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At Home With the



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Hall of Fame

Christine Kinealy Chris Matthews Andrew McKenna Martin O’Malley Bill O’Reilly Pat Ryan Brian Stack

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APRIL / MAY 2014 Vol. 29 No. 3

Contents 45 34 60

68 56 42 72

FEATURES 34 The Light of Munster Chris Ryan explores the Province of Munster and explains why timing is everything when photographing Ireland.

40 Hall of Fame Our fourth annual celebration of great Irish Americans honors the Steven McDonald family, Christine Kinealy, Chris Matthews, Andrew McKenna, Martin O’Malley, Bill O’Reilly, Patrick Ryan, and Brian Stack.

50 Brían Boru’s Last Stand One thousand years ago on Good Friday, Brían Boru fought his last battle and changed Irish history forever.

56 Remembering Normandy John Fay takes a family trip to the hallowed battle grounds of the invasion of Normandy, and remembers the Americans who fought and died there.


60 Orphan Trains Tom Riley examines the movement that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities to the rural areas of the Midwest.

SLÁINTE! Saint Patrick Edith Preet looks at the history of St. Patrick and conjures up some fifth-century recipes that he himself might have enjoyed. Pg. 82

68 Chris O’Dowd Talks The actor speaks with Adam Farley about his Broadway debut in Of Mice and Men and growing up in Boyle.

72 What Are You Like? Questions for Brían F. O’Bryne, who is back on Broadway in Outside Mullingar.

74 The Gift of the Gab Playwright John Patrick Shanley talks to Marilyn Cole Lownes about the “linguistic optimism” of the Irish.

90 Orphan Train Rider Rosalie Lewis writes about her uncle John J. Callaghan, an orphan boy who found a happy home in the Midwest.

DEPARTMENTS 6 8 14 18 66 80 84 86 88

First Word Readers Forum Hibernia Irish Eye on Hollywood Roots Books Music Crossword Those We Lost

Cover Photo: Kit DeFever

Visit the Waterford Crystal faCtory

A magical journey through 200 years of crystal making history. Book your tour online today Guided Factory Tour | Opulent Retail Store | The World’s largest collection of Waterford Crystal House of Waterford Crystal, The Mall, Waterford City, Ireland P +353 (0)51 317 000 | E | W

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Vol.29 No.3 • April/May 2014

{the first word}

IRISH AMERICA Mortas Cine Pride In Our Heritage

Founding Publisher: Niall O’Dowd Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Harty Vice President of Marketing: Kate Overbeck Art Director: Marian Fairweather Assistant Editor: Adam Farley Copy Editor: John Anderson Advertising & Events Coordinator & Music Editor: Tara Dougherty Editorial Assistants: Matthew Skwiat Michelle Meagher Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan

IRISH AMERICA 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 201, New York NY 10001 TEL: 212-725-2993 FAX: 212-244-3344

Subscriptions: 1-800-582-6642 E-MAIL: Irish America Magazine ISSN 0884-4240) © by Irish America Inc. Published bi-monthly. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. Editorial office: 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Telephone: 212-725-2993. Fax: 212-244-3344 E-mail: Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders: 1-800-582-6642. Subscription queries: 1-800-582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 150. 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.



Past, Present, and Future In this issue, in which we celebrate the new inductees into our Hall of Fame, I’m reminded of great Irish Americans of the past such as John Barry, the father of the American Navy; John F. Kennedy, our first Catholic president; and Eugene O’Neill, playwright and Nobel Laureate. Our incoming Hall of Fame honorees take their rightful place alongside these figures and their fellows who have been inducted since our inaugural ceremony in 2010. Christine Kinealy, who is being honored for her research and scholarship on the Great Hunger, will find particular resonance in the fact that our Hall of Fame building in Co. Wexford is alongside the Dunbrody, a replica of a Famine-era ship that ferried thousands of Irish to the New World – brave souls who paved the way for the successes we enjoy today. Broadcasters Chris Matthews and Bill O’Reilly we honor for giving voice to our concerns and opinions, two traits that helped the Irish carve out a place in American society, even as they remind us of our love of a good argument. Martin O’Malley represents the many Irish on the political front. His success is honed by his family’s affinity for public service and his Jesuit education. While Andy McKenna and Pat Ryan, both of whom have reached the pinnacle of corporate success, make us proud by their philanthropy and devotion to civic causes. Brian Stack, meantime, reminds us that Ireland’s natural beauty is its greatest glory. In the worst of times, the tourist trade kept the country afloat, and Brian’s role in bringing thousands of visitors to Ireland is especially important as the country recovers from the debt crisis that has wrecked its economy over the last six years. The story of Steven and Patti Ann McDonald and their son Conor, our first family to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, is one of courage and love. Their journey towards faith and forgiveness after terrible tragedy is inspirational. I know that the time I spent with the family moved me towards letting go of some old hurts and grievances that I’ve been carrying around for far too long. The Irish ability to forgive is not often cited as one of our finer traits. Our history, littered as it is with brutal battles, colonization and hunger (it’s amazing that we survived at all), has left us with deep wounds embedded in our DNA, and a tendency towards grudges and begrudgery. Yet, that same history has also fostered a spirit of perseverance against the odds and empathy for the struggles of others. The Irish give more per capita than any other nation towards hunger relief, and have a tradition of public service. And when it comes down to it, as many of our previous Hall of Fame inductees have shown by working on finding a solution to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, we are willing to put aside our differences and unite for a good cause. It is my hope that the Irish in America will once again rise to the occasion and help out as they have in the past. Many young people in Ireland, though highly educated, are without jobs. And with Australia now starting to close its doors, these young people have nowhere to go. So this St. Patrick’s Day, take time out from the revelry to log on to the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform website There is no better way to honor your heritage than by using your weight to open the door, closed by the 1965 Immigrant Act, just a crack, to allow some of those future Hall of Famers in. Mortas Cine,

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{readers forum} A Fine Magazine I commend the editor and Irish America's staff on the fine magazines you so consistently publish. And especially two successes – the ability to observe the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death without being overly maudlin, and space to celebrate this remarkable man. It’s so ironic that as someone whose very essence was an affirmation of living, it is his death that we choose to remember. Congratulations also, on your recent First Word columns, especially those on health care, Irish politics, and this month’s nudge on immigration, reminding us that any reforms should include Ireland as well. And thank you from my wife on “The Irish Vampires” story. I believe she’s in love with Jonathan Rhys Myers. Tim McGrath Chester Heights, PA

Grandma Wake

many visits to Ireland, we have been able to establish and maintain a friendship with another Doyle family in the same parish our ancestors left. I enclose a picture I took of the Penal Altar in which you can see the window that the priest would use to keep an eye out for the authorities as he said Mass. Larry Doyle St. Paul, MN

Bridget’s Shawl I am moved to tears by Bob Lyons’s account of his great-grandmother. The resilience she displayed is from another era. We have everything she lacked in terms of food, shelter, and stability of place, but how many of us could leave family behind, and how many parents could make the courageous decision of her father? Bob made her live again for readers of the magazine. And who knows what lives may thus be inspired? Susan Taylor Received by e-mail

My grandma’s maiden name was Walsh. For this reason Timothy Walsh’s poem about his grandmother caught my eye and after reading it, a tear came rolling out! Brian O’Malley Received by e-mail

Grandma Walsh

Jimmy Fallon

I enjoyed the piece on Jimmy Fallon. My wife Elizabeth and I are not celebrities, but Jimmy always treated us like we were. He also put us on to Myrtle Allen’s Cooking School where we have gone many times. Slàinte from a beautiful Costa Rica. Philip Mortimer Received by e-mail

Toy Trains I read the “Toy Train” story by Joe Cahalan with interest. My father-in-law, Peter F. Hurley, was good friends with Joe Cahalan’s father. They used to visit back and forth. Mary Hurley Received by e-mail

Thomas Cahill I love the magazine. I sent the article on Marty Walsh to the O’Tooles in Boston. I especially loved the piece on Thomas Cahill. What a great guy! I’m going to get the rest of his books. Rosemary Rogers Received by e-mail

Touring the South East I just got my Irish America and was paging through it when I came across “An Afternoon in the South East.” I immediately recognized the back side of a Penal Altar [during the time of the Penal Laws in Ireland celebrating mass was a crime] disguised as a tombstone in one of the photos. I am planning on taking the magazine with me when I return to the South East this summer. I want to show our friends that St. Mullins is slowly being recognized as one of the quietly, beautiful places in Ireland. My family immigrated from St. Mullins during Famine times, and over 8 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

A Man of the People I enjoyed your profile on Marty Walsh, Boston’s new mayor. He makes all of us with Dorchester connections proud. Mary Maguire Received by e-mail

“We Are All Immigrants” TOP LEFT: The backside of the Penal Altar. ABOVE: The front of the altar. The window seen in the rear allowed the priest to keep a lookout for the authorities while celebrating mass, which was against the law.

I like the sentiments discussed in your First Word column. It’s time that the Irish got a fair hearing in the immigration debate. Mary Whelan New York City

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{readers forum} Medal Confusion I respectfully submit that the editor’s mention of Timothy O’Donoghue as the first Irish-born Civil War recipient of the Medal of Honor may cause people to believe that he was actually the first Irish-born recipient of that honor. That honor belongs to Bernard Irwin, as the attached story will show. Mike McCormack, AOH National Historian Received by e-mail

Lt. Bernard John Dowling Irwin: The First Medal of Honor Recipient


he month was February in 1861 and the place was Fort Buchanan – a military installation near Apache Pass in the southeastern Arizona territory. At the time, tension was high between the American military and the Chokonen band of Chiricahua Apaches led by a young chief named Cochise. An unrelated Coyotero Apache raiding party had stolen cattle and kidnapped the 12-year-old son of a local rancher named John Ward. Ward blamed Cochise and demanded action by the local U.S. Army at nearby Fort Buchanan. Lt. Col. Morrison ordered an inexperienced young Second Lt. George N. Bascom, 7th U.S. Infantry, to proceed to Apache Pass, 150 miles to the northeast to retake the boy and the stolen stock. Bascom’s command, consisting of 54 men, arrived at the west end of Apache Pass on February 3rd and set up camp in Siphon Canyon. Cochise’s camp was in Goodwin Canyon, only a short distance away. Cochise, accompanied by his brother and two nephews, entered Bascom’s camp, which was the Apache custom, to greet visitors. Bascom, who believed Ward that Cochise had been responsible for the raid, confronted Cochise. The Apache leader maintained his innocence and said that if given time, he would find out who had taken the boy and cattle and return them to Bascom. Bascom demanded their immediate return and told Cochise that he and his party would be held as hostages until the return of the boy and the stock. Cochise jumped to his feet and escaped by drawing a knife and slashing his way out of the tent in which they met. Bascom managed to capture Cochise’s brother and two nephews, who were caught by surprise as Cochise escaped. Cochise later kidnapped three white men to exchange for his relatives held by Bascom. However, Bascom attempted a show of power when more U.S. troops arrived from nearby Fort Breckenridge and refused the exchange; Cochise killed his hostages. The army responded by killing Cochise’s relatives, which enraged Cochise, and an 11-year-long Apache War was on! Bascom then led his men back to Apache Pass to capture Cochise and rescue the rancher’s young son. They marched right into a trap set by 500 Apaches who surrounded Bascom and his forces. Word reached Fort Buchanan that

Bascom and his men were under siege by the Apaches, but there were no reserve forces to go to their rescue. Lieutenant Bernard John Dowling Irwin, an Irish-born assistant army surgeon from Roundfort, County Roscommon, volunteered to lead a rescue mission if he could find any volunteers to join him. Irwin was only able to recruit 14 men for the dangerous mission but, with no horses available, Irwin and his courageous volunteers began the 100-mile trek to Apache Pass on mules. After fighting and capturing Apaches along the way and recovering stolen horses and cattle, they reached the Apache camp on February 14. Irwin strategically placed his small unit around Cochise and his men, tricking the Apaches into thinking that they were a much larger force. The Apaches fled and Bascom and his men were saved. Bascom and his men then joined Irwin and together they were able to track Cochise into the mountains and rescued the young boy that Cochise had previously secured from the Coyotero Apaches. The courage and ingenuity of this brave Irishman became the very first military action to be recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor even though the award itself was not created until a year later in 1862. His conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in an extremely dangerous situation against hostile forces at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty was not forgotten and he was presented with the nation’s highest honor on January 21, 1894 just before his retirement. He was promoted to Brigadier General on the retired list in April 1904. This courageous Irishman also established a family tradition of service to his adopted land as so many other Irish immigrants had. His son graduated West Point in 1889, and served as Major General George Irwin in WWI; his daughter, Amy Irwin McCormick, was a nurse with the Red Cross during WWI and his grandson graduated West Point in 1915 and served in WWII as Lt General Stafford Irwin. And the progenitor of them all, Medal of Honor recipient Brigadier General Bernard J.D. Irwin, sleeps in a hero’s grave at West Point. – Mike McCormack

Visit us online at to leave your comments, or write to us: Send a fax (212-244-3344), e-mail ( or write to Letters, Irish America Magazine, 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Letters should include the writer’s name, address and phone number and may be edited for clarity and length. 10 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

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{media watch} Mayor Marty Walsh Irish America’s cover story on Boston’s new mayor (February/March) received several mentions in Boston newspapers: Boston Sunday Globe – 2/2/2014 Walsh throws his gum in the garbage and unwraps a fresh piece. The 46-yearold former labor leader is sturdy but trim with a wide, sometimes goofy smile. He plasters his reddish hair neatly in place with gel and has a skin-colored mole high on his left cheek. On this day, he wears a gray suit with subtle blue pinstripes, powder-blue tie, and a white shirt. The anteroom immediately outside the mayor’s office is a hectic crossroads. There are three doors. Two receptionists regulate the flow, knocking on the mayor’s door to keep meetings moving. A coffee table has an Irish America magazine. Walsh’s face is on the cover with the headline: “A Hero for the Working Man.” – Andrew Ryan Dorchester Reporter – 2/3/2014 I was thrilled to see the face of Mayor Marty Walsh on the cover of Irish America Magazine for February/March. The article about Marty was the lead story in the magazine. The cover says, “Boston’s New Mayor, Martin Walsh, a Hero for the Working Man.” The article,

FEBRUARY / MARCH 2014 CANADA $4.95/ U.S. $3.95



Irish County Societies

WHAT ARE YOU LIKE? Questions for Thomas Cahill


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Designated a National Treasure

written by Michael Quinlin, was very flattering. The five-page feature gives Marty’s life story. It is also up-to-date. There is even a photo that shows cellist Yo-Yo Ma turning in his chair on stage at the inaugural and winking at Marty’s Mom, Mary, as he played “Danny Boy.” The article is terrific and I praise Mike Quinlin for doing such a good job in writing it. – Barbara McDonough

{contributors} Marilyn Cole Lownes has been contributing to Irish America since 1998 when she interviewed boxer Jack Dempsey’s widow Deanna. Since then, she has written cover stories on Kevin Kline and John Patrick Shanley, whom she talks to again for this issue. Marilyn has also written for British Esquire, The Times of London and Boxing Digest. Adam Farley, who interviewed Chris O’Dowd for this issue, has written for Irish America since 2012. A Seattle native, Farley contributed to several fledgling personal finance websites prior to moving to New York. He is currently finishing his Master’s thesis at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House on Northern Irish poetry and lives in Brooklyn. 12 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014


Boston Irish Reporter – 1/31/2014 In a story entitled “Walsh Plans Trip to Ireland in the Spring,” Gintautas Dumcius wrote: “Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who boasts roots in Co. Galway, always keeps an eye on the ould sod, but this spring, as he rounds out his first few months in office, he plans to check things out personally. ‘I haven’t even focused on it yet,’ Walsh told the Reporter this week as he continues to settle into his new job. ‘I do want to go, though, probably in May.’ He added that he wouldn’t be making any other stops while over there. “The mayoral trip across the Atlantic was first floated as a rumor in Irish America magazine, which celebrates the rise of the Dorchester native with a cover story in its February/March edition. Walsh, who served as a state representative from Dorchester for 16 years before running for mayor, has made many previous trips to Ireland. “Irish America noted that after his victory, the mayor spoke to the Irish broadcast medium Raidió na Gaeltachta and pledged a visit this year. ‘When he returns, Walsh will be assured a royal welcome befitting a native son who has done Connemara proud,’ the magazine IA wrote.”

John Fay has lived in Ireland since 1991. He founded the Northern Ireland political news site in 1996 and has been a contributor and blogger at since its inception. As an American, Fay has particular interest in Irish and Irish American military history, and in this issue he writes about visiting Normandy. Tom Riley, who writes about the Orphan Trains in this issue, is a prolific author and lecturer. He is President of The Rockland County Genealogical Association and he is trying to establish the first Orphan Train Museum in New York State. Tom was raised in an orphanage. He joined the Air Force at 17, and was posted to Vietnam. He attended Long Island University in Brooklyn and Iona College under the G.I. Bill. You can visit his web site at:

Wild Atlantic Way

Contact your travel agent, call

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{ hibernia }



Ireland Wracked by Storms reland has experienced heavier than usual winter storms with high winds and massive flooding particularly in the Shannon River basin. The extreme weather also had a devastating effect on Ireland’s coastal fishermen with the entire fleet kept in port for weeks on end as storms raged offshore. Meanwhile, in west Cork on February 10, two tourists were swept to their deaths by 70-mile-per-hour winds as they went for a walk along the Sheep’s Head peninsula. Rescue crews later recovered the body of one of the tourists, but Dutchman Roland Decker and his German mate are both thought to have drowned. The men, ages 32 and 31, were frequent visitors to the area and were staying near Kilcrohane in Decker’s family’s isolated holiday home overlooking Bantry Bay.


large section of one of Ireland’s most famous prehistoric forts fell into the sea in Co. Kerry following a storm on January 25.The Dunbeg Fort on the Dingle Peninsula at Slea Head is believed to be over 2,500 years old.The popular tourist site is now closed to the public while the Board of Works assesses the damage to the Bronze Age gem. The storm took with it almost 30 feet of the fort’s defensive wall and caused extensive damage to the fort’s main passageway. The loss of the site is serious in that it is the best known and intensively excavated fort in the country, and is a major stopping point on the Wild Atlantic tourist route. Archeologists are worried that even more of the structure could be lost with the next storm. – P.H.



VINEGAR HILL ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY his year marks the beginning of a three-year full archeological study of the 1798 Battle of Vinegar Hill site in County Wexford. The Rebellion battle, in which over 1,000 rebels were killed, was not a comprehensive defeat for the Irish, but significantly changed the momentum of the 1798 Rebellion. “At the end of this study we hope to have a more complete picture of what exactly took place and the expanse of the Battles of Enniscorthy and Vinegar Hill,” the National 1798 Rebellion Center Manager Jacqui Hynes said in a press statement. “Although there are significant historical accounts of the battle, from first-hand to those written for ‘political’ purposes, which serve to add to our knowledge of the events, what is missing is a full survey of the site and the battle in its entirety.” In addition to identifying key areas of fighting and illuminating 18th-century battlefield strategy, the primary goal is to set a national standard for battlefield research and preservation. Both Irish and international experts will employ noninvasive strategies that are designed to set a benchmark for low-impact research and conservation methods. The battlegrounds will remain open to visitors throughout the study so tourists can see the research Front row from left: Grace Warren, Emily as it happens. And for those Deacon, Aoibhe Oakes, and Eva Bailey from St. who are unable to make it to Mary’s N.S., Enniscorthy. Back row from left: Wexford, updates will be posted Dr. Tony Pollard, director of the Centre for on the Vinegar Hill Battlefield Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow; Jacqui Hynes, manager of the Center’s website. – A.F. National 1798 Rebellion Centre, Enniscorthy;




A truck overturned by high winds on the M8 near Fermoy, Co. Cork. Left: Sheep’s Head Peninsula where two tourists were swept to their deaths.

and Tony Larkin, Enniscorthy town manager.



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{news from ireland} NEW CHAIR FOR UL FOUNDATION oretta Brennan Glucksman is the new Chairman of the Board for the University of Limerick Foundation. Formerly the chairman of the American Ireland Funds, the Allentown, Pennsylvania-born philanthropist and her late husband, Lewis Glucksman, have made major contributions to the university over the past 20 years, funding key projects such as the Frank McCourt Chair in Creative Writing; Brennan Court Residence; the Glucksman Library; the Glucksman Chair in Contemporary Writing; the Glucksman Reading Room and the University Concert Hall. Don Barry, the UL President, commenting on the announcement, said, “We are honored that Loretta has agreed to become Chair of the UL Foundation. She and her late husband, Lewis Glucksman, along with their close friend,



From left: David Cronin, CEO University of Limerick Foundation; Mrs. Brennan Glucksman, Chairman of the Board; Prof. Don Barry, President, University of Limerick.

Chuck Feeney, have helped to shape the University from its early days and continue to be a hugely important part of the UL success story.” David Cronin, Chief Executive of the UL Foundation, said, “We are hugely appreciative that she will chair the Foundation in the coming years as we continue to play a leading role as a model

for successful philanthropic investment.” In response to her election, Loretta, whose roots lie in Donegal, Carlow and Leitrim, said, “My late husband Lew and I have a long history with the University of Limerick and I am delighted to be able to take on this challenge as we build on the University’s successes to date and the new opportunities that lie ahead.”

COIN FOR MCCORMACK he Central Bank of Ireland issued a 10-euro coin, their first new collection coin for 2014, to celebrate the life of Irish tenor John McCormack (1884-1945), who reached worldwide fame for his repertoire of both operatic and popular songs. Eight thousand coins retailing at 44 euro were minted. Born in Athlone as the fourth child in the McCormack household, John won the coveted gold medal of the RIGHT: John Dublin Feis Ceois in 1903, and soon thereMcCormack. after, thanks to local fundraising efforts, BELOW: The comtraveled to Italy to receive professional voice memorative tentraining in Milan. euro coin. In 1906, McCormack made his opera debut at the Teatro Chiabrera in Savona and in 1907 he began his first important operatic performance at Covent Garden in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, becoming the theater’s youngest principal tenor. With his increasing popularity and success in Europe, he traveled to the United States in 1909 to an adoring American public. During his long career, McCormack made hundreds of recordings, the first on phonograph wax cylinders in 1904. His most commercially successful series of records were those for the Victor Talking Machine Company during the 1910s and 1920s. He also performed regularly on radio and appeared in a few sound films, most notably the first British color film,


Wings of the Morning, in 1937, as well as in Orson Welles’s iconic film Citizen Kane in 1941, where he had a small though uncredited part. In his personal life, McCormack was married to Lily Foley in 1906 with whom he had two children, Cyril and Gwen. In 1928, he received the title of Papal Count from Pope Pius XI in recognition of his work for Catholic charities. He had earlier received three papal knighthoods: Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, and Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester. Having been diagnosed with emphysema in 1943, he retired permanently and settled in Dublin. After a series of infectious illnesses, including influenza and pneumonia, McCormack died in September, 1945 and was buried in Deansgrange. Athlone plans to rename the town civic square after the beloved singer, as well as erect a statue of him there. APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 15



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{news from ireland}

Ballymurphy Inquiry Moves Forward R

elatives of 11 people killed in Belfast by the British Army in 1971 met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in January to ask him to lobby the British Government to set up an independent panel inquiry into the deaths of their family members. It was an emotional moment for the families when the Taoiseach gave them his support. A family member interviewed on RTÉ said, “It was the first light at the end of the tunnel.” The Ballymurphy Massacre Families delegation also met with members of Amnesty International. In January, Members of the Ballymurphy Massacre families with Kartik Raj (second Kartik Raj from Amnesty’s London office visited the from left) of Amnesty International. Belfast sites where the 11 victims were killed by the British Army in August, 1971. The delegation then traveled to human rights issues. A spokesperson for the families said, “We Brussels on January 27 for an arranged meeting with members intend to brief those MEP’s present on how our loved ones died, of the European Parliament, saying it was another step for the the effect on us families and the local community.” families to bring their campaign into the international arena on – John Teggard

IRELAND’S SOCIAL, CULTURAL ENVIRONMENT HARMFUL TO MENTAL HEALTH uts to services, fear of crime, and loneliness brought on by emigration of loved ones have led to a huge surge in calls to a helpline for the elderly, The Irish Examiner reported at the end of January. Senior Helpline is the country’s only listening service for older people. In 2013, the center received more than 28,500 calls. The 345 volunteers who run the organization saw that the pain of emigration is having a huge impact, particularly followed by fears of attacks after a spate of robberies aimed at older people, most commonly among those living alone in isolated areas. Senior Helpline CEO Aine Brady said, “We will do our best to help them find a voice and share their problem or to break the cycle of loneliness.” However, Third Age, the group that runs the service, has seen its core funding from the HSE, Ireland’s national health service, reduced. But, thanks to support form Atlantic Philanthropies, Third Age is now embarking on a major restructuring program and recruitment of more volunteers, as currently it is possible to manage only half of the calls received. The Examiner also reported that St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services saw a 47 percent increase in calls relating to adolescent mental health last year. Clinical psychologist Paul Gilligan said a constant diet of negative commentary is damaging children’s mental health. “We are being constantly reminded of how badly Irish society has ‘messed up’ and how long it is going to take for us to recover,” he said. “Some commentators are talking of a lost decade. “Our young people are not immune to these factors and the sad truth is this destructive environment is serving to destroy their mental health. We need to change the story.” – P.H.



MEMBERS OF U.S. CONGRESS TO VISIT DERRY / LONDONDERRY “When we stood together on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama during our 2013 Civil Rights pilgrimage, we vowed ‘Next Year in Ireland.’ In April we will fulfill that promise,” says Liz McCloskey, President of The Faith & Politics Institute (FPI), an organization founded in 1991 to advance leadership among political leaders in order to help bridge the divides of race, party, and religion.A U.S. Congressional delegation led by civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, who often cites Dr. King as his inspiration, will join local citizens in a march across the Peace Bridge in Derry.This structure not only physically connects two sides of a once-divided city but has become a place where members of both traditions in Northern Ireland can enjoy what peace brings – the miracle of ordinary life.The Derry visit of the FPI delegation is part of a five-day trip to Ireland that also includes an Iveagh House address by Congressman Lewis in Dublin and a visit to Stormont and other sites in Belfast. For more information visit: – Mary Pat Kelly On the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama: (top row) Rep. Joe Kennedy (DMA) and Rep. Jim Crowley (D-NY); (bottom row) Michael Collins (Chief of Staff, Rep. Lewis), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Liz McCloskey (President & CEO, FPI) and Kristin Leary (Co-Founder, The Frederick Douglass-Daniel O’Connell Project). 16 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

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{ irish eye on hollywood} By Tom Deignan The St. Patrick’s Day season brings with it two movies featuring Irish actors – one an established veteran and the other a versatile up and comer. First, there’s the always-busy Ciaran Hinds in McCanick. The crime flick features David Morse as the title character, a detective driven to the brink of insanity during his pursuit of an ex-con just released from prison. Belfast-born Hinds plays the harried chief of police trying to keep his detectives on the right side of the law. There is a tinge of real-life sadness in McCanick. The mysterious ex-con is played by Cory Monteith, the Ciaran Hinds young star of the television show Glee who died from a drug overdose last year. Look for McCanick in theaters at the end of March. Hinds, who has appeared in a slew of movies ranging from Munich to several Harry Potter flicks, also recently lent his vocal talents to the March animated release Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

“richly lensed mood piece about two brothers plunged into a state of nascent death anxiety.” In April, check out Dublin-born actor Aidan McArdle in The Borderlands, about Vatican investigators sent to Britain to authenticate reports of paranormal activity. Directed by Elliot Goldner (his debut behind the camera), The Borderlands also features Robin Hill and Gordon Kennedy. After graduating from University College Dublin and London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, McArdle (who happens to be a cousin of Philomena star Steve Coogan) broke into show biz with a string of roles playing historical figures, including Albert Einstein and Igor Stravinsky. As for big-time Hollywood flicks in April, Irish American Denis Leary is part of an all-star cast in Draft Day. The film

A much smaller release in March is Hide Your Smiling Faces, starring Ryan Jones, Nathan Varnson, and Colm O’Leary. A few years back, O’Leary starred as an Irish immigrant carpenter in The Builder, a film for which he also co-wrote the screenplay. O’Leary also co-wrote the 2012 drama The Comedy. Hide Your Smiling Faces is set in the rural U.S.

LEFT: Colm O’Leary in The Builder. ABOVE: (from left) Ryan Jones, Daniel Patrick Carbone, Florian Weghorn and Nathan Vamson. RIGHT: Aidan McArdle.

South and looks at two innocent brothers whose lives pass as a string of happy, lazy days until they are forced to confront some of the more unpleasant aspects of the adult world. O’Leary plays an abusive father. The independent film, directed by Daniel Patrick Carbone, generated lots of buzz on the festival circuit and was picked up by Tribeca Film for a late March release in theaters. Back when Hide Your Smiling Faces was playing at festivals, Variety magazine praised the film’s “elegance and insight,” calling it a 18 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

is set on the day of the National Football League draft and chronicles the tough choices facing a general manager, played by Kevin Costner. As the film unfolds, it becomes clear just how much is riding on the player he selects that day. Not only does the general manager want to pick a player who will prove to be successful, the future of football in the city of Cleveland

may well be riding on the results of this draft. Toss in some high personal stakes and you’ve got a football movie that is not just about football. (Think Jerry Maguire meets Moneyball.) Draft Day was directed by comedy legend Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Meatballs). Joining Leary and Costner in Draft Day is Irish American Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn as well as Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella and Rosanna Arquette. Speaking of Denis Leary, the son of Irish immigrants funnyman will also star in a new half-hour sitcom on FX entitled Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. Leary, who also created the series, will appear as Johnny Rock, a former singer in a highlypraised rock band that broke up just as they were about to hit



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Laurie Metcalf

the big time, because of Johnny’s drug abuse and infidelity. The show picks up with Johnny confronting middle age and hoping to reunite the band. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll brings FX and Leary back together, following their long, successful run with the post-9/11 dramedy series Rescue Me, in which Leary also played a middle-aged man whose past substance abuse and infidelity continued to wreak havoc on his current personal life. Early word is Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll will also feature cameos from real-life musical icons.


Denis Leary

Also on the TV front, CBS continues to tinker with its forthcoming Boston Irish sitcom The McCarthys, which has very interesting potential, so long as it is not a big, gay, Irish stereotypical disaster. The network recently announced that film and TV veteran (not to mention Emmy winner) Laurie Metcalf will join the cast of The McCarthys. Metcalf will star alongside Rescue Me alum and Bronx-born Irish American Jack McGee and New Kids on the Block alum Joe McIntyre. CBS says the show revolves around “a big, Irish Catholic, sports-crazed Boston clan and the gay son whose greatest sin is not his sexuality but his desire to spend less time with his family.” Metcalf will be playing the family’s mother Marjorie, who the network says has “no filter and loves having her gay son keep her company when her husband and other kids are off coaching basketball games.” Keep your fingers crossed that the Catholic, Irish, and gay stereotypes are kept to a minimum. One final note from TV Land: Irish actors Ardal O’Hanlon and Orlagh O’Keefe will star in a new Irish TV series for children entitled Driftwood Bay. Peter Mullan, Stephen Fry and Jane Horrocks are also expected to voice the show, which follows a little girl who waits at the shoreline of a beach and lets her imagination run wild as items wash up on the shore. The show will air on RTÉ in Ireland and the Sprout network in the U.S. Also in April, we’ll see how American audiences react when a bunch of Irishmen make a movie with a distinctly British comic sensibility. Aidan McArdle’s cousin Steve Coogan (whose parents were Irish immigrants to Britain) stars in his first film following his Oscar nomination for writing the

screenplay to Philomena. Coogan is taking his famous talk show personality character Alan Partridge to the big screen. The Alan Partridge persona is designed to satirize talk shows and the inflated egos of the hosts. “Narcissistic” and “vulgar” were two words Entertainment Weekly used to describe Partridge, as part of a broader rave about Coogan’s film, which is entitled Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. In the movie, workers at Partridge’s radio station are taken hostage by a disgruntled former employee, played by the ever active Irish actor Colm

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Meaney. Partridge is technically the man responsible for the former employee losing his job, and so now he is the only man Meaney’s character will talk to. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa received raves when it was released in the U.K., and will be available On Demand in the U.S. before it hits theaters in April. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa was directed by Wexford native Declan Lowney.

Finally, two historical movies with Irish connections that might be worth some space on your Netflix queue if you didn’t get a chance to see them in theaters. First, building off of the surprising success of her cable TV epic The Bible, Roma Downey starred in – and co-produced – Son of God, which tells the life story of Jesus. Downey and her reality-TV mogul husband Mark Burnett edited the Jesus footage from The Bible to create this movie, which is quite different from, say, The Last Temptation of Christ or Passion of the Christ. Meanwhile, Belfast-born actor Michael Smiley plays the main antagonist the alchemist O’Neill in A Field in England, released in February in the U.S. The black-and-white flick follows a band of deserters during the 17th-century English civil war who may or may not be descending into madness. IA APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 19



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The Long Road Back to “White O’Morn” Cottage I t was a magical place – a romantic place – the mythical cottage of Mary Kate and Sean Thornton that was featured in John Ford’s classic 1952 movie The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Sadly, Sean Thornton and Mary Kate's real-life “wee humble cottage” currently lies in ruin. There is much more to this plot of land than just a set location. Most people do not know that The Quiet Man cottage was an actual historic family home dating back to the pre-1820s. The Joyce family was still living in the cottage at the time the movie was made. This was possible because only exterior shots were done in Ireland; all interiors were shot on a soundstage in Hollywood. Historic records show the cottage existed on the same site as far back as 1820. Ongoing research is sure to confirm that it existed well before even that early date. In a bid to prevent further deterioration of this internationally recognized (and cherished) Irish cottage, Paddy McCormick (formerly of Belfast and campaigner for this cause for 15 years) has begun circulating an appeal and an online petition requesting that Galway County Council add this historic location to the Council’s Register of Protected Structures. Upon learning this, Maureen O’Hara (who has been a supporter of this cause for years) signed the petition to assist all who dream for action in preserving and restoring this landmark. O’Hara said, “If you think about Duke, John Ford and all the people who worked on the picture it is sad to see the cottage in a shambles. How can anyone say anything but wonderful things about it, and see to it that it is restored for them and in their memory – and for Ireland?” According to the Council’s official guidelines, a “Protected Structure” is: “A

TOP: The romantic cottage, central to the movie The Quiet Man, now lies in ruins. LEFT: Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne in a scene from the movie. A glimpse of the colttage is seen over Ms. O’Hara’s shoulder.

structure that a planning authority considers to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social, or technical point of view. It may be a building or part of a building which is of significance because of its architectural or artistic quality, or its setting, or because of its association with commercial, cultural, economic, industrial, military, political, social or religious history.” The beauty of this is that the owner does not relinquish his property, but as historical property it would then be eligible for developmental grants and funding.

This location’s real-life history combined with its international recognition and association with The Quiet Man movie creates a very special marriage of history, culture, and art – uniquely fulfilling the Council’s criteria. It also embodies a special symbol to millions of fans throughout the world who came to love Ireland because of the film. Sixty years have passed since that day in 1951 when John Ford brought in his cast and crew to film on location in and around the village of Cong. Since that time, tourists have flocked to the location to get even a tiny glimpse of how it all began and how it unfolded into a cinema masterpiece with Ireland as the star. We can’t disappoint these people or deny future generations of this piece of history. Maureen O’Hara herself has two words that she uses frequently at the end IA of many sentences “Please God.” – By June Parker Beck & Paddy McCormick carries links to the petition, as well as the official Maureen O'Hara Facebook website: 20 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

Aer Lingus Congratulates Irish America Magazine’s 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees and Extends Warm Irish Congratulations to

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{hibernia} Ban on Makeup and False Eyelashes for Irish Dancers

I Mairead Carlin, Carly Simon, and Damian McGinty.

American Song Becomes Anthem of Hope in Ireland Legendary singer/songwriter Carly Simon was moved to tears by a new cover of her iconic “Let the River Run,” which became the theme song for Derry/Londonderry City of Culture celebrations.


he new single by Stroke City native singers Damian McGinty (of the tv show “Glee”) and Mairead Carlin (of Celtic Woman) celebrates the close of Derry/Londonderry’s year as U.K. City of Culture. And Simon couldn’t hold back her emotions on first hearing the Irish duo’s rendition. “I just played it and cried my eyes out and am still crying. It’s absolutely stunningly wonderful. Thank you for doing me proud,” said Simon, who was so impressed she invited the pair to perform with her in Beverly Hills recently at a gala event to support and celebrate Oceana’s mission to protect and restore the world’s oceans. “It’s a very proud moment to represent Derry on such a large worldwide scale with so many prestigious figures, showing the world how incredible our city is and singing ‘Let the River Run.’ It’s something I will never forget,” said McGinty. Mairead, currently on a world tour with Celtic Woman, flew in to L.A. specially for the performance. “What an amazing night!” she said. “I feel very lucky to have sung with Carly, one of my greatest inspirations." Carly’s record label is now planning to release Carlin and McGinty's new recording of “Let the River Run” as a single, to be released in a unique joint venture between Simon’s label, Iris Records, and the Derry-based label Walled City Records. Derry’s year of culture has been heralded as an outstanding success, with record numbers of visitors enjoying the various events, and local communities making generous concessions and gestures, which led to mutual respect for their cultural traditions, and a peaceful atmosphere. “Let the River Run” is available now on preorder and was released on iTunes and Amazon on January 20.


rish dancers under 10 years old are now forbidden to wear makeup or false eyelashes during competition but can still wear wigs.The Irish Dancing Commission’s site announced that the ban would take effect in March. The news created major ripples in the Irish dance world where there has been considerable controversy over the increasing use of makeup on young children. Debbie Ryan, the Long Island-based parent of one former Irish dancer, told IrishCentral that she welcomed the news. “It is good, more age appropriate. Children ten and under do not wear that stuff in the real world so why should Irish dancing be

different? “We are all worried about child pageants and forcing young girls especially to dress and act older than they are.” Another move has been to ban carriage aids that allow dancers of all ages to keep their arms straight while dancing.To ensure the dancers aren’t wearing the aids, they will “be required to perform the simple exercise of raising their arms to shoulder level unhindered,” say the new rules. – James O’Shea


You’re Welcome, Garth


our hundred thousand tickets have been sold for Garth Brooks’s Irish tour this coming summer. Irish fans queued up all night in the January cold, with up to 10,000 waiting for the ticket office to open. In 90 minutes, the first 240,000 tickets were sold. The country music star had intended to play three nights but quickly added an extra date, and then another, after his fourth concert also sold out in minutes. One of the promoters said that in 52 years of business it was the fastest-selling event he had ever been involved with. Bob Doyle, Garth’s manager, said he was “thrilled.” The artist will play five consecutive nights at Croke Park, beginning on July 29th. It goes without saying that country music is huge in Ireland. Some musicologists credit Irish immigrants with the development of the genre in the U.S. – P.H.

Congratulations to: Professor Christine Kinealy Chris Matthews Steven, Patti Ann and Conor McDonald Governor Martin O’Malley Bill O’Reilly Pat Ryan Brian Stack

Andy McKenna

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Judy Collins Live in Ireland udy Collins and some of Ireland’s best loved musicians took over Dromoland Castle last September to film a concert that will be broadcast on PBS this coming spring: Judy Collins Live in Ireland. One of the most influential folk singers of the sixties who has continued to inspire audiences with sublime vocals, Judy has long had an association with Ireland and was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in New Ross, Wexford last June. She explained her reasons for wanting to do a show in Ireland, saying, “I have lived with Irish songs all my life, and it was important to me to bring them back to Ireland, where they all started. My father was half Irish and always sang the old songs, and as a tribute to my family roots and the roots of my own career. The songs that got me started in my career of singing folk music were Irish – ‘Barbara Allen’ and ‘Gypsy Rover’ – had their roots in the Irish tradition, so it seemed the right thing to do!” Collins also talked to Irish America about a new “Irish” song that she wrote called ‘Moon Over the Hudson,’ which she sang at Irish America’s Business 100 Awards luncheon in December. “It came to me just before I left to do my Irish show at Dromoland Castle — I had only recently learned that two of my great-greatgrandfathers had fought and died in the



Clockwise from top: Judy on stage in Dromoland Castle. The DVD cover of the new PBS special broadcast. A duet of “She Moved Through the Fair,” with Judy and famed Irish singer Mary Black. Judy takes a bow and shares the moment with young Irish dancer Emily Ellis.

Union Army in the Civil War, and one of my relatives played the pipes for the Colonial Army in the Revolutionary War – one night I looked out my window and saw a new moon over the Hudson, and the thought that my ancestors had come over to the States in ships made of tears as

well as dreams, struck me as proper for a song, as well as a tribute to the Irish diaspora in America and other points around the globe.” Judy Collins Live in Ireland follows on the success of the 2013 PBS special – Judy Collins Live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was awarded a Bronze Medal at the 2013 New York Festival International Television & Film Awards. Live in Ireland showcases such Judy Collins classics as ‘Chelsea Morning,’ ‘Cat’s in the Cradle,’ and ‘Bird on a Wire,’as well as many of her favorite Irish tunes, including, ‘She Moved Through the Fair’ (featuring the amazing Mary Black), ‘Wild Mountain Thyme,’ and of course, ‘Danny Boy.’ Judy Collins Live in Ireland, which will air on PBS throughout March, is an experience not to be missed. Check out your local PBS stations for times and listings. IA For more information visit

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Brennan’s Torpedo Irish inventor is honored in London


ouis Philip Brennan was born on Main Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, on 28 January 1852. He was the tenth child of Thomas Brennan, a hardware merchant in the town. Following the death of at least five of Louis’s older siblings as small children during the Irish Famine Years (18451847), the Brennan family emigrated to start a new life in the gold rush boomtown of Melbourne, Australia. Louis Brennan started his working life as a watchmaker in Australia and went on to become an Irish-Australian mechanical engineer and inventor of Brennan’s torpedo, the world’s first practical guided missile, and the gyroscopic monorail. Sir Winston Churchill once remarked about Brennan’s monorail, “Sir, your invention promises to revolutionize the railway systems of the world.” Churchill would do his very best to ensure that Brennan’s monorail would become the most sought after transport

Wall installation in Gillingham, Kent, showing some of Louis Brennan's inventions.

system of the 20th century. He did not succeed, but nonetheless, with a torpedo and a helicopter also under his belt, Brennan may be the most remarkable inventor ever born in Ireland. At the tender age of 22, Brennan invented for coastal defense a torpedo which was propelled by counter-rotating screws driven by the unwinding of two fine steel wires from internal drums and steered by the differential action of the two wires which were wound onto drums on shore or on shipboard by a 28 horse26 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

power steam engine. It became known as “Brennan’s Torpedo.” Soon after, Brennan moved to England and became manager of the Government Torpedo Manufacturing Plant in Kent, which manufactured his torpedo, from 1880 to 1896. He took up employment with the Ministry of Munitions from 1910 until 1918, moving to the Royal Aircraft factory at Farnborough, where he invented a type of helicopter. However, the withdrawal of funds prevented the invention

from being made a commercial proposition. At the time of his death, Brennan had at least 38 items patented in London He was knocked down by a car on December 26, 1931, while on vacation in Montreux, Switzerland, and died on January 17, 1932 as a result of the injuries he received. Brennan was buried in an unmarked grave, plot No. 2454, St. Mary’s Cemetery, Harrow Road, London on January 26, 1932. In 2012, following a public meeting held in the Travellers Friend Hotel a local committee was set up to arrange for a suitable memorial to this famous Castlebarborn inventor. This small and dedicated group, consisting of historians Ernie Sweeney, Michael Baynes, Michael Feeney, and Councillor Ger. Deere and myself, have worked tirelessly for the past two years to ensure this project would come to fruition. Now, thanks to members of the Irish diaspora in England, especially retired Manchester businessman John Kennedy, Londoners Andy Rogers, John Basquill, and Kieran Mc Cormack, and with additional support from Castlebar Town Council, Louis Brennan will be given the recognition he richly deserves. On March 11, 2014, a newly fashioned headstone will officially mark the final resting place of Louis Brennan. The ceremony will be performed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who will be accompanied by Noreen Heston, Mayor of Castlebar. Descendants of Louis Brennan from the U.S. will join with members of the organizing committee from Castlebar and members of Mayo Associations in the U.K. for this historic event. In addition to the headstone unveiling, a memorial service will be conducted by Monsignor Canon Thomas Egan, Chief Administrator at St. Mary’s Cemetery and also a Castlebar native. A plaque commemorating Brennan’s work will also be IA unveiled. – Brian Hoban

Congratulations, Andy McKenna We Celebrate Your Induction Into the Irish America Hall of Fame. We Raise Our Shamrock Shakes to You! Your McDonald’s Family ®

©2014 McDonald’s Corporation. The Golden Arches logo is owned by the McDonald’s Corporation.

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Fordham Calls For Finucane Inquiry

Phoenix Irish Honor O’Connor




uman Rights First joined the family of Northern Ireland civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane on the 25th anniversary of his murder to discuss the campaign for a public inquiry into his killing.The roundtable discussion took place at the James McNally Amphitheater at Fordham Law School in New York on February 12. Brian Dooley, Director, Human Rights Defenders Program at Human Rights First, served as moderator. Finucane was a prominent human rights lawyer in Belfast when he was shot in front of his family at his home on February 12, 1989. Less than a month before, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Office Douglas Hogg stated during a debate in the London House of Commons on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill: “I have to state as a fact, but with great regret, that there are in Northern Ireland a number of solicitors who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA…” which many observers saw as an invitation for lawless elements to strike against criminal defense lawyers. Twenty-five years later, Finucane’s family continues to campaign for a public inquiry into the circumstances of his death, including possible police collusion.

ABOVE: Chef David Burke presenting Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe (right) his award at the GIH Gala. LEFT: Pulizer Prize winners Jimmy Breslin (left) with Pete Hamill.

Irish Studies NYU Gala



n January 16, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was presented with the prestigious Anam Cara Award (Irish Soul Friend) from the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix. Justice O’Connor was recognized for her outstanding career, long-term service to the community and her family’s Irish heritage. As the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor is renowned worldwide. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and served the nation’s highest court for 25 years. Raised on a cattle ranch in Arizona, she now resides in Phoenix. The Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix was established in 1998 and celebrates Irish culture, literature, music and history through the McClelland Irish Library (where the O’Connor family enjoyed viewing the O’Connor family genealogy) and numerous events. The Center and Library are owned by the city of Phoenix and operated through a public-private partnership with the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation, Inc. a non-profit corporation. – M.M. LEFT TO RIGHT: Norman McClelland, chair, McClelland Irish Library; Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Jim Daugherty, president, Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation, Phoenix.


ony-winning actor Brian Dennehy presented the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for Arts & Letters to acclaimed writer Pete Hamill at Glucksman Ireland House NYU’s Annual Gala on Tuesday, February 25. Hamill was honored along with celebrated restaurateur Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe, whose River Cafe and Water Club have served as icons for classic American cuisine and bred numerous acclaimed chefs. Both New York-born Irish Americans recognized how far they’d come from their respective Brooklyn and Bronx beginnings at the GIH gala at NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life. Author and essayist Peter Quinn acted as Master of Ceremonies at the Gala, which welcomed many high profile New Yorkers including Woody Allen and Soon Yi Previn, Governor of Connecticut Daniel P. Molloy, the Irish Ambassador to the U.S.Anne Anderson, Irish Ambassador to the U.N. David Donoghue, Consul General of Ireland Noel Kilkenny, original Riverdance principal dancer and choreographer Jean Butler, and journalists Jimmy Breslin, Denis Hamill, Dan Barry, and Jim Dwyer. The Seamus Heaney Award for Arts & Letters is awarded in memory of the late Nobel Laureate who was a great champion of GIH, NYU’s center for Irish-American and Irish Studies.The Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leadership, which Mr. O’Keeffe received, is awarded in memory of the co-founder of Glucksman Ireland House, whose career in finance, philanthropy and vision is relived constantly through the teaching, learning, and research fostered at Glucksman Ireland House NYU.

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Rea Does Joyce at Fairfield H earing Stephen Rea read the Cyclops chapter from Ulysses makes you realize that Joyce wanted us to enjoy his masterpiece, and to laugh. I was lucky to catch one of Rea’s performances in Ireland last year, and witnessed the delight of the audience. “This is fun,” the man sitting next to me said, showing his appreciation as Rea gave voice to Joyce’s characters – their accents and inflections, the illusions and twisted logic. Now, Rea is bringing his staged reading to the U.S., and will make James Joyce fans very happy on Wednesday, March 19, when he takes the audience at Fairfield University’s Quick Center on a journey back to Barney McKiernan’s Pub on Bloomsday, June 16, 1904. The Belfast-born, Academy Awardnominated actor, is a graduate of Queens University Belfast. He trained at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and was personally chosen by playwrights Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Sam Shepherd, to interpret their works. As Professor Nels Pearson, Director of

former of the works of Joyce, but he was also one of the founding members of the Field Day Theater Company, begun with renowned playwright Brian Friel in 1980 in Derry, Northern Ireland. That company went on to produce some of the most talked about works of the stage in contemporary theater, and it was a signature example of the role of the arts in stimulating the dialogues necessary for both justice and peace. While the highlight of Mr. Rea’s visit will be his readings from Joyce, which we anticipate will be a really eye and ear opening experience, given the way Joyce’s language thrives in oral performance, we will also embrace the opportunity for students to learn more about Mr. Rea’s deep involvement with Feild Day and Irish literary history.” IA – Mary Pat Kelly

the Irish Studies Program at Fairfield University, and a Joyce scholar himself, says, “The Irish Studies Program is delighted to have Mr. Rea perform on campus. Not only is he a major figure in film and a devoted promoter and per-

The performance takes place on campus at the Regina Quick Center, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT. at 7:30pm. General admission is $15, Seniors $10 and Fairfield University students $5. Box Office (203)254-4010 or

Lady of Sligo Finds New Home in Quinnipiac


reland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT recently acquired the historically significant collection of Hester Catherine de Burgh, Lady Sligo (1800-1878).The letters and other related artifacts will be on display at the institute’s inaugural exhibition, titled “Lady Sligo Letters,” which opens to the public April 29. The collection of more than 200 letters principally relates to the period of the Great Hunger. Christine Kinealy, a famine scholar, the founding IGHI director, and one of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, argues that in addition to being “absolutely fascinating from an historical and political perspective,” they will more crucially “add an important new dimension to scholarly understanding of the tragedy.” Lady Hester Catherine de Burgh was born into Anglo-Irish privilege, and in 1816 she married the Marquess of Sligo, owner of Westport House, becoming Lady Sligo.


But in the1840s her husband suffered a debilitating stroke and Lady Sligo took over the day-to-day management of the estate. Her letters from the period demonstrate a keen awareness of contemporary politics and her concern for the poor, especially as the Famine unfolded, while providing unique insights into Irish society in the mid-nineteenth century. Some of the topics she discussed in Portrait of Lady the letters were the Great Hunger in Sligo County Mayo, a badly affected region; the role and influence of women in Irish society; the diverse response of Big Houses to poor tenants during a period of crisis; and the social and political difficulties faced by humane landlords. The exhibition will be on display in the Lender Special Collection Room of the Arnold Bernhard Library at Quinnipiac, a venue built in the form of a ship’s hull to commemorate the mass emigration occasioned by the Great Hunger.

A MonuMenTAl legAcy

Archbishop John J. hughes The building of sT. pATrick’s cAThedrAl Featuring a Selection of Paintings from the Brian P. Burns Collection of Irish Art

Photograph of archbishop john j. hughes: archives of the archdiocese of new york; st. Patrick’s cathedral: chris laPutt; The Tenant, Castle Rackrent (1880) and The Schoolroom (or Empty Pockets) (1887) from the Brian P. Burns collection of irish art

The consulaTe general of ireland, new york March 7 - july 31, 2014 (212) 319-2555 ext 0 | by appointment only

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Quote Unquote “The 1965 Immigration Act has got to be changed. The act denied access to the U.S. for the Irish, and we’re not going to stop until that changes.” Ciaran Staunton, president of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR). The group organized a rally on Capital Hill on March 12th, 2014.

“. . . in my mind, it really is about the kids. It starts a memory about following your team that lasts a lifetime. This is what it’s all about. “And I feel so humbled about bringing this championship back to Seattle. There’s no fan base that deserves this more, one that has supported this team with more passion and love and spirit. So yeah, shut down school. Let’s do this celebration rightfully and peacefully.” Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked if Seattle-area schools should shut down so kids could come to the Super Bowl victory parade in downtown Seattle. – Terry Blount for

“People are listening. I was actually shocked . . . because I was expecting someone here or there to forget about the laws or just not pay attention . . . We are Day 4 or 5 [into Fashion Week] and we’re still doing good. Congratulations to all of the designers.”

IRISH AMERICA June/July 2009

Can. $4.95 U.S. $3.95






Pete Carroll and his wife Glena ride in the Super Bowl Parade.

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Super model Coco Rocha praising designers for following laws that protect models younger than 18. Rocha, active in the Model Alliance, which helped push the law, says they will focus next on model health care . The New York Post, February 11.

“[Irish dance] was a highly organized cultural activity, very insular and inward looking. That has all completely changed now in the last 20 years, largely because of these shows that have brought the image of Irish dancing to a global audience. They’ve attracted people who now want to learn this form and don’t necessarily have any connection with Ireland.” – Jean Butler, the original female lead in “Riverdance,” who is now a choreographer and teaches Irish studies at New York University. New York Times, February 16.

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The Light of Munster By Chris Ryan


f I could be dropped anywhere in Ireland with my camera and lenses, I’d choose the region of Munster nearly every time. The spectacular cliffs on the coast of Clare, the wild headlands of the Kingdom of Kerry – the landscape is rugged and the coastline endless. But photography is so much about light, and isn’t the weather still … well, Irish? And yet, if photography were predictable it wouldn’t be an art. An Irish sky is “completely covered by cloud well over 50 percent of the time,” according to the Meteorological Service. So even if you’ve composed the best shot in all of Erin, your image might still look flat and shapeless. But unpredictable breaks from the norm can make the Irish landscape come alive. A sunbeam finds a gap in the clouds and lights up a valley lake (opposite, bottom). A splash of light hits water droplets in the distance, throwing a rainbow across your frame (opposite, top). These happy accidents illuminate details, add depth and contour, and appear so dramatic precisely because they’re surrounded by shadowed hills or dark clouds. Lightscapes like these are breathtaking, and fleeting – and breathtaking precicely because they’re fleeting. Serendipity is much of what makes photographing in Ireland so rewarding. Even when the sun makes no appearance all day, I’m still always glad I lugged my camera. The rain and dew so common there make the green all around you vibrant and saturated. And a cloud cover is perfect for photographing people; the


diffuse light reduces hard shadows and spares subjects from squinting, making faces soft and natural. Most of my visits to Ireland have landed in the summertime, but I once found myself in Kerry in November, amazed by how different the landscape looked. Instead of the endless green I’d come to expect, I saw gold everywhere. As autumn comes, many plants (like ferns) turn brown, and even the light itself is a warmer hue. The arc of the sun falls lower and – if enough of the sky is clear – more and more of the day resembles the so-called “magic hour,” so sought-after by photogra-



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OPPOSITE PAGE TOP: Ancient dolmen above Kenmare River. BOTTOM: Old Lahinch sign and remains of Dough Castle, County Clare. THIS PAGE ABOVE: Double rainbow in farmer’s field, County Tipperary. LEFT: Friends lighting an evening bonfire, Ring of Kerry. BELOW: Hiker in Black Valley, County Kerry.




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Clockwise from top left: Farmer’s wall in late-evening sunlight, County Clare; View over Cliffs of Moher, County Clare; One-lane country road, interior of County Kerry; Celtic cross headstones on Abbey Island, County Kerry; Free-roaming horses on island in the Kenmare River, County Kerry.

phers. The light is golden and its shadows are soft and long, like a never-ending sunset. Just as you never know what light you’re going to have to shoot with, you often don’t know just what you’ll find to shoot. I was surprised to come across horses (right) after landing on an apparently uninhabited island while kayaking the Kenmare River. I wandered upon an ancient abbey and cemetery (and the three Celtic cross headstones, below) while walking coastal bluffs in southwest Kerry. As morbid as it sounds, I find cemeteries compelling to explore. They’re alive with history, full of intriguing details, and, in Ireland, so seamless with the grass and ivy in their



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midst and the hillsides and coastlines beyond that, to me, they’re part of the natural landscape. Many of Munster’s natural features are mapped and signposted, and some of those spots are indeed exceptional, not least of which are the Cliffs of Moher. The most photographed view is probably from the lookout at O’Brien’s Tower. But an old path (since re-routed) runs for several kilometers from the visitors’ complex to the town of Doolin and offers infinitely more perspectives, enhancing the itch to explore the cliffs rather than just visit them. When I look at the images I shot there I am viscerally reminded of the breathtaking heights of the cliffs. In one photo (above), the precarious old trail passes mere inches from the edge of Ireland and yellow flowers and soft grass spill over the edge to the wave-pounded rocks far below. It’s those happy surprises you stumble across when you leave the main path and those exquisite, unpredictable moments of heavenly light that keep pulling me back to Munster, to see what the next day will bring and discover IA what’s around the next bend.

Chris Ryan is a photographer and writer. See more of his Ireland photography at: APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 37

brought to life by people. Visitors can drive the entire route or enjoy it in bite-sized chunks. The first part of the route winds from County Donegal to County Mayo where Hall of Famers Andy McKenna, Governor Martin O’Malley and Christine Kinealy all find pieces of their family history. Continuing to where Patti Ann McDonald traces her roots in County Cork, there is more to explore and discover! The clear waters off the village of Baltimore County Cork, make for ideal whale-watching and the historic town of Kinsale with its trove of fine restaurants is a surefire way to bring the tastes of Ireland back home with you.

A Message From Alison Metcalfe It is with great pleasure that I extend our warmest congratulations to the 2014 Inductees into the Irish America Hall of Fame. Ireland and Irish America have a long-standing tradition of great orators, intellectuals, entrepreneurial leaders and dedicated community workers which is well represented by this year’s inspiring group of honorees. The journey of each of these honorees’ families is a unique trail from Pat Ryan and Christine Kinealy’s families’ roots in County Tipperary, to Bill O’Reilly’s family history in County Cavan and the North, to Brian Stack’s background in bustling Dublin and Chris Matthews’ family’s story from Northern Ireland to Pennsylvania. Every piece of Ireland has a story to tell and history to discover. As the success of The Gathering 2013 echoes throughout Ireland, the spirit of welcome and the call of home have never been more alive. Planning a unique adventure through Island Ireland is easier now than ever. Northern Ireland is home to the histories of many Irish America Hall of Famers, including this year’s Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews. Take a ride along Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route and you can set foot on the storied Giant’s Causeway. Visit Belfast and take in a concert, experience the rich history of Titanic and savor the food at St. George’s Market.

2014 will be another special year in Ireland, with a number of special events taking place, such as the Limerick City of Culture, which will host a full calendar of arts, literary and theatrical spectaculars. The ‘Grande Partenza’ or ‘Big Start’ of the Giro d’Italia will see the world’s greatest cyclists descend on Ireland in May and race along our scenic roads with stage stops in Belfast, Armagh and Dublin. Dublin will also host another college football game, which will see the University of Central Florida take on Penn State in their home opener in the Croke Park Classic. Getting to Ireland has never been easier with 10% more direct airline seats leaving on flights from 10 gateways across America, including the new San Francisco to Dublin service starting in April. Congratulations to all the 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees, and thank you to Irish America for making last year a record year for Irish Tourism. We look forward to welcoming you all back again in 2014. Many thanks,

Executive Vice President United States & Canada Tourism Ireland

New for 2014 is the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way, which is the longest designated touring route in the world. Stretching for 1600 miles from the magnificent Inishowen peninsula in the Northwest to Kinsale in County Cork, this magnificent discovery route takes in more than 500 visitor attractions, more than 100 golf courses, 50 looped walks and many stunning beaches. Steeped in rich Celtic history, this wild rugged landscape offers an opportunity to get immersed in the many unique local experiences

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If you’re looking for one good reason to come home to Ireland this year, we’ll give you a million. That’s the record number of visitors who came from the U.S. during the year of The Gathering. And the wonderful festivals, music and sporting events are still going strong in 2014. So make plans today to visit the friends and family you’ve missed. And we’re fairly certain the road will rise up to meet you along the way. Find out more at

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The McDonalds

Story: Patricia Harty / Photo: Kit DeFever

A family who used love and forgiveness to move past tragedy.


ebruary 2013: The houses in Malverne look pretty. The snow lends a fairytale quality to the winter scene. Photographer Kit DeFever and I are wondering which one is the McDonalds’. The GPS brings us to a dead end street, but none of the four or five houses have numbers displayed in an obvious manner. There is not even a wheelchair ramp that would help with identification. We’re a little early so we sit in Kit’s truck listening to country music as I try Patti Ann McDonald on the phone. No answer. But minutes later, I spot her waving from the open front door of a traditional Cape Cod-style home. She apologizes for her wet head. “I just got home from work and took a quick shower,” she says, her manner easy and welcoming. The living room is a rectangular shape with comfortable couches, a fireplace, and an open kitchen at the far end. There is no hint that a handicapped person, let alone a quadriplegic ventilatordependent person, lives here. And, indeed, Steven McDonald is 40 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

not present, nor is his son Conor. “They are both at work; they should be here soon,” Patti Ann promises. Even with wet hair she’s an attractive woman. Fit and lithe with a ready smile. She shows us around so that Kit can pick his spot and check his light meters. Patti’s first job was as an assistant to the style editor of Parents magazine. Helping with photo shoots was something she enjoyed. “This is where the nurses hang out,” she says of a room off the main living room. “It used to have a therapy mat and a bed but Steven didn’t want anything that reminded him of hospital so we changed it.” Patti excuses herself to dry her hair and soon returns wearing light make-up and a stylish, dusky green wool jacket. Looking at her I wonder how she could have gone through what she did and still look so good. She was just 24, eight months married, and three months pregnant with Conor, when her husband was shot. Steven was 29 and just shy of two years on the force, a handsome 6’2” on a routine patrol of Central Park. He stopped to ques-



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tion three youths about some bicycle robberies and one of them pulled a gun and shot him. Three bullets pierced his head and neck and one shattered his spine between the second and third vertebrae leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Both Patti Ann and Steven grew up on Long Island – Patti in Malverne, where her father taught English at a local high school, Steven in nearby Rockville Centre. He was one of eight children and both his father and maternal grandfather were New York City cops. After a stint in the Navy, he followed in their path and joined the NYPD. Steven and Patti were both good athletes. He played football. She still coaches her high school tennis team. They loved music and movies and plays, and they had their Irish families and Catholic faith in common. On the day it happened, 28 years ago, on July 12, 1986, Patti Ann was visiting her sister Julie in Pennsylvania. The second eldest of the six Norris children, Julie was four years older and married to Kenny McGuire. Patti Ann remembers that they went out shopping. It was a hot summer’s day and she found some Halloween decorations on sale. Steven had suggested the trip because he was going to a baseball game on Friday night and working the four to midnight shift the following day. What he remembers about that Saturday is that he woke up not feeling so well. He wondered if he was coming down with the flu, or maybe it was the few beers he had at the baseball game? In two years on the job he had not missed any days, and he wasn’t going to call in sick. Besides his regular shifts, he was working all the overtime he could manage in order to put money aside to buy a house. On July 12, he received his pay check for two weeks. It was just over $800, of that $200 was for overtime. He and Patti Ann had been bickering about the fact that she saw so little of him because of the extra shifts he was working. He wanted to leave the apartment neat for her, but he figured he would have time to clean-up before she got back from her sister’s. As things turned out, he never saw that apartment again. Conor, Patti Ann and Steven’s son, arrived at the house before his dad. He no longer lives here. He’s 27 now and a police officer – he recently took the sergeant’s exam. Handsome with a nice smile and his mother’s warmth, Conor is soon chatting to Kit about a photography class he took at Boston College. “I still have some of your photos,” his mother chimes in. It was a tough decision to join the police force, Conor, who majored in history, admits. “There were people who created a path for me before I decided what I wanted to do. Individuals who wanted me to work on Wall Street or go to law school. But I did a year’s service with Americorp in Denver working with at-risk youth – runaways. When you think of Denver, you think of the mountains, how beautiful it is, but I met kids there who had crazy lives. Kids from Maryland who were scammed and got stuck out there, and kids who had escaped out of gangs in California.” He considered staying in Denver. “I was a little unsettled about coming home after what I’d seen. I grew up on Long Island. My parents gave me so much. They sent me to good schools, and this

was a different side to the life than I’d known.” He turned to a friend who worked at the runaway shelter to talk over the decision. “One thing we discussed was me going home and becoming a cop. Two days later I got a call that there was a spot for me at the NYPD Academy, so I took it as a sign.” He hoped as a cop that he could continue to help people. “I was probably in my teens when I became aware of what my family went through and all the help that was given to them, not just from people in the city but from people all over the world, and I just felt the need to help people.” As a cop, he says it’s tough to deal with a lot of things but that he’s lucky to have had people ahead of him who taught him the right way. “You do your best to protect and serve. I work with men and women who take that seriously. There’s a lot of people who need help. That’s why you have your first responders; you have the NYPD and the FDNY. You have your EMS – some of the hardest working guys in the city.” Even after four years, he says he’s still a rookie. “I’m working with guys who have 25 years on the job, from before I was a twinkle in my dad’s eyes.” Just then Steven rolls in. He’d been in the city talking to some new recruits. He puffs through a straw to make his wheelchair move, and he clearly has mastered the art. He does what amounts to a wheelie as he quickly turns around to get in place for the photo. In between takes, we talked about the aftermath of the shooting, and his waking up in Bellevue hospital unable to move or speak. “The worst day was when Patti Ann came in with the neurosurgeon and he said, ‘Mrs. McDonald, the way you see Steven is the way he’s always going to be.’ And he walked out of the room. Patti Ann collapsed on the floor crying and I couldn’t move to comfort her or call for help. It was just awful.” For months after the shooting, a tube was in his mouth blocking his vocal cords. Patti Ann, who is petite, would stand on a stool and put her ear to his mouth as he whispered a word or two. The only feeling he had was in his face. As the months went on she would try to put her pregnant belly near his face so he could feel the baby move. There were days, he said, when he wished he was dead. In a book, The Steven McDonald Story, that he wrote with Patti Ann and E.J. Kahn in 1989, he recounted how he would whisper to a friend to pull the blanket over his head and pump up his pain medication so he could escape the reality of what had happened. Now he talks openly to people about his battle with depression. Suicide is “an occupational hazard” in law enforcement. Statistics show that it is on the rise, and it’s a subject that Steven frequently addresses. “I tell them that I thought about doing it to myself. Thankfully, Patti Ann was there and she got on the phone and called Cardinal O’Connor and he came right over with Monsignor McCarthy. They spent the whole day into the night with me. They comforted me in my depression and talked me out of it. “I tell people that they also want to be a winner in that [suicideprone] situation and how they wouldn’t be solving any problems but creating new problems for their friends and families.” He gives maybe five or six talks a month. To young officers just Continued on page 78 APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 41



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Christine Kinealy Historian, Author, Activist By Matthew Skwiat


hristine Kinealy is the world-renowned historian and newly appointed professor of history and founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut. Beginning with her Ph.D. dissertation at Trinity College on the Irish workhouse system and continuing, in 1997, with her breakthrough book This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 184552, Kinealy has become an influential authority on Ireland. Throughout her many books she has expertly tackled issues like the Irish Famine, the abolitionist movement, the revolutions of 1848, and Northern Ireland. Her most recent book, Charity and the Great Hunger in Ireland: The Kindness of Strangers, sheds a groundbreaking light on some of the many donations that were made to Ireland during the Famine both within Europe and around the world by such interesting persons as Abraham Lincoln, Tom Thumb, the Choctaw Indians, and Queen Victoria. Cementing all of Kinealy’s work is a firm belief in social justice, which she told Irish America “underpins my work on the Famine, but also my interests in women, abolition, ‘invisible Protestants,’ and the treatment of Jews.” While Kinealy is an authority on Irish history, she was raised in Liverpool and never learned Irish history in school. She says of her youth, “Irish people living in Britain lived under the tremendous strain of trying to remain invisible.” It was not until she began her Ph.D. at Trinity College that the voices of Irish history denied in her youth were heard. From there, she worked in Belfast teaching Irish history in a women’s center, became an administrator for the Public Records office in Belfast, and spoke on the Famine in the British Houses of Parliament in 1997. Kinealy’s influence has been felt, not only by the readers 42 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

of her books, but by her students whom she has guided and helped shape into successful men and women. One of her greatest gifts is that of teacher. Yet, Kinealy admits she never wanted to be a teacher. “I always wanted to research. But teaching and research are indivisible; they feed each other,” she told Irish America. Kinealy has lectured all over the world and up until her appointment at Quinnipiac University in 2013, was a tenured professor of Irish history in Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Study in New Jersey, receiving the 2009 Will Herberg Award for excellence in teaching. Anyone lucky enough to sit in on a lecture of Dr. Kinealy’s will be at first surprised by her soft-spoken manner, subtle charm and infectious warmth. She presents history in a way that is both accessible and exciting. Her passion for the subject is contagious. I know that I speak for many of her students when I say how truly grateful I am for the knowledge, support, and friendship she has given me. When she is not researching in the archives, flying around the world, or teaching class, Kinealy enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Her daughter Siobhan was born in Dublin and is currently a law student at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Her son Ciaran was born in Belfast and currently lives in New York with his wife. Of her Irish heritage, Kinealy says: “The Kinealys (and our family spelled it in many ways – my grandparents on this side were illiterate) were from Tipperary; and on my mum’s side, Mayo – Ballycastle and Castlebar. I love Tipperary, but when I return to Mayo, which is often, I feel I am home. Both my parents are now dead – I was the youngest child and, typically, now regret not asking more questions when they were around.” IA



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Chris Matthews Political Commentator, Author By Adam Farley


hris Matthews has been following American politics since the first Eisenhower campaign. As a young teen, he became enthralled with the historic rivalry of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. It was a time of big downtown rallies and ticker tape parades on Wall Street, when supporters wore boater hats and bright campaign buttons. Hardly a decade later he was engaged in American politics professionally. Back home from the Peace Corps in Africa, he was working in the U.S. Senate. Then came his tour in the White House as a presidential speechwriter, followed by his front-row seat as top aide to the legendary Speaker of the House, Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr. In the late 1980s, Matthews switched to full-time journalism, serving as Washington Bureau Chief for The San Francisco Examiner. There he covered some of the greatest

events of the late 20th century, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first all-races election in South Africa. He began his career on television in 1994 as host of a twohour nightly program on the NBC-owned America’s Talking network. Three years later, he launched Hardball, now on MSNBC, which was the title of his best-selling handbook on real-life politics published in 1988. He has been on the air every weekday night since. In all the years that Matthews has been involved in the country’s public life he’s kept an abiding faith in electoral politics, and his quadrennial hope that the American people will make the best judgment on who should lead. He has kept that faith through war and peace, good times and bad, through great leaders and not-so-great. He has never lost his vigorous love of democracy and how it can serve to make this country, through all its challenges, a more perfect union. And his most recent best-selling book, Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked, is a magnificent personal history of a time when the two great political opponents of the 1980s, Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, worked together for the benefit of the country. Matthews was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Mary Teresa (née Shields) and Herb Matthews, a court reporter. His father was a Protestant of English and Northern Irish ancestry, and his mother was from an Irish Catholic family. Chris fondly remembers his paternal grandmother, an immigrant from Northern Ireland who, once widowed, single-handedly built a successful laundry service. “She spoke with an Irish accent and conveyed a strong, upbeat, fun-loving attitude her whole life,” he said. Matthews is himself a Roman Catholic. He attended La Salle College High School, and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He went on to do graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was also a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. He holds honorary degrees from numerous universities and colleges, including Washington University, Howard University, College of Holy Cross, and Fordham. Matthews is married to Kathleen Matthews (née Cunningham), Executive Vice President of Marriott International. IA




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Andy McKenna Corporate Titan, Community Leader By Adam Farley


ndrew McKenna is one of Chicago’s premier businessmen. He is nicknamed “St. Andrew of the Boardroom” because most of his work happens behind the scenes. But at the age of 84, “an age when most directors have politely been told to go home,” quipped Chicago magazine when they named him one of their 100 Most Powerful Chicagoans two years ago, he is still a highly sought-after figure in the field of corporate governance. Currently McKenna serves as the non-executive chairman of the board of directors of McDonald’s Corporation and a director of Schwarz Supply Source (a position he’s held since 1964), Ryan Specialty Group, the Chicago Bears, and the Skyline Corporation, The father of seven and grandfather of 24, Andy, as he is known, is a native Chicagoan who himself is one of six children. His father, Andrew J. McKenna, Sr., was a firstgeneration Irish American, with roots in Mayo and Monaghan, who joined the Dunn Coal Company in 1917 as a clerk and worked his way up the corporate rungs until he retired in 1971 as its president and CEO. He and his family were highly active in the Catholic community in Chicago and that balance of family, religion, and civic service is one that Andy still holds today. “I think family life is very important,” He said in an interview with Leaders magazine. “There is probably never a weekend when we don’t have some family experience.” As one might expect from the patriarch of a large Irish family, Andy is deeply invested in the success of the next generation, both his biological and corporate kin. He endeavors to promote from within in the companies he works for, and implores his colleagues to focus on mentoring and leading tomorrow’s top executives. “In my mind there are three little words that can help us measure up to that criteria of success for helping the next generation. They are: ‘Just say yes,’” Andy said in his 2013 acceptance speech for the Champion Fighter Award at the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago’s annual luncheon. “So when you’re asked to help the young get a start on their career . . . or grow on the job, and realize their potential, just say yes. And when you’re asked to support the institutions that foster opportunities in our society – high schools, churches, civic and governmental organizations – just say yes. And when you’re asked to work with others to tackle those challenges that will help make your communities a better place to live and work, just say yes.” McKenna practices his own imperative. In addition to his private sector positions, he is a trustee of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Museum of Science and Industry 44 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

(Chairman Emeritus), and his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame (he served as the Chairman Emeritus of the Board from 1992 to 2000 and was Vice Chairman for six years prior to that), and serves as a director of Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Ireland Economic Advisory Board, Lyric Opera of Chicago and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, among almost countless others. And he has called for other corporate leaders to involve themselves with the community around them. “All of us need to recognize there are community needs we must respond to, and while it may be personally fulfilling to help, it’s also critically important to do so,” he said. “I think at the end of life, the measure of success is not how much you’ve got but how much you’ve given, not how much you’ve earned but how much you’ve returned, and not IA how much you’ve won, it’s how much you’ve done.”



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Governor Martin O’Malley joins Leo Moran of The Sawdoctors on stage at his inauguration party.

Martin O’Malley Politician, Lawyer, Musician By Matthew Skwiat


artin O’Malley is the governor of Maryland and the former mayor of Baltimore. He was born, one of six children, in Washington, D.C. to Barbara and Thomas O’Malley, a former U.S Army Air Force pilot. It was his family who gave him the spark to enter public service. His dad’s father was a ward leader in Pittsburgh during the Roosevelt years. His mother worked for Senator Barbara Mikulski and nurtured her son’s interest in politics. His father was a lawyer rooted in civil rights. As the governor relates, “I went into public service because I grew up in a house where that was considered an honorable and important thing to do.” In 1999, at the age of 37, O’Malley became the mayor of Baltimore. After two terms the city’s crime rate was the lowest it had been in over three decades, and investment at an all time high. In 2005, Business Week featured O’Malley as one of the “new stars” in the Democratic party. In 2006, he ran against a Republican incumbent governor and won, and was re-elected in 2010. As governor, O’Malley has championed education (MD has the #1 ranking for best public schools in America), and has made Maryland one of the top two states for science and technology. He has also seen the creation of thousands of green energy sector jobs, and has cut state spending more than any previous governor in Maryland’s history. He has also expanded healthcare to 380,000 previously uninsured,

been vocal on immigration reform and raising the minimum wage, and signed legislation for same-sex marriage. Little wonder that he hasn’t had as much time to spend with his band O’Malley’s March. But his skills as a musician, which helped pay his way through college, have also helped his political career. “I do think that playing music is a bit of an international language, understood inherently by all people, and it helped me bridge racial divides as mayor of a majority African-American city. Whenever I would visit schools, kids would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, Mayor, I play the clarinet,’ or ‘Hey, Mayor, I play the drums.’ There was that sort of commonality,” he said, speaking to Irish America. Educated by the Jesuits, O’Malley quotes Georgetown historian Carroll Quigley: “Tomorrow can be better than today and that each of us has a personal and moral responsibility to make it so.” As a young boy he checked out all of the Irish history books at his local library, and remains connected to his Connemara roots through song, culture, and his cousins in Ireland. He says, “When you read a people’s history long enough, you become aware of the triumph of the human spirit, and the sort of universal eternal truths that are the core of the human experience.” O’Malley is married to Catherine Curran, who has roots in Co. Kilkenny, and was a former Assistant State Attorney and is now a Maryland state judge. They have been married since 1990 and have four children: Grace (named for Grace IA O’Malley, the Pirate Queen), Tara, William, and Jack. APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 45



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Bill O’Reilly Broadcaster, Author By Adam Farley


ince he joined the Fox News Channel as the anchor of “The O’Reilly Factor” in 1996, Bill O’Reilly has been the exemplar of cable news personalities. His style of challenging inquiry, the ease he shows in his role behind his desk, and the frank honesty of his editorializing has set a standard for other cable news programs that are similarly anchored by an opinionated presence. Unlike other political pundits though, O’Reilly did not come to Fox through politics; O’Reilly has always been a newsman. And that keeps him grounded in his traditional upbringing, able to hold an ear to his audience. “Whatever I have done or will do in this life,” O’Reilly wrote in his first bestselling book, The O’Reilly Factor, “I’m working-class Irish American.” O’Reilly, now 64, has done quite a bit, including producing a best-selling book almost each year of the last decade. Killing Jesus, his most recent, spent 6 weeks at number one on The New York Times best seller list. Born in New York in 1949, Bill grew up in Levittown, Long Island, the paragon of post-war, blue-collar suburbs. His father traces his lineage back to at least the early 18th century in County Cavan, and his mother’s side is from Northern Ireland. Bill recognizes the impact that heritage has on his upbringing and his current ideologies and practices. “My people were Kennedys, McLaughlins and O’Reillys, and because I had that strain going back 80 or 90 years since my people came over, those lessons I was taught as a child made a tremendous impression on me,” he told our partner publication, the Irish Voice, in 2008. “Whenever you get people in a working-class environment you get people who have a tremendous loyalty to their country, who are opposed to dramatic change. They don’t want it; they don’t know why it’s necessary. They have a strong loyalty to tradition. That’s still there.” He knows his audience because he is his audience. He attended St. Brigid’s grammar school and later moved to Chaminade High School, a private boys high school on Long Island. He attended Marist College, earned a degree in history and later, a Master of Arts in broadcast journalism from Boston University. 46 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

In a 2003 interview with NPR, Bill extolled his Catholic education: “What you learn from Catholic school is discipline; you learn manners; you learn to respect other people and authority; you learn to perform. You learn that there is a higher being; you are on earth for a specific purpose . . . I was a wild unruly youngster. I believe that if I didn’t have that kind of strict education I’d be in a penitentiary right now.” But that unrulyness is part of the etiology of Bill’s success. His appeal is that he is at times unpredictable and apartisan, to both the pleasure and chagrin of some of his viewers. Bill isn’t one to make up his mind easily, preferring to take in all the facts, free of spin, before making up his mind. But once it’s made, it’s hard to dissuade. “To this day I’m an independent thinker; I’m an independent voter; I’m a registered Independent,” he said in the same interview. “I basically look at the world from the point of view of ‘Let’s solve the problem.’ Whatever the problem is, let’s find the solution to it. And if the solution is on the left, I grab it. If it’s on the right, I grab it.” His goal with his show, he says, is not to convince viewers to his way of thinking, or his specific solution, but to open up dialogue. While he is firmly Catholic, he refuses to use his show as a platform for evangelizing the type of faith-based conservatism that airs on other conservative talk shows. “My mission isn’t to convert you,” he told Newsweek in 2011. “It’s to protect you.” O’Reilly has a daughter, Madeline (born 1998), and a son, Spencer (born 2003), with his former wife, Maureen IA E. McPhilmy.



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Patrick Ryan Businessman, Philanthropist By Adam Farley


he son of an Irish-American Ford dealer in a Milwaukee suburb, Patrick Ryan has made Chicago his residence since graduating from Northwestern University in 1959 and is now one of the city’s leading business people, philanthropists, and champions. “Chicago accepts people for the kind of person they are, not where they come from,” he says. But for Ryan, where he comes from is immensely important, because the role his father’s Ford dealership and his mother’s plea for him to return home shortly after college played in Ryan’s 50 years of success cannot be overstated. In the early 60s, Ryan was working for Penn Mutual in Chicago selling life insurance when his mother asked him to return to Milwaukee to help run the family business. He

couldn’t say no. Family has always been important to Ryan, who traces his roots to Tipperary. He soon came up with a way to improve the business and turn a profit himself. Dealers often tried to sell insurance along with a new car, but generally did not make good brokers. So in 1964, Ryan founded Pat Ryan & Associates to corner that market. Through a series of seemingly never-ending, delicately handled, and precisely executed acquisitions, the company continued to grow, and expand their offerings. They soon relocated to Chicago and went public in 1971. In 1982, Ryan’s company was purchased by a struggling Consolidated Insurance, one of the largest brokerage firms in the Midwest, and Ryan was named CEO and chairman of the board, a rare “upstream takeover,” in industry parlance. Five years later, Ryan had continued his streak of expansions and takeovers and renamed the new company Aon, the Gaelic word for “one” or “unity.” In an article published in the company’s internal magazine on the occasion of his retirement in 2008, Ryan remembered the poignancy of choosing the Irish word. “At that time we were bringing several companies together through organic growth coupled with strategic acquisition into one entity. Therefore, the name Aon was a perfect fit.” When Patrick retired in 2008, Aon had over 500 offices in 120 countries, including Ireland. The values of unity and family extend beyond the entrepreneurial realm as well. After Aon lost 176 employees in the September 11th World Trade Center attacks, the company established a $10 million college fund for the victims’ children. In Chicago, Patrick has been recognized for his numerous philanthropic contributions to the city, including purchasing 20 percent of the Chicago Bears when they were in need of financial support, and backing the Modern Wing of the Chicago Art Institute, which opened in 2009. In 1989 he and his wife Shirley (née Walsh) cofounded the Pathways Center for Children and the Pathways Awareness Foundation, which promotes early detection and treatment for movement disorders such as cerebral palsy. He recently stepped down as chairman of the board of trustees for his alma mater, Northwestern, after 14 years at its head, though he still serves as a trustee. For more than half a century, Patrick has been a Chicago fixture and a global pioneer for the values he inherited from his Irish American childhood, and it’s clear that he won’t stop being those any time soon. IA Patrick Shirley have three adult children. APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 47



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Brian Stack Championing Ireland By Matthew Skwiat


ublin native Brian W. Stack is the managing director of CIE Tours International and president of the Ireland-U.S Council for Commerce and Industry. In both these positions, Brian is at the forefront of promoting closer connections between Ireland and the U.S. CIE Tours vacation packages have tempted millions of Americans to visit Ireland over the years, while the Council promotes closer business links between Ireland and America and also operates a variety of scholarship and student internship programs. Brian has led CIE Tours since 1990. After all those years he still retains a passionate devotion to the company and for Ireland and is proud of the company’s part in helping to rebuild the Irish economy. CIE is the single largest purchaser of accommodations in Ireland. In 2013, the company had its most successful year ever. “There’s a lot of comfort in traveling with a company that’s been around for 83 years,” he says. Born in Dublin, Brian developed a knack for travel at an early age, vacationing with his family all around Europe. He joined Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline, in the 1960s working in every aspect from airport and cabin service to reservations. He eventually became a sales manager for Aer Lingus and relocated to England. “At that time, there was no such thing as career guidance,” he said. “In fact, I actually was going to go to college to be a dentist, but once I started working in the airline business, I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just continue doing this.’” Brian did continue doing just that, joining the Irish Tourist Board, moving to New York, and later becoming president of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives. Brian stayed with the Irish Tourist board for ten years, eventually securing a job at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida for six years. Following his time in Florida he began working for CIE and has been with them ever since. 48 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

CIE is one of the largest producers of tours in Ireland, taking visitors to places like Kilmainham Jail, Giants Causeway, Belfast, and everywhere in between. Guests can choose guided or self-guided tours, from the Castle Tour to the Circle of Friends Tour, which aims to reconnect parents, grandparents, and their children. The Circle of Friends Tour is one of Brian’s favorites. “There are a lot of Irish Americans who have done very well and rather than just dying and leaving money to your kids, to have the experience of traveling with them and spending the money while you’re alive, enjoying the company of your family, is really lovely.” Brian has his hands full directing CIE Tours International, but has also been prolific in other areas. He was chairman of the United States Tour Operators Association, president of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, and vice chairman of the Irish American Cultural Institute. Stack’s many awards include “Man of the Year” from the Incentive Travel Industry, “International Executive of the Year” by World Congress on Marketing and Incentive Travel, and has previously been honored as one of the Top 100 Irish Americans by Irish America. Brian resides in New York with his wife, Anne-Marie. IA They have two grown children.

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Brían Boru’s

Last Battle

A thousand years ago, on April 23, 1014, the Battle of Clontarf, and Brían Boru’s last costly victory, changed Irish political life forever. The following, from The Story of the Irish Race by Seumas MacManus, sets the scene in Ireland prior to the battle.

The Setting

Irish literature of a thousand years ago is obsessed with the occupation of Ireland by the Norse (also referred to as the Danes), and, if we are to believe the native annalists, a night of misery had really settled down on the country with the coming of the Vikings. On the occasion of a raid, villages were burned and sacked and there was wholesale slaughter and enslavement of men, women and children. A tax was laid upon all the people. In default of paying the tax, “nose-money” (a custom 50 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

which they brought from their own country), that is, the loss of the nose, was exacted. In the words of one of the old chroniclers, “even though a man had but one cow, he might not milk it for a child one night old, nor for a sick person, but he had to keep it for the tax collector and the foreign soldiers.”

Brían Boru

The most famous hero of this period in Ireland and one of the most famous in all Irish history was the celebrated Brían Mac

Cennéidigh, son of Kennedy, king of the Dalcassians, and chief of Thomond, including the eastern portion of the present county of Clare, and hereditary ruler of North Munster. Born around 941 in Kincora, he is known to history as Brían Boru, which he took from the name of the town of Bórime, near Killaloe, on the right bank of the Shannon. Brían was the youngest of twelve brothers, all of whom fell in battle except two: Marcian, who was head of the cler-



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FAR LEFT: “Battle of Clontarf,” oil on canvas painting by Hugh Frazer, 1826, Isaacs Art Center. LEFT: 18th-century engraving of Brían Boru, High King of Ireland.

gy of Munster, and Anlúan who died of a severe illness. Brían’s eldest brother Mathghamhain (Mahon) succeeded his father, and in 968 became king of Munster. Mahon was engaged almost constantly in war with the Vikings and with the Leinstermen who, as a rule, were in alliance with them. In 976 Mahon was betrayed and treacherously put to death by his Norse and Irish enemies. Brían, then 35 years of age, became king of Munster and took quick vengeance on the assassins. In three years’ time he was the undisputed king of the southern half of Ireland. Meanwhile, another great leader had risen in the North, Malachy II, the King of Meath. He won a victory over the Norse at the Battle of Tara in 980 and became High King.

For a few years there was a show of friendship between the two kings and in 998 they came to an understanding. They made a truce according to which, on certain conditions, Malachy would be limited to sole sovereign of the northern half, and Brían of the southern half of Ireland. Thereupon the Leinstermen allied themselves with the Dublin Norse and revolted. Brían and Malachy united their forces, “to the great joy of the Irish,” as the Four Masters say, and in 997, defeated them “with red slaughter” at Glenmáma, near Dunlavin, County Wicklow. The Irish then marched to Dublin, ravaged Leinster, and expelled King Sigtryggr (Sitric), with whom Brían himself was afterwards to make peace and alliance. The two Irish kings soon quarreled, and in the year 1002, Malachy, finding

that there was defection in his ranks, was compelled to resign his supremacy to the superior force of Brían and to step down to the position of provincial king. Brían then became “Ard Ri,” and claimed the monarchy of the whole Gaelic race. He set his royal seat at Kincora, where he ruled with a steady hand, establishing his power and authority on a firm basis. Though much of his time was given to preparation for war, he still found time to build forts, roads and churches. He founded schools and encouraged learning, dispatched agents abroad to buy books, and during his reign the bardic schools began to rise again. But his title as High King was never truly recognized by the north. Nor were the Leinstermen any too friendly and he had to maintain permanent garrisons in parts of Munster. He did not extirpate the Danes who were domiciled in Ireland or banish them from the kingdom, but treated them with the utmost leniency, and recognized the element of strength they would add to promote commerce and develop the resources of the country. In return for the Dublin Danes binding themselves to follow him in his wars, he was obliged to guarantee them and the other foreigners possession of their territory in Ireland. In furtherance of this policy, he found it to his interest to bind this peace by ties of marriage. A few months after the slaughter at Glenmáma he gave his daughter by his first wife in marriage to Sitric, his former opponent, while he himself married, as his second wife, Sitric’s mother, Gormlaith, a beautiful, powerful and intriguing Irish woman. Gormlaith’s marriage to Brían was her third matrimonial venture. She was first APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 51



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Brodar and Óspak were two Danish brothers who were active in the Isle of Man and Ireland in the 11th century. They are mentioned in the 12th-century Irish Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh and the 13th century Icelandic Njal's Saga as key leaders who fought on opposite sides in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. The latter account names Brodar as the killer of Brían Boru. Both Boru and Brodar died in the battle, although accounts differ as to who killed whom. Óspak fought on the side of Boru, and was injured, and lost his two sons in the battle.

married to Malachy II, then to Oláfr Kvaran (Amhlaobh “the Shoe”), the king of Norse Dublin by whom she had Sitric (who succeeded his father), and finally she was married to Brían Boru. In the words of the sagaman and oral literature, “Gormlaith was the fairest of all women, and best gifted in everything that was not in her own power, but it was the talk of men that she did all things ill over which she had any power.” It was through Gormlaith’s machinations and deadly hatred that Brían lost his life, and the last act in the long Norse-Irish drama was effected. A series of petty quarrels precipitated the denouncement. One day in the year 1013, Gormlaith’s brother, the Leinster prince Maolmordha (Molloy), who was in alliance with the Dublin Danes, was bringing three large pine masts for ship building, probably as a tribute, to Brían at Kincora. As his men were climbing a boggy hill near Roscrea a quarrel broke out between them and other clansmen, and Maolmórdha, giving a hand to support one of the masts, tore a silver button from a tunic which Brían had given him. On arriving at Kincora he asked his sister to mend the tunic for him, but instead she threw it into the fire, say52 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

ing he ought to be ashamed to accept any gift from Brían and thus admit his subjection to him. The taunt left a rankling wound in the heart of Maolmórdha. On another day Maolmórdha, while looking on while Brían’s eldest son, Murchadh (Morrough) and his cousin Conang were playing chess at Kincora, suggested a move which lost Murchadh the game. Then Murchadh angrily exclaimed, “That was like the advice you gave the Danes which lost them the battle of Glenmáma” – to which Maolmórdha replied, “Yes, and I will give them advice again, and this time they will not be defeated.” When Brían heard of the altercation, he sent a man post-haste after Maolmórdha with gifts to appease him and to invite him back to Kincora. The messenger overtook him on the bridge of Killaloe, but Maolmórdha broke the man’s head and kept on his way until he reached home where he made known to his people the great insult he had received from Brían’s son. He then joined forces with the Leinstermen and others and attacked Brían’s ally, Malachy and defeated him. In the meantime Brían had put away Gormlaith, who was then free to vent all

her spleen on him. She sought to win the help of Sigurd, Earl of the Orkneys, who was Irish on his mother’s side. He promised to come, provided, in case of success, he should be king of Ireland and have the hand of Gormlaith. Sitric next sought help from two Viking brothers who lived on the west coast of the Isle of Man. Ospak was a heathen, and Brodar had been a Christian but apostatized, and was regarded as a magician. He was a very tall man with long black hair which he wore tucked in under his belt, and he was clad in a coat of mail “which no steel could bite.” He too stipulated that he would come with twenty ships provided he should wed Gormlaith and become king of Ireland. As Sitric was under instructions to get help at any price, he made no scruple to accept the terms on condition that the agreement was to be kept secret. Ospak, who was dissatisfied with the arrangement, escaped from his brother during the night with his ten ships, sailed round Ireland and up the Shannon where he joined Brían and became his ally. By Palm Sunday in the year 1014, a great host of the massed forces of the Norse lands assembled on the shore of Clontarf, a few miles north of Dublin. It consisted of 1,000 mail-clad Norsemen under Brodar, Vikings from Normandy, Flanders, England and Cornwall, and, above all, fierce fighting men from the Orkneys, Shetlands, Hebrides, and other islands off the west coast of Scotland. With them also were the men of their race who had settled in and around Dublin, and the Ui Cinnselaigh (Kinsellas) from Wexford and the men of Leinster. These latter were under the command of their king Maolmórdha. On the side of Brían and Ireland were, besides his own people from Munster, the men of Connacht and Meath and the Christianized Norsemen. He also had an auxiliary force from Scotland under Domhnall, Great Steward of Mar, but he received no help from Ulster. In spite of his 73 years of age, Brían wished to lead his army in person, but his advisers persuaded him to retire to a tent not far from the field and there to await the issue. The real commander of the Irish forces was Brían’s son, Murchadh, a captain of outstanding ability, who stationed himself with a select corps of troops from Desmond and Thomond facing Brodar’s mail-clad warriors.



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Brían was unwilling to fight on Good Friday, but it had been prophesied to the Danes that if he fought on that day he would certainly be slain, so they forced the battle on Good Friday, which fell that year on April 23. Brían was unwilling to fight on Good Friday, but it had been prophesied to the Danes that if he fought on that day he would certainly be slain, so they forced the battle on Good Friday, which fell that year on April 23. The combat began at sunrise when the tide was full and raged till sunset. Both armies were estimated at about 20,000 men but the Danes were better armed. Before the battle, Brían was said to have mounted his charger and, with a goldenhilted sword in one hand and a crucifix in the other, urged on his men to meet the enemy. At the first onset, Brían’s men came in

had at first refused to fight on Good Friday and so the battle had begun without him.) Part of the enemy fled to their ships at Clontarf, but the returning tide had carried away the boats and prevented the escape of most of them. Great numbers were drowned in the sea and heaps of them lay dead on the ground. Four thousand of them are said to have fallen on Brían’s side and 7,000 on his opponent’s. Both parties lost most of their leaders, including the brave Earl Sigurd. During the battle Brían was guarded in his tent at Magduma, near Tomar’s wood, by a “fence of shields,” composed of chosen warriors who surrounded him

(Hy-many, now counties Galway and Roscommon), who afterwards fell in battle, pointed out Brían’s position to Brodar. The guard was overcome and, according to one account, Brían took his sword, slew the Norse invader and then killed himself; but the Norse account is that Brían was slain by a blow from Brodar who was slain in turn by an unknown hand. It was a costly victory for the Irish; the king himself, the heir-apparent (his brave son Murchadh), and the heir apparent’s heir (Turlough), all fell in the battle. The bodies of the former two were brought to Armagh and interred honorably in a tomb nearby the sanctuary of Saint Patrick. On the conclusion of the battle the troops disbanded, each clan going to its own territory, and Donchadh, Brían’s son, who had been away on a foraging expedition and had taken no part in the battle, took command. But the days of Ireland’s glory were departed. Had he or his family lived, the chance is that with the prestige of his name and the great victory at Clontarf, they would have founded a hereditary monarchy which would have put an end to disunion and demoralization and provided one of the strongest bulwarks against the Norman invasion which was soon to fall upon the country.


Ulf the Quarrelsome, brother to Brían Boru, finishing off the Sorcerer-Viking Brodir of Man, first removing Brodir’s “magical” chainmail, before killing him.

contact with the mail-clad men in the Danish center and were cut to pieces. But the enemy’s success was not lasting, and towards evening the efforts of the Irish were crowned with success and the day was saved by the arrival of Malachy’s men who were fresh and unwearied. (Malachy

with their shields locked together. The king is said to have knelt on a cushion with his psalm-book open before him. News was falsely brought to Brían that his son had fallen. Then a spy or traitor in the Irish camps, said to be Tadhg O Callaigh (O’Kelly), king of Ui Maine

Brían’s death and that of his eldest son brought about the displacement of the Dalcassians and the restoration of Malachy to the throne. In the year after Clontarf, 1015, Malachy led an army against Dublin and suppressed the last attempts of the foreigners. He reigned eight years and died in 1022. Brave, magnanimous, and inspired by a lofty patriotism and chivalry, he was the last Irish IA king to reign without opposition. The above is an abridged account from The Story of the Irish Race by Seumas McManus. Devin Adair Publishing. APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 53



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The Battle of Clontarf Brían Boru Millennium Celebrations ikings, mercenary warriors, tion of Brían Boru over the course of the marking the millennium of the Battle of and competing clans made Easter weekend (April 19th to 21st). That Clontarf will be held at Trinity College up the terrifying cast in one weekend, Dublin City Council will stage a Dublin on the 11th and 12th of April. This of Ireland’s oldest and bestdramatic re-enactment of the Battle of event will be free to the public and lecknown battles. All of these Clontarf in St Anne’s Park. It will be the tures will cover topics such as Brían and different elements will once again play biggest re-enactment ever held in Ireland, the Kings of Leinster, the rise of the Dál their part in the many events taking place with more than 500 people taking part. Cais, the documentary evidence from the to commemorate the 1000-year anniverThere will also be a complete medieval Battle of Clontarf, and the High Kingship sary of the Battle of Clontarf and the village, Viking longboats, falconry, after Brían. death of Ireland’s last great High King, archery, coin striking, and blacksmithing Additionally, the Long Room at Trinity Brían Boru. demonstrations, and much more. College will host an exhibition on the hisThere are events taking place throughThe return to Ireland of an iconic painttory and legend of Brían Boru. The exhiout Ireland. Killaloe, Clontarf, Dublin, ing of the Battle of Clontarf is another bition will include some of the library’s Cashel and Armagh – all places greatest medieval treasures such that were important in Brían’s as the Book of Leinster and the life story – are holding celebraBrían Boru harp. It will also feations of their own. ture the only item known to have A National Brían Boru been in Brían’s presence – the Heritage Trail is being set up to Book of Armagh. This exhibilink these places, with key tion will run until the end of locations along the trail giving October. visitors an insight into Viking An interdenominational servlife, the history of Brían Boru ice commemorating the millenand the significance of the nium will be held in Christ Battle of Clontarf. In Clontarf Church Cathedral on the 23rd of itself, a sign-posted trail has April. The National Botanic been designed along the 3kmGardens will be home to a long promenade. Due to open Viking House and an authentic this March, it aims to bring visViking garden throughout the Members of the Clontarf 2014 committee presenting commemoitors back in time to that fateful rative Brían Boru medallions to Minister Jimmy Deenihan and the year. Dublin City Hall will host battle 1000 years ago. Lord Mayor of Dublin. Left to right: Kay Lonergan, Chair, Clontarf a series of lunchtime lectures on The O’Brien clan (descen- Historical Society; Minister Jimmy Deenihan; Collette Gill, Chair, Tuesdays throughout April. dants of Brían Boru) have Clontarf 2014 Committee; Cllr. Oisin Quinn, Lord Mayor of Dublin; Killaloe will celebrate with a and Douglas Appleyard, Chair Raheny Heritage Society. planned a series of events that weekend of all things Viking, will bring them along this trail. From great cause for excitement. The painting including boats, games, tests and April 11th to 24th, they will follow an by Hugh Frazer is the best known image pageantry from the 11th to the 13th of itinerary called “The Footsteps of Brían of the battle and it has been out of the April, and another Viking-themed festival Ború.” country for the past 35 years. the following weekend. Viking longboats They will start in his birthplace of Depicting Brían Boru in his tent overwill be launched on the lake at Loughgall Killaloe with lectures, re-enactments and looking the battle as it stretches towards Country Park near Armagh on the 24th of visits to his ancestral throne. They will Howth in the distance the painting had April and talks and demonstrations will be then proceed to Cashel where he was been purchased by the American philangiven on Viking history and warrior crowned High King of Ireland and from thropist George Isaac from a private colweapon training. There will be a sympothere to the site of the Battle of Clontarf. lection in Ireland 35 years ago. It had then sium, a re-enactment of Brían’s inauguraThey will visit Viking sites in Dublin and gone on display at the Isaac Arts Centre in tion ceremony and much more besides. IA Brían’s tomb in Armagh before returning Hawaii until it was recently sold to the pri– Sharon Ni Chonchuir to Clontarf where a banquet will be held in vate equity firm Kildare Partners. Kildare Clontarf Castle to honour the legacy of Partners have made it available for the More information can be found at: this great king. They have invited the Clontarf 2014 celebrations, and the Kennedy, McNamara and O’Grady clans ing will be on free display at the Casino at (all related to Brían Boru) to join them in Marino until April 24. their celebrations. There are academic events being Dublin City will stage its main celebraized too. An international conference



Leadership. Vision. Humanity. We celebrate the tremendous accomplishments and outstanding contributions of the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees. Your commitment to excellence and our collective communities continues to inspire pride in our Irish heritage. Bob and Cindy McCann

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{travel }

Normandy T

Crosses at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, just above Omaha Beach.

An Irish American takes a family trip to Normandy’s WWII battle site By John Fay

his June marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings when the United States and her allies, primarily Britain and Canada, launched the air and sea assault on Nazi-occupied France that marked the beginning of the long eastward march to Berlin and the end of the Second World War. Starting on June 6, 1944, thousands of Americans, along with their allied comrades, fought and died in Normandy in northern France. Understandably, D-Day and the battle for Normandy have been of great interest to Americans since the end of the war and the subject of umpteen movies and hundreds, possibly thousands, of books. Like many Americans I had read a couple of those books and like many more Americans I had seen a number of the movies and television programs, including The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. Again, like most Americans I’d long thought it would be great to visit Normandy, to take the family on a little WWII history tour, which I recently did. We took the short flight to Paris from Dublin, rented a car, checked the map and started driving. All well and good, but as we approached the Normandy coast I realized I didn’t really know what I wanted to see or what there was to see, other than the American Cemetery near Omaha Beach. Just as I was starting to take a little heat for my lack of planning for the trip, my 11-year-old son Eoghan spoke up. He has a healthy interest in history, something my wife and I have encouraged. It paid off on this trip. When Eoghan first heard where we were going he was excited. He watched documentaries on the war and did his own supervised online research. We knew what he was doing, but still my wife and I were stunned when he produced his prioritized list of things he wanted to see in Normandy. Stunned, but relieved, we now had a plan. Still, I nearly drove by Pointe du Hoc. I knew I wanted to see where the Army Rangers came ashore and scaled the cliffs on D-Day, but I couldn’t remember the

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Above: The cliffs above the beach as seen from Pointe du Hoc. It provides some perspective on the task that the Rangers faced on June 6, 1944. Left: The church at SainteMère-Église. Note the white parachute caught on the roof, just as John Steele’s was on June 6, 1944. Below: Eoghan standing in front of a Half Track troop transport vehicle.

Above: Gravestone of J. Mullally from Westmeath who volunteered to fight Nazism in the British Army. APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 57



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Left: British war graves at Ranville. Each headstones in the center row features a harp, the symbol of the Royal Irish Rifles.

name of the place. Fortunately, Eoghan knew the name and shouted out when he saw the sign. Pointe du Hoc had highest priority on his list! Pointe du Hoc is a beautiful spot. The cliffs are magnificent, yet, all along the top of the cliffs there are massive gun emplacements – the guns that fired on the Allies as they sailed in towards the coast in June 1944. As we approached the Rangers Monument, the number of bomb craters was striking. It wasn’t hard to imagine the mayhem that they had caused – the noise for those nearby and the death and destruction they rained down on the armada coming from England. The cliffs are so high (100 feet, about 10 stories) and yet somehow those young men climbed up from the beach below us using ropes, all the while under attack from the Germans above. As my wife said, “That anyone even imagined doing that is shocking, but that it then became a plan and was actually carried out just takes your breath away.” The American Cemetery at Normandy is not far from Pointe du Hoc. It is in a beautiful location high up on the cliffs above Omaha Beach. There are nearly 10,000 Americans buried here and another 4,000 buried not too far away in Brittany, and when you add to that the 60 percent of those killed in the battle who were sent back to America for burial, it becomes obvious just how costly the battle for Normandy was. My first impression when I left the visitor center and walked out into the cemetery was the perfect uniformity of it – the white crosses perfectly spaced, perfectly aligned on a perfectly flat, perfectly green lawn. It may be a little too perfect; Arlington Cemetery is not as regimented. I almost had to force myself to walk among the graves as if my presence was disturbing the picture. The 150 or so Star of David grave markers help to break up the perfect uniformity. They are obvious from far off – the first signs that there are individual stories here. Then I saw the occasional Medal of Honor recipient. The lettering on their headstones is gold 58 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

so they stand out. Once I was among the headstones my eyes seemed to find the Irish names – Kellys (and Kelleys), Maloneys, McCormicks, Murphys, O’Briens, O’Neills and many others. Yet, somehow, I wasn’t as interested in the Irish angle as I would normally be. I asked myself why. D-Day and the battle for Normandy was not about being Irish or Jewish or Italian or Hispanic or Polish, but rather it was all about being American. My Irish heritage was a non-issue here. My American heritage was what was most important. When I came across the Niland brothers, whose story was the inspiration for Saving Private Ryan, I didn’t care whether their background was Irish or German (German – I learned later) because it was irrelevant. They were Americans and that’s all that mattered. And that’s also true for the other 9,381 men and four women buried there. Still, as I walked among the graves I found the stark sameness of the grave markers a little unsatisfying. Every stone the same shape containing the barest details – name, rank, serial number, regiment and division. Nothing more, not even the age at the time of death is included. The day before we had been in the British cemetery in Bayeux. Every headstone in the British cemetery is the same basic shape, but chiseled into each stone is the name, rank, service number, and the regiment. However, unlike the American stones the British ones have the regimental emblem and the age at death. There is usually a cross (sometimes a Star of David, sometimes nothing) on the stone, but even the crosses are not the same. Many of the stones include

short sentiments, often a biblical passage, from the deceased’s family. As I walked among the graves in the British cemetery, each headstone seemed to call out, “Look at me. Take note of my details.” It’s a style thing. I’m sure many people prefer the simplicity of the uniformity of the American cemetery, but I liked the individuality of the British stones. At the British cemetery I came across the grave of an Irishman. Of course, the Irish Free State, as it was then, was neutral during WWII, but this was a reminder that tens of thousands of Irishmen from north and south joined the British forces and an estimated 7,000 were killed in the war. They believed in the cause of freedom. Thanks to the Irish flag at his grave I spotted 28-year-old J. Mullally and we spent a few minutes at his grave. We finished our tour at Sainte-MèreÉglise. I’ll admit that if it wasn’t for Hollywood I would never have gone there, but The Longest Day did such a great job of depicting what happened at Sainte-Mère-Église that I couldn’t help wanting to go there. Thankfully, it was high on Eoghan’s list too. If you have seen The Longest Day you’ll remember the scene. Red Buttons plays John Steele, who on D-Day parachuted into Sainte-Mère-Église, but his parachute got caught on the top of the church and he just hung there until the battle was over and he was taken prisoner. All of that actually happened, and the people of Sainte-Mère-Église commemorate Steele’s predicament with a dummy hanging on a parachute from the church roof. The local people are still proud of Steele, what the Americans did there, and even that The Longest Day was made there. It was a great trip. One I’d love to repeat because there is still so much more to see. Any American who ventures into Normandy can’t help but feel a great deal of pride in what those who IA fought there accomplished.

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Orphan Trains Over 250,000 children were transported from New York to the Midwest over a 75-year period (1854-1929) in the largest mass migration of children in American history. As many as one in four were Irish. By Tom Riley

ife in the 19th century in New York City could be brutal for a child. A magnet to immigrants in search of work, it was also a haven for alcoholics, drug addicts, thieves and murderers. The loss of a job, addiction, injury or death of a parent, and the absence of a social safety net often meant it was the children who suffered the most. In the pre-Civil War era when 12,00015,000 orphans slept in alleyways and sewer pipes, the American Female Guardian Society (AFGS) was the first to come to the aid of these children, establishing schools, dormitories, and an infirmary. Contrary to the depiction of AFGS workers as saloon-bashing hysterical women, they gave aid and comfort when there was no welfare, food stamps or other government assistance. The women established both orphanages and homes for unwed mothers and battered women. Some of the children in the homes were orphans, and some were surrendered by parents who were unable to care for them. A report in the New York Times dated May 10, 1860, on the 26th anniversary of the AFGS, cited the four distinct classes of needy they served: “First – Friendless and deserving young women. Second – Destitute children between the ages of 3 and 14 years. Third – Motherless and orphan infants. Fourth. – Dependent mothers with children who should not be separated.” Over twenty years ago, I discovered



TOP: A train bound for the Midwest. ABOVE: Mealtime at the Children’s Aid Society.

26 milk crates with hundreds of record books belonging to the AFGS in a hayloft. The names, dates and dispositions of 35,000 children – at least 10,000 of whom had Irish names – were listed. Dating back to 1832, the books record a history of the efforts of the AFGS to aid destitute children inhabiting the Five Points area of Manhattan – then the most notorious urban slum of the western world. Already densely populated, the Five Points swarmed during the Famine years, when an estimated 75 percent of the Irish immigrating to America landed in New York. Overcrowded tenements with no running water were breeding grounds for

disease and infant and child mortality, and the area was rife with prostitution, unemployment, and crime. When Charles Loring Brace, a Connecticut minister, came to NYC he was appalled at the conditions the children were living under, so with Theodore Roosevelt Sr., and other philanthropists, he established the Children’s Aid Society, which worked with the AFGS. Sending children by rail across America was Loring Brace’s answer to solving the crisis. As the author of The Dangerous Classes, he believed that revolutionary fever could overtake New York City if something wasn’t done, and that the answer to homelessness “was the



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usually included the town doctor, clergyman, newspaper editor, store owner and/or teacher, to select possible parents for the children and approve or disapprove them when the children arrived. When a child was placed, a contract was signed between the Children’s Aid Society and the guardians taking the child. A typical contract read as follows: Terms on Which Boys are Placed in Homes

Charles Loring Brace

clean air, industriousness of the American farmer and their Christian values.” This led to the “free-home-placingout” of over 200,000 children between 1854 and 1929. The first Orphan Trains left Grand Central Station in late 1853 for Dowagiac, Michigan. The trains continued to run for 75 years. The last official train ran to Texas in 1929. Ideally, the children were to be taken in groups of 10 to 40 under the supervision of at least one agent who would plan a route and send flyers to towns along the railroad line where screening committees were set up to help the agent(s) in the placement process. The agent asked the committee, which

Applications must be endorsed by the Local Committee. Boys under 15 years of age, if not legally adopted, must be retained as members of the family and sent to school according to the Educational Laws of the State, until they are 18 years old. Suitable provision must then be made for their future. Boys 15 years of age must be retained as members of the family and sent to school during the winter months until they are 17 years old, when a mutual arrangement may be made. Boys over 16 years of age must be retained as members of the family for one year after which a mutual arrangement may be made. Parties taking boys agree to write to the Society at least once a year, or to have the boys do so. Removals of boys proving unsatisfactory can be arranged through the Local Committee or an Agent of the Society, with the party agreeing to retain the boy for a reasonable length of time after notifying the Society of the desired change.

If the child had to be removed from the household for any reason, the Children’s Aid Society did so at its own expense. It cost the new family nothing. Despite the best intentions of the agen-

Letters left with children at New York Foundling Hospital Dear Sister, Alone and deserted, I need to put my little one with you for a time. I would willingly work and take care of her but no one will have me and her too. All say they would take me if she was 2 or 3 years old, so not knowing what to do with her and not being able to pay her board, I bring her to you knowing you will be as kind to her as to the many others who are under your care, and I will get work and try hard to be able to relieve you of the care when I can take her to work with me. She is only 3 weeks old and I have not had her christened or anything. No one knows how awful it is to separate from their child but a mother, but I trust you will be kind. The only consolation I have is if I am spared and I lead an honest life that the father of us all will permit us to be united. A Mother, Brooklyn, Nov. 23, 1869




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Children line up to board an orphan train, c. I920.

cies involved, the placement process often resembled a cattle auction, children were paraded across a stage or in some cases a railroad platform and farmers would pick the hardiest as farmhands. One of the saddest aspects of the selection process was when children from one family were separated from their brothers and sisters. The siblings of the selected child would get back on the train for the next stop, possibly in another state, and the children often never saw their brothers and sisters again. This happened countless times and in my research I was only able to verify four of the hundreds of requests I received as to the whereabouts of family members. In the 1870’s, the Catholic Church became concerned that many Catholic children were being sent to Protestant

homes and were being inculcated with Protestant values. They began operating their own Placing Out program via the railroad sponsored by the New York Foundling Hospital. Priests in towns along the railroad routes were notified that the Foundling Hospital had children

in need of homes. The priest would make an announcement at Sunday Mass and adults could sign up for a child, specifying gender and preferred hair and eye color. The Foundling Hospital board believed that if a family received a child that “fit in,” everyone would be better

Orphan Train Rider Stories I rode the train to Missouri and lived a happily ever after life. By Jean Sexton n Brooklyn, New York in 1912, an Irish carpenter, who was the father of five children, died as the result of an industrial accident. Six months later, a sixth child was born to the thirty-five-year-old widow who was working hard to keep her family together. When the baby boy was eleven months old, his mother died. The grandparents were unable to Jean Sexton care for the six orphans, so they were taken to the Children’s Aid Society. In 1914, along with other homeless children, they boarded an Orphan Train to find new homes in the Midwest. I was the fifth child, three years old, and was separated from my sister and brothers when I was adopted in southwest Missouri. My foster parents were Walter and Margaret Landreth, a childless couple who lived twelve miles east of Neosho, Missouri. They soon became Mama and Daddy because I did not remember my biological parents. Daddy was a farmer and I was a tomboy. I loved going with Daddy whether it was to feed the cattle or gather walnuts. Daddy wanted me to have a pony, but Mama objected, saying that she was afraid I would get hurt. They finally compromised and I was soon riding a beautiful new bicycle. I would have had fewer black and blue marks had I had been riding a pony. In 1918, one of Daddy’s nieces, Mary, came to live with us after her mother died during the flu epidemic leaving behind ten children. Mary was six months younger than I was and we grew up together as sisters, sometimes mistaken for twins. With Mama’s help, we had many parties for our friends with taffy pulls and parlor games. An aunt and uncle joined in the fun by



helping with decorations and entertainment. Mr. J. W. Swan of Sedalia, Missouri, a very kind and considerate agent for the Children’s Aid Society, visited often, but Daddy did not appreciate his visits. He did not want anyone doubting his care for his little girl. Once, when Mr. Swan arrived during a rainstorm, Daddy remarked, “Hump! Fine weather for swans.” When I was sixteen, Mr. Swan came for his last visit and gave me the address of my brother, who lived in Colorado. My brother and I soon found our sister and baby brother, who had been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Stoneberger of Auburn, Nebraska. The following summer, the three of them came to Missouri and we had a wonderful reunion. After that, we kept in touch and had many good times together. After graduating from high school, I attended business college in Tulsa, Oklahoma, finishing there in the height of the Great Depression. Then I met and married the tall, dark, handsome man of my dreams. We struggled through the depression with few luxuries, but high hopes. During the thirties we bought our first home for eight hundred dollars, and had two sons. We worked at many different jobs, until the economy finally improved, and we were able to secure permanent positions. My husband worked for city and county government, and I went to work for Skelly Oil Company, retiring in 1973. My older son, Harold, is retired from state government and my younger son, Clark, has been in the ministry since 1965. They are both upstanding citizens and have been a blessing to me, always showing their love and respect in every way. I have also been blessed with four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Mama died after a stroke in 1981 at the age of 97. Daddy suffered a fatal heart attack in 1952.



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served. One such request will specifying the child was for a boy with red be given an inheritance. hair because the farmer Despite the best intenhad five red-haired tions of those involved, daughters and no sons. things did not always The boy was not only work out for the best. delivered, he later inherit“Many children fell ed the family farm. through the cracks; they An “Indenture” form was were mistreated, malnourused to place the children. It was ished, and overworked,” says a legal document that gave the Brothers writer and researcher Marilyn Holt, foundling legal recourse without William and author of the book, The Orphan Thomas going to court, should the placeTrains: Placing Out in America. ment not be satisfactory and the child had “On the other hand, for at least half, it was to be removed. a good experience. They had opportunities Often called an early form of adoption, they would not have had if they stayed it was not adoption as we know it today, where they were. They may not even have because the indentured children that were survived childhood.” not thereafter legally adopted were ineliBrothers William and Thomas, ages gible to inherit unless the adults left a eleven and nine, were put on the Orphan

A Not so Happy Ending By Marguerite Thompson y new Papa was a big man with a moustache and a kind face. The Larsons were of the upper class in that area. They had a lady that came and washed the clothes on a wash board. Another lady made all of our clothes except for our underwear. Mrs. Larson (Mama) would make all of our underwear. They already had two sons other than my brother Teddy. Our new home was a big two story house with 10 rooms, but we didn’t have any electricMarguerite ity. The house was beautiful inside. I didn’t have and Teddy a bedroom of my own; I slept on the couch in the front room on a feather mattress Mama would take out of her closet every night. After a few weeks, she said I could do it myself. The boys had bedrooms upstairs. Teddy and I were not permitted to use the bathroom. We had to use the outside toilet, and on Saturday we would drag a galvanized bathtub from the back porch and put it by the cook stove. Mama didn’t like my New York accent at all. She wanted me to talk like they did, so I was slapped quite often in the mouth. Sometimes I would wonder what I had done wrong. I had only been there a few weeks when Teddy brought out a china doll to play with. He said it was his and I couldn’t play with it. Well one day I found it and took it outside and broke it. I got my first whipping. They rented out three of the bedrooms to salesmen. When I was six, Teddy and I started school. When we came home from school, we had to wash the dinner dishes from noon. Then we had to go upstairs and make the beds, dust mop the floors and clean the bathroom. We didn’t dare use the toilet, she said it took too much water. By the time we got through with that,


Dear Sisters, By the love of God be so kind as to take this poor orphan child in and if she should die, please do bury her for me and I will be very happy.You must not think that I have neglected her. I have worked very hard to pay her board but I can’t afford to bury her. So, by the love of God, take this little child in. May God Bless you all for your kindness to all the little sufferers.This little child has suffered since she was born and I have paid debts but I have not paid all but I shall. My husband is dead and I have nobody to help me. Be kind to my little lamb. May the great God receive her into Heaven where she will be loved by God. Unsigned

it was time to set the table for supper. I always only had one helping put on my plate. Teddy and Charles always had milk to drink with their dinner, but she said I couldn’t have any. They had two cows and a lot of milk, and Teddy and I would deliver it both morning and night. Charles (age 14) went with us a few times until we could do it on our own. Sometimes I went by myself, especially if it was cold. One morning on my way to school, it was so cold that the sidewalks were very icy, and I slipped and fell. One bucket of milk hit the sidewalk, the lid blew off, and half of the milk spilled out. Well, I got up, put the lid back on, and set it on the porch where it was supposed to go. The lady called my foster mother and wanted to know why she didn’t get a full quart of milk. When I went home at noon, my foster mother told me about it and wanted to know if I drank some of it. I told her what had happened, and she said I was lying. Then she got the rawhide whip and didn’t even care where she hit me. Between the ages of six and eleven I got many whippings. I can truthfully say I never got enough to eat. When I would come home from school and go to the pantry to get a piece of bread and butter, she said I was stealing it, because I didn’t ask for it. Once a year, Mr. McPhealy would come from the New York Foundling Home to see how I was getting along. I had to tell him fine. I would have to speak a piece for him, or poetry as it is called now. The name of it was “Looking on the Bright Side.” Then I had to dance the Irish jig for him, and when I was through, I was excused. I would go outside and cry and wish he would take me back with him. I wanted to tell him the truth about how I was treated, but I couldn’t. Still, she would whip me if she thought I was lying. I often wondered why Papa Larson didn’t ever have anything to say about the way she treated me, but it seemed to me like she ruled the house. APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 63



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Train in 1880 by the New York House of Refuge. William found a good home. Thomas was exploited for labor, abused and desperate. The brothers returned to New York in their adult years and reunited. While some were overworked, ran away or resorted to crime, seventy-five percent of Orphan Train Riders became productive American citizens. Two became governors, 20 were elected to Congress, and tens of thousands served in the U.S. Armed Forces. A judge in Indiana took in a young boy called John Brady, who later went to Yale and became Governor of Alaska. Andrew Burke was sent to Indiana, ran away from a farm and joined the Civil War. He later became Governor of North Dakota. Michael Jordon, who was born in Ireland and was orphaned when both his parents died on the voyage to America, was sent to Indiana on an Orphan Train. He became a doctor and willed the Children’s Aid Society five thousand dollars upon his death. Dr. Michael

Flynn taught at Indiana University. He was an Orphan Train Rider. So many children were sent to the Midwest that it is estimated one in four Iowans can trace their ancestry to an Orphan Train Rider. Approximately only 200-300 of those who rode the rails as children are alive today. We owe them an opportunity to tell their story. As the 160th anniversary of the first Orphan Train approaches, it is time for New York State to commemorate the children’s journey. Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota have all established museums to keep the story alive. Louisiana’s legislature has even set aside almost a quarter of a million dollars to erect a museum. New York State, where the the era of the Orphan Trains began and from where 273,000 children were transported by rail, has yet to memorialize the children's journey. It is said that 2,000,000 Americans are descended from Orphan Train Riders. IA Are you one of them?

In 1962, Nebraska Orphan Train Riders held their first annual reunion in Grand Island. Two nuns and a priest from the New York Foundling Hospital attended.

Credits: Quote from Marilyn Holt is from an article in The Register Star by Julie Snively. “Terms on Which Boys are Placed in Homes”; letters from the archives of the Foundling Hospital, and also the letters from the orphans, are courtesy of the National Orphan Train Complex based in Concordia, Kansas. This organization is dedicated to keeping the story of the Orphan Trains alive by hosting events, exhibitions, reunions and aiding in genealogical research. The record books that Tom Riley found in the hay loft are now part of the complex’s archive. For more information on the National Orphan Train Complex visit: Phone: 785-243-4471 Email: To learn more about author Tom Riley visit:


From the archives of The Children’s Aid Society.

Dear Sister, I now sit down to write to you a few lines but I hardly know what to say, for when I inform you that I am the mother of the child left on Thanksgiving night between the hours of 8 and 9 o’clock without even a slip of paper to tell you the name of the child left in your care, my heart aches so much I cannot tell, but I knew that I was leaving her in good hands. Although I have been unfortunate, I am neither low nor degraded and am in hopes of one day claiming my child. Her name is Jane … born on 5 of October 1869 between the hours of 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning … she had a piece of canton – flannel tied around her head and a little blue and white cloud around and little red and white socks on her feet – and if the prayers of an unfortunate creature like myself will do any good, offered to – the mercy of God in heaven – for you know that every night on my bended knees I pray for you. I am very sorry that I have nothing to send you this time but I am in hopes there will be a day when I shall be able to pay you for all your trouble. This two Dollars is to have this child christened Willie. Do not be afraid of the sores on its face; it is nothing but a ringworm.You’ll remember this badge. Unsigned [Included with cloth badge that reads, “General Grant our Next President.”]

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{roots} By Brian P. Kennedy

Clan Kennedy:

Of Presidents and Kings

Camelot might be a misnomer. Brían Boru, the last High King of Ireland, was a Kennedy.



Kennedys (the O was ordered to be dropped during the Penal Times), are identifiable as being from particular parts of North Tipperary through the centuriesold tradition they used to name their children. They eventually became engaged in cargo hauling, boating, fishing and farming along the River Suir, a major communication link with counties Kilkenny, Waterford, and Wexford.

O’Kennedy Chief to Be Named After 300 Year Gap


he O’Kennedy genealogies, held by the Royal Irish Academy, record that Ceineidi, King of Thomond, was the father of Brían Bóruma mac Cennétig (c. 941 – 1014), today known as Brían Boru, the last Ard Ri or High King of all of Ireland. This genealogy traces President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s likely descent from Ceineidi, King of North Munster in the 10th century, to John “Kenedy,” the first recorded Kennedy in Dunganstown County Wexford in the 18th century, and then on to the late President himself. The O’Kennedy descendants of Ceineidi moved from the vicinity of Killaloe in County Clare across Loch Derg to Ormond in North Tipperary. They established themselves there as the Lords of Ormond and held and expanded their territory in Ormond up to, and after, the coming of the Normans in the 12th century. The many written deeds between the O’Kennedys and the Norman Butlers who were awarded their territory demonstrate that the O’Kennedys were a force to be reckoned with. For several centuries they fiercely resisted attempts by the Butler Earls of Ormond to subjugate them. Eventually, in the 16th and 17th centuries, O’Kennedys and Butlers were rebel allies, joint landholders in North Tipperary and even marriage partners. The joint landholding is seen to be the means by which O’Kennedy husbandmen, horseboys and yeomen moved from North Tipperary to Butler lands in South Tipperary bordering the River Suir. The Cromwellian land confiscations of the mid17th century put an end to the landholding of the O’Kennedys and the Butlers and displaced the O’Kennedys. The Butlers were returned considerable acreages following the restoration of the English monarchy, but the O’Kennedys received little of their former land in Ormond. Descendants of some of the displaced

LEFT: Brían Boru sculpture on the Chapel Royal outside Dublin. ABOVE: Detail of President John F. Kennedy statue outside the Mass. State House.

This trade network down the Suir eventually caused a gradual migration of Kennedys over more than two centuries from their traditional homelands in North Tipperary to Dunganstown in County Wexford. Traditional Kennedy first names such as Brian, Dermot, James, John, Owen and William, repeated over the generations, can be ascertained to be more relevant to parts of Lower Ormond than to other parts of North Tipperary, especially in areas adjacent to the River Suir, suggesting migration along the waterway. In fact, the first recorded ancestor of JFK in Dunganstown, John Kenedy, was born in 1740 and was employed by the

This July, the Kennedy Clan will elect their first chieftain after a lapse of 300 years.The ceremony will take place in Tipperary on Sunday, July 6 at the annual Kennedy gathering, which was reinstated in 2011.The last great O’Kennedy chief of Upper Ormond, County Tipperary, to live in the Gaelic Order and under Gaelic law was Conor alias McTeig (chief) of Ballycahill. Chiefs of the O’Kennedys of Ireland are recorded as far back as 1152 when Finn O’Kennedy (the fair-haired chief) died. For the next 450 years they had an unbroken succession of chiefs.The line ceased after the Battle of Kinsale with the abolition of the Brehon Laws and the dispersion of the O’Kennedys to the west and the south of Ireland. All Kennedys and their relatives and friends and other interested people are welcome. Further details are available from: river industries. Even today, Kennedys living in Dunganstown who are related to the late President have followed the occupations of farming and fishing and still engage in boating. That JFK liked his boats too was just another continuation of IA the family trade. Australian Brian P. Kennedy holds a Master of Education degree from the Queensland University of Technology and has been researching Kennedy history since 1970. His publications include The Irish Kennedys (1998), John F. Kennedy’s Irish O’Kennedy Ancestors (2012), and most recently The Mountainy Kennedys, Vols. 1 and 2. His research and publications have earned him the title of the Seanachi, historian or storyteller, of the Kennedy clan.



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Boyle to

Chris O’Dowd has been busy since Bridesmaids, and it’s only made him more eager to return to his roots as an actor and Roscommoner. By Adam Farley rom the beginning of our conversation, Chris O’Dowd is enthusiastic. I only have my first two words out before he says, “Yes!” My first two words, “Moone Boy,” are the title of O’Dowd’s autobiographical coming-ofage comedy that is back for a second season after a near two-year hiatus and O’Dowd is rightfully exclamatory. As he will explain in a few seconds, the second episode of the second season aired hours before in Ireland and the U.K. and he’s on Twitter checking the reaction. It’s good. Immensely personal and culturally aware, “Moone Boy” may be O’Dowd’s favorite project right now because it connects him to his childhood home. In fact, many of the scenes are filmed in places he knew as an adolescent, and most of the storylines are drawn straight from his own experience growing up in Boyle, Co. Roscommon. It is of course embellished with sharp one-liners and



O’Dowd, now 34, playing the imaginary friend to Martin Moone, the fictionalized version of his 12-year-old self, which he claims he never had. But “Moone Boy” is only the beginning of our conversation and O’Dowd’s burgeoning career. This year alone, he has four films making their U.S. premiers: The Double, an adaptation of a Dostoyevsky novella directed by Richard Ayoade, a former co-star in the U.K. hit sitcom “The IT Crowd” where O’Dowd had his first major break; St. Vincent de Van Nuys, a dark comedy in which he stars along with Bill Murray; Cuban Fury, which sees him partnered with both Rashida Jones (“Parks and Rec”) and Nick Frost (Shawn of the Dead, The World’s End) and promises a parking lot dance-off; and Calvary, the second feature by John Michael McDonagh (The Guard) and also starring Brendan Gleeson. Not only is O’Dowd appearing in these films, but beginning March 19, he will be on

Broadway for a limited-engagement revival of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men as Lennie, a large but simple-minded migrant worker, opposite James Franco who plays George, Lennie’s short-tempered companion. Since his appearance in Bridesmaids in 2011 as the handsome and huggable Officer Rhodes who falls for Kristen Wiig, O’Dowd has been in demand. Mostly, he takes this in stride, but recognizes the impulse to read too much into his characters as a reflection of himself. The roles he’s taken since his catapult to American fame three years ago have been mostly comedic, if bordering on melancholy. In 2012’s Friends with Kids he portrays with biting realism a husband trying to find the balance between reconnecting with his wife and enjoying alone time after the births of their children. And his performance as a washed-out cruise ship entertainer-turned-aboriginal soul-group band manager in the Australian film The Sapphires



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Broadway allowed him to demonstrate the full emotional range of a man struggling with his own mediocrity, using comedy as a crutch (a very funny crutch), and envisioning greater responsibility for himself. But although he’s a funny man on screen, O’Dowd is deadly serious about his craft and the work that goes into it. In our conversation below, he talks about the genesis for “Moone Boy,” the importance of women in comedy, his ideal schedule, and why he stopped playing Gaelic football (which he’s only possibly joking about).

And you studied politics and sociology at UCD.

I did! Did that education influence the writing at all for “Moone Boy”? It’s a show about individual characters surely, but they’re often banded together or separated by their reactions to the political and cultural events at the time.

I guess so; I don’t know! I don’t know if there’s much influence from the politics side, but I am very interested in pol-

characters in it. Even though the main characters are male, the female characters are strong, independent women. So that I guess would be the only part of it. And that comes from your own childhood growing up with your sisters and your family.

Yes, obviously it’s a very similar makeup in my family. My dad did the same thing as the dad in the show, my mum did the same thing, I had three sisters, so it is pretty autobiographical. There’s a scene in the first season where Martin becomes an altar boy because they’re the cool kids at Mass, but then it turns out they’re actually involved in some light embezzlement, shall we say. Were you similarly part of an altar boy mafia?

[Laughs] I was an altar boy. And it did have kind of a cult-like quality to it. Because I think at that age it’s almost like your own language that you develop amongst your friends as a way to disassociate with the rest of the world. So I’m sure there was a lot of that and I’m sure that’s probably where that idea came from. Is this the story you’d be telling if you had unlimited resources?

What made you want to go back to that time in your life when “Moone Boy” is set, or that period of transition in Ireland, the late 80s and early 90s, when you started the show a few years ago?

It was just after Bridesmaids came out and I felt like I needed to go back and do something that reconnected with home so that it didn’t get washed away in the madness.

ABOVE: Kristen Wiig and Chris O’Dowd in 2011’s Bridesmaids. TOP LEFT: David Rawle as Martin Moone with O’Dowd as his imaginary friend in “Moone Boy.”

itics, and I did do an episode in the first season with the first female president being elected. And sociologically, I guess at that time in Ireland the biggest change I think is the nature of women’s roles politically and socially. I like the idea that the show has very strong female

That’s a good question. I mean, I think we’re lucky in that we’re fairly well supported. TV’s tough to make at any stage, particularly back in Ireland because it’s expensive. But it’s the show I like doing above all else. It’s my favorite job, writing and directing the show. I saw in an interview you gave elsewhere you said you turned down a few projects to work on this show. Is this something you think you’re going to transition into more, the writing, producing, and directing side of entertainment?

I’d definitely like to get behind the APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 69


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camera more as time goes on. I love acting, but I’m not particularly a fan of being famous. So I love the idea of being able to do acting in theater, and then maybe write and direct TV and movies. That would be a perfect world for me if I have the opportunity. Speaking of theater, you’re coming up in Of Mice and Men. Which is a pretty big departure from your previous work. First, it’s on stage. And it’s a dramatic role; you’re Lennie. How did that come about?

Honestly, I just got the call asking if I’d be interested. And I said I very much would. And I got really excited about it and then it just went away. And then like three months later they said, “It’s happening. Like, soon.” So I jumped on board. There was no thinking time needed by me, I just love the play, and the opportunity to do something on Broadway was just something I’d been looking for anyway. You’ve got kind of big shoes to fill. James Earl Jones was the last one to play Lennie on Broadway. Are you nervous?

I know! I am absolutely shitting it, yea. But I’m trying to keep it together. We’re just in Chicago at the moment. We’ve just done our first week of rehearsals. We come to New York next week, and it’s going to be terrifying. But yea, I’m really enjoying it. And it’s an equal measure excitement and hand-wetting right now, and I’m interested to see how that equilibrium balances out or takes over in the coming weeks. Can you tell us a little bit about your preparation for the role?

You know, I don’t really know. I tried to find out exactly what to learn. And in many ways it’s kind of hard. There’s a lot of different thinking, a lot of people have different thoughts on it. But he is essentially a guy who is cognitively disabled so I’ve been watching all sorts of stuff and trying to nail down the physicality of it and the vocals. And also he is essentially kind of like a big baby; he’s constantly referred to as a bear and a baby, and I guess I’m just trying to 70 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

measure all of that together and try not to over-think it. It seems like there’s a lot of pressure for comedic actors to transition to more dramatic roles once they’ve established themselves in the public eye as comedians. Were you conscious of that when you chose to take on the role of Lennie?

You know not really. I do sometimes feel pressure to do dramas, but then I’ll read the drama in question and just have no interest in it. I think there’s such kind of mediocre dramas being bandied about, but I found it hard to get excited about it. But this piece of work is so beautiful that it was a no-brainer. But I do find it odd that in nearly every interview I would do I would get asked when am I going to do some dramatic acting. And I think comedic acting is very, very difficult, which is why so few people can do it well. And I doubt very much whether dramatic actors get asked when they are going to do comedic acting. Why do you think that is?

Snobbery. That dramatic roles win the awards?

I guess so. I don’t even know what that’s about. You know, it’s like who can cry the best. I don’t know, like.

ABOVE: Left to right: Shari Sebbens, Chris O’Dowd, Miranda Tapsell, Deborah Mailman, and Jessica Mauboy in The Sapphires. RIGHT: O’Dowd with Richard Ayoade in “The IT Crowd.”

Sometimes it’s great. And comedy in a lot of ways is a lot more difficult because in many ways it’s less open to interpretation. Something is either funny or it’s not; if people aren’t laughing, guess what, it wasn’t good. It’s as simple as that. Whereas I think dramas can get away with a lot because the shot looks nice. Do you think in the films you’re doing you’re beginning to be perceived as being type cast? Or you’re being cast for a very specific supporting reason?

Not really, considering what I’m doing right now, no. Definitely people think of you in certain ways and that’s absolutely fine, but the roles I’ve got coming up they’re all very different, so it hasn’t really been my experience. I’m often drawn to similar things, but no, I feel like I’ve been given plenty of opportunities to do other stuff. You know you have to be careful not to do the same thing over and over again. Right after Bridesmaids and all that, I tried to avoid doing another romcom, and then tried to avoid another kind of sitcom like “The IT Crowd.” You


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I’ll take that all day, but I don’t “You know know necessarily if it’s true. I’ve got a long, long way to go yet. you have to be careful not to do Who are some of your other inspirations for actthe same thing over ing and how did you get started in the industry? and over again. In terms of other people You have to actively that I really enjoy watching, one of my heroes would be diverge from what John C. Reilly. I feel like I could just watch him do anyyou’ve done before; thing. Philip Seymour Hoffman it won’t just was a big hero of mine. Those guys were pretty great, and then you happen.” know someone like Will Ferrell who’s

know, try to get behind the camera and then go on stage. You have to actively diverge from what you’ve done before; it won’t just happen. After The Sapphires came out, Jack Coyle at The Huffington Post compared you to Bill Murray, in the 70s for enlivening the film “with your winning charisma.” And I wondered how you felt about that comparison. I read that Murray is one of your icons of comedy and that you just worked with him this last summer on St. Vincent de Van Nuys.

Wow. I’ll take that! Yea he is, he’s one of my heroes. And I did. I briefly worked with him this summer and he was just the most charming and lovely man. So that just solidified him in my books as a cool dude. It’s a lovely comparison, of course

so consistently funny. I went to university and while I was studying I joined the drama society and started doing plays there. Essentially, I stopped being part of the “yearly facility,” as it were, [and only] did maybe two or three plays there a month. It was a great way to just get used to it. You did dozens of plays and they’re not necessarily the greatest quality, but you really get so much stage time and you get your confidence. Then I went to drama school in London. I went to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and that was more of a traditional, almost like Shakespearian teaching. And I guess I thought of myself as a dramatic actor then, so the fact that I went into comedy was a surprise. I had three or four jobs that were dramatic and I just didn’t see comedy as a realistic thing that I could achieve or an option. But I’m glad that it was. What was the catalyst for the shift from perceiving yourself as a dramatic actor to a comedian?

I played a comedian in a film called Festival. And it was a comedy but it was a relatively dramatic role; there was a lot going on. He was an alcoholic comedian who wins an award at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival and I ended up winning a BAFTA in Scotland for it and then I got a lot more comedy roles from that. “The IT Crowd” came from that, and sitcom is the purest kind of comedy you can do. It’s such a set-up-and-joke scenario. There’s no room for interpretation – what you’re doing is trying to make people laugh. That’s the raison d’ être of the sit-

com and I love that in it’s own way because it’s its own little art form. From then on it was a lot more comedy I would get offered, and once I got into the mechanics of how comedy worked I was fascinated by it. And then I got to work with Judd [Apatow] (This Is 40), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Lena Dunham (“Girls”), and all of those people over the last two years, which has been great. What’s it like coming from a traditional acting school and going to people like Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow and Christopher Guest who really encourage improvisation? Especially for something like Guest’s “Family Tree” where the dialogue is completely improvised. Was that new to you, or did improv come naturally?

I guess it did to an extent. I hadn’t done improv on stage or anything before. I’d always done a little bit of it in some work I’d done, but not to the extent that we did in "Family Tree." And that is quite a scary experience. But working with Lena and Judd, their scripts are already really strong so there’s definitely room to improv and those guys are so open to it, but there isn’t a huge need to do it, so the pressure isn’t as much, so you only do it if you feel like you’re going to add something to it. It’s a great scenario to do improv when it’s not totally necessary, where you’re hoping that you’ll add something to it but you’re not getting in the way. You often do it at the end of scenes and stuff so people can cut it out if it’s shit. My last question for you: You played Gaelic football. Can you tell us a little about the athlete Chris O’Dowd?

Yea! It’s a great sport and I still follow it. I played minor for Roscommon, actually all the ages – under 14, 16, 18, 21. And then I played in the Connaught finals and all that kind of stuff and, er, I guess I stopped playing once I really IA started enjoying Jamesons. “Moone Boy” premiers April 24 in the U.S. on Hulu. Previews for Of Mice and Men begin March 19. Opening night is April 16 and the limited engagement runs through July 27 at the Longacre Theater in New York. APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 71

what is current state of mind.doc


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{what are you like?} By Patricia Harty

Brían F. O’Byrne rían F. O’Byrne, 46, is currently starring in the Broadway production of Outside Mullingar, a play by John Patrick Shanley. O’Byrne, who grew up in Mullagh, Co. Cavan, trained at the Samuel Beckett Centre at Trinity College Dublin. He emigrated to New York in 1990, where he had a brother, and an uncle who lived in Queens. He lived with his uncle and got a job on a construction site before meeting up with Ciaran O’Reilly, also from Cavan, and the founder of New York’s Irish Repertory Theatre. The Rep was holding auditions for Philadelphia Here I Come. Brían auditioned and ended up being cast as “one of the lads.” He went on to have a long association with the Irish Rep, and when he wasn’t in a cast he was helping build sets. It was in one of the Rep’s productions that he first caught the eye of director Doug Hughes. ”He was so distinctive. Alive. Funny. You couldn’t help but notice him,” Hughes said in an interview with Irish America. In 1996, O’Byrne attracted attention for his performances in the Martin McDonagh plays The Beauty Queen of Leenane as Pato Dooley (for which he received a Tony Award nomination) and The Lonesome West (1997).


In 1998, Hughes directed Brían as a serial killer in Frozen, for which he won a Tony. In 2004, he played a priest accused of child molestation in Shanley’s Doubt, and was again directed by Hughes. Cherry Jones, who portrayed Sister Aloysius in the play, said, “I think he’s one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with – intellegent, creative, very playful. And he’s so appealing.There were so many bits he came up with for the play, all of which fitted in nicely with our characters. He’s so disarming, you end up laughing about your fears instead of succumbing to them.” In all, Brían has earned a Tony Award (plus five nominations); a Drama Desk Award (plus five nominations); an Obie, a Lucille Lortel, and an Outer Critics Circle award for his stage work.Television includes his Emmy-nominated role in Mildred Pierce, and roles in Prime Suspect, Flash Forward, Brotherhood, and the Irish series, now on Netflix, Love/Hate. Movie appearances include Queen and Country, Medeas, Million Dollar Baby, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Brooklyn’s Finest,The International, and the upcoming Jimmy’s Hall. Brían is married to actress Heather Goldenhersh and they have two daughters.

What is your current state of mind? Well, I am away from my family today. As I have been for a lot of time this past year. I question is it worth it. I have been doing worthy “art” projects. In other words, projects for prestige rather than money. I question is it worth it? Is it worth missing my children’s days, and my wife’s hugs? And, of course, the answer is a resounding no. It’s not worth it. Life is too short. It’s time to change how I work.

rarely drive it. But I’m too stubborn to sell it for a huge loss until I have had some fun out of it. Deep down I don’t think that will happen. Anyone want a 1959 Chevy truck? Not too much rust.

Your one extravagance? I have an old truck that was sold to me by a “friend.” It has cost me a fortune. I

What’s on your bedside table? My phone, The New Yorker, a book and a candle.


Your heroes? I really try and see everyday heroes. Selfless people who work for the good of others. Or people who have overcome poverty or ill health, all the while seeing the joy in life.

Your first job? I picked potatoes on Saturdays when I was a kid. I don’t know what age I was, younger than 10, and when I was 12, I spent a summer on a bog bagging turf. Turf and potatoes . . . stereotype anyone? Your earliest memory? Holding someone’s hand, my head close to their knee, standing after taking a few steps up to the front door of a house. The door opens. Someone is happy to see me. Best advice ever received? Better to be happy than right.


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what is current state of mind.doc

Brían as Anthony Reilly in Outside Mullingar.

The first play you saw? Professionally, it was Hamlet at the Abbey Theatre Dublin on a school trip. My abiding memory was the number of girls in the audience. (I went to an allboys school.) First character you played? One of the boys in Phildelphia Here I Come with the wonderful Irish Repertory Theatre Company (get membership now!). I got to meet another actor on that production who had just retired from teaching and was putting together some writings about his life. It was Frank McCourt, and he became a person who gave me a new way to look at the world. What’s your motto? Just for today. What would you do if you weren’t doing what you are doing? Sleeping. It’s late and I have a bunch of questions to answer. Do you talk on plane rides? I would love to. But I hate when I get asked what I do. We then enter into an extended phase of someone excited that they might know me. Disappointed that I’m not famous. And then sad for me that I must feel like I’m a failure. So I usually have the headphones on. Do you have a hidden talent? Nope. None.

Favorite place in Ireland? Mullagh, Co. Cavan, and Doonin, Kilcar Co. Donegal. Favorite places outside Ireland Too many places . . . If I’m in a place for longer than fifteen minutes the thought usually enters my head: “This could be a cool place to live.” It’s kind of unnerving.

Quality you like in friends Humor. Honesty.

Favorite opening to a piece of music The first notes of any music on the uileann pipes tend to excite me.

Perfect day Kissing my kids and my wife goodnight after goofing around in our home.

Favorite character you’ve played The serial killer in Bryony Lavery’s Frozen.

Your favorite sound(s)? Morning doves. Seagulls. Ocean waves. Rain on a tin roof. My children laughing. My wife sleeping. My motorbike starting. Silence in a theater. The roar when the Mets hit a home run or Celtic FC score a goal. The accent of an immigration officer in Dublin airport. NPR. Anyone whispering “I love you.” Anyone shouting, “I’m so glad to see you.” Your favorite smell Babies. And turf. Even better if they are both in the same room. Any perfume on my wife. What’s next for you? Tomorrow.





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t was late afternoon in February at a bistro in New York’s East Village that playwright and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, somberly dressed in a black coat, black suit, and thin black tie, explained that he was going to pay his respects at a wake for his close friend, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who had tragically died earlier that week. Shanley and Hoffman had shared a long personal and professional relationship, working together at the Labyrinth Theater Company in New York. Shanley also directed Hoffman as Father Flynn, the accused priest in the Oscar-nominated film version of his play Doubt: A Parable, for which Shanley won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Play in 2005. “I’ve been going to wakes ever since I was about five years old,” says Shanley, who was born in the Bronx, the youngest of five children in a traditional Irish American Catholic family. His extraordinary journey, from kid playing on Archer Street to walking the red carpet in Hollywood, and having his name in lights on Broadway and theaters around the world, continues as his latest play, Outside Mullingar, thrills audiences and critics, only this time in a unique and deeply personal way. “Outside Mullingar was very much inspired by my family’s farm in Ireland,” Shanley says. “My cousin Brendan was here for the opening night, he flew over. He lives down the road from the farm, which is still owned by my family and where my father was born.”



The romantic comedy starring Brían F. O’Byrne and Debra Messing is a box office hit at the Samuel J. Friedman theater on Broadway. As a writer, Shanley is well-known for Italian-Americans characters. He won the Academy Award for his screenplay of Moonstruck, and wrote plays such as Italian American Reconciliation. He once wrote that “as a writer and a man, my one central struggle in life is to accept who I really am.” Today, sipping hot green tea, he smiles and says, “When you start out in the Bronx as a kid trying to figure out who you are, you don’t want to just take what you are given. “I needed to break out and find my own way. I didn’t want to be another IrishAmerican guy from the Bronx. I didn’t want any of it; and then bit by bit, I started to reclaim what I had been given in the first place.” It was in 1993 that Shanley first went to Ireland to visit the farm where his Uncle Tony and Aunt Mary lived with several of their children including his cousin Anthony, who runs the farm today. “My father was too old to travel alone, and he asked me to take him home. When an old man asks you to take him back home you have to do it,” says Shanley. “I certainly felt like a fish out of water growing up, and for most of my life, and then when I went to the farm, hearing the way those people talked, I thought, ‘Hey, I feel very much at home.’” Twenty years later, after much procras-

tination and feeling “miserable, barren, and solitary,” Shanley sat down to do the thing he said he never would do. He wrote about the Irish. “You go through definite arcs in life, the conclusion of one and the start of another. I was at a dead end. My two sons, Nick and Frankie, had gone off to college. I was living in a dark apartment, alone. “I had to change that. I moved to Williamsburg [Brooklyn] to live in a brand new building. I was the first to move into it. It’s on the river with glass windows all around so I see the skyline and river. “I had always lived in very old buildings and this was a complete change of style of apartment and I love it.” Shanley also felt at a dead end where his work was concerned. He explains. “I had finished a trilogy of plays Doubt, Defiance, and Storefront Church. So that was another conclusion, a kind of death. “I did not feel like writing. I was tired rather than blocked. I’ve never worried about being blocked the way some writers do. I’ve always accepted it and thought, ‘Oh well, I’ll just get on with something else until I feel like writing again.’” Shanley continues, “I’m devoted to the idea of being happy. I don’t intend to be miserable. I don’t mind suffering a bit with the writing, but if it made me that miserable I would never have carried on being a writer.” Going back to Outside Mullingar, he says, “I enjoyed writing this play more



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Actors Brían F. O’Byrne and Debra Messing, who star in Outside Mullingar, with playwright John Patrick Shanley, and director Doug Hughes.

than most of my plays. I finally had the permission to use all of the language available to me.” He opines, “You can only write as well as the characters can talk. In other words, if you are writing about a middle-class guy in New York City he’s just not that eloquent. On the other hand, if you are writing about an Irish farmer, these are some of the most eloquent people in the world. And you have the permission because of that, you have carte blanche to write as well as you know how, as funny as you know how, and as sad and true as you know how, because those people talk just that way.” Describing a scene in the play when Anthony’s father Tony Reilly lays dying and summons his son to his bedside, one

critic enthused that “the dying scene alone is worth the price of a ticket.” “My uncle Tony,” confirms Shanley, “before he passed away, he called all his children to his bed and shook their hands one by one and said goodbye to them. These [leavetakings] actually can happen. They did and they can. It’s up to us,” he insists. “I had an extraordinary father. When he was dying I got to say everything I had ever hoped to say to him. I had tears running down my face and he had tears running down his and I kissed him goodbye. “This play is not only descriptive, it’s prescriptive,” Shanley continues. “In other words, we still could have

these values. We still could live this way. We could still talk this way. It’s about what I love, what I value about being alive, what I think is worth passing on to my children. It’s about what makes families function rather than fall to pieces.” These are very important ideas to Shanley but they are not necessarily Irish. “I don’t know if it’s very Irish. A lot of different things happened in Ireland. The subjugation of the Irish by the British caused emotional repression, which is a curse that many Irish people still suffer from,” says Shanley. “It’s very difficult for them to say they love each other.. “The British were very controlling of Irish behavior in many ways; they even had edicts against poets. They took away APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 75



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or not. As artists we take the real and refashion it to our purpose. The Irish side of my family is a patient lot and endured my interviews with grace. They trusted me, and they didn’t. They knew I wouldn’t be telling the truth about them. I’d be telling my own truth, using them. “This is the artist’s way,” he insists. “There is no impediment in writing about my family. The only play of mine I

disease, then murdered her, which is a bit extreme. “In my play Anthony’s secret was personal and eccentric. I based his secret on a true Irish story about a rich local man called Adolphus Cooke. Back in the 19th century, Adolphus thought he was a bee and had a forty-foot tomb built for himself in the shape of a beehive. It’s very famous in Mullingar, there’s even a disco named after it called ‘The Beehive!’ “I’m surprised that none of the critics picked up on this,” Shanley laughs. “We hold on to secrets because we feel we could not be loved if we reveal them and it’s often the opposite in life, as it turned out for Anthony in the play.” Referring to a statement he made about being frustrated by “this unpoetic world,” Shanley says, “So many people don’t make the effort these days to express themselves. There is a prosaic style with no particular way of fashioning language. “In Doubt, I could write about Sister Aloysius in the way that I did because the nuns who taught me spoke very well.” Why do you think this loss of expression has happened. Can we attribute it to technology? “It’s because people are increasingly cut off from the earth,” he says. “In the play Anthony says, ‘Stars are suffocating in the sky and the earth is choking on itself.’ “We have a shattered attention span today,” Shanley says. “Peaceful contemplation of looking at the sun, at animals and fields, makes us more grounded. We are losing that way of life. The countryside is disappearing.” What is Shanley’s current state of mind? Is he happier now that the play is doing well? “Something happened to me this week,” he announces seriously. “Roomba came into my life.” A new romance? “Roomba is my robotic cleaner,” laughs Shanley. “She even talks to me! “Anthony has his metal detector on the farm, and now I have Roomba, my own IA ‘modern madness!’” PHOTOS: JAMES HIGGINS

the Irish language because they couldn’t understand what the people were saying. They were afraid of insurrection. “[Put that together] with the priests who considered dancing provocative, and only allowed step dancing with arms stiff at the sides, because they were afraid of wild emotions. “It’s no wonder that the Irish find it difficult to be tactile. Whereas with the Italians “it’s all out there,” Shanley says. “When I was an altar boy, the Italian funerals were the most dangerous; invariably an Italian woman would go running down the aisle and throw herself on the coffin, screaming, ‘Don’t leave me!’ That would never happen at an Irish funeral,” he offers. “With Outside Mullingar I wanted to write a love story,” Shanley explains. “I wanted to find all the words I had not been able to find, because what I have been unable to express has caused me anguish. “If words fail people that is a painful meridian. If there is something in you that you cannot express it feels like a failing. “The fact is, the Irish part of me is the gift of the gab! The Irish thing is that you should be able to express yourself.” The Irish have what Shanley calls “a linguistic optimism; they can carry on and on, continuing to talk [on any subject.]” And did his family react well to Shanley writing a play about them? “My cousin Brendan said that when he was watching the play he felt like he was watching his parents. He wrote to me afterwards and said, ‘Thank you for bringing my mother and father back from the dead.’” And Anthony, on whom the main character is based, how did he react? “My cousin Anthony read the play but he couldn’t leave the farm to come over and see it. He has eighty animals to look after.” At the suggestion that perhaps the real reason for Anthony’s absence on opening night was the fact that he might not be too thrilled that the character named Anthony in the play is not only a middleaged virgin, but also a man who thinks he is a honey bee, Shanley smiles. “I have no idea if Anthony is a virgin

ABOVE: John Patrick Shanley received the Eugene O’Neill Award from the 2013 Irish American Writers and Artists organization on October 21. RIGHT: Shanley with Debra Messing at the awards.

didn’t want my two boys to see was Where’s My Money? because I thought the subject was too dark for them at that age.” (It was around the time Shanley and his second wife, Jane Haynes, were divorcing.) “As a writer you have to say what you nakedly feel, more for yourself than for other people. For your own sake you must not gag yourself.” Asked about the last scene when Anthony tells Rosemary that he thinks he’s a honey bee, Shanley explains, “There’s a point in many plays, usually in the last scene when a secret is revealed that ties it all together. In Eugene O’ Neill’s Iceman Cometh it’s when Hickey reveals that he gave his wife venereal

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The McDonalds Continued from page 41

starting out he talks about keeping safe on the job and brings his message of being a “survivor and a winner” to schools and churches. “I talk about forgiveness. I tell them how I forgave the boy who shot me.” That can’t have been easy, I say. “No. Was I angry and was Patti Ann hurt? And was the baby experiencing all of this in utero? My parents, Patti Ann’s parents our families and friends – very tough cops were crying. They didn’t know if I was going to live. I was hurt, I lost the power of speech. Patti would have to give birth to Conor all by herself. “But there came a time at the end of that year, 1986, before and just after Conor was born where I felt that I wanted to forgive the boy who shot me. I came to realize he wasn’t evil. He and I were part of an evil occurance. One that was too common in New York City in the 1980s. “After Conor’s baptism Patti Ann spoke to the crowd gathered outside the chapel and told them that I forgave the boy who shot me. The media did not know what to make of it.” Steven goes on to talk about how his time in Bellevue became “a very intense spiritual experience”; his hospital room was “in effect, a chapel. There was always members of the clergy – all different faiths came and prayed with us.” After the shooting Mayor Koch was notified. “When he walked into the room and saw Patti Ann pregnant, our parents and families – many people praying the rosary – he was very moved. He called Cardinal O’Connor and said, ‘You need to be here.’ And that’s how it all began. Patti Ann and his Eminence became quick and close friends. “The Cardinal said to Patti Ann, ‘I’ll make sure that there is always Mass said at Steven’s bedside.’ So from July to the following April, we always had Mass in my room. And my mother remembered a Mass in the weeks after my shooting – the chaplain was distributing communion and he came to me. The tubing that is in my windpipe now was then inserted in my mouth, and my mom said the priest laid Jesus the Eucharist on my forehead and she felt that Jesus touched me in a powerful way at that moment. So everything that happened before and everything that would follow would not be the way other people scripted it for us. “Have I always been close to God or led the perfect life? I don’t pretend to be that kind of person. But in this journey I’ve 78 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

“Patti Ann grew up across the street from Mrs. Regozin who lived here. She was like a grandmother to Patti Ann. She got sick soon after I was shot, died, and her house was for sale. “Patti Ann called me in Colorado and said, ‘My dad was wondering if you would mind if we moved in across the street?’ And I said, no, that would be a great idea.” The foundation created in Steven’s name by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association had over $200,000 in it and Patti Ann wondered if she could use the money to buy the house, which was listed at $235,000. Detective Brian Mulheran, who had helped set up the foundation and became a good friend, arranged a meeting with Dickie Fay, a partner in Bear Stearns and the foundation’s Father and son. Conor’s accountant. swearing As recounted in the Steven in day. McDonald Story, Brian and Patti put their idea to Dickie, who lisbeen on with Patti Ann and Conor we tened and then excused himself. After a found out that the only way forward was few minutes he returned with Arthur Christlike love. This way of loving has Crames, another Bear Stearns partner. made so much good possible in our lives “We don’t need to use the foundation’s and our world. Once you let go of the funds,” he said. “We’ll buy you the wrongs that have been done to you it house.” Steven picks up the story, “And changes everything. I could have gone the then Mayor Koch called builder Eugene other way. I could have been overcome McGovern, whose company Lehrer/ with emotion, bitterness and anger. Patti McGovern had restored the Statue of called them wasted emotions. I could have Liberty, and asked if he would build a killed myself. I tried to. God always found home for us. He agreed, and Patti Ann and me, and with the help of others I got Brian helped coordinate the renovation through it all.” with the managers of the project. “They The summer before he was shot, Steven almost completely gutted [the house],” was reading Trinity, Leon Uris’s historical says Steven. novel about Ireland. Conor Larkin was the The work is extraordinary. hero of the novel. “So here I am in the Earlier, when Patti Ann had shown me hospital. I have tubes running in and out of the upstairs family room we had taken the me. I’m breathing on a ventilator, but stairs. It was only later that I noticed the when I wanted to give up, Patti Ann would lift, discreetly concealed behind a clouded remind me of the baby she was carrying glass door that makes the upper level saying, ‘Do you remember you said if you accessible to Steven. had a son you would like to name him We move to the kitchen, which is fesConor?’ tooned with red hearts for Valentine’s Day. “Finally, 10 months after the shooting “Steven’s been giving me a hard time,” I was fitted with a special breathing tube. says Patti Ann, laughing. “I had Christmas This enabled me to thank Patti Ann and and then put the hearts up. We do a lot of tell her how much I loved her in my own entertaining here at the house with both voice.” families because it makes for easier accesSteven’s 10 month stay in Bellevue sibility with Steven. This past weekend we was followed by six months of rehab in had a mass here because it was a year since Colorado. It became obvious that returnSteven’s mother passed away, and then ing home to their New York apartment we had people here for the Super Bowl.” was not an option. Patti Ann’s father had a I notice the Irish soda bread on the suggestion. counter and make a comment. “Would



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you like some? It’s from the local bakery,” Patti Ann asks. Sure. Soon the smell of toasting bread fills the air and we are seated at the round kitchen table with mugs of Barry’s tea. Talk turns to Patti Ann’s job as Mayor of Malverne. “She officiated at the groundhog ceremony,” Steven says. “I said, he didn’t see his shadow so we’re going to have an early spring,” Patti Ann comments with a laugh. “Wrong.” While we enjoy our snack, Steven excuses himself to go upstairs. He wants to show us a video tape of a trip he made to Northern Ireland and is frustrated that Andy (Det. Andy Cserenyi his driver and aide) can’t seem to find it. As he rolls away, I become acutely aware that in almost three decades he hasn’t been able to enjoy the simple pleasure of lifting a cup of tea to his lips. The phone rings. It’s for Patti Ann. It rings often during our visit. Is it always like this? I ask Conor. “It is,” he confirms. “Both my parents have a lot going on.” “What’s your average day like as mayor?” I ask Patti Ann when she returns. “It varies. I can make my own schedule. I call in first thing in the morning at nine o’clock when the village hall opens. I pop in and out, walk around the village. Today I met somebody and we were discussing the Congressional situation.” Patti Ann had been interviewed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign as a potential candidate to replace retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, but in the end Nassau County district attorney Kathleen Rice, was chosen to run. “I was extremely flattered to be considered,” says Patti Ann, who was elected in 2006 and is now in her second term as mayor. She is a well-known figure in local politics, having served as one of the village’s four trustees for 11 years. When her father John Francis Norris passed away in office in May, 1996, she completed his term as mayor. An interest in politics is also inherited from the maternal side of her family, the Kennedys of Boston. “No relation of J.F.K.” she laughs. But there is a letter from J.F.K. to her grandfather Patrick Kennedy, expressing his thanks, and saying that he wouldn’t have been elected to the Senate in 1952 without Patrick’s help. “Local politics is much different from national politics,” Conor adds. “My mother does a very good job of bipartisanship in our area, so I don’t think Malverne has ever looked so good.”

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Steven returns having found the video, and as Andy sets it up, he talks about Northern Ireland and the trips he made there with Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain to the FDNY, and a great friend who was killed in the 9/11 attacks. In 1998, as Northern Ireland was experiencing the worst sectarian violence in years, Steven spoke in both Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods and returned the following year with his message of “Faith and Forgiveness.” “I spent part of four summers up in the North, and people there helped me more in my situation than I’ve helped them,” he says. “We went in 1998, ’99, and 2000 and we went back in 2008. It would have been Father Mychal’s 75th birthday. The video we watch, “A Journey to Forgiveness,” follows Steven on a trip he made with Father Judge and members of the Bruderhof community from Britain. “We began in Dundalk on June 28, 2000 and en route to Belfast went through some of the most troubled towns in Northern Ireland with an invitation to people of different communities to walk with us, to pray, sing and become one voice of forgiveness and reconciliation. “Some neighborhoods the RUC wouldn’t let us walk through, but hundreds of people joined us. We walked up Garvahy Road to Drumcree Church on July 5th. There were clashes in the streets because the traditional Orange Order march through Catholic neighborhoods on July 12th had been banned. The Rev. John Pickering was the pastor of that [Protestant] church and we went in and prayed with him. He was very cordial, though worried about trouble as the place was surrounded by paratroopers. “The reason I mention this is that right after 9/11, Rev. Pickering wrote to us saying, ‘I was thinking of my brother Mychal.’ The Reverend also lost a niece in the Trade Towers. “I encountered more stories of forgiveness in the North than there are street corners in Belfast,” Steven says. “A lot of people came out of the woodwork to say, ‘I want to tell you what I did.’ It became a beautiful thing.” On his trips to Ireland, Steven also came across some relatives. “When I came home from the hospital, being that I had been so close to dying, I thought that I should find out how life began for my family in America. So I started doing the family tree and discovered that my mother’s people were from Arless Parish in Laois.

In 1998 we arrived in Dublin one week after the bomb exploded in Omagh and on our way north, my driver Joe tells me that he went to school with a J.J. Conway from Arless. We went to visit J.J. and it turns out that he’s a relative of my mother’s. J.J. stands for James Joseph, that was my grandfather’s name. All his family have names in common with my family. We’ve become good friends.” This chance encounter is what Steven calls a “God incident.” “Patti Ann found a saying that I believe in, that there are no coincidences in life, only God incidents. I’ve had a lot of God incidences happen to me. All the nurses, and drivers, they have become family and helped to raise Conor. Susan [his Nurse] has been with us for 25 years, and Kathie for 15. You could say they are God incidents.” When I ask Steven what inspires him he answers simply, “Patti Ann.” “I’m sure that there have been times where she has said, I can’t deal with this. She would only be human if she felt that way. But as a young bride she gave up a lot of dreams to keep me alive, and keep us together as a family. “Last night I was watching on Turner Classics The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). There are many different subplots in the movie and one is of this young Navy man Homer who lost his arms in the war and he goes home to his parents house. His girlfriend Wilma is next door and she displays unconditional love and he’s thinking that she could never understand, because he can’t understand and he can’t accept the way he is. How could she? And near the end of the movie they are in his room and he drops off his prosthetic arms and says, ‘Now I’m helpless. I can’t button my shirt. I can’t open the door if I need help.’ And Wilma buttons his shirt and says, ‘I will always be here for you.’ And Patti Ann has always been that person for me.” As we pack up to leave, Steven is in the kitchen watching a Rangers game on a small TV on the counter. Patti Ann runs out to her car and comes back with Malverne sweatshirts for us. Conor has already left for his apartment in Long Beach. Andy and Kathie wait to be called into action. Steven goes back into Manhattan tonight to talk to officers on the midnight shift about being a survivor and a winner and keeping safe. In his words, “I hope that I say something that IA will help them.” APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 79



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{ review of books}

Recently published books of Irish and Irish-American interest.

Fiction The Blessings By Elise Juska

here’s a certain kind of belonging that comes with being part of a large, extended Irish-American family. But, there’s a certain kind of loneliness, too. In The Blessings, Elise Juska captures how those mirror emotions of homesickness and restlessness, intimacy and secret-keeping, continuously send generations of the Blessing family beyond the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood they call home, and then pull them back in again. With each chapter told from the perspective of a different family member, The Blessings artfully moves from the voices of the youngest generation, visiting from college to participate in the familiar family gatherings with new eyes, to the widowed matriarch Helen, who struggles with needing her children the way she is used to being needed. The early and unexpected death of one of Helen’s grown-up sons begets a ripple effect of longing through the family, resulting in lasting wounds and surprising alliances. Juska expertly reflects how the big losses – cancer, miscarriage, the hefty


consequences of young people’s careless decisions – have something important in common with the small ones: a child growing too old to breastfeed, a daughter-in-law refusing help, a spot in the eye that signals the end of independence. Juska’s emotionally resonant storytelling will remain with you long after turning the last page. – Kara Rota (Grand Central / $24 / 272 pages)

The Guts By Roddy Doyle

D’yeh do the Facebook thing?” So opens The Guts, Roddy Doyle’s latest novel set in the world of Jimmy Rabbitte, erstwhile manager of Dublin soul band The Commitments and protagonist of Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy. Now 47, Jimmy finds himself in a bar with his father, debating over a pint the finer points of social media – and breaking the news that he’s been diagnosed with colon cancer. As always, Doyle places us square in the middle of the scene with fast-paced, cinematic Irish dialogue, and the tragedy of Jimmy’s illness is masterfully interwoven with a fair share of domestic black

Historic Fiction The 13th Apostle By Dermot McEvoy

ublin-born Dermot McEvoy presented an inventive portrait of iconic Irish rebel Michael Collins in his earlier novel Terrible Angel, in which Collins traipses around modern day Greenwich Village (where McEvoy himself was raised by immigrant parents) trying to save an Irish immigrant wanted by both American and British authorities. In his latest novel The 13th Apostle, McEvoy goes back to Collins’s time and brings us inside the General Post Office during the notorious Easter Rising of 1916. Beside Collins is 14-yearold (fictional) Dublin lad named Eoin Kavanagh, who was swept up in the excitement in the streets on the day of the Rising, when “civilians and volunteers rushed up to see the proclamation, pushing each other to get the first glimpse,” McEvoy writes. Eoin is promptly shot in his rear end and



comedy. From the moment Jimmy tells his beloved wife Aoife and their four quicklygrowing children about his illness, he’s responsible not only for his own reactions to dealing with surgery, chemo, and radiation, but his family’s as well. The idea of his impending mortality brings Jimmy to reconnect with Commitments backup singer Imelda Quirk (who still holds a problematic level of temptation for Jimmy) and guitarist Outspan (burdened with a diagnosis of his own), as well as Jimmy’s estranged brother Les, all through the 21st century filters of Facebook and texts. And Jimmy’s music cred lives on for a new generation, as he pays the mortgage by running a site called that serves up the music of the good old days for aging fans and retro-minded kids. Throughout, Doyle never falls into sentimentality (and there is room for plenty, between the horrors of cancer treatment, the strain on even a strong marriage, and the bittersweetness of children turning into adults). Instead, The Guts is, against all odds, a rollicking good time. – Kara Rota (Viking / $27.95 / 328 pages)

must be tended to by a comely nurse with a fast tongue named Roisin O’Mahony. Kavanagh goes on to become Collins’s “13th Apostle,” and McEvoy takes us on a fastpaced journey through key events in Irish revolutionary history, from the Rising through the build-up of the tragic Civil War in the 1920s. Throughout the book, we also occasionally check in with an old-and-dying Eoin in 2006, as his grandson Eoin Kavanagh III – known as “Johnny Three” – struggles with his beloved grandfather’s passing, but also with the legacy the old man passed on. The story really takes off when Johnny Three (though fearful of what he might discover) begins looking through a trove of letters chronicling Eoin’s life – and of course, Irish history. In the end, The 13th Apostle is a fun, informative ride, and an alternative history not unlike Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry. As young (and very real) Irish volunteer Vinny Byrne proclaims, once Eoin decide to join the 1916 rebellion: “It’s going to be a grand adventure.” The same could be said for Dermot McEvoy’s novel. – Tom Deignan (Skyhorse Publishing / $26.95 / 583 pages)



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Biography James Joyce: A New Biography

1941, when Joyce, after years of ill health, died at the age of 58. – Tom Deignan (FSG / $18 / 656 pages)


By Beau Riffenburgh

n the age of sharp political satire epitomized by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, it seems a good time for a big new biography of acclaimed Irish-born writer Johnathan Swift (1667 – 1745). Swift is arguably best known for Gulliver’s Travels, a seeming fantasy aimed at children, which nevertheless commented on serious matters related to the politics and culture of Swift’s day. Then there is Swift’s famous “A Modest Proposal,” an ironic phrase still employed in the 21st century to describe a suggestion so absurd it exposes deeper problems. In Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, Harvard Professor Leo Damrosch explains that Ireland faced terrible hardship during the bleak winters of 1728 and 1729. “During his tour of Ireland,” Damrosch notes, “Swift found the plain on Tipperary ‘like the rest of the whole kingdom, a bare face of nature, without houses or plantations – filthy cabins, miserable, tattered, half-starved creatures.’” The result was Swift’s “Modest Proposal” that Irish children, rather than be left to starve, should simply be served up as food for the wealthy. Swift’s shocking satire had a much greater impact than dozens of previous tracts which made more straightforward arguments “against English exploitation of Ireland,” as Damrosch notes in this hefty, 600-plus page book. Damrosch also writes that while he defended the Irish, Swift was not exactly a big fan of living among the Irish, and was born in Dublin only “because his widowed mother was far too along in her pregnancy to risk a sea voyage to her English home in Leicester.” Nevertheless, Swift’s writings have since become central to Irish literature. – Tom Deignan

n the annals of Irish American martyrdom, the Molly Maguires hold a prominent place. They were a secretive band of union brothers not afraid to use violence to achieve their ends in the bleak coalmines of Pennsylvania. Of course, for their agitation, ten accused Mollies were executed in 1877. Some may still not realize that a key figure in the Mollie Maguires prosecution was himself an Irish immigrant – and now, also the subject of a controversial new biography entitled Pinkerton’s Great Detective: The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland by Beau Riffenburgh. McParland was born in Armagh in 1843, and came to New York in his early 20s. He worked numerous jobs after making his way to the Midwest, and only became a detective after losing his liquor store in the great Chicago Fire of 1871. In just a few years, however, McParland was a shining star for the notorious Pinkerton Detective Agency. As a result, he was the man the authorities turned to to infiltrate the Molly Maguires. Riffenburgh acknowledges that McParland may not be all that likeable, especially for Irish readers. “When also colored by the age-old Irish loathing of the informer, the traditional American support for the ‘little man,’ and a long espoused view of Pinkerton’s as an archenemy of the labor movement,” many recent portraits of McParland have been unsympathetic, viewing him as “an unscrupulous liar and informer who betrayed his fellow Irish Catholics for money.” Riffenburgh thus presents this book as a “reassessment of the Great Detective.” And while it may not change the minds of those raised to view the Mollies as “true” Irish martyrs, it is a full, complex portrait of a man viewed as both a hero IA and a “most horrible Gorgon.” – Tom Deignan

(Yale University Press / $35 / 573 pages)

(Viking / $32.95 / 384 pages)

By Gordon Bowker

nyone who attempts to tell the story of the life of James Joyce must do so in the awesome shadow of Richard Ellman, whose 1959 biography of the brilliant, difficult, and cranky author of Dubliners, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake is still considered a landmark. Even the title of Gordon Bowker’s bio (now available in paperback) acknowledges this, since it is called James Joyce: A New Biography. Nevertheless, Bowker is up to the task, chronicling Joyce’s harsh youth. “In a class-conscious society like British Ireland at the turn of the century, family origin was the main determinant of social status,” Bowker writes. Joyce’s father, however, handled inheritance money poorly “and the family descended into poverty.” These humble roots did not help Joyce when he tried not only to make a living as an artist, but to essentially reimagine the traditions of Western storytelling. Joyce’s early writing shocking to censors we know, but even open-minded, well-educated readers were dismayed, and hinted (or stated outright) that Joyce was simply not refined enough to move in literary and artistic circles. Bowker also, of course, covers the momentous events of June 16, 1904, when Joyce went out on a date with a vivacious employee of Finn’s hotel named Nora Barnacle. It was on that day, now celebrated as Bloomsday, that literary history changed. The events of that day – almost every single one of them, it seems – are chronicled in extraordinary detail in Joyce’s landmark Ulysses. Bowker himself is not afraid to pass judgment on Joyce, particularly when it comes to his openly (even brazenly) passionate sexual relationship with Nora. This, clearly, was the inspiration for the sections of Ulysses that led to the book being banned for decades. Joyce and Nora left Ireland just months after their fateful meeting, living first in Trieste, and later Paris and Zurich. Life as an exile, however, only made Joyce’s memories of Ireland – good and bad – more vivid, at least until

Pinkerton’s Great Detective: The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland

Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World By Leo Damrosch






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{sláinte} By Edythe Preet

Saint Patrick t is perhaps a love of words that endears the Irish to After a lifetime of teaching and preaching, Patrick died on Saint Patrick. Son of a West Britain Roman family, at March 17th, 463 A.D. The centers of learning Saint Patrick age sixteen Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and sold established transformed Ireland from a country with no written into slavery in Ireland. Six years later he escaped, fled alphabet to a land of scholars. This humble man who would to the coast, and was hired on accept no gift unless it could be used to as kennel master to a German relieve the suffering of the poor had given boat that was transporting the storytelling Irish the greatest treasure Irish wolfhounds to the continent. they could imagine: literature. By the end After many hardships, he at last of the fifth century, the knowledge of letreached home. Once returned to his ters had permeated the island. Poems, family, he entered the priesthood. When sagas and illustrated manuscripts poured Rome decided to send an evangelical forth from the vast Irish oral tradition. mission to Ireland, Patrick volunteered With its long history of strife, Ireland saying that in his dreams he had heard has given birth to some of the world’s Irish voices crying, “We beg you, come finest writers. Swift, Johnson, Shaw, Yeats and walk among us again!” and Joyce are but a few of Hibernia’s literAt the age of 42, he returned to Ireland ary greats. It is no wonder that the children as an ordained bishop. Patrick was a natof Erin fondly remember their patron ural candidate for the job since he could saint. And for over fifteen hundred years, speak Gaelic, and was familiar with the on the anniversary of his death they have Irish clan hierarchy. His plan was simhonored him with the longest running Irish ple: convert the Celtic chieftains and the wake in history. people would follow. Although it is impossible to say exactly In a manner befitting any clan leader, when March 17th was first celebrated in Patrick carried with him a full company Ireland, it is now a nation-wide holiday. In of assistants. Priests, deacons, readers, a many households slices of crusty soda psalm singer, a bell ringer, two smiths, bread, a platter of poached fish and a three carpenters, a bodyguard, a person“Patrick’s Pot” of beer or whisky are al valet, a cowherd, a butcher, a cook, a offered to guests in the ancient tradition of brewer, two waiters, and three ladies hospitality. And the shamrock appears Saint Patrick stained glass window from who embroidered. A man with such a large Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. everywhere. retinue had great credibility and, though The little plant has become wary of his purposes, Irish leaders granted him audisynonymous with Irish nationence. alism. For a period during Soon after arriving, Patrick met with King Victoria’s reign, wearing a Laegaire at Tara, the high seat of Ireland’s kings, to shamrock was considered so explain the Christian doctrine. Surrounded by rebellious that Irish regiments Druids, enemies and successors of his former capwere forbidden to display it. A tors, the ex-slave held up a shamrock, the humble popular underground song of clover found everywhere on the island. Using the the day that included the line, image of its three leaves growing from one stem, he “they’re hangin’ men and explained the mystery of the Trinity so eloquently women for the wearin’ of the that, although Laegaire did not adopt the new creed, The reputed burial place of St. Patrick in Green,” still brings the famous Patrick was given permission to travel freely Downpatrick, County Down. Irish spirit to the surface. through the land. It was England’s annexation of For twenty years Patrick spread the gospel, built churches and Ireland that drove so many sons and daughters of the sod to established schools. He sat with the high Kings at Tara to revise America. When Henry VIII raged at Rome for refusing to grant the Brehon Laws and, in 450 A.D., opened the first Christian colhim multiple divorces and created his own Church, Irish Catholics lege at Armagh. The magnitude of Patrick’s work is astounding. fled to a land where they could practice their faith in freedom. At a time when all construction was hand-hewn and mortared, he Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I, was swept away by the race to confounded 385 churches and schools where thousands learned to quer and claim all of the Americas. She seized Irish land voraread and write. ciously, destroyed the Celtic clan system and cut down vast





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forests of ancient oak to build her armaYork, and that stronghold of Irish da. For the next hundred years her sucnationalism, Boston. cessors systematically stripped Ireland Today, 45 million Americans claim a of its resources. In droves, disenfranlink to the green hills of Erin. For more chised Irish fled the hammerfall of than two centuries, Irish blood has England’s scepter and the hovering flowed in the veins of presidents, piospecter of starvation. neers, statesmen, military leaders, By 1776, the first waves of Irish industrialists, scientists, artists and eduimmigrants were firmly entrenched cators. in America. When the War of Slemish, County Antrim, where Saint Patrick is Father Flanagan carried on Saint said to have worked as a shepherd while a slave. Independence broke out between Patrick’s tradition of building learning England and the thirteen colonies, the Irish rose to the cause with centers when he founded Boys Town. Composer George M. a roar of long suppressed rage. On March 17th, 1776, British Cohan became our “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Bostonians root for troops surrendered Boston to the colonial revolutionary forces. It the Celtics and Notre Dame’s football team is “The Fightin’ was one of the earliest American victories. George Washington’s Irish.” Sad ballads and toe-tapping jigs form the backbone of password for the day was “Saint Patrick.” An official observance bluegrass music. And when our patriotism is offended we “get our of Saint Patrick’s feast day by the American army was recorded at Irish up” good and proper. It’s no wonder then that on Saint Valley Forge in 1778: “There was an extra issue of grog to the Paddy’s Day cities across America stage parades, Irish stew headarmy and all made merry and were good friends.” Other early cellines menus, and even beer flows green. As for me, it’s the luck o’ IA ebrations of the festival were held annually in Philadelphia, New the Irish I’ll be wishing one and all with a hearty Sláinte!

RECIPES NOTE: The following menu was typical of an evening meal for a high-ranking prelate or chieftain during the sixth century. Many vegetables, most notably potatoes, would not have been available for almost a thousand years more as the New World had not yet been discovered. Wine was readily had from Roman grape plantings in Gaul, but as Patrick traveled with his own brewer, beer and/or ale was the main beverage. An assortment of cheeses and nuts, plus fresh and dried fruits would have been served as the meal’s final course.

Baked Salmon w/ Wine 1 3-pound salmon filet 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill 1 ⁄4 cup white wine Garnish: chopped dill & watercress sprigs

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the salmon on heavy foil large enough to gather up like a pouch. Sprinkle chopped dill on the filet and pour wine over it. Gather up foil and crimp edges to seal it. Place foilenclosed fish in a baking dish and put it in the oven. Cook 10-15 minutes per pound or until the fish flakes when tested with a fork. (Do NOT overcook or the flesh will

dry out!) Let the fish cool for a few minutes before opening foil. Remove salmon to a warm serving platter, surround with leeks, sprinkle with more dill and garnish with watercress. Serves 4-6.

Poached Leeks 8-12 medium leeks, trimmed & thoroughly washed 2 cups milk 2 tbsp butter salt & pepper

Put the leeks in a frying pan large enough to hold them in one or two layers. Pour in milk and heat until almost boiling. DO NOT BOIL OR MILK WILL CURDLE! Immediately turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until leeks are tender. Drain. (Reserved milk can be used to make chowder with leftover salmon.) Add butter, salt & pepper and arrange leeks around salmon.

Mashed Rutabagas & Carrots w/ Bacon 1

⁄2 pound bacon 1 pound rutabagas, peeled and cut in cubes 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in chunks

Place vegetables in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until they are soft enough to be pierced with a fork. Drain and mash. While vegetables are cooking, fry bacon in a medium skillet until just crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and let drain. When cool, crumble into bits and add to mashed mixture. A little bacon fat can be added to enhance flavor. Serves 46. (Extra bacon fat can be reserved and refrigerated and used to fry patties of the leftovers mixed with a little flour for another meal.)

Baked Stuffed Apples 6 medium Rome or Winesap apples, cored but unpeeled 1 cup currants 1 cup chopped walnuts 1 ⁄4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup apple juice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix currants and walnuts with sugar and cinnamon. Stuff into centers of cored apples. Place apples in a baking dish or pie pan (preferably glass). Drizzle apple juice over apples and pour remainder in pan. Bake until apples can be easily pierced with a fork. Serve warm.




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{music} By Robert Lyons

“The Hard Way Home” Paddy Homan’s newest CD reflects the Irish tenor’s philosophy of life.


n the tradition of a lively rambling house, Irish tenor Paddy Homan has been presiding for six years every Sunday night at the Galway Arms Pub, in Chicago, where he is often joined by a retinue of outstanding musicians and performers from the greater Chicago area. He is a regular performer on the stage at all the usual Irish and Celtic festivals in the Midwest. His album, The Hard Way Home, offers several ancient Irish ballads and brand new ones. A sprightly “Reel in the Flickering Light” leads the way and will move feet and hearts of all ages. The title track, “The Hard Way Home,” sounds a plaintive tone but with Paddy’s passionate delivery, strikes a hopeful chord: “There‘s only grace and miracles, and learning how to dance the dance.” Meanwhile, “John O’ Dreams,” set to a Tchaikovsky tune, portrays all people as being “equal in sleep,” while “The Bonny Bunch of Roses” – featuring Paddy and his bodhrán – is a ballad related to the old Irish Air, “An Binsin Luachra” (The Bunch of Rushes). This gem of a recording, produced by Dennis Cahill and Victor Sanders, features Paddy’s voice accompanied by some of the best of the Chicago-based musicians: Dennis Cahill on guitar, bass, and mandolin, James Moore on guitar and bouzouki, Maurice Lennon on fiddle, Ben Lewis on piano, John Williams on accordion, Sheila Doorley on accordion, Teresa Shine on fiddle, Steven Houser on cello, and Sue Demel on backing vocals. Other songs on this CD include the lament “Cill Chais.” Sung in Irish, it describes the aftermath of the destruction of Ireland’s forests in the 18th century: “Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?” What will we do for timber, with the last of the woods laid low? Stephen Foster’s “Slumber My Darling” finds poignant expression in the cadences of Paddy’s delivery. Another tune, “Gentle Maiden,” comes from the ancient canon of Irish songs, while the popular “Song of Bernadette” is dedicated to Paddy’s mother and to all faithfilled motherrs. The album concludes with “The Holy Ground,” a lovely sea shanty from Cork, the singer’s native country. Paddy, who I first met many years ago through the stirring


sounds of Four Green Fields in Tighe Pheig’s Pub, Ballyferriter, on the Dingle Peninsula, combines the life of musician with social work. He’s regional director for two Lutheran life communities: St Pauls House, Chicago and Wittenberg Village, Crown Point, Indiana, and says, “I am a huge advocate of the role of music in engaging with people.

Many of our residents need a guiding light to be that beacon of hope by which they can live out their days with dignity and respect.” This theme permeates his life’s work. “Music,” he says, “goes right down to the fabric of the human person. We all have a song that needs to be shared.” His own guiding lights have been John McCormack, Seán Ó Riada who revived Irish traditional music, and his mother, Lizzie who says: “Paddy’s been singing since he was bawling in IA his crib.” More information on the album and a set of informative sleeve notes on the twelve tracks is available at


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{crossword} By Darina Molloy

ACROSS 1 (& 3 down) Alter ego of 24 across (4) 2 (& 41 down) Denver Broncos quarterback (6) 8 Outside ______: Newest Broadway play by John Patrick Shanley (9) 11 See 40 down (6) 12 ___ & behold (2) 14 An abbreviated laboratory (3) 16 Mark Little's organization, the sale of which makes him a millionaire (7) 17 (& 31 down) He attributes his ease with fame to being around his singer aunt Rosemary (6) 18 (& 32 across) Ireland's Justice Minister (4) 21 Ring design unique to Ireland (8) 24 (& 25 down) This drag queen performer took a stand for gay rights in Ireland which quickly went viral in February (5) 25 Liathroid, as Gaeilge (4) 28 Irish musical group formed in Donegal in 1970 (7) 29 (& 39 down) The ____ ___ : Iconic film, just added to _____(5) 30 Where the 2014 Winter Olympics were held (5) 32 See 18 across (7) 33 See 23 down (5) 35 World Health Organization, abbr. (3) 36 (& 1 down, & 26 down) Irish charity rocked by financial scandals earlier this year (7) 39 (& 38 down) Loved obsessively by W.B. Yeats (4) 41 See 2 across (7) 42 Retiring (3) 43 (& 4 down) Actor and well-known hellraiser who died earlier this year (5) 44 Clare golf resort bought by 37 down (7)

DOWN 1 3 4 5 6

(& 26 down) See 36 across (8) See 1 across (1, 5) See 43 across (1, 5) New U2 single (9) See 27 down (6)

7 See 19 down (6) 9 Sligo childhood home of Countess Markewiecz (9) 10 Tigerish sound (4) 13 (& 35 down) New Boston mayor (6) 15 A short farewell (3) 19 This Philly-set, Bronx-filmed movie starred the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (4) 20 Tipperary to _____: memoir by Joseph M. Cahalan (5) 22 Not exciting (4) 23 (& 33 across) Benedictine monastery in Limerick (8) 25 See 24 across (5) 26 See 36 across (6) 27 (& 6 down) He has just replaced Jay Leno as host of “The Tonight Show” (5) 31 See 17 across (7) 34 Clothing line of Ali

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, 2014. A winner will be drawn from among all correct entries. If there are no correct solutions, the prize will be awarded for the completed puzzle which comes closest in the opinion of our staff. Winner’s name will be published along with the solution in our next issue. Xerox copies are acceptable. Winner of the February / March Crossword: Frank Collins, East Northpoint, NY. 86 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

Hewson, aka Mrs. Bono (4) 35 See 13 down (5) 37 This real estate mogul, aka “The Donald,” bought 44 across (5) 38 See 39 across (5) 39 See 29 across (3) 40 (& 11 across) Bono daughter who's been making her way as a screen actress (3)

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Those We Lost Dr. James J. Gallagher

Philip Seymour Hoffman

1927 - 2014

1967 – 2014

Dr. James J. Gallagher, who fought tirelessly for children with special disabilities, died January 17 in Chapel Hill. He was 87. Born June 11, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Gallagher’s mother was a teacher of disabled children, and he became the chief architect of the Individualized Education Program, which became a national standard for addressing the needs of disabled students. Gallagher served in the Navy in WWII and subsequently earned a B.A. in Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, and later an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from Pennsylvania State College. From 19671970, he served with the Department of Education as associate commissioner of education, and then became the first chief of the office’s bureau for the Education of the Handicapped. Due to his efforts, Public Law 94-142, was passed in 1975, mandating public education to every disabled child. Donald J. Stedman, president and CEO of New Voices Foundation and friend of Gallagher, said, “He cared about children” and “was relentless in his pursuit of real issues in research and teaching.” Dr. Gallagher was also behind the initial federal funding of Sesame Street and the development of closed captioning technology. From 1970-87, Gallagher was the Director of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which was dedicated to researching early childhood education. His commitment to education never wavered. In an article published in the Roeper Review last July, he wrote, “If the national defense plans for the 21st century are based on brains, not just bombs, then we need time and concentrated effort to create conditions where our education system turns out intelligent citizens ready to build a society that is impervious to outside influence or economic attack.” Gallagher is survived by Rani, his wife of 64 years; his daughter Shelagh; three sons, Kevin, Sean and Brian; and five grandchildren. – M.S.

The world lost an immeasurable talent with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman from an accidental drug overdose on February 2. Upon first glance Hoffman did not appear to fit the description of a classic leading man of Hollywood, but anyone who has seen any of his over 50 films will say he had a presence and performance all his own. His whole career went against playing the easy and depthless leading actor, instead he chose roles that were emotionally wrenching and difficult to pull off. Throughout his career he was nominated for four Academy Awards – three for Best Supporting Actor (Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt, and The Master) and one for Best Actor for the film Capote, for which he took home the Oscar in 2005. Hoffman brought his dedication and John J. McGinty III eagerness to every role, whether he was 1940 – 2014 playing a villain in Mission Impossible III, John J. McGinty III, a Vietnam war hero, a journalist in Almost Famous, an ailing died of bone cancer at his home in South theater director in Synecdoche, New York, Carolina in January. He was 73. or head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee McGinty was awarded the Medal of in the blockbuster series The Hunger Honor for acts in Vietnam. “My father Games. used to say that he did what any Marine He was born in Fairport, NY on July 23, sergeant would have done,” his son 1967, he has two sisters,Philip Emily and Jill, Seymour Hoffman Michael told The New York Times. Two and a brother, Gordy, who wrote the decades after he received the honor for screenplay for Love Liza (2002), in which running through gunfire and mortar exploHoffman starred. His mother, Marilyn sions to lead his platoon to safety, McGinty O’Connor, is a retired Family Court judge. renounced it. He said he had come to view (In an emotional speech after accepting the the medal as a “form of idolatry,” and the Academy Award for Capote, Hoffman image of Minerva it bore, the Roman godcredited her for his success.) His father dess of wisdom and war, as “a false god.” Gordon is a former executive with Xerox. Born in Boston in 1940, McGinty grew Hoffman began acting at Fairport High up in Louisville, Kentucky. He joined the School where one of his earliest roles was Marine Corps in 1958 after high school Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman, a and reached the rank of staff sergeant by role he would recreate in a Tony nominatthe time he left for Vietnam in 1966. In ed performance on Broadway in 2012. He July of that year he was in charge of one of then earned a B.F.A. in drama from New four platoons in Company K of the Third York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Battalion, Third Marine Division. The capand co-founded the Bullstoi Ensemble thetain of Company K, Capt. Robert J. ater company. His break onto the big Modrzejewski, said that McGinty “was screen was as Chris O’Donnell’s spoiled very close to his men…. He looked at them classmate in 1992’s Scent of a Woman. as kids, really – 18- and 19-year-old kids – Besides film, Hoffman was also a high-


ly prolific performer on the stage, joining the Labyrinth Theater company in 1995. In 2000, he received a Drama Desk Awards nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for The Author’s Voice, and three subsequent Tony nominations for True West, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Death of a Salesman. Robert Falls, director of Long Day’s Journey into Night, spoke to The New York Times of Hoffman’s stage acting: “I’m not talking about a method actor. He just brought every fiber of his being to the stage. He was there – with his depth of feeling, depth of humanity – and no other actor I’ve ever worked with ever brought it like that, not at that level.” Hoffman is survived by his parents, his former girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell, and their three children. His funeral was held at St. Ignatius Loyola church in New York on February 7. – M.S.



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{those we lost}

John McGinty receiving the Medal of Honor from President Johnson.

with mothers and wives and girlfriends that he promised to get back home safe. That’s how we all felt.” McGinty is survived by Michael and his other son, John J. McGinty IV. – A.F.

Eugene McGovern 1941 – 2014

Eugene McGovern, co-founder of Lehrer/ McGovern, a New York-based construction management firm that rose quickly to international prominence, died in January. He would have turned 73 on January 29. Ever recognizable with his polished head, a cigar in or near his mouth, and cowboy boots under slacks, McGovern was responsible for the onsite side of the firm while his partner, Peter Eugene McGovern Lehrer, negotiated the deals. “Gene had an incredible gift of understanding how to solve problems, motivate people and get things done no matter how monumental,” Lehrer told the Engineering News Record. That ability to approach engineering problems with seemingly insurmountable solutions could be seen early on in McGovern’s life when his father died, leaving a then-teenaged McGovern to care for his six younger siblings. He took construction jobs and eventually earned a civil engineering degree by taking night classes. It was the restoration of the Statue of Liberty in 1986 that catapulted Lehrer/ McGovern to global notoriety and led to a string of high-profile construction projects across the world including the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Euro

Disney, and Canary Wharf in London. McGovern also stepped in to refurbish the home of police officer Steven McDonald when he was shot on duty and became a quadriplegic as a result. McGovern is survived by his wife Lisa and ex-wife Phyllis along with their four children and 13 grandchildren. – A.F

Jimmy Murphy 1939 – 2014

Jimmy Murphy, founder of Jimmy’s, the iconic Hollywood restaurant, passed away in early February after losing a long battle to pancreatic cancer. He was 75. Throughout his long and illustrious career, Murphy hobnobbed with the “who’s who” of celebrity. Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Maureen O’Hara, Bob Hope, Paul Newman, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and so many more frequented Jimmy’s, where elegance was combined with good food and entertainment. In an interview with Irish America last year, Jimmy recalled, “It was a time when people really dressed up to go out, they would buy new dresses, get their hair done because they were going to have dinner at Jimmy’s. There was always glamour associated with it almost from day one. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were regulars. Burton said the Irish and the Welsh had three things in common: we are good drinkers, we are surrounded by water and none of us can swim.” Murphy was born in Kilkenny, Ireland into a big Irish family of eight children. At 14, he left to find work in Dooley’s hotel in Waterford. From there he relocated to London where he worked at the Savoy hotel and met Charlie Chaplin, the first of many celebrity acquaintances. In 1963, he relocated to Los Angeles after meeting Anne Power, a nurse who became his wife.

Jimmy Murphy with Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

He opened Jimmy’s on South Moreno Drive in 1978. He is survived by his wife Anne of 50 years, three children, and two grandchildren. – M.S.

Daniel Tracy 1929 - 2014

Daniel Tracy, a heroic FDNY firefighter and Korean War veteran, lost his battle with cancer in January at the age of 85. Throughout his thirty-year career he became one of the most decorated firefighter’s in FDNY history, earning three medals in three years. Tracy’s first medal came in 1965 when he rescued five children from a burning apartment building. His second soon folDaniel Tracy with baby Sykes and his mother.

lowed when he was awarded the Brummer Medal after rescuing two people from a burning building in 1966, including sevenmonth-old Terry Sykes. Tracy’s act caught the eye of the then NY senator Robert F. Kennedy who said, “your courage and skill in effecting a series of rescues at great risk of personal safety deserve the highest admiration and respect.” Tracy retired from the FDNY a captain in 1990, but his legendary status on the FDNY lives on. Terry Sykes, the baby Tracy rescued, was thankful every day for the heroic deed Tracy had done. He told the Daily News, “I always wanted to meet him and let my kids see the man who saved their father’s life.” Sykes now lives in Virginia Beach, but his daughter Dashawn attended the funeral, saying afterwards, “If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here right now, so it’s really a blessing, we are a family now.” Tracy was predeceased by his wife Shirley, and daughter Maureen. He leaves behind two children, a brother, and many grandchildren. – M.S. APRIL / MAY 2014 IRISH AMERICA 89



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{photo album} Family Pictures

An Orphan Boy Who Was Fond of Horses ohn J. Callahan was one of fifteen boys who arrived in Philippi, West Virginia, on an Orphan Train. It was on June 24, 1903. He was taken by C.K. Switzer, owner of a flour mill in Mansfield, now an addition of Philippi. After living with the Switzers for a time, John let it be known that he was fond of horses and wanted to live on a farm. My grandfather, Ai Cleavenger, had a large cattle farm just seven miles from Philippi. He took John and made him a member of the family and gave him a horse. John called Ai “Dad” and grew up as a brother of Ai’s only daughter, Sadie. The family albums have many photos of John as a child, riding his horse, posing with the family, and in his uniform after he joined the army and with his wife, Ethyl, whom he married while in the service. My mother, Sadie, told me that John was an orphan, (explaining why his last name was different), but never mentioned other details of his background. He was always Uncle John to me and I looked forward to the summers when he and Ethyl came home for vacation. They made their home in Elmont, New York, where John worked for a milk company. They never had children. Uncle John was a wonderful storyteller. When he was saddling my pony he told me he once had a black horse with freckles. He used him to pull his milk wagon. Every morning at four a.m. he awoke the horse, harnessed him to the wagon and started his rounds. The last customer got his milk for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. There were fascinating stories about his customers. John would describe some of them in such detail that I almost knew them. One lady left notes in the empty bottles. He would stretch his fingers and unfold the note as if he were holding a strip of paper and pretend to read. Then I would giggle and he would roar with laughter. When Uncle John and Aunt Ethyl came they always brought something for me. Most of the time it was a souvenir of something special from New York. Once, I remember, I was given a small Statue of Liberty. As usual, John brought it to life with a story of his step-by-step climb to the “real” Statue of Liberty. He explained in detail the view from the torch and then told me he slid down the banister all the way back. My favorite gift was one he asked my mother to put away for my twelfth birthday, which was in December. Ethyl had wrapped it in Christmas paper and wrote “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas.” When my mother gave it to me I could hardly wait to open it. I ripped the paper open to find a yellow tin can with the words FRESH MARSHMALLOWS on it. When I took the lid off, a long green covered thing jumped out and flew across the room scaring me out of my wits.


Just recently I read an article in our local newspaper entitled “The Day They Gave The Kids Away.” My eyes filled with tears and my heart ached when I saw John’s name. He was one of the Orphan Train Riders. Ethyl preceded John in death. When Uncle John passed away his personal belongings were sent to us. I have their photo albums and their scrapbook. This book shows me a lot about their interests. There are letters from congressmen to whom they had written, letters from pastors from churches they had attended, and many other responses from their community activities. Now that I know about the Orphan Train Riders, my favorite photo of Uncle John is his first studio portrait after he came to live with my grandfather. He was around thirteen and his memories of the orphanage and the Orphan Train were still fresh in his mind. He was a handsome boy, as he was later as a man, when I knew him. John’s kindness and his wonderfully funny stories were an important part of my childhood. Now I know why he never told me about the orphanage or the Orphan Train. They certainly IA were no laughing matter. – By Rosalie Lewis

Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description, to Adam Farley 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 to We will pay $65 for each submission that we select. 90 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2014

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Irish America April May 2014  
Irish America April May 2014  

The April/May issue of Irish America magazine, featuring the Irish America Hall of Fame inductees, including Bill O'Reilly, Chris Mathews, M...