Returning home, I found my copy of ‘Irish Athletes & The Olympic Games, Stockholm 1912’ and searched the web. I now know a bit more about the Olympic champion, World Record holder and winner of twenty-four American National Championships – the last at 54 years of age.
The family emigrated in 1899. His sister was first in the queue at Ellis Island and the Immigration Officer heard ‘McDonald’ when she said ‘McDonnell’ so the name of the whole family changed. He joined the New York Police Department as Pat McDonald. Interesting to note that the plaque at Tra Bán has the original name.
He weighed 300lbs – 21 st 6lb – which led to the nickname ‘Babe’ from ‘Baby Whale’. He was one of ‘The Irish Whales’. He was one of many Irish emigrants to win Olympic medals for other countries.
He carried the U.S. A. flag at the 1920 Olympics – winning a gold medal to add to the gold and silver from 1912. The 1916 Olympics had been cancelled due to World War I.