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IRISHAMERICA APRIL/MAY 2011

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2011 HALL OF FAME / IRISH AMERICAN OF THE YEAR ISSUE


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IRISH AMERICA April / May 2011 Vol. 26 No. 3

42 88 36

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96 F E AT U R E S 84 LEADING THE PARADES: Katie McFadden introduces the Grand Marshals of St. Patrick’s Day Parades across the nation.

36 IRISH AMERICAN OF THE

88 CELEBRATING 250 YEARS: John Dunleavy, New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade chairman talks with Aliah O’Neill about his long history with the parade.

YEAR: JOHN LAHEY

The President of Quinnipiac University speaks with Sheila Langan about the many hats he wears as an educator, a university leader and an Irish American. 42

HALL OF FAME: Irish America inducts nine outstanding and diverse new honorees into its Hall of Fame.

78 COMMODORE BARRY: Tim McGrath tells the history of the Father of the American Navy.

Page 59 Special Supplement: THE DUNBRODY PROJECT

92 PORTRAITS OF THE IRISH LEAVING HOME: David Monahan has been powerfully and compassionately documenting the recent wave of Irish emigration. Story by Sheila Langan. 96 THE HANNAH: AN IRISH ODYSSEY: The long-lost relatives of shipwreck survivors are brought together in a documentary. By John Keraghan. 100 WHAT’S THE STORY WITH THE NUNS? Mary Pat Kelly speaks with nuns about the work COVER: Vol de Nuit (Night Flight) by Odette Videau

4 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

they do and the Vatican investigation into U.S. Catholic women’s religious orders 106 WHAT ARE YOU LIKE? We kick of this new column with the chief Chieftain Paddy Moloney taking questions. 110 WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE: Tom Deignan interviews Siobhan Fallon, author of a recently released short story collection about the lives of Army wives.

DEPARTMENTS

30 A GLIMPSE OF IRELAND PAST: “Romantic Ireland is dead and gone?” Ní Chonchúir begs to differ.

8 The First Word 10 Readers Forum 12 News From Ireland 14 Hibernia 20 Irish Eye on Hollywood 90 Roots 104 Television 108 Music 112 Books 114 Sláinte 116 Those We Lost 118 Crossword 120 Photo Album 122 The Last Word


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{contributors} Vol. 26 No. 3 • April/May 2011

TOM DEIGNAN For over a decade, Tom Deignan has written the weekly “Sidewalks” column for The Irish Voice newspaper. He also writes columns about movies and history for Irish America and is a regular book reviewer for the Newark Star-Ledger and America magazine.

ODETTE VIDEAU Odette’s painting, Vol de Nuit (Night Flight), is featured on our cover. Born in Saigon,Vietnam, in a French culture, Odette is a graduate of the painting department of the prestigious École des Beaux Arts in Paris. She also has a License Degree Faculté Arts Plastiques from the Sorbonne. Prior to focusing on painting, Odette was in advertising/ art direction with EURO RSCG-HAVAS France, specializing in cosmetics (L’Oréal) and fragrance. Residing in Paris, Odette is presently using her art and communications skills for education and social work to help disadvantaged children. 6 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

MARY PAT KELLY writes on the demise of the nuns in this issue. As an author and filmmaker, Mary Pat Kelly has told various stories connected to Ireland including her bestselling historical novel Galway Bay (2010).

IRISH AMERICA 875 SIXTH AVENUE, SUITE 210, N.Y., NY 10001 TEL: 212-725-2993 FAX: 212-244-3344 E-MAIL: irishamag @ aol.com WEB: http://www.irishamerica.com

Mortas Cine Pride In Our Heritage

Founding Publisher: JOHN KERNAGHAN writes about the documentary on the shipwreck of The Hannah, and is a freelance writer based in Oakville, Ontario. His parents immigrated to Canada from Monaghan and Armagh.

Niall O’Dowd

Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Harty

Art Director: Marian Fairweather

Assistant Editor: Sheila Langan

Vice President of Marketing: Kathleen Overbeck

Advertising and Events Coordinator: Tara Dougherty

SHARON NÍ CHONCHÚIR lives and works in West Kerry, Ireland, and much of her writing is concerned with the changing face of modern Irish culture. She writes on some of the more enduring traditions in Ireland in this issue.

Director of Special Projects: Turlough McConnell

Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan

Ad Design and Production Geneive McCarthy

Copy Editor: John Anderson

Editorial Assistants: TIM MCGRATH is the author of John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail (2010). He is an executive who lives outside of Philadelphia. An avid sailor, he has been published in Naval History magazine. He contributes a piece on Barry, the Irish-born “Father of the American Navy” in this issue.

Kristin Romano Katie McFadden

Irish America Magazine ISSN 0884-4240) © by Irish America Inc. Published bi-monthly. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 080995277. Editorial office: 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 210, New York, NY 10001. Telephone:212 7252993. Fax: 212-244-3344 E-mail: Irishamag@ aol.com. Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders: 1-800-582-6642.Subscription queries: 1-800-582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 16. Periodicals postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Postmaster please send address changes to Irish America Magazine, P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. IRISH AMERICA IS PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.


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{the first word} By Patricia Harty

From Hunger to “Cuimhnigi ar na daoine a dtainigh sibh uathu.”

Remember the people you came from.

PHOTO: KIT DE FEVER

Hall of Fame

s I write this, the sound from a lone bagpiper comes our motto is:“Cuimhnigi ar na daoine a dtainigh sibh uathu,” through my window. Not as unusual an occurrence as you which translates as “Remember the people you came from.” might think. Irish America’s office is up the street from In choosing John Lahey as Irish American of the Year we are hona church, the St. Francis Friary, the cornerstone of which was put oring someone who is an educator and a memory keeper. Through in place in 1844, and where the friars still feed the hungry (what Quinnipiac University’s “Famine” collection he is ensuring that the better way to remember your ancestors this St. Patrick’s Day suffering the Irish endured is not forgotten. Sean Reidy, the CEO than to give to a food program?) I don’t know if the piper is of the Dunbrody Famine Ship, is doing his part too. The Dunbrody heralding a wedding or lamenting a death. Is he/she part of the annual made many trips across the ocean, ferrying the Irish over to the New celebration of mass for the laborers’ union, or just someone pracWorld during Famine times. A replica of the ship is now in dry dock ticing for St. Patrick’s Day? There’s a fire station across the street in New Ross, County Wexford, and will open in May along with from the church, perhaps it’s one of the FDNY Emerald Pipe an interpretive center. It is here that we will house our Hall of Fame. Band making his pipes ready for the parade? With the Famine in mind, let’s look at our cover painting, I’m too busy to leave my office to find the source of the music, which I first interpreted as a Famine ship making its way across but as I strain to identify the tune, I’m given to musing how the Irish the ocean. I see the spirals as a symbol of hope and home. But if have put their stamp on American culyou look closely at the painting you will also see ture. How at wakes and weddings, no a butterfly, and the image at the bottom may not only matter the ethnicity, an Irish piper is represent a ship but also a cocoon. (In Irish folkoften on the scene, and always, it seems, lore the butterfly is a symbol for a soul crossing over we are leading the parade, any parade. into the Otherworld.) This symbol of metamorphoIt’s extraordinary really, given the poor sis, the painter Odette Videau says, can be interpreted start we had in America, how we have as “the courage, fearlessness, and resilience of come to be such an integral part of it. The the Irish spirit in confronting adversity and discovdiverse group of leaders in our Hall of ering a spiritual dimension.” Fame, and Irish American of the Year The painting, called Vol de Nuit (Night Flight) John Lahey, are proof positive of our is based on the fable of the butterfly who cannot accomplishments. wait for the daylight and comes out at night. In the Indeed, there are days when it seems past the Irish couldn’t wait either. They had to take that we have a hand in, or a connection a leap of faith and cross that ocean, sometimes in to, every aspect of American life – even the dead of winter, in order to survive. The best of in outer space where astronauts Mark us, including those in our Hall of Fame, have an Kelly and Cady Coleman are keeping the inherited memory of that dark night of the soul and Irish-American flag flying. reach back to bring others into the light. Cady, an avid flautist, has with her in Painful as it is, Ireland is going through another space a tin whistle given to her by metamorphosis, and once again the youth are takIrish musician Paddy Moloney. (Check ing flight to all corners of the world. We can only out our new “What Are You Like?” hope, as in the past, that something good will column, which we kick off in this issue Vol de Nuit (Night Flight) by Odette Videau come of this painful leavetaking. And we can find with Paddy himself taking questions.) some consolation in the fact that everywhere those Paddy and Cady are working out the logistics of doing a duet together. young Irish go they will be carrying their culture and music with He from earth, she from space! them. And that is a great gift to the world. IA Perhaps Cady is related to the Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman who emigrated in 1924 to America but whose recordings brought the music back home again, reinvigorating the traditional music scene in Ireland. This back-and-forth between Ireland and America and the cross pollination of cultures is a major theme in this issue, and as always

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readers forum IRELAND’S VIKING HERITAGE I really enjoyed reading Edythe Preet's Sláinte column in the December/January issue, “Ireland's Viking Heritage,” especially discovering the Viking origin of certain words in the English language. After reading the article, I asked myself a question: When was the Battle of Clontarf? The article said (a typo I’m sure) that the date was April 3, 1014, when it was actually April 23. Sean Kinnevy,West Creek, New Jersey

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT TARA I liked your editor’s “Imagine Ireland” column (Feb./Mar.) and get the feeling that you understand Tara in a way that many people outside Ireland struggle with. I have been involved with the Save Tara campaign for about seven years now, mostly involved in research, letter writing and general bugging the hell out of people. Mostly our problems have not been in research but in getting information out into public knowledge. It took at least 365 letters – we’re a stubborn lot – and almost a year to get the “facts” of what had actually happened at the planning permission process and to stop Fianna Fail politicians from incorrectly saying the route [the M3 motorway] was a result of the largest public consulta-

tion ever taken in the republic. It wasn’t. The public chose the other route – west of Tara at Killmessan. The result of this public consultation was ignored as not a legal requirement for building the motorway which runs through the heart of the sacred landscape of Tara. Despite our efforts the motorway opened last June. But the Tara campaign is still continuing to fight to protect Tara from malls and large-scale housing developments. Currently, the issues we need to get out there are: 1. The fact that M3 can be re-routed cheaply with a short 8km link if the proposed Lenister Orbital is routed correctly – the current proposed route once again impinges not only on Tara’s landscape but also on Bru Na Boinne (Newgrange). 2. Build awareness, knowledge and support for Tara Landscape Plan. This is extremely important as it protects the landscape from large scale development. There is a misinformation campaign being put forth by certain Meath County

A Close Call With Baseball Your “Those We Lost” column and obituary of Gil McDougald in the Feb/Mar issue reminded me of an Indians game I attended where Gil McDougald hit a foul ball into the upper deck. It then bounced off the hands of two men before heading straight for my little nose. Luckily I got my hands in front of my face in the nick of time. My nose is still intact, my hands hurt for a couple of days and I went home with a free baseball. Love reading your magazine. Sally Lanigan, South Euclid, Ohio

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Councilors that this plan also stops local development. This is why we need a community-and-archaeology-based planning group to set up a sustainable development plan so that the sites can be protected for the next generation. Currently, Shane McEntee, a Fine Gael TD for Meath East, is leading a new consultation with Conor Newman, lecturer, Archaeology Department, National University of Ireland, Galway. It would be helpful if Irish American organizations encouraged McEntee, the Meath Council, and the new government to act responsibly to implement these realizable changes so that the Fianna can once again rest peacefully and Tara can be restored. As Countess Markievicz said in 1901 “There’s something about Tara.” It is not only a duty but a privilege to protect it. Plauline Bleach, Received by E-mail. For more information see: http://www.hilloftara.blogspot.com or email Pauline Bleach at pauline1@ireland.com

NO MORE LISTS Could you please stop taking up space with the lists – 18 pages of Business 100 profiles in the December/January issue. It is just meaningless and makes no sense whatsoever. These awards do not hold my interest one bit. Please just keep writing about Irish topics – they are so much more interesting. Mary Kelly, Park Ridge, Illinois

Write to us Send a fax (212-244-3344), e-mail (irishamag@aol.com) or mail (Letters, Irish America Magazine, 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001). Letters should include the writer’s full name and address and phone number and may be edited for clarity and space.


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{ hibernia }

PEOPLE

| HERITAGE | EVENTS | ARTS | ENTERTAINMENT

ELECTION REPORT:

A Change in Leadership for Ireland he political face of Ireland has changed following one of the most important general elections in generations, which took place on February 25th. Fianna Fáil – the party that has held power for 61 of the past 79 years – was thoroughly rejected by the Irish public. They have changed their allegiance to Fine Gael, who look set to form a coalition government with the help of the Labour Party. Fianna Fáil’s representation in the Dáil (the Irish equivalent to the American

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tional political rival. Fine Gael increased its seats from 51 to 76 and it is now the largest party. Its leader Enda Kenny is elated. “This is a great day for Fine Gael,” he said. “The party set out to achieve two ambitions. The first was to be the largest party in the Dáil and that’s been achieved. The second was to increase our vote and that’s also been achieved.” However, Fine Gael is still short of the 83 seats required for an outright majority. During the election campaign, the options

Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael.

Senate) has fallen from 77 seats to 20. Some of the party’s most high-profile candidates, including former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan and Minister for Tourism Mary Hanafin, lost their seats. Only one Fianna Fáil TD (Dáil member) – the former Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan – won a seat in Dublin. And in total, 34 outgoing Fianna Fáil TDs failed to get re-elected. The party is reeling from the blow. Brian Cowen, who took over as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) from Bertie Ahern in 2008, admitted that the day of the electoral count was “a very, very difficult day for the party.” Mícheál Martin, who replaced Cowen as the leader of the Fianna Fáil party in January, following months of pressure over Cowen’s mishandling of the economy, was downcast yet defiant. “There’s no question but that it’s been a disappointing day for us,” he said. “But I’m looking ahead. We can rebuild.” The party that has gained the most from Fianna Fáil’s loss is Fine Gael, its tradi12 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

suggested for such an outcome were a coalition with the Labour Party or with independent politicians. The Labour Party also had a very successful election, increasing its political representation from 20 seats to 37, the highest tally in its history. There are 15 independent TDs, several of whom have declared a willingness to engage in discussion with Fine Gael. This willingness has been ignored thus far and the Fine Gael party are currently in negotiations with Labour. Although they differ on several important policy issues – such as taxation, cutting child benefits and imposing a college graduation tax – the prevailing attitude seems to be that Fine Gael believes the significant majority it could achieve in partnership with Labour would lead to more stable government. These are the main stories to have emerged from the general election but there are others which are also of interest. There’s the fact that the political left has emerged as a significant voice in Ireland

for the first time. Forty-two percent of the overall vote and sixty percent of the vote in Dublin went to the left, with the Labour Party taking just under half of that. The other half went to community activists such as Joan Collins and Seamus Healy; the United Left Alliance (a collective that includes the Socialist Party and the self-styled People Before Profit); and Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin’s campaign in this election was bolstered by Gerry Adams’ decision to renounce his seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly and to run for election in the Republic. He won his seat in County Louth with the third highest number of first preference votes in the country. He will be joined in the Dáil by 13 others, a huge increase on the four seats Sinn Féin had in the last Dáil. The decimation of the Green Party is another cautionary tale. They paid a costly price for going into government with Fianna Fáil in 2007, when they lost every one of their six seats. “We have suffered a major defeat but we will continue,” insisted party leader John Gormley. “We’re a party with a set of beliefs and values and a vision for the future. We have great people and we will rebuild.” The Haughey family name is another to have disappeared from the Dáil register. A member of the Haughey family held a seat in the Dáil for the past 54 years, until Charles Haughey’s son Seán lost his seat in this election. New and unexpected names have taken his place. Some of the independent TDs elected to the Dáil are colorful characters. Mick Wallace, a soccer-mad and flamehaired property developer, won a seat in Wexford, while Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan – who styles himself on Ming the Merciless from the TV series ‘Flash Gordon’ – won a seat in Roscommon. While the talks between Fine Gael and Labour are still ongoing and the newly elected Dáil deputies are growing accustomed to their responsibilities, one thing is certain. The 31st Dáil will face huge challenges, the most important one being reducing the interest rate on Ireland’s 85 billion euro international bail-out. The political face of Ireland may have changed but the problems it faces remain the same.


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{news from ireland} By Sharon Ní Chonchúir

NEWS IN BRIEF:

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JEDWARD TO REP IRELAND AT EUROVISION reland’s most hair-raising twins have been chosen to represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest. ‘The X-Factor’ favourites John and Edward Grimes – otherwise known as Jedward – will perform ‘Lipstick’ in Düsseldorf in Germany on the 12th of May. The 19-year-old identical twins who are known for their irrepressible energy competed against four other musical acts on Ireland’s ‘Late Late Show.’ The final decision was made by a panel of judges in conjunction with a public vote. With their gravity-defying quiffs and unusual brand of bubble-gum pop; there could only be one winner. The only question now: what Europe will think of Jedward?

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scientist in Belfast has given the thousands of people with breast cancer cause for hope. Dr. Helen McCarthy of the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast has created a way of destroying breast cancer cells without damaging the healthy cells that surround them. Her new treatment makes use of a gene that produces poisonous nitric oxide, a substance that has long been known to counteract cancer. “We knew that nitric oxide had shown antitumour effects but we hadn’t been able to devise a system which used it,” Dr. McCarthy explained. She and her team have now devised this system, which produces nitric oxide within the cancerous cells, destroying them from within. She hopes to develop a medicine which can be directly injected by the patient and which could be particularly successful in the treatment of secondary cancers. “The idea is that this will be delivered systematically around the body and to other tumours,” explains Dr. McCarthy.

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RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN TDS ELECTED

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ná na hÉireann are finally being heard. Twenty three female TDs were elected to the new Dáil; the largest number of women representatives in Irish history. Fine Gael, the party that won the most overall seats in the general election on the 25th of February, fielded ten successful female candidates. The Labour Party had seven female candidates elected to the Dáil. There are also two independent female TDs and two representing Sinn Féin, one of whom is Mary Lou MacDonald, the party’s Vice President (above left). While the increase in female representation has been welcomed, many groups don’t think it is good enough. Women still only account for 13% of the Dáil, or 23 TDs out of 166. “Ireland’s performance of 13% women TDs is well below the international average of 16% and is way behind the level of advanced countries like Sweden, which has 47% female representation,” says Joan Burton (pictured above right), a TD with the Labour Party. “More than 30 years of effort to deliver parity between men and women in terms of Dáil representation has not been successful and I believe it is now time to try a different approach.” There are hopes that the new Dáil will bring in new measures to encourage more women to enter politics and to succeed.

n Irish-born biochemist is developing a product that may help alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Pearse Lyons, originally from Co. Louth, now heads Alltech, one of the largest animal health companies in North America. The Kentucky-based company has a new product that has shown some success in the treatment of the disease. “The late world-renowned Alzheimer’s expert, Dr.William Markesbery, said he’d never seen anything like our product being so beneficial to people with Alzheimer’s in all his 40 years in medicine,” said Dr. Lyons. Alltech are now in the process of approaching pharmaceutical companies with this product. Their hopes for success are very high and could have a positive impact in both the US and Ireland. “This is the first time we’ve done something like this within Alltech,” said Dr. Lyons. “If we succeed and create a new business division, we’ll invest and expand in Ireland and the US.”

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he Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is warning that the practice of badger baiting appears to be on the rise. Badger baiting is an age-old practice which involves dogs and badgers being forced to fight with each other. Although badgers have been protected since the passing of the Irish Wildlife Act of 1976, ten people have been convicted of badger baiting in the last 20 years. The ISPCA has said that it has recently cared for a number of terrier dogs found with “horrific” injuries to their necks and lower jaws – injuries that are consistent with the sorts of wounds found on dogs IA involved in violent encounters with badgers. APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 13


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Who Do You Think You Are?

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f you haven’t already watched Rosie O’Donnell’s story on Who Do You Think You Are? (the NBC TV series that follows celebrities as they trace their family roots) see if you can access it on Primetime on Demand or NBC.com. It is well worth an hour of your time. Irish on both sides of her family tree, Rosie traces her mother’s side back to County Kildare, birthplace of her great-great-grandfather Andrew Murtha and his wife Anna. The

Flutes in Flight

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hen astronaut Cady Coleman blasted off for the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, she took three rather unexpected things with her: a flute from Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, an old Irish E-flat flute from Matt Malloy of The Chieftains, and a penny whistle from Chieftains front man Paddy Moloney (see page 106 for a series of questions with him). As it turns out, in addition to being an astronaut Colonel Coleman is an avid flautist, and is particularly interested in traditional Irish music. For her six-month term in space, Coleman wanted to “share how amazing it is up here,” she told Melissa Block, host of the NPR show All Things Considered.. “I relate to flute players and I just wanted them to understand what a cool place it was and how many possibilities there were to play music up here on the space station.” In this giant step for mankind and Irish music, Coleman is joined by Commander Scott Kelly, twin brother of fellow astronaut Mark Kelly and brother-in-law of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. – S.L.

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couple and four of their children spent time in a workhouse before taking assisted passage to Canada in 1855, and Rosie is visibly moved as she tours a defunct workhouse in County Offaly, similar to the one that her ancestors lived in. She seems to have been previously unaware of the history of the Irish, particularly what they suffered during the Famine times, and said that the world should know what happened. She also said that discovering her family history put her own life, and particularly the trauma she suffered when her mother passed away when she was 12, into perspective. “I only knew one thing, that I had a mother who died and that felt like an unlivable, unbearable tragedy, but now I think to myself her life existed because of the suf-

Rosie O’Donnell, in flowered pants, is pictured with her siblings..

fering and pain [my ancestors went through]. It doesn’t diminish my own suffering but it’s not any longer the focal point of my existence. I think that’s a gift.” Rosie added that she couldn’t wait to tell her own children the story of her ancestors who “were alive and well inside” of her. It’s a story of horror and the redemption, she said, and “the trick is to focus on the redemption.” – P.H.

Those We Found A large piece of pre-Famine history is going digital. St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare will be digitizing a 19th- century “Testimonial Roll.” The massive manuscript, which measures 400-meters in length, holds the signatures of residents of Ireland in the year 1841. Lord Morpeth, 7th Earl of Carlisle

The document was an offering to Lord Morpeth, a beloved chief secretary of Ireland for five years until he left for England to take on the role as the seventh Earl of Carlisle. Supporters who didn’t want Lord Morpeth to leave stitched their names into the lengthy cloth petition, called the Testimonial Roll. The signatures come from around 300,000 supporters from all around the country. Among some of the famous names are writer Thomas Davis, political leader Daniel O’Connell, and nationalist, Charles Gavin Duffy. Morpeth called the scroll “the richest heirloom’’ he could pass on to his family. Until the manuscript was brought to Maynooth in 2009, it was believed to have never been opened since it was stored in Castle Howard in 1841. The manuscript will be photographed and put into digital form by Ancestry.co.uk for the public to view online. Maynooth College will attempt to track the footsteps of the people on the list to see where exactly the pre-Famine population ended up. – Katie McFadden


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A New Book Chronicles 250 Years of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade (And A Sour Quip Almost Spoils the Party) n celebration of the 250th anniversary of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Quinnipiac University Press and The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee have released a beautiful 145-page book chronicling the parade’s immense history and sharing some if its finest moments captured on film (see page 113 for a review). The book was launched on February 9th at the American Irish Historical Society on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, to an appreciative crowd of almost 100. The evening included speeches by IrishAmerican radio broadcaster Adrian Flannelly; John T. Dunleavy, the chairman of the parade; John T. Ridge and Lynn Bushnell, the author and editor of the book; parade Grand Marshal Mary Higgins Clark; and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In what quickly became the most controversial moment of the evening, Mayor Bloomberg made a harmlessly intended but ill-chosen quip about walking past the Historical Society on St. Patrick’s Day and seeing “people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window.” The remark produced a flood of reactions from those in attendance and the Irish

Holyoke, MA Celebrates Prominent Irish Americans

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ach March, the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee recognizes certain Irish Americans for their contributions to Irish-American society and their deep connections with Ireland. This year, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, chairwoman of The American Ireland Fund and founder of New York University’s highly regarded Glucksman Ireland House of Studies, will be presented with the 2011 Irish Ambassador’s Award. The award celebrates those who have promoted cultural and economic ties between the United States and Ireland, and the recipient must be approved by the Irish government. Previous awardees include the late Frank McCourt, Irish American of the Year Dr. John L. Lahey, and our Editor-in-Chief Patricia Harty. Prolific historian David McCullough will be honored with the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Award, another of the Holyoke Parade Committee’s prestigious traditions. McCullough has previously been awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom and has won two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Book Awards. The author of New York Times bestselling books such as 1776 and John Adams, McCullough will be celebrated at the JFK National Award dinner on March 19, the evening before he, Glucksman, and the other award recipients march in the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade. – Sheila Langan

PHOTO: DOMINICK TOTINO

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American and local media. After IrishCentral.com broke the story, Bloomberg’s gaffe was covered on local news stations and in the New York Times. Some saw it as benign, but most declared it to be in poor taste: offensive, out of date and unnecessary. But things move on. Mayor Bloomberg issued an apology, the book has received a wonderful reception, and the mayor will, as usual, welcome members of the parade committee to a breakfast at Gracie Mansion on March 17th, before the big procession up Fifth Avenue – one of the world’s largest and oldest displays of Irish pride and style. – Sheila Langan

Book author John T. Ridge, editor Lynn Mosher Bushnell, Mayor Bloomberg and parade Grand Marshal Mary Higgins Clark.

Irish Heritage Month

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ith all the St. Patrick’s Day festivities circling around the 17th, it’s easy to forget that, in fact, the whole month of March is a celebration of all things Irish in the United States. Each year since 1991, either Congress or the president has declared an official Irish Heritage Month on the first of March.This year, President Obama issued the proclamation. In a release from the White House, he stated “From the earliest days of our Republic, the Irish have overcome discrimination and carved out a place for themselves in the American story.Through hard work, perseverance, and patriotism, women and men of Irish descent have given their brawn, brains, and blood to make and remake this Nation – pulling it westward, pushing it skyward, and moving it forward.” Let’s be sure to keep these words in mind before, during and after the 17th – and to celebrate all month long everything that the Irish have done. – S.L. APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 15


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Jean Kennedy Smith and John Sweeney Awarded Medal of Freedom

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n Tuesday, February 15, President Barack Obama presented Medals of Freedom to 15 recipients, including Jean Kennedy Smith, a 2011 Irish America Hall of Fame inductee, and John Sweeney, the current President Emeritus and former President (1995-2009) of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFLCIO) – and the son of Irish immigrants. The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor that can be awarded. The current president personally selects the recipients, and receives recommendations from the Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board. The medal can be awarded “to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1), the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Ms. Kennedy Smith was honored for her work with Very Special Arts, a non-profit organization associated with the John F. Kennedy Center, and for her work as a diplomat – notably in her role as Ambassador to Ireland from 1993-1998, when she played an instrumental role in the peace process. Mr. Sweeney was honored for his work as President of the AFL-CIO, bringing new life to the American labor movement and working hard to protect the American worker. Fellow recipients included former president George H.W. Bush, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, poet Maya Angelou and former Boston Celtics star and coach Bill Russell. - Kristin Romano and Sheila Langan

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The Kennedy Library Goes Digital

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ne week before the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration, Caroline Kennedy and David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, announced the launch of The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s Digital Archives on January 13 in Washington, DC. Currently, the library houses a collection of 48 million pages of documents, photographs, recordings and films.This first digital release consists of over 200,000 documents, 1,500 photographs, 1,240 audio files, 80 video files and nearly 300 museum artifacts. With a goal to eventually digitize all of the documents, the digitization process is ongoing. Future additions to the digital archives will include items from the Jacqueline B. Kennedy Collection. Reflecting the shift to digital research, the digital archives will enable students, teachers, researchers and the public to search through millions of documents from their home, school or library, without traveling to the Presidential Library in Boston. A search through the digital archives reveals a plethora of documents and images that are rarely seen outside of the library. Search under the subject space and click Sound Recordings, and President Kennedy’s speech to Congress on May 25, 1961 setting the goal to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade can be found. Whether one is interested in the Kennedy presidency, the Kennedy family or looking to pass the time, the digital archives offer up a little bit of everything. For people born after Kennedy’s presidency, the online content provides a window into the events that their parents have talked about and their teachers have taught them. For those who remember the Kennedy presidency, the digitized documents allow them to relive Camelot, and perhaps learn something they did not know. In either case, the digital archives will permit easier learning about the U.S.’s thirty-fifth president. - Kristin Romano


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Craic Fest S

t. Patrick’s Day in New York City: a phrase that usually conjures memories of trad-music and dance, shamrocks in shop windows and green neckties lining Fifth Avenue. However, in the days leading up to March 17th, another celebration of Irish culture entrances the city: Craic Fest. Now in its twelfth year, the Craic Fest, named for its celebration of fun, is a showcase of modern Irish and Irish-American song and film. Two nights of music will be held at Mercury Lounge on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, as well as a special onenight engagement with Julie Feeney at Joe’s Pub, which will mark the beginning of the Craic Fest on March 9. Ireland’s most prized export of late, Feeney is classically trained in composition and creates a backdrop of orchestral instrumentation, which she then contrasts with quirky, staccato vocal harmonies. Her style is refreshingly upbeat and original. Another visitor from abroad will be Belfast singer-songwriter Foy Vance who, at least on the surface, seems to fall in line with early 2000s Irish troubadours like Glen Hansard and Damien Rice. His voice, reminiscent of Otis Redding and Ray LaMontagne, combined with his use of looped recording systems to create his own band live on the spot, quickly silences even the rowdiest of St. Paddy’s Day audiences. The film portion of Craic Fest will consist of various screenings, Q&As, and after parties graced with the presence of many

Liz Carroll Awarded TG4’s Gradam Ceoil Traditional Composer of the Year Award

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hicagoan Liz Carroll has been awarded the Gradam Ceoil Traditional Composer of the Year Award by TG4, Ireland’s Irish Language station, making her the first American-born composer to win the award. This is the latest of many accolades in Carroll’s prestigious career. At 17, she won the Senior AllIreland championship on the fiddle. Since then, she has recorded ten albums. Her latest, Double Play, recorded with John Doyle, was nominated for a Grammy in 2010. Also in 2010, Carroll published Collected, a compilation of her original compositions. She was awarded the National Heritage Award Fellowship in 1994, named Irish Traditional Musician of the Year 2000 by the Irish Echo, and twice named to Irish America’s list of the Top 100 Irish Americans. The 2011 Gradam Ceoil Awards will be presented at the Wexford Opera House on April 2, and will be aired on TG4 on Easter Sunday, April 24. – Kristin Romano

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famous Irish names. Perrier’s Bounty, directed by Ian Fitzgibbon and starring Cillian Murphy, kicks off the Craic Film Fest, followed the next night by the documentary An Evening with Gabriel Byrne. The list goes on with The Eclipse starring Aidan Quinn and Ciaran Hinds; a documentary, The Yellow Bittern: The Life and Times of Liam Casey, which celebrates the life of the founding member of the Clancy Brothers; and the recent film festival darling White Irish Drinkers, which chronicles the endeavor of two brothers to get the Rolling Stones to play at a local mobster’s bar in Brooklyn the night before the Stones’ big 1975 concert at Madison Square Garden. – Tara Dougherty

Irish At The Oscars

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he 83rd Academy Awards featured many winners and nominees of Irish descent. Irish-American actors, creative designers and directors, and Irish-based films were all honored at the ceremony at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on February 27th.The film The Fighter, about Irish American boxer Micky Ward, was nominated for several awards including Best Picture, though it lost to the big winner of the night, The King’s Speech. Melissa Leo and Amy Adams were both nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Fighter, and Leo won for her portrayal as Ward’s mother and manager. Christian Bale also won for his Supporting Role as Micky Ward’s brother and trainer, Dicky Ecklund. Irish Americans Karen O’Hara and Colleen Atwood took home Oscars for their creativity on the film Alice in Wonderland; O’Hara for Set Decoration and Atwood for Costume Design. Many others of Irish background were nominated, though they didn’t go home with the gold statuettes. Producer Trish Adlesic was nominated for the Documentary Feature Gasland, but the award went to Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job. New-comer Michael Creagh of Belfast was nominated for his short live action film The Crush, about an eight-year-old Dublin boy who has a crush on his engaged teacher. Danny Boyle was nominated for his adapted screenplay, 127 Hours. Once again, people of Irish background proved to the Academy that they are key players in the making of quality films. – Katie McFadden


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{ irish eye on hollywood} By Tom Deignan It’s still early in 2011, but so far the Irish newcomer of the year has to be Colin O’Donoghue. The Drogheda native starred alongside Anthony Hopkins in the Exorcist-style thriller The Rite, which should be out on DVD soon. It was O’Donoghue’s film debut, and though some critics were a bit rough on the film, The Rite spent a week as the number one movie in America in January. O’Donoghue, 30, had previously starred (alongside fellow Irish thespian Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in the Showtime drama The Tudors. Prior to that, O’Donoghue had simply done theater work and television shows for Ireland’s TV network RTE. With his performance in The Rite (which also stars Irish screen veteran Ciaran Hinds), O’Donoghue certainly opened some eyes and set himself up for an interesting career. What’s next for O’Donoghue? He’s playing things coy. “I’ve got something else in the works,” he told About.com. “But I can’t talk about it.” As for Ciaran Hinds, you can also see the Northern Ireland native later this year (alongside ageless wonder Helen Mirren) in the international thriller The Debt. Hinds is also among the Irish actors who will appear in the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II, which hits screens in July. Fiona Shaw, Brendan Gleeson and Evanna Lynch will also be giving Harry a Hibernian bent. Another busy Irish screen veteran is Sinead Cusack. The Dublin-born actress is entering her sixth decade of movie-making, since appearing in Alfred the Great in 1969. She has also, along the way, received two Tony nominations for her stage work. This March, you can catch Cusack in a film that was released in the U.K. several years back and has finally made its way to the States. The film, entitled Cracks, is about life and love at a posh boarding school for girls in 1930s Britain. Directed by Jordan Scott (Ridley Scott’s daughter), Cracks features Eva Green, Juno Temple and Imogen Poots. Green plays Miss G, a passionate teacher who wants her students to share her zest for life. But this nonconformist streak rubs some of the more strict people at the boarding school the wrong way. Things only get more complicated when a new student arrives from Spain. Fiamma (Maria Valverde) forces the girls, not to mention Miss G, to confront their repressed desires. 20 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Colin O’Donoghue in The Rite.

The great, cursed writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once described himself as “half black-Irish and half old-American stock with the usual exaggerated ancestral pretensions.” The level of Irishness to be found in Fitzgerald’s work is debatable. (Some scholars think the Catholic influence is more predominant.) Either way, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is one of just a few books that could be mentioned as The Greatest American Novel. Already the basis for one mediocre 1974 movie (starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow), The Great Gatsby is about to be made again – in 3D! This might sound profoundly ill-conceived, but you can’t argue with the star power lining up to make the film. Leonardo DiCaprio (whose Irish roles include The Departed and Gangs of New York) will play the mysterious title character, while Tobey Maguire plays narrator Nick Carraway. Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) will also star in the film, to be directed by the always-ambitious Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge). James Brown used to be known as “the hardest working man in show business,” but Liam Neeson now seems to be vying for the title. After the Ballymena star had another number one action hit in February with Unknown (co-starring Aidan Quinn and Mad Men’s January Jones) he has another trio of movies in various stages of development and production. On the popcorn front, Neeson is set to star alongside pop singer Rihanna and the uber-hot (in more ways than one) Brooklyn Decker in the film Battleship. You’ve heard of movies based on books, TV shows and even video games? Well, Battleship is based on the old-school


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board game. Neeson plays an admiral on the titular vessel who must do battle with aliens on the high seas. The director slated for Battleship is Peter Berg (an actor who has also directed big budget movies such as Hancock and smaller pics such as Friday Night Lights). Look for Battleship to set sail in May of 2012. Neeson will also appear in The Grey alongside Dallas Roberts, James Badge Dale and Dermot Mulroney. The film is about a group of oil-rig workers stuck in the Alaskan tundra who must elude a pack of nasty wolves. Finally, Neeson will keep his vocal cords warm so as to eventually reprise his voice role as Aslan in the ongoing Chronicles of Narnia series, a fourth entry of which is expected further down the road.

Above: Andie McDowell and Aidan Quinn as the Abbates in The Fifth Quarter. Right: Filmmaker Juanita Wilson with her three Irish Film and Television Awards.

Meanwhile, Aidan Quinn, the quintessential working actor, just keeps on working. In March, look for Quinn in the inspirational true story The Fifth Quarter. Also starring Ryan Merriman and Andie McDowell, The Fifth Quarter is about the Abbate family, whose son Luke died in a terrible car accident. Luke’s brother went on to play football at Wake Forest, and thus began a poignant tradition in which the final quarter of every Wake Forest game came to be known as Luke’s quarter – or “The Fifth Quarter.” Quinn plays family patriarch Steven Abbate, whose deceased son had already made the world a better place by donating his organs following his death. The family now spearheads efforts to educate teens about the dangers of reckless driving. Look for The Fifth Quarter to hit screens March 25.

Cillian Murphy, fresh off the blockbuster Inception and the Irish gangster flick Perrier’s Bounty, will star alongside Robert DeNiro and Sigourney Weaver in the Rodrigo Cortes-directed thriller Red Lights. Weaver plays a psychology professor studying paranormal activity, who becomes fascinated by the worldrenowned psychic played by DeNiro. Murphy plays the love interest of Elizabeth Olsen, one of Weaver’s students.

Crying Game thespian Stephen Rea is among the stars of an upcoming BBC thriller The Shadow Line. Rea is slated to play a character described by RTE as a “brilliantly lethal puppet master.” The seven-part series will also star Christopher Eccleston and Antony Sher and takes a multi-layered look at the murder investigation of a crime boss. Rea remains busy off-screen as well. Recently he lobbied the Northern Irish government to avoid deep cuts to arts programs. “We should be proud of …the actors, directors, script writers, lighting engineers, set designers, costume designers and make-up artists from Northern Ireland who have gone on to develop successful stage, film and TV careers, learned and developed their craft at local theatre venues. If it weren’t for the initial investment in our home-grown product and talent, so much opportunity would be lost to Northern Ireland,” said Rea. The Irish Film and Television Awards are an important guide to emerging Irish film talent and the big winner this year was Juanita Wilson’s As If I Am Not There, about the Bosnian War. The movie nabbed best film, best director and best script. Last year, the Dublinborn Wilson received an Oscar nomination for her short The Door, and was dubbed a rising star by closelyread Variety Magazine. Other movies that garnered praise at this year’s IFTAs were Perrier’s Bounty, Swansong: The Story of Occi Byrne, The Runway and Sensation. One final note originating from the other side of the Atlantic is a new documentary called Born Fighting about the Scots Irish. Based on the book of the same name by U.S. senator James Webb, the film recently aired on TV in Scotland, and it’s a good bet it will soon be available to U.S. viewers. Webb convincingly argues that the Scots Irish have had a profound impact on U.S. history, yet are rarely discussed, or are mentioned only in the context of redneck IA stereotypes.

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Ireland and America at the New York Public Library

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he New York Public Library for the Performing 2 Arts at Lincoln Center will open “Ireland America: The Ties that Bind” in its Oenslager Gallery on March 14th. Curated by NYU Professor Marion R. Casey, the exhibition will explore key aspects of IrishAmerican performance history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Casey says that “Irish music and theater have carried the cultural markers of identity across an ocean and down through two centuries. From the enduring melodies of Thomas Moore to the infectious percussion of Riverdance, songs, tunes, dances, plays, and dramatic roles from the past resonate in the present,” and that this bedrock “ensures 1 the continuing appeal of Irish arts 1.The Colleen Bawn for American audience.” Songster, 1873. 2. The exhibition, which is a collabDancer and variety performer Kitty oration with NYU’s Glucksman O’Neill, 1877. O’Neill was a featured Irish Ireland House, the Irish Film Institute and dancer with the major Irish-American variCutlure Ireland, is open to the public free ety performer songwriters, Harrigan & Hart, and Tony Pastor. 3.Title page of The Music of charge and runs through August 13th. of Erin, printed in New York, 1807. 4.Barry It is a part of Imagine Ireland, the year- Fitzgerald and Sara Allgood in the 1940 long presentation of Irish arts in the Broadway revival of Juno and the Paycock United States. The library, in collabora- by Sean O’Casey. tion with the Irish Film Institute, will also show a documentary film series on Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm. and on selected Saturdays at 6:30 pm from March 17 through May 19. The screenings include Ed Sullivan’s 1959 television show filmed on location in Ireland.

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For information about this and other free public programs visit http://www.nypl.org

University Day at NYU – April 16th

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YU’s Glucksman Ireland House presents its annual University Day on Saturday,April 16th.The theme this year continues to ask the question “Who Do We Think We Are?” with a focus on the Irish family in Ireland and the United States and a program that will include scholars, writers and artists. The keynote speaker is Dr. Garrett O'Connor, CEO of the Betty Ford Institute, and an expert on addiction and recovery. His lecture will discuss the concept of ethnic identity and 'malignant shame', examining the historical and cultural factors at work in influencing the Irish psyche and

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behavior at home and abroad.“We are delighted to welcome such an eminent speaker and to build upon the great success of our inaugural University Day last year,” said Judith McGuire, President of the Advisory Board of Glucksman Ireland House.”We wish to invite those among the Irish American and other New York and tri-state communities to join us for a day of compelling and enjoyable discussions on the meaning and role of ethnic identity and heritage.” The full program and ticket details are available at www.irelandhouse.as.nyu.edu or call Glucksman Ireland House at 212-998-3950.


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A Connecticut Couple Revives an Ancient Irish Alphabet

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wo years ago, shortly after the birth of his son, Chris Conway decided to revisit his Irish roots by delving into his collection of Irish literature. Tucked into Steve Balmires Celtic Tree Mysteries, he found a scrap of paper with some intriguing markings he had written some years before: they spelled out his name in the Old Irish Ogham alphabet. Chris had first discovered Ogham one college summer he spent studying Pre-Christian Celtic Traditions at Trinity College, Dublin. Also known as the Celtic Tree Alphabet, Ogham is the oldest written representation of the Irish language. The first form had 20 symbols, a system of intersecting horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, which corresponded to the Latin alphabet. Over time, a symbol for the letter “P” evolved, and a few of the markings came to represent dual letters. There are various theories about the exact origin of Ogham, but it is known that each letter name corresponds to the name or a tree of shrub. In addition to its practical uses, the alphabet is also thought to have been used by Druids for divination. After finding the scrap of paper, Chris delved into a study of the ancient alphabet. Inspired, he also began making art and decorative pieces that featured words spelled out in Ogham. As Chris and his wife, Colleen, recalled in a recent interview with Irish America, “The response [from friends] was so encouraging that in early 2010 we began brainstorming ways in which his Ogham art could become more than just a hobby.” The couple then embarked on an eight month journey of building connections with printers, sculptors, pewter craftsmen, engravers and web and graphic

Prints (“Health”/ Sláinte and “Soul Friend”/Anam Cara)

designers. Then, on October 25, 2010, they formally launched their new company, Ogham Art. Via their website, www.oghamart.com, the line offers framed inscriptions, seasonal prints, pewter pendants, ornaments, and both blank note cards and the very popular custom-made monogrammed stationary sets. They also make window clings for each country and region in Ireland, with the names written in English, Irish, and Ogham. The alphabet Chris and Colleen work from is prominently displayed on their website, and each personalized item is made with care to ensure accuracy. Thus far, they say, the line has received a glowing response, and they are looking forward to reaching out to the Irish-American community at festivals and other events throughout the year. “We are proud to bring the celebration of Ogham to these alternate levels,” they added. — Sheila Langan

Two of the Youngest Entrepreneurs in Ireland

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ónán and Conor McGarvey have been busy.The Loughanare, Co. Donegal boys, ages 14 and 10 respectively, are just like any young boys, going to school and doing their homework. Unlike their peers, after they do their homework they head to the woodturning workshop in their parents’ garden shed and create wooden pens which they sell through their company, Donegal Pens. The boys became interested in woodturning two years ago after visiting a woodturning fair. Subsequently, they began to ask for a lathe, a machine which holds the material in place and rotates along the horizontal axis. Eventually, their parents bought them one and set up a little woodshop in the shed. Last summer, Rónán and Conor began selling their pens through local shops. Since then, they have sold over 600 pens, earning themselves somewhere between $4,100 – $5,474.The boys use a variety of wood – such as oak, elm, yew and beech to name a few – in crafting the pens.The pens are available for purchase on their website, www.donegalpens.com, and in several retail shops in Donegal. While most people would be satisfied with this level of skill, the McGarveys are not.They recently joined the Irish Woodturners’ Guild, with a desire to furIA ther sharpen their skills and learn from woodturning professionals. -Kristin Romano

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ON BEHALF OF THE MANY WHO BENEFIT FROM YOUR TIRELESS WORK, AN EXTENSION OF GRATITUDE TO NIALL O’DOWD AND PATRICIA HARTY. OUR DEEPEST THANKS FOR ALL THAT YOU DO FOR THE IRISH-AMERICAN COMMUNITY.


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Quote Unquote

“You guys hear this. Egyptian officials say that President Hosni Mubarak is going through a severe psychological condition.Yeah, it’s called getting dumped like a week before Valentine’s Day.” – From Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

“It’s supposed to hurt.”

– A teary-eyed coach Rex Ryan after his New York Jets lost to the Pittsburgh Stealers and failed to get to the Super Bowl. – NY Post

“There were a few years when the majority of Irish people seemed to be on vacation and shopping trips, just here for a few days or a long weekend. My office is downtown near the super stores, Century 21 and J&R, and you would see and recognize Irish people all the time with huge bags of purchases. You would know that they were just here for the shopping or heading to see the Ground Zero site nearby. That has changed dramatically in the last year or so and we are now seeing people from Ireland coming here with much longer term plans.” – James O’Malley, an immigration attorney in New York, on the new Irish immigrants. From the Irish Voice

“Ireland is a prime example of what the church is facing, because they made this island into a concentration camp where they could control everything. And the control was really all about sex…Generations of people were crucified with guilt complexes. Now the game is up.” – Mark Patrick Hederman, abbot of Glenstal Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in County Limerick, Ireland, in conversation with Stephen Castle from The New York Times 28 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

“There seems to be more opportunities for old guys like me to do a little fighting and running because the lead characters also require a bit of depth and maturity and gravitas that one is likely to acquire doing drama all those years.” – Liam Neeson on the recent trend of older, established actors being cast in action films. EW.com

“There’s no such thing as a non-recourse home mortgage in Ireland. The guy who pays too much for his house is not allowed to simply hand the keys to the bank and walk away. He’s on the hook, personally, for whatever he borrowed. Across Ireland, people are unable to extract themselves from their houses or their bank loans. Irish people will tell you that, because of their sad history of dispossession, owning a home is not just a way to avoid paying rent but a mark of freedom. In their rush to freedom, the Irish built their own prisons. And their leaders helped them to do it.” – From “When Irish Eyes Are Crying” by Michael Lewis, March 2011 issue of Vanity Fair

“I have a sense that this next generation is going to be much stronger than us.” – Bono from the Irish Daily Star and Irish Central.com, talking about his children

“Beyond that was Galway Bay, the limestone heights of County Clare, and off to the right, a glimpse of the Aran Islands, where we’d toured the smallest one, Inisheer, in a horse cart just the day before. But for all the beauty of that view — and all the places we visited in the west, and later in Dublin — what I’ll remember most from my visit to Ireland is the people who made us feel at home there.” — Tom Tolan from “Ireland: Exploring Roots and Finding a Sense of Home,” a travel piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


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Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Cahill President William J. Clinton Charles F. Feeney Michael Flatley William J. Flynn Mary Higgins Clark Denis Kelleher Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith Dr. James Watson Delighted you can join me in the Irish America Hall of Fame! A more deserving group for this honor could not be found. To the 2011 Irish America Hall of Fame Inductees, a salute to your accomplishments and a warm congratulations.

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A Glimpse of

Ireland Past

Ireland has dramatically changed over the years, but, as Sharon Ni Chonchuir discovered, you can still see how your ancestors lived and experience the pleasure of age-old traditions. ‘Romantic Ireland is dead and gone. It’s with O’Leary in the grave.’ his was Yeats’ lament in the Ireland of 1914 and it was often repeated during the Celtic Tiger years. In our frantic quest for materialistic modernity, Ireland and its people were said to have forsaken the traditions of the past. But how true was this assertion? Did those age-old traditions really die away? I’ve spoken to individuals who are living proof this is not so. These people have kept alive some of the most interesting and unique aspects of life in old, romantic Ireland. When asked to imagine Ireland, people often picture green countryside dotted with whitewashed cottages and thatched roofs. What they don’t realize is how close the skill of thatching came to being lost. For centuries, thatch – made from reeds, straw or whatever material grew abundantly in the local area – was the roofing material of choice in Irish homes. It was freely available and provided excellent insulation throughout the tempestuous Irish year.

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OPPOSITE PAGE: LEFT: Beth Moran giving a demonstration at Ballina Heritage Day. RIGHT: Beth Moran on Clare Island. THIS PAGE: ABOVE: Brian Simpson with a group of thatching trainees. ABOVE RIGHT: Eoin Murphy thatching a cottage roof. RIGHT: Brian Simpson at work.

What’s more, there were skilled thatchers. They could be called upon to repair or replace the thatch as needed. These men trained their sons in the craft and so the skills were passed down the generations. As Irish society began to change, the young no longer automatically followed in their fathers’ footsteps. This meant thatchers were no longer replaced and the craft appeared to be dying. Brian Simpson met his first thatcher in the early 1990s. He had just moved to Skerries in Dublin and the encounter was to change his life. “This man was a fourth-generation thatcher and the last surviving thatcher in the area,” says Brian. “He taught me many traditional skills.” Inspired by this man, Brian set up his own thatching business in 1998. Since then, he has worked all over the east coast, mostly using the native slice or sketch style of thatching to restore old thatched cottages and build new ones. In 2004, he was asked to join a committee charged with training a new generation of thatchers. “There was a skills shortage,” explains Brian. “People weren’t passing on the old traditions so we were asked to devise a training course.” This year-long course was held for the first time in 2006. Twelve trainees

enrolled and one of these was Eoin Murphy from County Louth. Initially, he wasn’t that enthusiastic about thatching. “I was 20 and out of work,” he remembers. “I saw an ad for a thatcher’s apprentice and I liked the idea of working outdoors so I went for it.” Five years later, he is as passionate as Brian. “There are all sorts of different ways of thatching and materials to work with,” says Eoin. “It makes it very enjoyable. In my area, we work with long wheaten straw and use it in old houses and new homes.” There has been a decrease in demand for thatchers since the recession started. However, both Brian and Eoin believe the craft will live on. “Thatching is a sustainable roofing material that looks great,” believes Brian. “People will always be interested in it.” “And now there are plenty of young thatchers trained in the skill, there’s no chance of it dying out,” adds Eoin. ighteen-year-old Raymond Ryan from Bandon, Co. Cork isn’t as optimistic about road bowling, a sport he loves. “There aren’t many people my age who

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play as much as I do,” says the current Under-18 Irish Road Bowling Champion. “There will be very few left in a few years’ time.” So, what is road bowling? Bowlers (pronounced to rhyme with howl) throw an 800g (28oz) ball, made from iron and steel and the size of a tennis ball, along a narrow country road. The aim is to finish the course/road with the fewest throws. This sport can be traced back to the seventeenth century and was once played all over Ireland. Today, it can only be found in Counties Cork and Armagh where road bowling events attract large crowds and result in road closures. “What happens is that people bet on you to win,” says Raymond. “Then follow you along the road, giving you advice on the best way to throw the ball.” They aren’t the only ones helping him either. The bowler works with a partner who stands ahead with his feet apart to indicate the best target for the throw. Raymond started at age 14. “I’d seen people playing in the Bandon area and started practicing on my own,” he recalls. “I got help from a few players in their 20s and 40s and got good.” The skill of the game is what first attracted Raymond. “It’s all about your stride, speed and straightness,” he says. “You can improve these all the time.” He also likes the competitive side of the game. “I usually play every weekend,” he says. “I go all over the country. If they phone me to ask me, I’ll go.” His neighbors in Bandon follow him at these competitions. Many put money on him to win. “I bet on myself too,” Raymond admits. “And when I win, the people who bet on me give me some of their winnings.” APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 31


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“There’s a lot you can figure out for yourself but it’s good to be shown some techniques,” says David. “Patrick had wonderful moves and shapes when playing. I was lucky to learn from him.” David eventually improved so much that he went on to win the All Ireland Championship in 2007 and 2009, just as Patrick had done before him. These days, he no longer has as much time to practice. “I work. I farm part time and I’ve got two children,” he says. “It’s hard to find time for the bones.” He has started to teach his young children to play. He hopes they will continue the tradition but is doubtful. “It’s not cool as it was when I was young,” he says. “But if I teach them to play now, they might come back to it in the future.” rish dance, music, songs and stories are popular with audiences all over the world. With the success of Riverdance and The Chieftains, it’s hard to imagine there once was a time when people feared they might be lost forever. In the early 1970s, Fr. Pat Ahern founded Siamsa Tíre (pronounced She-am-sa Tee-ra), the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, with the aim of keeping Irish performing arts alive and bringing them to new audiences. “He wanted children to be immersed in the old traditions,” says Jonathan Kelliher, the current Artistic Director of Siamsa Tíre. “He wanted to ensure the traditions carried on into the future.” To make this happen, he set up two training centers in tradition-rich parts of rural County Kerry. Jonathan grew up four miles away from the centre in North Kerry. “My brother and sister went there to learn music, song and dance, and when I was seven, I started to go there too,” he recalls. “I spent the next three years attending classes there once a week.” That was more than 30 years ago and children still attend the centers today. Auditions are held annually to spot children with talent, and approximately 20 children join each center each year. They are then taught music, song and dance on a weekly basis for the next three years. Those students who show significant promise then graduate to advanced classes in Tralee, where they work with Siamsa Tíre’s permanent performance troupe. This is what Jonathan did. “I trained with Siamsa Tíre to the end of my teens and developed a huge interest in tradition-

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TOP: Road bowling in Cork. ABOVE: Raymond Ryan with his trophy at the All Ireland Under 18 Road Bowling Finals. RIGHT: Jonathan Kelliher launching a show at Siamsa Tíre.

Despite his passion for the sport, he is pessimistic about its future. “People say it’s dying,” he says. “There aren’t a lot of young people going into it and that’s a pity. I’ll have no one to play it with in another couple of years.” ’m in a farmhouse near Abbeyfeale in County Limerick, holding the ribs of a heifer in my right hand. Don’t panic. This isn’t a macabre Irish ritual. I’m actually being given a crash course in playing the bones. “Hold them like this,” instructs David Murphy as he places the ribs on either side of my middle finger so they curve away from each other. He then tells me to click the bones together in time to the jig playing on the stereo. Awkwardly, I try to do as I’m told but the sound that emerges is neither rhythmic nor musical. “Don’t worry,” David reassures me. “Everyone finds it difficult at the beginning.” He then takes the bones and starts to

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play. He clicks in time to each note and soon the rhythmic clicks are echoing off the kitchen walls and I can’t help but tap my feet. I’ve only recently heard of bone playing, an ancient Irish tradition now only to be found in small pockets of North Kerry and West Limerick. Here, bone players join music sessions in the pubs and compete in the annual All Ireland Bone Playing Championship in Abbeyfeale. David Murphy first became interested in the bones when he was twelve. “A friend of mine invited me to a session in Abbeyfeale where I saw Patrick Sport Murphy playing the bones,” he says. “He’s a local man whom I still consider to be the best player I’ve ever heard. We were both so impressed we got our own bones the following day.” David was determined to master the bones and spent every spare moment practicing. When Patrick – who lived down the road – heard of his enthusiasm, he offered to give him lessons.


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al performing arts, especially in dance,” he says. “I became a professional performer and continued performing with Siamsa Tíre until I became Artistic Director four years ago.” Siamsa Tíre employs five professional performers and they are kept very busy. Not only do they teach youngsters coming up through the ranks but they also create shows which run at the theater and others which tour nationally and internationally. The shows are popular. “There’s a huge interest from audiences,” says Jonathan. “Last summer, tourism numbers were down in Ireland overall but ours were up. We had 122 performances with more than 85 percent occupancy.” The young people of Kerry seem to be just as interested in learning traditional music, song and dance too, although their focus often changes. “Five years ago, the success of Riverdance meant there was a renewed interest in dancing,” says Jonathan. “It’s music that’s popular at the moment. It really varies with trends and fashions.” Whatever the changing fashion, Siamsa Tíre will continue to celebrate the richness of Irish dance, music and song. “We want to bring our old traditions to new audiences in fresh ways,” says Jonathan. “We’ll never let them become stale.” assachusetts-born Beth Moran is not someone you’d expect to be a flag bearer for traditional Irish weavers. But since arriving in Ireland 29 years ago, this is what she has become. “I was a photographer then,” she says. “I came to the west taking pictures and as soon as I set foot on Clare Island off the coast of Mayo, I knew I would never leave.” This decision caused her to abandon her photography. “There wasn’t any water or electricity where I was staying so photography was impossible,” says Beth, laughing. She decided to try weaving instead. “It seemed obvious,” she says. “There were sheep whose wool I could spin. There were natural dyes. And when a woman came from the mainland to teach the locals how to weave, I grabbed my chance.” Almost three decades later, Beth is married to one of the island’s sheep farmers. She has raised a family. And she has her own cottage industry – The Ballytoughey Loom – creating natural woven products which she spins, dyes and weaves by hand.

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Following the Tradition You too can travel the country and see some of these old traditions in practice.

l For those of you interested in thatching, BALLINA HERITAGE DAY – which takes place on the 13th of July – will celebrate a wide variety of crafts, including thatching, that are indigenous to County Mayo. More information is available at www.ballinasalmonfestival.ie.

l Alternatively, you could visit SKERRIES on the 12th of April. On this day, the Skerries Historical Society is using the 1911 census to recreate life in the North County Dublin fishing village of that era. A series of talks and demonstrations (including one on thatching) will be given. See www.oldskerries.ie for more details.

l A demonstration may not be enough for some of you. You may want to experience the romance of staying in a thatched cottage in the Irish countryside. You’ll find just what you are looking for at www.hogansirishcottages.com, www.irishcottageholidays.com and www.rentacottage.ie.

l Having read about Raymond Ryan’s passion for road bowling, some of you may be eager to witness the sport for yourselves. ALL IRELAND FINALS Dunmanway, Co. Cork: July 9-10, 2011 and in Armagh, July 30-31, 2011. You’ll find details about upcoming fixtures at www.irishroadbowling.ie. There are three organized leagues in the United States, and the sport is gaining rapid popularity throughout the country. Contact the West Virginia Irish Road Bowling Association for more information. Tel. 202 387-1680. Web: www.wvirishroadbowling.com

l Others among you may want to hear the bones being played. If so, the Limerick town of Abbeyfeale hosts the annual FLEADH BY THE FEALE from April 28 to May 2. The All Ireland Bone Playing Championship is one of the highlights of this music festival and attracts bone players from all over Ireland and beyond. See www.fleadhbythefeale.com.

l If you’d like to catch a performance by the dancers, musicians and singers of SIAMSA TÍRE, you can find information about their upcoming shows at www.siamsatire.com. Or telephone: 353 (0)66 7123055

l And finally, if you want to follow in Beth Moran’s footsteps and learn the traditional crafts of spinning, dying and weaving, she gives classes from her home on Clare Island. Find out more at www.clareisland.info/loom.

l The Weavers’ Guild of Ireland also organizes regular workshops and courses. For information, visit www.weavers.ie.

It’s been quite a journey getting here. At one stage, Beth’s loom was in her bedroom, next to her child’s cot. At another, she shared tips with the only remaining old lady on the island to still have a spinning wheel. “I was also lucky local people knew about natural dyes,” she says. “They showed me this lichen that grows on the rocks and gives a wonderful rusty red color. I love using it to this day.” Beth now passes this hard-won knowledge on to others in regular workshops on the island. “People come from all over,” she says. “It seems there will always be people interested in the old traditional ways.”

In fact, she thinks the current economic crisis is making people reassess the value of traditional crafts. “People are returning to the old ways and rediscovering the value of things,” she says. “Weaving offers a way of making an income and it’s an enjoyable skill to master. In some ways, I think the recession may just enhance the craft industry.” If I’ve reached any conclusion from my conversations with weavers, performers, road bowlers, bone players and thatchers, it’s this: Mr Yeats, you appear to have been mistaken. Romantic Ireland and her traditions live on. Make a little IA effort and you’ll soon find them. APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 33


Ireland has always been a place where one doesn’t need pots of gold to explore, but rather an open-mind and a thirst for adventure. It is always a welcome shock to our visitors just how much they can see and experience on their travels and the great value that a trip to Ireland offers.

A Message From Joe Byrne It is with great pleasure that I extend our warmest congratulations to the 2011 Inductees into the Irish America Hall of Fame. The impacts that these individuals have made in the worlds of business, culture, diplomacy and humanitarian aid are staggering testaments to their talent and character. The accomplishments of these honorees display not only compassion and diligence, but also the spirit of Ireland - that of a joyous and optimistic people. Ireland remains the true keeper of the craic - a place of fun and spontaneity. For Irish America that spirit is familiar and for others, it takes just one visit to Ireland, one conversation with the local shopkeeper, a shared joke with the man tending bar or a chance encounter with a traditional Irish band in a pub to feel it for themselves.

From the rich history of artifacts to the rich welcomes of the Irish people, Ireland is a land apart. Ju s t a s mu ch a s these honorees demonstrate the country's great spirit, they also show its wonderful respect for history, and a commitment to preserving the vitality of the land and culture of the ancestors. It is with open arms we welcome more visits to Ireland from these Irish Americans and future inductees into this prestigious Hall of Fame. For those who share their drive and passion, we wait with great anticipation for your visits, your accomplishments and the future of Irish America. To all the inductees, we are proud and honored to claim you as sons and daughters of Ireland and Irish America!

Joseph P. Byrne Executive Vice President United States & Canada Tourism Ireland


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John Lahey: 36 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011


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The president of Quinnipiac University is honored as a leading educator and keeper of our heritage. By Sheila Langan.

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hen John L. Lahey was a boy, he once accompanied his father, a hard-working bricklayer, to a worksite. He wanted to see what his father’s job was all about, and to try it out for himself. His grandfather, Daniel Lahey, an immigrant from Knockglossmore, Co. Kerry, had been a stone mason, so the craft was in the family. After a few unsuccessful attempts by Lahey to learn the trade, his father asked him to stop. It was fairly clear that his future didn’t lie in masonry. On the way back to their home in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, the elder Lahey advised his son. “You’re smart,” he said. “I think your future is in education.” As it turns out, he was right. For the past 24 years, Lahey has been president of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. During his tenure there, the university’s academic programs, facilities, enrollment, national ranking and prestige have grown at an unprecedented rate. One semester each year, Dr. Lahey returns to the classroom with his PhD in Philosophy, teaching a course on logical reasoning or social and political philosophy. In addition to his work as university president, Lahey devotes significant time to his Irish roots. He has been involved with the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade since he was a child, and currently serves as vice chairman of the parade committee. Lahey has also worked thoughtfully and tenaciously to correct what he openly calls the “whitewashing” of the true story of Ireland’s great hunger from the history books and from cultural memory: namely, that it could have been prevented and that idleness on the part of the British was largely to blame for the magnitude of the famine’s devastation. Though he may not have been very good at literal bricklaying, Lahey has proven to be a master at a more conceptual sort of building.

PHOTO CREDIT: GALE ZUCKER

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The university president is the first to admit that he has always been more intellectually inclined. Thirsty for knowledge from a young age, Lahey attended the Fordham Preparatory School in Riverdale. “In a way,” he reflected during a recent visit to the Irish America offices, “we studied philosophy without calling it philosophy: we took theology courses and asked where the world had come from and where it was going – great, essential philosophical questions. I had an interest in those big questions from an early age.” He was also very involved in the community, spending each St. Patrick’s Day marching in the New York City parade under Fordham University’s banner. He loved New York and he loved St. Margaret’s Parish, the very Irish enclave where his family lived. But when it was time to choose a college, Lahey made the tough decision to leave his city and attend the University of Dayton, Ohio. Lahey found his niche when he enrolled in his second philosophy course at Dayton. The class explored the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, and little else. “At this point,” he explained “it was still

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1964 or ’65, and only certain types of philosophy were officially taught. Since Dayton was a Catholic university, they were still only teaching the traditional philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, upon which much of Catholic theology is based. There was a whole index of banned works they weren’t allowed to teach: essentially, anything that was deemed to be inconsistent with St. Thomas Aquinas or Catholic doctrine.” However, Lahey wound up learning much more than the approved Thomistic philosophy. “Another student and I were asking a lot of questions in class,” he recalled. “We didn’t want to get Professor Balthasar in trouble, but we were curious about how to reconcile scientific thought with Catholic doctrine. One day, he asked us both to stay after class, and he said ‘Look, you two. I’ll give you an A for the course, you know what you’re doing in terms of St. Thomas Aquinas. You don’t have to come to class for the rest of the semester, but come to my office and I’ll teach you the philosophy of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I can’t teach you this officially in the classroom but there’s nothing to prevent you from reading the books.’ “So he gave me two of his books: Phenomenon of Man and The Divine Milieu. And it was exactly what I had been looking for. The author, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, was somewhat of a contradiction at that time: he was a Jesuit priest, a philosopher, and a scientist, and had written extensively about his belief that the creationist theories of how man, the world and the universe came into being could be reconciled with evolution; that Catholicism and the theory of evolution could co-exist. At the time, this was deemed to be totally inconsistent with Catholic teaching. But I was a young person, and evolution understandably had a lot of enticing aspects. Not only was it supported by a lot of scientists, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, but it was also a dynamic kind of philosophy that allowed for change. I had heard there was a contradiction between being a good Catholic and believing in evolution. But here was a brilliant scientist who was also a Jesuit priest! He used philosophical thought to combine the two things I wanted to combine in my own life. I was totally taken by it.” Considering the carefully calculated percentages of students who meet with professors outside of class and student-tofaculty ratios in today’s college guides, 38 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Gerry Adams and Dr. John Lahey pictured in the Lender Family Special Collection room, with a miniature version of John Behan’s Famine Ship.

this may not seem all that significant. But to Lahey, it was huge. “It’s harder to appreciate today, but back then, because of the time [the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement], the philosophy professors were among the most sought after teachers on any campus. They were dealing with war and peace; human rights and civil rights. For me it was a transformative experience and it was what led me to major in philosophy.” It also led him to stay on at Dayton for a master’s degree in the field, and then to the University of Miami, where he earned his PhD. Lahey’s first teaching post was at a small college in Alabama. At this point, he had been away from New York for 13 years. In addition to all the philosophy he had studied during that time, he had also learned that he missed the Northeast and wanted to go back. A tough decision was in store as the professor of philosophy began to realize that it was unlikely he would return if he remained at the mercy of the tough academic job market. Determined to stay involved in the academy in some way, he returned to New York in 1977 and enrolled in a master’s course in academic administration at Columbia University. Upon graduating, he was quickly hired by Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he steadily climbed the ladder until he was named executive vice president. After ten years with Marist, at the age of forty, Dr. Lahey was hired as President of Quinnipiac. It’s telling that, when asked what he is most proud of from his 24 years with the university, Lahey cannot name just one thing. “We’ve come so far,” he said with pride. When he started at Quinnipiac, it was still Quinnipiac College – a small, quiet commuter school. Today, it has a student population of about

8,000, with close to 6,000 undergraduate students, 2,000 graduate students, and 500 enrolled in the law school. The law school is another of Quinnipiac’s great achievements. It was established under Lahey’s lead, when the law school at the University of Bridgeport closed and was restored by Quinnipiac. Lahey has also had a hand in the athletic teams’ entrance into the NCAA Division I Northeast Conference; the establishment of the highly regarded Quinnipiac Polling Institute; the wide expansion of the campus; and the school’s overall transition from a small college to a competitively ranked, nationally recognized university. The next project is a medical school, which will employ the same philosophy the president has seen implemented in the school’s other programs: an emphasis on the actual practice of the subject being taught. “Take the law school, for instance,” Dr. Lahey explains. “Many of the top-ranked law schools in the country teach their students all there is to know about the law, but not as much about how to actually practice it. In a lot of cases that’s fine, since a significant number of their graduates go on to teach rather than practice. But I think it’s important that students know how to apply what they have learned to practical situations. That’s why the medical school will put an emphasis on primary care.” There’s another thing that makes Quinnipiac stand out from the crowd. In the campus’s Arnold Bernhard Library, a special room designed to mimic the inside of a ship, houses the Lender Family Special Collection, one of the country’s largest collections of art and literature pertaining to An Gorta Mór – Ireland’s Great Hunger. It contains 700 volumes, historic and contemporary texts, and a growing number of


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TO HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES AND IRISH AMERICAN OF THE YEAR CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR WELL DESERVED HONOR WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO IRISH HERITAGE NORTH AND SOUTH. YOU MAKE US ALL PROUD WITH YOUR PASSION, TALENT AND HUMANITY. MAY YOU CONTINUE TO INSPIRE US ALL.

The Northern Ireland Bureau is the diplomatic office of the Northern Ireland Executive in offices Washington, DC & NY. Its role is to pursue areas of collaboration and partnership with the U.S. in the following areas: Economic Development, Education and Citizenship, Enhancing Civic Engagement, Cultural Development, Research and Technology, Regeneration, and Post-Conflict Reconstruction. For more information please visit our website at www.northernirelandbureau.com


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works of art that portray or respond to the loss of more than 1.5 million Irish lives between the years of 1845 and 1852. This is the common ground on which Lahey’s work as an educator and his commitment to his Irish roots come together. Growing up, he had always been aware of The Great Hunger and the shadow it cast over Irish history, but this was more of a peripheral awareness. “I knew about it, I had heard it talked about, but it was always called ‘The Famine,’ which doesn’t point to the truth of what happened. True, there was a famine, the potato crops did fail for a few years, but that [alone] could not have caused the widespread death from starvation and related diseases. The untold story is that there was more than adequate food produced in Ireland during the years of the famine that could have been used to feed the Irish. But since Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom, the ports remained open for export.” Lahey became fully aware of these facts in 1997, when he was honored as Grand Marshal of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It was also the 150th anniversary of Black ’47, the deadliest year of the Great Hunger. Wanting to learn more, he read historian Christine Kinealy’s The Great Calamity, which revealed many facts about the Famine Lahey hadn’t known before. “[She] really blew the lid off all of the inaccuracies and the dramatically downplayed scale of the tragedy,” he said. “She documented all kinds of food exports and found that the shipment of food out of Ireland actually increased during the years of the Famine. She also argued that much of the guilt and self-blame felt by the Irish was misplaced. For the greater part of 150 years, the world and the Irish believed that the Irish themselves had played some role in bringing about the famine. But the conditions of poverty and the disproportionate dependence on a single potato crop were imposed, over time, by the British. We now know that this was the greatest tragedy in 19th century Europe, and probably the greatest catastrophe in Ireland’s history, and it is all the more tragic because it was largely preventable.” As an educator and an Irish-American, Dr. Lahey became determined to help correct the record. He used all of his speaking engagements as Grand Marshal to talk about the Great Hunger, and jumped at the opportunity when the brothers Murray and Marvin Lender (of the Lender’s Bagels family), who had been deeply 40 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

moved by Lahey’s account, proposed forming a collection at Quinnipiac dedicated to An Gorta Mór. With the Lender Family Collection and his advocacy of introducing a Great Hunger curriculum into public school systems, Lahey’s aim is to correct and accurately communicate the history of the famine. “This is not just about commemorating what happened,” he emphasized, “we have to rewrite the history books and we have to rewrite the story that has been passed down from generation to generation of the Irish.” One of the most notable components of the collection is its artwork. Within the Lender room, sculptures inspired by The Great Hunger are prominently displayed, and more are dispersed throughout the Bernhard Library. While Lahey is involved with all aspects of the collection, he takes a particular interest in the art, and reminisced about carrying the first piece he acquired for the collection, Roan Gillespie’s “The Victim,” with him on the flight back from Ireland. “It’s such a powerful work,” he said. “I didn’t want to let it out of my sight.” For Lahey, art is a vital tool in re-shaping our understanding of the famine because of its ability to impart essential information across many barriers. “In the long run history and education are extremely important, but there’s nothing more powerful for me than art. Art, like music, is a kind of universal language. You can bring anyone of any nationality or language into the Lender room. If they don’t speak or read English then they might not understand the words, but they can look at those images and the sculptures, and understand everything instantly.” The Great Hunger collection continues to grow, and will soon be moved to its own space on Whitney Avenue, the main road that runs right from Hartford to New Haven. Lahey looks forward to this: “In its current location, the collection is in the middle of campus, a bit out of the way for anyone who wants to stop by and see it. It’s going to be so important for the whole collection to be on display in its own building. After all, its purpose is to educate, so the more accessible it is, the better.” As vice chairman of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, he keeps a very busy schedule in March. But his love of the parade runs deep – back to the years in high school when he marched behind Fordham’s banner. He has been

Dr. Leahy led the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade as Grand Marshal in 1997.

volunteering with the parade for 30 years, and has held his current position on the committee for the past ten. Dr. Lahey’s favorite thing about the parade is that its history mirrors that of the Irish in America. “It reflects how long the Irish have been a presence here and how far we have come.” Though its history is of great significance, Lahey also feels that the parade itself has never been more important than it is today. “When I was a kid I thought everyone was Irish,” he said with a laugh. “This was because I grew up in a very Irish neighborhood. All my teachers were Irish, the police on the beat were all Irish, the firefighters were Irish, the other kids we played sports with were Irish, and so on. In that environment there were a lot of ways in which the Irish were able to pass on their history, culture, values and traditions to their kids, to the next generation in these Irish neighborhoods. But today, neighborhoods like that don’t really exist in New York in the way that they did then. Because they don’t, the parade is, at least for me, the single most concentrated event every year that brings the Irish together. It allows us to remember, celebrate, and pass on to the next generation what it means to be Irish, and what our struggles and accomplishments have been over the past 250 years in this country.” His point is valid. But it must also be added that with people like Dr. John Lahey around, we won’t be forgetting our past, IA values, or traditions any time soon.


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The John F. Kennedy Trust would like to extend its congratulations to the Hall of Fame Inductees. We are also honored to give these prominent Irish Americans recognition for their contributions to society within the Irish American Hall of Fame, a permanent exhibition at the Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland. The Irish American Hall of Fame will stand as a permanent tribute to their achievements, in the land of their ancestors.

www.dunbrody.com email: info@dunbrody.com tel: 00 1 353 51 425239


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IRISH AMERICA’S

A dedicated diplomat; the scientist who cracked the DNA code; a titan of Wall Street; a wildly popular writer; the billionaire who gave it all away; a leader in business and a force for peace ; a doctor devoted to humanitarian pursuits; the man who forever changed and revitalized the face of Irish step dancing. They are a diverse and accomplished group of leaders, all tied together by one intrinsic thing: their Irish heritage. The Irish America Hall of Fame honors these eight outstanding inductees for their unforgettable contributions to their respective fields and their unwavering commitment to the betterment of Ireland and the Irish-American community.

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Kevin Cahill Doctor as Peacekeeper. By Aliah O’Neill

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everal buzzwords, not all of them kind, have been used to describe the current state of health care in America. The word that guides Dr. Kevin Cahill’s nearly 50year career in medicine is ‘solidarity.’ “Solidarity is a wonderful Latin American word that means “Are you willing to get down in the mud with people?” he says. “So that’s why I stay practicing medicine.” Solidarity – more than pride or even sympathy –

is what Dr. Cahill, 74, feels most strongly when he reflects on the countless people he has met and cared for during his time as a physician in some of the most war-torn places on this earth. Dr. Cahill has cared for patients in 65 countries and at his practice on 5th Avenue in New York City. Drafted into the U.S. Navy Medical Corps early in his career, Dr. Cahill first completed a degree at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine before being assigned to the Naval Medical APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 43


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Research Unit-3 in Cairo, Egypt. Along with him came his wife, Kate, who would visit 45 countries with Dr. Cahill until her death in 2004. Almost instantly in their travels, they witnessed heart-wrenching examples of great suffering and chaos during times of famine, drought, and war. While undertaking field investigations in Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Turkey, and across the Middle East in the Navy Medical Corps, Dr. Cahill “became increasingly aware of the extra-medical complex demands one faced in dealing with the trauma of natural and man-made disasters in areas where there were few resources.” He began to realize that “medicine offered an almost ideal platform for preventive diplomacy.” From the ‘corridors of tranquility’ in Southern Sudan, where de facto ceasefire zones could be established even during a bloody civil war, to the tree under which children and mothers could safely play in refugee camps, medicine allowed people to have peaceful interludes even as it afforded a unique view of the infrastructural collapse that often accompanies a humanitarian crisis. Since his discharge in the mid-1960s, Dr. Cahill’s résumé has grown inconceivably long with titles, accolades, and achievements. From 1969-2006 he was Chairman of the Department of Tropical Medicine at The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, where he taught over 4,000 medical students over the course of his career. In addition, he has been Director of the Tropical Disease Center at Lenox Hill Hospital, Clinical Professor of Tropical Medicine and Molecular Parasitology at NYU Medical School, and Consultant in Tropical Medicine for the United Nations Health Services. Through all of these positions (to name just a few), he has maintained a strong connection to his Irish background. He currently serves as President of the American Irish Historical Society and has published, among a string of influential works that chronicle his experiences as a tropicalist and a physician, articles and essays on his love for Irish literature, art, and culture. 44 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Raised in an Irish immigrant home in the Bronx, Dr. Cahill was taught from childhood the importance of Irish poetry from his own family members. The majority of his relatives established themselves in America and became policemen. His father, who as a physician was the exception to the rule, would buy up land in his native Rathmore, Co. Kerry, and give it to the family members who stayed behind. Cahill’s first visit to Ireland was when he was only 11 or 12, and since then he has maintained a strong connection to the country both through professional and personal work. Indeed, in a room full of antique apothecary jars, old-fashioned medical instruments, wall-to-wall diplomas and accolades where we had our interview, Dr. Cahill pointed excitedly to the one item that was not immediately recognizable. It was the original print designed for the cover of Irish Essays, a collection of works on Irish literature and culture that Dr. Cahill published in 1980. A simple image of two groups of vaguely human figures come together to make one mass as they float across the white background. It’s amazing to think that someone who has traveled to 65 countries, many in states of war, degradation, and suffering that are impossible to put into words, still would have time to express his passion for Irish culture, or

that he would even want to. But this expression, Dr. Cahill explains, has actually been strengthened by the humanity and joy that transcended the horrors of war during his travels. “I think being grounded in your own ethos allows you to see and appreciate other cultures and be more sensitive…I come away with tremendous admiration for them. The Dinka in the Southern Sudan have a culture that to them is just as proud and rich as our Irish culture.” Dr. Cahill’s life has been so full, so jam-packed with humbling experiences that, at best, it can only be uncovered and described anecdotally: “I remember one time in Somalia coming back from way up country…in those years there were [only] 12 miles of paved roads, so when we traveled 400 miles across the desert, we found a disease that had never been recorded in Africa. I went to the American Embassy – I was a young naval officer – and I said, ‘We found the cause of this disease that is killing large numbers of people.’ And I was told that the American ambassador was busy. How you can be busy in 1963 in Somalia I don’t know…[but] I had the obligation to try to help save lives. So I walked across town and gave that information to the World Health Organization office. They gave it to China, which got the right to bring in the antibiotic and got the right to build the roads.” Dr. Cahill’s great passion and driving influence has clearly not just been the practice of medicine, but its ability to lift a barrier between countries, factions, and cultures and reveal our basic humanity. “When I first started teaching in Ireland in 1969…that was the year of Bloody Sunday. Throughout the 70s I would go up to Belfast and lecture. I had good medical friends, both Catholic and Protestant, who had members of their families killed because they dared to make house calls. It wasn’t always easy, but through The College of Surgeons in Dublin we made certain that doctors in Belfast were invited down to conferences, and that you made rounds in the hospitals with them. So I think medicine


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does allow you to do that if you’re not judgmental.” Dr. Cahill tells me that the codes of neutrality and patient confidentiality are traced back to Hippocrates, a practice that “goes back to a long time before our country was founded. That goes back to the very essence of what we try to do as a profession.” Despite some flare-ups at times (he has been stopped by American

I’ve been privileged to serve poor and oppressed people. I think that is my greatest achievement. That really is the satisfying thing that continues to drive me. Immigration more than once and asked to divulge details of his visits with people at odds with American policy), Dr. Cahill says, “Medicine has its own traditions and you can’t go out and use your position to spread a rumor or detail. Patients get to know very well if they have your confidence.” This confidence also provides a unique conduit for education and mediation. Dr.

Cahill has written widely, particularly in his book Preventive Diplomacy, that the methodology of public health offers an opportunity to combine diplomacy with humanitarian solutions. “I used to think I was the most important person in the camp as a doctor. But the first thing a mother or child wants is a place to play. That becomes very important because it’s the protected area you can use to teach children better nutrition or how not to step on a landmine.” At the core of Dr. Cahill’s understanding of humanitarian crises is the need for education. His recent book, Even in Chaos: Education in Times of Emergency, teaches how the field of medicine can provide unbiased insight. “At the launch of the book at the United Nations, someone asked how long it took to put the book together. I said 3040 years, because I think I’ve been thinking about it that long, how important education is in the life of a child. [Medicine] has to be a very broad field, embracing anything that interferes with the welfare of the people you’re trying to serve.” Sometimes, as Dr. Cahill points out, there’s only so much nations can do to give aid, and amassing large amounts of money is not the answer to the multifaceted problems that developing and wartorn countries face. “I think the focus purely on individual diseases and not on the infrastructure and health needs in developing countries is probably a mistake… [With] a lot of the chaos in revolutionary areas, health services are almost always the first thing to break down. It’s very artificial to think that diseases or aid works within barriers. Mosquitoes don’t know where the barrier is.” A medical consultant for the United Nations, Dr. Cahill says the organization is crucial in coordinating all the players and countries who want to help during a natural or man-made disaster, including the United States. “America has every right to be proud of what it’s done historically, but whether it’s all done in the best way is sometimes constrained by poli-

tics,” he says, referring to how aid allocation is shaped by foreign policy in the United States. “We are a fairly major player, and every citizen should feel that they can participate, individually or through donations…I think that’s something that enriches them as well as the people they serve. But it’s not all money.” Dr. Cahill’s work in changing this attitude towards health and infrastructural needs has been so effective because he has led by example. He has been instrumental in the creation of an educational program in the field of humanitarian assistance at Fordham University. Now, for over 20 years, Fordham has offered both a post-graduate master’s degree and undergraduate minor in this field, which combines public health, medicine, law, security, technology, and even anthropology and philosophy. To date, over 1500 students from 133 nations have graduated from this unique, multidisciplinary program that is changing the way we approach complex humanitarian crises. “[The program is] trying to develop a cadre of people who are professionals in this field. It’s not a field for amateurs…You deal with many, many factors that no one talks about. You deal with corruption. You deal with incompetence. You deal with theft, with people making profits out of disasters. It’s not a field where having the feeling that you’re doing good is its own rationale. That really doesn’t change a lot of things unless you can change the system.” Despite the immense challenges, Dr. Cahill is extremely confident in the abilities and compassion of these humanitarians, who will shape, moment by moment, individual by individual, the way organizations and even nations approach future humanitarian crises. Dr. Kevin Cahill has been a luminary for this noble cause of peace and diplomacy along the way. “I think the fact that I’ve been privileged to serve poor and oppressed people is my greatest achievement. That really is the satisfying thing that continues to drive me.” IA APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 45


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IRISH AMERICA’S

President William Clinton Politician, peacemaker and hero to millions of Irish. By Niall O’Dowd

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s a major supporter of the Irish peace process, Bill Clinton moved mountains. The 42nd President of the United States took the strongest position on Irish issues ever taken by an American president. In 1994, he granted a visa to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, fulfilling a campaign promise and stating “the U.S. cannot miss this rare opportunity for our country to participate in the peace process.” Then in November, 1995, President Clinton became the first sitting American president to visit Northern Ireland. I was there and wrote the following account of the occasion: Belfast: November 30, 1995: It was an evening that dreams were made of, a crystal clear Belfast night, the winter air crackling with anticipation. On the soundstage adjacent to City Hall, Van Morrison was blasting out his “There’ll Be Days Like This,” the unofficial anthem of the peace process. A huge and enthusiastic crowd, later numbered at 100,000, was rocking along to the music. All day long the people of Belfast had streamed to this spot, mainly from Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods abutting the downtown area. They had filed through the narrow downtown canyons under the shadow of the tall buildings bedecked with American flags before collecting in their tens of thousands in the areas surrounding City Hall. As far as the eye could see, back up through the shopping malls, down the narrow sidestreets and along the pedestrian areas, the crowds had gathered. Even Van Morrison was not hold-

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ing their undivided attention. Every ten minutes or so a chant would pass through the crowd like a ripple. “We want Bill. We want Bill.” The rumor had spread that he would play the sax with Van the Man, so every stranger arriving on stage was closely scrutinized. Several times the rumor ran that he was about to make his appearance, and the fullthroated roars of the crowd were stilled only when it proved to be another false alarm.

On such a clear night every sound seemed magnified. The tolling of nearby church bells swelled in the evening air. The chants of the crowd carried like a relentless drumbeat, the strains of Van Morrison seemed to carry back even to the furthest regions of the crowd, who were cheering and stomping and waving plastic American flags thoughtfully supplied by the advance team. We all knew we were witnessing something special. When the long-winded Lord Mayor of Belfast, Eric Smyth, threatened to go on forever during the introduction, he was drowned out with chants of “We want Bill.” Quickly the mayor skipped to the end of his speech.

A few moments later the President and First Lady finally arrived at the podium. It had been a long day for him; his aides stated later that he was feeling tired and jet-lagged. But the crowd lifted him, their extraordinary welcome lasting several minutes. A New York Times reporter later wrote that Clinton had that “suffused look of ecstasy” that politicians acquire before adoring crowds. Clinton had earned the huge reception. As he had done throughout the day, he appealed over the heads of the politicians to the people themselves. “The people want peace and the people will have peace,” he pronounced, pounding the podium for emphasis. The people promptly went wild. I was sitting near a Protestant community worker from the Shankill Road. She had a careworn face, like so many in Belfast, old beyond her 40 or so years, the impact of far too much worry and stress. “We’ve had so little to celebrate in the past 25 years,” she told me. “When someone like the American President comes and shows he cares about us it means so much to all of us.” Her eyes seemed ready to tear up. She told me that she and her husband had been to Dublin for the first time ever a few weeks before to see Riverdance, the Celtic dance spectacular. “It was brilliant,” she said, “and we’re going back soon again. We’d never ever have thought of going during the Troubles.” In front of her, a few seats to the left, sat Joe Cahill, a revered Republican figure who was once spared the hangman’s noose only by


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a last-second reprieve. Cahill’s journey to America on the eve of the IRA ceasefire had been a critical step in ensuring its success. Only he, it was reasoned, could convince Irish American hardliners that the new peace was worth a try. “Did you think we’d see days like this?” I asked Cahill, paraphrasing the song. “No, not like this,” he answered. “This has been a real high point for all of us. It is marvelous, really special, to see the President here.” The sentiments they expressed from both sides of the divide were echoed everywhere throughout the two-day trip. The groundswell for peace and the evident goodwill for Clinton – who had, after all, taken risks for peace no American President ever had – was clear. Now he had come to their own beleaguered land, a place where during the Troubles some commentators had derided those who lived there as subhuman. But they, like everyone else, just needed the acknowledgement that they are no better or worse than citizens in New York, Washington or London. Everywhere President Clinton went in Ireland was a triumphal progress. From the huge crowds in Belfast, Derry and Dublin to the intimate moments such as those with Nobel Prize-winner Seamus

Heaney at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Dublin, the President had the perfect pitch, understanding just where the line between American interference and positive involvement lay. Upon assuming power in January 1993, President Clinton had set about building a new “special relationship” with Ireland, which in several important instances had eclipsed the historical tie with Britain when the two have come into conflict. “No president has ever invested his prestige and his concern for the people of Ireland and for the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the way Bill Clinton has,” Bruce Morrison, the former Connecticut congressman, a key player in the peace process, said. The New York Times called the Clinton visit “the best two days of his presidency.” The President himself was clearly ecstatic that he had struck such a chord with a country weary of war and desperate for peace. Clinton had made the Irish peace process his own. Indeed, without him it is unlikely it would have happened at all. We can take no less an authority than the IRA for that. In a secret IRA memo revealed in the Sunday Tribune newspaper in Ireland on April 23, 1995 the reasons for the IRA ceasefire of August 31, 1994 were detailed. Among the three key

reasons given was the support of President Clinton for the new peace process. Once the peace process began, Clinton threw the full weight of the White House behind it. When the process was lagging, his White House Economic Conference on Ireland in May of 1995 provided an important boost. Clinton became the first ever U.S. president to deliver a major speech on Irish issues when he addressed over 1,500 delegates. Held at the Sheraton Hotel in Washington over a three-day period, the conference was the first time that any American President has committed his administration to that kind of direct economic and political involvement in the affairs of Ireland since the dawn of the American republic. The future was there in that conference. A future for Northern Ireland that promised peace instead of bloodshed. “The good that he has done here will last long after him in Ireland,” Donald Keough, president emeritus of Coca-Cola, predicted. In March, 1996, President Clinton, whose ancestors the Cassidys are believed to have emigrated from Ballycassidy, County Fermanagh, was Irish America’s Irish-American of the Year. We are delighted to induct him into our 2011 Irish America Hall of Fame. IA

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IRISH AMERICA’S

Mary Higgins Clark A bestselling author who is proud to call herself “an Irish girl from the Bronx.” By Patricia Harty

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he oldest living resident of New York died recently at age 111 and in a New York Times article only months earlier, she told the reporter that she had kept her mind alert by reading Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark. A Higgins Clark novel keeping someone alive? Usually someone dies in the first few pages, but once you pick up a Higgins Clark book it’s impossible to put it down (or it seems, die) until you’ve found out who done it, and as often as not, it’s not who you think it is. Higgins Clark is one of the most admired and popular writers alive today – her novels frequently top the best-selling charts. She is also one of the highest paid authors. But it wasn’t always so. Mary always wrote, but the untimely death of her husband, Warren, made selling her work a necessity in order to support her five young children. Every morning she got up at five and wrote until seven, when she had to get the kids ready for school. She supported her family writing short historical clips for radio and flooded the publishers’ offices with her short stories. She received lots of rejection letters but her stories finally started appearing in popular magazines, and in 1975 her first suspense novel, Where Are the Children? became a bestseller. Some 40 novels later, Higgins Clark is still keeping readers on their toes. “The Irish are by nature storytellers,” says Mary, whose father was an Irish immigrant from Co. Roscommon and whose mother was first-generation American. She considers her Irish heritage an important part of her life and will serve as Grand Marshal of this year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “As the parade goes up Fifth Avenue I will be thinking of the father who came over with five pounds in his pocket and who died when I was only eleven, the mother who encouraged my dreams of being a writer by treating every word I wrote as though it was scripted by the angels,” she wrote in a foreword to her recently rereleased memoir Kitchen Privileges. Mary, whose many honors include the 1997 Horatio Alger Award, numerous honorary doctorates, and the Grand Prix de Literature of France, is married to John Conheeney, a retired Merrill Lynch CEO whom she met on St. Patrick’s Day, 1996. When she is not writing, she likes to spend time with her children and grandchildren. “I have five children and six grandchil-

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dren. John has four children and eleven grandchildren. People say we must have great reunions. My answer is, we don’t need them. We see the children and grandchildren all the time. Most of them live within a few miles, none more than 45 minutes away. But on the big holidays, we’re all collected in our home in Saddle River, New Jersey along with nieces and nephews. We doubled the size of the kitchen/family room so we can set tables for forty with room to spare.” I sat down with Mary at her apartment in Manhattan in early February. And talk quickly turned to her writing. Her latest novel is I’ll Walk Alone, which will be in stores in April. Do you write every day, what is the process? The process is sloppy. Between now and April [when l’ll Walk Alone hits the stores] I don’t write. A, I’m exhausted. B, I want to give my brain a clearing. But I will start the next book by April. In the meantime, I might be writing down ideas, I will do biographies of characters. I’ll give them names and then they often change, because ‘he’ doesn’t look like a Jimmy, he doesn’t sound like a Jimmy. I have pages of notebooks and a bunch of outtakes from other books that I’ve kept because someday I might do a factual book on writing the novels from conception to publication. You describe yourself as an Irish storyteller. Yes. I’ll leave it to other people to decide whether I’m a writer or not. What I am is an Irish storyteller. And another thing, I love to go to parties. I’ve said that I’d climb out of my casket to go to my wake. The other thing I’ve said is be sure to put a big spiral notebook, a couple of pens and a glass of wine into the casket with me because I’d miss not writing. Do you believe in an afterlife? Of course I do. How can anyone think this all stops? I don’t know what it is but I know there’s a God and his plan is there. And I do think there is perfect peace and perfect happiness [in the afterlife]. I believe in it. I absolutely do. Does that come from your Catholicism? Oh sure, my Catholicism is very much a basis for the way I live and think.


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Tell me a bit about growing up. My father had a bar and he worked hard to make it successful. He used to leave at eleven in the morning and come home at five for an early dinner, and then go back to the place. The only night of my life I remember him being home was the night he died. He came home with chest pains and he didn’t say anything but he leaned against the fireplace, which was typical when his chest pains were bad, to put his arm over the mantel. And he died in his sleep that night. We lost that middle-class security that we had, with my father dying at 54. My mother was the same age and she had three kids, my brother Joseph was 12, I was 11 and Johnny was 7 and she had $2000 and no other money. So that’s when we moved downstairs. For the next five years we had boarders. We had a couple evading bankruptcy, they had had a car dealership and it folded; another guy working on his PhD, and a teacher who couldn’t afford an apartment so she had a room. She tried to teach me the piano but I was lousy at it. I’d ask her to tell me about her boyfriend Howard who had come home from the war and was in a nursing home. His lungs were gone. She always cried when she told me the story. Your mother encouraged your writing. She thought everything I wrote was wonderful. And she’d make me recite it for the relatives when they came. I wrote skits and I’d have my brothers perform. And I wrote plays for the neighborhood kids. I was always writing. Whenever I speak to parents or teachers I always say, “see where the creativity is, whether it’s a drawing, a poem or a little skit, praise it to the skies. Because in the case of the writer, the editors will be happy to tell you how lousy you are later on.” My mother would’ve thrown herself across the tracks for the three of us but she adored my brother Joseph, the firstborn. I found something that she wrote, a sort of journal that she kept. And in it she wrote, “I never left Joseph that first year, 50 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

I’d climb out of my casket to go to my wake. And be sure to put a big spiral notebook, a couple of pens and a glass of wine in the casket because I’d miss not writing.

he was the most beautiful baby. I was so afraid he’d slip away. The other two had allergies.” So much for the other two! But then my brother [Joseph] died at 18. He was only six months in the Navy and he got viral meningitis. I remember she said, “God wants him more than I do.” And six months later when I graduated from high school she said, “Joseph had a party last year. You’ll have a party.” So she took off all the heavy mourning and had a party for me. She was 81 when she died. Her two sisters lived for much longer. They were in our house all the time when I was growing up. That’s where I got the Irish stories. They’d sit around the table with endless cups of tea and it would be, “Oh remember when this one...” or, “Oh poor darling, no wedding dress…” and “She could have had anyone and she married that one.” My first book, which was about George Washington, was published a few months before my mother died, so she got to see that, which was wonderful.

And she was there for you when your husband Warren died. Warren was 45, I was 36, when he suffered a heart attack and died. My mother-in-law dropped dead when she saw Warren was dead. She said, “I do not want to survive my son.” They took the bodies out and then the funeral director came back to the house and I was picking out shoes for Warren. My mother said, “Mary, it’s a half-casket [viewing], you don’t need shoes. Someone else could use them.” I said, “Mother I’ll buy them a goddamn pair of shoes if I have to, but I’m putting shoes on Warren.” You have to see the humor in a situation. And you have to carry on. You don’t have a choice when you have children. I had five children. Also Warren was funny, he was not just witty; he was funny and witty. And I wanted to keep that spirit alive in the house. And you found love again. I was very blessed. Fifteen years ago on St. Patrick’s Day, John and I met. As I say, I had a prince at the beginning and a prince at the end. John had retired as Chairman of Merrill Lynch Futures. And he was invited to be on the board of the New York Mercantile Exchange where my daughter worked. When she met him, she said something about Mrs. Conheeney. And he said, “No, my wife died two years ago.” Then she found out he lived in Ridgewood, which is four miles from where I was living. And she called me and said, “Have I got a hunk for you.” I was planning a cocktail party to celebrate the publication of my novel Moonlight Becomes You and she said, “I know he’ll come, he’s read a couple of your books.” So he came, and ten days later he called me on the phone and said “I want to invite you out but I haven’t had a date since I was 23.” He was engaged at 23, married at 25. But he took me out and that of course was it. And then in June he said, “Mary, would you like to get married in a couple of years?” I said, “John, how old do you think we are?” So we were married the day after IA Thanksgiving.


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Charles Feeney The billionaire who selflessly and quietly gave it all away. By Kristin Romano

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harles “Chuck” Feeney has amassed billions of dollars in wealth. However, he doesn’t own an opulent house, a car or a Rolex. He prefers taking cabs, riding the subway, or just walking when he’s in New York. He flies economy, even on international flights. And since the 1980s, he has given away his fortune to humanitarian and educational causes throughout the world. Preferring to give it all away while he is still alive, Feeney wants to better the lives of people around the world in the here and now.

From New Jersey to France Chuck Feeney was born in 1931 and raised in a working class section of Elizabeth, NJ during the Great Depression. His father, the son of an immigrant from Co. Fermanagh, Ireland, was an insurance underwriter and his mother was a nurse. In 1948, at age 17, Chuck enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving for four years in postwar Japan and Korea. After his military service, Feeney received a GI scholarship and enrolled at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. It was at Cornell that Feeney’s flair for business was first discovered. His GI scholarship funds were sent to him in monthly installments of $110, scarcely enough to cover the Ivy League university’s tuition. To make ends meet, he began to sell sandwiches that a fellow classmate would make, earning a decent income. Upon graduating from Cornell in 1956, Feeney still had four months of scholarship funds left and no idea what to do with his degree. He decided to study political science at the University of Grenoble.

Entrepreneur After studying in Grenoble, Feeney decided to travel to the south of France. He eventually landed in Villefranchesur-Mer, and began running a summer camp for children from the U.S. fleet stationed there. On a trip to Barcelona, he ran into Robert Miller, a fellow Cornell alumnus. Feeney had an idea: sell goods to the fleet duty free – without tax. Miller and Feeney partnered up and began selling perfume, tape recorders and transistor radios.

PHOTO: PETER FOLEY

In 1960, the partners founded Duty Free Shoppers (DFS), opening up duty-free shops in Honolulu and Hong Kong. When the Japanese government lifted travel restrictions on its citizens in 1966, the company found success. Feeney learned Japanese and arranged deals with tour guides to bring groups through the shops. DFS became a global retail giant with duty-free shops all over the world, and made the partners incredibly wealthy.

Philanthropist Forbes estimated Feeney’s wealth to be $1.3 billion in 1988, landing him in the top 20 of its 400 richest people list. However, he was actually worth less than $5 million. Six years earlier, Feeney transferred his 38.75 percent interest in DFS to a charitable foundation. As he said in a previous interview with Irish America, “I did not want money to consume my life.” The impetus for Feeney’s charity career was a $700,000 bequest to Cornell University in 1981. After the bequest, Feeney was bombarded with requests for donations. Wanting to do something but on his own terms, he turned to his friend Harvey Philip Dale for advice. Dale’s advice was to set up a foundation to carry out all future donations. Feeney proceeded to found The Atlantic Philanthropies, a APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 51


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collective of separate foundations, in Bermuda in order to avoid disclosure requirements that a U.S.-based organization would have to meet. Unlike many philanthropists, Feeney wanted anonymity. The foundation did not, and still does not, bear his name, and he never took tax deductions on his philanthropic work. The anonymity allowed him to walk down the street unrecognized and keep his family safe. However, it also prevented him from being able to correct any inaccuracies. This anonymity spread throughout the Atlantic Philanthropies. Rules were established within the foundation. Any unsolicited requests for money were rejected, and all donations were given via cashier’s check. When he was an honored guest at events, Feeney would bring his own photographer, who would pretend to take pictures without any film in the camera. The anonymity did not last. In the mid1990s, Feeney decided to leave DFS. He wanted more cash flow for the Atlantic Philanthropies and foresaw the decline in duty-free shops. The LVMH Group, owner of Louis Vuitton and Moët & Chandon, purchased DFS in 1997, resulting in the foundation being worth $3.5 billion. However, Feeney’s partner, Robert Miller, objected to the sale. As a result, their partnership ended, with Miller filing suit against Feeney. Knowing that he and the Atlantic Philanthropies would be exposed in court, Feeney decided to let the cat out of the bag himself. In January 1997, he called two reporters, David Cay Johnson and Judith Miller, and revealed everything. The news shocked everyone, especially his former partner.

Humanitarian Feeney’s desire to help extends beyond the philanthropic to the humanitarian. His interest in Ireland originates in his IrishAmerican background and was nurtured through his business trips to Ireland during the 1970s to purchase whiskey for DFS. However, he did not begin to get involved with Ireland and Northern Ireland until November 1987, when he witnessed the aftermath of the Enniskillen Remembrance Day IRA bombing while visiting London. In researching how he 52 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Belfast: Bill Flynn, Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly, with Chuck Feeney in the background and Bruce Morrison in the foreground, celebrate the announcement of the IRA ceasefire in 1994.

could help, Feeney came across the Irish American Partnership, founded by then Fine Gael TD Paddy Harte and based in Dublin. He met with John Healy, then the partnership’s head. After talking, Healy told Feeney that the Irish American Partnership could use funds to establish an office in New York. Feeney mentioned that he knew of an organization that would possibly consider a proposal for funding. Healy sent in the proposal and the funds arrived, anonymously of course, from the Atlantic Philanthropies. This was only the start. Feeney became interested in reconciliation, and when the Americans for a New Irish Agenda (ANIA) formed, Feeney was one of its key members. The group traveled to Northern Ireland numerous times with the goal of encouraging Republicans to lay down arms and begin negotiating. Likewise, they also worked to convince the Clinton administration to reach out to Northern Ireland. Today, Feeney modestly places the group in the big picture. “Clearly we weren’t players in the action…We were not dumb enough to think that we were a motivating force.” Yet, the group did play an important and influential role. Feeney’s involvement was not onesided. He funded for three years a Sinn Féin office in Washington, DC, an action that resulted in criticism from the media. Yet, he also personally funded loyalist groups desiring to stop the violence in Northern Ireland. At the same time as he began his involvement with the peace process, Feeney began aiding Irish universities. The same day he met Healy for the first

time, the two had lunch at the University Club in Dublin. Sitting at the table next to them was Ed Walsh, president of what was then called the National Institute of Higher Education in Limerick. Healy introduced him to Walsh, and Feeney became a major benefactor of the National Institute, which is now known as the University of Limerick. In keeping with his beliefs, Feeney’s name does not appear on any buildings at the university.

Giving It All Away In 2002, the Atlantic Philanthropies announced it would spend down its endowment within the next twelve to fifteen years. What was at the time a highly unusual action has become a growing trend, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation being the most prominent charitable organization to set a closure date. Though far from widespread, Feeney’s belief in giving while living is starting to find a wider audience and more practitioners. Today, the Atlantic Philanthropies no longer gives grants to universities. Instead, the organization is focused on the issues of health, aging, children & youth, human rights and reconciliation. As of December 31, 2009, the Atlantic Philanthropies was worth approximately $2.2 billion, including $814 million in already committed grants. Over $5.4 billion in grants had been given out, lifetime, by the end of 2010. Feeney has found immense pleasure and satisfaction in giving away his fortune. He believes that by giving the money now, it is already accomplishing IA good work.


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Michael Flatley The man who brought Irish dance to the global stage.

H

e’s been the world’s most famous lord for the past 15 years. Now Michael Flatley is poised to become a movie star . . . and a 3D one at that. The Chicago native always had it in the back of his head that his wildly successful stage show, Lord of the Dance, would translate well to film, given the right circumstances. But re-creating the raw energy and electricity of a live performance proved elusive until the widespread popularization of 3D movies these past couple of years. Finally, Flatley was ready to make his move, and he did so in more ways than one. Not only did he film Lord for a big screen 3D experience, but he also took himself out of retirement to reclaim his starring role in the show. The decision required months of getting his body back into fighting shape for a sold-out European tour in the autumn/winter of last year, which showed once again why Flatley is one of the world’s most captivating performers. When Flatley sets his mind towards a goal it’s an excellent bet that he’ll thrive in spectacular fashion given his track record at the helm of the planet’s two most successful Irish dance shows ever, Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. Lord of the Dance 3D, opening nationwide on St. Patrick’s Day, seems tailor made for a three-dimensional experience, with its breakneck Irish jigging, dazzling stage design and overall non-stop action. Flatley has legions of fans who will undoubtedly savor the chance to go to their local theater, don a pair of large glasses and feel like they’re right on the cusp of the stage. Lord of the Dance, since its Dublin debut in 1996 – about 18 months after Flatley and Riverdance parted company – has played to more than 60 million fans in 60 countries . . . grossing more than $1 billion in the process. That’s not to mention sales from DVDs, CDs and other merchandise. Flatley’s vision about how Irish dance could be freshened up and showcased to

By Debbie McGoldrick

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a global audience in a bold and exciting way has brought him fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams, and though he likes to think big – really, really big – he’s never, ever forgotten how the seeds of his success were planted. His parents, Michael Senior (a native of Co. Sligo) and Eilish (from Co. Carlow), made the difficult but necessary move across the Atlantic to the shores of America back in 1940s, and in typical immigrant fashion, Michael and Eilish worked hard to create a prosperous life for their five children. Digging ditches, working construction sites, doing whatever needed to be done . . . all those life lessons clearly rubbed off on their second eldest, Michael Junior, who didn’t start formal Irish dance lessons until he was the ripe old age of 11. Michael was a quick learner, though, and for good measure he also mastered the flute and even became a top-flight amateur boxer. Put it all together and you get someone who was hyper-determined to make his mark on the world, and that’s exactly what this multi-talented entrepreneur has done with his Lord of the Dance franchise. Though performing has always been such a vital part of his life, it’s certainly not all work and play for Flatley. In 2007 he married his long-time dance partner, Irish native Niamh O’Brien, in a lavish ceremony at his Co. Cork mansion, Castlehyde. Flatley bought the historic property back in the 1990s and spent millions restoring it to its former grandeur. The following year the couple welcomed their son, Michael St. James Flatley. Michael Junior is the light of his father’s life, it’s safe to say. The world used to center around performing and jetting here and there for business, and many other bachelor pursuits as Flatley himself freely admits, but these days it’s all about Michael Junior and Niamh, who have without a doubt made Flatley’s world truly complete. Flatley recently spoke with Irish America about his new film, his career triumphs, and his plans for the future, which include induction into the magazine’s Hall of Fame this month. “Oh, it’s such an honor for me to be recognized,” he said. “My parents are going to be so proud!” Spoken like a son 54 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

who has always stayed true to what really matters.

terrific. The dancers look sensational and the whole show has a great feel.

Seeing Lord of the Dance live is amazing enough. But seeing it in 3D has to be even more spectacular. Was doing a feature film of the show always in the back of your mind? I had been approached a few times to put the show on film, but I was never really tempted because you can’t get the energy that you get in the live show, and I didn’t want to dissipate the energy, you know, or the brand in any way. I didn’t want it to look less than. But now with these new achievements in 3D, to me it was a remarkable opportunity to do something great. I went and took a look at the process and really liked what I saw. So I imagined my show and I decided that I was going to film it. There’s a really great punch off of it. You can feel the energy. To me, I think it’s very special. I saw it for the first time finished in a big theater in London two days ago and I came out of there buzzing. As you know I’m my own worst critic. But I think it’s

Do you think the film is almost like being at a live show? Yes it is. You can feel the energy of the audience. We filmed in London, Dublin and Berlin. It’s a seamless transaction. I’m thrilled with it. I hope it will give a big shot in the arm to all of us Irish.

Can I jump as high as I used to? I doubt it. Can I tap as fast? You know, that’s probably debatable. But my heart doesn’t get any smaller.

How involved were you in the filmmaking? Film is a new experience for you. That’s true, but you know me – I was telling them where to put the cameras, where to shoot the shots. I’m terrible like that! But I have to be. It’s my little baby and it’s what I worked all my life for. So I know how it should look. I know how to edit it and I know how to shoot it. You started dancing again last year after a lengthy retirement from the stage so you could star in the movie. I can see you dancing until you’re 80! (Laughs) Oh, you know, probably! I’ll look like an old guy, but I’ll still do it! I really enjoyed coming back. I had a great time. I really wanted to do something in 3D, and I trained eight months for this. It’s got to be hard to keep yourself at such a peak physical level when you’re performing. Well, you can’t do it forever. I’m just blessed to be able to still do it. Can I jump as high as I used to? I doubt it. Can I tap as fast? You know, that’s probably debatable. But my heart doesn’t get any smaller. Michael Junior must have seen your live shows and loved them! Yes, he comes running up to me at halftime and says, “Daddy, go off and beat up the bad guy!” Lord of the Dance has been so phenomenally successful for you. It is. We are so lucky, less than 20 percent of our audience has any Irish connection now. But our demo is age 5 to 95. It’s all over the place.


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What is it about Lord of the Dance and Riverdance that has made them such cultural touchstones? We are so blessed. I just think the gods were favoring me somehow. The harder we worked for it, the more luck we got. You know yourself, some of our dance numbers, they’re 30 seconds long, but you work on them for hours. It’s not easy, but if you do it right and build it to last then it will last. I think that both of those shows are built to last.

London and Castlehyde, a place which is heaven on earth. Little Michael rides his little red tricycle up and down those hallways. He has more energy than me!

Where are you living these days? I’ve read that you are based in Beverly Hills. We were in Beverly Hills for a couple years, but we really didn’t like it. I’m more of a New York guy than an LA guy. Right now we’re living in London – actually we’re splitting our time between

Where will he go to school? It’s hard to say right now. The big problem is that I just cannot be away from him. I have to be close to him all the time and all my offices and businesses are based in London, so he might have to go to school in London, at least for the first two years. We just don’t know.

Is Michael Junior showing any inclination to dance given those amazing genes he has? Yeah, he definitely has movement there. He’s spinning around the house all the time. Any time any kind of music comes on he’s up on the floor shaking it. I told him, take up something safer like cage fighting!

What do you make of the death of the Celtic Tiger Irish economy? Well, it’s been heartbreaking. But money has never been the god of the Irish race. I don’t think a few rotten bankers are going to keep us down. It’s looking tough now, but we’ve gotten up from the canvas many times before. What is next on your agenda? Your wheels are always turning. That’s true. A new flute CD should be out by St. Patrick’s Day on iTunes called On a Different Note, and that’s kind of nice. And we’ll be doing lots of promotion for the film. I’m counting on all of the Irish to come and see it. They won’t IA be disappointed! (Visit www.michaelflatley.com for information on advance tickets and showtimes for Lord of the Dance 3D).

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IRISH AMERICA’S

William Flynn A leader in business and a force for

progress in the Northern Ireland peace process.

By Sheila Langan

W

hen William J. Flynn was celebrated in a special issue of Irish America in 2008, the outpouring of praise from both sides of the Atlantic was immense. Irish President Mary McAleese, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness, Edward Cardinal Egan, Governor Hugh Carey, and many more came forth with words of great appreciation for Flynn and all that he has done. Though certainly impressive and meaningful, none of this was all that surprising. To say that William J. Flynn has embodied the American dream millions of immigrant parents have for their children is true – but it also understates all that he has accomplished. His story is one of determination and care; of no possibility overlooked and no opportunity abandoned. He has been a leader in business, a catalyst for peace, and he has always been equally committed to his native country and the land of his ancestors.

The Boy With a Calling One of four children of Bill Flynn Sr. from Loughinisland, Co. Down and Anna Connors from outside Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Flynn grew up in the East Elmhurst section of Queens. His childhood spanned the years of the Great Depression, but Bill Sr. was fortunate enough to stay employed as a stationary engineer, something the family never took for granted. At a young age, Flynn felt he had a calling. After attending Cathedral High School Preparatory Seminary in Brooklyn, Flynn went on to the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island to prepare himself for the priesthood. There he studied theology, language and philosophy, but he also came to the realization that the life of a priest was not his path. His real calling lay elsewhere. It first took him to Fordham University where, having received an expansive education at the Seminary, Flynn went straight into a master’s program and earned his degree in economics. Fascinated by and talented in the field, he was accepted into a PhD. program and started teaching high school mathematics in New York City. The following four years brought many changes to the young economics student’s life. In 1949, the Korean War began and Flynn took a break from his studies to enlist in the Air Force, stationed in Texas and Washington D.C. In

1953, he married his sweetheart Peg Collins, the Bronx born-and-raised daughter of immigrants from Co. Kerry. The war over, the two newlyweds were soon living on Long Island and starting a family.

The Student Turned Businessman With a wife and children to support, Flynn made the tough decision to leave his doctorate thesis behind and enter the world of business. His first job was with the Equitable Life Assurance Society. There, his background in economics served him in good stead as he quickly discovered his skill in the insurance industry – expertly calculating risk on retirement and long-term insurance plans and developing the now standard practice of Guaranteed Insurance Contracts (GICs). He rapidly climbed the ranks, eventually becoming senior vice president of pension operations. Flynn’s approach to business was always a human one. Colleagues called him a fair leader, attuned to the customer’s needs and concerns, which allowed him to look at the industry in ways that eluded others. In his 2008 interview with publisher Niall O’Dowd, Flynn offered his sage, down-to-earth business philosophy, culled from his experience at Equitable: “Greed is the biggest problem...Look at the recent mortgage crisis and all the Wall Street firms that overextended themselves. It’s the same mistake over and over…My advice is, don’t get greedy, help the other guy, and stay in the real world.” This approach served him well in his next position: president and CEO of the National Health and Welfare Insurance Company. Under Flynn’s direction, the small, struggling company became Mutual of America, the insurance giant we know today. One of his finest accomplishments in this role was to steer Mutual’s attention towards the non-profit sector, where it now provides pension plans for the employees of more than 15,000 charities throughout America. He was also responsible for the establishment of the impressive Mutual of America Building at 320 Park Avenue.

The Humanitarian Flynn was right from the start in thinking that he had a calling, though it didn’t lie with the church, as he first believed. Throughout his professional career, Flynn was a leader and innovator. But the scope of his influ-

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ence has traveled far beyond the world of business. The Mutual CEO also used his position of power in corporate America as a force for peace, communication and understanding in the social and political spheres. With his guidance, Mutual of America took on a significant philanthropic role, sponsoring landmark events and discussions such as the “First Liberty Summit” in Williamsburg, VA, the subsequent “First Liberty Forum” in New York, and the international “Anatomy of Hate” conferences hosted by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. These events brought Nobel laureates, leading intellectuals and involved citizens together for important meetings of minds. Flynn’s personal involvement ran even deeper. He became a board member of the Elie Wiesel Foundation and joined the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP). When the NCAFP encountered financial difficulty in the late 80s, Flynn came to the aid of the nongovernmental organization. Shortly afterwards, co-founder George Schwab invited Flynn to assume the position of chairman, which he accepted and holds to this day. Having already been party to many important conversations on the religious and political conflicts in the Middle East and South Africa, Flynn was drawn to and deeply affected by the troubles in Northern Ireland. As an advocate for human rights and peace, the son of two Irish immigrants couldn’t ignore the violence and discord. In 1992, Mutual of America sponsored a conference in Derry, entitled “Living With Our Deepest Differences.” At this point too, many Irish political leaders were beginning to consider how Irish Americans could play a role in the path to peace. In New York, a small group began forming in response to Bill Clinton’s campaign promise that, if elected, he would devote attention to Northern Ireland. It was decided that in order to be successful they would need help from influential people within the Irish American community. Though he knew that public involvement could potentially pose a threat to his 58 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

tion as the way forward. Both Paisley and Molyneaux accepted invitations to speak at later dates.

The Peace Broker

1996: Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, New York City.

professional reputation and even his personal safety, Flynn became one of the Americans for a New Irish Agenda (ANIA), a group that included fellow Hall of Fame honoree Chuck Feeney, former congressman Bruce Morrison and publisher Niall O’Dowd. In December 1993, the Downing Street Declaration granted the people of Northern Ireland the right to self-determination – to choose, by their own design, their sovereignty and political status. In the wake of this, Bill Flynn strove to facilitate what he wisely saw as the next vital step: communication. With the NCAFP, he decided to organize a conference in New York that would bring all of the major players in the conflict together, including Gerry Adams, the head of Sinn Féin; John Hume, leader of the SDLP; John Alderdice, head of the Alliance Party; and two Unionist leaders: the Reverend Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, and James Molyneaux the head of the Ulster Unionist Party. Nothing like this conference had ever happened before. It took place at New York’s WaldorfAstoria on February 1, 1994, attracting attendees, members of the press, and protesters from all sides. Though the Unionist leaders did not attend that day, the conference was deemed successful in its aim of establishing communication and negotia-

A large part of Flynn’s efficacy was due to his businesslike, levelheaded tactics: The Mutual CEO became, in a sense, a broker of negotiation and peace. He was invited, often with other members of ANIA, to Ireland both north and south for talks with the leaders of the various parties – all with an eye towards working up to a ceasefire. In August of that year, the members of the group got word that they should return to Ireland for a meeting with the Sinn Féin leadership. In Belfast they met again with Gerry Adams, who announced to them that the IRA would soon be declaring a complete cessation of operations. In a true testament to Flynn’s non-partisanship, six weeks later he was also contacted by Gusty Spence and David Ervine of the Loyalist side. It was thus that the Catholic son of a man from Northern Ireland was invited to and present at the announcement of the Loyalist ceasefire, and was even consulted on its wording. In the years that followed, Flynn remained an active part of the talks negotiations, often flying over to Ireland on a moment’s notice to help facilitate communication or smooth things. Martin McGuinness declared him to be “one of the heroes of the peace process.” The accolades are many and they continue to grow: Flynn was honored as Grand Marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1996, he holds seven honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities, and is the namesake of the recently launched William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas. In addition, the businessman and peacemaker has also been a loving husband, father and grandfather. Flynn’s calling wasn’t confined to one area or institution; rather, he has been a leader in so many ways. IA


Dunbrody supplement Feb 2011 revA.indd 1

03/03/2011 12:58


The Irish Emigration History Centre at the Dunbrody Famine Ship Ten years is a long time in the life of a famine ship. Over the last decade 750,000 people from all around the world have trodden the deck of the Dunbrody, a replica of a ship that transported thousands of emigrants from Ireland to North America in the 1800s. These visitors experienced authentic accounts of emigrants’ experiences, but they had an insatiable appetite for more information. We decided to meet this real desire for knowledge and understanding with a more contextualised story of emigration in the 19th century. The resulting USD $3.4m (€2.5m) Irish Emigration History Centre at the Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross, Ireland, opening in June 2011, will include an exhibition centre with displays based on new research, a complete fit-out of the ship itself, a Hall of Fame and a well-equipped study area. The Centre will appeal to people who want to trace the footsteps of their ancestors, those curious about where great Irish Americans started their journey and people who want to understand more about an important part of both Ireland’s and America’s history. On the River Barrow in New Ross, Ireland’s only inland port, the Dunbrody is moored to a riverbank that has seen a wealth of history. It was from this point that US President John F. Kennedy’s ancestors embarked on their journey for America. Over a century later in the 1960s, President Kennedy visited the town and gave an inspirational speech on the quayside, close to where the Dunbrody is now docked. This quayside is an example of the cyclical nature of our economies and our lives. In fact, as Irish people continue to turn to other countries to pursue careers, emigration is still a live topic.

Dunbrody supplement Feb 2011 revA.indd 2

Through emigration, Ireland and America remain inextricably linked and there will be new generations of Irish Americans. When our emigrants return we’d like to see them bringing visitors with them to Dunbrody’s Irish Emigration History Centre and the accompanying Irish America Hall of Fame. American playwright Eugene O’Neill was descended from James O’Neill who left Ireland on the Dunbrody in 1852 and settled in New London, Connecticut, home to the Coast Guard Academy. In 2011 the US Coast Guard’s Tall Ship Eagle will visit the Waterford Estuary, and sail along the same waters as the Dunbrody. Members of the crew are to pay a visit to the O’Neill ancestral home in nearby south County Kilkenny. Positive experiences like these may be woven into the tradition of Irish American philanthropists and influencers who have supported initiatives in Ireland. The cycle doesn’t stop. Take for example Donald Keough, whose ancestor came from County Wexford. In 2009 this ancestral link was evident when Mr Keough, former President and Director of Coca-Cola announced a USD $300 million investment and the creation of more than 100 jobs in a plant outside Wexford town.

Ireland will continue to recognise the good work of these people. Irish Americans have done a lot for Ireland, and these people, such as Jean Kennedy Smith, former US Ambassador to Ireland, who performed the launching ceremony of the Dunbrody, will be permanently recognised in the Irish American Hall of Fame at the Dunbrody Famine Ship. As this recognition continues along with our aim to improve the visitor experience and understanding of an important period in history, so does our need to continue the good work through fundraising and getting the word out. We would love to hear from you.

Sean Reidy CEO Dunbrody Famine Ship sean@dunbrody.com www.dunbrody.com

03/03/2011 12:58


Dr Mike Spearman Elspeth Mackay CMC Associates

The Dunbrody Project In 2001 the JFK Trust launched its replica 19th-century three-masted ship – the Dunbrody. Since then visitors have enjoyed first-hand encounters with a real ship, learnt from engagement with live interpreters and connected with the passenger experience. So when the time came for a major refurbishment of the Dunbrody and visitor centre – to re-open this year – the decision to enrich the existing approach by emphasising the unique story of the Dunbrody was an easy one. But could it really be done? Too often has the difficult and emotive subject of emigration from Ireland been painted using only the broad brush-strokes of secondary sources. Original sources for the Dunbrody were known to exist, but their historical depth and context had been only partially explored. Would a case study focusing on a single vessel – even a single journey – hold enough interest or add to our understanding of these difficult issues? The interpretation team began with a detailed review of all available Dunbrodyrelated sources, striving to reveal the experiences of those who travelled or worked on the Dunbrody. As you read this article we hope that something of the wider value and ambition of the project may become apparent. Back to the source The principle behind the exhibition is that every element of the visitor experience is grounded in research. Every character the visitors encounter, hear or read about is based on a real person of the period; every story is rooted in a genuine source from the past. And as far as possible, these sources originate with the Dunbrody.

Dunbrody supplement Feb 2011 revA.indd 3

working for Graves & Sons, the archives contain letters written by the ships’ captains to Graves, letters from prospective passengers seeking travel information, negotiations with agents, copies of crew agreements, receipts for supplies – in short, all the ‘behind the scenes’ backroom administration necessary for the smooth running of a successful shipping business.

An advertisement for the Dunbrody, Wexford Independent, March 1849 (Wexford County Council Public Library Service Collection)

‘I shall be there with my chests’ At the heart of the research is the archive of Graves & Sons, the New Ross shipping firm which built the original Dunbrody. The six metal boxes of documents dating from the 1840s sat forgotten in a warehouse for almost a century until they were handed to the Trust in the 1990s. Today the archive is held by the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin, a time capsule of an incredibly significant period in Ireland’s history and a goldmine of information, stories and period detail. Roughly sorted into bundles according to ship and date by an unknown clerk

There are many letters from Captain John Williams. Just 27 when he took over the Dunbrody in 1848, he was to be her captain for the next 20 years. He wrote hundreds of letters from the ship to his employer, reporting on the weather: ‘very wild’; the crew: ‘all well and hearty’; fishing for cod and sharks: ‘useful for fresh messes’ and the state of the cargo: ‘a little damaged on top’. Williams seems genuinely to have cared about his passengers. Arriving in Quebec after a stormy passage he wrote: ‘The poor passengers were greatly frightened. They thought they should never see the land again.’ In 1847 on another Graves ship, the Aberfoyle, when passengers fell ill he nursed them himself, reorganising the ship to create a hospital area and improve ventilation. This is a far cry from the brutal captains that we thought we knew. We start seeing the Dunbrody as less of a ‘coffin ship’, and more a ‘cradle of opportunity’.

03/03/2011 12:58


Letter from Captain Williams, April 1849 (Graves Archive)

Letters from prospective passengers reveal the multitude of reasons for emigration. Many were professional people, such as engineer James Little, who wished to ‘try his fortune’ in America. Others were ‘poor but respectable’, sponsored by wealthier patrons. About other passengers we know tantalisingly little. ‘Send me the day. I shall be in New Ross with my chests’, wrote Nick White. Who was he? Where was he off to with his chests and why? Did he ever get there? Letter from Nick White, March 1849 (Graves Archive)

‘They all expressed their gratitude’

‘I had myself a pleasant voyage’

Material held in other archives helped us to flesh out the story of emigration further. The record books of the Gorey workhouse hold the story of ‘female paupers’ who travelled on the Dunbrody in 1855. We traced their story. On 5th April, the names of 35 women are listed who have been ‘selected’ to be sent to North America from the workhouse, most aged between 17 and 20. Sadly, we hear nothing from the emigrants themselves – whether this was regarded as an opportunity or a great blow. Then follows a series of updates on various issues: clothing for the emigrants, the costs of travel to the port and ultimately for their passage across the Atlantic. We learn that they are to be provided with supplies for the journey, including ‘30lbs of salt meat or fish, vegetables consisting of Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots or Turnips, Bedding, Saucepans, Drinking Vessel, Knife, Fork, Plate, Spoon’. Finally, on 21 July we hear about the women’s arrival in New Ross:

A few letters from emigrants can be found in the Graves archive. W. O’Connor writes to Graves from New York in 1849, calling for his wife and six children to join him, and commenting on his ‘pleasant voyage last spring in your good ship the Dunbrody’. He gives no details of his new life, nor how he is making a living: these remain a mystery.

[the Master] left the workhouse with the assistant schoolmistress, 43 adult women and 9 children Emigrants to see them on Board the ‘Dunbrody’ vessel bound to Quebec. He gave each of them on leaving 2lbs of white bread. On their arrival in Ross Mr Higginbotham (clerk) and Mr Thomas Harvey Emigrant agent in Gorey had all their beds ready in the Ship where they slept those nights. He had to give them their breakfast of bread and tea next morning as the cooking apparatus was not ready. They all expressed their Gratitude in tears to the guardians for their kindness. Their conduct and appearance was the admiration of every person that saw them.

What happened to these women on their arrival? Here the trail goes cold. And this leads us to one of the big challenges of the project: to trace the story of the Dunbrody’s emigrants once they stepped off that gangplank into their new lives.

Letter from W O’Connor, December 1849 (Graves Archive)

An additional mystery is that the only W. O’Connor to appear on the Dunbrody passenger list for spring 1849 is aged just 18; rather too young to be father of six … did someone record his age wrongly? Did he change his name? Like so much of the material, this letter raises more questions than it answers. In August 2010 Pat Gorman, a thirdgeneration Irish-American living in Dixon, Illinois, contacted us. According to family history, Ann Morrissey, the wife of Pat’s great-great-uncle had travelled out on the Dunbrody in 1849. Sure enough, Ann is there on the passenger list, together with her younger brother. And, purely coincidentally, Ann is mentioned in a letter in the Graves archive, dated March 1849: ‘One passenger Anne Morrissey deposit paid of 20/ (bal. £3.7.0) she will pay you when they find themselves in Ross. They


prefer going to see for themselves’. From this one line we get a picture of Ann as an independent young woman who wants to check out the ship before handing over full payment. Ann settled in Peoria, Illinois where she married another Irish immigrant and died a wealthy lady, the owner of several properties. Pat was able to supply us with striking pictures of Ann taken in the 1870s – and we have our first Dunbrody emigrant story.

Ann Morrissey, now Mrs Gorman, in the 1870s (Patrick Gorman)

There remain other significant gaps in our knowledge. We have many names of passengers, both steerage and cabin class, but have no first hand accounts of their journey written by any of them. We know the names of many crew-members of the Dunbrody but we have no accounts written by them; no diaries, no reports, no letters. Details which bring these men even slightly into focus are therefore very precious; we learn from one of Williams’ letters that two crew members ‘deserted during the night’ – and later we learn, perhaps to our surprise, that one of these men was black.

What stories, what people, what descendants might emerge? If and when funding becomes available, this would be a worthy research project and legacy of the ship. In the meantime, should any readers have any historical connections with the passengers of the Dunbrody, then we urge you to contact us. Making the most of the sources The Dunbrody project is much more than a research project. The exhibition is above all a visitor centre, and visitors are not noted for reading ‘books on the wall’. The true challenge is to turn the rich and varied fruits of our research into engaging and satisfying content for our visitors. In some cases this can mean simply reproducing archive material as facsimiles, sharing the immediacy of the handwriting from the past. The 1849 passenger list of 176 names, for example, is a uniquely evocative document that needs little interpretation. Visitors feel a direct connection with familiar names, even at a distance of 150 years. Elsewhere we have taken the content of archive material and redesigned it to make it more accessible to visitors and to increase its impact. From an official list of 24 rules for passengers on board the ship, for example, we are planning to select just a few and paint them up as full sized signs to be hung about the passenger deck – Rule 22: Swords and other offensive weapons to be placed in the custody of the Master.

Often we have used personal accounts as the basis of audio dramatisations. Many of the letters or documents speak for themselves and simply need a good voice to breathe life into them. In other cases we have been more creative. We know that a young professional, Willy Mason, wanted to work his passage to Canada, and was offered a place on the Dunbrody in 1849. We don’t know if he took up the position, but in audio on the ship, we learn about the baffling workings of the ship through his eyes. We have been fortunate to have worked with a highly skilled band of local actors under local director Milo Walsh; their expertise and knowledge of local accents has contributed hugely to the authenticity of the dramatisations. Local band ‘Barrowside’ and friends have created the musical soundtrack to the exhibition; alongside studio-quality performances, we have aimed to recreate the atmosphere of informal musicians playing together on the passenger deck. We hope that this authenticity will shine through, creating a rich and sometimes challenging experience for visitors. So ingrained is the belief that all ship’s captains were uncaring, exploitative monsters – and undoubtedly many were – that we are expecting some resistance to our presentation of Captain Williams as a good man – which he undoubtedly was. We hope that looking at the original sources will expand visitors’ views of the emigration experience, and by focusing on the Dunbrody we aim to add another layer to the story.

Recording the audio (CMC Associates)

For the sake of the exhibition, we have turned to other accounts from other sources to fill these gaps, written around the same time and as relevant as possible. But our plans are developing within the Dunbrody project for further research. We hope, for instance, to dig deeper into the American side of the stories of the Dunbrody passengers, to follow up in American archives the 176 names of that one passenger list of 1849.

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The Dunbrody for visitors The transition from content research to visitor experience has been a careful and interactive process. Some visitors will bring knowledge; others will bring prejudice. Many will simply be looking to be entertained. All must be engaged and quite literally brought on board.

Port

Embarkation

Key to this process is the gradual immersion of the visitor in the journey. Visitors become ‘observers’. On the reconstructed quayside, ‘observers’ become ‘participants’. Then on leaving the ship the new ‘emigrants’ return to the centre and gain a sense of perspective and scale on this mass-migration. We establish this illusion through creating a theatre of set reconstruction, audio engagement with the voices of the past and a seamless interaction with live re-enactors. As in all the best plays the exhibition is divided into three acts: Departures, Journey and Arrivals. Entering Departures visitors are introduced to the story of the historic ship – the original Dunbrody. Moving down a corridor lined with wooden beams and sailcloth, visitors discover the range of emigrant motivations. Here we meet Ann Morrissey for the first time, the 25-year-old housekeeper from Glenmore. We discover how the business of Graves & Sons positioned itself to make the most of the demand for high-quality emigrant ships, and gradually built up a reputation for – relative – comfort and safety. From this broad picture of mass emigration, the exhibition gradually homes in on one ship and one journey: the Dunbrody’s journey to New York in April 1849, the one journey for which a full passenger list survives. In the lively, bustling Port area, the visitor steps back in time and on to the quayside of New Ross, ready to make a one-way trip to America, making the move from 21st century observer to 19th century participant.

Live interpretation

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As visitors peer into William Graves’ office they overhear Ann Morrissey paying the

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balance of her fares. Opening baggage reveals possessions taken on board by emigrants and triggers their stories, their hopes for their new lives. Smells of tar and paint drift over the quay. We witness tearful departure scenes as families are separated – and share in the excitement of the adventure of young travellers.

‘passengers’ who engage us in conversation, freely sharing their opinions and experiences of the journey. Other emigrants are overheard discussing plans for the future, and we see how tensions can mount in this overcrowded space. Arguments break out, babies cry, jokes are cracked and over in the corner a musical session seems to be gathering pace.

Exhibition tickets are exchanged for boarding passes and visitors join the throng of emigrants gathering in the Embarkation area. Here visitors are confronted with the emotional tug of departure. An audiovisual presentation reveals farewell rituals and taps into emigrant fears. Into this zone strides the Purser, who takes control and briefs travellers about the journey ahead. He is the first of our ‘live interpreters’: talented actors well-versed in the period and, just as importantly, skilled in interacting with visitors. Hauling back a curtain, he reveals the Dunbrody for the first time. Visitors pass a cursory medical check, leave the comfort of the known world, and step aboard.

Close by is the crew’s quarters, the captain’s cabin and the altogether plusher accommodation for the ‘cabin’ passengers. One area is given over to a selection of the cargo which the Dunbrody carried on her return journeys from America, the other half of the ship’s story.

The next section of the exhibition, Journey, takes place entirely on board the ship. On deck we encounter the cook preparing meals for the crew; below, in the gloomy steerage accommodation area we meet

Arrival

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Eventually we step ashore into Arrivals, the world of mid-19th-century North America. Visitors witness heartrending tales of the tragedy at the quarantine station of Grosse Ile, and see how their fellow emigrants sink or swim in their new environment. Drawing back a little from the past, an audio-visual display emphasises the variety of the IrishAmerican experience as emigrants set to work finding jobs, making homes and building communities. One final display in this main exhibition area concludes the story of the original Dunbrody with her shipwreck in 1875.

The Dunbrody Hall of Fame Moving upstairs the tone changes. We return to the 21st century to consider the legacy of the Dunbrody and the enduring impact of Ireland’s emigrants on American culture. At the heart of this exhibition area is the Hall of Fame. Here visitors honour the Irish-Americans who have made significant contributions to our world: the Kennedy dynasty, Henry Ford, Georgia O’Keeffe, Eugene O’Neill, James Watson, Grace Kelly… Ceremonies are planned to inaugurate new additions to the Hall of Fame on a regular basis, to highlight the achievements of significant Irish-Americans of today – business people, scientists, philanthropists and cultural figures. We are already shortlisting for our first new ‘intake’ – and competition is stiff! The Hall of Fame emphasises that the links between Ireland and America remain vibrant, and that Irish-Americans continue to enhance all aspects of our world. Whilst respecting these celebrities, we must not forget the humbler contributions of ordinary Irish men and women who had the courage to leave their homes and the strength to establish new lives overseas.

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Our community exhibition invites local groups to share their own family links with America and Canada, and present their stories in a regularly changing display. In a study area, visitors can access the Irish America Database and other genealogy websites to take the first steps to exploring their own family history. From this first floor, visitors can enjoy elevated views of the Dunbrody over the River Barrow from a balcony area. An audio-visual display tells the remarkable story of the construction of the replica ship and of her voyages. Conclusion As the team works round the clock to put the finishing touches to the ship and exhibition, we recognise that this is just another chapter in the story of emigration from New Ross. We have big plans for the future: continuing the research into the Dunbrody, her sister ships and the stories of her passengers, developing the community history of emigration from the Wexford area, and establishing the Irish Emigration History Centre here in New Ross. There is much to do. We look forward to welcoming you on board.

The Team: - CMC Associates - Studio SP - Paragon - Zolk C Limited - New Ross Boat Yard - Falk Andraschko - The Dunbrody Staff - Peter Southern - Minihan Crane Architects - Malone O’Regan Consulting Engineers - Ronan Meally - Clancy Construction

info@dunbrody.com

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Project Funders: We would also like to thank the following individuals - Failte Ireland (Irish National and groups for their contributions: Development Plan) - Patrick Fitzgerald and Brian Lambkin of the Centre - Wexford County Council for Migration Studies, Omagh - New Ross Town Council - Aude Bates (original researcher) - JFK Trust - Anne Finn (researcher) Belfast - Milo Walsh and the New Ross Drama Group - Dave and Helen Howard of Kilcullen Studios - ‘Barrowside’ musicians: Bob Van Son, Ollie Grace, Jack Stacey, Yvonne Stacey, Sean Reidy, with Bob Walshe, Eddie Doyle and Hazel Cloney Dublin - Grainne Doran, Archivist (Wexford County Council) - Patrick Gorman (descendant of Ann Morrissey, emigrant) New Ross - Derek Hill (descendant of Thomas Hamilton Oliver – ship builder) - Many others too numerous to mention

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Denis Kelleher The Irish immigrant

who became a titan of Wall Street.

By April Drew

D

enis Kelleher, the son of a shoemaker, immigrated to New York in 1958, at age 18, with $1.50 in his pocket. He was in search of a better life and determined to provide for his widowed mother back home. In a matter of days the bright young

Kerry man charmed his way into a job in Merrill Lynch. In less than a month he went from messenger boy to payroll clerk. Kelleher had excelled in math, economics and accounting at St. Brendan’s in Killarney and, determined to continue his education, he enrolled in St. John’s University at night as he worked his way

Denis Kelleher and his son Sean at the Wall Street Access office. APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 67


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up the ladder at Merrill Lynch. Although it’s over half a century since Kelleher landed in New York, he still remembers how awestruck he was by the city. “It was early in the morning and all I remember is thinking how beautiful the city was. The sun was glistening off the snow on the ground and on the rooftops. It was magical,” he recalls as he briefly glances out the 11th floor window of his Wall Street office, which overlooks the Hudson River. He first settled in Brooklyn with help from an uncle who had emigrated before him. After some time there, he moved to the Bronx where he enjoyed an Irish scene that felt “just like home.” After establishing himself in a house with friends, he rolled up his sleeves and began his quest to become successful. But he was soon asked by the U.S. military to put the pause button on his accelerating career. Kelleher spent five plus years serving in the Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He returned to New York when his time was served and continued his career track in the financial industry. He served in various high level positions, including a stint as president of Ruane Cunniff & Co., Inc. and as vice president and treasurer of the Sequoia Fund. Kelleher says there is no big secret behind his achievements and happiness. “I’ve always had the motto: dream big, work hard, learn constantly and have fun while doing so,” he says. In 1981, he founded his own firm, Wall Street Access, and some 30 years later, he continues, as chairman and CEO, to provide the vision for the firm, which specializes in institutional research, trading and money management. One would expect the office of such a highly successful Wall Street executive to be adorned with finance books and various accolades, but portraits of family and friends, and pictures of Ireland provide warmth and atmosphere. Kelleher, too, is warm and welcoming. Though he is reluctant to talk about himself, he mentions his family at every opportunity. “Family is very important to 68 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

ous charities and trusts they have founded together. elleher experienced the pain of emigration early in life when his father had to leave the family for short periods of time to work in England. “He couldn’t get leather [for his shoe-making business] in Ireland during the war so he went to England and ran a factory,” Kelleher recalls. “Times were very tough back then, Ireland was a third world country, but we got through it because my dad was a great man.” He adds that withFirst Holy out fail his father sent a check home Communion: every two weeks to feed the family Denis and and keep them well. his cousin He is very much in touch with the Maura. current economic situation in Ireland and the fact that many young people are once again facing emigration. He me,” he admits. He credits his wife cautions those who may be relocating to Carol, his three children (two of whom American shores not to be “arrogant” work in the firm) and eight grandchildren and to enjoy what they do. “Anyone who as the driving forces behind his perseverenjoys what they do and perseveres at it ance. will be very successful, whatever the “I enjoy what I do, but they keep me odds,” he says. motivated,” he says. When not working, Kelleher tries his When times were tough in his indushand at golf. He is well read and he and try, Kelleher met any challenges head on his wife enjoy attending the theater. and did the best for his clients. “I’ve He also keeps himself busy with varialways had the attitude that in a cyclical ous boards. He is the director of The business like this you must save for the New Ireland Fund, a member of the bad days,” he says. board of trustees of the Metropolitan He also believes strongly in helping Museum of Art and a member of the others. In an effort to pass on his good Staten Island Foundation. He serves on fortune, he and wife, Carol, set up an the board of trustees of St. John’s organization called the Good Deeds University, and served as the board’s Foundation. One recent endeavor was to chairman for eight years. In 1995, he was establish a middle charter school for recognized with the Ellis Island Medal of Mexican children living on Staten Island. Honor and in 2005 he led the New York He and Carol are also committed to fundSt. Patrick’s Day Parade up Fifth Avenue ing suicide prevention efforts in rural serving as the Grand Marshal. He was Ireland. And, although he keeps it quiet, honored by this magazine as one of the Kelleher was instrumental in working Wall Street 50, and Business 100 and is behind the scenes in advancing the included in the book Greatest Americans Northern Ireland Peace Process. of the 20th Century, compiled by Irish “I’ve been fortunate in my life so it’s America editor by Patricia Harty. important for me to give back to those in Although he is a few years past the need. But I couldn’t do it without Carol,” standard retiring age, Kelleher said he is he says. He speaks movingly of the comgoing nowhere fast. “I’ll retire 10 years panionship she has shown him through IA after I’m dead,” he laughs. the years and her dedication to the vari-

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The family of Wall Street Access proudly congratulates their founder, Denis Kelleher and all of the other 2011 Hall of Fame Inductees.


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Jean Kennedy Smith Activist, humanitarian, diplomat. By Kristin Romano

O

ften referred to as the shy Kennedy, Jean Kennedy Smith has quietly blazed her own trail while still holding true to the family legacy of public service. The last of the Kennedy siblings still living, Kennedy Smith has devoted her life to advocating for the disabled and working towards peace in Northern Ireland.

Early Life Jean Ann Kennedy was born on February 20, 1928 in Brookline, MA, the eighth of the nine children born to Joseph Patrick Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Her siblings were Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. (19151944), John Fitzgerald Kennedy (19171963), Rosemary Kennedy (19182005), Kathleen Agnes Kennedy (19201948), Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009), Patricia Helen Kennedy Lawford (1924-2006), Robert Frances Kennedy (1925-1968) and Edward Moore Kennedy (1932-2009). She was educated at a variety of Sacred Heart schools, both in the United States and England, where her father served as the US Ambassador from 1938 to 1940. During World War II, Smith’s eldest brothers, Joseph and John, served in the Navy as an aviator and PT boat commander, respectively. After Joseph’s death in 1944 during a flight mission, she was chosen to christen the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., a Navy destroyer named after her brother. In 1948, her older sister Kathleen was killed in a plane crash. Jean attended Manhattanville College, at the time a Sacred Heart school and the alma mater of both her mother Rose and sister Eunice, graduating with a degree in English in 1949. While there she met and became friends with her future sister-in-law, Ethel Skakel, who married Bobby Kennedy in 1950.

On May 19, 1956, she married Stephen Edward Smith in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, where the couple eventually settled. The Smiths had four children: Stephen Edward Jr. in 1957, William Kennedy in 1960, Amanda Mary in 1967 (adopted) and Kym Maria in 1972 (adopted from Vietnam). They remained married until Stephen’s death from lung cancer in 1990.

On the Campaign Trail In addition to their legacy of public service, the Kennedys are known as being a close family who work together – the most well-known example is probably Robert Kennedy’s term as Attorney General during JFK’s presidency. Jean worked on her brother John’s political campaigns, starting with his 1946 Congressional run for office. In 1960, with the rest of the family, she traveled across the country: going door to door, talking to voters, answering their questions and gathering support for her brother’s campaign. In September, she left the campaign trail – her second child was due and born later that month. Two months later, JFK was elected president by one of the slimmest margins in history. In telling her campaign trail stories, Kennedy Smith recently recalled being asked to lend Jacqueline Kennedy a maternity coat for the official announcement that Kennedy had been elected president. Her brother’s presidency would have a great impact on her life. Kennedy Smith, as well as her sister Eunice, traveled with JFK when he made his historic trip to Ireland in 1963. Together the three siblings visited Dunganstown in County Wexford, the place their great-grandfather came from. Later that year, President Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas.

Five years later, Sen. Robert Kennedy was running for president, and Kennedy Smith and her husband helped to run the campaign. They were at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when Bobby was assassinated there.

Advocate for the Disabled In 1964, Kennedy Smith was named a trustee of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in her brother’s memory and currently devoted to improving the lives of the intellectually disabled. That same year, she was named to the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a position she has been named to by every President since. In 1974, Kennedy Smith founded Very Special Arts, now known as VSA. Associated with the Kennedy Center, the organization is devoted to creating “a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.” VSA is an international organization, working with 52 international affiliates as well as a network of affiliates in the Unites States. A major influence and motivation in Kennedy Smith’s work with the disabled was her older sister Rosemary, who was developmentally disabled from birth.

Ambassador to Ireland In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Kennedy Smith the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. It was a thrilling honor and achievement for many reasons – particularly because it granted her a direct, active role in politics and made her and her father, Joseph Sr., the first father and daughter to serve as U.S. ambassadors. Additionally, as she stated in a previous interview with Irish America, “Next to President of the United States, Ambassador to Ireland is surely one of the best jobs an Irish

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American can hold.” Kennedy Smith was appointed ambassador at a crucial moment in the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Fighting and conflict had been frequent, but signs of change were apparent. In September 1993, John Hume and Gerry Adams issued a joint statement outlining the Hume/Adams Initiative, the goal of which was the creation of a peace process. Crucially, the IRA welcomed the initiative. The next important step would be the issuing of a U.S. visa to Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. Kennedy Smith would play a crucial role in this task. Since the outbreak of the Troubles in 1969, the U.S. government had refused to grant a visa to Adams, whom they considered to be a terrorist. In early January 1994, Adams again applied for a visa. However, he presented himself to the U.S. Embassy in Dublin instead of the U.S. Consulate in Belfast. It was a crucial moment in Kennedy Smith’s ambassadorship. Having paid close attention to the events in the North since her arrival in Ireland, and having traveled there several times, Kennedy Smith believed that Adams and Sinn Féin were serious about the peace process. Ever the diplomat, before making any decision she contacted Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who favored the granting of the visa. Then, she consulted with her brother Senator Ted Kennedy. He also got on board. Shortly after that, Hume also gave his support for the visa. Kennedy Smith made her decision: she sent a cable to Washington recommending that the visa be granted. The U.S. government had a lot to consider before granting the request. Foremost was the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain. Yet, President Clinton had made a campaign promise to grant Adams a visa, and the Irish American lobby was pushing for it. The British government vehemently worked to block the visa. Everything came down to the wire. Finally, on January 29, 1994, President Clinton ordered the visa be granted. Two days later, Adams entered the U.S. and made 72 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

an appearance on Larry King Live. The worldwide censorship of Adams and Sinn Féin was over. Six months later, Kennedy Smith was faced with another important visa issue, this time with an IRA ceasefire hanging in the balance. Sinn Féin wanted to send Joe Cahill to America to talk with their supporters in the U.S. Cahill was 74 and had fought the British for most of his life. The IRA made a condition of their ceasefire the granting of a visa to Cahill. Kennedy Smith and Reynolds worked hard to convince the U.S. government to grant the visa. The president agreed and Cahill entered the U.S. The day after, on August 31, the IRA declared a ceasefire. Throughout the remainder of her tenure as ambassador, Kennedy Smith played an important role in the peace process. In September 1998, seven months after the historic Good Friday Agreement, she resigned as ambassador. The late historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author Arthur Schlesinger said of Kennedy Smith, “Jean may well be the best politician of all the Kennedy’s, but she needed this position to really show that.”

Recent Years Kennedy Smith has always kept a lower profile in comparison to her siblings. Now 83, she rarely gives interviews, though she did give one to ABC News in January, on the 50th Anniversary of her brother’s presidential inauguration. As ever, family is still a priority. In August 2009, Kennedy Smith chose to miss her sister Eunice’s funeral to stay by Edward Kennedy’s side as he was dying of cancer. Now, though she is the last of the nine Kennedy siblings, she does not dwell on that, focusing instead on the here and now. Since leaving diplomatic service, Jean Kennedy Smith has received numerous accolades for her work to bring peace to Northern Ireland and for her work with the disabled. The government of the Republic of Ireland granted her honorary citizenship in 1998. She has received honorary degrees from multiple institutions. Most recently, Kennedy Smith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for both her diplomatic service and her IA humanitarian efforts.

Jean Kennedy Smith and Gerry Adams on the occasion of Smith being honored as Irish American of the Year in 1995.


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James Watson He helped map the structure of DNA. Next up is a cure for cancer. By Niall O’Dowd

J

ames Watson helped unravel the structure of DNA, a feat so stunning that it is considered the greatest scientific achievement of the 20th century. A Nobel Prize winner as a result, Dr. Watson is deeply proud of his Irish heritage and is “very pleased” to be inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame on March 15th. Next up for Watson is a cure for cancer, and he believes he once again holds the key to that extraordinary breakthrough. And who can doubt him? At 82, he is as committed and hardworking a scientist as ever. He spoke to me from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, New York. Tell me about your Irish heritage. I’m a quarter Irish through my grandmother Elizabeth Gleeson who was born in 1861. Her parents came here from Ireland, I believe it was Tipperary, around 1847 or 48 and went to Ohio for 10 years and farmed there and then moved to a farm six miles south of Michigan City, Indiana. It’s a decent farm which I believe they maintained through the 1930s. You’ve been to Ireland many times, right? Oh yes, I have accepted degrees from Trinity College and Limerick and Cork universities. I was there last September. I’m deeply proud of my Irish heritage. I was amazed to read that in 1953 when you presented the paper on DNA, the major media barely covered it. It is now considered by most experts the greatest scientific breakthrough of the 20th century. They didn’t cover it at all. Time magazine was going to run a story and photographs were taken, so we have photographs, otherwise we wouldn’t have anything. But Time never ran the article. And then there was a very short notice in the News

Chronicle, another paper at that time, which came out maybe in early June [1953]. In genetics, the discovery was thought very important but it didn’t have much impact on the way biology was done until about five years later, and then there were some experiments which sort of confirmed our main hypothesis that the strands would separate and that was through an experiment done in 1958. But I would say, it wasn’t until the early sixties when the genetic code was being worked out that people began to take it seriously. I wrote the first work about why DNA was so important and that came out in 1965 to mark the biology of the gene. When you made the discovery, or co-shared the discovery with Francis Crick, were you aware that this was a Nobel Prize-winning feat? APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 73


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Yes. I mean it was so obvious. I would say in less than a minute we knew that it was more than big. I didn’t jump up and say, “We’ll get a Nobel Prize,” but it was pretty obvious to us that it was a big breakthrough. But the majority of people in science weren’t interested in how the genetic chromosomes and sources of information worked. It was a new way of thinking. The first person from the outside who saw the information [as a] breakthrough was the great Russian-born physicist George Gamow, who wrote a letter about it in June, 1953. Amazing when you consider that today everybody talks about DNA. DNA is sort of everywhere now in everyday life. People are always wondering about [the question of] Nature or Nurture, and what we can learn from our hereditary genes. What’s the answer? We don’t know but we should and I think we will. And I think knowledge of DNA will eventually encompass all medical knowledge about it, but it will probably take years. The thing now is to learn the influence that DNA has on your medical history – we still know very little. When we do know it will be a huge breakthrough for our medical treatments. And this will be a huge, huge issue when doctors become literate and able to explain and decipher it. I had my entire genome traced but it hasn’t affected me at all, because we don’t know how to interpret that hereditary information yet. So when we learn that, it will be a massive breakthrough. So now you have the map, but you’re not quite sure where it all leads or what it means. In an immediate sense, medical records have to be digitized because if you ask most people “do you have your medical records since birth?” the answer is “no.” You probably have them with your current doctor and before that your previous doctor. But [earlier than that] they’re effectively lost. 74 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Watson with fellow scientist Francis Crick

A lot of your work now is on cancer. How do you see that going? My main interest now is curing cancer. I think we just might pull it off over the next ten years. I’m sure we can cure most major cancers. We are hopeful now about [curing] a totally incurable leukemia. We think we know how to cure it. So I think we want to go ahead under the assumption we’re going to cure [cancer] over the next 10 years, not over the next 30. You generally hear from people that it’s 10 to 20 years away, whereas when I was in California trying to raise money for [research into] pancreatic and prostate cancer, I was saying, maybe we can cure [these diseases] in 10 years. But we have to work differently. I wanted a million dollars to do preliminary experiments on both the cancers based on the assumption we’re going to cure it in 10 years. How do you think that will happen? Well, because the thing we never thought of [before] is that cancer is a sort of failure of differentiation. You know, you have a blood cell, but you don’t make the products of the blood cell and

if you converted a cancer cell back into a differentiated cell, that cell would live forever, it wouldn’t modify, and you wouldn’t have cancer. We think we’ve done this for leukemia. And I want to try it for melanoma. So, we’ll see! That is incredibly exciting. Oh it is very exciting and for the first time we can sort of write down on paper how we can do it. Wow, so the idea that cancer can be cured would obviously be a real breakthrough. Yes. I think that people might then treat scientists like, uh, basketball players. And pay them as well. I saw the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday night. I thought, boy, what a basketball player that Kobe Bryant is. He’s a great player. Absolutely. The Knicks are looking good too. Yes. You have said that you’re an atheist, can you talk about that?


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Yeah, I’m an atheist. [I’ve found] no evidence for God. On the other hand, I’ve always liked Jesus. I don’t think he’s son of God, but, you know, I was in a Catholic hospital in Santa Monica that was run by the Sisters of Charity. You know, of all the virtues, the greatest is charity. I don’t think the Crusaders were very good and the Inquisition was pretty awful, but the Sisters of Charity do wonderful work. When people actually ask me if I am a Christian [I say that] I follow these beliefs. It’s a set of values. I don’t feel my values are any different from [Christian] people because I was brought up on these values. So what’s after cancer? What’s left? I’ll leave that to someone else, I think. Time magazine had a piece recently saying that one could conceivably have a lifetime of 150 years. I’d like to make 90 in good shape and

then I’m willing to give up. You seem like you’re in great shape. I can still play singles’ tennis and I’m still hitting back, not super big serves, but hitting back. I’m still living as if I’m 30, you know. Do you have a favorite possession? I have this painting by Ireland’s best artist, Bobby Ballagh, which shows Patrick Pearse and James Connolly. So I personally own one of Ballagh’s most famous paintings. I bought it from a catalogue. He painted my portrait when I was lecturing on genetics at Trinity College and I’ve formally given [the portrait] to the college. I wanted it to be in Trinity so people realize that I’m as much Irish as I am Scottish. My mother, I’d call her not an Irish Catholic, I’d call her always an Irish Democrat. She was a faithful member of the Chicago Irish tribe I have always followed my Irish side.

I know all about what has happened with the Irish economy. I know things are bad over there, the German bankers should have to endure some of that pain of the lost money they lent those Irish bankers. I mean it’s going to be tricky. Finance Minister Brian Lenihan promised to pay all the bankers off, but Ireland can’t pay those taxes and the realization has dawned that it is a case where you can’t get blood from stone. There was a level of irresponsibility, but now one needs a very good government. Both the Financial Times and the Economist basically said the bondholders have to lose some money. Absolutely, absolutely. You have to renegotiate, and it will take a year, but until it’s done, no one can move forward. But Ireland will survive. They are a tough people and have survived much worse. I’m sure of that. They are a wonderful people. Thank you, Dr. Watson.

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We would like to extend a very special thank you to our sponsors Dunbrody Famine Ship Mutual of America Coca-Cola UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School The American Ireland Fund Tourism Ireland CIE Tours International Fitzpatricks Hotels 1-800-Flowers.com Go raibh míle maith agaibh

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His

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Brother’s Keeper John Barry, the Father of the American Navy, went to sea as a child to escape the Irish penal laws and rose to command the entire U.S. fleet. Tim McGrath writes that Barry’s skills as a mariner and warrior were rivaled only by his heart. n a fine spring day in 1787, swept into the arms of John and John Rossiter’s merchantSarah Barry, who were ten years man, the Rising Sun, glided married but childless. Barry’s towards the Philadelphia nephews became the sons they waterfront after a successnever had, and were the latest in a ful voyage from County long slew of Irish immigrants Wexford. The hold was who had found both shelter and full of Irish goods – guidance from the Barrys flaxseed and linen – but For Irish Catholics in the eighRossiter was happiest about teenth century, charity began at the passengers standing on home out of necessity. James deck with him: Michael and Barry was a tenant farmer, similar Patrick Hayes, teenage orphans in hardship and poverty to the life from Wexford, summoned by their of a sharecropper in the postuncle (and Rossiter’s good friend) Civil War South. When John was to come live in Philadelphia. born in 1745, the Protestant The boys’ uncle was also a ship’s Ascendancy – descendants of captain, who’d left Wexford twenBritish colonists who made up the ty-seven years earlier to make Irish Parliament – was beginning Philadelphia his home. As wellits second century of running respected as Rossiter was, this Ireland under the draconian Penal mariner was a legend for both his Laws, banning Catholics from seamanship and heroics in the owning land, practicing their reliBRUCE GIMELSON GALLERY/PRIVATE COLLECTION recent war for independence from gion, even speaking their native Great Britain. Rossiter searched for him among the small Gaeilge. In a few years, James and Ellen Barry had five crowd at the dock. At 6’4”, he was easy to spot, standing mouths to feed and John, the oldest son, now about ten, with his wife, their faces anxiously gazing at the Rising was sent to sea, placed under the watchful eye of his Sun. Rossiter pointed him out to the boys. uncle Nicholas, a ship’s captain who took advantage of a No sooner was the gangplank lowered than they were glitch in the Penal Laws: he could not own the goods in

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JOHN SCANLON COLLECTIO).

Left: September, 1956: The arrival of the John Barry statue at Rosslare Harbour Port, Co. Wexford aboard the USS Rhodes. Above: The statue’s erection at the Crescent Quay, Co. Wexford. Below and opening page: The statue of Barry in Crescent Quay. Opening page: Portrait of Barry by Gilbert Stuart, c.1801.

his hold, but he could own his ship. Nicholas Barry’s trade allowed him to work with his head held high, and the example he set for his nephew was as true as a compass. Each time he returned home, young John’s small wages were a godsend when he poured them on the family table. For generations, Barry’s coming to Philadelphia was told as a Horatio Alger-like story of a happenstance arrival to the New World. In fact, he was sent there. By 1760, there was such an established Irish presence in Philadelphia that one official, scornfully describing them as “bold and indigent strangers,” warned Quaker and Anglican alike that “It looks as if Ireland is to send all its inhabitants hither.” Among them was Jane Barry Wilcox, an aunt or older cousin of John’s, whose husband was one of a small but growing list of Irish-born merchants. Whether young Barry stayed with Jane for just a few nights or used her home as a waystation in between voyages is not known, but over

the next six years his ambition to equal his uncle was rewarded, as he rose from seaman to mate until, in 1766, he was given his first command, a schooner and a crew of five, making several voyages a year to Barbados. A captain’s pay meant more money could be sent home. It also allowed him to marry a young Irish girl, Mary Cleary, and move into a small house near the Philadelphia waterfront (within the awful stink of the city tannery). Over the next decade Barry, climbed the riggings of his profession, hired by a succession of increasingly affluent merchants, even owning his own ship at one point. He and Mary moved to more upscale housing and took in a servant. He joined the prestigious Society for the Relief of Poor, Aged, and Infirmed Masters of Ships, and Their Widows and Children, better known as “the Sea Captains’ Club.” As in other ports, Philadelphia’s PHOTO: PADDY T. DONOVAN mariners took care of their own, and their dues assured just that. But the club also provided Barry the opportunity to observe how to behave in the gentlemen’s dining room. While some members came from as rough and tumble a life as he, there were others, APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 79


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like Charles and Nicholas Biddle, equally at home on a merchantman’s deck and in a salon. With quiet intensity, Barry scrutinized their posture and language, right down to what fork went with what course. It wasn’t long before Barry’s other brothers made their way across the Atlantic. Patrick was already an experienced mariner, while Thomas embarked on a quieter career as a clerk. When Mary died while John was at sea in February 1774, it was Patrick who was rowed out to his brother’s approaching vessel to break the news. Only twenty-nine, John Barry found himself a widower. All of this took place beneath darkening political clouds. Barry’s ascendance occurred during the troubling years when the American colonies’ relationship with the British crown and Parliament were fraying. The Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, the Tea Act and the Intolerable Acts all met with resistance in the colonies, particularly in Boston and Philadelphia, whose merchants based their opposition on their rights as British citizens. Where their Quaker counterparts urged passivity, most Anglican merchants were vociferous in their opposition to any new taxes and duties. Their opinions were shared by Barry and PHOTOS: JOHN SCANLON COLLECTION. other captains over pipes and punch bowls at the City Tavern. bride, Sarah Austin, was nine years his Resistance to British authority was easy junior, beautiful according to contempofor an Irish-born captain like Barry to rary descriptions, and a stitch-sister of support. When hostilities broke, John Betsy Ross; one of her flags flew atop offered his services to the nascent John Paul Jones’ ship Ranger on her voyContinental Navy, while Patrick served age to France. The year before, Sarah’s as a privateer. Sadly, Patrick’s ship was brother Isaac marched with Barry and later lost at sea in 1778; three years later, other Philadelphians, following Uncle Nicholas informed John that both Washington’s Continentals to Trenton his parents were also dead. and Princeton, while William, the eldest The war slowed Irish immigration to of Sarah’s siblings, was more than willAmerica down to a trickle, and Barry’s ing to demonstrate his loyalty to the homeward contributions became fewer, crown. Upon capture of Philadelphia for while Barry served his country after the Battle of Brandywine, General admirably (and was severely wounded), Howe charged William to save the city he went largely unpaid for his services. from being burned by departing rebels. His new in-laws, however, more than William became an officer in a Loyalist made up for any slack in family intrigue. regiment, departing Philadelphia with In July 1777, Barry remarried. His the British Army for New York in 1778.

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Top: View of Wexford in 1796. Left: U.S. sailors enjoying the hospitality of Wexford at Mythen’s Pub, Cornmarket. Above: The unveiling of a plaque at Barry’s birthplace in Tacumshane.

He was immediately accused of treason by the Pennsylvania Assembly. The Austin family business and homes were seized, forcing Barry and Isaac into years of political maneuvering to recover the family fortune. And William wasn’t through yet. In 1781, he commanded an eighteen-gun ship, particpating in Benedict Arnold’s raids along the Chesapeake in 1781. From there, William sailed to Yorktown, where he was captured and placed in a prison ship bound for New York. News of William’s misfortune reached Barry in Connecticut, where he was refitting his frigate, the Alliance. Knowing full well Washington’s hatred of Arnold, Barry wrote and later visited the general, asking him to intercede on


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William’s behalf – calling William his friend while tactfully omitting his involvement with the traitor of West Point. Washington, one of Barry’s staunch admirers, promised to look into the matter. William spent the rest of his life in exile, living in Nova Scotia, London, and South Carolina over the next thirty years. Throughout that time, Sarah and Isaac had nothing to do with him, but Barry began a correspondence with him that lasted until Barry’s death. His letters began, “My Dear Brother,” while William’s equally cordial letters were addressed “My Dear Barry.” From London, William sent him an “Axminster Carpet” and other furnishings; in one letter, Barry requested the latest books, including Tom Jones. Ever frugal, he instructed William to give them to the ship’s captain for delivery, sparing Barry any customs duties. War’s end found Barry so broke that he was forced to write General Anthony Wayne, his partner in a cattle roundup that helped feed Washington’s army during the Valley Forge winter, to loan him $200. Wayne didn’t have the money either. Sad news arrived from home, from his brother-in-law Thomas Hayes; his wife Eleanor – Barry’s sister – was dead, and he was gravely ill. Barry’s other sister, Margaret Howlin, was also widowed, living in poverty. Hayes called Barry’s contributions their “only relief” and “praised God for having such a friend” in his later days; Barry assured him that he would “prove a real father” to Hayes’ children when the time came. Another letter soon followed, from Uncle Nicholas. The time had come. Nicholas’ missive was delivered by “Mathew Doyle a lad of good repute” whom Nicholas was sure Barry would assist in finding proper employ, being “brought up to husbandry.” His arrival signaled the beginning of a steady stream of immigrants who made their way to Barry’s doorstep, seeking lodging, employment, and counsel. Barry always had an ample supply of each. Over the next three years Barry joined other naval officers with memorials to Congress and the Pennsylvania Assembly, chasing down agents in France and Cuba for the money due him from captured prizes. The money came

his way very slowly. But luck began turning his way in 1787, with an offer to command a merchantman bound for China. Barry was overseeing construction of the Asia when John Rossiter brought his nephews to Philadelphia. Both boys wanted to go to sea. Michael began a long association under Rossiter’s employ, while Patrick accompanied his uncle, sailing around the world with him to China. Few journals of the time match Patrick’s wide-eyed recounting of the long, fascinating, and dangerous voyage to Canton. He captured everything with a boy’s vividness: storms, lightning strikes, the suicide of the despondent third mate, and their layover in Cape Town, where his marvel at the exotic animals of Africa is mixed with dread at innate racism, even in the dispensing of justice. Patrick found “3 gibbets one fore the sailors one for the soldiers and one fore the Slaves” – after all, one wouldn’t hang a white criminal on a black man’s gallows. Bats with seven-foot wingspans and colorful snakes sailing alongside the Asia dotted his description of the tricky passage through the Sunda Straits. When they finally reached Canton, Barry kept Patrick by his side in hopes of keeping him out of the taverns and brothels, and he succeeded, it seems, until their departure. While in Macao, Patrick escaped his uncle’s supervision. His last entry in his journal merely reads, “Maddam: full of shame” – and we will never know why. arry returned home with his fortune remade, and actually swallowed the anchor over the next five years. With Sarah’s blessing, their estate, Strawberry Hill, became home for the Hayes brothers when back from their voyages. Patrick even fell in love with and married Sarah’s niece, Betsy Keen. Now Barry’s correspondence with family and friends flourished, as did his willingness to help those in need. A regular stipend was sent to his sister Margaret. As perfect strangers showed up at Strawberry Hill, carrying letters of introduction from this relative or that acquaintance, Barry found himself a oneman employment service, finding work for craftsmen at shipyards and positions for clerks in counting houses. Young

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Reality Better Than Fiction ictional heroes like Horatio Hornblower or Lucky Jack Aubrey don’t hold a candle to John Barry. Born in 1745 in Ballysampson, County Wexford, he was sent to sea as a child to escape the Irish penal laws, and arrived in Philadelphia around 1760. At 21 he was skipper of a small schooner; eight years later, he was captain of the Black Prince, the finest ship yet built in the American colonies.While commanding her he sailed the fastest day recorded in the 18th century. Given command of the Continental brigantine Lexington, he captured the Edward and several armed merchantmen.While the British occupied Philadelphia, he led barges against British shipping, capturing larger British vessels while aiding Anthony Wayne in a cattle roundup that helped feed Washington’s army. Congress rewarded Barry with command of the frigate Raleigh, which he lost in a nine-hour running battle up the coast of Maine against two enemy ships. After serving as a privateer, Barry commanded the frigate Alliance, overcoming mutiny, icebergs, a desperate (and victorious) battle against two British warships, intrigue with Benjamin Franklin, and one last old time sea-fight, fought weeks after the Treaty of Paris was signed. Rendered penniless after the war, Barry attended the Pennsylvania Assembly’s sessions in 1787 regarding ratification of the Constitution, and was ringleader of a gang that shanghaied two anti-Federalist legislators, guaranteeing a quorum for passage. His subsequent voyage to Canton restored his fortune. Awarded the first commission in the US Navy in 1794, he oversaw construction of the new navy’s frigates, including his own 44-gun USS United States. During the Quasi-War with France, he made numerous captures and mentored the next generation of naval officers.

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INDEPENDENCE SEAPORT MUSEUM, PHILADELPHIA.

sailors always won a berth if they carried a recommendation from John Barry. When the city was decimated by the first in a series of yellow fever epidemics in 1793, Barry’s letters of recommendation about a young Mr. Shannon’s “integrity and sobriety” landed him a position at the Bank of the United States, while another started working for another successful Irishman, the printer Matthew Carey. Not all of Barry’s charges lived up to his standards. When another “John Barry” asked assistance in getting a berth on “a Ship bound to the East,” Barry immediately interceded, securing him a second mate’s position on an Indiaman bound for “Maddras or Calcutta.” The grateful sailor left Philadelphia with a full hold, leaving a pregnant wife. Months later, Barry learned the man’s talents belied his name; for his wretched performance to his duties he “was left behind at Bengal,” abandoning his wife and baby. “I understand she goes out nursing,” Barry sadly told a mutual acquaintance. Philadelphians also knew where to send any unwanted Irish castaways. When a young lass arrived to serve an indenture to a rich wastrel of such low character that she wanted to run away, the pompous buffoon sent her to Barry’s door. That said, Barry was first and foremost an American. When an old acquaintance from Wexford wrote him about buying land in the Mohawk Valley, Barry all but ordered him to Philadelphia: I am much at a loss to know whether you have a family or not and what your views can be for a man of your years to bear yourself in the woods unacquainted I presume with cutting down trees or building log houses far removed from any place to educate your children if you have any… If you can make convenient to spend a few 82 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Top: The Port of Philadelphia in 1783. Left: June, 27 1963: President John F. Kennedy laying wreath at Commodore John Barry Memorial. Also pictured Mayor of Wexford Thomas Burne, Minister of External Affairs of Ireland Frank Aiken, U. S. Ambassador to Ireland Matthew McCloskey, Naval Aide to the President Tazewell Shepard.

PHOTO: F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, BOSTON.

weeks with me at Strawberry Hill within three miles of Philadelphia you cannot refuse my request as you would have a good dale of time on your hands this winter. fter another Irish friend looked to return to the old sod after a lifetime in the West Indies, Barry was genuinely perplexed; after all, he believed “There is everything the heart could ask for here.” When President Washington appointed Barry first among captains of the new United States Navy – created ostensibly to protect American shipping from the Barbary pirates – Barry was justifiably proud, anxious to live up to his old friend’s expectations. It was thought the new navy’s ships would be built in months. They took years. By the time they sailed into combat in 1797 it was against a different enemy, French privateers in the Caribbean. Beset by chronic asthma and gout, Barry was no longer the hero of the hour. Past his prime and openly derided by President Adams and his staff, Barry was relegated to serving as “Mr. Chips” to the next generation of naval heroes: Stephen

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Decatur, Richard Somers, and Charles Stewart among them. Nor was there smooth sailing at home. While Patrick’s career emulated his uncle’s successes as a merchant captain, Michael’s was tragically cut short. His ship was lost at sea on 1801. The Barrys, particularly Sarah, were heartsick. When the old commodore, yearning for one more chance to restore his reputation as a fighting sailor, finally received an offer from President Jefferson to lead a squadron against the Barbary pirates, he was too ill to accept, “being on his last tack.” He died months later. One of the last entreaties he received from Wexford came from a cousin, Nancy Merriman Kelly, born just days after his own birth so many years before. Her husband Michael, at 59, had joined the “Boys of Wexford” at New Ross on June 5, 1798, and was one of the first killed in three days of fighting against superior British forces. For years, Barry’s father had given her “half a Guinea” out of the money Barry sent home; could he send that to her, “Being in Such Need?” Of course he could; of course he did. IA


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[Grand Marshals A Who’s Who of

Katie McFadden introduces the Grand Marshals of St. Patrick’s Day Parades across the nation.

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rom New York to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and from Rock Island, Illinois to New London, Wisconsin, thousands of people from a range of backgrounds will come together to cheer on and participate in St. Patrick’s Day Parades. Here’s a look at some outstanding Irish Americans around the country who have been chosen by their communities to lead the marchers, dancers, bands, societies, and floats down the parade route. New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is the largest in the world, with around two million spectators and 250,000 participants. In its 250th year, the New York parade honors world renowned Irish-American writer Mary Higgins Clark as Grand Marshal. Clark is best known for her best-selling suspense novels such as Where Are The Children? She was born and raised in the Bronx but traces her Irish roots to western Ireland, with ancestors from counties Roscommon, Sligo, and Cork. Clark is a current board member of the American Irish Historical Society and she was also given the papal honor, Dame of Saint Gregory. The 83-yearold Clark will lead the parade up Fifth Avenue in a horse-drawn carriage on St. Patrick’s Day, making her the first Grand Marshal to not walk the route. (See page 48 for her profile as one of Irish America’s Hall of Fame honorees.)

The Chicago River, dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day.

Savannah is home to the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world. The first parade was held in 1813 and is now entering its 187th year. The three-hour celebration, held on March 17, has over 350 marching units. The Grand Marshal chosen to lead this grand celebration is Walter Crawford who traces his roots back to Ireland on both sides of his family. Crawford said that serving as the parade’s grand marshal is something he’s often dreamed of. “I’ve never missed a parade,” he said. “You grow up with it and grow into it.”

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Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is another grand event. On the morning of the parade, the Chicago River is dyed a bright emerald green to represent the lands of Ireland. This year’s parade, on March 12th, features Mayor Richard J. Daley and his wife Maggie as grand marshals. Mayor Daley, who decided not to run for re-election, has held his position as Chicago’s Mayor since 1989, making him the longest serving mayor in the city’s history. Throughout his tenure, he has helped improve the city’s education system, economy, gun control, and overall quality of life. In 2010, Northwestern University Hospital dedicated a cancer center in Maggie Daley’s name. Maggie has been battling cancer since 2002. The theme of this year’s parade in Philadelphia, held on March 13th, is “St. Patrick, Bless Our Religious Sisters Who Serve, Inspire and Educate.” In recognition of this theme, Sister James Anne Feerick was chosen as Grand Marshal. She has been a member of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary since 1960, and serves as director and teacher at the IHM Educational Center in Bryn Mawr. In 2010, Sister James Anne was a recipient of the Mayo Association of Philadelphia’s President’s Award. She has kept Irish culture as a significant part of her life. Growing up Sister James Anne played the violin on the “Will Regan’s Irish Hour.” She was also a student at the Sean Lavery School of Irish Dance in West Philadelphia, and has taught her own Irish dance lessons, giving her the nickname the “dancing nun.” Running for over 240 years, the Philadelphia parade is the second oldest in the country. In the sunshine state of Florida, Wini Amaturo will be Grand Marshal of the Fort Lauderdale parade on March 12th – part of an all day Irish Fest. Amaturo has lived in Fort Lauderdale since 1970. Along with her husband Joseph, she has contributed greatly to the community. In 1989, the couple cre-


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ated the Amaturo Theatre at the Performing Arts Center and the Amaturo Family Foundation, which supports needy children, Catholic activities, and education. Amaturo currently serves on the boards of Saint Thomas University in Miami and Boston College. Parade participants stroll down Las Olas Boulevard along a green line that is painted by the mayor in a ceremony the day before the parade. The Parade Committee for the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, on the world’s shortest street, chose a big name for their honoree. In Hot Springs, Arkansas, actor John Corbett will march down the 98-foot-long Bridge Street as grand marshal on St. Patrick’s Day. Corbett is known for his roles on television shows like Sex and the City and Northern Exposure, and in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Corbett’s girlfriend, Bo Derek, served as last year’s grand marshal. The tiny spectacle also features the World’s Largest Leprechaun and draws around 30,000 viewers.

Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, was Grand Marshal of the 2008 Hot Springs parade.

At its heart, Holyoke, Massachusetts is still Ireland Parish, which is what it was known as back in the 1800s when immigrants, mainly from the Irish-speaking area of Dingle, County Kerry, settled here. The parade draws upwards of 350,000 spectators and some 40 marching bands and as many floats take part. The Grand Marshal of the Holyoke Parade must be a resident of and have Irish ancestry. However a non-resident can be chosen if he or she is a member of the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee. Gerald Healy of West Springfield was chosen as the seventh non-resident grand marshal in the parade’s 60-year history. Healy is no stranger to the town, as he attended Holyoke High School and Community College. He also held several roles on the parade committee. The child of Irish immigrants, Healy served as a Marine and is currently a chairman and professor of economics and management at Westfield State University.

San Francisco The celebration in this city, which kicks off on Market and Second Street on March 12th, and follows the iconic trolley tracks, is the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade west of the Mississippi River and attracts around a million viewers. This year the United Irish Counties Society picked Mike and Maureen Moriarty as joint grand marshals. Mike, a sports announcer, serves on the Board of the Irish Football and Hurling Youth League with Maureen. The colorful festivities surrounding the parade will showcase Irish Culture through live performance and entertainment, arts and crafts exhibitor presentations and food and beverage concessions. Children’s activities, cultural competitions and games are also planned. The Quad Cities Grand Parade kicks off in Rock Island, Illinois and moves across the Mississippi River to Davenport, Iowa, making it the only interstate parade in America. This year ,the Quad Cities St. Patrick Society chose William M. Collins to cross the state lines as Grand Marshal of their 26th parade. Collins, who owned and operated Mac’s Tavern in Davenport for 14 years, beginning in 1990, was a popular choice. He is following in the footsteps of his father, Dr. John Collins, who was Grand Marshal of the seventh Quad Cities parade. This year’s border-breaking parade takes place on March 12th. “Forever Green” is the theme of Denver, Colorado’s 49th parade, also held on March 12th. To follow this theme, the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee honored a member of the nonprofit Alpine Rescue Team, which responds to wilderness emergencies. Longstanding team member Roz Brown was chosen as Grand Marshal. Brown is a folk singer who plays the autoharp and has been entertaining folk fans since 1975. He started out volunteering to play his music at hospitals and nursing homes. Brown has released four recorded albums. Close to 250,000 people attend this annual event. As part of a week-long celebration, the town of New London, Wisconsin changes its name to New Dublin for the duration of the festivities. In addition to the Grand Parade, the Shamrock Club of New Dublin sponsors events such as Hooligan Day, an Irish Céilí, Irish caroling, a mock Irish funeral, bands, dancers, stilt walkers, and “Finnegan’s Wake.” This year’s parade, on March 19th, honors Tony and Lorraine Van Kampen as Grand Marshals. The Van Kampens have been active members of the New London community and own and operate two McDonald’s restaurants in the city. They are also involved with the Old Honor Glory Flight, which transports WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorial sites. The 30th Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Virginia will be led by Grand Marshals Tom and Nancy VanCoverden. Tom is the President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health

Tom and Nancy VanCoverden

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Centers and has dedicated his life to supporting and strengthening health care centers around the country. His wife of 40 years, Nancy, has always been at Tom’s side and has contributed to the community through volunteering and donating to organizations like a young-adult mentor program and an organization that helps young baseball players enter the minor leagues. Both the VanCoverdens have been big supporters of Ballyshaners, Inc. the main promoters of the parade. In addition to the grand parade, held on March 5th, Alexandria’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities also include a classic car show and a dog show. The Seattle parade, Michael the largest and oldest and John parade in the Northwest, is McKay the high point of an Irish Week celebration that includes an Irish Soda Bread contest, a Mass for Peace between Catholics and Protestants, and an Irish festival. The 39th parade, on March 12th, is led by Grand Marshals Michael D. McKay and his brother John Larkin

McKay, both of whom served as United States Attorneys for the Western District of Washington. Mike McKay held the position from 1989 to 1993 and John served from 2001 to 2007. Mike is also a founder of McKay Chadwell law firm. John is a law professor at Seattle University School of Law. The McKay brothers are very proud of their Irish heritage and have roots in counties Tipperary, Cavan, and Galway. Both brothers have visited Ireland many times. Marilee Fitzgerald, Director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, was chosen as Washington, D.C.’s Grand Marshal. Fitzgerald fits the 40th parade’s theme of “A Heritage of Education and Community Service.” She oversees 194 schools in 12 countries and seven states that offer education to the dependents of our uniformed service personnel. Fitzgerald also serves as the Principal Deputy to the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy. This year’s parade in the country’s capital is on IA March 13th.

Parades Around the World In Ireland St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with with •parades around the country and a festival lasting four days in Dublin, the nation’s capital. This year’s parade promises to be truly spectacular. In honor of Dublin being named UNESCO City of Literature, the festival parade will bring a specially commissioned short story “Brilliant” by Roddy Doyle to life on the streets, with some of Ireland’s finest performers taking part. Marching bands from across the globe will also take part, in what is billed as the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Boxing champion Katie Taylor, 24, will serve as this year’s grand marshal. 1824, Montreal has been hosting Canada’s oldest •St.Since Patrick’s Day Parade. The three-hour event features floats, bands, community organizations and cultural groups. This year’s grand marshal is Father John Walsh, whose roots lie in Killarney and Cork. Father Walsh is an active member of the Irish-Canadian community and is known for his work on News Talk Radio CJAD. The largest Irish event in Japan is the Tokyo St. •Patrick’s Day Parade, organized by the Irish Network Japan. It began in 1992 for the purpose of introducing Irish culture to the Japanese people.With the support of the Irish Ambassador to Japan, James Sharkey, the parade took off and is now entering its twentieth year. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations contin•ueInfortheanCaribbean, entire week on the volcanic island of

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Montserrat. Montserrat, whose people are a mix of African and Irish, is the only nation in the world other than Ireland that considers St. Patrick’s Day a national holiday. The celebration includes parades, pub crawls, feasts, and festivals.

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Sydney, Australia, the “Book of Kells” will serve as the inspiration for the costumes, groups, music and floats within the parade. This annual event is one of the largest in the world, comparable to the parades of New York and Ireland.

In Shanghai, China, the St. Patrick’s Day celebration continues to grow. The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Shanghai was held in 2007. The celebration has now expanded to a four-day festival called Féile Shanghai, which takes place on Shanghai’s most famous street, Nanjing Road. “The Power of the Green” was chosen as the slogan for this year’s celebration, which includes a green Chinese dragon, Irish dancers, and pipers. The celebration is seen an opportunity to promote and market Irish businesses, educational institutions, culture, and tourism to the people of China. year, the Irish Hungarian Business Cycle organized •all ofThistheir Hungarian Irish groups for the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Budapest.The theme for the parade is “Green For The Day,” as all are welcomed to come out and celebrate Irish Culture.


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An Online Store was Born… Siopa.com Whether you’re looking for top Irish quality brands or handmade crafts and jewelry from local artisans, Siopa.com is your one-stop answer for products that are authentic and truly sourced from the ‘Emerald Isle’. Set up by Irish entrepreneur Lulu O’Sullivan, the site brings you the best of Irish giftware and a level of customer service that is second to none. “Without doubt, it was my grandmother who first inspired me to set up shop. Her name was Kitty O Shea and she was born in Macroom in County Cork in 1900. The daughter of a local greengrocer, she grew up amid the hustle and bustle of a busy Irish village corner shop. Across the road there was a drapery, owned by the O Leary family and they had a son, Harry. It wasn’t long before Kitty caught Harry’s eye and they quickly became childhood sweethearts. “After they married, Harry established himself as a successful vet in Dublin, while Kitty refused to accept the traditional role of mother and wife that was expected of her at the time, instead yearning for something more. Despite some disapproval from her peers, and the busy reality of raising six children, Kitty decided to open her first shop on Dublin’s Merrion Row in the Georgian heart of the city in 1920. The shop was called ‘Notions’ - the first of four shops of Kitty’s – and some of my fondest memories of childhood were being brought there every Saturday by my Mother to help Granny behind the counter.Lulu recalls. “Those early days in Kitty’s shop encouraged me to set up my own business in 1987 under the name of

‘Interteddy’, which evolved into the award-winning Giftsdirect.com, now Ireland’s largest online gift delivery company providing an outstanding service worldwide. Through Giftsdirect.com, I established a loyal customer base in the USA and this gave me the idea to set up Siopa.com where I could share my passion for all things Irish with our American cousins. “Siopa.com has a special place in the heart of our loyal customers – it is a place where you can shop for wellknown treasures from Ireland such as Tipperary and Galway Crystal or traditional Celtic and Claddagh jewelry, but also discover hidden treasures from carefully selected Irish craftsmen and women such as Ogham Wishes and Wild Irish Crafts. Siopa.com also sells products from small artisans who use traditional methods passed down through generations to produce original and exciting gifts – we are continually adding to our supplier list and we go to visit each and every one of these throughout the island of Ireland before they come on board. “Times have certainly changed. Granny sold sweets and newspapers in a quaint corner shop while I sell gifts in cyberspace but for me, the secret of success remains the same lesson Granny thought me: combining top quality products with a passion for customer service. I’ve only been in business for 24 years so I have a little catching up to do with Granny (she was in business for 60 years!) but if I know Granny she is still there keeping an eye on things!”


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The Man

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I could tell you a million and one stories,” says John Dunleavy. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be chairman of this parade. Photo credit: Dominick Totino

By Aliah O’Neill

J

ohn Dunleavy, 72, has been chairman of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade for 16 years. Like all the other chairmen before him, he worked his way to the top, starting as a volunteer in the formation area where marchers line up to walk up 5th Avenue. He even used his influence as a dispatcher for the Manhattan and Bronx Transit Authority (now NYC Transit) to move crosstown bus stops on March 17 so that the parade would remain unblocked by traffic. From there, Dunleavy served as financial secretary, treasurer, vice chairman, and now chairman, a position he is stepping down from in this, the 250th year of the parade’s illustrious history. “The worst thing you can do is to stay 88 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

on too long,” he says. “The parade by its nature needs new blood and new ideas. But you also have an obligation to ensure that when you step down, the parade will continue the same traditions.” Dunleavy is from the village of Coole in County Westmeath, and grew up during a time when many modern amenities had not yet reached rural areas of Ireland. His community was one of the first to get electricity in the 1940s because it had a hospital – before then, he did his homework by candlelight, and used an oil lamp “only when a visitor came into the house.” Dunleavy’s school was about ten feet from his house so “I couldn’t mitch [skip school],” but some days his father would keep him home to help cut turf, hiding him in the back of his cart so the schoolmaster wouldn’t see. He remembers it as the hard-

’’

est he’s ever worked in his life, but also as a time when everyone was happy and “you never complained.” But that contentment didn’t stop Dunleavy from longing for the promised good life in America. He first moved to London, where he worked for seven years as a conductor and bus driver, and then moved to America in 1963 to live with an aunt. “After about two or three days of looking at four walls, I was bored to death. My cousins and I decided to try the subway for the first time. We were terrified of getting lost…and I found the Irish Institute on 48th Street, which had an employment agency. So I got myself a job.” Along with finding a job, Dunleavy registered for the Selective Service, a requirement for young men to receive a visa to the United States. About six weeks later, he


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was shocked to receive a letter from the President calling him for duty in the United States Army. Dunleavy was promptly stationed at Fort Dix and then spent about two years in the Hawaiian Islands before coming back to New York, where he would begin his 25-year career in transit as a dispatcher. By mere coincidence, a co-worker told Dunleavy that volunteers were needed to organize marchers at the formation point of the parade. That was the start of four decades of volunteer work, during which Dunleavy has been associated with some of the key moments in the parade’s history. The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City was held 14 years before the United States won its independence. In 1762, Irish soldiers in the British Army

watched on NBC by approximately half a million viewers and became available as a live stream on the Internet in 2008. One of Dunleavy’s defining moments as chairman was also the largest year for the parade in history: 2002, less than a year after 9/11. “The amount of participation in that parade was awesome,” he says. “I sat down with the city officials and proposed that we stop the parade and have everybody turn and face southward to where the Twin Towers used to be. The officials said there was no way we’d be able to do it, but we notified every person in the parade to stop and stand at 12:28. “At 12:28, the whole parade stopped in place and Cardinal Egan (that year’s Grand Marshal) led the prayer. And at exactly 12:30, every single person made a 180-

centages, there’s probably 160,000180,000 people marching in the Parade, and there’s probably a couple of thousand gay and lesbian individuals [marching] with the Emerald Societies, counties, schools, colleges, Fraternals, and everything else. But as regards under their own banner, as far as we’re concerned, that’s not acceptable.” Dunleavy was the chairman when the initial decision was made and has not seen the controversy die down since, nor does he expect it will anytime soon. Regardless, the parade goes on: the 250th march will have Mary Higgins Clark, the renowned Irish-American author, as its Grand Marshal, and is also marked by many special events. The all-volunteer committee that organizes the parade laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery earlier this year, among its many events that pay homage to the Irish connection to the U.S. military. The committee has also planned a 250th Anniversary Gala on March 15th at Chelsea Piers, which promises to include a fireworks display on the Hudson River. But the crowning jewel, as always, is the parade itself, which Dunleavy has timed down to the Left: Consul General of Ireland Noel Kilkenny, 2011 Grand Marshal Mary Higgins Clark and Parade minute over the years. Through Chairman John Dunleavy. Right: Mayor Bloomberg, John Dunleavy and 2010 Grand Marshal meticulous preparation and Ray Kelly, police commissioner for New York City. All photos by Dominick Totino. renewed fundraising efforts, were stationed in the American colonies. degree turn. There were approximately Dunleavy has helped to shape the parade Along with a band of Irish expatriates, the 90,000 people on the avenue, another 70into one of the biggest, if not the biggest, soldiers gathered to speak the Irish lan80,000 in the formation area, and another 3 event in New York City. And yet it remains guage, sing Irish songs and wear green – million people on the sidewalks. And a non-profit endeavor, planned each year an act that at the time was banned in every one of them turned around and faced by a mere seven volunteers who make up Ireland. Since then, the parade has undersouth. You could hear a pin drop. President the Officers’ Committee. gone many changes, one of the most Mary McAleese was there and she said While a hardworking few run the notable being the procession, which starts she’s witnessed a lot of things, but never in parade, Dunleavy also wants to reach out at 44th Street and runs up 5th Avenue, her life had she seen anything like that.” to the next generations. “There’s many though originally it moved towards Old St. There have been controversies too. ways young people can get involved… But Pat’s on Prince and Mott Streets. Staying While McAleese was the first President of it’s the input they give that is the most true to its military roots, this will be the Ireland ever to review the parade, she important. When I get out on Fifth Avenue, 160th year that the 69th Infantry turned down an offer this year to preside as it still puts a shiver up my spine. I’d love to Regiment, known as the Fighting 69th, the Grand Marshal. Many theorized that see more young people while I’m walking leads the march up 5th Avenue. The mass McAleese rejected the offer because of her up the avenue, involved with the parade.” at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which marks the ties to gay and lesbian organizations in Dunleavy is taking his last walk as beginning of the parade each year, is celeIreland. The Parade Committee has prochairman this March 17th, but he is brated in honor of the deceased members hibited gay organizations from participatalready at work planning his of the regiment, many of whom were Irish ing in the march for over 20 years, even next project. A recipient of a Doctorate American. winning the right to do so in a Supreme in Humane Letters from Quinnipiac Since those early days, the New York Court decision handed down in 1995. University in 2007, he will soon write his City St. Patrick’s Day Parade has become “We’ve had our battles with the gay and memoirs. Those million and one stories perhaps the most recognizable display of lesbian community,” says Dunleavy. “I should come in handy. IA Irish heritage in America. The parade regnever ask anybody who they are, in any ularly hosts 150,000-200,000 marchers in way, shape, or form if they want to march You can learn more about this year’s St. Patrick’s addition to two million spectators. It is also in the parade. When you look at the perDay Parade by visiting nycstpatricksparade.org. APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 89


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{roots}

A Look at the Laheys and Leahys

H

ave you always thought the surnames Lahey and Leahy were variations of the same name? Think again! Lahey and Leahy originate from two different Gaelic surnames. Lahey, Lahy, Lahiff, Lahiffe, Laffey, and Lahive all originate from the Gaelic surname O Laithimh, which itself is a variant of O Flaithimh. O Flaithimh derives from the Irish word flaitheamh, which means lord or ruler. By the 16th century, the name was found in Galway, Clare, Tipperary, and Kilkenny. Leahy, Leehy, O’Leghy, and O’Leahy stem from the Gaelic surname O Laochdha. In Irish, laochdha means heroic. O Laochdha is an old Munster surname, which, by the 1890s, was found throughout Ireland. It is still most common in the counties of Munster: Counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary. Frank Lahey, M.D. (1880-1953) founded the worldrenowned Lahey Clinic in 1923, a non-profit teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. A famous surgeon, he was also a Jim Lahey teacher and medical administrator. Lahey founded the clinic with the goal of gathering many specialties in one place, believing the best results came from a collaborative effort. Highly regarded for his extensive skill in thyroid and esophageal surgery, Lahey graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1904 and eventually became a professor of Surgery at Tufts University Medical School from 1913-1917. During World War I, he served as a major in the Army Kevin Medical Corps and director of an Leahy evacuation hospital. Ever committed to his work, he died eleven days after suffering a heart attack, right after he finished performing surgery. John L. Lahey (b. 1946), our Irish American of the Year, has served as the President of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT since 1987. Lahey is the Vice Chairman of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and served as the parade’s Grand Marshal in 1997. He dedicates a great amount of his time to educating the public on the Irish famine and its historical implications. Jim Lahey is the owner and founder of Sullivan St. Bakery and Co. in New York City. His original ambition was to become a sculptor. Lahey’s passion for art took him to Italy, where, instead, he discovered the art of bread making. He returned to New York with the goal of giving the bread of the Italian countryside a home in New York City. In 1994, he opened Sullivan St. Bakery in Soho, eventually moving to Hell’s Kitchen. The bakery has developed an impressive reputation, with over 340 of New York’s finest restaurants using Lahey’s bread. In 2009, Lahey opened his first restaurant, Co. (pronounced as “Company”) and published his first cookbook, My Bread.

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Lyle Lahey is an American political cartoonist based in Wisconsin. Born in 1931, he served a tour of duty with the Army in Korea. In 1968, Lahey began to contribute political cartoons to The Brown County Chronicle. His cartoons covered local, regional and national politics, the Green Bay Packers, world events and environmental issues. From 1968 to 1976, his work appeared in the Chronicle, and from 1976 to 2005 in The Green Bay News-Chronicle, which published The Packer Chronicles in 1997, a collection of Lahey’s cartoons about the Green Bay Packers. Lahey now creates political cartoons on his website, posting three new cartoons each week. Heroic service to one’s country has been exemplified by several Leahys. Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, United States Navy (1875-1959) was the first member of the U.S. armed forces to hold a five-star rank. His father Michael Leahy fought in the Civil War as Captain of the Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers. William Leahy served on the USS Oregon during the SpanishAmerican War. During World War I, he served as captain of the dispatch boat used by then-Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. He became the Chief of Naval Operations in 1937, serving until he was retired in 1939. He was then the Governor of Puerto Rico from 1939 to 1940, and the Ambassador to Vichy France until 1942, when he came out of retirement to serve as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy. In recognition of his service, Leahy became the first Fleet Admiral William (a newly created position) on Leahy December 15, 1944. During his distinguished career, he was awarded the Navy Cross, World War I Victory Medal with “Overseas” Clasp and the World War II Victory Medal. Leahy was still on active service when he died in 1959. In 1969, the USS Leahy was named after him. Officer James Leahy was killed on September 11, 2001, trying to rescue people trapped in the World Trade Center in New York. Officer Leahy was a nine-year veteran of the New York City Police Department and at the time of his death he was assigned to the 6th Precinct. He was posthumously awarded the NYPD’s Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on that day. Laheys and Leahys can be found throughout the world of arts and entertainment. Musician Kevin Leahy is a drummer and percussionist who has performed with artists such as Jennifer Nettles and Shawn Mullins. Leahy, the Canadian folk music group, has toured all over the world, releasing three studio albums and one live album. James Leahy is a Canadian artist who is represented in galleries in Canada, Britain and the United States. His work can be found in public and private collections. The Laheys and the Leahys have left their unique mark on the IA world, and are likely to keep doing so into the future. —Kristin Romano


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Aoife O’Donnell, Meeting House Square.

Portraits

of the Irish

LEAVING HOME Photographer David Monahan has been powerfully documenting the recent wave of Irish emigration in photographs taken just before their subjects’ departures to different corners of the world. Sheila Langan talks to Monahan and to some of those who have left Ireland. “It is my wish to photograph people of all nationalities, who have made the decision to move from Ireland for economic reasons: in and around the city, juxtaposed with landscapes that are significant to their pasts. If that sounds like you or if you know of somebody who is about to move, please bring my proposal to their attention. “I want to make these works monumental, to show those depicted in a true heroic spirit. For after all, they are making a huge jump into the void of uncertainty and this needs to be commemorated – perhaps like never before…” 92 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

So began David Monahan's “Leaving Dublin” project: with a blog post, one year ago. The 47-year-old photographer has lived in Dublin his whole life and has seen friends and family members depart from the city throughout the years. Some have returned, but many have not. Still more are leaving now – part of the dramatic surge in post-boom emigration that began in 2009. The statistics, as we know, are staggering. A January report by the Dublin-based Economic and Social Research Institute estimated that 100,000 people – more than two percent of the country's population – will leave Ireland between April 2010 and April 2012. That averages to about 1,000 people a week. From the mass exodus of The Great

Hunger to the significant population losses of the 1950s and 80s, Ireland is no stranger to emigration. But that doesn't make what is happening now any easier. The vast majority of those who are leaving are young, highly skilled and educated, but can't find work. They see an Ireland lacking in stability and opportunity and, in the eyes of some, lacking a social, political and financial consciousness. In addition to needing work, many are fed-up with the way the banks and politicians let the nation down, and are looking to broaden their horizons elsewhere. There's a sense of dismay that emigration is on the steady rise again, since many thought that it had become a thing of Ireland's past. At the same time, there's


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a feeling of pride and purpose; of having made a difficult but necessary choice; of setting out for someplace new. While the figures plainly convey the volume of the current wave of departures, they cannot do much in terms of capturing this complicated spirit. This is where Monahan comes in. A year ago, one of the photographer’s friends and her boyfriend were leaving Ireland for Australia. “He'd been out of work for a year and a half, she'd been out of work for about nine months,” Monahan recounted in a recent interview with Irish America. “They weren't doing too well here,” he continued, “so they decided to go to the Australian embassy and quick as you like they had tickets booked and they were ready to go. I thought it would be

individuals and families who have left Dublin. The result is a body of work that triumphs at communicating both gravity and strength, resignation and purpose, wistfulness and hope. All of the photographs adhere to what has become Monahan's signature style for the series: dark, painstakingly lit images of soon-tobe emigrants, always with a slightly battered antique suitcase nearby. Interested subjects contact Monahan with two or three possible locations, which he visits to examine the visual and technical possibilities. Once a site has been chosen, Monahan and his rotating crew of five assistants head out to meet the poser and begin the shoot, all of which take place at night. On a practical level, this helps ensure that they don't draw too

Four of the people Monahan has photographed discuss their experiences of and reasons for emigrating. The e-mail interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Ryan Cronin-Neilan ORIGINALLY FROM: Cabinteely, Dublin Why did you leave Ireland? I’m a recent college graduate and as such I qualified for a 12 month internship visa. With things the way they are in Ireland right now, really, I would have been stupid to stay. Where are you now? Right now I’m living in Philadelphia, which I love, I must say. What are you doing? I’m currently looking for an internship, hopefully with a newspaper as I’d love to work for a newspaper when I return home. Did having to leave come as a shock or was emigration always a possibility for you? I think emigration is always a possibility for the Irish. It’s what we do. We’re a tiny country and no strangers to recession. Of, say, a core group of 20 friends or so I have at home, I think about 7 or 8 are still in Ireland. The rest are in Australia, Chile, Vietnam etc. Anywhere to get work. Will you go back to Ireland? I’ll be going back because my visa is only for a year. Whether there will be anything for me to go back to is a different story though.

Connor McMahon ORIGINALLY FROM: Dublin, through and through.

Ryan Cronin-Neilan, G.P.O Arcade, Princes Street

nice to take a photograph of her before she left town, in a place that meant something to her.” His friend turned out to be too shy to pose, but the thought remained in Monahan's head. “I had a good sense of what needed to be done and how it would look…it was too good of an idea, too important of a project to let it lie.” So he didn't. He set up a mock shoot and posted the resulting photograph online, along with his initial call for participants. Since then, he's done 30 shoots with

much attention from passersby and that there aren't any disturbances. Artistically, this allows Monahan to create the distinctive lighting and mood consistent throughout all of the images. With his Hasselblad H3D 50 camera, the photographer takes a few frames of his subject, and then does additional background shots of the location. All of this is accomplished using only one light source, which Monahan explains gives him “the possibility of almost painting with it. You can place it here, you can place it there, and

Why did you leave Ireland? I lived in Dublin for forty years and will always love the city and its people – it’s my home, for better or worse. That said, I feel it is not actually Dublin I have left but more so Ireland, at least in the Celtic Tiger sense of it. Before all of that, I can remember a relative material contentment, and a much greater sense of neighborhood – both locally and internationally. To me, these things represent two of our biggest losses these last few years. And cynically I choose to believe that these two same things are never to return. Where are you now? I am in south London, right on the edge of the city.

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Here, at least, I am close to the countryside, which makes it a little easier. I miss that most about Dublin: how quickly you can get out and up to Howth, or for a long windy stroll on Portmarnock beach. I don’t like London much, but I find it does have its compensations. What are you doing? I was fortunate enough to have had the option to move from a contract-based role in Dublin, where I worked as a designer for a multinational firm, to a very similar – albeit permanent – role within the same organization at their offices in Surrey. Also, I pursue my career as an artist and musician, and London, of course, is as full of potential in that regard as any other city of its size Connor McMahon, and vibrancy in the world. The back garden of his old house in Dublin. Did having to leave come as a shock or was emigration always a possibility for you? Admittedly there were other more personal circumstances that motivated my decision, but I had always felt it an option, regardless. As I said, I love my city and my country, but I could never shake the feeling, even from an early age, that those with whom we entrust great civic responsibility in Ireland ultimately prove themselves incapable and inept, and therefore sooner or later likely to fail catastrophically. Will you go back to Ireland? I'll come back permanently if I'm seeing significant progress on the civil front. By this I actually mean a less neo-liberal and more socially engaged political regime who will – among other things – evidence to the Irish nation a greater concern for its people rather than its banking classes. I do remind myself however, that in fact I am only four hours away door-to-door via Gatwick. And so, with some planning, I'm over as often as is feasible, in the meantime.

Aoife McMonagle ORIGINALLY FROM: Celbridge, Co Kildare. Why did you leave Ireland? I had been thinking about moving to another country for quite a while, and with my fixed-term contract coming to an end and prospects not looking so good at home, the timing just seemed right. My primary motivation wasn’t really to escape the economic situation, though it is probably a big part of the reason that I plan to stay away for perhaps longer than I originally thought. Where are you now? I’m living in Toronto, Canada. What are you doing? I’m working in marketing communications for an IT company, so I am working in my field. Did having to leave come as a shock or was emigration always a possibility for you? As above, it was always something I had been thinking about, though at the time I didn’t classify it as “emigration” per se, more an opportunity to travel and work. Obviously the situation in Ireland does not seem to be improving, so I do plan to 94 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

you can light things you like and let things you don't particularly want to light go dark if you wish. It gives you the chance to fine-tune the shot.” Back in his studio, he then pieces the different elements of the scene together in Photoshop until he has one final composite image, which he posts on his blog along with a brief story about the person the photo depicts and the journey he or she is about to embark on. Even a cursory glance at the series shows that Monahan has stuck to his initial aim of making the photographs “monumental;” of showing “those depicted in a true heroic spirit.” The compassion in Monahan’s artistic vision is palpable. Though the images are dark and shadowy, they cannot be described as meek or melancholy. The subjects sit proudly and contemplatively in their chosen locations, usually perched on a suitcase Monahan uses as a recurring prop in every frame. The exact age of the suitcase is something of a mystery, but Monahan does know that it was last stamped at the Tilbury Docks in England in 1961. Much more than a mere prop, the suitcase is a tangible artifact and a visual cue connecting Ireland's previous periods of emigration with its current one. Indeed, for Monahan, the suitcase cuts to the emotional core of this project, since it was last used by one of his many family members who have moved to England. He is quick to add that he's “not trying to be sentimental by using it;” rather, that its purpose is to “make a little statement that it is part of the past and [that] this cycle has happened over and over and over again. The unfortunate thing, the sadness for me, is that I believed that particular cycle had finished, as did a lot of people. But very, very quickly it [began again] and people have been leaving at a heavy pace ever since. It's quite saddening that that phenomenon has re-occurred, but it's also nice to know and acknowledge, by the inclusion of the suitcase, that this has occurred before. And I suppose what we're striving for is to create a situation where it doesn't happen again.” Though he readily admits it was not his initial intention, within the larger scheme of the project the places in the photographs have become almost as prominent and important as


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stay here for the foreseeable future. Will you go back to Ireland? Obviously Ireland is still home to me, but I don't see myself going back for the next few years at least. After that it's hard to say, the longer you're away the less likely it is that you'll go back I suppose, but in my mind I still see myself going back someday.

Aoife O’Donnell ORIGINALLY FROM: Cork, raised in Kildare

Aoife McMonagle, Portobello, Dublin

the people. The locations vary greatly. They've been to “the hills on the outskirts of Dublin, looking back on the lights of the city; the sea ports; in the city center, right in the middle; and in suburbia.” In this sense, the photos are not just portraits of the young emigrants, but also of contemporary Ireland. This was not Monahan’s intention, but an element of the project that evolved over time. “Once you start talking to people and they make the choice of a place to sit, you start getting the impression that you're moving from place to place, that you're covering the entire city from pillar to post, really. “Initially, no, it wouldn't have been a predominant thought of mine. I really just wanted to put people somewhere that was relevant to them and looked somewhat striking. But as time progresses it's definitely becoming a portrait of the city, a portrait of a city and those it has chosen to do without.” They are pictures of a city and those who no longer inhabit it. The subjects of Monahan’s photographs are in other cities now. Some have made permanent moves, others are away on year-long visas, still others have actually returned home from Ireland – reversing the influx of immigration Ireland experienced during the good years of the Celtic Tiger. As people continue to leave and word of Monahan’s project spreads, he plans to continue his work of capturing people in a quiet moment before their departure. In tandem with the expanding range of people leaving the country, the demographic of his subjects is widening, too, and he hopes to further that by working with more families and more people in their 40s and 50s. Though it will be difficult, Monahan plans on stopping the shoots when he reaches 70 images, at which point he will look for a gallery space to exhibit the series – not in Ireland, but abroad, where the people the photographs depict have traveled. When asked why, Monahan replies,“I think it needs to be in those locations first and foremost, to IA bare witness to those who have left.” ___________________________________________ For more information, visit Monahan’s blog: thelillipution.blogspot.com

Why did you leave Ireland? I graduated from the Dublin Institute of Technology in June 2010 and found it near to impossible to find steady work. I was looking for any job – not just one related to photography, which is what I studied in college. I spent several months on social welfare until my friend said she was moving to New York City on a graduate visa. I did some research and found I was eligible to live and work in the United States for up to 12 months. Essentially, the reason I moved to New York was for personal adventure and to further my career, which was quite stagnant in Ireland. Where are you now? I am located in Brooklyn, New York. It’s an incredibly vibrant place to live; a sort of sanctuary for anyone in the arts, as you are close to Williamsburg and Lower Manhattan. The energy here is quite palpable, which I find refreshing and inspiring as a photographer. What are you doing? I currently work as a teaching assistant in the International Center of Photography. Did having to leave come as a shock or was emigration always a possibility for you? I always felt that emigration was a possiblity for me, from quite a young age. The Irish have, of course, been emigrating to Australia and the United States for years. Thankfully, I am emigrating more out of choice rather than being forced. I have always had a passion for traveling, instilled in me by my parents, whose unconventional trips abroad broadened my worldview from a young age. It has come as a major shock to hear recently that 1,000 people per week are emigrating from Ireland. It leaves me with a sense of guilt, somewhat, that I am one of the many skilled graduates/workers leaving our island in a sort of mass exodus. Will you go back to Ireland? It really all depends on my success in the States. There are certain opportunities to progress in my career in New York that I know I will never encounter in Ireland. But, on the other hand, my roots lie in Ireland and my heart will always remain there. It may be a case that I might not have a choice to stay in America longer than what my visa stipulates, so I must remain aware of that reality. However, if it did come to that I plan to do a world trip, which could see me settling somewhere entirely unexpected. I would like to think that I (and the thousands of other emigrants) will return to Ireland someday and that the knowledge I have absorbed from my travels will help me to contribute in some way, shape or form, to helping restore the vibrancy and progress of our beloved nation. APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 95


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An Irish Odyssey The story of The Hannah, an Irish famine ship that hit an iceberg in 1849, is now a documentary. John Kernaghan explains how it happened and how Irish America played a part.

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addy Murphy’s body is slowly being stilled by a degenerative disease, but his eyes are alive, bright and knowing as he struggles to form words to match his racing thoughts. He knows that the story he fought to keep alive, the compelling tale of the Irish famine ship The Hannah,which attempted a harrowing Atlantic crossing from Ireland to Quebec in 1848, only to encounter an iceberg. The captain abandoned the sinking ship and its nearly 200 passengers, many of whom miraculously survived 17 hours on the frozen ice and were rescued by the fellow famine ship The Nicaragua. Forgotten for some time, the story is now being told on large stages at both sides of the brig’s tragic Atlantic crossing.

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Paddy, 70, has MSA, Multiple Systems Atrophy. He has received 24-hour care at his home in Newmarket, Ontario, just north of Toronto, as the disease progressed. It has been a fight against time for him since its early stages in 2005 to make sure the world does not forget the history of some 70 Irish immigrants who perished on the ice floes of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada — and the 129 who survived. The story of cowardice and courage was told on BBC Northern Ireland on February 21, in a Hardy Pictures production called Ice Emigrants, and will be aired on St. Patrick’s Day on CBC Canada in a different docudrama entitled Famine and Shipwreck: An Irish Odyssey in the United States.

(Galafilm, the Canadian documentarymaker, is looking at options for airing the documentary in the United States.) The two docudramas have some common scenes but while the BBC one centers on the Donnellys, the CBC one focuses on the Murphy and Evans families. All the parties who come together in making the story of the Hannah agree that it would not have happened but for an article I wrote in Irish America in August, 2008. That story told of Paddy Murphy’s research as a descendant of Bernard (Barney) Murphy, who was rescued from the freezing water as a child. In a tragic twist, a woman who had leapt into the water to save one of her own children, Mrs. Henry Grant, pulled Barney from the water instead. All her children perished.


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Far left: Sharon and Jane take in the sights in Armagh. Left: The cup that the St. Patrick’s Society of Quebec presented to Captain Marshall in 1849 in recogtnition of his heroic efforts in rescuing passengers of The Hannah. Below: Murphy descendants at the reunion in Westport, Ottawa. Below Left: Bernard “Barney” Murphy and his wife, Ellen.

The story made its way down the generations, but it was not until Paddy retired from a marketing career that he began picking up the threads. His wife Jane, also of Irish heritage and from the small town of Westport, near Ottawa, where many Hannah survivors settled, began researching too. As Paddy’s illness deepened she was critical in getting the background needed to make the BBC and CBC docudramas. But she says it could all have been wasted effort were it not for the Irish America article that was available on the Internet. In late 2009, Alun Evans had been stymied in his attempt to learn more about the legacy of his great-great-grandfather William Marshall, who as captain of the Nicaragua had willed his crew to brave the ice floes to save Hannah’s passengers when its captain callously abandoned them. Evans had a family heirloom: a silver cup that Quebec City officials had pre-

sented to Marshall for his bravery. Evans sat at his computer in Wales and wished he could connect with descendants of the survivors his ancestor had saved. He typed in “Brig Hannah” and up popped the Irish America article. If he had waited a few days more, the piece would not have been available, he recalled. “Your internet article from the magazine played a key part in the whole drama,” Evans told me. “If I’d surfed the internet a few days later for the word ‘Hannah,’ the article would not have been there. It was taken down a short time after.” Still, he had recorded Paddy and Jane Murphy’s names and the Mullaghbane Community Association in Co. Armagh where historians Kevin Murphy and Una Walsh had published A Famine Link, The Hannah. Evans connected with Murphys on both sides of the Atlantic and then with celebrated Canadian filmmaker Brian

McKenna, who had sought for years to tell a story that symbolized the flight from famine that brought 100,000 Irish immigrants to Canada in 1847 alone. McKenna, whose great-great-grandfather Francis McKenna immigrated to Montreal from Monaghan in 1874, said the story of a million Irish lost to famine has been carefully managed by the English over time. “They have always come down more on the ‘act of God’ side, which is what an English governor of Ireland called it at the time, rather than what it was: a policy of extermination.” The website for McKenna’s film, www.famineshiphannah.com, is pointed, terming the five years of potato-crop failure “The Great Starvation” and the Hannah as a “coffin ship.” McKenna says the key to telling the story was connecting the Murphys with Evans – the family of the saved and the family of the savior. “It was remarkable that Alun found APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 97


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Right: Tom on the ice. Below: Film director Brian McKenna with Alun Evans and his son. Below right: Rose dedication to Hannah victims.

your piece,” he said. “Getting descendants of a moment in history together at the site of the incident is something that provides really moving moments.” Evans did that last April, almost 161 years later to the day of the shipwreck, as he came to Canada with Padraig Carragher and Sharon Donnelly-Carragher from Armagh who are fourth cousins of Paddy Murphy and represent a wing of the family who stayed at home in the Forkhill area and survived the famine. In a touching moment, Donnelly presented Paddy with the finial off the gate of the Murphy homestead in south Armagh. Meeting his newfound cousins and Alun Evans and touching the cup, the only concrete evidence of that fateful time in 1849, made all Paddy’s years of research worthwhile, his wife, Jane said. Carragher told the Newry Reporter that it was a moving experience to relive what he and Sharon’s relatives went through.“The story of the Hannah is absolutely chilling. It was captained by Curry Shaw who was only 23 years-old and is said to have converted the coal ship to a passenger ship and set sail from Warrenpoint.” He said one account claimed that Shaw ordered the ship’s carpenter to nail down the hatch to the passengers’ quarters when the ship’s hull caved in. But the man refused, allowing people out on to the ice. Sharon and Padraig met up with Jane and Paddy Murphy and their son Tom last spring. Paddy was by then too ill to travel. The party and filmmaking crew boarded a fishing vessel in Prince Edward 98 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Island and made their way to the site where the Hannah was caught in pack ice and her hull crushed. At McKenna’s request, Tom Murphy ventured out on to the shifting ice tethered to the ship. Tom knew the story, but nothing prepared him for the emotional wallop of trying to move on the ice as outgoing tides began to break it up. “My leg went down to my knee in a hole, the ice was moving, and the ship was bobbing up and down. Then I got it, the truth of the story. My relatives had been on this in the dark for many hours with little clothing. It just overwhelmed me.” On the fishing boat, Jane watched her son struggling with his footing and connected emotionally with John and Bridget Murphy, who saw two of their four children fade into the night on a patch of ice. Meanwhile, Alun Evans said it was eerie that the sea that day was similar to what William Marshall recalled in his memoirs. “If on the 30th of April, 1849 [and the

day after], even normal conditions had occurred, let alone the stormy weather that had prevailed for several days before, surely others would have drawn closer to death or even died aboard,” Evans said. “But as it was, the weather had become dead calm, as Marshall indicates. Without the about turn in wind direction that had pushed the Nicaragua out of the treacherous ice at dawn, and then the stilling of the sea for the next couple of days, many more people surely would have perished.” Evans says Marshall was a born-again Christian of his time and felt God’s hand at work in the rescue. Jane Murphy said there was certainly something mystical in all the connections made over time to make the documentary possible, including the Irish America link in the chain of events. The blessing for her family was that Paddy got to see the documentary made. “I think he wanted this legacy for his children, so that the story would carry IA on.”


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Nuns? Mary Pat Kelly visits the nuns of her old novitiate to talk about the work they are doing and the Vatican investigation into their lives.

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ith a green pen and a grateful smile I began to sign my book, Galway Bay, purchased by the woman who told me she was a nun. “To Sister Mary,” I wrote in the flowing hand I imagined authors used. “Stop,” she said. “You’re scribbling.” Ah – there, in a nutshell – my experience with nuns. All my life they had both encouraged me and kept me right. I’m sure many of you are remembering similar moments with the religious women who not only taught us but helped form our very identities. Would Irish-America ever have accomplished all it has without the Sisters, many with roots in Ireland themselves, spurring on generation after generation to do our best? Would the United States be the same if nuns hadn’t played such a quietly pivotal role? Since the early 19th century they have filled the needs in areas of the country with few hospitals, insufficient schools, and no services for the poor. They were pioneers; heroes.

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Among these early trailblazers were the Sisters of Providence, founded at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana in 1840 by Mother St. Theodore Guerin, who was canonized in 2006. I spent six years as a member of the order. I didn’t take final vows, and I left in 1968, but I remain close to the Sisters and know how hard they are working to continue their mission “to further God’s loving plan by devoting oneself to works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people” – even as their members grow older and resources diminish. So it shocked me to learn that the Vatican had been carrying out a large-scale investigation into American nuns since November 22, 2008, when Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, formally issued a decree ordering an “Apostolic Visitation” or comprehensive review of institutes of women religious in the United States. This very serious step usually happens when there has been some grave abuse. But the cardinal made no

specific accusation. Instead, he said in a radio interview on November 4, 2009, that concern about “a certain feminist spirit” was one thing that had triggered the visitation. I decided to go to Saint Mary-of-theWoods to learn more about the Apostolic Visitation, talk with friends about the role of Religious Women today and, in keeping with the motto of this magazine – Pride in Our Heritage – celebrate the Irish-American women who made such a contribution to the Sisters of Providence as they did to so many other American orders. There has been little elaboration on what this “certain feminist spirit” entails and the precise threat it poses. In his book, Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America, John J. Fialka makes the point that nuns were the nation’s first feminists, and that this very spirit has been intrinsic to all the good they have done. “They became the first cadre of independent professional women. Some nursed, some taught, and many created and managed new charitable organizations, including


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large hospitals and colleges,” he writes. “In the 1800s their work was often in the face of intimidation from groups such as the Know Nothings as they moved west with the frontiers, often starting the first hospitals and schools in immigrant communities. In the 1900s they built the nation’s largest private school and hospital systems and brought the Catholic Church in the civil rights movements.” Today, orders throughout the nation continue this important work, even in the

most are retired. Some are on staff at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, an independent institution not tied financially to the order. A few others work as part of the order’s leadership team, but 110 Sisters require full time nursing care, which they receive in a health care facility commend-

face of ever-increasing challenges. The sisters are fewer in number and greater in age. Until the 1960s, nuns had routinely run their institutions, invested their money, and earned PhDs when most women didn’t. Once women became free to pursue these things outside of religious life, enrolment dropped. But in a community devoted to providence, such things are seen as part of God’s plan. “Maybe a religious community isn’t intended to have thousands and thousands of members,” Sister Mary Beth Klingle, Director of Novices at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, told me. “We’re pleased to have one or two women enter a year, if it’s God’s will and it works out for them and for us.” The figures reflect this change. When I entered Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, there were about 1,200 in the order. Now, there are 338. The median age is 78. Two hundred Sisters are at the Motherhouse –

ed by the Indiana State Health Commission, which said that if everyone took care of their elders the way the Sisters did, there would be no need for organizations like theirs. A further challenge lies in gathering resources to sustain the Sisters and the order. The 138 members who work in ministries that pay some salary contribute to a common fund that helps support the congregation. During all the decades when the Sisters taught in Catholic parish schools, the Church never paid into the Social Security fund. In 1972, the U.S. government offered religious orders the chance to contribute to the fund for their members, but the congregations had to come up with the money themselves. Most, like the Sisters of Providence, sold property to get the million-plus dollars needed to purchase retroactive membership for the Sisters. But present-day

LEFT: The Church of the Immaculate Conception, on the motherhouse grounds of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-theWoods, IN. BELOW: Sister Nancy Reynolds (SP) during a liturgy installing her as a member of the order’s General Council in 2006.

Social Security payments to retired members are only around $100 per month. Where does the other money to support the Sisters, maintain the property, and fund the order’s missions come from? “From our friends,” said Sister Denise Wilkinson, General Superior, whose roots are in County Wicklow. “The nuns have to be self-sustaining.” “Doesn’t the Church . . . ?” I asked. No, the Church doesn’t. Although the Sisters get a small share of an annual collection taken up in churches for Retired Religious, they raise the bulk of their large operating expenses themselves. It means “Cutting, cutting, and begging,” Sister Denise said, “and lots of faith in Providence.” Somehow they find ways to fund their missions Despite the obstacles, the nuns remain as dedicated as ever to their charitable works. In the communities near the Motherhouse alone, the Sisters have set up a free clinic that for twenty-five years has served the uninsured. They run the “House on Route 115,” where 170 children receive afterschool tutoring. At the ecumenical Providence Food Pantry, retired Sisters serve clients with incredible respect, Sister Denise said. “The Sisters understand it’s hard to have to come and ask for free food.” The Sisters of Providence work in nineteen states and Taiwan in ministries ranging from Providence in the Desert, where two nuns teach English in migrant camps, through the more traditional service as teachers and parish ministers. But with so many Catholic schools closing, many teachers have lost their jobs. According to Sister Denise, “We have two Sisters who were principals of schools that closed. When they applied to other Catholic schools, they were told they were overqualified. They took jobs in public schools.” “Our Sisters are inventive, though,” Sister Denise said, and she told the story of Miracle Place, a house Sister Rita and Sister Barbara founded in an AfricanAmerican community in Indianapolis as a service center for seniors and students. The congregation gave them a grant to begin their work, and somehow they have managed to continue to find funds. Sister Denise said, “I asked one man I met at their annual fund-raiser how he got involved,” she remembers. “‘Against my APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 101


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will,’ he answered. ‘You try to say no to Sister Rita.’” Miracle Place recently expanded its ministry and began gathering crews to rehab abandoned houses. To date they’d rescued five houses to provide homes for the homeless. Both women are well past middle age. With so few parish schools to provide religious instruction, many Sisters have become directors of religious education at parishes, teaching and training teachers in CCD programs and instituting family spirituality programs. And retirement doesn’t mean an end to service. Sister Martha Wessel directs the center where retired Sisters live and helps design their apostolate. “One Sister came home from Chicago yesterday,” she told me. “She’ll spend one morning a week at the maximum security federal prison in Terre Haute. There is no chaplain, so nuns now conduct prayer services there. Seven of our Sisters are ‘ministers of record’ for death-row inmates,” Sister Martha told me. The retired Sister has also “decided to work at the Food Pantry, visit those in Health Care, tutor, work at the day care center, and spend one hour a day praying at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.” “And how old is she?” I asked. “Eighty-three.” These are the women the Vatican is investigating. Nancy Reynolds, SP, a member of the leadership team, treasurer of the congregation, and a canon lawyer, pointed out to me that “never before in the history of the Church has an Apostolic Visitation been undertaken that hasn’t been the result of an abuse.” It is hard to see what the abuse might be in this case, as the Sisters gracefully fight to remain active and effective in today’s society. The immediate cause of the Apostolic Visitation seems to have been a symposium on religious life that was held at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, during September 2008. Many of the speakers were critical of religious life in the United States. Ann Carey, a lay journalist who writes in Our Sunday Visitor, complained about mission statements on congregations’ Web sites that state that religious communities in the future may be more inclusive, welcoming associates who may be married. When I read her speech, I thought of the young man I met who was serving a year as a Providence Volunteer, helping at the White Violet Center on campus, an organ102 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

ic farm and eco-justice center. In what way was he threatening? And what about the young woman I’d met who spent a year living with the Sisters, working in their ministries to “deepen my spirituality.” I’d told Sister Denise she’d make a great nun. “Except she’s Jewish,” Denise replied. But to contribute her talents for a year? Why not? A further point of contention, and perhaps the most tangible element in all of this, has been the habit. I asked Sister Bernice Kuper, SP, Director of Novices when I was in the novitiate, about the issue. Sister Bernice pointed out that it was Pope Pius XII who “directed the world’s religious superiors to begin the modernization of their congregations. He specifically urged simplification of habits, laying aside outmoded customs, and the ongoing education of members.” This beginning of renewal and adaptation culminated in Vatican Council II, which Pope John XXIII called in 1962, and the 1965 document Perfectae Caritatis directed women religious “to revisit the roots of their congregation and to study the charism of their foundress . . . to be reenergized for ministry in the modern world.” And so they did. And you know how nuns are: they did it thoughtfully and thoroughly. I was there when we realized that swathing ourselves in yards and yards of expensive, black wool serge and stiff, white linen headpieces was not the essence of our mission. Most other congregations agreed. I remember thinking,

ABOVE: Sister Shawn Marie McDermott teaches 5th grade at St. Agnes School. RIGHT: The Sisters of Providence convent cemetery. All photos provided by the Sisters of Providence of St. Maryof-the-Woods.

it’s what we are, not what we wear, that’s important. Today, 95 percent of the 70,000 consecrated women in the U.S. belong to orders that wear secular clothes, though any members who prefer to wear the traditional habit may do so. These are the communities being investigated. The other five percent of religious women in orders that wear habits and describe themselves as conservatives or traditionalists are not subject to the Apostolic Visitation. Is there a kind of nostalgia among the hierarchy for the way they think nuns and women used to be and should be again? The visitation spans three phases. Phases one and two involve written questionnaires sent out to the congregations. Many orders replied by simply submitting their Constitution. “The answers are contained in our Constitution,” Sister Nancy Reynolds said, “which was approved by Rome years ago.” Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who was appointed by Rome to head the visitation, then selected nuns from certain orders to carry out phase three: on-site visits to question members of the congregations. During these visits, which began in April 2010 and are still taking place, visitators


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interview the leadership and members, take notes, and make a report that is put on a thumb drive and sent directly to the Office of Apostolic Visitation and then to the Vatican. Visitators shred their notes. The congregations are allowed neither to see the report nor to respond. Then what? “We don’t know,” says Sister Nancy Reynolds. In the National Catholic Reporter, Mother Millea explained that, “Each institute will subsequently receive feedback from the Vatican for the purpose of promoting its charis-

I hadn’t known that Sister Nancy’s roots are in Ballymena in County Antrim, or that hers is the only Catholic branch of the family. She told me that when her Northern Ireland relatives came to the Woods to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, one said that, though he wasn’t sure about Catholics, he thought nuns were terrific! The last morning of my visit I got up very early and went on my favorite walk through the cemetery. I felt surrounded by our ancestors as the rising sun lit the names engraved on the white headstones

matic identity and apostolic vitality in ongoing dialogue with the local and universal church.” In another National Catholic Reporter article, Editor Tom Fox wrote, “By most accounts, these were conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and charity.” He went on to say “our women religious have tried not to complain, but rather speak with their actions.” The Sisters have reacted with grace and prudence, and the hope is that their actions will speak loudly enough. Perhaps we are the ones who should speak up about what seems to be such an unjust process, one that has been estimated to cost over 1 million dollars. After all, we are the ones who have benefited from the service of generations of dedicated women, many of whom are Irish American.

– Sister Mary Frances, Anna Egan; Sister Pauline, Elizabeth Egan; Sister Rose Paul, Honora O’Donahue; Sister Maurelia, Emma O’Brien. I walked past the graves of my own teachers – Sister Marie Denise, Hannah Sullivan; Sister Marcella, Grace O’Malley; Sister Mary Olive, Mary Olive O’Connell – row after row of markers set in this open space amid the trees and green hills of the Woods. For although the Sisters of Providence originated in France and were brought to America in 1840 by a Breton woman, Anne Therese Guerin – now Saint Mother Theodore, after her 2006 canonization – Irish women had joined the congregation from its earliest days. One of them, Mother Mary Cleophas, Margaret Teresa Foley, born in 1845 to Irish immigrants James Foley and Mary O’Connor, and

General Superior from 1890 to 1926, was the force behind the order’s expansion as the congregation staffed up to 100 schools throughout the U.S. and became the first women’s religious order to open a mission in China. She turned the campus of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College into a gracious enclave in the Indiana wilderness, complete with a church modeled on Paris’ Sainte-Trinité and a chapel with stained glass windows inspired by King Louis IX’s Sainte-Chapelle. She was one of that whole galaxy of Irish women who spread out through America, opening schools, hospitals, and orphanages where none had existed. Mother McCauley’s Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – BVMs – founded by Mary Frances Clarke, are two of the other orders that served the immigrants of Chicago – my city. But I’m sure right now you’re supplying the names of many other orders whose mission touched the place you live. However, this morning, the dates as well as the names fascinated me. Mary Mullan had died in 1855; Bridget O’Neill, in 1861; Elizabeth Kehoe, in 1879; on and on, through the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Do the math, I told myself; these women are survivors of the Great Starvation. They or their parents had somehow escaped the catastrophe that killed one million and sent two million more running for their lives. All of these O’Grady, Ryan, Fitzgerald, O’Connor, and O’Hanlon women could tell a story of courage and resilience. All devoted their lives to serving their poor and disadvantaged countrymen, women, and children. I felt their spirits in this place, encouraging and protecting the Sisters who carry on the mission they began. As they face these many challenges, we too can offer our support. IA

(Just as this article was going to press, word came that Cardinal Rodé had been replaced by Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, who, in interviews, seems more open to real dialogue with women religious. Write to Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz c/o Apostolic Visitation, P.O. Box 4328, Hamden, CT 06514-9998, or email www.apostolicvisitation.org to say how grateful we are to the Sisters who helped so many of us.)

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{reader review}

Lights On: Lights Out “It’s a family drama. It’s about my relationship with my wife and children.” – Holt McCallany about his character, Patrick “Lights” Leary

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t’s the buzz of Cable TV. Lights Out (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. CST) is Fox Television and FX Production’s latest small-screen success. And it’s about a fictional Irish-American ex-heavyweight champion. I know what you’re thinking: just another story about an Irish boxer. This isn’t. The show couldn’t be further from Errol Flynn dancing around the ring in Gentleman Jim; so little of the show is even about boxing. But it is about fighting. And Patrick “Lights” Leary (played superbly by Irish-American actor Holt McCallany) is nothing if not a fighter. He has so much to fight about. The forty-year-old son of Bayonne,

episodes to follow. As “Lights” takes up his pursuit of the title (“I have no choice”), he’s shown the door by his wife, subsequently sustains an eye injury, is menaced by a truly vicious upcoming opponent, and unwittingly has his ring future sold to the leg-breaking Brennan. Up against it, he is. So what’s an Irishman to do? If given to stereotype, the show would focus hence on the mother of all boxing comebacks, complete with sweaty scenes of rope-skipping and gray morning roadwork. There’s almost too little of this and for a reason: Patrick Leary’s guiding light is his family, not his fists. If in reality the first Irish heavyweight champion John L.

Holt McCallany and Catherine McCormack in the new FX series Lights Out.

New Jersey has five years of ring rust to remove as the show’s producers inch him slowly, trial after tribulation, back into the squared circle and a title rematch. By the end of the third episode Patrick is broke, thanks to his woefully amoral promoter/ brother, beholden to Irish loan shark (of all things) Hal Brennan, newly implicated in a murder, and in trouble with his wife “You quit or we quit,” insists the lissome Catherine McCormack, as his wife and soon-to-be medical doctor, Theresa Leary. Her demands are reasonable. Patrick is facing the possibility of the brain-wasting, trauma-induced disease of dementia pugilistica. The drama only intensifies in the 104 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Sullivan was famous for his blustery appeal (“I can lick any man alive”), the world’s latest Irish champ, in story, wants nothing of it. “Do you know how much I love you?” he softly reminds his everdefiant teenage daughter during a squabble. Stronger still is the intensity of quiet love his middle daughter Daniela (actress Ryann Shane of Philadelphia) tries to express towards him. With her precocious powers of discernment, she is painfully concerned about her father’s health. It’s no wonder. She has no greater role model for love of family than the ex-champ himself. Patrick Leary’s concern for his clearly aging father/manager (performed deftly by Stacy Keach, whose own role as a

boxer in John Huston’s 1972 Fat City made him a star) is yet another example of Leary’s potential for good. For Lights Out, family is the focus. Against the swagger of background scenes – Leary’s confrontation, on his driveway, with the man who took his title; a bar fight; a cage fight; and the broken limb of a welshing dentist – the theme of familial love will keep the show from sinking into stereotype. We are on familiar ground here as New Jersey was the backdrop of another renowned Irish fighter. James J. Braddock (1905-1974), who was the last heavyweight of Irish descent to hold the world championship. The travails of this punching Garden Stater were portrayed with heft by Russell Crowe in Ron Howard’s tear-jerking, Cinderella Man. For love of his family, Braddock too overcame adversity. After losing every cent in the 1929 stock market crash and beset by crippling arthritis, he took the hard road and fought his way from hardscrabble gloom to become the heavyweight champion of the world in 1935. Even in losing the championship two years later, this fairy tale winner was one of the few to knock down Joe Louis, arguably the greatest counterpuncher in history. Braddock went on to live a wonderfully envious and normal life with his family for nearly four decades. New Jersey is also the home to the fictional family “The Sopranos.” Already with a convenient mob subplot ready for expansion, Lights Out may well go down the clichéd and larcenous road with predictability of outcome. I’m hoping it doesn’t. How many current television shows portray an Irish family with decency and strength of message? Let this saga of the Celtic sock continue down a path of promise. In the meantime, my money’s on “Lights” Leary: box or not, win or lose, he’ll keep his family first in mind – and deed – as he walks the straight and narrow. IA It’s what a real fighter does. –Tim Weldon, Joliet, IL


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{what are you like?} By Patricia Harty This is the first in a series of questionnaires with eminent figures in the Irish and Irish-American community

mouse must have gotten into the suitcase and eaten some of the Jelly. Of course I overheard this and knew I was the mouse, but I never admitted to it.

Your perfect day. Lunch with my grandchildren in Annamoe, in the Wicklow mountains. Your favorite extravagance.

A bottle of Lynch

Bages red wine (old).

Your prized possession. Tin whistle that went into space and is currently at the International Space Station. Your idea of happiness. A bottle of Lynch Bages red wine (old).

What’s on your bedside table? A book by Shirley MacLaine. In this particular book Shirley mentions some of her experiences surrounding Peter Sellers’ death. I also had a remarkable episode that surrounded Peter Sellers’ death. I never seem to finish a book, but a few pages is an ideal match for my morning cup of tea. Hidden talent. I love to answer birds and the birds seem to enjoy when I repeat their songs. After a time they tend to fly off in frustration.

Paddy Moloney The leader and founder of The Chieftains, six-time Grammy-winners and the world’s most popular Irish traditional music group, grew up in Donnycarney, Co. Dublin and inherited his love of music from his parents. His first instrument was a plastic tin whistle. He later graduated to the uilleann pipes learning to play from the great pipe master Leo Rowsome. The Chieftains will tour exclusively in the U.S. in 2011. In the near future Paddy will link up for a whistle and flute duet with astronaut Cady Coleman who took one of Paddy’s whistles with her to the International Space Station.

Movie that you will watch again and again. The Godfather. Your favorite quality in friends

Your motto. Nil aon tintean mar do htintean fein (basic translation – there’s no place like home). Best opening line in a book or piece of music. Mozart’s horn concerto. If you weren’t doing what you are doing what would you do? I originally thought about accounting, but I really love being in the garden.

Favorite painter.

Scotsman John Bellany.

Favorite composer. Your earliest memory. Well, that’s a long time ago but I remember my parents packing a suitcase to travel to my grandparents’ home in County Louth for Christmas. I recall my mother packing an old worn brown suitcase and one thing she put inside the case was a square of ‘Jelly’ from Dublin. I was in the back seat with the suitcase at my feet and after we arrived, my grandmother remarked that a 106 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

Those who

don’t discuss music.

Mozart.

Favorite hero in real life.

My wife Rita who is a

hero for putting up with me.

Your present state of mind.

Calm.

What question do you wish someone would ask you? When are you going to retire?


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{music reviews} By Tara Dougherty

Skulduggery Street Barleyjuice

debut record, Early in the Morning – a path that many will be surely grateful he found. This album cannot be praised enough. The arrangements are stunning, with understated vocals that melt into the record. “We Don’t Eat” stands out in particular as a track that begins as a soft and tearful song. McMorrow accomplishes something very special in the build-up of this track – it feels like a story arc slowly being carried into exciting action and gently brought down into resolution. McMorrow sticks to a very structured folk ballad for “Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree,” evoking Iron and Wine vocals, as he does through much of the record. McMorrow shines lyrically and in his ability to break a listener’s heart in one song and follow it immediately with a playful track, neither of which is obviously outside of his comfort zone. His sound is truly entrancing and will most definitely attract a following stateside.

band sure to come under their fair share of Pogue comparisons, Skulduggery Street’s new album Barleyjuice is a collection of energetic songs with a punk rock bite. The early tracks walk a dangerous line that could pigeonhole them into the same streetrock-meets-pub-seisiun that was seemingly perfected in the 90s. They play with a carefree excitement though, an attitude to set them apart from their contemporaries. As the album unfolds, Skulduggery Street reveals the capability for much softer elements. They work in pleasant contrast to their rock drinking songs with sweet folky mandolin-driven tunes like “Whiskey Maid,” contrasted by the traditional fiddle-driven “The Postman Always Jigs Twice.” The album ends with the very sweet and gentle tin whistle of “Generations.” The vocal harmonies in this closing track come as a charming surprise following a very upbeat party album. There is versatility in Skulduggery Street, to be sure, and they seem to have just barely scratched the surface of it yet.

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The Outside Track Curious Things Given Wings

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Smith & Gannon The Ewe with the Crooked Horn n the world of traditional Irish music, The Ewe with the Crooked Horn brings together two gifted players in Irish American folk tradition. The record offers a traditional sound of the celebrated duo of fiddle and accordion, played with both precision and variation. Jesse Smith’s fiddle stands out with his unique style of ornamentation, which still pays tribute to many greats before. The Baltimore native was born to musician parents and grew up in the Irish music tradition. He moved to Ireland and began touring and teaching music in a variety of schools and camps. Smith’s counterpart in this record is Colm Gannon. Gannon, a first-generation Irish American whose parents hailed from Connemara, is originally from Dorchester, MA. A competitive accordion player, Gannon won the All-Irelands for button accordion in 1994 and went on to tour with Riverdance and a variety of Irish bands. His accordion provides the solid foundation throughout the record.

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t is rare a commodity in traditional cultural music to find the structure of old infused with the passion of youth. The Outside Track is a phenomenally structured group with five core members, each of whom has gained international recognition and awards in his or her own field. Curious Things Given Wings, apart from having an eye grabbing title, is among the most seamlessly fused combination of traditional sounds out this year. The Outside Track describe their sound as a “marriage of Canadian, Scottish and Irish music and song.” The band does not fall into the normal pitfalls of modern traditional music of feeble attempts to combine pop rock and fiddles. Rather, the exceedingly talented group lets the music speak for itself, using tempo changes and new, original arrangements to set their sound apart. Whether on the track “Panic!” with its almost Spanish sounding guitar bridge, or on “Silvy Silvy,” a true testament to the vocal talents of Norah Rendell and Mairi Rankin, The Outside Track finds the perfect balance of instrumentation and vocals. A group to watch in the future, their ethereal tone and willingness to take chances gives Curious Things Given Wings more than a leg to stand on. IA

The two complement each other seamlessly in this record, which feels familiar in the best sense. This is traditional music played by musicians I would not be surprised to see become household names.

James Vincent McMorrow Early in the Morning true stumble-upon talent, Irishborn James Vincent McMorrow picked up the guitar at age 19, and claims he wrote his first song just four years before this album dropped in January 2011. The musician spent his early years as a “hardcore drummer,” relishing in a heavy metal influence before exploring the folk world that would ultimately lead him down the path to his

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When the Men Are Gone Tom Deignan talks with author Siobhan Fallon about her writing, her Irish-American upbringing, and being an Army wife.

iobhan Fallon attended school in England, traveled widely in Ireland (where her father, Eamon, was born) and even worked as a teacher in Japan. But when it came time for this globetrotter to meet her future husband, it was at a place decidedly closer to home. “I met him… in my father’s bar,” Fallon says with a laugh. Thus began Fallon’s introduction to the world of the United States Army. The Fallon family pub, The South Gate Tavern, is located right near the West Point Military Academy in upstate New York. “We saw cadets all the time,” adds Fallon, who worked regularly behind the South Gate’s bar. “We didn’t date military guys.” Of course, that all changed when she met K.C. Evans, an Army major who would go on to serve in Iraq. Fallon ended up spending long periods of time stationed in Fort Hood (Texas) and Fort Benning (Georgia), as well as bases in California and Hawaii. Fallon has now taken these experiences and published her first book of fiction, to rave reviews. You Know When the Men Are Gone (Amy Einhorn Books) has drawn comparisons to short story writer and poet Raymond Carver as well as the Vietnam-War-era fiction of Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried). “The crucial role of military wives becomes clear in Fallon’s powerful, resonant debut collection, where the women are linked by absence and a pervading fear that they’ll become war widows,” Publisher’s Weekly gushed in a muchsought-after Starred Review. The New

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York Times added that Fallon “tells gripping, straight-up, no-nonsense stories about American soldiers and their families,” and that “there’s not a loser” among the eight stories that make up You Know When the Men Are Gone. Fallon credits her father – born in Dromahair, County Leitrim – with encouraging her literary talents from an early age, exposing her to writers such as Yeats, Behan and Joyce. “He recognized something early on, since he kept giving me all of these Irish writers to read,” says Fallon, who later added: “We’re a family of bartenders, so there was always a lot of story-telling going on.” (Fallon’s mother, Bobbie, has roots in Ballinrobe, Mayo, as well as Connemara.) The interconnected stories in You Know When the Men Are Gone are alternately sad and funny, touching and unsettling. First and foremost, they reveal an unseen world to readers. Much, of course, is made of what the military does abroad as well as what happens to the soldiers when they return home. Precious little, however, is known about the world of military families. There was an MTV “True Life” episode about the wife of a soldier serving in Iraq, and there is also the Lifetime TV show Army Wives (starring, among others, Irish American actress Brigid Brannagh). But Fallon’s stories bring fresh humanity as well as a new depth to this topic. “I had three deployments worth of material to look back on,” notes Fallon, most of whose stories are set in Fort Hood, though others dash around the globe, from suburban New York to war-ravaged Iraq.

Glimmers of Reality While these stories are steeped in realism, Fallon adds that there was more to creating them than simply recording people she saw and heard at Fort Hood. “Certain moments might have been lifted from people I knew,” she says, before adding: “But it’s more of a compilation. No one is going to look at these stories and say ‘That’s me.’ It’s more like there are glimmers of reality.” Of course, there is always a concern that a book such as this might reveal too much. Fallon, though, is not worried that other military families will accuse her of airing dirty laundry. “We had some friends in the military look over early [copies of the book]. I was nervous and crossing my fingers. I was hoping people didn’t say ‘My God, Siobhan, what are you doing?’ But they said it was honest.” Indeed, the men and women in Fallon’s stories endure the things men and women everywhere endure: love, lust, loneliness, regret, euphoria, betrayal. Some of the wives have children to deal with; others (sort of) wish they did. All of these emotions and tension are heightened, exacerbated, by the fact that the husbands are not only gone, but are off in a strange place where they might get killed. In “Gold Star,” for example, the simple search for a parking spot becomes an existential dilemma: Josie, the story’s protagonist, tries to avoid “the Gold Star spot:” “Gold Star,” she muses, “with its imagery of schoolchildren receiving A’s and stickers for a job well done, was the military euphemism for losing a soldier in combat. Family members received a few special privileges like this lousy parking space, but that meant the pity rising from the asphalt singed hotter than any Texas sun.”


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LEFT: Siobhan Fallon with her father, Eamon, and her daughter, Maeve, behind the bar at the South Gate Tavern. BELOW: Fallon with her family: parents, Eamon and Bobbie; sister, Tierney; and brother, George. BOTTOM LEFT: Eamon Fallon as the 2007 Sacred Heart School Irishman of the Year.

Josie, as well as several other Fallon characters, are adrift, unhinged. And yet, the last thing they seem to want is anyone to feel sorry for them. One reason for this is that everyone is in the same boat, dealing with the same pressures and anxieties. Furthermore, as in any tight-knit community, everyone pretty much knows everyone else’s business. This is made clear in the title story, when childless Meg learns “too much” about her mysterious new neighbor, a noisy mother of two named Natalya. “In Fort Hood housing,” Fallon writes, “as in all Army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls. You learn your neighbors’ routines: when and if they gargle and brush their teeth; how often they go to the bathroom or shower; whether they snore or cry themselves to sleep. You learn too much. And, you learn to move quietly through your own domain.”

Visiting Leitrim and Dublin Despite the popularity of Irish memoirs and coming-of-age stories, it never occurred to Fallon to use her own Irish upbringing as the inspiration for a book.

“I’ve set a few short stories in a bar atmosphere. But I don’t really like to write about myself. I like the distance that fiction gives me. Writing about my own life…it never really occurred to me.” Fallon has fond memories of visiting Ireland when she was younger. The family paid visits to relatives in Leitrim as well as Dublin. “We went over almost every year when we were little,” she says. “I was raised listening to all the rebel songs, doing Irish dance.” She particularly remembers hearing stories of her grandparents’ horse farm, where her grandfather could supposedly tame the wildest stallion with a shot to the jaw. “We would go and stay at my Dad’s childhood home, play with my cousins, go skipping through the fields, climb stone walls and inevitably brush up against those horrible stinging nettles and go screaming home.” Fallon says she always wanted a career in the arts. She attended Providence College in Rhode Island, and spent the summer of 1993 in Ireland, after a year studying literature at Homerton College, Cambridge. Back in the States, she worked at her

father’s bar, as a hotel receptionist, and at literary magazines. “I’d been sending stories out to literary magazines for over ten years,” she adds, noting that she also attempted to contact literary agents and book publishers, to no avail. Finally, a literary magazine in Boston, called Salamander, published an earlier version of the story “Camp Liberty.” A phone call followed. It was a literary agent. “He said ‘I want to see what else you have. I think there might be a book here.’” To Fallon, this was “like winning the lottery.” Fallon ultimately visited almost a dozen cities during a book tour in January, which included a reading at Fort Hood. And Fallon’s traveling days will not end there. Her husband’s new Army posting, as a Foreign Area Officer, is in Amman, Jordan. Siobhan and her three-year-old daughter, Maeve, will be joining K.C. there for at least a year. “I’m excited to see the Middle East,” says Fallon. She’s also working on a novel that deals with similar themes and characters as the ones we encounter in You Know When the Men Are Gone – a soldier and his wife – but also has more of the elements of a thriller. Fallon acknowledges that her path to literary success was not an easy one. But given the rave reviews and bright future she has, what she writes about her husband K.C. in the touching dedication of You Know When the Men Are Gone could also apply to her literary career: IA “You are always worth the wait.” APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 111


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{ review of books}

A selection of recently published books of Irish and Irish-American interest.

Recommended The Empty Family did everything I could to not finish Colm Toibin’s latest collection of short stories, The Empty Family. I stared out of a bus window and watched the monotonous Garden State Parkway go by; I purposely did not sit down on the subway. This was not because I disliked Toibin’s latest work, but, on the contrary, because I didn’t want to reach the last page. To put it simply, the stories in The Empty Family require pause. In his second collection of short fiction, Toibin grants the same level of care and depth of inner life to each of his characters as he does to the protagonists of his seven novels, the most recent of which was the 2009 best seller Brooklyn. As Toibin has acknowleged, these are stories of exile and return. His characters, all of them natives of either Ireland, Spain or Pakistan, are, for the most part, either finding their footing in a new land or faced with some reality of their old one. These are stories of being somewhere but having been elsewhere, and of struggling (often unsuccessfully or unconsciously) to reconcile the two. Toibin’s fascination with Henry James is no secret: his 2005 novel, The Master, centers around a fictionalized and brilliantly empathetic account of James’ life. Toibin’s interest in James also extends far into the stylistic realm, and in these stories Toibin is arguably at his most Jamesian yet – from the quietly penetrating way he renders each of his characters to the deceptively uncomplicated grammar he employs to precisely unfold their thoughts and actions. Fittingly, James makes an appearance in the first story of the book. Based somewhere in the truth (as many of the stories in this collection are), “Silence” details a littleknown affair that Lady Gregory, co-founder of the Abbey Theatre and wife of the significantly older Sir William Henry Gregory, had with the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. Long after the affair has ended, Lady Gregory yearns to relive it in some small

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way, and tells a very rearranged version of her story to an attentive James at a dinner party. This example of an inner world or secret carefully tended to by its holder and barely glimpsed by another sets the tone for each of the powerful stories that follow – from an Irish film set designer’s quiet encounter with her deceased lover’s widow in “Two Women” to the slow emergence of a gay relationship between two immigrants in a Pakistani encleve in Barcelona in the final masterpiece of a collection, “The Street.” – Sheila Langan (275 pages/Scribner/$27.00)

JFK in Ireland yan Tubridy, the award winning Irish journalist and host of The Late Late Show, brings history to life in JFK in Ireland: Four Days that Changed a President. It opens in the Oval Office, with Kenny O’Donnell, the President’s Secretary, trying to convince JFK not to go Ireland. The book quickly captures the reader’s attention as Kennedy responds: “I am the President of the United States, not you. When I say I want to go to Ireland, it means that I’m going to Ireland. Make the arrangements.” Having traveled to Ireland before, JFK had a strong desire to return as President. Part travel narrative, part biography and part political discourse, the book details JFK’s four days in Ireland, giving a stop-bystop account of the trip. Yet Tubridy also takes readers on a journey through Kennedy’s family history, starting with his great-grandfather’s emigration from Wexford to America in 1848, all the way to JFK’s assassination and funeral. With never-before-seen photographs, as well as images of personal correspondence scanned directly into the pages of the book, JFK in Ireland is a complete portrait of JFK’s love and admiration for the country of his – Kristin Romano ancestors.

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(303 pages/HarperCollins/£20.00)

Journalism

A Radiant Life: The Collected Journalism of Nuala O’Faolain ost American readers will remember Nuala O’Faolain for her brave and powerful memoirs Are You Somebody?

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(1996), Almost There (2003) or for her novels, Dream of You (2001) and The Story of Chicago May. But O’Faolain, who died tragically early of lung cancer in 2008, was a journalist before and after she was a memoirist and novelist. From 1986 until 2007, she wrote an op-ed column for The Irish Times. In those twenty-one years, O’Faolain chronicled a changing Ireland – both its deep societal flaws and its promising milestones – from a singularly intellectual, feminist, and totally unpretentious perspective. Her articles have finally been gathered together in this posthumously compiled collection, A Radiant Life. The columns are both funny and deeply insightful, as O’Faolain zeroes in on truths about Irish society and much more, covering everything from the class-based complexities at play during a U2 concert in Croke Park to a love letter to New York following September 11. No matter what the subject, O’Faolain is always eloquent, accessible and bitingly perceptive. – Sheila Langan (320 pages / Abrams / $18.95)

This is Your Brain on Shamrocks ike Farragher, a longtime writer for the Irish Voice, has published a collection of articles from and inspired by his popular “Off the Record” and “Narrowback’s Corner” columns (devoted to music and the Irish-American experience respectively). In This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks, Farragher is as humorous and delightfully irreverent as ever, tackling topics such as lessons learned from guilt doled out by his mother, memories of his high school prom and St. Patrick’s Day, selfdeprecating and honest accounts of his efforts with diet and exercise, and a joyful account of playing the U2 album Joshua Tree all the way through with some of his buddies. In this collection, Farragher openly discusses all aspects of his experience as an Irish American in a manner that many readers will instantly connect with – pausing to think at certain

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moments and heartily laughing out loud at others. – Sheila Langan (174 pages / Author House / $17.95)

Memoir Ireland Unhinged: Encounters with a Wildly Changing Country avid Monagan, author of Jaywalking with the Irish and Journey into the Heart, once again captures the essence of Ireland in his third book, Ireland Unhinged: Encounters with a Wildly Changing Country. Monagan, a Connecticut native with the hope and dream of finding a happy, mystical, culturally rich land, moves his family to the country of his ancestors. The Monagans settle in Cork and find themselves in the midst of the Celtic Tiger period of economic growth. Along with the changing economy, Monagan takes note of the changing culture of classic Ireland as it flourishes and falls. In great detail, he recounts his adventures all around the country to places including Dublin, Belfast, Donegal, Sligo, and Waterford. With his journalistic background, Monagan interviews a cast of characters he encounters such as his neighbors, relatives, a witch, a monk, musicians, IRA men, and famous author J.P. Donleavy. In descriptions of hilarity and heartbreak, Ireland Unhinged offers a look at modern Ireland, showing its dramatic changes and determination to hold on. Although Monagan describes the downfall of a once successful country, he leaves readers with a sense of hope, saying “somehow, I think Ireland will prevail again, because it must.”

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– Katie McFadden (300 pages/Council Oak books/ Kanbar & Conrad $28)

A Third Life: Sculptures for God, Notre Dame and Country erry McKenna’s recently published memior prompts us to wonder, how does one make the transition from being a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force to becoming one of our country’s leading sculptors? A Third Life: Sculptures for God, Notre Dame and Country has the answer. Readers will know McKenna as the creator of bronze masterpieces that dot the United States and the world. His works are easily identifiable for their realism in form and attitude

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(take, for instance, his famous renderings of Notre Dame football coaches being lifted by their players after a victory or counseling their teams mid-game). What many people might not know, however, is that McKenna (though always artistically inclined) didn’t try his hand at sculpture until he was 42. The fact that he had already chosen a path, lived a life in the Air Force, didn’t stop him from pursuing sculpture with passion and determination. This inspirational story, complete with pictures of McKenna and of his works at various stages in the artistic process, is a – Sheila Langan real treat. (177 pages / Haynes / $45.00)

Suspense The South Lawn Plot ith his debut novel, Ray O’Hanlon has placed himself somewhere between Dan Brown and Michael Connolly within the realm of suspense writing. O’Hanlon, editor of the newspaper The Irish Echo, has created a thoroughly engaging plot that twists and turns and spans continents and centuries – from 15th century England to the present-day South Lawn of the White House. The South Lawn Plot opens with Nick Bailey, a seasoned tabloid reporter, getting the scoop on a most mysterious death: a priest has hanged himself from Blackfriars Bridge. As the mystery unfolds, the chances of this being a suicide quickly diminish and turn into something markedly more sinister, with implications for 10 Downing Street, the White House and the Catholic Church. Bailey makes for a likeable protagonist and is joined by a diverse and well developed cast of characters. O’Hanlon has formed a fascinating world of words; I look forward – Sheila Langan to his next one.

Quinnipiac University and the NYC St, Patrick’s Day Parade Committee have issued a special commemorative book. Celebrating 250 Years of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade tells the long and fascinating history of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration. An incredible collection of historic and more contemporary photographs mark the parade’s progress through the years and up 5th Avenue. Author John T. Ridge and editor Lynn Mosher Bushnell have created a treasure: turning through the pages, I was brought back to my childhood experiences of watching the parade, and the awe and pride it inspired. For anyone who has ever marched in the procession or braved the crowds for a glimpse of the bagpipers and societies, this book is a must. – Sheila Langan (146 p/Quinnipiac University Press / $49.95)

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(340 pages / Gemma Media / $24.95)

History

Celebrating 250 Years of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade ot many people realize that the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is older then the United States. But it’s true: the New York celebration of Ireland’s patron saint began in the 1760s, and this year marks its 250th anniversary. In recognition,

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Children’s Literature Irish Alphabet

rish Alphabet, the second collaboration of writer Rickey E. Pittman and illustrator Connie McLennan, is an A-Z guide to Irish history and folklore for children. Each letter is represented by iconic figures and words, such as Molly Malone (M), Finn MacCool (F), the shamrock (S) and tea (T). Pittman’s stanzas for each letter are delightful, and McLennan’s illustrations are vivid and enchanting. Together they creatively give the twentysix letters a distinctly Irish personality. Notable is the passage for the letter “X,” in which Pittman writes: “There’s no letter X in Gaelic, / Except in borrowed words / And in the names of Irish towns, / Like Foxrock and Wexford.” In response, McLennan depicts a map of Ireland with both towns marked with an “X.” The last page of the book includes a miniglossary, an alphabetical list of the thirtytwo counties of the island of Ireland, and the lyrics to “Molly Malone.” For young readers, Irish Alphabet will be a stimulatIA ing introduction to Ireland.

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–Kristin Romano (32 pages/Pelican Publishing Company/$16.99) APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 113


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{sláinte} By Edythe Preet

Trees,Tea & ESP y Irish grandmother, Margaret McCaffrey, was a psychic. “Pooh! Not possible,” you say. Maybe, maybe not, but here’s the story. You be the judge. One fine May week when Dad was in first grade, his class was scheduled to have a picnic on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. At the time, the family was living in Montreal, Quebec. Like many Irish women, Dad’s mother was very religious and especially devoted to the Virgin Mary. Her church of choice was Notre Dame de Bon Secours (Our Lady of Good Help) down by the wharf in the oldest part of town. The church has been standing in that spot for more than two hundred years. It’s small but breathtakingly beautiful. Dedicated to the Virgin Mother, every stained glass window depicts a scene from her life. Behind the altar, there’s a huge painting of Mary’s Assumption into heaven. Atop the bell tower, there’s a golden statue of the Virgin as Star of the Sea. She is supported by cherubs and has her arms outstretched to the river, Eastern Canada’s Gateway to the Sea, blessing the ships as they sailed away to foreign ports and welcoming the mariners home safely again. Inside the church, interspersed among the chandeliers, hang miniature replicas of ships that plied the world’s waters, all built by sailors in gratitude for Mary’s protection on their voyages. Grandma McCaffrey attended Mass at Notre Dame de Bon Secours every day and on each visit she lit a candle praying that her family would always be guarded by the Virgin Mother. On the night before Dad was scheduled to attend the school picnic, Grandma dreamed that the Virgin’s statue on the bell tower shook her head from side to side. Taking this to mean ‘no,’ Grandma did not let my dad join his classmates for the outing. The boat carrying the children capsized in the middle of the St. Lawrence and all aboard drowned in the icy waters. It

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remains one of Canada’s worst school tragedies. Margaret McCaffrey wasn’t the only psychic in Dad’s family. His sister Violet was quite tuned in to ESP as well. I will never forget sitting spellbound at Aunt Vi’s tiny kitchen table while she read my tea leaves and told my fortune with playing cards. Dad read cards too, as did his oldest sister Mary whose daughter became a well-known astrologer. Pooh-pooh all this psychic stuff if you will, but the Irish tradition of divination is as old as the hills of Ireland herself. Druid shamans used Oghams, line carvings usually on lengths of yew wood, that were employed to augur future events or seek insight into situations. The origin of the Ogham lines is murky. According to legend, the Celtic god of light and enlightenment, Oghma Grianaineach (the Sun Face), invented the Ogham lines as a means whereby mortals might communicate with the

Divine through a set of sacred symbols. The tale is similar to the Norse god Odin’s invention of the Viking Runes, which may have had some influence on the Irish tradition. The 9th century Irish epic Tochmarc Etain (The Wooing of Etain) tells that Mider, a hero of the Tuatha de Danaan fairy folk, kidnapped the beautiful but mortal Queen Etain from King Eochaid. Though he searched high and low, the king had no luck finding his beloved until a Druid’s services were enlisted. “The King sent to every part of Ireland for news of Etain, but his messengers all came back without having been able to find her. At last a Druid named Dallan learned, by means of ogams carved upon wands of yew, that she was hidden under Mider’s sidh [fairy mound] of Bri Leith…” Unlike Europe’s Tarot cards, China’s I Ching, and the Viking Runes, all of which correspond to a wide spectrum of


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natural phenomena and human behaviorisms, Oghams are unique in that, almost exclusively, they represent particular types of trees, the royalty of the plant world. That the Irish should fixate on trees as their means of communicating with the invisible Divine is not surprising. Until the 16th century when England decimated Ireland’s forests to build an armada, the island was home to vast swaths of dense woodlands. The Ogham meanings are drawn from trees’ natural properties. The mighty oak, which can withstand even gale force winds, symbolizes kingly power. The rowan’s berries bear a five-pointed star that since ancient times has been believed to protect one from malicious enchantments. The yew, whose drooping branches can take root and form new trees where they touch the ground, represents regeneration. Holly, which can withstand a direct lightning strike,

imparts protection to home and hearth. Anyone interested in investigating this ancient Irish system of divination further, can find complete meanings in the book Ogham: The Celtic Oracle of the Trees or The Celtic Tree Oracle, a set of cards and reference text. How tea leaves came to be used as an Irish divination device has much more modern roots. While the custom of drinking tea dates back to the 3rd millennium BC in China, the beverage did not reach Europe until the 16th century AD when Portuguese and Dutch traders brought the beverage from the Far East. England’s involvement in China and India led to the British East India Company acquiring a monopoly on the tea trade in 1832, making tea the most popular drink not only in England but also Ireland by virtue of the Anglo-aristocracy that had settled on the island. Coincidentally the work of Sigmund

Freud spawned immense interest in psychoanalysis during the Victorian era. What began as a parlor game, discerning patterns and symbols in errant clumps of soggy tea leaves, was soon adopted as a new form of divination. With an interest in oracular consultation that spanned several millennia, Irish tea drinkers quickly became proficient at the practice, identifying and interpreting hundreds of shapes that wet tea leaves might produce. While I have dabbled in deciphering the implied messages of Ogham lines with aid of The Celtic Tree Oracle, I admit to complete bewilderment when it comes to the arcane art of tea leaf reading. Nor do I experience prophetic dreams. Evidently, my dad did not pass on those particular genes. Darn. You, however, may have more success, and I invite you to try awakening your Irish divination talent with the ‘tea leaf reading’ instructions offered here. Sláinte! IA

How To Read Tea Leaves

1

The first thing to do before setting out to read tea leaves is acquire a proper teacup. A coffee mug will not work.The cup must be white or pale colored so that the leaves can be seen easily. Its shape should be a traditional style with a narrow base and flaring sides, and it should have an accompanying saucer.

of the cup while others stay in the bottom. Next, slowly invert the cup over the saucer and let all the liquid drain away.

4

The cup is divided into three parts.The rim designates the present; the side, events not far distant; and the bottom the distant future.The nearer the symbols appear to the handle, the nearer to the present will be the events foretold.

2

Once you have set out the proper teacup, put a pinch of loose tea in the cup. Any leaf tea can be used, even herbs such as chamomile, peppermint, or any other mixture according to one’s preference. Next, pour boiling water over the leaves, allowing the tea to steep about three minutes.While you are waiting, give some thought to a matter on which you would like information.

3

Drink most of the tea, allowing the leaves and a very small amount of liquid to remain in the bottom. Then take the cup by the handle in the left hand, rim upwards, and swirl it in a circle rapidly three times from left to right. Some of the leaves will cling to the sides

5

While at first the tea leaves seem scattered, after concentration you will note that they form lines, circles, dots, small groups and figures, even the shape of inanimate objects, people, animals, birds, letters, and numbers.

6

Starting with the leaves closest to the handle, write down the images in their successive order and in a clockwise direction. Finally, concentrate on each shape, letter or numeral to determine how it relates to your life or the question that was posed at the beginning of the session.

This website http://tarotcanada.tripod.com/TeaLeaves.html is a good source for more information and a list of symbol interpretations.

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Those We Lost John Barry 1933-2011

Oscar-winning composer John Barry died on January 30 from a heart attack, at age 77. Barry’s compositions heightened the drama and complimented the moods of films such as Out of Africa, Dances With Wolves, Midnight Cowboy and Born Free. He was also the man behind the iconic music heard in all of the James

Bond installments from Dr. No to The Living Daylights. Born John Barry Prendergast on November 3, 1933 in York, England, Barry became familiar with films at an early age. His father, a Cork native, started off as a projectionist and then ran a small chain of cinemas in northern England. At a young age, Barry learned to play the piano and the trumpet, and dabbled in many other instruments. After performing with an army band during his few years in the service, he started the John Barry Seven. In addition to playing live, the group also scored theme music for a few hit TV shows, such as Juke Box Jury, which garnered them attention. Soon after Barry began composing for films, he was signed to be Monty Norman’s back-up for Dr. No. Years later the two composers disputed whether Barry had actually taken charge of the soundtrack and Norman successfully sued him for libel. There was never any doubt, however, that the rest of the Bond music was entirely Barry’s. He married four times, including once to Jane Birkin, and spent his last three decades mostly in Oyster Bay, N.Y. with 116 IRISH AMERICA

his fourth wife, Laurie. Barry is survived by Laurie and their four children: Kate, Jonpatrick, Sian and Suzanne; and five grandchildren. – S.L.

Mary Cleere Haran 1952-2011

Mary Cleere Haran, cabaret singer, passed away on February 5, 2011 in Deerfield Beach, FL. She was 58. Haran died two days after tragically being hit by a car while riding her bicycle. Haran was born May 13, 1952 in San Francisco, CA, the second of eight children. Performing was in her blood – her father taught theater and film at San Francisco City College. She began as an Irish step dancer but, desiring to use the upper part of her body, Haran dropped step dancing and became a violinist. Unable to master the violin, she found that she could sing. Though she came of age during the Haight-Ashbury period of the 1960s, Haran was inspired by the music and films of the 1930s and 1940s. She moved to New York in the 1970s, and made her Broadway debut in The 1940s Radio Hour in 1979. Her off-Broadway appearances included Manhattan Music, Swingtime Canteen and Heebie Jeebies. Haran made her Manhattan cabaret debut in 1988 at the Ballroom. Four years later, the first of her six recordings, “There’s a Small Hotel,” was released. In addition to her cabaret work, Haran had a recurring role on 100 Centre Street, and produced, wrote or contributed to several PBS documentaries, including Doris Day: Sentimental Journey and Michael Feinstein’s The Great American Songbook. Haran is survived by her son, Jacob, from her marriage to writer-director Joe Gilford; six siblings: Terence, Brigid, Ned and Time Haran, Bronwyn Harris and Eithne Bullick; and her stepmother, Loyce Haran. – K.R.

John Horan 1920-2011

John J. Horan, former CEO of Merck & Co. Inc, died of natural causes in New Jersey on January 22, 2011. He was 90. From 1976 to 1985, Horan had a large impact on the pharmaceutical company. Under his leadership, Merck’s research, development and sales force increased significantly, making it the largest drug company in the world at the time. Horan also held an important role in humanitarian efforts by supporting the research for a drug to prevent and treat river blindness. Through the World Health Organization, Merck sent the drug to countries in need, free of charge. A native of Staten Island, Horan graduated from Manhattan College in 1940. He went on to serve as an officer in the United States Navy Amphibious Forces from 1942 to 1946, during World War II. He was a part of history: he helped to send orders that led to the launch of the D-Day invasion while serving as communications officer on the staff of Admiral John Wilkes. Following his time with the Navy, Horan earned a law degree from Columbia and worked his way up after starting out in the legal department of Merck in 1952. After retiring as CEO, he remained active in the company, serving as a member of the Board of Directors and as its vice chairman until 1993. Horan is survived by his wife of 66 years, Julia Fitzgerald; four children, Mary Alice Ryan, Thomas, John, and David; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. – K.M.

Kieran McGonnell 1967-2011

Kieran McGonnell, a contemporary Irish-born artist, died suddenly on January 11 due to complications from a head injury suffered in November. He was residing in Chicago, IL, where he had recently moved from Brooklyn, NY. In an Irish Echo article entitled “Top 40 under 40,” McGonnell had been selected as one of the top young Irish success stories living in the U.S. His innovative artwork was characterized by a bold, vivid use of color, incorporating everything from oil paint and watercolors to air brush spray paint. His pieces featured a cavalcade of dazzling imagery from history, mythology, literature, architecture, popular culture and politics.


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McGonnell’s work was exhibited extensively over the past twenty years, on both sides of the Atlantic. In the U.S., his work has been displayed at the Haggerty Museum (Milwaukee), Jan Larsen Fine Art (NY), Axel-Raben Fine Art (NY), and hundreds of other locations including The Kennedy Center Festival. His work was used as the backdrop for the Fall 2000 New York Fashion previews for the prominent men’s fashion magazine D.N.R. He also painted stage designs for Sean Curran Modern Dance Company’s “Six Laments,” which has been touring the U.S. since its premiere in 1999. McGonnell was profiled in many publications throughout the U.S. and Ireland, including The New York Times, Boston Globe, L.A. Times, Irish Tribune and Irish Business Post. In addition to his partner of 17 years, Gregg Driben, McGonnell is survived by his mother, Carmel McGonnell; brothers, Paul and Aiden; and sister, Karen.

TP McKenna 1929-2011

Irish actor TP McKenna, famous for his roles in The Avengers and Straw Dogs, passed away in London on February 13th, following a long illness. He was 81. Thomas Patrick McKenna, better known as TP, was born on September 7, 1929 in Mullagh, Co. Cavan, Ireland. He attended Mullagh School and St Patrick’s College, Cavan, where he perfected his soprano voice in Gilbert and Sullivan operas and became interested in theater. McKenna first worked with Ulster Bank. When he was transferred to Dublin,

he joined the Shakespeare Society and the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society. In 1953, the bank wanted to transfer him to the quiet town of Killeshandra in Cavan, but McKenna quit the job to pursue a professional acting career. McKenna acted in over 70 stage roles between 1953 and 1964, joining the Abbey Theatre and performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre Company. This led to television roles on shows such as The Saint, Jason King, Dr Who, The Sweeney, and Minder. He also acted in movie adaptations of the James Joyce novels Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as well as films Red Scorpion and Straw Dogs. McKenna is survived by sons Ralph, Kilian, Breffni, Stephen and daughter Sally, daughter-in-law Karin, grandsons Tom & Finnian, three brothers, five sisters extended family and friends. McKenna’s wife May White, whom he married in 1955, passed away in 2006. He was laid to rest alongside her in Mullagh, Ireland. – K.M.

Gary Moore 1952-2011

Renowned musician Gary Moore passed away on February 6, 2011 in Estepona, Spain, following a heart attack. He was 58. Robert William Gary Moore was born April 4, 1952 in Belfast, Northern Ireland – one of five children born to Bobby Moore, a promoter, and his homemaker wife, Winnie. He moved to Dublin in 1968, and joined the band Skid Row in 1969. While his time with Skid Row was brief, it brought him into contact with Phil Lynott, a founding member of Thin Lizzy, and a friend and collaborator until Lynott’s death in 1986. After leaving Skid Row, Moore released his first solo album in 1973, Grinding Stone. He followed this with a brief stint with Thin Lizzy in early 1974, recording the lead guitar on “Still in Love with You” from the band’s fourth album, Nightlife. It would be the first of three stints with the band: he temporarily replaced guitarist Brian Robertson on the band’s 1977 tour of the United States, and rejoined from 1978-1979 to record Black Rose: A Rock Legend with the band. Throughout his forty-year-career,

Moore toured and recorded with a variety of artists and released 20 solo studio albums, the last being 2008’s Bad for You Baby. He also recorded three albums with Coliseum II between 1976 and 1977, and numerous live albums. Moore is survived by his four children: daughters Saoirse and Lily; sons Jack and Gus; and his partner Jo. – K.R.

Charles Nolan 1957-2011

Designer Charles Nolan passed away on January 31, 2011 in his Upper West Side Manhattan home at age 53. The cause was cancer of the head and neck. Nolan was born on June 5, 1957. The fifth of nine children born to Philip Francis and Elizabeth Frances Nolan, he was raised in Brooklyn and Massapequa, NY. Nolan possessed an interest in fashion from a young age, once staying up all night to watch a royal wedding, mostly to see the gown. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, he worked for Frank Tignino, Bill Haire, Bill Blass, Christian Dior, and Ellen Tracy before becoming the head designer of Anne Klein in 2001, revitalizing the collection. In 2003, Nolan left Anne Klein to volunteer for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. A year later, he established his own label, setting up a shop on 30 Gansevoort Street and selling his designs at Saks Fifth Avenue. To showcase his clothing’s wearability, Nolan preferred to hire regular people as models, including a retired police detective and swimmer Dara Torres. Nolan is survived by his partner, Andrew Tobias; his father Philip Francis Nolan; and eight brothers and sisters IA – K.R. APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 117


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{crossword} By Darina Molloy

ACROSS 1 4 6 11 13

Irish police officer (5) Co. Down town (6) Belongs to you (4) Let go (7) Egg-citing time for chocolate loving children! (6) 14 See 25 across (5) 15 See 41 across (6) 16 See 39 across (6) 18 Evening reception of an Irish wedding (6) 21 (& 32 down) Fishy products sold by Molly Malone (7) 25 (& 14 across) Ireland’s new Taoiseach (4) 27 New movie with Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn (7) 28 Season of abstinence in church calendar (4) 29 Irish name version of Laurence (60 31 Egyptian exhibition currently in Dublin’s RDS (11) 34 (& 5 down) Her new book is called Saints & Sinners (4) 35 Nickname for Oscar Wilde lover (5) 38 Grown-up (5) 39 (& 16 across) Irish milliner linked to Prince William wedding (6) 40 An ___ for an ___ (3) 41 (&15 across) Film archive donated to Galway university by his family (4) 42 _____ Tribune: Irish newspaper that ceased publication earlier this year (6)

DOWN

2 Lion sound (4) 3 Hit TV show of 10 down: Two and _ ___ Men (1, 4) 4 Mexican pullover or sweatshirt (4) 5 See 34 across (6) 7 Irish for water (5) 8 Leinster county (5) 9 Magical place at the back of C.S. Lewis wardrobe (6) 10 (& 12 down) Birth name of Charlie Sheen (6)

12 See 10 down (7) 14 Mary Higgins Clark memoir: ______ Privileges (7) 17 TD brother of Brian Lenihan who lost out in election (5) 19 Unit of measure (3) 20 Not fake (4) 22 South County Dublin suburb (8) 23 House on one level (8) 24 Irish witch-like creature (7) 26 Abbreviated saint (2) 30 Puzzle (6) 31 Most remote Irish inhabited island (4) 32 See 21 across (7)

Win a subscription to Irish America magazine Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than April 28, 2011. A winner will be drawn from among all correct entries. Winner’s name will be published along with the solution in our next issue. Xerox copies accepted. Winner of the February/March crossword: Thomas Fitzgerald, of Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, Ireland.

118 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

33 This Minister Mary lost her seat in Irish general election (7) 36 Fairly useless (5) 37 This Bill is President Obama’s new chief of staff (5)

February / March Solution


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• We complete the required paperwork for your dual Irish citizenship. • We cut through the red tape, and do the leg work for you. • We provide research service in the U.S., Canada, and Ireland. Tel. 760.772.8318 Email: deirdre@dualirishcitizenship.net www.dualirishcitizenship.net www.dualirishcitizenship.com

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212-725-2993 EXT. 150


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{photo album} Family Pictures

Aunt Delia L

arge families were common in 19th-century Ireland, and Bridget Costello Gill and John Peter Gill from the Aran Island of Inishmore had twelve children. My Aunt Delia, born in Rose Cottage in Kilronan on Sunday, January 6, 1889, was their fourth child and a truly wonderful woman. To her mother’s dismay and her father’s delight, by age 13 Delia had become a skilled “curragh man” and “captained” one of the famed Aran sailboats, called hookers (“whocurs”), built by her grandfather Peadar Hugh Gill. Inishmore was then serviced by the SS Duras, a Galway paddlewheeled steamer that first went to Aran in 1893. The old Duras, plagued by engine and boiler trouble, lacked skilled engineers. Always fascinated by machinery, Delia helped with repairs, and Kilronan blacksmith Ned Gow made parts at her request, copying wooden pieces she had whittled. After the repairs were done, the captain told her that the vessel ran its best ever and that the boilers didn’t leak a drop! Back in Galway, he told the ship’s owners all about the young lady engineer from Inishmore and introduced Delia and her father to them. As John Peter Gill proudly looked on, his fifteen-year-old daughter calmly spoke to the imposing group like a seasoned professional, and even suggested some improvements in the ship’s running gear. The captain then gave the owners a real shock by announcing that he wanted to hire Delia as chief engineer of the Duras! Delia and her father left, and the board met in private. They returned and were told that all were grateful for Delia’s work and were so impressed by it that a cash bonus had been voted for her. However, the bad news was that no woman had ever been a ship’s engineer, as this “simply was not done.” She could not be hired. Angry and frustrated, Delia decided to go to America and paid her own way. As

120 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2011

two louts did naught but watch me and they got paid. It was not my job to fix the furnace but I did. I should get paid for the work I did and did well. You would have to get someone else if it were not for me, and then pay them!” “Miss Gill,” he said with a smile, “you are a good businesswoman and you are right! You should get paid.” He wrote her a check. Thanking him, she said she would check the furnace in a day or so to be sure it was all right, and that there would be “no charge for that, sir.” Delia was fascinated by the horseless carriages of her day and for a time worked at the Newton, MA home of, as the “luck of the Irish” would have it, one of the Stanley twins of Stanley Steamer fame. He knew nothing of Delia’s skill with steam powered machinery and was astounded at the ease with the operation of this steampowered vehicle. Soon teenaged Delia was driving these early Stanley Steamers on errands with family members. She left the Stanleys, and Aunt Delia Gill her new employers, who lived in Brookline, were a wealthy Boston finmany Irish girls did at the time, she found ancier and his wife, the daughter of a forwork as a maid. Her efficient work and mer governor. The couple and their chilpleasant personality made her a very weldren came to love their new maid as one come addition to her first employer’s famiof the family and Delia worked with them ly, but it seemed as if her steam boiler expefor over forty years. rience was, sadly, to be of no further use. Delia was known for her great physical That was true, until the steam boiler furstrength, and one day two Irish teamsters nace in her new home stopped working. who delivered an Italian monastery table After their unsuccessful efforts to fix it, to the house could not get it through the the amazed repairmen looked on as Delia door. Delia took over. Tipping the table detected what was wrong and in no time and hefting the front, while telling the two had the furnace running again. With a men to hoist the rear, she guided the table parting jest in her Irish brogue, she hurried inside. The two men strained with their upstairs. The repairmen were called and work, as Delia easily handled hers, all the said that the maid seemed to know more while loudly encouraging them in Gaelic. about the furnace than they did and that it During prohibition, some Irish ladies, was she who had fixed it. The two technimostly maids, chartered a train coach for a cians were told to leave and to send a bill. vacation trip to St. Ann De Baupre in Delia was then asked how she knew Canada. This provided all with a chance to how to fix the furnace. When she spoke see the spot where miracles were said to about her work on ships in Ireland, the occur, and also to buy liquor and smuggle man of the house nodded his thanks, and it home. One year Aunt Delia brought went to turn away. Delia said, “Sir, those seven-year-old me with her, and while in


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Canada a “Mountie” rode by and she talked him into giving me my first ride on a horse. It was known that the train would be searched for contraband liquor by U.S. Customs. Everyone except me knew what to expect and was well prepared. As the train approached the U.S. border there was a flurry of frantic activity. Every woman (no men were on board) hastily removed bottles of all shapes and sizes from luggage, and laughter and Gaelic jokes were heard as the bottles were concealed in the pockets of the voluminous bloomers specially designed to be worn for the inspection! Aunt Delia, with her liquid treasures well stowed away, donned her most dignified expression and stared stonily out the window. She kindly cautioned me not to say a word. As the Customs Inspectors checked baggage, none of the innocent, law-abiding-looking Irish ladies moved or said a word. Not one bottle was found. As the inspectors grimly waved the train on into the USA, one young lady handed the grinning conductor a pint, which he quickly tucked under his uniform jacket with a wink. There was more laughter and many more Gaelic jokes, and after one particularly loud outburst Aunt Delia translated: “Patcheen, she just said this was the best part of the trip!” Aran Island people are clannish. When I reached “middle age” (my 20s!), Aunt Delia joined my mother in a quest to “Get a nice Aran lass for Patchmor” (an endearment they used for me). Nothing came of this. Years later, when they learned I had

Top: A hooker in Kilronan. Above: A photo of young Patrick J. Leonard, taken during a trip to Canada with his aunt.

met a Rosanna Meunier, their reaction was: “Meunier? ‘Tis a foreign name!” Aunt Delia’s first meeting with Rosanna surprised her. Rosanna was a beautiful lady with large blue eyes; neatly dressed and obviously very intelligent. Aunt Delia learned that she had been born in Boston and spent nearly eight years as Sister Marie Carmel, a teaching nun in New Jersey. Her father, a Taunton-born French

Canadian, was chief engineer for three prestigious Boston hotels, and her mother, Rose Noone of Clonmany, County Donegal, had run a fashionable dressmaking shop in Ireland employing a large staff of young ladies as seamstresses. Needless to say, Aunt Delia was very impressed, and they became life-long friends. She gave Rosanna and me a complete bedroom set, and a desk and chair bought at Jordan Marsh as wedding gifts, and we later tried to repay her with trips to Canada and holiday visits. After decades together, Aunt Delia and her mistress became like sisters. Eventually, the lady became increasingly weak and the family moved her to a constant care facility. Delia was well over seventy then and received a generous settlement from the family for her loyalty and years of service. To her mistress’s dying day, Delia sent cards, notes, and presents. When my brother Dutch and I bought our widowed mother a home, surprising her with the deed, Aunt Delia moved in with her and they enjoyed visits and family activities together. They liked TV programs and movies, especially The Quiet Man. My sister Ann lived next door and the little kids loved visiting and hearing stories about Ireland and the Aran Islands. In 1975 my mother passed away at 87 and Aunt Delia then lived alone. She kept busy and always knew how much we loved her. In her last year, she drove my 1921 Buick touring car a short distance, laughing boisterously. All lives come to an end, and sadly our beloved Aunt Delia left us many years ago. She died in her 89th year after a short illness. She rests in a Hyde Park cemetery plot which she and a Kilronan cousin had purchased decades ago. I had the honor of giving her eulogy at St. Johns Church in Canton, Massachusetts, on September 19, 1977. The last line was: “Goodbye, Aunt Delia. Heaven will be a better place with you in it. Goodbye, Aunt Delia, God Bless You.” – Patrick J. Leonard

Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description, to Sheila Langan at Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. If photos are irreplaceable, then please send a good quality reproduction or e-mail the picture at 300 dpi resolution to Irishamag@aol.com. No photocopies, please. We will pay $65 for each submission that we select. APRIL / MAY 2011 IRISH AMERICA 121


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{the last word} By Cormac MacConnell

My Dear Old Ireland Is Dead hen this election was called in January, everybody knew that Fianna Fail would take a beating, and that their junior partners the Green Party would likewise suffer. And, of course, that is what happened. The voters turned their ballots into bayonets. They butchered and hacked and slashed Fianna Fail to death. They gave them no quarter. They showed no mercy. They paid them back for all the mismanagement of Ireland, for all the corruption and cronyism and abuse of power and arrogance and lies. And Fianna Fail deserved all that they got and maybe even more. There are a few of them that probably deserve jail. Ordinary people have served time for less than they did. They crucified poor Mother Ireland on that crass cross, robbed and humiliated her at every level, and then the most cunning of them rode off into the sunset before the election with millions in their back pockets. And the rest of us who are too old to emigrate are clinging to the rigging of a sinking ship as our rising generations emigrate with all their skills and energy at the rate of at least 1,000 a day. It is nearly on the scale of Famine times. We are broken beneath a weight of national debt that is unprecedented. We have become the laughingstock of the world. Our plight is incredibly bad. If Ireland was a horse or dog it would have been humanely put down six months ago. My Ireland indeed died last weekend. The once mighty Fianna Fail party, now has only 20 surviving deputies. Fine Gael has romped home as the biggest party, Labor will be the second largest grouping for the first time ever, and Sinn Féin’s performance has been so dramatically good that they came within touching distance of overhauling Fianna Fail as the third largest party. Fianna Fail has only one deputy left in Dublin – ironically the outgoing Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. Enda Kenny

W

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will be the next Taoiseach (prime minister) after Fine Gael inevitably coalesces with Labor. That bit of carpentry will be finished inside days. Things are moving fast now. I say that my Ireland died because Fianna Fail, a power in every parish, were far more than a mere political party down all the decades of their power. They were a social force, initially Republican and honorable and close to the people, especially in rural Ireland. The TD (member of Parliament) was as powerful as the parish priest. The party was represented in every constituency, often holding two of the three

lively music and his political style alongside his medical skills. Many of his peers had the same skills back then. They were very different to the kind of fiddlers who percolated the party afterwards. In the wake of this bloodletting it is remarkable that it is now possible to travel across Ireland coast to coast without setting foot or tire in a constituency in which a Fianna Fail deputy survived. That is almost mind-boggling. And the Green Party was wiped out altogether by the angry people. Huge swathes of the midlands and the west have thrown both parties a way into the rubbish bin. There is no Fianna Fail deputy, for example, in the kingdom of Kerry or in traditional heartlands like Roscommon, Sligo and Meath. No female soldier of destiny survived. Dynastic clans like the Haugheys have been wiped out. Frankly, there is a strong possibility that the party that has ruled the state for most of its lifetime has been so gutshot that it may Fine Gael leader not survive at all. That probably Enda Kenny arriving at a party event in would the best long-term outcome Dublin. for us all. Fine Gael and Labor are holdseats in the many three-seater rural coning talks in Dublin as I write. Given stituencies. their joint numbers and the fact that there Fianna Fail had a finger in every pie is even a man called Ming the Merciless that mattered. I was a loyal member for among the new herd of independents, this many years because I felt they best repis an inevitable course. resented what we are, warts and all. The bargaining is beginning. And I I even savored the roguery and rascalhave to refer back to what I wrote last ity attached to most of the “strokes” they January: “Whatever government we elect pulled off in the elections of the past. A after the election craic and excitement Fianna Fail TD was almost always liveliwill not be a helluva lot superior to er company and better craic to be with what we have now. That is a fact too.” than the normally more restrained and I still believe that. The one ray of middle-class Fine Gael deputy. (In rural hope is that the oft-criticized Fine Gael Ireland 20 years ago Labor Party deputies leader Enda Kenny from Mayo diswere as scarce as hens’ teeth, and Sinn played some signs over the weekend of Féin had almost no presence). being able to expand his style and subThe Fianna Fail aura was somehow stance sufficiently to be able to fill the attached to the ruralities I enjoy, like fairs shoes of a taoiseach. and markets and singing pubs and Irish Please God he will surprise us all. IA music and summer festivals. A case in point here in Clare was the Cormac MacConnell is a columnist for late legendary fiddling TD Dr. Bill the Irish Voice where an expanded version Loughnane, who seamlessly blended his of the above first appeared.


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Irish America April / May 2011  
Irish America April / May 2011  

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