Irishman Finds Opportunity in America With U.S. Military

Author: MVH Scarborough
Posted: September 12, 2020
Category: Maine Veterans of the Month

Hailing from the Emerald Isle, Garrett Fitzgerald was born in Dublin, Ireland, and grew up in Offaly and Inchicore, a Dublin suburb. He’s the oldest of three siblings, Geraldine, Emmett, and Fergus, and helped care for his siblings while his parents ran a local bar and store. 


When Garrett was 15, a local teacher’s strike ended his education, so he went to work at The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, and then to Paris, France, at the Hotel Scribe – both luxury hotels – as a chef’s apprentice. At the age of 19 and like many young Irishmen, Garrett set out for America in search of opportunity. 


Opportunity Across the Pond


He came to the United States via sponsorship by the Dunfey Family Group. The five [blog-image]-maine-veterans-homes-scarborough-veteran-of-month-army-garrett-fitzgerald-uniformDunfey brothers started their business careers when they bought a clam stand in New England and grew to become the Dunfey Hotels Corporation, the largest hotel franchise owner in the world at one time. The Dunfeys have been associated with names such as Sheraton, Cracker Barrel, Omni Hotels and Aer Lingus. 


When Garrett turned 21, he volunteered for the U.S. Army and attended boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia. He wrote often to his mother back in Ireland and sent her his first grenade pin from basic training. Garrett was stationed in Germany for two years, where Elvis Presley was also serving his country.


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A Drive For Success 


When Garrett returned from Europe and was out of the military, he worked as a manager, opening Friendly’s Ice Cream Franchises throughout the United States. He also worked at a Sheraton Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he later married Ruby Elaine Lee. Ruby had a daughter from a previous marriage, Tina, who Garrett adopted. They also have two boys, Peter and James. 


The family later lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts, where Garrett was banquet manager at Omni Parker House at Copley Plaza in Boston. The family eventually settled in Maine, where Garret established a 27-year career at Portland Country Club in Falmouth as clubhouse manager. He went on to be one of the longest employed clubhouse managers in the country. 


During this time, Garret was involved with the New England Club Managers Association of America for education and mentoring of hospitality industry professionals. He served as secretary, treasurer, and president. He just loved to travel throughout the country for conferences in the hospitality business.


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World Traveler 


Garret never lost his taste for travel. He especially enjoyed visiting Tortola in the British Virgin Islands with friends. He went back to Minnesota often and to visit family in Ireland. 


When he retired from Portland Country Club in 1999, Garrett wasn’t ready to leave the business altogether – he was clubhouse manager at Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club for one summer in 2000 with his son, Jim, as chef. Garrett retired to Riverside RV Park in Arcadia, Florida, with his dog, Charlie, where he made lots of friends, grew heirloom tomatoes, enjoyed bonsai gardening, walking, dinner parties with friends and seeing the rodeo. 


Once a resident at Maine Veterans’ Homes - South Paris, Garrett transferred to Maine Veterans’ Homes - Scarborough to be closer to his son. He loves the staff at the Home as if they're family and has many, many friends at MVH Scarborough – Margaret, Irwin, Meski, Diane, and Ally, to name a few. He also appreciates outdoor visitors – the deer and turkey who often stop by the grounds.


About Maine Veterans’ Homes


Mr. Fitzgerald has had the pleasure of staying at two Maine Veterans’ Homes locations. There are also Homes in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, and Machias. To learn more about why he loves life at MVH, download your free Eligibility Guide >>>

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