Pat McMahon Masters Level Scholarship Series

Patrick Ross McMahon, Attorney and Founding Chairman

The San José – Dublin Sister City Program’s scholarship series is named for our founding Chairman, Patrick Ross McMahon.

Patrick Ross McMahon was born In Dublin, Ireland, on January 15, 1942, the second oldest of five children. He lived most of his life in Balbriggan, North County Dublin, and for a short time in Mullagh, County Cavan, where he went to live with an Aunt after his mother passed away. Education was very important to Patrick, and he was fortunate to have opportunities that many In Ireland, of that time, did not have. He excelled in school and received a scholarship to attend secondary school at Belcamp College in Dublin.

Patrick was also an Irish Step Dancer and eagerly demonstrated his talents throughout his life. He also became well known for his imitation of a famous Irish football commentator, Michael O’Hehir, honing his oratory skills which would become very important later on in life in his career as a Trial Attorney.

At the age of eighteen Patrick left Ireland, as so many did in that time, to meet the challenges of the world, first moving to England and then later in 1960, emigrating to New York at the Invitation of his Aunt. Upon his arrival there he became a naturalized citizen, on the basis of his father’s citizenship years before. He also enlisted In the United States Air Force, serving almost four years as a ground-to-air radio operator, and was stationed in various places throughout the United States and Canada from the Mojave Desert to Gulfport to Newfoundland. During his time in the military he quickly realized that he needed to pursue further education if he wanted to embark on any kind of a professional career. He attended Victor Valley Junior College in California and the University of Maryland, while still in the Air Force, and then Santa Clara University from which he received his Law Degree In 1968.

Patrick began practicing law In San Francisco where he worked as House Counsel for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company as a defense attorney and a year later joined the Popelka, Allard et al firm where he started his career as a plaintiff’s attorney and a lifelong champion for the “little guy”. Two years later Patrick opened his own firm, and so began his life as legal advocate, trial attorney, community activist, and staunch supporter of all things Irish and for a short time, proprietor of Paddy’s Irish Pub In downtown San Jose.

Professionally Patrick was a member of the California State Bar, the Santa Clara County Bar Association, and the Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association, a member of the California Trial Lawyers Association and its Board of Governors and a member of Santa Clara University Law School Board of Visitors.

Throughout his law career, Patrick eagerly took on high profile cases. These included a groundbreaking case about peer-on-peer sexual harassment under Title IX, an employment law case where long term workers claimed wrongful termination and discrimination based on age and two cases which involved shunning and breach of trust by Church leaders. Patrick’s representation of Louise Mosby was well known in the local community and involved the loss of her ranch because of fraudulent real estate activity. He provided pro bono representation to a community group which fought successfully to prevent the Westfield Shopping Mall from closing the ice rink at Vallco Fashion Park in Cupertino. The pinnacle of Patrick’s legal career was representing a female student from the East Side union High School District who broke her neck after diving into a swimming pool. The case was ultimately heard by the California Supreme Court with the Justices unanimously ruling in her favor.

Community affiliations included President of the Irish Social Club of Santa Clara County, a member of the Board of Directors of the Irish Network, President of the San Jose Chapter of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement, member of the National Committee of the American Ireland Fund, the first Chairman of the San Jose Dublin Sister City Program, President of the Bellarmine Dad’s Club, and President of the Advisory Board of the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University. A highlight of Patrick’s participation In the Center for Literary Arts was his introduction of the renowned Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, at a San Jose State event.

Patrick was also well known for his St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at his law office on North First Street ln San Jose where the Irish and the United States flags were flown side by side. He was often the “go to” person for his comments about newsworthy Irish events, such as the Good Friday Irish Peace Process Agreement.

Patrick was married to his wife, Pamela, for 46 years and had two children, Ross McMahon and Deirdre Collier, and five grandchildren. He passed away on January 6, 2016 after a very long illness.

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