Patrick Walsh left Limerick for the United States when he was about twelve years old. He had little to no official education, but rose through the ranks of society to become a senator in the US Government.
Patrick was said to have been born on New Year’s Day 1840 in Ballingarry, County Limerick to Michael and Mary Walsh. Although, no parish record has been located to confirm this year or place.
Soon after his arrival in America, Patrick took up an apprenticeship as a printer. He then attended Georgetown college from 1859-1861. After which, he joined the Carolina Rifle Militia in the Confederate Army during in the American Civil War. It was said that he “supported his father, mother and sisters, and his older brother’s families, while the latter were in the Confederate service”. His known siblings were James (c.1835–1902), John (c.1838–1906), Bridget (c.1843–1931), and Joanna (c.1847–1907).
He married Anna Isabella McDonnell on 1 August 1866, in Richmond, Georgia. Both of his sister lived with the couple in 1870.
By 1874, he was the editor of the Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel, which later became the Augusta Chronicle and Constitutionalist.
Patrick Walsh became a member of the Georgia legislature in 1877. His physical appearance at the time was described as
a solid, stoutly-built, medium-sized figure that gives token of the man, and his substantial momentum of character. A grave, impassive face, and a steady, deliberate manner, increase the idea of strength that attaches to him. Of Irish blood, Mr Walsh has a good deal of the sturdy combativeness that belongs to that race, and yet his is free from the excitability that leavens largely the Irish nature.The history of the State of Georgia from 1850 to 1881, embracing the three important epochs: the decade before the war of 1861-5; the war; the period of Reconstruction, by Isaac Wheeler Avery, p. 529.
In 1881, at a meeting to debate the Irish Land League in Augusta, he stated:
For generations the people of Ireland have battled for their right and still battle on. It was a great question which was agitating Ireland today, and it was a question which should receive the sympathy of every lover of justice. There were no people more devoted to liberty than the Irish, but sure as there was a God in heaven this sacred cause, which had come down from their ancestors, would be handed down to the sons of Irishmen, and would yet be won (applause). It was not the fault of the people of Ireland that they were so miserable, but the fault of misrule.Flag of Ireland, 19 November 1881
Five years later, Patrick Walsh was still involved with the anti-eviction movement in Ireland while in Georgia, there he was involved with a society to set up a fund supporting the cause.
In 1886, he became the Southern agent of the Associated Press, until 1892, when he became the manager of the Southern Associated Press.
His obituary in the Limerick Chronicle mentioned some of his other exploits
He was a delegate in the Democratic State Convention in 1880, and the same year to the National Convention, which nominated General Handcock for the President. In 1884, he was a delegate at a large convention at Chicago, which nominated Cleveland. He served four years as a Georgia member of the National Democratic Executive Committee. In 1884, he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of United States Senator Colquitt. He was always interested in any movement for the development of the South, and was an active worker for the large expositions.Limerick Chronicle, 25 Apr 1899
In 1897, he was elected to the position of Mayor of Augusta. He held the role at the time of his death. The lead up to his death was described as
He is suffering from nervous prostration, brought on by overwork as mayor and editor, supplemented by other large interests… Mayor Walsh is an ill man, but there is nothing in his condition that is critical, or that makes his death at an early day at all probable.Georgetown College journal, Vol. 27-28: 2 (1898: Oct-1899: Nov)
He died on 19 March 1899 and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery the following day. His official cause of death was recorded as “Cerebral Softening”
In 1913, a bronze statue, by George Thomas Brewster, was installed under the direction of the Walsh Memorial Association for the people of Augusta and Georgia. The statue sits in front of the Union Station building, which served as the main passenger railroad station for Augusta from 1902/3 until 1966.
(Note: some news reports during his lifetime claimed his place of birth as Mayo or Tipperary, while his obituaries and Biographical Directory of the United States Congress record his place of birth as Ballingarry, County Limerick)
Limerick Chronicle, 25 Apr 1899. Munster News, 26 September 1874. Flag of Ireland, 19 Nov 1881, 6 Nov 1886. Dublin Weekly Nation, 12 Apr 1890. Dublin Daily Nation, 04 April 1899. Georgetown College journal, Vol. 27-28: 2 (1898: Oct-1899: Nov). The Editor and Publisher, 15 Feb 1913: Vol 12 Iss 35. FamilySearch, United States Marriages film number 000158603. United States Census, 1870, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:M497-2R5. “The history of the State of Georgia from 1850 to 1881…”, by Isaac Wheeler Avery (1881). Augusta, Georgia, Graveside Project.