SALEM — Irish eyes were certainly smiling at the 25th annual John P. Ganley memorial luncheon yesterday.
As a matter of fact, everyone was smiling as a crowd of approximately 300 people packed the gymnasium at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem.
They came in good spirits and dressed in green — including necklaces and hats — to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the legacy of the former Salem police chief and town manager, who died in 1989.
The crowd also came to recognize the charitable contributions of Salem Co-operative Bank president Ann Lally, the winner of this year’s John P. Ganley Memorial Award.
The event represented a who’s who of prominent state and local politicians. It featured a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner, bagpipe music and green beer.
The long list of well-known guests included keynote speaker Gov. Maggie Hassan and New Hampshire Senate president and Salem resident Chuck Morse, who invited a fellow Republican and friend, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
Brown is considering running for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Hassan began her remarks by poking fun at Brown, drawing applause and laughter. The governor joked that she and others have drafted a plan to save Rockingham Park following the defeat of casino bills last week.
“It’s good to be here in Salem, N.H., straddling the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts — but enough about Scott Brown,” Hassan said.
Brown did not speak at the event, but the former Bay State senator later defended his Granite State ties in an interview. He also praised the work of Boys and Girls Clubs across the country, telling how he came from a broken home.
“If it wasn’t for places like this, I would probably be in jail,” he said. “I put my long and strong New Hampshire roots up against anybody.”