Irish America April / May 2015

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APRIL / MAY 2015

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[Hillary] was very much involved in encouraging the emergence of women in the political process in Northern Ireland, which was a significant factor in ultimately getting an agreement.


– George Mitchell

Hall of Fame Issue THE ANNUAL

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contents | april / may 2015



Hibernia Highlights

The 2015 Hall of Fame 40 44 46 48

Hillary Rodham Clinton Patrick Quinn Robert J. McCann Emmett O’Connell

19 Global St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

Following the saint from Auckland to Nome. p. 16

50 Hillary’s Celtic Roots

Megan Smolenyak uncovers new information about Hillary Clinton’s Welsh ancestors.

Irish Eye on Hollywood

The latest Irish news in film and television.

54 Irish Soldiers in WWI

In a two-part feature, Megan Smolenyak profiles several Irish soldiers who served in the U.S Armed Forces in WWI, and digs into the archives to reveal that there were more than previously noted.

44 46

48 62

62 Glasnevin

Sharon Ní Chonchúir visits Ireland’s largest cemetery, the last resting place of patriots and paupers.

p. 23


Commentary from Cardinal Dolan, Tom Brady, and others.

70 Brooklyn Was the New Ireland In the mid-twentieth century, Irish immigrants flocked to the City of Churches. By Tom Deignan

p. 28


76 What Are You Like?

Anne Thompson is NBC’s chief environmental and chief Vatican correspondent. By Adam Farley


88 Of Irish Blood

An excerpt from Mary Pat Kelly’s latest novel.

96 Sláinte! Meat and Potatoes

Tracing the origin of the most common of Irish ingredients. By Edythe Preet

Remembering Don Keough

An Irish American legend has died.

p. 34

78 Made in (18th C.) Ireland

Trad flautist Joanie Madden on 30 years of touring. By Kristin Cotter McGowan

How Cedric Gibbons brought Deco to Hollywood. p. 22

A new photograph has been discovered.

The Upper Lough Erne region is the perfect place for a getaway, Enda Cullen discovers.

84 Cherish the Ladies

The Oscar’s Irish Designer

Obama’s Irish Ancestor

66 Lovely Lough Erne

Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690 – 1840 is a new exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. By Turlough McConnell

p. 20

Departments 76 66


8 10 12

First Word

32 92 94 98

Those We Lost

Readers Forum News & Hibernia Books Crossword Family Album

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contributors | Sharon Ní Chonchúir

Kristin Cotter McGowan, who

spoke with Joanie Madden for this issue, is a former Irish America intern and current freelance writer living in Glen Rock, NJ, with her husband and three young daughters.

Megan Smolenyak is a

genealogist and the author of six books, including Trace Your Roots with DNA and Who Do You Think You Are?, a companion to the TV series. She has uncovered the Irish heritage of everyone from Barack Obama (3%) to Barry Manilow (25%), and contributes two pieces in this issue: on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Celtic roots, and on the Irish who fought in WWI on the American side.

lives and works in West Kerry, Ireland, and much of her writing is concerned with the changing face of modern Irish culture. She writes on Dublin’s Glasnevin cemetery in this issue.

Turlough McConnell is a long-

time Irish America contributor. He is president/CEO of Turlough McConnell Communications-Ireland in America™, full-service production of exhibitions, film and multimedia presentations, publications, and live events.

Vol. 30 No. 3 • April / May 2015

IRISH AMERICA Enda Cullen, who writes about Lough Erne, is from Armagh in Northern Ireland and is a retired school principal. He has published extensively on education in the past and now writes for fun on sport, wine and travel. These days he spends so much time in America he now considers it a home away from home.

numerous books, including the bestselling novel Galway Bay, an epic family saga set in 19th-century Ireland and Chicago, and the just-published Of Irish Blood, excerpted in this issue, which follows the next generation through WWI and the 1916 Easter Rising.


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

Tom Deignan, Mary Pat Kelly is the author of

Mórtas Cine

Pride In Our Heritage

who writes about Brooklyn, has contributed a weekly “Sidewalks” column to The Irish Voice newspaper for over a decade. He also writes columns about movies and history for Irish America, and is a regular columnist and book reviewer for the Newark Star-Ledger.

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: 1-800-5826642. Subscription queries:1-800582-6642, (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.

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the first word | By Patricia Harty

What I Learned From Hillary


ur cover story on Hillary Clinton reminds us of her role in the Irish peace process – particularly her involvement in bringing women into the discussion and throwing a light on the role they played in their communities – work that was often underrecognized. Closer to home she taught me a lesson that opened my eyes to the fact that when it comes to giving women their due, we women can sometimes fall short ourselves. I cringe as I remember the incident. The former First Lady, then the newly elected senator from New York, was attending our annual Top 100 affair at the New York Plaza. As she waited to go on stage, Hillary asked me what other politicians were in the room. In my quick scan of the seated guests my eyes took in Congressman Peter King, former Senator George Mitchell, and several other male political figures whose names I passed on to Senator Clinton. Somehow I managed to miss Mary Harney, the Tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister), and Hillary therefore didn’t mention her in her remarks. Following Hillary to the podium was our publisher Niall O’Dowd, who did mention the Tánaiste. Hillary, who had by now taken her seat in the audience, threw me a look that I will never forget. All I could do was mouth the words, “I’m sorry.” How had I failed to see Mary Harney sitting in the front row? Why was it that only the male politicians had stood out in my mind as worthy of note? Was there some deeply buried prejudice in the fabric of my being that saw men as more important? And if so, was it a condition of growing up in Ireland at a time when women were treated like second-class citizens? Even in the late 1970s women had to leave civil service jobs when they married and couldn’t get a bank loan without a male relative as a guarantor. Contraception was outlawed, and job choices and chances of higher education were fewer for women. In any case, Hillary made me check myself, and now I do it often. I’ve come to realize that it’s easier to recognize gender discrimination at a distance – in Afghanistan or some such place. It’s not always easy to see it when it’s right under your nose. The lot of women was especially hard in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. With husbands in jail for “revolutionary” offenses, or refusing to take jobs where they were asked to swear allegiance to the Queen, it was the women who held home and family together. And when it came to the peace talks the few women representatives were often shouted down when they offered an opinion – their roles domesticated and undervalued. And then came Hillary, who met with women from both communities and sat and listened to the details of their lives. (As George Mitchell who chaired the peace talks said, “[Hillary] was very much involved in encouraging the emergence of women in 8 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

the political process in Northern Ireland, which was a significant factor in ultimately getting an agreement.”) She visited with women in Belfast, and as First Lady invited them to the White House. When she became Secretary of State she stayed in touch and continued to travel to Northern Ireland. As genealogy detective Megan Smolenyak shows in her exploration of Hillary’s Celtic roots in this issue, the former secretary (seven of whose great-grandparents were immigrants) comes from a lineage of women who were determined to pull through adversity. And if she’s elected president, not only women, but disparate people from every corner of the world, will benefit from her inclusive vision. For all this pondering on the role of women, I have to admit that I’ve had wonderful champions who happened to be male. Not least, the all-seeing, all-knowing Donald Keough, who rightfully was our very first inductee into the Irish America Hall of Fame. Without Don’s encouragement and support I might not still be involved with Irish America. In fact, there might not be an Irish America at all. He created an environment conducive to a publication such as ours and helped ignite the now global Irish Studies phenomenon when he funded the Institute for Irish Studies at Notre Dame in 1992. As publisher Niall O’Dowd has said, “There are two Irish Americas. One before Don, and one after.” We are disconsolate at his passing. Don also supported our Irish America Hall of Fame which is situated on the quayside in New Ross from where his ancestor Michael Keough left for the New World, and where this year’s honorees, all of whom have supported Irish America in different ways, will soon be installed. Inductee Bob McCann has encouraged women in the financial industry, and supported education in Northern Ireland; Emmett O’Connell is a fount of wisdom and knowledge on all things Irish and has given me invaluable insights over the years; and Pat Quinn, who initiated the Ice Bucket Challenge, has united men, women, and children in a fun way to raise money for ALS research. Congratulations to all. We include in this issue, too, a Roll of Honor from the past – a story on the Irish who fought in WWI, and lots of features on art, culture, and music, including one that’s sure to cheer the heart – a profile of Joanie Madden whose phenomenally talented group Cherish the Ladies is celebrating its 30 year anniversary. And cherish the ladies we shall. Mortas Cine.

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letters | readers forum

Project Children

Visiting Carna

Stephen Colbert

It was with great interest that I read the story on Stephen Colbert. I knew his father James very well. We both went to Holy Cross College in the same pre-med program. He was absolutely brilliant – loved to debate into the late night. He was one academic leader of our class of ’42. For three years we roomed across the hall from each other. Back then “the Cross” had a mandatory schedule and Jim had a hard time getting up in the morning. I would go and actually pull him out of bed so he could make Mass and have no demerits. In return he helped me with calculus. When he was in deep thought, he would twist a strand of his hair into a point. He went on to become a very prominent doctor – he was truly a very gifted person. I am now pushing 94, but have pleasant memories of the Cross and Jim. Dr. Daniel P. O’Keefe Glens Falls, NY

Stephen and I share the same great-great-great grandparents in Michael and Bridget Garin. I live close to where I believe their property was located in Chesterfield, IL, and to where their son George W. Colbert and their daughter Anna are buried. We know so little regarding Michael and Bridget aside from one photograph. I have always longed to know more about them. Thank you.

Breane Carter Submitted online


I was delighted to read the article about Carna. My grandfather hailed from Callowfeenish and my grandmother from Mweenish Island. They were Mulkerns and Coynes, and I was privileged to meet some wonderful cousins on my last visit to Carna. They were very welcoming to myself and the people traveling with me. Carna, and the surrounding area, offers some of the most beautiful landscape in Connemara. I am anxious to visit again soon.

Carole Mulkern Dunphe Submitted online

What a wonderful tribute to Denis and Marion Mulcahy [Feb/Mar issue]. Project Children is a perfect example of what one person can do when his heart is in the right place. It was a great thing for us – great and fun – to have these kids [from N.I.] in our house every summer. I knew it was an unquantifiable good thing we were involved in. Reading this article about the two children whose lives were forever changed makes it quantifiable. Childhood is such a Denis Mulcahy with two Project Children short precious time – participants perhaps all the ills of humanity could be fixed if each of us reached out to help in whatever way we can. God bless the Mulcahys and everyone who has worked for Project Children!

Pat Corcoran Submitted online

Honoree Martin Daly

I just finished reading the Dec./Jan. issue referring to Martin Daly as one of the Business 100 honorees. I’m not surprised. I knew Martin as a youngster playing on one of the softball teams hosted by our local parish, Saint Simon Stock – non-Catholics and public school youngsters were involved as well. I was the coach of Martin’s team and they were truly a great group of youngsters, all of whom went on to their own success stories. Martin was one of those class acts and the proof is visible today. Truly we here at St. Simon Stock have been, and are, blessed with good people.

John P. Dillon Bronx, NY

John Duddy

Great article on John Duddy. He is a terrific guy and a winner in all he does! I wish every wonderful thing for John and his wife Grainne!

Lisa Sullivan Submitted online

The cover image of Stephen Colbert on our February / March 2015 issue was left uncredited. The photo is by Scott Gries of PictureGroup for Comedy Central.


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.

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hibernia | news from ireland New Busking Bylaws

ew laws regulating street performance, or busking, have recently been passed in Dublin City just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. The new laws were updated in order to ensure the safety and welfare of both performers and the audience. Dublin City Councillor Séamas McGrattan said after the passage of the new laws, “I welcome and support the new busking bylaws. These bylaws mean that busking will always be a part of our city.” Among some of the new regulations are: permits for buskers, time limits for street performance, and revocation of permits if buskers do not adhere to the proper regulations.


Buskers like these will benefit from Dublin’s new busking laws. (

Climate Panel Urges Irish Action

he Irish government must plan for coherent, sustainable long-term development or rue the drastic consequences of global climate change, policy practitioners warned at a seminar on Climate Justice and Policy Coherence in February. “Our current consumption behavior cannot be sustained without exceeding the bio-physical limits of the planet,” according to Dara Lynott, Deputy Director-General of the Environmental Protection Agency. “This means we have to rethink, and redesign, what we mean by social and economic prosperity.” – Social Justice Ireland.


Irish Universities Get Top Ranks

everal Irish universities are ranked in the highest echelons of a new international ranking system. A recent report from U-Multirank gave Dublin City University and the National University of Ireland Galway perfect scores in the “international orientation” category. Only 27 institutions from the worldwide study received perfect grades, and Ireland tied Switzerland and Sweden for fifth place by having two institutions in the top-tier. The new U-Multirank system is a welcome change from the norm. Users are able to compare similar institutions in a variety of ways so that they might glean a better understanding of how an institution performs in the realm that suits their specific needs. The Irish universities in U-Multitrank’s top 27 internationally oriented schools lagged behind others when it came to research and publication. However, Irish universities all scored top marks in B.A. and M.A. graduates working in the region.


Sinn Féin Criticizes Government

for Tabling Referendum to Extend Irish Vote to Diaspora


utrage was sparked when the Irish government refused to hold a referendum to extend the vote in Presidential elections to Irish citizens living in the North and elsewhere outside the Republic of Ireland. The referendum was backed by the Constitutional Convention and a number of prominent TDs. But Louth TD Gerry Adams lambasted the decision, saying, “The Cabinet decision not to hold a referendum on extending voting rights to the diaspora and to citizens in the north in


Presidential elections is a slap in the face to all of those Irish citizens who want to contribute to the Irish nation.” Similarly, Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin MEP, called upon the Irish government to stop dragging their feet and get a referendum passed. “I am calling on the Government to make a clear commitment that this matter will be progressed without further delay and to take steps to make sure that the referendum on voting rights for our diaspora will be put before the people at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

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Amal Clooney to Represent 14 Irish “Hooded Men” in Human Rights Trial

mal Clooney (right), British international law and human right’s lawyer and wife of George Clooney, has joined the legal team representing 14 Irish men who claim to have been tortured by the British government in the 1970s. Though none of the men who subjected the 14 to “deep interrogation” techniques were ever convicted of wrongdoing, the European Court for Human Rights found that the techniques were “inhumane and degrading,” but did not amount to torture. Now, after recently declassified documents have been discovered, the case will be retried at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.


Jailing of Water Charge Protesters Condemned

ublin Sinn Féin city councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha condemned the jailing of five water charge An artist’s concept drawing protesters in a of what the new Apple data statement issued on center will look like in February 19. Athenry, Co. Galway. Councillor Mac Donncha said: “The jailing of water charge protesters is deplorable. These are citizens who engaged in peaceful protest as part of one of the biggest mass movements that we have seen in many years. The real culprits are those in government who continue to try to impose unwanted water meters and unjust water charges.” Mac Donncha continued, “Corrupt bankers, developers and politicians who ruined the Irish economy have been allowed to escape scot free, while ordinary citizens exercising their democratic rights are put behind bars.”


Anne Enright Named First Irish Fiction Laureate

nne Enright (pictured below),the award-winning Irish writer, was named the first Laureate for Irish Fiction at an Arts Council event this past January. The Irish fiction laureate title lasts three years with a 50,000 euro per annum pay check. The new title was the brainchild of the Arts Council, which had further support from New York University, UCD, and The Irish Times. Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the winner at the ceremony saying, “The Laureate for Irish Fiction is awarded on the basis of literary accomplishment and excellence, and is the highest honor that the Irish State can bestow on a writer in this genre.” Among Enright’s many duties will be the teaching of one semester at each of the universities, an annual lecture series, and the hosting of a number of public events both in Ireland and America. Enright was enthused by the honor and is looking forward to getting started saying, “It is a great pple is investing €850 billion to construct a honor to be chosen. I new data center in Athenry, Co. Galway, creathope I can rise to the ing about 300 new jobs during its various phases of role, and maybe have construction and leading to about 100 permanent some fun along the positions once the center is completed in 2017. The way.” data center will provide power and information that helps Apple maintain its various online services, including the App Store and iTunes. In a statement, Apple chief executive Tim Cooke said, “This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date… We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet.”


Apple Planting Data Center in Fields of Athenry



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hibernia | news from ireland Hindu Leaders Call for Apology Over Northern Irish Priest’s Comments Linking Yoga to Satan

ather Reverend Roland Colhoun, a priest at Waterside Parish of Roman Catholic Diocese of Derry in Northern Ireland, as reported by The Derry Journal, “warned parishioners against taking part in yoga” while saying mass in Drumsurn recently. “Yoga is certainly a risk,” he said. “There’s the spiritual health risk.” “It’s a slippery slope from yoga to Satan”, RT channel quoted him. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said that neither the Vatican nor the Diocese of Derry Bishop, Reverend Donal McKeown, had offered an apology on the actions of the priest who trashed a highly revered ancient practice. Zed, who is President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that although yoga was introduced and nourished by Hinduism, it is a world Rajan Zed calls for a formal apology over incendiary remarks heritage and liberation about yoga made by a Northern Irish priest. powerhouse utilized by millions of people of various faith traditions worldwide for achieving physical and mental fitness. he latest CSO figures in Ireland uncover a troubling statistic regarding Ireland’s poor. The figures show that poverty has doubled in Ireland since 2008. One in six children and one in ten people over 65 are at risk of poverty, with 1.4 million people currently experiencing some kind of deprivation, an increase of 128% since 2008. While the poverty line has itself fallen to 16%, one in seven people continue to live in poverty. Upon hearing the chilling statistics, Dr. Sean Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland, said, “This is an indictment of Government policy and highlights its failure to protect the most vulnerable.”

F European Citizen’s Prize Announced

he annual European Citizen’s Prize awards were held this past January at a ceremony at the Brú Ború venue in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, situated at the foot of the Rock of Cashel. Hosted by the European Parliament Information Office, the awards are presented every year to groups or individuals that promote integration and cooperation between peoples within the European Union. This year’s honoree is Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, one of the largest non-profit groups that promote and preserve traditional Irish music, with hundreds of branches around the world. A number of Irish MEPs were in attendance including Martina Anderson and Liadh Ní Riada. The ceremony concluded with a presentation of music, song, and dance.



Poverty in Ireland Doubles


Tax Relief for Emigrants Returning to Ireland to Farm

inister of State Simon Harris clarified a crucial part of the recently-passed finance bill in Ireland which made it clear that members of the diaspora who inherit agricultural property while living abroad do qualify for the capital acquisitions tax agricultural relief so long as they spend at least 50% of their time actively working on the farm. Speaking on the matter, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly said, “The option of 50% off-farm work has not been available to countless thousands of young people from a traditional farming background for the past decade, in particular… It is of the utmost importance that provisions were made for members of the diaspora who are returning home to farm.”


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hibernia |

By Adam Farley

St. Patrick’s Diaspora

We’re familiar with the traditionally large-scale and internationally renowned St. Patrick’s Day celebrations – New York, Boston, Chicago, Dublin – but what about the other 190 countries? What about the other 47 U.S. states? What about upstate? Here’s your guide to the most exciting, least expected, and farthest flung St. Patrick’s Day traditions.



This tiny Caribbean volcanic island is the only other country than Ireland in the world for which St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday, but not for the reason you might think. This March 17th marks the 247th anniversary of an unsuccessful slave revolt against the European whites who had colonized it in the 17th century, seven out of ten of whom were Irish. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by a week-long festival of independence. The central celebration is the Masquerade, where Montserratians dress in colorful hats resembling bishops’ miters, dance Irish jigs, and crack whips in mocking defiance of their onetime Irish masters. Montserratian historian Howard Fergus puts it this way: “We are celebrating the rise of the slave freedom fighters, but also the rash Catholic element in our history. They both have a place in our legacy, which is celebrated on the anniversary of the Saint’s death.”

(Janelle Oswald | The Voice)

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Though it’s often called “The Paris of South America,” the Argentinian capital looks more like Dublin

Begun in 1992, the parade is the largest of several parades around Japan. It was established by Irish Network Japan for the purpose of introducing Ireland to Japanese people and has evolved into a glorious mix of traditional Japanese stylized dress with Irish costumes.

(Irish Network Japan)

every March 17th. The largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in South America, Buenos Aires forgoes a parade in favor of an annual street party in the city center, featuring music, dancing (including Celtic Argentina, the dance troupe profiled in this magazine last year) and plenty of craic at Breoghans Brew Pub on the corner of Bolivar and Estados Unidos.

(Wander Argentina)


Tokyo, Japan


The Singapore River is dyed green, costumes are donned, and a Harley-Davidson convoy leads the pack at the Singapore St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest celebration in Southeast Asia. The St. Patrick’s Society of Singapore (comprised mostly of ex pats) also hosts an annual ball at the Shangri-la Hotel with free-flowing wine and beer, live music, prize drawings, and Irish dancing.

(Asia One)

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Dubai, U.A.E.


More than 80,000 people show up for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Family Day in Sydney, making it the largest such event in the Southern Hemisphere, and the only event in the world outside of Ireland to be organized and funded with support from the Irish government. But though Sydney goes big for a day, on the other side of the continent Perth commits for the whole week with a host of races, competitions, children’s activities, and a massive parade as the finale.


For the past decade, Boomtown Rats front man Bob Geldof has played a St. Patrick’s Day gig in Dubai’s Irish Village and this year is no different. “Last year, although the rain was ‘persistent’, we still managed to jam into the early hours courtesy of a makeshift stage and plenty of Irish spirit. So whatever the weather, this year is going to be a great craic as well,” Geldof said.

Zagreb, Croatia

Oslo, Norway Auckland holds the distinction of celebrating the world’s first St. Patrick’s Day party every year, since midnight on March 17 reaches New Zealand’s largest city before anywhere else. It is also the farthest celebration away from Ireland, almost exactly the opposite end of the world at a massive 11,290 miles away from Dublin. Naturally, Auckland’s 1,076-foot Sky Tower is lit with the Irish tricolor all day.

(St. Patrick’s Festival Auckland)

Every year, Istanbul’s Irish Centre, a.k.a. The James Joyce Irish Pub, holds an Irish festival around St. Patrick’s Day. Just off one of Istanbul’s most popular nightlife streets, the pub is the capital’s only Irish bar and features live dancing, music, an ample beer selection, and plenty of traditional Irish food. Also, in case of overindulgence, there’s an attached boutique hotel, appropriately called the Istanbul Shamrock.

(Istanbul Trails)

(Time Out Dubai)

Head to Zagreb’s Tvornica Kulture (Culture Factory) where the Orthodox Celts, one of the most popular Croatian trad bands, will be celebrating their 22-year anniversary for St. Patrick’s Day. (Croatia Week)

Auckland, New Zealand

Istanbul, Turkey

Every year the Norwegian Irish Society gathers on Jernbanetorget to have Norway’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Founded by Irish ex-pats in 2009, the parade has grown to an all-inclusive celebration of the Irish in Scandinavia.

(Norwegian Irish Society)


The Gateway of India in Mumbai goes green for St. Patrick’s Day, and the Irish pubs around the country’s major cities stock up on Murphy’s Irish Stout.

(Times of India)

Moscow, Russia

The parade started in 1992 and has kept on growing. Even in years when it was canceled or moved, Muscovites still congregated on Novy Arbat, the Moscow main drag where it all began on March 17th. Marching bands, Cossack horsemen, and green beer are found in abundance. (

Cabo Roig, Spain

On the southern Costa Blanca in eastern Spain, this picturesque Spanish outpost plays host to the largest parade in Spain (Madrid is the close second). A favored destination of Irish vacationers, the fiesta lasts well into the night and spills onto the white sand beaches, long after the parade (National Geographic) has ended. APRIL / MAY 2015 IRISH AMERICA 17

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hibernia | st. patrick’s day

U.S. Parades

In addition to national landmarks, fountains, and even rivers (looking at you, Chicago) turning green in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, there’s a seemingly endless number of celebrations across the U.S., and not always in the expected places.

Butte, MT

There was a time when Irish was commonly heard in the mines beneath and around Butte, Montana. Built largely by Famine immigrants, Butte had a higher percentage of Irish emigrants than any other city in the U.S. at the dawn of the 20th century. As the mines became less profitable, the Irish came in fewer numbers, but most who were there stayed and the city is steeped in Irish pride. Naturally, St. Patrick’s Day is a huge affair, and with no open container laws until 2013, arguably one of the country’s rowdiest.


Nome, AK

Usually corresponding with the mid-March timing of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, St. Patrick’s Day in Nome is celebrated with a parade down Front Street in what is probably the northernmost St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Americas. This year though, the first finishers of the Iditarod are expected mid-afternoon on the 17th, after the scheduled parade. But if the first finishers decide to come in early this year, naturally, the parade gets bumped. (The Nome Nugget)

Enterprise, AL

Dubbed the world’s smallest St. Patrick’s Day parade, for 20 years, a lone Irish person makes the parade route from Enterprise’s Boll Weevil

monument, down Main Street to the courthouse, and back. This year’s “Grand Marshal” is the popularly elected Maggie Haas, ready to get her green on. (WTVY CBS)

Hot Springs, AR

Bearing the distinction of the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the route in Hot Springs, Arkansas covers just one 98 foot long street from start to finish. The Bridge Street parade is always presided over by a celebrity grand marshal, who have included Jim Belushi, Bo Derek, Mike Rowe, and Mario Lopez. This year it’s stock car driver Mark Martin.



White House fountain

Savannah, GA

Actually one of the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the U.S., Savannah’s dates to 1824 and traces a route through downtown Savannah, around the city’s verdant parks and fountains artificially dyed green. 750,000 people flock to a city whose population is just 136,286. Not bad.

(Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee)

Rolla, MO

Though St. Patrick, Missouri has the patron saint as its namesake and its own shamrock postal cancel, Rolla to the south paints the streets green, elects an honorary “St. Patrick,” and crowns a royal court. (Do they know how ironic this is?) The tradition began in 1908 when students at the Missouri University of Science and Technology began to celebrate St. Patrick, who is also the patron saint of Engineers.

(St. Patrick’s Board at MST)


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The Long Green Line


n post-WWII New York City, my father worked as a supervisor in the city’s Department of Transportation at the traffic sign shop. The shop was responsible for the care and refurbishment of all signs posted to inform motorists and pedestrians of city traffic regulations and street conditions. The sign shop staff also took care of painting the streets themselves, including bus stops, no-parking zones, and lane markings. My father, Irving Sorotick, a native New Yorker raised in the Bronx of Polish-Jewish ancestry, always had a raft of Irish friends. From his days as a civilian worker in a police precinct, through his wartime Army services (his unit landed on Omaha Beach on D-day), to his side business with an IrishAmerican partner as a television and radio repairman, he appreciated the culture and humor of his pals. It is due to him that I know all the words to all the old “standards.” One day in the early

1950s, not many weeks before that year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, my father was inspired by his friends to think up an idea that would be a unique New York tribute: Why not paint the white traffic line that ran up Fifth Avenue green for the day of the parade? As the luck of the Irish would have it, each of my father’s supervisors right up to

the commissioner thought it was a grand idea. (And each was Irish-American to boot!) Once the funds were found in the budget, it was just a matter of purchasing the proper color green paint. That special touch of green became such a

tradition that even during the city’s fiscal problems in the later part of the 20th century, private funds were sought and found to keep the tradition going. Back in the day, individual suggestions weren’t recognized, so the Department of Transportation as a whole took the credit for the idea. But my father’s co-workers knew whose idea it was and that was enough for him. – Marsha Sorotick Ms. Sorotick lives in New York City. Her father Irving passed away in 2000. Aside from his splendid marriage and his Army service, the “long green line” was something that always made him proud.

St. Pat’s for All T

he 15th Annual St. Pat’s for All Parade took place the first Sunday of March in Queens, New York. Established as a counter to the exclusion of LGBTQ groups marching under their own banner from the Fifth Avenue parade, St. Pat’s for All has become a political touchstone of the season. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio attended, as he did last year, instead of the Fifth Avenue parade, which he again declared he would boycott, saying that the parade organizers, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, have not gone far enough to make the parade inclusive, even though one gay rights group, OUTNBC, is marching this year. “You are here to celebrate no matter what. That is what pride is all about – pride in the fact that in New York City you can be whoever you are,” de Blasio told a crowd gathered in Queens. “A society for everyone is a society where everyone is respected, where everyone is embraced, where everyone has a say at the table.” Tony Award winning actor Brían F. O’Byrne, and human rights activist Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, served as the parade’s Grand Marshals. Kennedy has conducted extensive humanitarian work in scores of countries, advocating particularly for TOP: From left: Kerry women’s rights and Kennedy, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Brían F. LGBTQ rights. She O’Byrne at the St. Pat’s is also a co-founder for All Parade in of the Robert F. Queens, NY. Kennedy Center for CENTER LEFT: Army picture of Irving Justice and Human Sorotick. LEFT: MarchRights. ing with the green line – A.F. up Fifth Avenue. APRIL / MAY 2015 IRISH AMERICA 19

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hibernia | irish eye on hollywood

By Tom Deignan

Aiden Gillen, Conleth Hill, the aforementioned Liam Cunninghan and the rest


A highly-anticipated award-winning film about a determined Irish woman will get a big U.S. release this May. Entitled Noble, the film stars Drogheda native Deirdre O’Kane, who once described the film’s title character as “Ireland’s smoking, swearing, and singing answer to Mother Teresa.” The film explores the hard life and charitable work of Christina Noble, who created a foundation which has aided thousands of children in the most poverty-stricken regions of Vietnam. Noble herself had a tough life. She was raised in the slums of Dublin. Her mother died when she was 10 and her father was an alcoholic. Christina’s siblings were eventually sent to different orphanages, where each was told that the rest of the Noble brothers and sisters had died. Noble attempted to escape and eventually moved to London where she found her brother and met her husband. Noble had three children, but her husband turned out to be abusive. She found her calling when she took an interest in the Vietnam War and the toll the war was taking on the region’s children. Noble created the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, which to this day aids children in Vietnam. Noble was directed by Irishman Stephen Bradley, who is also O’Kane’s husband. The film also stars the Ethiopian-born and Irish-raised actress Ruth Negga, Liam Cunningham, and Pauline McGlynn. Last year, Noble won the top jury prize at the 29th Annual Santa Barbara Film Festival. After the festival, O’Kane was quoted as saying: “I’m absolutely thrilled. What a great start to our Noble movie journey. I’m particularly happy for Christina as she deserves every accolade she gets.”





of the Irish members of Game of Thrones’s LITSTACK sprawling cast will be back for Season 5 beginning April 12 on HBO. George R. R. Martin – the New Jersey-born IrishAmerican author whose books inspired the series – says fans better be ready for some bloodshed. “People are going to die who don’t die in the books, so even the book readers will be unhappy,” he was recently quoted as saying. “Everybody better be on their toes. [Writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] are even bloodier than I am.” The fifth season of Game of Thrones was filmed largely in Belfast and other locations across Northern Ireland.

The success story of author Matthew Thomas (profiled in the October/November 2014 issue of this magazine) just continues to grow. Not only has Thomas’s epic novel about the daughter of an Irish immigrant We Are Not Ourselves become a best-seller, A-list Hollywood producer Scott Rudin has snapped up the film rights. Rudin has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony in his decades-long career and has been a force beTOP LEFT: Dierdre O’Kane in a still from hind dozens of celebrated movies, including Noble. TOP RIGHT: Angela’s Ashes and No Country for Old Men. As for George R.R. Martin. Matthew Thomas – a former high school teacher – CENTER: Christina Noble. RIGHT: Matthew he’s not exactly gone all Hollywood just yet. “It’s a Thomas. ADOVE: great relief, first of all,” Thomas told The Economist, Brosnan as Louis XIV. in a profile which outlined “his vertiginous leap from literary obscurity.” Thomas added: “The absence of fear and doubt and insecurity is profound. I notice that I don’t have a welling in my chest of anxiety, and to me that’s worth everything… I was doing this job that I liked and was good at, but took all my energy, and I saw in that job no chance for real economic advancement. I watched the family men who had those jobs 30 years and have two other jobs to try to provide for their kids going to college. I never for a moment felt free of that possibility. Despite feeling good about the book, I also thought it was possible that it might come to naught, and that was terrifying.”



Pierce Brosnan’s The Moon and the Sun opens in April, featuring the


former James Bond as King Louis XIV. Then in September Brosnan appears in No Escape, alongside Lake Bell and Owen Wilson. Brosnan has two additional films slated for release in 2015 – Survivor, starring Milla Jovovich and Dylan McDermott, and Urge with Danny Masterson and Ashley Greene.

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Also in April, look for Domhnall Gleeson in Ex Machina, one of four movies the Irish actor is slated to appear in this year. Ex Machina is a sci-fi thriller about computer programming gone horribly wrong. Gleeson is also set to star in Brooklyn, alongside fellow Irish actor Saoirse Ronan, later this year. Brooklyn is based on Colm Tóibín’s novel of the same name. Gleeson – son of celebrated Irish actor Brendan Gleeson – has also been cast in the latest entrant in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens (though no release date for that highly anticipated flick has been announced just yet). And finally, look for Gleeson in The Revenant, the latest film from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who earned several Oscar wins for his film Birdman. The Revenant will also feature Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.




Speaking of the children of Irish acting talent, look for Max Irons, Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin in numerous movies hitting screens soon. Max Irons – son of Sinead Cusack and Jeremy Irons – is among the stars of The Woman in Gold, which also features Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren. The film is about a Holocaust survivor battling for a beloved work of art. Meanwhile, Boardwalk Empire star Jack Huston – director John Huston’s grandson, Anjelica Huston’s nephew – will star in the April release The Longest Ride. The film, based on the romantic novel by Nicholas Sparks, also features Oona Chaplin, who is named after her grandmother, Oona O’Neil, a daughter of Irish American playwright Eugene O’Neill, who married comic legend Charlie ChapTOP: Irish actor Colm lain. Meaney, left, and Cleveland

filmmaker-actor Sean Lackey in "The Yank." ADOVE: James Gunn with Oreo, the model for Guardians’ character Rocket Raccoon. BELOW: Domhnall Gleeson. (Universal Pictures)

Irish American blockbuster director James Gunn is dropping hints about the forthcoming sequel to his mega-smash movie Guardians of the Galaxy. Gunn, who was born in St. Louis and has five brothers and sisters (including Sean, Patrick and Brian, who are also in the entertainment industry), says he will come up with something fresh for the next Guardians movie, which will hit theaters in late 2016 or early 2017. “When you go forward with a group of characters, that means you have to go forward,” said Gunn, who added that the next Guardians would be “developing a new kind of story about their lives and who they are and where they’re going.” He added: “James Bond is a


James Bond movie over and over and over again. The character never learns anything, and the character never does anything new. And that’s not a knock. It’s a really fun series. But that’s not what the Guardians are. The Guardians are going to continuously change.”

With the Supreme Court and states across America battling over gay marriage, it was inevitable that a movie would eventually be made about PA the uprising that many believe started the modern gay rights movement. Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers is among those slated to star in a movie about the Stonewall Inn riots, which took place in Manhattan in 1969. Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla) is slated to direct the as-yet-untitled Stonewall film, which will also feature Ron Perlman and Jeremy Irvine.


Finally, the Cleveland Irish movie The Yank, starring Colm Meaney, is now out on DVD. The film also stars writer/director Sean Lackey as Tom Murphy, who wants to please his Irish American parents by marrying an authentic Irish woman. When a pal holds his wedding in Ireland, Tom believes he will meet the woman of his dreams – until her curmudgeonly father, Fintan Maguire (Meaney) turns out to be a nightmare. Lackey, himself the son of Irish immigrants, based much of the movie on his Cleveland youth. IA



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hibernia | hollywood history

Gibbons with his 1929 Oscar statue.

Every Oscar Is an Irish Win How an Irishman Introduced Deco to Hollywood


ach year around this time the world awaits the presentation of the Hollywood awards in which the statue called “Oscar” is presented to those in the movie industry whom the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences considers to be the best in the business. Numerous Irish and Irish-born have been recipients of this prestigious award down through the years, but few know that the coveted statuette was designed by an Irishman. Oscar’s birth took place at a Hollywood banquet on May 11, 1927, just one week after the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was organized. At that meeting, Louis B. Mayer, president of MGM, urged that the Academy create a special film award of merit. Cedric Gibbons, who at that time was art director for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, quickly sketched a figure of a knight holding a crusader’s sword standing atop a reel of film whose five spokes signified the five original branches of the Academy (Actors, Directors, Producers, Technicians, and Writers). The committee liked it immediately. Austin Cedric Gibbons was born March 32, 1893 in Dublin to Austin P. Gibbons, an architect, and Veronica Fitzpatrick Gibbons. The family soon moved to New York, and Gibbons studied at the Art Students League and started work in 1911 as a junior draftsman in his father’s office. By 1915, he was working at Edison Studios, and joined the movie studios of Sam Goldwyn, which merged with two other studios in 1924 to become MGM. (Interestingly, the first lion used for the original Goldwyn Pictures, and later MGM, production logo was also born in Dublin, at the Dublin Zoo.) Once there, Gibbons fundamentally changed the way studio production was done, giving MGM its signature sleek modern look, and replacing painted backdrops for three-dimensional sets that offered stark contrast in black and white. He is supposedly the only studio designer in Hollywood from the time to attend the now-famous 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. This was the height of Art Deco, and Gibbons recognized its high-contrast geometry would be ideal for the camera. Arguably the first production to fully incorporate the interior elements of Deco was 1928’s Our Dancing Daughters, but it was Grand Hotel, in 1932, that famously merged design with storytelling. Donald Albrecht writes of the prominence of geometry in the film in Designing Dreams: Modern Architecture in the Movies. “Circles are prominent in every aspect of the Grand 22 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015


LEFT: Interior of The Grand Hotel.

ABOVE: House in Santa Monica Mountains is now owned by Hollywood lawyer Jeanne Newman and Fox Television head Gary Newman. BELOW: The Oscar Statue. This one was awarded to Orson Welles for Citizen Kane.

Hotel’s design – an appropriate image for the spinning-wheel-of-fortune scenario,” he says. “The circular motif appears in the hotel’s round, multilevel atrium with open balconies, in the continually revolving doors, and in ornaments on balcony railings. It also appears in the round reception desk, which acts as a pivot for the curving shots that follow the movement of the film’s characters, who travel across the black-and-white floor like pawns in a chess game. Movie plot and architecture have seldom been so closely harmonized.” But Gibbons didn’t just work at introducing the visual vocabulary of what was then called Art Moderne to Hollywood, he lived it, building a suitably cinematic modern home in the Santa Monica Mountains, complete with a white stucco façade, stepped recesses, built-in furniture, a brushed steel staircase, recessed lighting, and a dressing room for his first wife covered wall to wall in mirrors. Naturally, everything abutted at right angles. He embodied the image of glamorous cosmopolitanism in early Hollywood. One sketch artist at MGM said Gibbons existed “in a kind of aura, or nimbus. He would arrive in his Dusenberg, in the grey homburg hat and the grey gloves, and he would walk up the stairs to the Art Department.” During his tenure with MGM, which lasted until his retirement in 1956, Gibbons created the sets for roughly 1,500 films, and was generally considered to have been the most influential production designer in the history of American films. He received no fewer than 12 of the gilded statuettes he designed for such movies as Pride and Prejudice (1940), Gaslight (1944), The Yearling (1946), and Little Women (1949), as well as a speIA cial Oscar for “creative excellence” in 1950.

This article is adapted from “‘Oscar’ – An Irishman’s Dream Lives On,” which appeared in the March / April 1995 issue of Irish America.

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ancestry | hibernia

Rare Photograph of “Fully” Kearney,



t was seven years ago when I identified Fulmoth Kearney of Moneygall, Ireland as the most recent immigrant on the maternal side of Barack Obama’s family tree. Inheriting land in Ohio from a brother, Fulmoth’s father, Joseph, left Ireland for the United States in 1849. Fulmoth and his sister, Margaret, followed in 1850, and his mother and two younger siblings in 1851 – a classic, chain migration pattern found in countless families. Not surprisingly, many have asked over the ensuing years whether there were any photos of Fulmoth, who was known to his family as “Fully.” I continued to look, but he had done a masterful job of keeping his secrets to himself – until now. Just recently, President Obama’s second cousin once removed, Dean Dillard, and his research companion, Norman Peters, solved the riddle of Fulmoth’s burial, and had a tombstone placed memorializing Fulmoth and his wife, Charlotte, noting that they were the great-great-great-grandparents of President Obama. And now, thanks to another descendant of Fulmoth and Charlotte’s, we know what Fulmoth looked like. Merlyn White, the President’s third cousin once removed, inherited a photo album and other items through a great-aunt who lived until the impressive age of 107. In an illustration of how intertwined our family trees all are, it was while visiting a distant cousin in Scotland that Mrs. White first learned she was related to Barack Obama. The cousin, an avid genealogist, had made the connection. This discovery prompted her to take a closer look at the family memorabilia that had come her way, and that’s when she found photos of Fulmoth and Charlotte, images which Mrs. White graciously agreed to share here. Fulmoth Kearney is a distinctive name, but should there be any doubt that this is the correct fellow, the


President Obama’s Irish Ancestor, Discovered

original owner of the scrapbook noted Fulmoth’s date of death under his photo – March 21, 1878 – exactly the same date that Dean Dillard and Norman Peters had uncovered by tracking down old cemetery records. So roughly 185 years after his birth, 164 years after his arrival in America, 136 years after his death, and six years after the inauguration of the most famous of his progeny, Fulmoth Kearney has finally revealed his secrets, and rather appropriately, he did so through his descendants. – Megan Smolenyak

Megan Smolenyak is an expert genealogist and author of the book Who Do You Think You Are?, the companion book to the TV series. This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

TOP (left to right): Fulmoth Kearney, President Obama who bears a resemblance to his Irish ancestor, and Charlotte Kearney. ABOVE: Tombstone memorializing President Obama’s Irish ancestor, “Fully” Kearney, which was recntly put in place. LEFT: Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents President Obama with a bowl of shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day, 2014.


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hibernia | gala

Celebrating Irish Studies

ew York University’s Glucksman Ireland House (GIH) honored McGraw Hill Financial’s Ted Smyth and writer Peter Quinn at its annual gala in February. Smyth, honored for his life-long commitment to building Irish and American business relationships, received the Lewis L. Glucksman Leadership award. The award is named for the late financier who, along with his wife, Loretta, founded GIH as a center for Irish Studies at NYU. Quinn, the Bronx-born author of the Fintan Dunne trilogy, Looking for Jimmy, and Banished Children of Eve, was awarded the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters. It was an evening of words and music. Joanie Madden (see page 84) and other accomplished musicians gave a lively note to the evening. Author and journalist Terry Golway served as a marvelous M.C., and all the speakers touched on common aspects of Irish identity, storytelling, and the importance of the diaspora, as the following excerpts show.


Irishness isn’t about religion, and it’s not about blood, and it’s certainly not about the twisted fantasy of race. We share the same DNA as every other member of our species. What’s true of the Irish is true of every tribe, every family, every country, every religion. At their center what gives them a claim on their identity, and what serves as their inner compass, are stories. Yet stories have a special importance for the Irish. When everything else was taken from us – the kingdom, the power, and the land – all that remained and couldn’t be taken away were the stories. The essence of being Irish is in our stories. In a ceaseless flow of words first heard in the echo chamber of the womb, stories sung and danced and rhymed, words strung together in poems and prayers and curses. Many years ago, at a bar on East Tremont Avenue, the wizened toothless Irishman on the stool next to me leaned over and whispered in my ear, “There’s no greater sin than being boring.” I never heard a truer word spoken in my life. And for that scrap of unforgettable wisdom, I remain eternally grateful. My father was the son of a Tipperaryborn, empire-hating, union-organizing, roving Irish rebel. A frustrated actor and songwriter, my father turned those skills to public speaking at politics. At his knee we learned the Holy Trinity – in the name of God, Roosevelt, and Kennedy. The daughter of a maid from Blarney and a mechanic from Macroom, my mother, a woman of great grace and great faith, told us wherever we go, come back with a story. My parents set me footloose and 24 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

Ted Smyth

I feel I’m one of the lucky ones to have been born to a loving family in rural Ireland, and educated at Trinity College Dublin, enjoyed three fulfilling careers around the world, including one dining for Ireland. The adventure began in 1976. I had three assigned goals… build American support for equal rights for Catholic nationalists and Protestant loyalists; use American pressure to change British policy in Northern Ireland; and encourage American businessmen and women to invest in Ireland to create badly needed jobs. We were a small band of Irish representatives in New York City… but we had thousands of generous allies amongst the Irish diaspora.


Peter Quinn

free to make my own way, richer than any king or queen, my soul, and my brain, and my mouth, filled with stories.

Pete Hamill

We’re here because of the people who carried us in here. And in my case, as in the case of so many people here tonight, we were carried by tough, smallish people who came and stayed, who didn’t find streets paved with gold but found that they could vote for their leaders on Election Day, that they could live in a city that respected them. That made them members of unions and members able to get educated in ways nobody before had done. I’m one of that whole tribe that had the good fortune to be young right after WWII, and when I finally went into the Navy and came out later, I had… the GI Bill of Rights. And it gave us life. It said, Shakespeare is yours too, kid; the great artists are yours, too; the great music is yours, too; let us move into the world, and make our own mistakes, but live. – Transcriptions by R. Bryan Willits. For the complete transcripts of the evening’s speeches, go to

ABOVE (top to bottom): Pete Hamill, Ted Smyth, and Peter Quinn. TOP: Judith McGuire, president of the GIH board; GIH founder, and cochair of the dinner, Loretta Brennan Glucskman; honorees Ted Smyth and Peter Quinn; dinner co-chair Mary Shanahan; the author Terry Golway who acted as M.C.; and Joe Lee, director of Glucksman Ireland House.

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Untitled-1 1

11/27/12 10:59 AM

hibernia | film&stage

The Irishman Behind Boyhood


uch praise has been lauded on Richard Linklater’s 12 years spent making Boyhood, the indie film that garnered a slew of awards including Golden Globes, SAGs, BAFTAs, and Oscar nominations. Much of the commen-

Shane Kelly

dation went to codirectors of cinematography Shane Kelly and Lee Daniels. Kelly is a native of Sixmilecross, a small town in County Tyrone. A lover of movies and books his whole life, Kelly attended the Aughnaglea grammar school and later graduated from the University of Ulster with a degree in media studies. He credits his education for the success he has achieved in his life, telling The Ulster Herald, “I grew up in a household full of books and information, so I would have to say that my education also came through the encouragement of my parents to be curious

about the world around me.” This curiosity carried him to London, Seattle, and finally Los Angeles, where he took part in a number of film productions including Urbania (2000), A Scanner Darkly (2006), and the documentary Catching Out (2003). With Boyhood though, he did something he never had before, shooting once a year with an indefinite completion date. Kelly said the film “has probably been my most rewarding professional experience because its degree of success wasn’t expected. But I love my job and that is rewarding in itself.” “The challenges in making a movie over 12 years are really about consistency and making sure that each year flows into the next without a major style change,” he said. Kelly is proud of the film and its success, saying it is “very satisfying reward for twelve years of hard work and commitment that everyone on the cast and in the crew put in.” Now living in Texas, Kelly dreams of one day shooting a film in Ireland. – Matthew Skwiat


Oscar Runs Wild at

Opera Philadelphia


new opera dealing with the Burden as Frank Harris, both friends trials and imprisonment of the and supporters of Wilde who add Irish playwright Oscar Wilde poignancy to the story. made its East Coast debut this past FebWalt Whitman (Dwayne Croft), ruary. It was put on at the charmingly looking very much like Mark Twain lavish Opera Philadelphia by composer clad all in white, oddly narrates. His and co-librettist Theodore Morrison and role is a bit perplexing as Whitman and English opera director John Cox, a year Wilde met only once and their relationfollowing its debut in Sante Fe, New ship, while mutually flattering early on, Mexico in 2013. Wilde’s plays bursted with wit, subversion, and fun, but the new opera, Oscar, deflates under its own sanctimonious aspirations. While well sung, the opera limps along with clichéd dialogue and tepid acting. Some of the dialogue is taken directly from Wilde’s works, but unfortunately the flare-ups of humor are few. This may come as a result of the episode in Wilde’s life that is © OPERA PHILADELPHIA | PHOTO BY KELLY & MASSA being portrayed (his imTOP: prisonment and fall from devolved into sparks of in the Leverson grace), but it is clear that Toys bitchiness towards the nursery come to life to the Oscar of this play is a represent the judge end of Whitman’s life. martyr in some kind of and jury at Oscar’s trial. Also mysteriously 19th-century gay cause, missing from the cast is ABOVE RIGHT: and is himself revered as David Daniels as Oscar Wilde’s wife, Constance, the saint of a movement with Heidi Stober as who visited him during that started nearly 60 Ada Leverson. prison and was his main years after he died. source of dependence This is not to say Wilde is not a after his release. But a loyal wife has no revered gay icon, he most certainly is, room in a tragic gay affair that seeks to but he is also much more than this, and show Oscar the saint and not Oscar the the one-dimensional portrayal of him man. diminishes his life and works. Not that While well researched and exciting the opera is devoid of excitement. The in parts, the new Oscar opera imprisons costuming is remarkable, especially the Wilde in his own doomed love affair carnivalesque scenes in the courtroom devoid of the grit and ambiguity that (see the photo at top). David Daniels, made him fascinating. the gifted countertenor who plays It would be important to remember Wilde, brings him to vivid, androgy- Wilde’s lasting words that “the truth is nous life. He is supported by Heidi Sto- rarely pure and never simple.” ber as Ada Leverson and William – Matthew Skwiat


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HOLY LAND PRINCIPLES A vacuum crying out to be filled A Role Waiting For You

The Mac Bride Principles has been the most important campaign ever against anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland. The Holy Land Principles—also launched by Fr. Sean Mc Manus—can do for Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians what the Mac Bride Principles did for Catholics in Northern Ireland. England—NOT GOD—sowed the seeds of partition in both lands: the Balfour Declaration for Palestine (1917) and the Government of Ireland Act (1920). Until Fr. Sean Mc Manus—President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus—launched the Mac Bride Principles on November 5, 1984, the American companies doing business in Northern Ireland were never confronted with their complicity in anti-Catholic discrimination. Incredibly, that obvious domestic and foreign policy nexus, with its powerful economic leverage for good, was missed. Same, too, with the American companies (apart from a few with obvious military-security aspects) doing business in Palestine-Israel ... A vacuum crying out to be filled—and filled by the Holy Land Principles, launched on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012. The Holy Land Principles are a corporate code of conduct for the 546 American companies doing business in Israel-Palestine. The 8-point set of Principles does not call for quotas, reverse discrimination, divestment, disinvestment or boycotts—only American fairness in American companies. The Holy Land Principles are pro-Jewish, pro-Palestinian and pro-company. The Holy Land Principles do not take a position on any particular solution—One State, Two State, etc., etc. The Principles do not try to tell the Palestinians or the Israelis what to do—they only call on American companies in the Holy Land to proudly declare and implement their American values by signing the Holy Land Principles. One hundred sixteen American companies doing business in Northern Ireland have signed the Mac Bride Principles. Can American companies now say: “Catholics in Northern Ireland deserve these principles but Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians do not?” And can fair-minded Americans—companies, consumers, investors and other stakeholders—go along with that? PLEASE SUPPORT OUR SHAREHOLDER RESOLUTIONS Shareholder resolutions are proposals submitted by shareholders for a vote at the company’s annual meeting. Holy Land Principles has three Resolutions filed for 2015 proxy votes: GE—Annual Meeting, April 22; Corning—Annual Meeting, April 29; and Intel—Annual Meeting, May 21, 2015. We need your help to get these Resolutions passed. Please urge investors you may know in these three companies to vote for these three Resolutions filed by Holy Land Principles. ALSO, please email the Investor Relations Contact (IRC), the person who deals with the issue for the companies: GE (; Corning (; and Intel ( urging the company to sign Holy Land Principles. Just address them as “Dear IRC.” WHAT MORE YOU CAN DO Go to—to “Contact Companies,” to the list of companies. See email address list of the Investor Relations (ICRs)—the individuals who deal with the issue for the Companies. Please follow directions and email all the IRCs urging their Company to sign the Holy Land Principles.

MY AMERICAN STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE IN NORTHERN IRELAND ... AND THE HOLY LAND “No one has done more than Fr. Mc Manus to keep the U.S. Congress on track regarding justice in Ireland.” Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY) Chairman, House International Relations Committee


CAMPAIGN TO DATE 1. Holy Land Principles campaign was launched by mailing Fr. Mc Manus’ Memoirs, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland ... And The Holy Land to all the 550 CEOs and 550 IRCs, to all Members of Congress, House and Senate, and to thousands of media. 2. Monthly mailings and emails to all the CEOs and IRCs. 3. Our Pamphlet publications to date are: Why Cisco Should Sign The Holy Land Principles, Why Intel Should Sign Holy Land Principles, Why GE Should Sign the Holy Land Principles, and Why Corning Should Sign Holy Land Principles. These pamphlets contain a Special Report, we commissioned, by the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2): “The first reports of this kind published by Si2 or any other organization.” WE TOLD YOU THERE WAS A VACUUM CRYING OUT TO BE FILLED. 4. Shareholder Resolutions: Filed with Intel, GE, and Corning. With many more to come, like Coca Cola, FedEx, General Motors, Cisco, and so forth.

Holy Land Principles, Inc. • Capitol Hill • P.O. Box 15128, Washington, D.C. 20003-0849 • Tel: (202) 488-0107 Fax: (202) 488-7537 • Email: • Website:

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hibernia | quote unquote

“To those who think that human fate is determined, that a change in life’s direction is impossible – that a situation like a prison, that can lead to hopelessness and further degradation – that such a plight makes intellectual growth, a search for wisdom, a desire to improve… impossible, I say, ‘Let them come to Eastern Correctional! Let them see Bard College at work in these walls!’”

Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, speaking in support of college-inprison programs at a graduation ceremony for 53 inmates who were awarded college diplomas as part of the Bard Prison Initiative at Eastern Correctional Facility in New York State on January 24th. The recidivism rate for the roughly 500 graduates of the Bard program is four percent, compared to 40 percent for the general prison population for the state of New York. Slate, January 28.

“These good, decent men who didn’t marry, now they’re 60, 70 years old, and there’s no one to take over the farm. When they die, it will be sold, and that’s a soft, sweet personality, a way of life, that’s gone.”

Willie Daly, on why he continues to preside over the annual Lisdoonvara matchmaking festival in Ireland. Now in his 70s, he estimates that he has facilitated around 3,000 marriages in more than 50 years of matchmaking. New York Times, February 3.

“Article 41 is indefensible. It is nothing more than the rhetorical cover for a cruel, hypocritical, sexist system that failed even in its own stated aims. It’s long since time we replaced its empty piety about ‘The Family’ with real support for real Irish families.”

– Fintan O’Toole on the infamous “Family” article in the Irish constitution, which reads, in part, “The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.” Irish Times, February 17.

“[Y]ou don’t really see this for any other holiday. It’s just that for some reason people feel they can get away with it for St. Patrick’s Day… I’ve been entertaining in the Irish community for 30 years, but every once in a while you see how we abuse each other, and that's the disappointing thing. We should be standing together.”

Kevin Westley, who last year bought out Long Island Wal-Mart’s’ offensive St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts, only to return them March 18th. He has already spent $400 this year to get the offending shirts off the shelves and is imploring others to do so as well. IrishCentral, February 26.

“Once I made this break, I discovered I was, you might say, free to discover how casual about all this my Irish cousins were. They were intermarried with Protestants. They saw the conflict in Northern Ireland in political terms rather

than religious terms. And after Ireland joined the EU and achieved a higher per capita income than the United Kingdom, they were simply no longer interested in fighting the old fights – that is, those in the Republic weren’t. But even cousins in Northern Ireland really weren’t. And I think my own religious shift loosened me up enough that I could see that, so that was a significant change.”

Jack Miles, editor of the new Norton Anthology Of World Religions, in an interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, responding to a question of whether his self identity changed when he left the Jesuit Order and became an Episcopalian. NPR, January 29.

For strengthening communities across America and in Ireland, we salute you Congratulations to Bob McCann on being inducted into the 2015 Irish America Hall of Fame

ŠUBS 2015. All rights reserved. UBS Financial Services Inc. is a subsidiary of UBS AG. Member FINRA/SIPC.

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hibernia | quote unquote

“It was good chance to use my Gaelic football skills and get it down. Johnny Sexton gives us confidence – he’s a true leader and everyone’s learning from him all the time. We’re growing week by week and we can keep improving.”

At 37, he should be finished but Tom Brady just won another Super Bowl. The writer, Mark Leibovich, profiled Brady for The New York Times Magazine during the off season and revealed the quarterback is doing everything possible to stay in the game and defeat the ravages of time by training hard but carefully, and following a strict antiRobbie Henshaw, tryscorer for the Irish national rugby team, inflammatory diet. after Ireland’s defeat of England 19-6 in the Six Nations tournament. “I just know that I’m sitting here at age 37 and I Johnny Sexton is Ireland’s captain. BBC Sport, March 1. feel perfect at the end of 16 games,” Brady said. “My arm doesn’t hurt, my legs don’t hurt. My teammates, they’re “I felt filthy. I wasn’t ready to tell anyhurting.” body, so they suggested I stay in a psychiBut Brady’s father, atric ward. I said I’m not crazy, I’ve just who refers to himself been raped… I felt that rape was a dirty little as the original Tom secret, and that’s what an awful lot of victims Brady, said that things I think feel. They feel humiliated and they could end badly belive in fear and in secrecy and their lives are tween his son and the destroyed.” Patriots who have Former Fine Gael Senator Niamh Cosgrave, traded or released speaking publicly for the first time after the “LGBT people are seven times more likely to some of their most acconviction of the man who raped her in Chefattempt suicide than their peers. That number complished players Boutonne, France in 2012. Cosgrove is best is even higher for transgender people… over the years and that known as the voice of one of Ireland’s gravest Talking things out makes a massive, radical he fully expects his health scandals when she declared publicly change to their lives. It makes them realise son’s time in New that she had been infected with Hepatitis C they’re just normal people like everyone England to have an through contaminated else.” ugly conclusion. Anti-D blood prodMaria Keogh (pictured above at left, with “It will end badly,” uct after receivSenator David Norris), director of Gay Switching a blood he said. “It does end board Ireland, a confidential listening and suptransfusion badly. And I know that port service for members, family and friends of during childbecause I know what the LGBT community, and anyone with questions birth. Today Tommy wants to do. He about their sexuality. The non-profit just celewith Sean wants to play till he’s brated 40 years with a visit to President O’Rourke, 70... It’s a cold busiHiggins’s residence. Irish Times, February 21. RTÉ., ness. And for as much March 2. as you want it to be faGay Switchboard Ireland is open seven days a week, Mondays to Fridays from 6:30 p.m. to 9 milial, it isn’t,” he said. p.m., Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays and bank holidays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It can be reached online at


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hibernia | those we lost D. Michael Collins 1944 – 2015

oledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, a first-generation Irish American who had led a life devoted to civil service, died in February following a cardiac arrest. Collins, an independent, was elected mayor in 2013 and was just beginning his second year in office. He was 70, and the first mayor of Toledo to die in office since 1904. Prior to his mayoral bid, Collins had served as a city councilman since 2007, and prior to that worked as a detective with the Toledo Police Department, where he also headed the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association for more than a decade. Collins was born in 1944 to Michael John Collins, who immigrated to Toledo from Ireland, and Gertrude Helmer, whose ancestors came from Germany. But it was his Ireland connections that Collins relied on for his public service, maintaining close ties to his relatives still in Ireland, and even implementing Ireland’s “Tidy Towns” program to clean up Toledo. Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner told The Toledo Blaze, “We should celebrate Mike’s commitment to improving the quality of life for Toledoans and their families and policemen and their families.” “He was a true old-fashion Irish leader. He would be urging us to continue on to do those things to make Toledo better… Intense, and at times combative, and a competitor. He had a warm Irish heart beneath the intense, combative exterior.” Collins is survived by a sister, Mary Pat Hobbs, his second wife, Sandra Drabik, and three daughters from a previous marriage, Tammy Dickey, Laurie Mulligan, and Kelly Sheridan. – A.F.


Sean Corrigan 1917 – 2015

rishman Sean Corrigan, 42, of Medfield, Mass. died while inspecting snow removal on a warehouse roof, falling through the skylight. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reported over 140 building and roof collapses in February. Corrigan was originally from Co. Mayo and had been living in Boston for a number of years with his wife Sheila. He returned to Ireland often throughout the years, maintaining contact with family members on both sides of the ocean. Following Sean’s death, a memorial service was held at Gormley’s in Westport, Roxbury. His body will be laid to rest back home in Mayo. The Corrigan Family Memorial Fund was set up in Sean’s honor to support his wife and their three children at So far nearly $80,000 of it’s $125,000 goal has been reached. – M.S.


FROM TOP: D. Michael Collins, Sean Corrigan, Michael Lambert, and Sean McCann

Michael Lambert 1907 – 2015

ichael Lambert, former holder of the title “Ireland’s Oldest Man,” has died. He was 107. He was born in Clooneygrasson, Castlerea, Co. Roscom-



mon on October 5, 1907. Throughout the span of his 107 years, Lambert witnessed a complete transformation of Ireland, but remained committed to his Roscommon roots. He was born, according to his son Edward in The Irish Times, “in a thatched cottage beside what is now the family home.” Lambert’s was an active life filled with hard work and his love of family. He married late, to Mae Collins who lived in a nearby village. The two were married for more than 60 years and produced 10 children with a total of 22 grandchildren. His early life was like something out of a novel, leaving school at 12 after his father died, taking over the family farm, and eventually settling down in his 40s. Lambert left Ireland only five times during his lifetime, even though he had a U.S. passport. He used to visit his mother who moved to America soon after his own marriage. He credited his long life to quitting smoking 60 years ago and to good ol’ family genes (both his sisters lived well into their 90s). His son gives credence to the old mantra, slow and steady wins the race, saying “he was a placid, easygoing man. He said his prayers at a slow pace, he ate his dinner at a slow pace, he never rushed anything.” While Lambert was the oldest man in Ireland, the oldest Irish person honor goes to Kathleen Snavely in Syracuse, NY, who turned 113 in February. – M.S.

Sean McCann 1930 – 2015

ean McCann, the prolific author of more than 25 books, a former Evening Press journalist, and the father of award-winning Irish author Colum McCann, has passed away. He was 85. Born in Dublin, he moved to London with hopes of becoming a football star (a dream young Colum also inherited), playing for the Charlton Athletic. By the early 1960s he settled down and returned to Ireland and took up journalism. It was from his father that Colum was introduced to the world of literature, who describes in “The Word Shed,” published in The New Yorker last December, his world of literary creation as “The ping of the bell. The slam of the carriage return. It all sounded like a faint form of applause.” Sean had a successful career at the Evening Press, running a weekly column called the “Petticoat Panel” and hiring a number of prominent writers including Claire Boylan, Noeleen Dowling, and Liam O Cuanaigh. John Boland, writing in The Irish Independent, called him “a civilised and unfailingly charming journalist of the old school.” Sean published works on Irish wit and children’s books centering around the soccer-playing underdog Georgie Goodie. When not writing stories, McCann was an avid gardener, which landed him several international prizes. Sean McCann is survived by his wife Sally and his five children. – M.S.


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Reverend Theodore Hesburgh 1917 – 2015

dealing with the fallout from the Land O’Lakes Statement, released by a group of Catholic academics assembled by Father Hesburgh in 1967, which began: “To perform its teaching and research functions effectively the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face


former president of the University of Notre Dame and one of the most public Catholic leaders in the 20th century who fought for civil rights and university autonomy, often at odds with both the Vatican and U.S. presidency, died late February. Reverend Theodore Hesburgh died at his home at the Holy Cross seminary on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, having attended daily mass and keeping office hours until the week before his death. He was 97. Father Hesburgh never wanted an administrative role at the university, where he took his vows in 1943 at the age of 26, initially hoping to serve in the U.S. Navy as a chaplain on an aircraft carrier and later simply to teach. But he was assigned to Notre Dame during the war to help train naval officers and was made president just nine years later, at 35, after serving as vice president and assistant to the president. When he retired in 1987, he was the longestPHOTO: ROBERT KNUDSEN. JFK serving Notre Dame president in history, having PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM. overseen a number of key transitions for the university and the nation. That same year, Father Hes- of authority of whatever kind, lay burgh was named the most effective college president or clerical, external to the acain the U.S. by a survey of 485 university presidents. demic community itself.” It was a He had audiences with presidents and at the Vatican, shot across the bow of St. Peter’s. but rejected the idea that either the national governThe Vatican released its own statement on the role ment or Rome should have greater control over the of Rome in Catholic universities in 1990, the Ex Corde university than the administration and the board. Ecclesiae, which outlined requirements for Vatican“[He] took Notre Dame from being a rather small sanctioned Catholic institutes of higher education.The Catholic Midwestern institution to being an ... aca- president emeritus of the Fellowship of Catholic demically distinguished institution,” Rev. John Jenk- Scholars told the Catholic World Report that when ins, Notre Dame’s current president, said in an asked about Notre Dame’s compliance with the docinterview with NPR. ument, Father Hesburgh reportedly said, “What is the At Notre Dame, Father Hesburgh doubled enroll- worst thing that can happen to us? John Paul II will ment, oversaw the admission of the first women in tell the world that Notre Dame is not a Catholic uni1972, increased the university’s endowment from $9 versity. Who will believe him?” A decade later, Notre million to $350, and transitioned control of the uni- Dame’s faculty senate voted unanimously to ignore versity from the Congregation of the Holy Cross to a the Ex Corde Ecclesiae. primarily secular board. But he was also a national figTheodore Martin Hesburgh was born in Syracuse, ure in business and politics, serving on several boards New York in 1917. One of five children of Theodore of directors for various organizations, including Chase Bernard Hesburgh and Anne Murphy, he said he had Manhattan Bank and the U.S. Institute of Peace, and wanted to be a priest since the age of six, and had more than a dozen presidential commissions, includ- wanted to attend Notre Dame since eighth grade, when ing the Commission on Civil Rights for 15 years, the four Holy Cross missionaries came to his parish last five of which he served as chairman until his crit- church and sold him on the seminary in South Bend. icism of President Nixon led to his forced resignation In 2010, President Bill Clinton awarded Father Hesin 1972. burgh the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest “It's important to remember, this is the ’60s,” Rev. civilian honor in the U.S. He was the first person from Jenkins emphasized with NPR. “It was not universally higher education to be awarded the medal. At a 2013 acclaimed... for a Catholic priest to be advocating for birthday celebration in Washington, D.C., vice-presicivil rights for African-Americans. It was the middle dent Joe Biden called Hesburgh “the most powerful of the Cold War; it was not universally accepted to unelected official this nation has ever seen.” argue for nuclear disarmament. He was a courageous “In his historic service to the nation, the church leader for this time, and for that reason a highly influ- and the world,” Rev. Jenkins said in a statement, “he ential one.” was a steadfast champion for human rights, the Indeed, even into the 1990s the Vatican was still cause of peace and care for the poor.” – A.F.


TOP: Father Theodore Hesburgh. ABOVE LEFT: Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh (right) delivers remarks at the presentation of the Laetare Medal in November 1961 from the University of Notre Dame to President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office. Father Edmund P. Joyce, vice president of the University of Notre Dame, looks on. ABOVE RIGHT: Father Hesburgh with Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 1964 March on Washington.


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those we lost | remembrance

Donald Keough (September 4, 1926 – February 24, 2015)


n February 24, Donald Keough, an Irish American legend and a giant of the American business world, passed away in Atlanta. In his 88 years, from his humble upbringing to his role as the President and COO of Coca-Cola, one of the biggest companies in the world, Keough was a shining example of commitment to family and faith, hard work and determination. He was passionate about his Irish roots, and when he retired from Coca-Cola in 1993 (though he remained on the board of directors until 2013) he turned his focus to Ireland and to his alma mater Notre Dame, establishing the Keough Institute of Irish Studies, and the Keough Notre Dame Centre in Dublin, Ireland. He was the most generous donor in the university's history and a great champion of Ireland. The following piece, which traces Keough’s astounding life journey, was written by Irish America founder Niall O'Dowd and Professor Kevin Whelan of the KeoughNaughton Notre Dame A Life in America Study Centre in Ireland The poet Robert Frost said of America: “Our most in November, 2011 to precious heritage is what we haven’t in our poscommemorate session – what we haven’t made, and so have still Keough's induction into to make.” Don Keough embodied the possibility the Irish America Hall of of America, its dynamism, its optimism, and its Fame. He was was the can-do spirit. inaugural inductee. Donald Keough’s great-grandfather Michael Keough had been Keough left County Wexford in the 1840s and arhospitalized in recent rived in America where he married Hanora Burke. weeks for pneumonia. Then only seventeen years old, Hanora gave birth He was surrounded by to a son, John, the year they married. The courafamily at the time of his geous young newly-weds went on to have nine passing. children between 1848 and 1875, settling on the 34 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

prairies of northwest Iowa to become sodbusters, farmers, and cattlemen. The Iowa winters were harsh and Michael and his sons had to drive their horses miles to chop down wood so that the family would survive. Then there were the grasshopper plagues of 1874, 75, and 76 that swept across Iowa like a biblical swarm of locusts. But Michael Keough was tough and so were his sons. By the time he passed away on October 2, 1904, the family had solid roots in America. John continued homesteading, growing oats and potatoes, and raising cattle after his father passed away. He married Kate Foley, the daughter of a businessman, and they had four sons: Leo, Lloyd, Verne, and Frank. Later in life, John’s sons recalled that their father had worked them almost to breaking point, not out of harshness, but the need to survive. When John expired just one week after building “a fine new modern home” for his family, the responsibility for the farm fell on Leo, the eldest son. It was on this farm that Donald Keough was born in 1926, the youngest of Leo and his wife Veronica’s three sons. Don remembered his father Leo as a man of sunny outlook, a disciplined, hardworking man who never let his family down. After a fire burned the family home to the ground and everything was lost with the exception of Hanora’s Irish wedding shawl and the family Bible, Leo moved the family to Sioux City where he found work in the stockyard. “He had the ability to look at forty head of cattle and the intuitive knowledge to know within five pounds what each weighed,” Don recalled in an interview with Niall O’Dowd. As a 15-year-old, Don learned the sales patter and how to negotiate and close a deal. When he got suckered in a small deal, he learned a valuable lesson: “Watch the cattle, not the man,” his boss told him. In other words, know what you are buying and don’t be influenced by the hype of the person selling. “There is no question that everything I know about business I learned in that stockyard. I learned how to weigh someone up, to know the weakness and strength of your own position, and realize the fundamentals – that he wants to sell and you have the money to buy, and leverage that,” he told O’Dowd. Don’s mother, a schoolteacher, was determined that her sons would have the best education possible.

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“My mother was tough but loving,” Don remembered. “She never spared you because she knew we were in tough circumstances and that education and self-reliance were the way out.”

On His Own

In August of 1944, just shy of his 18th birthday, Don left for the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. His brothers had already enlisted. Emmett was serving under George Patton in Europe and Wayne was in the air force. In a strange twist of fate, Don was not shipped overseas but to a Navy psychiatric hospital in Newport, Rhode Island, where he would care for soldiers who were traumatized by war. It was a lot for an 18-year-old to absorb, but Don quickly developed a rapport with the men, and found that a little kindness went a long way. “I learned to respect people’s dignity. No matter how far they had fallen these were brave men caught up in something that was far greater than themselves.” After the war, Don moved to Omaha, Nebraska and entered Creighton University on the G. I. Bill. Among his neighbors in Omaha was Warren Buffet, who became his life-long friend. Following graduation, Don started a career as a talk-show host in Omaha, and just before he started on his chosen career, he got married. Marilyn “Mickie” Mulhall, who had family on both sides from Iowa, took his eye. It was love at first sight. The couple married at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral in Omaha on September 10, 1949 and honeymooned in Chicago, a rushed five-day affair because Don was due back at WOR where he had landed the assignment of being the commentator on the first ever televised transmission of a live sports event west of Chicago. It was a National Football League preseason game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants. “Luckily there were only a few hundred television sets in the area at the time,” Don recalled with a grin. Soon he was making the acquaintance of the other television newcomer, John Carson. The friendship blossomed when Keough, Carson, and their wives

found themselves living opposite each other in a local apartment building. Carson’s show directly followed Keough’s “Coffee Break,” and Don often found himself producing it. “He was just shaping his own unique humor; he found humor in everything,” Don remembered. He might well have gone to a successful television career like Carson, but he realized that he wanted to spend more time with his wife and growing family. He’d had enough of working “football weekends.” Carson moved to Los Angeles and Keough to a company called Butternut Coffee where he was instrumental in the company’s sponsorship of Carson’s first ever television show. Within a few years, Butternut was acquired by Duncan Foods, which in turn was taken over by Coca-Cola. “Suddenly, we were part of a whole new ball game,” Don remembers.

“We talk today about ‘brand love.’ Don understood those words at a deeply personal level. Our brands were something far more than products to him. They were a trust and a legacy; an asset beyond value and the key to our future.”

– Muhtar Kent, the Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola.

TOP LEFT: Don and his wife Mickie at Ashford Castle in 2006 with 16 of their 18 grandchildren (two could not make the trip because of school). ABOVE: Don and his friend Johnny Carson.

“As one of Ireland’s greatest friends, Don built lasting business, cultural, and education connections with Ireland which have helped thousands celebrate their own roots and forge new partnerships.”

–Taoiseach Enda Kenny


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those we lost | remembrance forged a close partnership with Martin Naughton, insisting that for an Irish-American partnership to work properly, it had to have a balanced leadership. From the beginning, Don Keough wisely insisted that Notre Dame could only forge a strong relationship with Ireland through a genuine immersion in Irish life, and through close collaboration with Irish partners. Notre Dame operates a trilateral partnership with University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, and almost one thousand Notre Dame students have studied there. Their positive Irish experience encourages them to beKeough went on to a brilliant career. He was apcome what Don Keough had always been – a lifelong pointed as head of all the Americas for Coca-Cola in advocate for Ireland. It was typical of Don’s vision 1976, and in 1981 he was appointed president, chief that he was so quick to realize how significant the operating officer and director. nurturing of these linkages would become. He enjoyed running the iconic company, he told Don always stressed that, as we seek to enrich Niall O’Dowd. “I had passion for what I was doing. other people’s lives, we really enrich ourselves, and I always believed that you have to have people at the that that motivation lies at the heart of all philantop who are passionate about their company, and that thropy. That is the true measure of a charismatic man that is communicated down through the ranks.” who greatly impacted thousands of lives, who brought wise counsel, good humor, vigor, and moIrish Studies mentum to strengthenIt is typical of the preing the relationship science of Don Keough between Ireland and that after a career in corAmerica, and who enporate America, he riched us all through his turned to a venture of a generous leadership. An different kind, one that old Irish proverb says, would pay tribute to the “Beidh sé molta da land of his ancestors. mbéadh mé i mo thost” – Warren Buffett, Don’s longtime friend. When he retired as (‘He would be praised president and COO of even if I were silent’). Coca-Cola in 1993 (he would retain a seat on the When he was granted Irish citizenship in 2007, the board of directors), Don turned his focus to Notre President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, presented Don Dame and, with an endowment of $2.5 million, eswith a vellum inscription which included a phrase tablished the Keough Institute of Irish Studies, and from the Book of Sirach, chosen by Don’s good the Keough Notre Dame Centre in Dublin, Ireland. friend Fr. Timothy Scully CSC: “Notre Dame didn’t have any type of academic “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: He who finds Irish Studies program. It just seemed like a natural fit one finds a treasure.” to me,” Keough said at the time. For all those who knew, loved, admired and were With Don as the driving force behind it and backed inspired by this great man, Don Keough was a by Andy McKenna and Patrick McCartan, his friends ‘sturdy shelter’ and a treasured friend. He had such a and successors as Chair of the Trustees, Irish Studies warm heart and generous spirit, and an abiding pasat Notre Dame has gone from strength to strength, atsion for making the world a better place. He will be IA tracting world-class scholars such as Seamus Deane, sorely missed. Breandán Ó Buachalla, and Declan Kiberd. Don also

“You can sum up Don Keough’s life in three words: Everybody loved him.”

“There are two Irish Americas, one before Don Keough, one after. He created a new image, made corporate Americans consider their Irish roots, put together Notre Dame and Ireland and pioneered inward investment there. In the words of his favorite poet W.B. Yeats “all changed utterly”

– Niall O’Dowd

TOP LEFT: Donald Keough, President of Ireland Mary McAleese, and Martin Naughton.

“Don’s visionary leadership and generosity has had a profound impact on the University. He believed that we were put on earth to do good in the world, and his life tangibly demonstrated that faith. He has been a dear friend and cherished mentor whom I will miss terribly.”

– Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President of Notre Dame.


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Causeway Coastal Route

The mystical beauty of Ireland’s northern coast cannot be understated. The Causeway Coastal Route is a scenic drive that winds along the curves and cliffs of Northern Ireland for 120 miles, making it one of most dramatic drives in the world. The crown jewel of the northern coast is the Giant’s Causeway, a natural wonder that has inspired legends and attracted visitors for centuries. The Causeway consists of over 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns. And while the Giant’s Causeway is a spectacularly unforgettable place, the Causeway Coast has so much more to offer to those driving onward. It is a breaktaking journey with hundreds of destinations along the way.

Carrick-a-Rede Bridge An exhilarating way to take in some of Ireland’s most beautiful flora and fauna, the rope bridge connects to the stunning Carrick-a-Rede island cliffs. A short footpath leads to the 20-meter-wide chasm 23 meters deep where many take the daring walk over the swinging rope bridge. For those brave enough to cross, rare wildlife and views of the Rathlin and Scottish islands are just a few of the sites awaiting visitors to Carrick-a-Rede. It’s a must-see along your coastal drive.


The best way to warm up from those Atlantic winds is a stop in the village of Bushmills. Take a tour (and a drink) at the legendary Bushmills Distillery and stay a night in the cozy, historic Bushmills Inn.

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Belfast City

The perfect place to launch your coastal drive, Belfast City is a buzzing metropolis filled with fine food, shopping, and entertainment to keep you busy for days on end!

Royal Portrush Golf Club

No Irish golf excursion is complete without a stop at Royal Portrush. This favorite of pros and celebrities is a stunning course with scenery as awe-inspiring as it is challenging. See why Ireland is the Home of Champions!

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Giant’s Causeway (60 miles from Carrickfergus)

If you wish you were in Carrickfergus

and don’t have wings to fly, we know a few airlines that do. If you’re longing for home, that may be all the motivation you need to come to Ireland this year. But if you’re looking for more reasons, we’ll give you a million…and then some. That’s the record number of visitors who came to Ireland from the US last year, and who enjoyed our wonderful festivals, music and sporting events. So make plans today to visit the friends and family you’ve missed. And we promise you won’t have to swim over the deepest ocean to get here! Find out more at

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Hall of Fame 2015

Hillary I

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in the Irish peace process is often underestimated but there were few people more important. By Niall O’Dowd

n retrospect it all seems so obvious. Once an American president focused on Ireland, there would be an immediate concerted effort to find a way to end Europe’s longrunning war. After decades of war the American intervention was decisive, a fact admitted years later by the British government themselves. The reality at the time was different, however. When President Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president in history to focus on peace in Ireland, the initiative was opposed on all sides. The British government was apoplectic that a foreign power would meddle in its backyard, and Prime Minister John Major told President Clinton so. In his own administration, the FBI, State Department, Justice Department and the CIA fought tooth and nail to keep the president out of efforts to sort out the conflict. They were aghast when the decision was made to allow Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin leader, a visa to come to America in late January 1994. Yet Clinton persisted. One of his key advisors in his decision was his wife, Hillary, who saw the potential for peace in Ireland. Not only that, Hillary determined that she would become part of it. She accompanied her husband on what has been described as “the two best days of his presidency” by Terry McAuliffe, their chief fundraiser, who accompanied them to Ireland in November 1995 and watched them bask in the warm glow of appreciation as hundreds of thousands of people in 40 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

Belfast and Derry came out to welcome the U.S. President and First Lady who had helped bring peace to Northern Ireland. In his memoir What a Party!, McAuliffe, now the governor of Virginia, remembers that visit as the high point of the Clintons’ White House years. During that trip and subsequently, Hillary Clinton played a leading role in creating the links between the White House and leaders on the ground that would be so important in subsequent years. Her visits to the Falls and Shankill Roads in Belfast to meet working-class women from both communities were especially important. She helped empower key women at a time in the conflict when women’s voices were hardly heard. She played a major role in setting the groundwork for the formation of parties such as the Women’s Coalition, which was to play an essential role in cross-community bridge building in the vital years when the peace process was being bedded down. On her first visit to Northern Ireland in 1995 she made the acquaintance of Joyce McCartan, an extraordinary Protestant woman married to a Catholic, whose own son had been killed in the Troubles. As her biography noted, McCartan lost 17 members of her wider family during the Troubles including, in May 1987, her youngest son, Gary, who at age 17 was murdered in the family home by loyalist paramilitaries. McCartan herself heard the shots. The incredible personal tragedy fueled McCartan’s desire to find a way to stop the violence. She founded The Lamplighter drop-in center, which be-


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Clockwise from top left: Then-Senator Clinton and President of Ireland Mary McAleese during a 2002 visit to Aras An Uachtarain, Dublin. Hillary greets supporters during the 2008 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Pittsburgh. President and Hillary Clinton in Derry, November 30, 1995. Clinton, Inez McCormack, and Meryl Streep in 2010. Gerry Adams with Hillary at the White House in 2009.


came a guiding light amid the encircling gloom for families weary or fearful of the Troubles who wanted to talk and mingle. In November 1995, McCartan, the center, and its Lamplighter Cafe, were in the world’s spotlight when First Lady Hillary Clinton dropped in for tea and a chat with a group of women from varying backgrounds. Hillary later described how after the chat and tea, McCartan “gave me an old battered aluminum teapot – which kept the tea very warm, which is what I first noticed about it – that I took with me to the White House where I used it every single day in the second-floor private kitchen.” The teapot story was often subsequently referenced by Hillary. She established the Vital Voices initiative in the North, which brought mostly, but not exclusively, women at community level together and provided a powerful forum for groups with little or no voice. It cannot be underestimated just how few women were in any positions of power in the North back then, and Hillary went about changing that from the grassroots up. As she stated in 1999, Vital Voices was “certainly


part of a larger effort that I have been privileged to view firsthand, since my husband and I first came in 1995. And that is the way that the people here have pulled together to make peace real in our lives and in our time.” Inez McCormack, the late beloved trade union organizer and human rights activist community worker, told me in a Belfast restaurant that Hillary had single-handedly empowered women in the Northern Ireland conflict, which had a profound impact. McCormack quoted to me her own definition of success: “When I see a glint in a woman’s eye who believed she was nobody and now knows she is somebody.” Hillary, she said, led the way for Northern Irish women to see that breakthrough.

ABOVE: Taoiseach Enda Kenny and thenSecretary of State Hillary Clinton in Dublin.


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Hall of Fame




TOP: Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton and Northern Ireland legislators, members of DemocraShe, a postGFA women’s rights organization aimed at promoting female legislators in Northern Ireland. ABOVE LEFT: Then-Senator Clinton with then-First Minister of Northern Ireland Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. ABOVE RIGHT: Then-Senator Clinton, wearing a shamrock pin, chats with John Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group, North America, and Chairman of the American Ireland Fund.

Then, of course, there were the meetings in Washington, usually around St. Patrick’s Day, and the White House “Irish night,” which became a fixture at Hillary’s insistence. The boost to the peace process of a First Lady of the United States welcoming party leaders of whatever stripe to the White House had to be seen in person to be believed. When perhaps the most famous woman in the world spent an extraordinary amount of time just listening to the perspectives from the various parties, it was bound to have an impact. Progressive Unionist Party Leader David Ervine, tragically now deceased, described her as the most knowledgeable person on the issue he had met in Washington. John Hume, the SDLP leader and Nobel Peace laureate who was a frequent visitor and friend, agreed. They were sitting together in a smoky hotel bar in Washington, D.C. after an economic conference on Northern Ireland, another Clinton initiative, and Hillary had just knocked them dead with a spirited contribution on peace and economic strategy. It is an intricate business, learning the details of Northern Ireland politics so that you never put a foot wrong. Yet, amazingly, with everything that was pressing on them, neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton ever made the kind of slip-up that would have led to embarrassing headlines on the issue.


I remember sitting down with them for a brief interview in the ambassador’s residence in Dublin on one of the trips over. It was clear they had both become enamored of the Irish, and were gratified to have helped solve the riddle that was Northern Ireland in a way that had surprised even themselves. Hillary used the example of her peace efforts in Northern Ireland on her future global travels. Soon after being named Secretary of State she met with a small group of Irish-American leaders and spoke of her hopes that Irish Americans would meet and give advice to other diaspora leaders such as Pakistani and Indian Americans, revealing to them how the Irish diaspora helped end the conflict in Northern Ireland. As Secretary of State, Hillary convened several diaspora conferences and used Ireland as an example of peace brokering in her bestselling memoir, Hard Choices. She also included Northern Ireland on her final travel trip as Secretary of State and received an overwhelming reception from party leaders on all sides when she spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the American Ireland Fund at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. She promised to stay involved and she has. Hillary, who has made history in so many ways, has also helped make it for the Irish. Most importantly, the Irish know she walked that long and tortuous road with them to help bring peace and that IA she will be there for the last mile.


The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience welcomes the 2015 honorees

Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Robert J. McCann

Emmett O’Connell


Pat Quinn

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Hall of Fame

Patrick Quinn



ALS Champion

ast summer, hundreds of thousands of people, including celebrities, politicians, sports stars, and even a group of Irish nuns, filmed themselves pouring buckets of ice water over their heads to raise awareness for ALS, the neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. You may even have been one of them. Simply and appropriately dubbed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the viral video campaign brought in over $100 million in donations in support of ALS

research. And Ireland, according to Facebook, was one of the top five countries in the world to participate. For all of that notoriety, success, and seemingly endless global selflessness, the world has New York native Patrick Quinn to thank. A huge part of this is due to Quinn’s passionate commitment and fundraising acumen (though the timing of the phenomenon corresponding with one of the hottest summers on record in the U.S. probably helped too). Pat, as he is familiarly called, was diagnosed with ALS in March 2013 and says he was in shock, which was compounded all the more for Pat’s age; he 44 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

had only just turned 30. Most cases of ALS affect those 50 and over. “It was weird, it was very tough,” he told The Irish Voice. But, he said, “I wasn’t going to take it lying down.” He found strength in his close-knit IrishAmerican community in Yonkers and his wife Jenn (they married last July). “Jenn is just wonderful,” he says. “She never lets me be a baby about this, and she keeps me strong.” For Pat, the alternative to lying down was to commit himself fully to researching the disease and looking for ways of combating and raising awareness for it. He sparked up a friendship with Boston College graduate Peter Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, and together they gave birth to the Ice Bucket Challenge. The scientific name for ALS is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is a neurodegenerative disorder that attacks the body’s muscle and brain nerves leading to trouble speaking, swallowing, and breathing. Once diagnosed, ALS typically progresses rapidly over the course of just a few years, but Pat’s progression is markedly slower, giving him more time to draw attention to the necessity for developing new research and treatment methods, let alone a cure. Current treatment options are notoriously limited. He set up the website “Quinn 4 the Win” which was influential in establishing fundraisers for ALS all over New York, and running the site is now his full-time job. Many Irish bands played at multiple events, and one of the first fundraisers took place in Rory Dolan’s Bar and Restaurant in Yonkers. “Everyone has been terrific,” Pat said. “Rory Dolan right from the start and his bartenders who continue to do the Ice Bucket Challenge and raise awareness.” Since then numerous events have taken place including “Quinnstock” last September while “Quinn 4 the Win” continues to spread news of other donation and benefit initiatives around New York. Pat was born and raised in Yonkers, New York, the son of Patrick Quinn, a native of Newry, County Down, and Rosemary Quinn (née Keane), who is a fourth-generation Irish American with roots in

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Clockwise from top left: Pat with New York State Senator Andrea StewartCousins. Bill Gates does the Ice Bucket Challenge at his home in Washington State. Ethel Kennedy with her granddaughters take the Challenge at the Kennedy estate in Hyannis.

Counties Cork, Clare, and Westmeath. As a youth, Patrick was heavily involved in sports, a passion he still has today, and was a star athlete among his school’s rugby team. As a young boy in Yonkers he fondly remembers growing up steeped in the Irish milieu, remembering the parades on McLean Avenue. “There's nothing better than hearing the bagpipers start firing up some tunes!” he says. “The Irish community in Yonkers has been incredible. The support received has been amazing and so inspiring. They have been involved in all my events, even hosting a bunch. I can't tell you how grateful I am to be IrishAmerican and live where I live.” He attended and graduated from Iona Prep and Iona College in New Rochelle. It was his connections from both Iona College and his close-knit Irish clan in Yonkers that helped spread word of his ALS initiative. Pat continues to be amazed at the success of his enterprise that grew from a small grass roots fundraiser with a few hundred people in New York and Boston to more than a million-person phenomenon around the world. Last year, Time magazine nominated Quinn and Frates for their popular Person of the Year Award.

And this year, he was an answer on Jeopardy, which he more or less ignored when he first heard about it from a neighbor’s nonchalant knock on their door. “My wife and I looked at each other, laughed, and kind of blew it off. Within a minute or two, both of our phones were going nuts for hours,” he said. But he recognizes what it means for ALS support, “because the awareness is still reaching a worldwide audience.” Naturally, that audience is fueled by virally shareable nature of the challenge itself, but it is also a result of Pat’s own visibility. In August and September of last year, he couldn’t keep track of all the interviews he was being asked to do. “There were requests from all over the world every day,” he says. “I honestly couldn't guess where the interview total stands at this point.” For Pat, who now works full-time running Quinn 4 the Win, this has become his calling. “I was put on this earth to make a difference in the course of such a horrific disease,” he says. “And I also believe my tough Irish blood has something to do with that.” – Matthew Skwiat and Adam Farley

Katie Couric (center) doing the Challenge with the Today Show at Rockefeller Center, August 10, 2014. Pat with a photograph of Lou Gehrig. Pat and Jenn on their wedding day last July.


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Hall of Fame

Robert J. McCann



Businessman, Philanthropist

obert J. McCann’s first day of work in Manhattan’s financial district was July 6, 1982. He remembers it was a Tuesday, and he was starting out as a trader on the floor for Merrill Lynch, a company he would spend the next 26 years with, eventually serving as its vice chairman. He had come from Pittsburgh, by way of Texas and West Virginia, and though he knew he had a connection to Ireland, it was Wall Street that solidified his curiosity and passion in his heritage and a nearly two-


decade-long commitment to bringing non-sectarian educational change to the country of his forebears. Bob, as he prefers to be called casually, now serves as CEO of UBS Group Americas and Wealth Management Americas, and is a member of the Group Executive Board of UBS AG. In a 2010 interview in this magazine, Bob spoke of the veil around his Irish ancestry growing up, mentioning that the heritage was little spoken of while he was a child, but that a move to New York precipitated a desire to be part of the Irish community. “When I came to New York, I started to hear more about the Irish community and started having more interest,” he said. Bob’s interest uncovered not only 46 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

his own Irish roots, but sparked his involvement with the American Ireland Fund and many other philanthropic endeavors. Bob was born in Pittsburgh, a place where he and his family are deeply rooted. It was here in the 1850s where his great-great grandfather from Armagh came in search of work. He is a third-generation Irish American and is a dual citizen of Ireland and America. In the mid 1990s, he visited Ireland for the first time on a golfing trip and was instantly blown away. “It sounds like it’s out of a travelogue or something, but what I remember first is just how green it was,” he says. “It really does strike you. I had no idea.” While he did not learn much about his Irish heritage growing up, he was able, like his ancestors before him, to show how hard work and education can lead to success. He earned his B.A. in economics from Bethany College in West Virginia, where he currently serves as the vice chairman of the board of trustees, and received an M.B.A. from Texas Christian University. Education was an integral part of Bob’s youth, and one of the things he credits with his success. “I always say the two things that really have allowed me to succeed were that I came from a great family and I had education.” It was from this solid foundation that Bob was able to build up his impressive philanthropic initiatives. Through philanthropy, Bob was able to marry his success in business and his love of Ireland. The two coincided in 1998 when he became involved with the American Ireland Fund. He helped to raise over 4 million dollars to build an integrated (Catholic and Protestant) school in Northern Ireland. His educational enterprises were just beginning. He soon became a member of the executive committee of the board of directors of the American Ireland Fund and continued to support breakthroughs in education including a 20-episode film project of “Sesame Street” in Northern Ireland. He went on to fund a learning center and student investment fund at his undergraduate alma mater. He also helped to build the Northern Ireland Mentorship Programme, which serves to further ties between

Clockwise from top: Dan Rooney giving Bob McCann the award as Honoree of the 2006 American Ireland Fund dinner, which raised $4 million. With First Minister Robinson and Deputy Minister McGuinness at Stormont Castle in June 2009. Speaking at the 2014 Irish America Wall Street 50 Awards. With his brother Brian at Waterville Golf Links in Ireland. BELOW: From left: Meredith, Bob, Madeline, and Cindy McCann.


Northern Ireland and U.S. Business, and he is a member of the board of trustees of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. His commitment to education has even found him involved in the No Greater Sacrifice Foundation where he served as member of the advisory board. The foundation funds the education of the children of those who were killed or wounded in battle. Bob continues to give back in a variety of ways to the Irish and American communities. His business leadership was instrumental in the dark days of the recession and he continues to be an influential leader in the financial world today. He has appeared as one of the Irish America Wall Street 50 for the past five years, serving as the award’s keynote speaker in 2010. “Bob McCann has been an incredible philanthropist and supporter of critical community projects in Northern Ireland through AIF,” said Niall O’Dowd, founding publisher of Irish America. “At key moments in the peace process transition Bob has been there for the people of Ireland and Irish America. Despite his demanding job he has always made time to be available to help worthy Irish causes. We are so proud to have him in the Hall of Fame.” Bob lives in New Jersey with his wife, Cindy, with whom he has two grown daughters, Meredith and Madeline. – Matthew Skwiat



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Hall of Fame

Emmett O’Connell



Explorer & Commentator

know you. You’re the boy from the Bronx who went to Ireland and made good,” Hillary Clinton commented on meeting Emmett O’Connell at an Irish America do in the mid-90s. It’s hard to sum Emmett up in a descriptive sentence, but certainly the former First Lady’s words are a good place to start. Named for the Irish patriot Robert Emmett, he was born in the Bronx and he has found success as a founder and director of several Irish-based mineral and oil exploration companies, including Eglington Exploration and Texas Continental Securities, which have taken him around the world. Emmett was probably the first truly global Irishman of his day. He was working in Iran when most Westerners were not welcome, and he was in Russia just as the Cold War ended. In South America, his small Irish exploration company was awarded contracts over the supermajors. “They saw this Irish company and said, ‘What the hell is this?’ and gave us a shot – one in the eye for the big conglomerates,” he recalls with amusement, speaking from his “bunker” in Wexford, his home base in Ireland. In all his business dealings, being Irish and American proved an advantage, he says. “Being an American meant I had exposure to mining and to the oil exploration that wasn’t readily available to most Irish people. And being an Irish company, you got an open door. “There was a willingness to listen to you and a


willingness to chat. Being Irish brought a sense of ease to the proceedings that wouldn’t have been there if I was just American.” “I did a lot of work in the Middle East. I went to Iran and got a reasonable welcome there when others wouldn’t have. In Russia, I was asked to present a paper on setting up an oil exchange in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s.” For all his travels, Emmett admits he has no gift for languages. “I just say what I have to say in straight American so there are no mistakes,” he laughs. What he does have a talent for is understanding the cultural mores and the history of others, which stems back to his New York upbringing. Back in the 1940s, the South Bronx neighborhood where he was born and raised – one of five children of Irish immigrant parents from Sligo and Cork – was also home to a goodly number of Italians, Germans, Eastern European Jews, and Puerto Ricans. It was also just across the bridge from Harlem, so he was exposed to a great cultural mix and learned at an early age how different ethnic groups operated. To all these new immigrants, education, and athletics were important. Emmett, who was a champion speed-skater, recalls that the competition was fierce between neighboring teams, especially in basketball. “Contrary to popular opinion when you played the Jewish teams they were darned good and tough to beat,” he recalls. For the Irish and Italian Catholic children, education meant Cardinal Hayes High School, founded in 1941 by Cardinal Spellman, who wanted a high school where the academic standard was paramount. It was here that Emmett found he had talent for mechanical drawing, a skill that would set the course of his future career. Shortly after he graduated just before his 17th birthday, he got job with a company specializing in building propane and butane standby plants for utilities. “It was specialized work but it gave me a chance to travel up and down the East Coast,” he recalls.

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Emmett soon struck out on his own, realizing that the fixed life was not for him. “You could be a company man – there was great temptation to become a permanent employee – but contracting was very rewarding and short term,” he says. One such contract found him in Northern California in the 1960s working for Shell Oil. He took the opportunity to attend the University of California at Berkeley, and he’s still grateful for the education he received there. “It was incredible,” he says. “Whether you went at night or weekends or you were a day student, you received the same attention and were taught by the same professors.” Shell wanted to take him on full-time, but Emmett had a hankering to live and work in Ireland after his first visit there at 19. “I wanted to make some money and then get back to Ireland, and when I got there I had the idea of founding a small exploration company. It was seen as a bizarre thing to do – everything was supposed to be Shell or B.P.” Emmett went ahead with his plans, enjoying the challenge and finding success. “Small companies can always get in on the exploration scene because it's high risk and you have to be there on the site, you have to make the decisions and you need to round up a number of investors and sell it to them. That’s the upside if you hit it,” he says. Emmett’s experience and knowledge of the global economy has earned him a reputation as a commentator on politics and the economy. He often combines the two subjects when talking about the relationships between Ireland and the European Union. Asked what the future holds, he points out that Ireland’s best seven years were when it had a separate currency, the Irish punt. A return to the punt would help Ireland’s competitiveness. “The Irish punt and the pound sterling would be good trading partners, and that would bring a lessening of the border’s importance. Integrating both

economies, and then the people, is the way to go.” While Emmett will continue to be interested in and comment on all things Irish, he is retiring from his mineral exploration company at the end of March. He has attempted to retire before but there was always a temptation. “The well next to the well we tried to get years ago would become available,” and off he’d go. But this time it is for real. He plans to start reading the thousands of books in his library and spend more time on his farm in Wexford with Ray, who has been his mate since they met in the 1960s and married 16 weeks later. “An indecent amount of time for an Irish courtship,” as his Irish friends commented at the time. His son Oisín, just elected to Wexford County Council as the Sinn Féin candidate, will keep him up to speed on politics. His son Robert, a geologist, will keep him informed on mineral exploration, and his daughter Róisín, who lives in South Africa with her financier husband, will keep him clued in on the world economy. Or, more likely, Emmett is the one who will be keeping them all informed, as I myself look forward to his phone calls and hearing his take on the latest news from Ireland. Meanwhile, there are eight grandchildren to whom he’ll tell fascinating tales of his adventures in a life well-lived with a touch of grace and gratitude for being born and raised an Irish American. – Patricia Harty

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Irish America publisher Niall O’Dowd presenting Emmett O’Connell with a Business 100 Award; Emmett, far right, prospecting in Nevada; Emmett’s mother, Nellie Taffee, from County Cork; Emmett on the side of a mountain in Nevada with copper ore samples; Emmett and his lovely wife, Ray.


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By Megan Smolenyak

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s


Until now, the many genealogists who have researched Hillary Clinton’s ancestry have attached her Welsh grandmother, Hannah Jones, to the wrong parents. Roots detective Megan Smolenyak homes in on Clinton’s Welsh heritage and sets the record straight.

hen it was announced that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame for her work on the Irish peace process, it was inevitable that I would explore the branches of her family tree, but it wasn’t the first time. Having delved into her roots in years past, I was familiar with the basics: • Compared to other American politicians, especially Presidential candidates, her ancestry is more recently “off the boat” than most. Though some harbor a misperception of blue blood heritage, seven of her eight great-grandparents were immigrants, and none of them arrived wealthy. Some, for instance, labored in coal mines both before and after settling in the United States. • Illinois and Pennsylvania claim most of her American family history, with other states such as Michigan, New York, and California playing supporting roles. Among her ancestral countries of origin, England and Wales are the most pronounced, followed by Scotland, France, and the Netherlands, with several branches weaving in and out of Canada over the generations. • The deepest branches of her North American ancestry are mostly French-Canadian, so with French-Canadian family trees being among the most intensively intertwined in the world, it’s not surprising that she is distant cousins with other formidable women known primarily by their first names – Madonna, Celine, Angelina, and Alanis among them. I took another look wondering if it might be possible to ferret out a previously undetected bit of Irish, and came up empty, so given that her three-eighths Welsh heritage makes her a Celtic cousin of sorts, I decided to take a deeper dive into this portion of her heritage and discovered that it’s rather surprising that Hillary Rodham Clinton exists at all.

Father Hugh E. Rodham

First there’s the matter of her father’s near-miss marriage of 1937. In July of that year, Hugh Ellsworth Rodham applied for a license declaring his intention to wed Catherine Meisinger, a fellow resident of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Had he 50 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

Mary A. Griffiths 1848–1903

William Jones b. 1846

Hannah Jones 1882–1952

Hugh Ellsworth Rodham 1911–1993

Hugh Simpson Rodham 1879–1965

Dorothy Emma Howell 1919–2011

Below: 1937 marriage license of Hugh E. Rodham to Catherine Meisinger.

Hillary Diane Rodham married her, his offspring would have been part-Irish since his fiancée had Irish heritage, but Hillary only entered into the picture because he instead chose to marry Dorothy Emma Howell several years later. Curious what became of Catherine, his almost-wife, I learned that she married a Welsh immigrant and lived to the age of 96.

Grandparents Hugh S. Rodham and Hannah Jones Rodham

Meandering back another generation, I came to realize that other genealogists who had researched Hillary Clinton’s ancestry had attached her Welsh grandmother, Hannah Jones, to the wrong parents (two girls named Hannah Jones were born in Scranton, PA circa 1882-1883 and they latched on to the wrong one). I also discovered that


Below: Announcement of Hugh Rodham’s marriage to Anna Jones in the Scranton Tribune Times


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Celtic Roots


Hugh E. Rodham’s parents had eloped. This revelation emerged gradually beginning with an oddly worded wedding announcement in a local paper. When I couldn’t find a marriage record in Scranton as anticipated, I scoured newspapers instead and found a snippet in an August 1902 issue stating that the couple had wed in Binghamton, New York a couple of months earlier on Memorial Day. Now I understood why I hadn’t found the record, but the choice of Binghamton revealed even more. Having roots next door to Scranton in the neighboring city of Wilkes-Barre, I knew that Binghamton was once a Gretna Green for those living in Northeast Pennsylvania. A Gretna Green (named after a southern Scottish village long known for “runaway marriages”) is a nearby place that couples go to marry because there are fewer restrictions, making it easier to do so there. Less than a decade after the Rodham-Jones nuptials, a 1910 article bemoaned the loss of income for Binghamton clergymen after local laws were modified, removing incentives for cross-border marriages. Hugh S. Rodham and Hannah “Anna” Jones had gone out of state to marry, neglected to inform

anyone for a couple of months, and opted to live with the bride’s parents. Could it be that the groom’s parents didn’t approve? A little digging strongly supported this notion. On the surface, the English Rodham and Welsh Jones families were quite similar. Both had emigrated to Scranton in the early 1880s – the Joneses arriving about two years earlier than the Rodhams – and in both cases, the husbands had come first and the wives and children later. Thirty-one-year-old Isabelle “Bella” Rodham impressively made the crossAtlantic journey with eight children between the ages of one and 11 in tow. But once they settled in Scranton, their lives took radically different trajectories. In the Jones family, everyone worked in the coal mines, but in the Rodhams, all but one found less taxing em-

ployment. In fact, by the time of the 1900 census, the eldest son was already a physician. That same year, the Rodhams owned their own home, while the Jones family – headed by Mary, married but with her husband nowhere in sight – still rented. Perhaps most telling of all, though, are the statistics regarding children. The census shows that the two families were roughly the same in size with Isabelle Rodham having given birth to 13 and Mary Jones to 14, but 11 Rodhams made it to adulthood while only four Joneses did, and that difference speaks volumes. Though many elements contribute to infant mortality, the less than 30 percent survival rate in the Jones family hints of the kind of grinding poverty that was so frequently a factor in sending children to early

LEFT: Elmira Telegraph on the history of Bringham as “the mecca for love longing couples.” ABOVE: Hillary’s grandparents Hugh and Hannah (née Jones) Rodham. BELOW: Ship’s log showing Bella Rodham and her children arriving in New York in 1882.



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roots | graves. It seems quite clear that the Jones family had struggled far more than the Rodhams. All of this taken together suggests that when Hugh Rodham found himself smitten with Hannah Jones, he had fallen for a girl who was regarded as being from “the wrong side of the tracks.” If he hadn’t been bold enough to wander across the state line to marry his sweetheart, Hillary’s father wouldn’t have born, once again erasing her from the

worked in the coal industry. Rees, toiling as a coal doorkeeper, was all of nine years of age. The next census would find Mary having joined the workforce as a 12-year-old servant. Rees made his escape to Scranton in the early 1870s, so it’s little wonder that Mary would opt to follow him, but as this backward-in-time journey has shown, life wasn’t much kinder to her in America. Still, she had 14 children, and four of them survived childhood, and one of them – Hannah – lived long enough to know her children’s children, including a granddaughter named Hillary.

Survival of the Fittest


Hillary, then, is the daughter of a man who almost married a different woman than her mother, the granddaughter of a woman who defied the odds just by living long enough to marry, only to have in-laws who disapproved of her marriage to their son, and the great-granddaughter of a woman who weathered crushing poverty as a youngster in Wales, found more of the same in America, and endured the deaths of ten children.


scene. And if Rodham Clinton recalls her grandmother Hannah as a strong-willed woman who “ruled everyone within her reach,” it may have been a reflection of her determination to escape the circumstances that left her the sole survivor of her birth family of 16 by her early forties.

Great-grandmother Mary Griffiths Jones

What of Hannah’s mother, mentioned previously raising her family with an absent husband in the 1900 census? Peeking into her past makes it easy to see why she came to America. Born around 1850 in Merthyr Tydfil – at that time, the largest town in Wales – she can be found in the 1851 census living with her widowed mother and three older siblings. Fatherless by the age of one, Mary Griffiths had already been dealt a tough hand. Her mother was an oiling woman while her sister Elizabeth and older brother Rees 52 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

Determination? Fortitude? Resiliency? They’re all built into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s indefatigable Welsh DNA. IA

TOP: Hillary delivers a speech at Georgetown University on St. Patrick’s Day 2008. ABOVE: Griffiths family in 1851 Wales census. LEFT: Hillary posted this photo to Twitter on September 27, 2014. She’s holding her granddaughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky as her husband, Bill, looks on.

Celebrating commitment and excellence PwC is proud to sponsor the 2015 Irish America Hall of Fame honoring Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former U.S. Secretary of State and First Lady; Robert J. McCann, CEO UBS Group Americas; Emmett O’Connell, Chairman of Western Mining Corporation; and Pat Quinn, creator of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Š 2015 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership. All rights reserved.

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Irish Soldiers in Jersey Boys:

America entered World War One on April 6th, 1917, and though the execution of the leaders of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 greatly angered the influential Irish-American community on America’s East Coast, many Irish and Irish-Americans saw it as their duty to enlist. Megan Smolenyak looks at the great state of New Jersey and profiles several of those soldiers, including her grandfather, who heard the call of duty.


ABOVE: James Vincent and Beatrice Agnes (Reynolds) Shields. ABOVE RIGHT: Overseas cap of James V. Shields with Signal Corps insignia. RIGHT: Beatrice Agnes Reynolds’s engagement ring.

e was Pop-Pop to me, and I remembered him as the gentle, older fellow who would give me a penny for gum when we went on a stroll to the neighborhood drug store. Other times, he would sit on the bottom step leading up to the bedrooms in his Chatham, New Jersey split level – the driver accepting my pretend fare as I climbed the stairs behind him to take a seat in our imaginary city bus. But we lost him when I was only four, so the life of James Vincent Shields remained a mystery to me until I became a genealogist in the sixth grade and started pestering my nana for memories of the past. And even then, it would take some time to learn that he had served in World War I. Born in Jersey City in 1898 to Irish immigrants David and Margaret (McKaig) Shields, James was the ninth of


eleven children. In 1923, he married Beatrice Agnes Reynolds after she accepted his proposal with a specially made ring engraved with shamrocks. They had three daughters – Peg, Bea, and Seton – stretched across a 15-year period, and Pop-Pop supported the family by commuting into New York to work for assorted banks on Wall Street. Before embarking on family life, though, James was a soldier in World War I. He answered the call of duty in April 1917, three weeks after President Wilson received the declaration of war he had requested from Congress. Most of his military records were destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center, but we know that he was assigned to the Signal Corps and shipped overseas on June 19, 1918, remaining in France until May of 1919. Compared to many, he came through relatively unscathed. I recall whispers of his having been gassed and jokes about a minor leg injury from tripping over barbed wire, but like so many men of his time he kept his war stories to himself. Perhaps the only flash of insight we have is from a newsletter that Irving Bank, his employer at the time, published with letters from servicemen who worked for them. In his usual understated way, James wrote: [W]e knew the German guns would begin. We had gone only about fifty yards when one shell went flying over our heads and landed about 100 yards from us. Did we walk faster? I should say so.

My family was lucky. James V. Shields came back alive. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here to write these words, and it was in seeking to learn more about my grandfather’s military service that I discovered a database offered by the New Jersey State Archives: World War I Deaths: Descriptive Cards and Photographs.1 I combed through individual profiles of some of the 3,427 men from New Jersey who sacrificed their lives in WWI, and decided that their stories need to be heard. To that end, I selected and researched several of them and would like to

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World War I share at least a snippet of their lives to help ensure that these Jersey boys, like my grandfather, are not forgotten. As a modest tribute to him, I have chosen from among the 69 Irish immigrants in this collection.

oseph J. Cassidy came from a close family. Born to Patrick and Margaret (Walders) Cassidy in 1896, he joined older siblings James, Stephen, Thomas, Mary Jane, and Bridget. The 1901 Irish census finds them all ensconced in their home in Rathconnell, Westmeath, where Patrick worked as both a carpenter and farmer. Maybe times were hard or perhaps the news they received from Margaret’s sister, Annie, in America was too tempting. Whatever the reason, the whole family departed for Princeton, New Jersey in April 1904, shortly after Joseph turned eight. In Jersey, the men in the family pursued the same occupations they had in County Westmeath, and within a few years, Joseph’s older siblings started marrying and moving out. It seems the Cassidys made a smooth transition to life in America as they already owned their home by the time of the 1910 census. On June 5, 1917, 21-year-old Joseph dutifully registered for the draft, indicating that he had already spent two years in the National Guard. Less than three weeks later, he enlisted. Private Cassidy spent his first year stateside, but in June of 1918, was sent to France with the 111th Machine Gun Division. On October 22, 1918, Joseph’s name appeared in the local newspaper back home, but not for reasons pertaining to the more than 24 hours of continuous shell fire he was then enduring with his diminishing gun crew, but because of his sister Mary’s death. Listed as a survivor, he would lose his own life the next day. His parents were probably still numb, but presumably proud, three months later when they accepted Joseph’s Distinguished Service Cross for “extraordinary heroism in action,” recognizing his


valor in directing and encouraging his men in spite of illness, exhaustion, and non-stop shell fire which eventually killed him even as he continued to man his machine gun. They must have gazed at that cross often as it would be another three years until they received their son’s remains.

orn in 1882, Patrick Farrell was older and more seasoned than most recruits. One of at least seven children of John and Bridget (née Rhatigan) Farrell, he appears with them and a couple of his older siblings in the 1901 census in Lisrevagh in the Rathcline parish of Longford. Showing every indication of intending to remain in Ireland, he didn’t emigrate until May of 1915 by which time he was 33 years old. Perhaps he had lingered to help care for his aging parents. Slender, but towering over most of his contemporaries at 5’11” (of the 30 travelers on his page of the S.S. New York’s manifest, only one other stands as tall), he made his way to the home of his brother John in Edgewater, New Jersey. Because Patrick never truly settled down, his brother’s address would remain his home of record, but if you were to wander down to the dock and swim directly east across the Hudson River, you’d find yourself in the vicinity of 134th Street in New York City, so it’s little surprise that Patrick seemed to have regarded himself as a New Yorker. Just four months after arrival, Patrick like so many Irishmen before enlisted in the New York National Guard in the 69th Infantry Regiment (widely known as the “Fighting 69th” and later changed to the 165th Infantry). After two years in New York and on the Mexican border, he re-enlisted and was sent overseas in late October of 1917, much earlier than most members of the American armed forces.


ABOVE (Top to Bottom): Distinguished Service Cross. Clip from the Trenton Evening Times, December 30, 1918 ( Clip from the Trenton Evening Times, August 30, 1921 ( CENTER TOP: Joseph J. Cassidy, County Westmeath. CENTER BOTTOM: Patrick Farrell, County Longford.


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ABOVE: Letter from John Farrell about his brother, Patrick Farrell. ABOVE RIGHT: 14 Hilliard Ave., Edgewater, NJ, Farrell family home as it looks today. (Google maps)

Serving with him were Joyce Kilmer of “I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree” fame, and Father Francis Duffy. Tragically, Sergeant Kilmer would be killed by a German sniper, but Father Duffy survived the war and became the most decorated chaplain in the history of the U.S. Army. Despite his previous experience, Patrick was one of the first casualties in the regiment, killed on May 3, 1918. His loss was recorded in Father Duffy’s Story: A Tale of Humor and Heroism, of Life and Death with the Fighting SixtyNinth, published in 1919: In this sector we have had just three battle losses. When Company G was in line, a direct hit of a German shell killed two of our old-timers, Patrick Farrell and Timothy Donnellan . . .

Patrick Farrell is better remembered than most. In addition to including him in his book, Father Duffy wrote a letter of condolence – one which remains in the family today – to his brother, John. This is mentioned in Patrick’s entry in the Longford at War website (, where he – unlike most of the 69 Irish in this New Jersey database – is commemorated in the county of his birth. John’s family has since scattered to New


York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, and Washington, but they and Longford at War will soon have another letter to complement the one by Father Duffy, one from John Farrell about his brother.

hen Alexander Nelis enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917, he was following in his father’s footsteps, but due to his peculiar family history, it’s quite possible he never knew this. In 1890 when his parents, John and Ann Jane (Diver) Nelis, married in Strabane, County Tyrone, John was with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, a regiment of the British Army. Within five years, the couple had three children – two daughters and Alexander, named according to custom after his paternal grandfather. Sadly, Alex’s mother passed away in 1897 when he was only three years old, and this marked the beginning of the splintering of his family. One sister died and the other was tucked away in an industrial school. His father remarried to Elizabeth Toman, but soon took off, so the 1901 census finds eight-year-old Alex living with a household of near strangers, the family of his new stepmother. But life was to get lonelier still. Still married to his father, Alex’s stepmother left for America in 1902, joining relatives in Harrison, New Jersey. Perhaps his remaining sister stepped in to take care of him during his tween years, but by the time of the 1911 census, he was boarding with a Bailie family in County Down where he made his living as a factory worker. Despite her absence, Alex must have retained a bond with his stepmother as he finally joined her in America when he sailed from Londonderry to New York in June of 1912 and was still living with her at the time of his enlistment five years later. He was employed in Harrison as a grinder for the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company, and apparently intended to stay put as he had taken the first steps in the nat-


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uralization process. Alex served his first year with the Army in the U.S., and was sent to France on June 15, 1918 where he was killed in action on October 25th of the same year. His stepmother, as next of kin, made the decision to have him buried in France. Designated a Gold Star mother, she declined the opportunity to visit his grave overseas, but it can be seen today at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. Lonely in life, he is at least surrounded by his military comrades in death.

orn in 1889, Michael Lawlor was the baby of the family, arriving six years after the next youngest. Parents Patrick and Bridget (Shea) Lalor (the spelling morphed) already had five children, but the eldest – their daughter Mary – would be heading to America before long. The family lived in Monasterevin, a town in County Kildare, situated on the border with Laois. As was all too common at the time, Michael would lose his father when still a youngster, so the 1901 census would find the 11-year-old scholar living in the Oghill district with his widowed mother, sister Bridget, and brother Patt. His sister Mary was not only living in Manhattan by then, but had already married Daniel Dunn, a brewery worker, in 1899. Michael went to join Mary in 1909, sailing from Queenstown to New York on the Teutonic. Somewhat unusually, he returned home to Ireland for half a year in 1912, but came back to America via Canada that November. By the time he registered for the draft in 1917, the grey-eyed immigrant had already declared his intention to become an American citizen, but noted that he might be exempt from military service due to his job as a munitions worker in Carneys Point, New Jersey. Nevertheless, he was inducted into the Army on April 5th in 1918 and found himself crossing the Atlantic just three weeks later. On October 18th, he was wounded, and succumbed to broncopneumonia days later while still in Europe. Back in New York, his sister Mary received the dreaded news. After the war when requested to share a photo of her brother, she complied, but like so many in her situation, asked that it be sent back. In all likelihood, it was one of very few images she had of her brother – perhaps the only one. It’s fortunate for her descendants that she did, though, because the address she included in her letter was key to finding the correct Mary Dunn (a common name), allowing this writer to track down her great-granddaughter, Susan Crimi. Susan had looked into her roots, but had been unable to identify Mary’s siblings, so was delighted when contacted, responding, “I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this new information! And a picture too! Thank you soooooo much!”


“Memory Shine”

Crimi’s discoveries about her ancestors exemplify another layer of the value of this New Jersey collection. In addition to preserving the memories of New Jersey’s heroic doughboys, the details contained and timing involved make these documents a genealogical goldmine for many families, and will often bridge the transoceanic gap. Susan had no clue about Michael, but has reclaimed her valiant great-granduncle, and now knows exactly where her Lawlor branch came from in Ireland. And since she’s also learned of Michael’s other siblings, it’s just a matter of time before she locates long-lost kin. Similarly, Longford at War now has a more complete picture of Patrick Farrell’s life, and Joseph Cassidy has been rediscovered by New Zealand relatives who had previously been stumped as to what had become of this part of the family. Of those included here, only Alexander Nelis remains something of an orphan, but his sister married in 1915, so there’s hope yet. In his poem “Rouge Bouquet,” Patrick Farrell’s comrade in arms Joyce Kilmer wrote of fallen members of their regiment: Your souls shall be where the heroes are And your memory shine like the morning-star.

ABOVE LEFT: Michael Lawlor, County Kildare. ABOVE: Letter-writer Mary Dunn (née Lawlor). (used with permission of Susan Crimi) OPPOSITE PAGE FAR LEFT: Grave of Alexander Nelis. ( OPPOSITE PAGE BELOW: Alex Nelis in 1901 census with his stepmother’s family. ( OPPOSITE PAGE CENTER: Alexander Nelis, County Tyrone.

These Irish Jersey boys gave their lives to a worthy cause, and even a century later, continue to render service by bringing far-flung cousins together. Now it’s the responsibility and privilege of these IA cousins to make their “memory shine.” 1 Unless otherwise noted, all photos and other images

are from “Department of Defense, Adjutant General’s Office: World War I, Information Cards and Photographs of New Jersey Men Who Died in Service, 1917-1918,” held by the New Jersey State Archives, Dept. of State, in Trenton.


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How Many Irish-Born Died in Service to the U.S. in WWI? Megan Smolenyak delves into the archives and reaches the conclusion that many more Irishborn soldiers were killed in the U.S. Armed Forces in WWI than previous calculations have shown. BELOW: WWI Honor Roll, People’s Park, Paterson, New Jersey. A quick look at the plaque reveals many Irish names among the soldiers who were killed in battle.


s a New Jersey resident with Jersey City Irish roots, I am constantly on the lookout for resources that can assist with Garden State genealogy, so was delighted when I first stumbled across an online database hosted by the State Archives called World War I Deaths: Descriptive Cards and Photographs.1 Delving into it, I was captivated by the personal stories revealed of the 3,427 men who lost their lives during the First World War, and in many instances, I could gaze at them or read family correspondence as photos and letters were often included. Some other states have similar databases, but rarely are they as search-friendly as New Jersey’s. In particular, this one has a field that curiously few provide: birth country. With a single inquiry, I was able to learn that 69 Irish-born individuals from New Jersey had died in WWI. The number 69 immediately brought to mind the “Fighting 69th,” the so-called Irish Brigade formed during the Civil War, and perhaps it was that thought that caused me to realize the even greater potential this database offered. The centenary of World War I has ushered in a growing appreciation for the Irish who gave their lives in the war, but I knew from casual reading that much of the focus has been on those who served under the auspices of Britain and members of the then-Empire, now Commonwealth, such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The United States was invariably mentioned, but always given short shrift – a situation which is entirely understandable because records for the other countries are more readily accessible and better lend themselves to scrutiny and analysis. By contrast, the lion’s share of America’s military personnel records from 1912 to 1960 were destroyed by a fire and associated water damage in 1973, and while other WWI record collections exist, they’re scattered (mostly at the state level) and uneven, both in terms of content and ease of access. Tripping across this New Jersey gem leveled the playing field, though admittedly just for one state, but might it, I wondered, be possible to extrapolate from it to the national level to arrive at an estimate of native Irish who made the ultimate sacrifice as members of the American armed forces during World War I?


Contributions in Other Countries

I decided to dive in without further scouting as I didn’t want to risk introducing even an unconscious bias regarding the figures that might emerge, but it would be helpful here to share what I later discovered to give a sense of the roles played by the Irish who served in the military of other nations. My eventual online exploration mostly revealed a fair bit of head-scratching about the United States as I was not the first to wrestle with this question, but the most thorough contemplation of the topic could be found in the work of Irish broadcaster and author Myles Dungan. Drawing from a variety of sources and conducting his own research, he wrote a piece in which he pegged Irish fatalities in the war as follows:2 Canada: 960 (with a caveat that closer study could increase this to as many as 2,000) Australia: 860 (with a note that careful investigation had increased to this from 488) New Zealand: 280 South Africa: 80 India: 13 Embarking upon his deliberation of America, he echoed what I had heard elsewhere, remarking, “The U.S.A. is proving, and will continue to prove, most problematic.” But Dungan rose to the challenge and developed a series of assumptions to postulate a figure for the United States of 350, one which he underscored was highly speculative.

New Jersey-based Calculations

Initially and deliberately ignorant of these statistics, I jumped in with my own analysis. I apologize in advance for the number-crunching that’s about to come, but I want to spell out as much of my thought process as possible in the hope that it might provoke additional discussion. Being transparent will allow others to understand how I meandered my way to the outcome I’ll share, and build upon or correct what I have to say, ultimately reaching a more fine-tuned conclusion. As mentioned previously, my starting point was the fact that 69 Irish-born soldiers from New Jersey had died in WWI. It should be stressed that these 69 were all born in Ireland, and not simply of Irish heritage (in which case, the count would have been substantially higher). Since 3,427 from the state had died, it was simple arithmetic (69/3,427) to determine

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that the native Irish were 2.01% of the total. Overall, 116,708 Americans gave their lives in World War I, so if we assume that the percentage of Irish-born from New Jersey who died was fairly consistent across all of the United States, then approximately 2,346 (116,708 x .0201) Irish immigrants died countrywide. To get a second take on this casualtyderived estimate, I turned to population data. Once again presupposing that the Irish fatality rate for New Jersey was typical across the land, I realized it would be possible to work out a nationwide appraisal, provided I had an idea of what portion of the American people resided in New Jersey at the time. For this, I consulted the 1920 U.S. Federal Census (as found on, the one closest to the time of American involvement in the First World War. The total population at the time was 107,634,003 while New Jersey’s was 3,157,851, so New Jerseyans constituted about 2.93% of the whole. If New Jersey’s experience was indeed representative, then there were roughly 2,355 (69/.0293) deaths in WWI of Irish immigrants across the U.S. Given that the casualty and population-gleaned sums – 2,346 and 2,355 – are so close, it seems reasonable to use a middle figure of 2,350, but I pondered how I might evaluate the validity of this number. Perhaps it would help, I thought, to introduce another state into the mix as a bit of a check.

New York-based Calculations

I tried out several states, but none offered enough useful information until I investigated New York. While there is a somewhat similar, death-centric collection for New York – Newsday’s New York State’s World War I Dead3 – it is not searchable by place of birth, so there was no easy way to pluck out those born in Ireland. Still, it revealed the critical detail that 13,676 who served from New York died (though it’s suspected that this might be a slight under-accounting). By examining the New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919 database on, I learned that 514,859 from New York were called to arms. Moreover, it allowed me to search by place of birth, revealing that 9,751 of those who answered the call of duty were born in Ireland. Dividing 13,676 deaths by the 514,859 who were enlisted gives us a New York-wide fatality rate of 2.66%. If we posit that New Yorkers of Irish birth perished at the same rate as others from the state, 9,751 native Irish serving multiplied by .0266 leads to a ballpark of 259 Irish losses.

New Jersey and New York

Knowing that more data could only help with this conundrum, I decided to combine the counts for New Jersey (69 actual deaths) and New York (259 esti-

mated deaths) to come to an approximation of 328 Irish-born heroes for the two states. Using population statistics to convert 328 to the national level, I started by adding New York’s figures to those of New Jersey. Earlier, I had determined that New Jersey was home to 2.93% of those in the 1920 census. That same year, New York had 10,402,421 residents or 9.66% of the country’s people, so New Jersey and New York together held 12.6% of the U.S. population in 1920. If it’s assumed that New Jersey/New York’s blended experience was in keeping with Irish-born fatalities in WWI on a national basis, this leads to a projection in the vicinity of 2,603 (328/.126) Irish deaths for the United States.

ABOVE: U.S. troops who fought in WWI arriving into Hoboken, New Jersey at the end of 1918. BELOW: WWI memorial in Belmar, New Jersey.

Reality Check

So New Jersey-based calculations suggested 2,350 Irish deaths, while combining New Jersey with New York inflated this to about 2,600. These were impressive numbers, but they naturally begged the question of how truly representative New Jersey and New York were for the nation as a whole. It’s well known that both New Jersey and New York were popular destinations for Irish immigrants, so this nagged at me. Was the Irish-density in this pair of states sufficient to seriously skew my estimates? To address this question, it was necessary to somehow measure the “Irishness” of New Jersey and New York. In an attempt to develop a barometer of sorts, I turned once again to the 1920 census and found that there were 1,060,294 residents who had begun life in Ireland. Of those, 289,172 were in New York and another 67,335 in New Jersey, for a total of 356,507. While New Jersey and New York contained 12.6% of the overall U.S. populace, they apparently accounted for about a third (33.6%) of the native Irish in the entire country. Clearly, New Jersey and New York were significantly more Irish than most states, so if their “Irishness” is factored in, extrapolating from the reasonably solid 328 deaths for Irish-born in New



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Jersey and New York leads to an estimate of 976 fatalities (328/.336) for America, and while that’s considerably less than the earlier tally of 2,350-2,600, it’s also far more than widely thought.

Additional Complexities

ABOVE: Interior of World War I Memorial, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, located at O’Donnell Parkway, South Albany, and Ventnor Avenues. Erected 1922, and refurbished recently.

There are, of course, other complexities to be mulled. Is it possible that certain states had higher fatality rates than others, and if so, would this apply to New Jersey or New York? Are there important differences in casualty counting among World War I combatants that need to be somehow incorporated or reconciled? Would using the 1910 census be more appropriate, and if so, how would that affect the math? With regard to this last matter, I had played with 1910 data and was interested to note a drop-off in the percentage of Irish-born in the United States between 1910 and 1920, and then realized that I was observing the fading of Famine-era emigrants such as my own great-greatgrandmother who was still alive in New Jersey, but only because she lived to 96. Irish were continuing to come, but not at the same pace as before. Still, I didn’t think that this would have had much impact on those I was researching, men of military service age, so opted for the 1920 census, but some might feel otherwise.

Yet Another Counting Challenge

Having arrived at a conclusion of 976, I now permitted myself to look for what others had said, eventually finding my way to Myles Dungan’s thoughtful ruminations and speculation of 350. While there’s plenty of room for debate and tweaking, I suspect that 976 is closer to the truth, if only because I had the luxury of starting from actual casualty data (albeit at the state level), while Dungan, seeking a nationwide source, had started from draft registration data, making several assumptions to come to his conjecture of Irish lives lost. Obviously, only a fraction of those who registered

for the draft actually served and many volunteered, but setting aside the matter of having to accommodate this reality, there’s a hidden issue concerning World War I draft databases. Dungan used the one at, but there’s another housed at Since they’re both based on the same collection of draft cards, they should be very similar even though they’re independently transcribed, but querying both by entering “Ireland” in the birth location field results in a count of 57,453 on Ancestry and 85,075 on FamilySearch. Seeking the source of this unexpected discrepancy, I experimented with both and discovered that Ancestry has 25,467 more from Great Britain than FamilySearch, while FamilySearch has 27,622 more from Ireland than Ancestry, so I suspect that the main factor involved may have been differences in instructions to indexers. In short, Ancestry has many of Irish nativity masked by a designation of Great Britain. Dungan’s starting point of 65,025 (he had typed “Ireland” in the keyword field) split the difference between the two, but even so, was about 31% lower than FamilySearch which seems to be the most accurate. Using his own methodology, adjusting for this difference alone would bring his estimate to 459, which closes the gap, but also highlights the potential pitfalls that can lurk in the databases we often turn to.

New Names for the Roll of Honour

In spite of these measurement complications, I believe that 976 is a fair reckoning for men of Irish birth who gave their lives in service to the United States in World War I. The true figure may be 900 or 1,000, but it’s likely somewhere in this neighborhood.4 This is more than previously thought, but consensus probably isn’t far off, and it’s worth aiming for. What is certain is that there are names missing from the Irish National War Memorial (INWM) records. In fact, when I searched the almost 50,000 people included5, I could confirm only one of the 69 from the New Jersey database that sparked this inquiry. Acknowledging the sacrifice of the other 68 sons and brothers by adding them to the INWM Roll of Honour would be a fitting and well-timed contribution to ongoing centenary commemorations, and remind us all IA that there are still more to be accounted for.

Citations: 1 New Jersey resource which sparked this analysis and furnished photos, letters and service summary cards for soldiers: “Department of Defense, Adjutant General’s Office: World War I, Information Cards and Photographs of New Jersey Men Who died in Service, 1917-1918,” held by the New Jersey State Archives, Dept. of State, in Trenton, 2 3 4 The one caveat I would offer is that this counts deaths from disease, many of which occurred stateside. Some might debate their inclusion even though they sometimes stemmed from injuries or circumstances abroad. While it could be argued that all deaths resulting from military service during wartime should be included, this factor can become an apples and oranges issue when comparing casualty figures with those of other countries. 5 Ireland’s Memorial Record: World War 1 1914-1918: 60 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

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Patriot Graves

Shannon Ní Chonchúir visits Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, the final resting place of many famous Irish people including Daniel O’Connell, Maud Gonne, and Brendan Behan, and talks to Aoife Kelleher about her doucmentary on Ireland’s largest cemetery. 62 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

One Million Dubliners, directed by Aoife Kelleher, shines a light on the past and present of Glasnevin Cemetery and offers remarkable insights into the lives of the people of Dublin and Ireland, today and in times gone by. The film was shown on RTÉ before Christmas and as soon as I saw it, I immediately wanted to learn more. I made my way to Dublin where I took a guided tour of the cemetery and met Aoife to discuss how and why she made the film. Having started as a nine-acre site in the 1830s, Glasnevin now covers 124 acres and includes a museum, genealogy office, and café. I enter the museum on a cold winter’s day and as I wait for the tour to start, I eavesdrop on an old American man who is asking the genealogist for help locating an Eileen Kennedy from Terenure. She is his only link to Ireland and he wants to visit her grave – the one place he can make tangible his connection to the country. I never discover if he finds her as Glasnevin’s current historian Conor Dodd shows up to start the tour before I can hear more. Conor starts as he means to go on: full of banter and brimming over with information. He immediately points out his favourite piece in the exhibition about Irish involvement in WWI – the uniform of a soldier called William Gibson. A bullet has torn through its breast pocket and through the lid of a metal cigarette case he used to carry inside it. However, the base of the cigarette case is

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merely dented, having stopped the bullet from entering his body and penetrating his heart. “Surely this is the only time smoking cigarettes saved someone’s life,” jokes Conor. Every tour of Glasnevin is different, depending on the personality of the tour guide. Tours can be tailored for different groups. If you’re interested in the history of 1916, Irish literary figures, or prominent women in Irish history, a tour can be custom designed for you. Mine was a general tour and began at the grave of the Forgotten Ten – ten rebels, the most famous of whom was Kevin Barry, who were executed in Mountjoy Prison during the War of Independence. They were buried in the prison until they were exhumed and re-interred in Glasnevin in 2001. Theirs weren’t the only remains to have been exhumed. Roger Casement is buried beside them. He was executed for treason in England following his part in gun-running prior to the 1916 Rising, and his body was brought back from England in 1965 by Eamon de Valera, whose body is also buried here. Our next stop brings us to the grave of the man who founded the cemetery. Daniel O’Connell was one of Ireland’s greatest statesmen and he opened the Victorian walled garden cemetery of Glasnevin in 1832. He wanted it to be a place where people of all denominations could bury their dead without restriction or fear. Eleven-year-old Michael Carey was the first to be buried here, but it took some time for Glasnevin to become Dublin’s main cemetery. It was too far from the city for many people, and only paupers were buried here at first. Fifteen thousand people were buried in pits here during the cholera out-

breaks of the 1830s and 1840s. And because the cemetery was nondenominational, babies who died before being baptised and people who died through suicide were buried here too. Things changed once O’Connell himself was buried here. His coffin lies in a family vault under the O’Connell Tower, a round tower that rises 168 feet above the cemetery. We visit his crypt on our tour. His coffin is in a central chamber whose walls are decorated with Celtic murals. We’re told it’s good luck to touch his coffin, so we all make sure to do so before we leave. We explore the side rooms too. One is piled high with lead-lined coffins containing members of O’Connell’s family, and another leads into the tower itself. “O’Connell brought a certain cachet to Glasnevin,” says Conor. “High society wanted to be buried here afterwards.” Next we visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This cross was erected last July to commemorate the Irish who fought with the British Army in the First and Second World Wars. “Irish history is not clear cut and nor is our relationship with Britain,” says Conor. “We have two Neilan brothers buried here. One fought in 1916 and was a hero. The other was a British soldier in WWI and he was looked down upon. They are buried together.” The grave of Charles Stewart Parnell is right beside the cross for the soldiers. His funeral was another memorable day at Glasnevin. “One hundred and twenty thousand people lined the streets that day, so many that his cortege didn’t reach the cemetery until nightfall,” says Conor.

ABOVE: Reading Ulysses at Glasnevin on the James Joyce Bloomsday tour. ABOVE LEFT: Inside Daniel O’Connell’s crypt. OPPOSITE PAGE RIGHT: Aoife Kelleher, director of One Million Dubliners. OPPOSITE PAGE LEFT: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial at Glasnevin, commemorating those lost in the two World Wars.


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The entrance to Glasnevin before (left) and after (below) it was re-landscaped. RIGHT: A variety of historical garden styles occupy the cemetery. BOTTOM: The De Valera family grave at Glasnevin.

“Everyone wanted something green for their lapels when he was being buried and many took ivy from the cemetery walls. That’s how ivy came to be associated with Parnell.” We can see watchtowers from the Parnell monument, which strikes us as odd. “It wasn’t odd in the 1800s,” explains Conor. “People paid good money for dead bodies in those days. There was a set price for adults, and children were priced by the inch. The watchtowers were manned to keep out grave robbers.” He tells the tale of Dan Donnelly, a boxer with a famously long arm. His body was stolen and a surgeon paid handsomely for it. But he was caught by police before he could dissect it. Somehow, he persuaded them to let him keep the arm, which still exists as a travelling exhibit today. “Dan Donnelly and his long arm: it sounds like a tall tale but it’s true,” says Conor. Our next stop is the Republican plot and the grave of O’Donovan Rossa, who was brought back from America and buried in 1915. It was by his graveside that Pádraig Pearse gave his infamous oration: “The fools, the fools, the fools: they have left us our Fen64 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

ian dead. While Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.” These rousing words inspired a revolution the following year. There are many more buried in the Republican plot. Jim Larkin is there and so is his arch nemesis William Martin Murphy. Maud Gonne is with her Nobel Prize-winning son Seán McBride. Harry Boland, Countess Markievicz, and Arthur Griffith are there too. So is the man who wrote the Irish national anthem, Peadar Ó Cearnaigh. There’s also Eamon de Valera, whose grave is marked with a few faded flowers. “Most people ask if this is it when I bring them here,” laughs Conor. “It’s a very modest grave.” It’s certainly in marked contrast to Michael Collins’s grave, which is overflowing with flowers. Conor says it’s the most popular in the cemetery. “Collins died young and lives on as a hero in many people’s minds,” he says. “The fact that Hollywood made a film about him definitely has a part to play in his popularity too.” Taking this tour is a pure pleasure. It’s a journey through the political, social, and artistic history of Ireland through the stories of those who are buried here. And it’s not just famous people. There are the civilian dead of 1916. There are people whose only marker of their lives is their entry in the ledgers of Glasnevin. Every plot has its story: it’s just that some are better remembered than others. If you are unable to pay a real-life visit to Glasnevin, the next best thing you can do is watch Aoife Kelleher’s documentary – One Million Dubliners. It’s an elegy of sorts, to the people who are buried here and to the history of Ireland that shaped them and continues to shape us to this day. It’s also a reflection on the cemetery as it is today, on those who work and visit here and what the lives and deaths of the people buried here mean to them. “I’m a Northsider so I’ve been aware of Glasnevin all my life,” says Aoife. “It’s so iconic and there are so many stories to be told here. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to tell some of them.” The very first thing Aoife did when researching

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RIGHT: The launch of CityScape’s Dublin Bus Tour at Glasnevin.

this film was to take the same tour I took, but with another historian called Shane Mac Tomáis. She was so taken by what she calls Shane’s “blend of reverence and irreverence” that she made him the central character in her film. As a result, viewers see Glasnevin through Shane’s eyes. He tells us stories about the historical figures buried here and he guides us through the cemetery’s ledgers. Meticulous records have been kept since the cemetery opened, noting the name, address, age, and occupation of the person who died as well as who brought them to the cemetery and their cause of death. Shane lists some of these and gives us a taste of what life must have been like for people back then. Shane isn’t the only character in the film. There’s a young man who regularly sings at Luke Kelly’s

graveside. There’s a French woman who visits Michael Collins’s grave six or seven times a year. And there’s a woman who tells of her stillborn child being buried in the Angels’ Plot. Aoife interviews staff members too. Grave diggers joke about their jobs. The man in charge of the crematorium talks about how attitudes to cremation have changed in Ireland. And inevitably, everyone she talks to ends up reflecting on the meaning of life and death. “It was extraordinary to get a chance to hear what people really think about death,” says Aoife. “It was always surprising and revelatory, and it was often funny and heart-warming too.” Making the film has left her with an abiding love for Glasnevin. “I have so many favorite places here,” she says. “I love Maud Gonne’s grave. I didn’t know she was here and I find her fascinating. Everyone who was educated in Ireland can’t help but be half in love with her because of Yeats’s poetry, and then there’s her life as a revolutionary, her disastrous marriage and her Nobel-Prize-winning son. I love the oldest part of the cemetery too, the part where Michael Carey is buried.” In fact, there were so many stories that struck Aoife while she was making the film that she could have made a whole series about Glasnevin. “Our film is just a tiny insight into what’s here,” she says. “I could make a new film every year because this cemetery has artists, historical figures, politicians, cultural figures. It has everything.” Glasnevin is special. Spend a morning here and you’ll hear stories of Irish lives past and present, high born and low. You’ll emerge with a deeper and richer appreciation of Irish history. One Million Dubliners brings this cemetery and its stories to many more people than those who are lucky enough to visit Dublin. “It was such an honour for me to hear the stories of Glasnevin and it’s even more of an honour to bring them to a wider audience,” says Aoife. “This is such an Irish story but IA I think it touches on universal themes.”

BELOW: A view of the National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin.

For more information about Glasnevin Cemetery and booking a tour, visit . You can also start your genealogy search on this website. One Million Dubliners is available through Amazon.


Lovely Lough Erne

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Two connected lakes on the River Erne in County Fermanagh boast over 150 islands, great fishing, and the lovely town of Enniskillen, which sits right between the upper and lower lough.



here is an old saying in Fermanagh, “In summer Fermanagh has the lake lands, in winter the lake lands has Fermanagh.” This was certainly true when I visited the Upper Lough Erne region on a sunny February day. Upper Lough Erne was the center of recreational sailing until the advent of hydro electric power and the building of the Ballyshannon dam in the 1950s. The construction of the power station necessitated the lowering of Upper Lough Erne by 10 feet. This resulted in the Lough Erne Yacht Club transferring to Lower Lough Erne. On the day I visited, the overly wet Irish winter had brought the lough up to within 20 inches of its original depth. As a school child I traveled past Upper and Lower Lough Erne on our annual family trip to Donegal. I tried to count as many of the 150 islands as I could. The Upper and Lower Loughs are widened sections of the River Erne, which flows north and then curves west into the Atlantic Ocean. The smaller southern lake is called the Upper Lough (as it is further up the river) or South Lough. The bigger northern lake is called the Lower Lough or North Lough. The county town of Enniskillen lies on the short part of the river that flows between the lakes. In truth the Lower Lough is the better known as it is more developed 66 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

and was the venue for the 39th G8 Summit. Lough Erne Resort, the luxurious 5-star destination outside Enniskillen, which hosted the summit, had yet another reason to celebrate when it was named 2014 Hotel of the Year. The Upper Lough is more secluded, tranquil and embryonic. However, that may be about to change due to the efforts of architect turned outdoor instructor, turned tourism officer for the Upper Lough Erne region, Barry Flanagan. A few minutes chat with Barry and you are soon convinced of his passion and love for the district. As well as being a fount of knowledge about the history of the area, Barry has been instrumental in attracting a number of events to

TOP: Summer’s evening on Lough Erne. ABOVE LEFT: The town of Enniskillen. ABOVE RIGHT: An aerial view of the lough.

Upper Lough Erne such as the coarse fishing Pike Festival which attract anglers from all over Europe. Barry knows every one of the 57 islands on the upper lough having kayaked around them, and he has stories to tell about all of them. A local butcher known for his Fermanagh Black Bacon keeps a herd of pigs roaming freely on Inishcorkish Island (visitors are free to visit by appointment), while Inis Rath is home to a Hare Krishna community based in a Victorian mansion on the island. Barry takes me to Crom Castle, home of the Crichton family, the Earls of Erne. The castle sits on 1900 acres and it was once said that the owners could ride all the way to Dublin without leaving their land. Queen Elizabeth II visited for afternoon tea in 2012. The Victorian glory of the castle is still evident with many features of the past, including the old farmyard, the visitors centre, and boathouse, once the home of Lough Erne Yacht Club. Blandings, a British BBC comedy television series adapted from the Blandings Castle stories of P.G. Wodehouse, is filmed on location at Crom Castle. Starring Timothy Spall, and Jennifer Saunders, it is wonderfully eccentric, absurd, and populated with aristocratic fools. It could be described as Downton Abbey on gin and tonic.


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The west wing of the castle is available for various functions and overnight guests desiring grandeur and seclusion. Manager, Noel Johnston, whose family has worked with the Earls of Erne for over three generations, can personally assist with bookings. This area of County Fermanagh has many connections with the United States. In 1944, the 3rd Battalion 28th Infantry of the U.S. Army was stationed at Crom Castle while preparing for D-Day. It was from this district that Father John McElroy, founder of Boston College, emigrated to the U.S. in 1803. And astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, came here to visit his great uncle in Lisnaskea in 1970.

The coarse fishing excellence of Upper Lough Erne has attracted many from all over the world in search of Trench, Bream and Pike specimens, and some have stayed on. The most visible, influential and artistic of the “blow ins� is Pascal Brissaud, a French native who combined his love of fishing with his culinary skills, to open the Watermill Lodge outside Lisnaskea. The restaurant and wine list are as good as any in Paris. Pascal provides the complete package for fishermen. Come with your hands in your pockets and he will provide all that you need for the complete angling experiences and this includes traditional Irish boats or more technical American boats

TOP: Crom Castle. ABOVE LEFT: Barry Flanagan, Tourism Project Officer, Upper Lough Erne Region. ABOVE RIGHT: Louth Erne provides some of the best fishing opportunities on the island of Ireland.


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with fish finders. The Watermill even has a helipad for those in a rush to get there. Pascal claims the lake has the best Pike fishing in the world. And guests can stay in one of the seven superbly appointed rooms literally on the lake’s edge. Further down the lough is Belle Isle, which is home to Belle Island Castle. Originally called Ballymacmanus, it was home to the MacManus and Maguire family, including one of the compilers of the Annals of Ulster, Cathal Og Mac Manus. (The Annals are now in the Bodleian Library in Oxford and Trinity Library in Dublin.) The castle commands superb views of the lough. It offers modern rooms in a truly notable setting, and is famed for its wedding receptions and cookery school. The self-catering cottages allow guests to cook their own freshly caught fish and locally sourced produce. The true attraction of Upper Lough Erne is that it retains its character and composure and it is not at all commercialized. Visitors are welcomed for themselves and not for the dollars that they are carrying in their pockets. The locals have time for you and genuinely appear interested in helping. Fermanagh is the original homeland of many Irish Americans and certainly if my name was Maguire, Wilson or Armstrong, I would be researching my genealogy in this area. Frankie Roofe in Enniskillen Town Hall would be the person to help with the research.


TOP: The Watermill Lodge. ABOVE: Belle Isle Castle. RIGHT: Sunset on the lough.



From the Upper Lough Erne region you can spread out and explore Northern Ireland, cross the border to scenic Donegal or travel south to Dublin. You will not be disappointed but bring a rain coat. Perhaps the best endorsement for Upper Lough Erne came from a friend of mine whose family had been through a number of traumatic events. He claimed that a night spent on the lough was the most serene and peaceful he had ever experienced in his life. IA More information is available through: Upper Lough Erne Region Visitor Information Office, 1113 Main Street, Lisnaskea, Fermanagh. | | | Frankie Roofe, Fermanagh Research, 53 Tarmon Brea, Old Rossory, Enniskillen. +02 86 632 5426 |

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With a film version of Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel Brooklyn, coming to American theaters later this year, Tom Deignan looks at the borough that was home to so many midcentury Irish immigrants.


ack in January, a new generation of Brooklyn high school students were exposed to the beautiful prose of one of Irish America’s most gifted writers, Pete Hamill. “Bridge of Dreams,” an essay by Hamill, was one of the reading passages on the English Language Arts Regents Exam, which every high school graduate in New York State must eventually pass. “In all years and seasons, The Bridge was there,” Hamill writes, in the essay originally published in 1983. “We could see it from the roof of the tenement where we lived, the stone towers rising below us from the foreshortened streets of downtown Brooklyn.” Later, the Brooklyn-born Hamill describes the bridge’s special place in his Irish immigrant mother’s heart. “Awe infused the view of the great harbor, a view my mother embellished by describing to us the ships that had brought her and so many other immigrants to America… all of them crowding the decks, straining to see their newfound land. What they saw first was the Statue of Liberty, and the skyline, and The Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge…” Hamill, of course, is only one of many Irish writers who have celebrated Brooklyn. The Bridge itself was built by thousands of immigrant laborers, including a Galway-born teenager named Frank Harris. Before becoming a prominent scholar and author in the early 20th century, Harris was paid five dollars a day to help build the bridge. (When this “Eighth Wonder of the World” opened on May 24, 1883, however, many of the Irish-born laborers wanted no part of the celebration because it happened to coincide with the birthday of Britain’s Queen Victoria.)

Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn

In Colm Tóibín’s celebrated 2010 novel, simply titled Brooklyn, the trip from Ireland to New York is not exactly filled with romance. Tóibín’s immigrant heroine Eilis Lacey vomits several times during the arduous journey, and upon arrival is told by a fellow Irish immigrant that she looks so “wretched” that if she “did not take care she would be stopped at Ellis Island and put in quarantine.” A long-awaited film version of Tóibín’s novel will be released in American theaters later this year. The film, set in the 1950s, earned rave reviews after it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. “Classily and classically crafted in the best sense 70 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

by director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby,” The Hollywood Reporter noted, “this superbly acted romantic drama… provides the feeling of being lifted into a different world altogether, so transporting is the film’s sense of time and place and social mores.” Brooklyn stars Irish Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan, as well as fellow Irish thespian Domhnall Gleeson. Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, and Emory Cohen round out the cast of Brooklyn, which Variety magazine hailed as “heartwarming and emotional.” In some ways, Eilis Lacey’s arrival in New York is not so different from the millions of Irish immigrants who came through Ellis Island going all the way back to the first one, Annie Moore, from Cork, in 1892 who went on to marry a bakery clerk and give birth to 11 children.

1950s Immigrants

But Eilis’s journey is also unique in two important ways. First, though fictional, she represents a large but often overlooked wave of real-life immigrants from Ireland who came to the U.S. in the 1950s. Secondly, Eilis – like thousands before her – settled in one of the great Irish cities on the planet, though it is inevitably overshadowed by the magical sliver of land across the East River known as Manhattan. In his classic study of the New York Irish, Daniel Patrick Moynihan noted that one-third of the population of Brooklyn was of Irish descent by the 1890s. And while Manhattan always had bright lights and tall buildings, Brooklyn was always known as the “borough of churches,” many of them humble, even hardscrabble Catholic parishes founded by Irish immigrants. Betty Smith provided a vivid snapshot of how the Irish fit into Brooklyn’s broader melting pot in her beloved 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. With these large numbers came an Irish-dominated social life, from boxing gyms and union halls to


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dance spots and pubs. It’s no surprise that in Tóibín’s novel, Eilis meets a handsome young man at a parish dance. The surprise is that he’s Italian. “I heard about the Irish dance and I thought I’d go and look at it and I liked it,” Eilis’ future lover, Tony Fiorello, says afterwards. In some ways, the social and family lives of Irish immigrants in 1950s Brooklyn were not all that different from previous generations. (The parents in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are also of mixed heritage, with the father Irish and the mother Eastern European.) Yet earlier waves of Irish immigrants each had distinct characteristics. Those who emigrated prior to the 1840s were just as likely to be Protestant as Catholic. Immigrants in the middle of the 19th century were escaping the ravages of the Great Hunger. The 1920s saw a wave of immigrants escaping political turmoil and civil war, only to be greeted by a newly resurgent Ku Klux Klan in the U.S., followed by the Great Depression.

The 1950s immigrants from Ireland, however, are much less well known, even though they left Ireland and settled in the U.S. in large numbers. “Between 1946 and 1961, 531,255 people, almost 17 percent of the population, left Ireland,” Linda Almeida Dowling writes in Irish Immigrants in New York City: 1945 – 1995. “Forty percent of those who were between the ages of 10 and 19 in 1951 were gone by 1961. Most of the migrants went to Great Britain, but 68,151 left for America during and after World War II (1941– 1961). It was the largest migration of Irish to the United States since the 1920s.” She adds, “Several forces combined to push the migrants out of Ireland.” Ireland’s economic outlook remained bleak and this together with a broader sense that “as the world around them moved at a quickening pace, the nation seemed to stand still” pushed “thousands of young Irish off the farms and out of small villages to Great Britain and to the United States.” In some ways, 1950s immigrants arrived in a city that already seemed to be dominated by Irish Catholics. It’s no accident that early chapters in Dowling’s book bear titles like “When the Irish Ran New York” and “It Was a Great Time in America.”

OPPOSITE PAGE: Colm Tóibín, author of Brooklyn. TOP: Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. ABOVE: Bridge painters perch on the suspension wires of the Brooklyn BridgeOctober 7, 1914. LEFT: Eileen and Peter McNulty. The family act led by Annie “Ma” McNulty sold out the Brooklyn Academy of Music 55 times from 1930-1960.

The Brooklyn Irish

By the 1950s, the Irish had come a long way from the Five Points and Tin Pan Alley. Mayo-born William O’Dwyer was mayor of New York City in APRIL / MAY 2015 IRISH AMERICA 71

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TOP: Publicity shot of The Honeymooners: Jackie Gleason, born in Brooklyn, Art Carney (born into an Irish American family in Mount Vernon, New York), and Audrey Meadows, born Audrey Cotter in New York City. ABOVE: The Brooklyn Dodgers were affectionately known as “The Bums.” RIGHT: Pete Hamill.

1950, when the Irish-dominated political machine known as Tammany Hall still ran things. The sermons of Bishop Fulton Sheen, meanwhile, were beloved by millions, making him not only a trailblazer who preached Catholic values on the relatively new medium of TV, but also the most popular Catholic priest since the infamous 1930s “radio priest” Charles Coughlin, who was much more combative than the congenial Sheen. Meanwhile, Cardinal Francis Spellman (who held his post from 1939 to 1967) was so powerful he would later be dubbed an “American Pope” by one biographer. Irish Americans of more humble means could see themselves in the antics of Brooklyn’s own everyman, Jackie Gleason, one of the top TV stars of the decade. Even working-class Irish Brooklynites had attained a standard of living their parents and grandparents would never have dreamed of. “First, second, and third generation descendants of turn-of-the-century immigrants proved to be productive and patriotic citizens,” Dowling writes. “Ethnic Catholics and Jews had achieved remarkable success in politics, labor, business, science and entertainment, among other areas.… Restrictions barring and/or limitings Catholics and Jews to certain colleges and businesses were lifted as the children and grand children of immigrants proved themselves to be active and eager Americans.” This is the world Ellis Lacey enters in Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. Even before she leaves Ireland, she learns a powerful lesson about the extensive Irish Catholic network in Brooklyn. There is, after all, little work to be had in the Laceys’ native Enniscorthy. Early on, her sister Rose introduces Eilis to a priest named Father Flood, who “was home from America on holidays.” Eilis’s mother, at one point, suggests that her daughter may have to go to England to find work, as several of her children already have. But Father Flood has a better idea. “In Brooklyn, where my parish is, there would be office work for someone who was hard-working and educated and honest.” He adds, “Parts of Brooklyn… are just like Ireland. They’re full of Irish.” When Eilis’s mother suggests that Brooklyn might be too dangerous, Father Flood counters: “Not in my parish. It’s full of lovely people, a lot of life centers around the parish, even more than in Ireland.” Later, Eilis would never have met her future husband, Tony, if not for Father Flood, who decided to begin organizing dances “to raise funds for charities in the parish.” Father Flood is proud to announce that he had “procured Pat Sullivan’s Harp & Shamrock Orchestra and that he would ask parishioners to spread the word.”


From local pubs to larger concert venues, the Irish social and cultural scenes in Brooklyn were still strong in the 1950s. In a chapter about music in the fascinating essay collection The New York Irish, Rebecca S. Miller writes, “In 1956, the Irish Musicians Association, Inc. was established ‘to promote and preserve our heritage,’” including the “Patsy Touhey Branch in Brooklyn.” But like so many of the Brooklyn Irish, Eilis could not help but be drawn to the world outside of the parish as well. Her sense of awe is palpable. From Coney Island to a Dodgers game at Ebbets Field, it’s clear that Brookyln itself is nearly as dazzling to Eilis as Tony is. This was a feeling shared by many immigrants of the era. “To many of the migrants of the 1950s, America was a land of wonder,” Dowling writes. “Speaking thirty and forty years later, emigrants recalled the lights of New York City, the tall buildings, the abundance and variety of food, the speed of city life.” Of course, with that came equal amounts of heartache, such as when the Brooklyn Dodgers left for California in 1957. Walter O’Malley, the team’s owner, moved the Dodgers to L.A. when he didn’t get city support to make much needed improvements at Ebbets Field. Vilified by fans, he is also widely praised for bringing Major League Baseball to the West Coast.

O’Brien, Hamill, McCourt

Far away from the bright lights, there were Irish to be found in humble homes and flats from Bay Ridge to Greenpoint, and working on the waterfront in the Brooklyn Navy Yard or as maids for upper-class families. Pete Hamill’s parents settled in Park Slope, a heavily Irish enclave, after emigrating from Belfast. Hamill struggled, as many working-class Irish kids did, between artistic aspirations and securing a steady paycheck. “My Uncle David worked as a sheet metal worker in the Yard (as it was called) and he told my father about the program,” Hamill writes in A Drinking Life. “One night over dinner… my father mentioned it to me. It’s a goddamn good thing, he said, if you can get into it. My mother shook her head. Ach Billy, she said, Let the boy finish high school.” Hamill’s father countered: “If there’s another Depression, he said, you’ll always work.” Hamill later thinks: “I was beginning to understand what the Depression had done to both of them. I took the test for the Navy Yard and passed.” It was in 1951, in fact, not far from the Navy Yard, that New York City officials opened Commodore Barry Park, named after the Wexford-born “Father of the American Navy.” That same year, in Bay Ridge,



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the Commodore Barry Club was founded, which to this day hosts and participates in a series of Irish events across New York City as well as in Philadelphia, where Barry is buried. Meanwhile, Irish novelist Edna O’Brien’s mother spent her formative years in Brooklyn. “I wish I could see the Statue of Liberty once more and my old favorite haunts of Brooklyn which I loved and where I loved,” O’Brien writes, in the voice of a character based on her mother, in her novel The Light of the Evening. (O’Brien dedicated the book to her “mother and motherland.”)

A summer’s day in For some Irish, of Commodore Barry Park. course, Brooklyn was both a dream and a nightmare. At the height of the Depression, Frank McCourt’s family was driven to desperation by poverty. “Mam…put the twins in the pram and off we go through the long streets of Brooklyn,” McCourt writes in Angela’s Ashes, documenting one of many times his long-suffering mother scours the streets in search of her husband. Years later, McCourt would return to New York and spend the 1950s attending classes at N.Y.U. He would later earn a Master’s degree from Brooklyn College, on his way to becoming a beloved high school teacher – and world famous author.

The Pull of Home

As for Eilis, in Tóibín’s Brooklyn, she experiences something quite unusual for a 1950s Irish immigrant. Though they might have been the first wave of immigrants who were capable of flying to the U.S. on a plane, generally, like Eilis, they took a boat. And though some (like Father Flood) might return home, in general this was still a generation of immigrants who stayed in their adopted homeland for good. Eilis, however, is different. When her mother falls ill, Eilis must decide if she can handle leaving her beloved Tony – and if she will be tempted to stay in Ireland once she has returned to her family. Tóibín seems to make Eilis’s predicament in Brooklyn a metaphor for the immigrant’s divided mind. Just because you can go home, doesn’t mean it’s easy – especially when it’s no longer clear where, exactly, home is. This is something that immigrants – from Commodore Barry’s time, through the 1950s right to the IA 21st century – know better than anybody else. 74 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

The Brooklyn Irish Hall of Fame

From neighborhoods such as Vinegar Hill – believed to be named after a battle held during the 1798 Irish rebellion – to Marine Park and Bay Ridge, where the Irish presence is still strong, plenty of Irish Americans have roots in Brooklyn. The first bishop of Brooklyn (which is technically separate from the Archdiocese of New York) was County Down native John Loughlin, who was appointed by Pope Pius IX in 1853. Up to the turn of the 20th century, the waterfront area now known as Gowanus and Brooklyn Heights was known to some as Irishtown. Writer Eamon Loingsigh has even fashioned a series of novels set amongst the gangsters and laborers in the area, the latest of which is titled The Light of the Diddicoy. Well into the middle of the 20th century, the Irish were easily one of the most dominant ethnic groups in the so-called “Borough of Kings.” Perhaps the most thoroughly Irish neighborhood was the once humble, now-swanky enclaves of Windsor Terrace and Park Slope, where Irish Brooklynites such as comedian Colin Quinn and all seven Hamill children, including writers Denis and Pete, were born (the Hamill parents were born in Belfast). A remnant of the old days is Farrell’s Bar and Grille, which has presided over Prospect Park West since 1933, “when Park Slope was Irish and Irish meant tough,” as New York magazine put it. Another well-known writer, J.P. Donleavey, went in the opposite direction of the Hamills: Donleavey was born in Brooklyn to immigrant parents but eventually moved to Ireland, where his most famous work, The Ginger Man, is set. National Book Award winner Alice McDermott was also born in Brooklyn, though raised in Long Island, and her beautiful novels capture the experiences of that generation of Irish Americans who have one tentative foot in the suburbs while another remains in the old urban parish. Bedford-Stuyvesant, meanwhile, was the birthplace of actor Jackie Gleason, whose mother came to the U.S. from Cork. Devoted fans of The Honeymooners will note that the show’s script writers regularly dropped actual street names from the area into plots, including Kosciuszko Street as well as Chauncey Street, where Ralph and his wife lived. Brooklyn has given birth to its fair share of Irish saints and sinners. From the tough ‘hood of Brownsville came Henry Hill, whose Irish roots famously kept him out of the Mafia. Hill was at the center of the crime capers that became the classic film Goodfellas. Meanwhile, the so-called “saint of 9/11,” Father Mychal Judge, was also born in Brooklyn, the son of immigrants from Leitrim. Baptized into St. Paul’s Catholic Church (along with his twin sister Dymphna), Judge went on to become a beloved FDNY chaplain and was recognized as the first official victim of the 9/11 attacks. In sports, the Brooklyn Irish are well represented by St. John’s University legend and N.B.A. All-Star Chris Mullin. Less well remembered, of course, is Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, cursed for moving the Dodgers to California in 1957. In politics, William James O’Reilly was born in Brooklyn, though the world is more familiar with his Fox News star son Bill, who was born on Long Island. One-time New York City Mayor John Francis Hylan was born in upstate New York but moved to Brooklyn with his wife to attend law school. Not long after that, future New York governor Hugh Carey was born in Brooklyn in 1919. In 2012, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to Manhattan was renamed after Carey, who served seven terms as a congressman in Washington and two terms in Albany as governor. – T.D.

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what are you like | By Adam Farley

Anne Thompson

Chief Environmental Affairs correspondent, NBC News


What is your current state of mind?

I am focused on spring. It was a brutal winter: too cold, too snowy, too many things to put on to go outside. I want tulips and daffodils and lots of sunshine. I can’t wait to fill my outdoor planters with annuals and herbs. This year, I am filling one planter full of milkweed to give the monarch butterflies a place to land on their journey north.

What is your typical day like?

If I don’t have a live shot for the “Today Show,” I get up about 6:30 a.m. I read hard copies of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I cruise Twitter, the online versions of The Washington Post and USA Today while listening to all news radio and the “Today Show.” It is a cacophony of news. We have conference calls at 9 and 9:30 and then I go in. I spend my day either working on a story for “NBC Nightly News” or “Today.” If I don’t have a story, I am researching stories.

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day is any day I can spend by the ocean. The sound of the surf is the most soothing sound I know. It calms me right down. Add my family, dear friends, great conversation, food and wine and that is heaven on earth for me.

What was your first job?

Working the ice cream window at Fleming’s Restaurant in Chatham, Massachusetts.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I’m still trying to find a talent that’s not hidden! I love to bake. And I love watching people enjoy the cookies or cobblers or cakes I create. I spent five months in Venice, Louisiana covering the BP oil spill in 2010. With only two restaurants to choose from, our team decided we would cook for each other. The core group was five guys and me. We worked like dogs to cover the story, always in a boat or a chopper. At the end of the day, as I wrote my “Today” spot, the guys would cook the meal. I would bring dessert. They still joke that all my recipes begin with “take a pound of butter.” Usually, on a long, demanding assignment like that you lose weight. Instead, we all gained weight!



s a television correspondent, Anne Thompson has covered events as far ranging as Tonya Harding in Portland, Oregon to Ground Zero on 9/11. It’s a job some might find enviable, even glamorous for its range, travel, and publicity. “I was in Rome for 38 straight days covering the resignation of Pope Benedict and election of Pope Francis,” she said in an interview with Bill Carter, a fellow Notre Dame alumnus and current reporter for The New York Times. But, she added that she lived on a houseboat in Venice, Louisiana for five months while covering the BP oil spill in 2010. It was for this work that she became the correspondent with the most airtime on television, according to the Tyndall Report that year. In addition to geographical difficulties, there’s also the sometimeshostile politics of reporting environmental news, as she has done since 2007. “[We] know the climate is changing,” she told Carter. “I think some people are afraid of change, especially economic change that would affect their livelihoods. I’ve covered politics and religion and never gotten this kind of nasty response.” Still, reporting the news is her livlihood. In March 2007, one year after she was diagnosed with cancer, she wrote on NBC’s The Daily Nightly blog that work was part of her cure, “It gave me purpose. It made me feel normal. 30 Rock became my cancer-free zone.” Though a little embarrassed by it, her family didn’t speak much about its Irish heritage. “I once asked my father about our ancestors. He laughed saying we came from ‘a long line of bricklayers and bootleggers,’” she says. Regardless, Thompson is a member of the Board of Trustees for Notre Dame (she was among the first graduating classes that allowed women to attend the university) and received the Leadership in Education Award for her hard-hitting, global environmental reporting from the Kelly Cares Foundation in 2014. Thompson is the type of person who will jokingly refer to her Catholic education as “a great wine,” by which she means that it will “only get better with age,” as she said in a 2011 interview ahead of Notre Dame’s Pink Zone basketball game for breast cancer awareness. “There is one thing that you are guaranteed to cover in journalism coming from Notre Dame – the Vatican. I am the token Catholic journalist,” she told Rebecca Rogalski of Her Campus, an online newspaper for and by college women, this past December. But it’s also covering the Vatican and Pope Francis that has given Thompson her greatest professional memories. Here, she talks about those, covering the BP oil spill, surviving breast cancer, Nelson Mandela, and more.

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On long plane rides, do you strike up conversations? Almost never. I always say “hello” but I relish plane rides for the fact there is no phone. I can catch up on my reading (almost always for work) and sleep. It’s also a great opportunity to see movies. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a movie in a theater.

Who is your hero?

Your proudest moment?

My proudest moment is surviving stage 3 breast cancer. I never expected to get it. I have no family history. When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t sure I would get through it. Like everything else in my life, I succeeded because I was supported by a tremendous team: my doctors, my friends, a very understanding company, and my remarkable family.

What is on your bedside table?

I just finished Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Next up, The Art of War by Sun Tzu and The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

Who is your favorite author? Ernest Hemingway.

Best advice ever received?

“Report what you know,” from Tom Brokaw; “Never hold a grudge. It is letting someone rent space in your mind for free,” from the late Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame; and “Always leave the door open to a second conversation,” from Fr. John Jenkins, the current president of the University of Notre Dame.

Your favorite quality in friends? Humor and honesty.

The most deplorable quality? Duplicity.

What is a movie you will watch again and again? The Sound of Music.


Nelson Mandela. He is also the person who I really wish I had had the opportunity to interview. I will be forever fascinated by his ability to forgive when he came out of Robben Island. By choosing forgiveness instead of vengeance, he moved his country forward. I wish we were more forgiving as a society. There is no justice without forgiveness. It is not easy to do, but people who forgive are happier, free of the yoke of anger. I would love to do a documentary on forgiveness.

What is your favorite sound? The voices of my nephews and niece.

Favorite country you have visited?

It’s impossible to choose. I love France, Italy and Australia.

Thompson in Rome to cover the abdication of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis in February 2013 for the “Today Show.”

Do you have a favorite place in Ireland? The Cliffs of Moher.

What do you consider to be your greatest extravagance? My closet.

What is your most prized possession? The rosaries I received after a private audience with Pope Francis and twice flying on his papal plane. I also treasure the Notre Dame medal Fr. Jenkins gave me when I joined the Board of Trustees.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an NBC correspondent?

I would love to be an architect. I love design and I am fascinated with the way design impacts how we work and live.

Anything you would do over?

No. I look forward, not back. I can’t change the past. I can affect the future.

What are you working on now?

There are two big stories I hope to cover this year. The first is Pope Francis’s visit to the United States in September. The other is the U.N. climate change talks that will take place in Paris at the end of the year. IA APRIL / MAY 2015 IRISH AMERICA 77

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Landmark Exhibition

Made in (18thcentury)


Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690 – 1840: A legacy

ABOVE RIGHT: Tom Conolly of Castletown Hunting with his Friends, 1769. Robert Healy, Irish, 17431771. Grand-nephew of Ireland’s richest commoner Donegal-born William Conolly (1669) who went on to become Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Very Rare and unique Pastel, chalks, and gouache on paper (20 1/4 x 53 1/2 in.) On loan from Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

opularly known as the “long 18th century,” beginning with the ascendancy of William and Mary over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1689 and culminating at the brink of Ireland’s Great Hunger in the 1840s, these were not just years of hardship and uncertainty in Ireland but they also mark a period of extraordinary creative accomplishment. At a time of grand ideas, of the European Enlightenment and the French and American Revolutions, of political ferment as the country chafed under English rule, the arts flourished in Ireland in a kind of neglected renaissance. Despite the tumultuous upheavals through the century, disciplines such as philosophy, art and science thrived, and Irish artisans and craftspeople, under the patronage of the landed Anglo Irish gentry, produced works of exquisite art, architecture, design, and decoration. Now, opening on St. Patrick’s Day, the richness


and complexity of this golden era are reclaimed in a groundbreaking exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Three hundred treasures, on loan from public and private collections throughout the United States, will be on view together for the first time. Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690 – 1840 runs from March 17th through June 7th. “This pioneering exhibition puts Ireland at the forefront of early 18th-century art,” says Art Institute Curator in the Department of European Decorative Arts, Christopher Monkhouse. “It is the first to explore the rich and complex art and culture of the Emerald Isle during that period. Over the years many extraordinary objects from Ireland have come to the United States and Canada. Today they are scattered in locations from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Portland, Maine, and from Ottawa, Canada, to San Antonio, Texas. This exhibition now gathers the best of the best here in Chicago.” The crossroads of the title is an apt metaphor. Historically, the intersection of four roads was always a lively Irish place, the center of popular music and dance before the Catholic bishops relegated these



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of Irish Treasures Ireland

tribute to the last Knight of Glin. activities to the parochial dance hall. Now, across several galleries in the Art Institute, the Irish creative crossroads becomes an open place where art and design are shared with the public. The original vision for the exhibition came from the late historian Desmond FitzGerald, last Knight of Glin and a distinguished pioneer in Irish cultural studies. In his 2007 book, Irish Furniture, FitzGerald called for “a major exhibition on Ireland’s decorative arts of the 18th century, which would include furniture and bring together the common threads of the different fields. It would give an overview of the shared patrimony with England and the Continent and show the high level of craftsmanship achieved in Ireland at that time.” Passionate that a show of this stature would “waken up the world to a staggering array of art that was manufactured in Ireland during this period,” FitzGerald, who died September 14, 2011, was a relentless advocate, insisting that the exhibition include paintings, sculpture, and architecture of the period as well as bookbinding, ceramics, glass, furniture, metalwork, musical instruments, and textiles.

By Turlough McConnell The organizers agree that this show is his legacy. Artworks are on loan from private collections in the United States and from leading art museums, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, the Yale Center for British Art, the Paul Mellon Collection, and from the Art Institute’s own holdings. Prominent private collectors represented include Picasso biographer John Richardson, Kay and Fred Krehbiel, and the Krehbiel Family Foundation and, also from Chicago, the O’Brien Collection. Irish American art collectors Brian and Eileen Burns of Florida have contributed several artworks including their noteworthy 19th century painting, “The State Ballroom, Saint Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle,” last seen publicly in New York at the Irish Consulate’s 2014 exhibition, A Monumental Legacy: Archbishop John J. Hughes and the Building of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In addition to the objects on view, the Art Institute will host talks by historians and writers who will offer colorful and detailed insights into the lives of Ireland’s artists and craftspeople of this fertile

ABOVE: Knight At The Museum. Desmond FitzGerald, the last Knight of Glin, who died in 2011, inspired the exhibition. An art historian and author, he lived in Glin Castle, County Limerick with his wife Olda and their three daughters.


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ABOVE: Two Handled Samuel Walker. Silver Cup and Cover, c. 1761 – 1766. On loan from Philadelphia Museum of Art. Samuel Walker was one of a famous family of silversmiths from Dublin. The exhibition also features an extensive collection of Irish silver objects from the San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas. ABOVE RIGHT: The Sheet of Water at Carton, County Kildare with the Duke and Duchess of Leinster and gardeners rolling a serpentine path, 1775 – 76. Private Collection. Thomas Roberts. Carton was the birthplace of patriot Lord Edward Fitzgerald, son of the first Duke and Duchess of Leinster. RIGHT: Bow Porcelain Factory. Kitty Clive as the Fine Lady, c. 1750. The Dublin-born actress, Catherine ‘Kitty’ Clive (1711-85). This model of Kitty was created by The Bow Porcelain Factory founded by Anglo-Irish painter Thomas Frye (c. 1710 – 1762) who claimed to be "the inventor and first manufacturer of bone china in England."


period. The Irish Georgian Society will convene a full day Symposium at the museum on March 21.

merican-born curator Monkhouse comes to these treasures with an interest dating from his early work as a student researching for the Irish Georgian Society as it struggled to protect buildings of architectural merit in Ireland. His distinguished career spans student years of art history at the University of Pennsylvania and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London before a 15-year stint as Curator of European and American Decorative Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. From there, he went on to the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and then the Minneapolis Art Institute. In 2007, he began his current position as the Eloise W. Martin Curator and Chair of the Department of European Decorative Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. With this exhibition, he’s come full circle back to his career roots. Monkhouse fondly recalls returning to his apartment at Castletown House in the early seventies to find it cleared by the film crew at work on Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 Oscar-winning Barry Lyndon from Thackeray’s tale of a roguishly charming 18th-century Irish adventurer. The film casts a brilliant light on the period with its attention to detail and the spirit of the time, and it garnered a host of international honors for cinematography, lighting, sets, costumes, and, especially, music performed by Ireland’s traditional group The Chieftains. Castletown House was built in Palladian style of the 1720s for William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and the wealthiest commoner in Ireland. The son of a County Donegal innkeeper in Ballyshannon, Conolly rose to become the most


powerful politician in Ireland. Located in County Kildare, the house remained in the Conolly family through 1965, opening to the public two years later. This exhibition includes an exceptionally rare pastel of the founder’s grandnephew, one Thomas Conolly, husband to Louisa Lennox who grew up in nearby Carton House. Louisa and her accomplished sisters are profiled in Stella Tillyard’s 1994 book, Aristocrats.

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“Over the years many extraordinary objects from Ireland have come to the United States and Canada ... Scattered in locations from Hawaii to Maine and from Canada to Texas. This exhibition now gathers the best of the best in Chicago.”

– Christopher Monkhouse, Exhibition Curator

Kubrick filmed additional scenes at Carton, another architectural masterpiece of the era also featured in the exhibition, and at the estate’s thatched Shell Cottage, decorated inside and out with seashells. This gem was built for Emily Lennox,

Duchess of Leinster, mother of doomed 18th-century patriot Lord Edward Fitzgerald, himself born at Carton. For two hundred years Carton was Ireland’s finest Georgian-created parkland landscape of 1,100 acres – until, in 2000, it was unfortunately converted into a golf course. The city home of the Fitzgerald family was their Dublin palace, Leinster House, present-day seat of the Oireachtas, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland. This building too served as a crossroads of inspiration when, in 1792, President George Washington laid the cornerstone for the White House, designed to reflect Leinster House by Irish-born architect James Hoban.


he idea of an Irish cultural golden age is certainly at odds with the identity that has gripped Ireland since the end of the Great Hunger and propelled Irish emigration to America. This narrative of Irish-American history is largely that of refugees rebuilding their lives an ocean away from their homeland. Under the impetus of the official 1997 Irish commemorations of Black ’47, the Famine’s most devastating year, Departments of Irish Studies at universities worldwide have begun examining the political and economic forces that underwrote the 1840s potato failure. Public monuments have been erected on both sides of the Atlantic, and Quinnipiac University has established both the Ireland’s Great Hunger

ABOVE: Exhibition curator Christopher Monkhouse, Chair and Eloise W. Martin Curator, Department of European Decorative Arts, at the Art Institute of Chicago. ABOVE CENTER: Robert Woffington First Upright Piano, 1790. Created in Dublin’s Grafton Street noted instrument workshop. On loan from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. LEFT John Kirkhoffer Walnut Secretary Cabinet, 1732. 18th-century Dublin was a booming city, attracting furniture makers and customers from England and the rest of Europe. The Kirkhoffer families were German Protestants who had fled to Ireland to escape religious persecution. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, is said to have owned one of these cabinets. Art Institute of Chicago.


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RIGHT: The State Ballroom, St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle. F.J. Davis, c.1845. This work records one of the major occasions of Dublin’s annual social calendar. Until 1922 the castle was the seat of British government rule in Ireland. It is now part of the Government of Ireland’s official buildings. On loan from the Brian P. Burns Collection of Irish Art. BELOW RIGHT: John Egan Portable Harp, c. 1820 John Egan was an Irish musical instrument maker who is considered the father of the modern Irish harp. Egan overcame the restrictions of the traditional Irish harp by creating "portables". Eighty of his classic harps are known to exist. The O’Brien Collection.

Museum to showcase a remarkable art collection and its academic partner, the Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute. These reexaminations illustrate a paradigm shift in understanding, of which the present exhibition is another welcome manifestation. Crossroads today is the creation of a future, with an identity that synthesizes the energy and the creative spark unique to Ireland that has ignited at intermittent moments during its long and troubled history. Momentum is gathering for a redefinition, a new


s Simon Schama, Columbia University professor of history and art, wrote in his review of Aristocrats, “The best histories ask us to think about important things.” The same is true of great exhibitions. Through its presentation of the cultural history of the time, Crossroads invites the kind of reflection from which important ideas emerge. Thus, the meaning of crossroads extends beyond both the current watershed moment and this exhibition. That public space, that lively intersection, referring to the fluid exchange of inspiration that has moved among Ireland, England, and America, has emerged from conflict and suppression as well as from the spirit of celebration. Old and new rivalries are embedded in this exhibition, but the top notes of accomplishment ring out a joyful song. Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690 – 1840, revives that moment of fractious ferment, a time of grand aesthetic action when the world was changing. It is timely for Ireland, and Irish America, to remember that grandeur and to carry it forward IA into our new and changing future.

“It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarreled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor they are all equal now.”

Photographs courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

– William Makepeace Thackeray, Barry Lyndon



national narrative based on the contributions of Ireland to its global and regional partners. Progress has been made toward repairing Ireland’s longstanding connections with Britain; some suggest that the renewed interest in Ireland’s earlier history began with Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Ireland in 2011 and the reciprocal state visit to the United Kingdom by Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins last year.

is to support organizations, initiatives and programs that align with our values of Health, Education, and

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music | profile

g n i h s i r e Ch anie Jo As the Cherish the Ladies 30th Anniversary Tour begins, Kristin Cotter McGowan talks to founding member, the awardwinning whistle and flute player Joanie Madden.


rish music was the soundtrack to life for Joanie Madden and other Irish American kids growing up in Woodlawn, a heavily Irish section of the Bronx, NY, back in the 1970s. “I was lucky – even if you didn’t want to hear it, or weren’t into it, you were learning Irish music by osmosis. It was sinking in,” Joanie recalls. When we speak in mid-February, she is preparing for the 30th Anniversary Tour of her musical group, Cherish the Ladies. “Anytime there was a function – a christening, a funeral, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter Sunday – the accordion was pulled out and a few tunes played. It was a big part of our youth.” Joanie’s father, Joe Madden, an All-Ireland accordion champion from Galway, headed a popular 13-piece band for years, playing weddings and county dances. “My father opened doors for me that the average Irish-American kid didn’t get to experience because he was a great musician and so well respected. He was a carpenter by day and played four or five gigs a week at night and he would do weddings practically every Saturday.” Joe Madden’s daughter, you’d think, would take to music effortlessly, but her first attempts at fiddle and piano fell flat. It wasn’t until a family friend, Mary Naughton, visited the house with her tin whistle that it clicked. “As soon as I heard it, I was like, ‘This is it.’ I don’t know what it was about the instrument but I was addicted from the get go. I used to run home at lunchtime just to play. I’d play before school and after school. I just adored it.” Joanie started lessons with Jack Coen, a National Heritage Award winner, and one of the flute players in her father’s band. “The crazy thing about it was that I had known Jack all my life. I have pictures of me crawling through his feet – but I had never heard him play a whistle,” she recalls. When she was 13, Joanie moved north, away from


Joanie Madden, the her old neighborhood and renowned whistle lessons with Jack Coen. and flute player. “We moved to Yorktown Heights where my father’s great friend Sean McGlynn gave me a silver flute.” She really didn’t want the flute at the time. (Most trad purists turn up their noses at traditional Irish music played on a silver flute instead of wooden one.) Still, she practiced endlessly trying to master the fingerings on the silver flute. It was hard going. “I was at a session when Mike Preston, a great flute player, grabbed me and said, ‘Give me that flute. Don’t you play any other note until you can make this bottom D sound like this. Don’t play any other note! It’s not about your fingering, it’s about the tone.” “For two weeks I went around playing that bottom D until I understood what he meant, and I got this raspy, woody sound. “So, I had these great guys always giving me tidbits, but basically I taught myself the flute. There’s a few things I’m doing wrong, but anyway, we’ve managed to fool people. I’ve gotten away with it,” she laughs. Joanie is self-effacing but make no mistake, she’s a brilliant flute player. And her decision to stick to a silver flute instead of wooden one was validated when at 16, playing in a flute workshop at the Philadelphia Irish Festival, Chieftains member Matt Malloy approached her. “The god, the King of the Flute Players! He said to me, ‘Jesus, I’ve never heard anybody make one of those things sound like you do.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve been trying to find a wooden flute, and I can’t find one.’ And he said, ‘Well, if I were you I’d never switch. You make it sound like a wooden one

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and you have all the keys. Don’t switch.’ “So once Matt Malloy told me that, that’s all I needed to hear,” she laughs. Classical flautist James Galway also gave a boost to Joanie’s confidence. “He was standing behind my back listening to me for a half hour and I didn’t know he was there. When I turned around he said, ‘Your tone is remarkable.’ He asked me where I studied and I said, the kitchen table. I’m just trying to mimic those old flute players.” The two wound up doing a couple of shows together. “He’s in a whole different league. I can’t do what he does, but then again, he can’t do what I do,” Joanie says. “The funny thing about it is there are only two silver flute players who ever won the All-Ireland Championships – myself, and believe it or not, Michael Flatley. I have a few wooden flutes in the house, but when you’re playing with the band and the singers are in E-flat, B-flat, I have a lot more flexibility with keys playing the silver flute. It works.” For all her prowess as a flautist, Joanie still loves and plays the whistle, switching between the two instruments during concerts. And though she never had a formal lesson with her, it was Mary Bergin, whose mastery of the whistle opened Joanie’s ears to the instrument’s potential. “I was at a house party – Billy Connors’s house –

with my parents after the Yorktown Heights Feis and I heard this music playing in the background. ‘What instrument is that?’ I asked Billy. And keep in mind I had just come from winning first place at the Feis in the under 14’s on whistle. “‘That’s Mary Bergin playing the whistle,’ he said. And I said, ‘No, no, I play the whistle, that’s not a whistle – it can’t do that.’ Then I realized my God, it is the whistle. “Well, the next day I went down to the Tara Gift Shop with my mother and bought Mary’s album, ‘Feadóga Stáin.’ When I realized I couldn’t play along with her because she was playing all different keyed whistles, I went back to the gift shop, bought every keyed whistle they had, and played that record all night into the morning until I could play Side A and Side B. At first I was only able to get one or two notes in for every one of her 50, but I kept at it and eventually I could play along with her.” “Mary Bergin, for me, is what every whistle player should aspire to – pure trad. She just came out with a book on playing the whistle and asked me to write the foreword, and actually we’re both being honored at the Catskills Irish Arts Week. I’m really thrilled about that,” she says.

TOP LEFT: With the Clancy Brothers and Robbie O’Connell. ABOVE: Cherish the Ladies. LEFT: Joanie and her dad, the late Joe Madden, at the Cliffs of Moher.


Cherish the Ladies was formed in the 1980s when Mick Maloney, folklorist and musicologist, gathered Joanie Madden, Eileen Ivers, and some of their fellow women musicians for a series of concerts that Joanie dubbed “Cherish the Ladies,” after an Irish jig of the same name. The concerts proved immensely popular, and


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music | profile Joanie saw the potential. “I went to the girls and said, ‘If you quit your jobs, I promise I’ll keep you working.’” And she has. Over the course of 30 years the group has gone from playing small parish halls to selling out performing arts centers around the world. And last year, the Ladies won an Emmy for their PBS Special “An Irish Homecoming,” with vocalist Maura O’Connell. But looking back on the last 30 years, Joanie admits that her chosen path was not always easy. “It’s a tough career. It’s fantastic, but you’ve got to work very hard. “When I think about years ago trying to book gigs and find the venues with no Internet or cell phones . . .” she pauses before continuing. “I remember a time we were to play in Kansas City – but there’s a Kansas City, Kansas, and a Kansas City, Missouri, and I sent half the band to the wrong state! And there was no way to call them!” Life is so much easier now, she admits. “But when people comment, ‘Oh, you’ve got the life of Riley,’ you want to haul off and slap them one,’” she says laughing. In its 30 years, Cherish the Ladies has proved to be a solid launching pad for solo careers for such founding members as Eileen Ivers and Cathie Ryan. And Winnie Horan went on to become a founding member of Solas. Some members come and go and some remain. “Mary Coogan [who plays the guitar, mandolin and the banjo], and I have been here 30 years,” but they all have something in common. “All of us in the group have a similar story, growing up with fathers who played music – it was a large part of our upbringing. We try to be the real deal. A lot of the music we write ourselves sounds like it’s a couple hundred years old,” she says. For the anniversary tour, many old friends will join the group for guest performances. “We have singers Maura O’Connell doing some of the shows and Cathie Ryan doing some. It’s an evolving thing,” says Joanie. But there’s one thing the audience can be sure of. “People know that when they come to see Cherish the Ladies there’s going to be great music, great singing, and great dancing. And they’re going to have a great time.” In addition to the anniversary tour, Joanie will be hosting her fourth annual Folk ’n Irish Cruise this spring where she will be joined by an astonishing arena of musicians, singers, and dancers, 86 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015

including Maura O’Connell, Tommy Sands, Cathie Ryan, the Pride of Moyvane Ceili Band, and many others. “When I do the cruise I always get people who I know are going to get along together. I don’t want any attitudes. The people that are coming are so fun. “I did my first cruise with the Clancy Brothers and did a total of 16 with them.” Eventually, Joanie continued the tradition on her own. She estimates close to 700 guests will ship out this spring from New York to Port Canaveral, Florida, and on to Great Stirrup Cay, Nassau, Bahamas. Aboard the ship, guests will enjoy traditional Irish sessions, sing-a-longs, and set dancing – even some ceili dance instruction. “We’re a mixture of a lot of trad music, ballad singing, and dance music with lots of set dancing and waltzing and jiving. It’s a great time.” It’s a moot point to say that Joanie Madden’s ear for music, coupled with her focused commitment to the craft, is widely recognized. In addition to playing on over 200 albums, winning a Grammy Award, and being the youngest member inducted into both the Irish-American Musicians Hall of Fame and the Comhaltas Coeltoiri Hall of Fame, and being the top-selling whistle player in history, having sold over 500,000 solo albums, she’s also received an Ellis Island Medal for exemplary service to the United States. Still, sometimes she just wants to pinch herself to see if it’s all real. “I just took a booking today for December of 2016 – we’re going to Japan,” she says with glee. Here, Joanie slips into her father’s Galway accent to remark, “As my father used to say, ‘For God sakes, you couldn’t keep a dog, a plant, a man, or a child alive with your touring.’ So I do have fake plants in the house here in Yonkers, and outside, I have a sprinkler system.” She admits that music is her life. “I eat, sleep, and drink Cherish the Ladies. I’ve committed myself to the band and its success. It’s been an incredible ride and I’m so honored. I wouldn’t trade my life . . . when I think of what I’ve done and what I’ve gotten to see, and what we’ve accomplished.” And when she’s not on the road? “I live in Yonkers, only a mile from where I grew up in Woodlawn. I lots of friends that I’ve known for years. I have my house and my garden, and my new home in Ireland. Between it all I’m kept very busy. I have a home recording studio here and people send me tracks all the time. I have 14 nieces and nephews. There’s never a dull moment. I feel so lucky that I’ve gotten to make a living playing music. “It’s a great life.” IA Joanie and a gang of musicians, including virtuoso fiddle-player Eileen Ivers, at the first New York Trad Fest.


A world of potential. A world without poverty.

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Romance and A Tale of

The early 20th century finds Nora Kelly fleeing her native Chicago from a love affair gone wrong. Landing in Paris, she meets up with Irish revolutionaries – Peter, the librarian at the College des Irlandais who instructs her in ancient Irish history, and Fr. Kevin who introduces her to Maud Gonne. Meanwhile, through her job sketching designs for dressmaker Madame Simone, she also meets some of the great artists of the day including the writer Gertrude Stein.


hat night I settle in with my books and Beaujolais and a decent enough fire in my cozy room overlooking the place des Vosges. No reason why a scholar can’t have a bit of comfort is there? Maybe I’ll bring a bottle of wine to share with Peter tomorrow. Now to the reading. I start with Winifred Faraday’s translation of the Táin. Except the stories are hard to follow. Not as exciting as when Peter was striding around chanting and expostulating. Surprising the fire in the fellow. Guided by Winifred, I follow Maeve and her army as they cross into Ulster going after a bull. And then, here come the men of Ulster. Except these armies don’t go at each other in pitched battle. Each selects a warrior to fight in single combat. Civilized. Though this one fellow, Cuchulainn, becomes possessed by a “battle rage” and demolishes every opponent. I turn to the last pages to see how the tale ends. In the final combat Cuchulainn fights his foster brother, Ferdia. Winifred provides a note explaining that noble families in Ireland sent their children to be raised by other high-ranking families to create alliances. They battle to the death – Ferdia’s. And then comes the verse after the verse where Cuchulainn laments the death of his foster brother. Sad.

I close the book. I wonder would Tim McShane have been sorry and crying over my body after his rage had passed. This story’s from how many thousands of years ago? And now? The King of England, the Kaiser of Germany, and the Czar of Russia are all cousins. Will they be at each other’s throats soon like Cuchulainn and Ferdia? At our next session Peter has the Kelly fragment out again. Peter is good-looking, no question. I can watch him without him noticing, so intent is he on the manuscript page. I move my hand closer to his. “Nora, pay attention,” he says. The humpbacked letters in the manuscript stand so companionably together. For a moment I’m back in Sister Mary Matthew’s first-grade class trying to write a row of “A”s – capital and small – followed by “B”s and “C”s down through the alphabet. But they are people to me – alive. The tall “A” is the father, the round “B” is the mother, and the little “a”s and “b”s their children, and so I put them all together and then invite the “C” and “D” cousins, the “E” and “F” neighbors over until my paper’s a real hodgepodge. Sister Mary Matthew’s annoyed. How can a girl as bright as I am be so disorganized? By third grade I see that the letters have to give up their personalities for the sake of the word, obey the rules, fit in, and the words must serve the story. But here the letters are free and alive – not uniform at all. I imagine a scribe drawing them, making each unique. I say as much to Peter and point to the serpent curled around a capital “P.” “Good observation,” he says. “Each scribe had an individual style. Some wrote notes in the margins, comments on the weather. There are verses even.” He tells me he visited an abbey in Austria and examined an ancient Latin manuscript that contained a poem in old Irish. Some ninth century monk wrote about his cat Pangur Bán. “The cat catches mice the way the monk catches words,” Peter says. He lifts his hand, grabs an imaginary mouse, then closes his fist. The moves are so quick and unexpected that I actually cry out. “Didn’t mean to startle you,” he says. I pat his arm.

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Revolution “I’m fine,” I say, and I swear he looks down at my hand in a way that makes me want to keep my fingers there. I lift my hand. Muscles in that arm. “Another monk drew a dog,” he says. “What?” I think of how strong he must be, slender as he is. “In your Kelly manuscript there’s a very realistic sketch of a dog with a long tail.” “Where,” I say, bending so close to the piece of vellum my shoulder touches his. “Not here,” Peter says. “The Book of Uí-Máine, The Book of the O’Kellys is in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. I was allowed to examine it once.” “Once! Jesus. I’d think you’d want to pore over the thing.” “Of course I would. But I’m not a member – and can’t be.” “Why not?” “Costs too much and they don’t welcome Below: The chapel at College des Irelandaisa Catholics.” and a page from Labhair “What? Who’s ‘they’?” Uí Maine, also known as “The administration. Headed by Lord Somebodythe Book of the Kellys. or-other.” “But that’s outrageous! That’s a Kelly book.” “It’s the same with all the ancient manuscripts. The Book of Kells is astounding, one of the world’s great masterpieces – I’ve only ever been able to see one page.” “But Peter, wasn’t it Catholic monks wrote the damn things?” Now I’ve offended him with my language. But he only shakes his head and then nods. “They did indeed.” “Well then?” “Most of the great books of Ireland were destroyed. Cromwell’s soldiers cleaned their boots with the pages. The monks and families like yours risked their lives to save some. Others were stolen, but at least the thieves were intelligent enough to sell them to places like the British Museum or the Royal Irish Academy, but they’re still kept from the people.” “I wonder why nobody railed on about this at the Clan na Gael picnics. I never heard my Uncle Patrick talk about stolen manuscripts and he had chapter and verse on the English atrocities,” I say. “If you consider that Cromwell slaughtered all but three hundred thousand of the Irish population and a million starved to death during

the Great Starvation, stealing a manuscript doesn’t count for much,” Peter says. “You don’t believe that,” I say. He takes a breath. “I don’t. They tried to erase our very identity, to stamp out who we really are.” And he pounds his fist on the table. “But they failed and these very manuscripts might help defeat them,” he says. “Right,” I say. “Change our notion of who we Irish are. Why, just meeting Maeve makes me think of myself differently. And . . .” But Peter cuts me off. “A more direct role for this page. The cause needs money. The new Home Rule Bill is being moved through Parliament right now. And this time we have the votes to pass it. But the Protestant unionists in Belfast are pressuring the British government to stop the bill. An MP called Edward Carson got five hundred thousand unionists to APRIL / MAY 2015 IRISH AMERICA 89

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sign a covenant saying they’ll resist Home Rule by any means necessary. He’s that organized. The Ulster Volunteers say they’ll take up arms to stop Home Rule. And they have the money to buy weapons.” What James McCarthy said that first day at the Panthéon. “Dear God,” I say. “The men of Ireland against the men of Ulster.” “And Carson’s not even from the North. Born and raised in Dublin. Held the Trinity University seat in Parliament. Worse, his mother’s family are from Galway,” says Peter. “Carson spent his summers there. Funny about these big-house families. Some get to know the country people and become nationalists. Carson’s cousin from down the road, Edward Martyn, works for the Cause. But others . . .” Now, this is when I start to see the web of connecting families woven through Ireland. In many ways so like Bridgeport, where every conversation starts with whose cousin married whom, what childhood friends have wed. “Now if the British think that we have a counterforce that’s armed too, that’ll make Top to bottom: Marshall them think twice,” he explains. “The Ulster VolunField’s, Chicago 1910, teers are buying guns from Germany, where the best where Nora, the heroine weapons are produced,” Peter says. “And there are of Irish Blood worked before fleeing to Paris. German universities eager to buy Celtic manuAn ancient map of scripts.” He explains that professors from Germany Connacht, the anceshad been coming to Ireland for years to study the toral home the Kellys. Author Mary Pat Kelly, Irish language and translate the manuscripts, more Taoiseach Enda Kenny, or less shaming the British into valuing this herand publisher Tom itage. “So, do I have your permission?” he asks. Doherty celebrate the “What?” book’s release. “Providential, really, that a member of the Kelly clan appears just as I discover this fragment that can become a real weapon. But . . .” “Wait,” I say. “Are you asking me if you can sell it?” I touch the page. He nods. “And Father Rector agrees?” “Father Kevin doesn’t think he needs to know,” Peter says. And here comes Father Kevin through the door and talking as he walks over to us. Waiting to make his entrance, I guess. “We have this wonderful concept in religious life called ‘interpreting permission’—acting first and telling the superior later,” he says. “Useful,” I say. “Pages of Irish manuscripts like your Kelly book are scattered all over the world,” Father Kevin says. “We’ll never know where most of them are, let alone ever get them back. And if any do turn up, the British will claim them in the name of the United Kingdoms of Britain and Ireland. What do you say, Nora?” “I say yes. You have my permission on behalf of, well, the Kellys.” Peter stands up. So do I. Father Kevin shakes my hand then and Peter does 90 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

the same. Do I imagine he holds on for a few extra seconds? We smile. Comrades. Conspirators. “Now, Nora,” Father Kevin says, “you won’t mention the Kelly fragment to anyone, will you?” “No.” “Good,” he says. “Don’t tell a soul.” “Why? Are there British agents around?” And I laugh. But they don’t. Father Kevin lowers his voice. “Not a joke, Nora,” he says. “We are watched. The British know Paris has been a refuge for Irish patriots for centuries. The government would just confiscate the page, and if they found out what we planned, well . . .” “But surely you are safe enough in Paris.” Father Kevin shakes his head. “Last year a young Irish student was arrested by the French police. He was accused of spying for Germany because he’d traveled back and forth to Berlin studying with a professor of Celtic languages there. Deported and we knew the Special Branch would be waiting for him in Dublin,” Father Kevin says. “Gosh, poor kid. What happened to him?” “We managed to get him on a ship to America. Of course, he is in exile now and can never return to Ireland.” “But if he becomes an American citizen, he can come and go as he pleases,” I say. “The British don’t recognize naturalized American citizens. If you’re born in Ireland, you are their subject forever,” Peter says. “But that’s not fair,” I say. “Like so many things, Nora,” Father Kevin says. I must admit I do look behind me a time or two as I walk home and even cross the street so as not to pass the Palais de Justice. Though a part of me hears Sister Veronica’s reprimand, “You exaggerate to make yourself important, Nora Kelly,” after I explained that I couldn’t help being late because a horse cart had collided with a delivery wagon on Archer Avenue. In Chicago maybe we didn’t have the grandeur of Paris but at least there we Irish are the police. And then it’s Christmas Eve. IA Of Irish Blood | Hardcover | 512 pages | $25 Published by FORGE a Tom Doherty Associates Book.

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review of books | recently published books When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys


By Thomas Maier

he two dynastic pillars of the 20th century were arguably the Kennedy and Churchill families, and now in Thomas Maier’s When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys, their lives and deaths are engrossingly brought together. Maier has a keen eye for detail and offers up salacious anecdotes about the background dramas that colored their lives, the tragedies that beset them, and the curious ways the families’ lives intersected. The story of the Churchill and Kennedy families is grounded in the patriarchs, Winston and Joe. Maier’s story is at once about the incredible bonds between fathers and sons and the double-edged sword of fame. The best parts of the book are those that center on the families in the 1930s. As Joe ascended politically, Churchill was relegated to his “wilderness years.” Maier does not hold back on the braided love lives of both the men and women of the two families. Many times it seems the strongest ties that bound Kennedy and Churchill were through paramours like Clare Boothe Luce, the wife of the founder of Time magazine, who had affairs with both Joe Kennedy and Randolph Churchill. The major drama however, centered on

Joe Kennedy’s time as ambassador to England, when his vitriolic statements of Nazi appeasement angered FDR, the British public, and especially Churchill. During his tenure, Kennedy was embroiled in a Nazi spy crisis and was shunned by Churchill’s

government, which left him floundering in his own wilderness. The book does lose its way towards the end. Maier faithfully captures the tragedy of both families – the deaths of Joe Jr. and Kick Kennedy, the divorce of Randolph and Pamela Churchill, the suicide of Churchill’s daughter Diana – but the rest of the family members appear as extras, not a supporting cast. The ties that unite the two families by the 1950s are tenuous. JFK is dutifully brought to life, including his fascination with Ireland (he interviewed Éamon de Valera and visited with his sister in 1947) and his admiration for the works of Churchill. Maier seems at strides to connect Churchill


Compassionate Stranger: Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine


By Maureen O’Rourke Murphy

reland’s Great Hunger still haunts the historical memory of many Irish and Irish-Americans, but the name Asenath Nicholson (though not entirely forgotten by historians) should be remembered by all who contemplate the Great Famine, as Maureen O’Rourke Murphy’s new book, Compassionate Stranger: Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine, makes clear. Nicholson is sometimes remembered for her role in detailing the conditions of the rural Irish poor before the famine. But when the combined effects of dependency on a single crop, the arrival of the potato blight, and the detached and intransigent policies of laissez-faire London brought on the most desperate years in Ireland, Nicholson was also there to record it all as she redoubled her calls for financial assistance while tirelessly administering whatever aid she could. Compassionate Stranger is the culmination of fifty years of punctilious research written as an accessi-

and JFK, mentioning many times how “alike” Kennedy and Churchill’s prose sound, but offering no critical insight. Still, in the end we are left with a thoroughly told and fascinatingly detailed account of the Churchill and Kennedy families that brims with revelation and showcases the dynamic relationship between these roaring dynasties.

– Matthew Skwiat (Crown / 732pp / $30)

ble biographical-narrative, which recalls Nicholson’s fascinating life and her role in both American and Irish history. Utilizing Nicholson’s writings and archival material from the United States, Ireland, and Britain, Murphy was able to overcome the challenges of writing a comprehensive life of a lesserknown woman of the 19th century. Murphy’s research also reveals Nicholson as an outspoken American woman politically and socially committed. She was a vehemently anti-Masonic temperance reformer and an active journalist who later ran a boarding house populated by her colleagues in the abolitionist movement. Some of the most rewarding aspects of Compassionate Stranger come with Murphy’s astute analysis of how Nicholson’s early involvement in U.S. politics and her quest for reform later influenced her activity in Ireland. Compassionate Stranger is not only a notable academic achievement but is also a readable and tantalizing story of one powerful woman’s drive to bring justice to the marginalized. The book itself does this job as well, as it does justice, at least in the case of one woman, to the role of women all too often left on the margins of historiography.

– R. Bryan Willits (Syracuse UP / 440pp / $39.95)

Briefly Noted

The Cinderella Murder

By Mary Higgins Clarke & Alafair Burke

The first of the new Under Suspicion series following TV producer Laurie Moran as she works through cold case files on air. Eerie coincidences ensue.

World Gone By By Dennis Lehane

(Simon & Schuster)

A new historical novel set in Cuba and Florida, from the author of Shutter Island and Mystic River, combines psychological realism with mystery and (William Morrow) vigor.

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The Dirty Dust (Cré na Cille)


By Máirtín Ó Cadhain, trans. Alan Titley

áirtín Ó Cadhain’s Cré na Cille is one of the, if not the, most important books written in the Irish language in the 20th century. Published serially in 1949, Cré na Cille, traditionally rendered as “churchyard clay,” now receives its long overdue first complete translation into English in Alan Titley’s (much more sonorous, if not necessarily steadfast, rendering) The Dirty Dust. Anyone who has participated in the cacophony of personal and professional grievances aired at the corporate holiday party gone late into a work night will find a kinship in the book. Talk is cheap, the business cliché goes, but in The Dirty Dust, it is, quite literally, all there is. The book is set in a graveyard (the “churchyard clay”) and the characters are dead. The time, as the table of contents informs, is “For Ever.” And the narrative,

such as it is, is written exclusively in dialogue – sometimes as coherent conversations (though “conversation” is a generous term for the captiousness found in Ó Cadhain’s graveyard), and sometimes as overheard bits of carping. Here, tombstone material, French lessons, inheritances, debt, Hitler, writer’s block, crop yields, and

Reluctantly Charmed By Ellie O’Neill


llie O’Neill’s debut novel, Reluctantly Charmed, is a modern-day fairy tale filled with love spells and embarrassing parents, inept bosses and David Hasselhoff. Our heroine, Kate McDaid, is scraping by as an advertising copywriter with a bad crush on an undeserving lead guitarist when she learns that she is – or could be – the recipient of a mysterious inheritance. As the first female in the bloodline for many generations, Kate is bequeathed on her twenty-sixth birthday an unknown estate from her great-great-great-grandfather’s sister, who shared her name. To claim her birthright, Kate has one simple task: to publish seven poems, or

times tables are all of equal import for complaint. In Titley’s hands, Ó Cadhain’s stamina, verve, and crudities are preserved. Titley’s translation isn’t always the most “accurate,” but for the English introduction to a groundbreaking Irish language novel, he maintains Ó Cadhain’s treatment of modernism while brandishing a 21st century brashness, achieving something of the effect Ó Cadhain would have had on his original Irish language readers. And, unlike the holiday party, the one thing the dialogue never does is stagnate.

Young Skins


By Colin Barrett

lanbeigh, the fictional Everytown of Mayo native Colin Barrett’s Young Skins, is “nowhere you have been, but you know its ilk,” asserts the narrator of the collection’s opening short story. Barrett borrows from the techniques of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, immediately setting his debut book in the tradition of literary giants – the small-town story tropes of stagnation, loneliness, and longing abound. But in Barrett’s hands, they don’t feel tired or overdone. The specter of violence hangs over the tales; sometimes it is the threat of violence to come, and sometimes the ghost of violence past, as in “Stand Your Skin,” where a random act of rage perpetrated against Eamon “Bat” Battigan several years before the story’s action continues to haunt his life. Despite the pervasive violence and anger, many of Barrett’s stories end with a hopeful or redemptive turn, giving the collection a feeling of freshness. In a recent interview with the Paris Review, Barrett said, “Give the characters the good lines, give them the best.” Young Skins, Barrett’s debut, masters dialogue, the damning and the humorous. In “The Moon,” a young woman accuses a – Adam Farley local bouncer of liking the town almost too (Yale / 328pp / $25) much. She follows the accusation by dividing Glanbeigh into two sets: those who leave and those who stay, claiming that to those who stay, a city like Galway (barely two hours from most of Mayo) “might as well be the moon.” Though some of the characters who leave do come back, it is often not by choice, like the unnamed alcoholic narrator of “Diamonds” who returns to Glanbeigh only as an alternative to suicide. He attempts to find a different sort of oblivion in the routine he establishes there, but finds he can’t escape the ghost of the outside world when he goes home with a fellow AA member – the framed photo next to her bed isn’t of her family, but the Siberian mine where her son’s “steps,” delivered straight from her ancestor’s father works. communication with the fairies. Skeptical, but Barrett’s prose is clean, game, Kate dives headfirst into a world of blogs lyrical, funny, and heartand St. John’s Wort, magic and danger. Along the breaking as he tackles maway she makes some very powerful enemies, and terial that could easily be is faced with a choice that could have devastating depressing or hackneyed. consequences. The streets of Dublin and the town His skill has not gone unof Knocknamee make a gorgeous backdrop for celebrated; in 2014 Young Kate’s adventures. Skins received the Frank O’Neill’s writing is sharp, funny, and authenO’Connor International tic, and she brings us a believable – and truly Short Story Award, the likable – protagonist in the most unlikely of cirGuardian First Book cumstances. Reluctantly Charmed is a first effort Award, and the Rooney that will bring O’Neill plenty of fans, while Prize for Irish Literature. reminding her readers to keep an eye out for The accolades are well – Kara Rota magic in surprising places. deserved. – Julia Brodsky (Touchstone / 448pp / $16.99)

(Grove / 224pp / $15)


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crossword | Across

1 See 15 across (4) 4 Nobody puts her in a corner (4) 8 Short company (2) 9 Arkansas, in short (2) 10 (& 42 down) Tipperary native in Better Call Saul (5) 11 Prehistoric passage tomb in County Meath (9) 13 A twitter term meaning to retweet or copy someone’s tweet to your followers (2) 15 (& 1 across) Ireland’s G.A.A. HQ (5) 17 See 20 across (5) 18 It won the 1978 Tony Award for Best Play (2) 20 (& 17 across) Strong woman star of Brooklyn (5) 22 See 12 down (7) 25 Long-running musical, set in Germany, starring Alan Cumming (7) 26 Everyone’s favorite little orphan (5) 28 (& 30 down) Makers of the ball for NYC’s December 31 celebrations (9) 31 Japanese wrestling (4) 32 The top of a house or building (4) 33 Native county of Chris O’Dowd (9) 35 This year’s Oscar-winning Best Picture (7)

By Darina Molloy

37 Makers of a red lemonade fondly remembered by Irish kids of the 1960s and ’70s (2) 39 Native Irish chocolate brand (7) 40 Pen name of George Russell (2) 44 Home to Michael Connelly’s Bosch (2) 45 (& 48 across) Author and playwright of 18 across (4) 47 (& 29 down) NY-based, Derry-born boxer turned actor (4) 48 See 45 across (7) 50 See 24 down (7) 51 Galway theatre company not averse to worldwide travel and renown (5) 52 Ireland’s king of the potato crisps or chips (5) 53 See 41 down (1, 5) 54 The ancestor of modern Scandinavian languages (5)


1 Common occurrence on March 17 (6) 2 New baby son of Chris O’Dowd and Dawn O’Porter (3) 3 A lot of Kilkenny cars bear these two letters (1, 1) 4 See 46 down (6) 5 An ancient aye (2) 6 In slang or text speak, this means ‘fingers crossed’ (1, 1)

Win a subscription to Irish America magazine

7 Restaurant and cookery school run by the Allen family (10) 8 See 16 down (8) 12 (& 22 across) “We Found Love Right Where We Are” singer (2) 14 Island off the coast of Cork (4) 16 (& 8 down) Tourist spot featured in the poignant One Million Dubliners documentary (9) 19 Actor _____ Quinn (5) 21 The lake isle of __________ (9) 23 Gwyneth Paltrow played this Jane Austen character (4)

Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than May 1, 2015. 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: Leonard O’Connell, Bear, DE.


24 (& 50 across) Political satirist tipped to replace David Letterman this year (7) 27 Cork, as Gaeilge (8) 29 See 47 across (5) 30 See 28 across (7) 34 (& 38 down) Lead actor in 35 across (7) 35 Inter (4) 36 ____ Hewson or Mrs. Bono (3) 38 See 34 down (6)

41 (& 53 across) Writer of Long Day’s Journey Into Night (6) 42 See 10 across (6) 43 Amazonian e-reader (6) 46 (& 4 down) This singer was meant to play Croke Park but it all went pear-shaped (5) 49 Units of time (4)

February / March Solution

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Authentic Irish Foods

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Meat andOFPotatoes LIFE THE


n Irish saying has it that “A dinner is not a dinner at all but only an excuse for one if it does not contain a plate of meat.” It’s a good bet that America’s penchant for “meat and potatoes” was cultivated by the immigrants who flocked here from Ireland, where meals built around meat have a long history. Tracing the tradition requires journeying back to the days of the High Kings, when a chieftain’s wealth was determined by his cattle holdings. Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), the early 12th century epic in the Ulster Cycle of hero tales, recounts how a war erupted over the theft of a bull. Mebh, queen of Connaught, lost a dispute with her husband Ailill over who was wealthier because his herd contained a fine white bull and hers, alas, did not. Vowing to best him, she set out to steal Ulster’s even finer brown bull. Despite the fact that Mebh’s army was slaughtered by the Ulstermen, she succeeded. When Mebh returned to Connaught, her brown bull defeated Ailill’s white animal and peace was restored to the royal household. Long ago, the vast majority of animals in Ireland’s herds were dairy cows rather than bulls. Beef came from unwanted bull calves, cows past milk-giving years, and animals that died accidentally. Dairy cows were more prized because they provided a constant and virtually free supply of milk, butter, and cheese. The importance of dairy cows is illustrated in Odhar Chiarain (St Ciaran’s Cow), which appears in the 12th-century Leabhar na hUidre (Book of the Dun Cow). When the saint left home to study with St. Finian, his parents refused to give him one of their precious milk-cows. Trusting God to provide a miracle, Ciaran blessed a dun-colored cow in his father’s herd and the animal followed him to the monastery Clonmacnoise where it provided enough milk to satisfy not only Ciaran but all the students at the school. Many of the 7th and 8th-century Brehon Laws 96 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015


pertain to cattle. Records show that the king of Leinster delivered a hundred head of each kind of cattle to his Munster overlord. Tenant farmers paid their landholders an annual rent of one yearling and one twoyear-old bullock. The rulings even stipulated which cuts were appropriate for each class: “the haunch for the king, bishop and literary scholar, a leg for the young chief, the heads for the charioteers and a steak for the queen.” Cattle also served as financial barter exchanges. Culdee


TOP: An Irish bull with his family of cows and calves. BELOW: A 19th century cooking pot hangs over an over fire in this photo from A History of Ireland in 100 Objects.

ntil the latter half of the 20th century, an abundance of beef only graced the tables of the Irish gentry. The vast majority of the population subsisted on oatmeal, milk and potatoes, and when a household was fortunate enough to acquire some meat, ingenious cooks found ways to use every little piece. Irish stew (made with lamb or beef) is a prime example of culinary thrift. Cooked with carrots, onions and potatoes in a three-legged “bastable” iron pot with a curved lid that even the poorest homes possessed, it hung from a hook above glowing embers and simmered slowly for hours. The same pot, when stood on the hearth’s flagstone base amid the smoldering peat with its lid inverted and more coals piled on top, served as an oven. Sometimes onions and a bit of broth were added to the “pot roast” during cooking. In both cases, as the juices braised the meat, even the toughest cuts turned tender and flavorful. On those occasions when a whole haunch was spit-roasted on Sunday, leftover slices could be warmed in gravy and ladled over soda bread slabs for Monday dinner, chopped and covered with onions and mashed potatoes for a cottage pie on Tuesday, and if any bits still remained, ground up with carrots and onions and baked as roast beef hash on Wednesday!

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sláinte | recipes monks charged a yearly tuition and boarding fee of one calf, several hogs, three sacks of malt and a sack of wheat. If a student could recite his lessons well, the monks earned an additional payment of one milk-cow. Irish beef has always been famed for its flavor, and the best was reserved for lords’ tables. The 9th century tale of Fled Bricrenn explains why the meat served at a lavish banquet was so succulent: “a lordly cow that is also seven years old, since it was a calf has eaten nothing but heather and twigs and fresh milk and herbs and meadow grass and corn [oats].” Because there wasn’t enough fodder to support entire herds through the winter, weaker animals were slaughtered and the meat was preserved with salt. Since ‘corn’ originally meant any small particle, including salt, the process became known as “corning.” In the Brehon Laws corned beef was referred to as “winter food” while “summer food” meant cheeses and curds, also known as “whitemeats.” While many modern Irish immigrants say they never ate corned beef in Ireland, in the 11th century poem “Aislinge meic Conglinne” it is listed as a “delicious prodigious viand” that appears in the author’s dream of a land of milk and honey where he encountered “many wonderful provisions, pieces of every palatable food… perpetual joints of corned beef.” With cattle having been the measure of personal wealth since prehistory, it was natural for cattle to evolve as a cornerstone of the national economy. Beginning in the 13th century, Ireland began trading beef and cattle offshore. By the mid-17th century so many live animals were being shipped to England that British farmers were suffering. To rectify the situation, Parliament passed the Cattle Acts of 1663 and 1666, placing a tariff on every animal brought into the country and eventually banning the importation of live Irish cattle entirely. With barely a hiccup, the Irish Provision Trade was established to export two of the most traditional Irish cattle products: butter and corned beef. County Cork became one of the largest slaughtering and processing centers in the British Isles. By 1776, Cork City was shipping 109,052 barrels of corned beef and tons of butter throughout the British Empire, Europe and America, earning it the titles of the Slaughterhouse of Ireland and the Butter Capital of Europe. During the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, the British Army’s primary provision was corned beef from Cork. By the end of the 19th century, Ireland had become one of Europe’s most important suppliers of cattle, and cattle-farming remains one of Ireland’s major industries yet today. With Irish beef now being shipped round the world, millions can enjoy a proper “plate of meat” at dinnertime without IA waiting for a holiday celebration. Sláinte!

RECIPES Braised Steaks in Guinness

(Classic Irish Recipes Georgina Campbell)

4 round steaks 8 ounces sliced mushrooms 1 large onion, peeled and chopped roughly 2 medium carrots, sliced in 1⁄4 inch rounds 8 ounces Guinness 1 sprig of thyme salt and fresh ground black pepper oil for frying

Preheat the oven to 350F. While the oven is heating, warm a little oil in a large frying pan and brown the steaks quickly on both sides. Remove steaks from the pan and set aside. Add a little more oil to the frying pan if necessary, saute the mushrooms and onion in oil for a few minutes until they begin to wilt, then spread the mixture and the sliced over vegetables of a medium ovenproof baking dish. Lay the steaks over the vegetables. Barely cover all with Guinness. Float the thyme sprig in the liquid and season the pan contents with salt and pepper. Cover the dish with a lid or tinfoil and braise in the oven for 1 – 1½ hours or until the meat is tender. Makes 4 servings.

Gaelic Steak Fit For A Queen

(personal recipe)

1 8 – 12 ounce sirloin steak, room temp. salt and pepper 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp Irish Whiskey 3 tbsp heavy cream

Season steak with salt and pepper. Put butter in a preheated black iron frying pan (don’t use a non-stick pan as you can’t get it hot enough!). When the butter foams, add the steak. Maintain the temperature and sear the steak on both sides to seal in the juices. Reduce heat and cook, turning only one time, to preferred rare, medium or well done. Pour whiskey over the steak and carefully set alight. When the flame dies down, remove steak to a warmed dish. Add cream to the pan juices, mix well, and boil to reduce a bit, then pour over the steak. Serve immediately. Makes 1 – 2 servings.

Cottage Pie

(personal recipe)

3 cups minced leftover roast beef 2 large onions thinly sliced 1 to 2 cups roast beef gravy, warmed 4 cups mashed potatoes, warm 1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole. Place minced roast beef on the bottom, cover with onion slices, then gravy. Spread mashed potatoes over all. Brush with egg/milk mixture. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are browned. Makes four servings. Note: For a “fancy” Cottage Pie, 1 cup cooked sliced carrots and 1 cup frozen peas can be mixed with the beef before placing it in the casserole.

Braised Steaks in Guinness


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family album | grandma

“We Loved You, Mary Garvey”


y grandmother Mary Garvey was born on October 18th, 1894 in Farmhill, Claremorris, County Mayo. She was the oldest of six children born to Anne Mullen Garvey and Peter Garvey. She left for America in 1914 at age 20 and came to New York via Ellis Island. She soon married a successful young engineer, John Edward O’Connor, whose name is on the brass plaque as one of the engineers who built the Empire State Building in 1930. Mary and John had four children: Madelaine, Josephine, Helen (my mother) and John. My grandparents are pictured above with (left to right) their son John, their daughter Josephine, her first born son Richard and my mom Helen. Only John

O’Connor is still living, but Mary Garvey lives in all of us as one of the sweetest and most lovely people I have ever known. My grandmother lived with my parents and me in Northvale, New Jersey until she passed in 1966 when I was almost 9 years old. She would play Monopoly with me every night after my parents thought we both were fast asleep. In earlier years, she would recite the lyrics from “Puff the Magic Dragon” every night to get me to sleep, which I can still hear today. I also remember that lovely brogue calling my name “Margaret-Mary” when it was time to come out of my summer tree fort and in for dinner every night. We loved you, Mary Garvey.

– Submitted by Maggie Cahill San Francisco, CA

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 at 300 dpi resolution to We will pay $65 for each submission that we select. 98 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2015

LEFT: Mary and John O’Connor with their daughters Josephine and Helen, their son John and Josephine’s first son, Mary’s first grandchild, Richard Reilly, at the O’Connor family home at 92 St. Marks Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn in 1953. TOP: All three O’Connor girls and their brother John at my Mom’s (Helen O’Connor Cahill’s) 75th birthday party in Northvale, N.J., in 2002. (Left to right) my mom Helen O’Connor Cahill, John O’Connor, Madelaine O’Connor Brady, and Josephine O’Connor Reilly. ABOVE: Grandma helping Mom and me pick out the best pumpkin ever at Tice’s Farm in Montvale, N.J., on a Sunday morning after mass in 1964. From left to right, Mary Garvey O’Connor, Margaret-Mary “Maggie”Cahill, Helen O’Connor Cahill.

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