Richie Dahill is a Yankee Doodle Dandy – born on the forth of July 65 years ago. He is life-long resident of South Boston and comes from a long line of South Bostonians. He is third generation Southie. Richie’s parents, Jim and Helen (Haggerty) raised Richie and his sister Julianne on Ticknor Street. He attended Gate of Heaven for both grammar school and high school. His father Jim brought Richie at an early age to the L Street Bathhouse (Curley Recreation Center) where Richie learned to swim and also where he discovered handball. “It was sort of a rite of passage as a kid in Southie. You went to the L in the summer and you learned how to swim and play handball,” said Richie.
Richie himself entered the wooden court at the age of 10. He was a natural at the sport and mastered it quickly. He would practice for hours and was self-taught. “That’s how you learned how to play from going into a court by yourself and playing. And watching other guys play too.” He remembers watching local handball champions like Danny Guerin and Jimmy Mullen. Another vivid memory was watching National Handball Champion Vic Hershkowitz. “He was amazing to watch. It really motivated me to practice and learn the game.”
Over the next few years, Richie became the one to watch and the one to beat. He was the first ever left-handed championship player at the L on both the wooden court and later the cement court. He also gained the titles of New England Four Wall Championship and New England Three Wall Championship. He was also inducted into the South Boston Sports Hall of Fame for Handball.
Richie stopped playing handball a few years back. He’s been playing racquetball for the past 20 years. “It became harder and harder to find people to play handball with on a regular basis,” said Richie. “I joined a racquetball league down the Boston Athletic Club and began playing two to three time a week.” The Boston Athletic Club has become a lifestyle mainstay in Richie’s life. He’s there almost every day, whether he’s playing racquetball or taking a spin class, you can see him there often. But he hasn’t abandoned the L Street Bathhouse, he is also a regular there as well. He swims in the ocean, plays racquetball in the courts and goes for runs around Castle Island from the L .
Obviously turning 65 hasn’t slowed him down. Richie still works full time as a Court Security Officer at the Moakley Courthouse. He rides his bike to and from work everyday weather permitting. He has been a retired State Trooper for 7 years. He began his law enforcement career as a police officer for the MDC (Metropolitan District Commission) Police and worked for 25 years before the MDC Police merged with the Massachusetts Sate Police. He was a State Trooper for 12 years before retiring in 2003.
Richie has four children, Maureen (41), Richie Jr. (39), Courtney, (33) and Jamie (23). He also is the proud grandpa to 5 grandchildren, Grace (14) Peter (7), Henry (5), Isabel (2) and Selina (7 weeks). He loves spending time with his kids and grandkids which is convenient because all of his family lives right here in Southie. “It’s great! I can walk a block and visit my daughter and her two girls. I can pick up my grandsons and take them out Sully’s and I can walk across the street to Evans Field to watch my granddaughter Grace play softball,” said Richie with a smile.
The first thing that most people who know Richie will tell you when describing him is that he is a great guy with a tremendous sense of humor. His wit is quick, and he enjoys pointing out the humor in the mundane and the obvious. He is also is also not afraid of the insult and anyone is fair game. He is the Southie equivalent to Don Rickles. If you haven’t been insulted by Richie Dahill, he just hasn’t met you yet. But his delivery is not vindictive or mean-spirited. When you are being insulted, you find yourself laughing along with Richie. He is a master at it. So good in fact, his wife Gail planned a surprise 50th birthday roast in his honor. Not one guest would get up and roast him in fear of retaliation. Instead, Richie got up and roasted each and every one of his guests.
Richie is a true Southie original. He is a friend to all and always has a smile and a hearty hello on the ready. He is one of the proudest Southie guys you’ll ever meet. He loves living here. “Southie people are the best,” he said. When asked if he would ever move, Richie smiles and politely says, “never.” His love for his town has been passed on to his children, as they too have Southie in their blood. The Dahill family is deep-rooted in this community. Richie’s grandchildren are 5th generation Southie – a legacy that Richie is proud to pass on.
So if you see Richie, on his bike commute to the Moakley Courthouse, or running around Castle Island, or with his grandkids at the park, say hello and introduce yourself. Chances are if you don’t, he will. And if he gives you one of his legendary ribbings, don’t take offense, it just means he likes you. And that is why Richie Dahill is the July Character of the Month.