an auto accident at the age of 55. Alfie was a set dancer and dance instructor, a kind, gentle, compassionate, spiritual, peaceful soul, an altogether wonderful person, a loving friend to all and loved by everyone whose lives he touched. We will feel his loss very deeply.

He was a loving husband to Kathy (nee Hannigan), and a wonderful Dad, step-Dad and grandfather. Kathy and Alfie were devoted companions for many years, although they were married only last September 22. Alfie had many talents and interests in addition to set dancing. He was a carpenter and had an extraordinary gift in creating fine cabinetry (and dance floors!). Alfie was also dedicated to HOPe (Helping Other People), a small non-sectarian charity dedicated to helping people help themselves, and was its second Chairman.

On Saturday, July 12, 2008 a Memorial Service and céilí were held to celebrate Alfie’s life. Both took place under awnings on the beautiful property of one of Alfie’s closest friends. The wooded, rolling foothills of the Catskill and Berkshire Mountains provided a peaceful, serene backdrop for our grief at our loss and our smiles in remembering Alfie’s joyous spirit. As several hundred friends arrived (many of whom had never met one another), button accordion player John Whelan provided un-amplified “background” music. After the emotional, sometimes humorous memorial and a buffet dinner, the Green Gates Céilí Band provided the dance music, so that we could celebrate what Alfie enjoyed most. There were more than 80 dancers on hand to pay tribute to his love for people, dance, music and…LIFE! Most of the non-dancers stuck around, too, presumably to see what all this “madness” is about!

Some of Alfie’s ashes were scattered on the ground beneath the temporary dance floor, that spot marked only by a grey-ish blue piece of plywood, which was subjected to plenty of battering during the night! A table at the top of the dance floor held a few of Alfie’s “personal” items ~ of significance to any dancer who knew him. There was his “trademark” old, beat-up white shirt, his sunglasses (most often worn on top of his head!) and his dance shoes. During the céilí, Alfie’s long-time friend (and dancer) Gini McCauley sang “Here’s to You,” and Eileen Clune Goodman played a lovely air on the whistle. It would have been difficult to find a dry eye during either. However, as Alfie would expect, there was good "craic" and much love all around….and his overwhelming spirit was felt by all of us. He has touched many lives and will forever be remembered for his kind spirit and gentle loving ways. As Alfie so often said, “Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we may as well dance!”