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I M A G I N E I R E L A N D C A M PA I G N L A U N C H E D I N T H E U . S .

IRISH AMERICA February / March 2011

Canada $4.95 U.S. $3.95

The Magic of Ireland

IRISH WRITERS: Interviews with Mary Higgins Clark, Kevin Barry, Emma Donoghue, Clare Kilroy, and Paul Murray PLUS: “A Bit on the Side” – a short story by William Trevor THE FIGHTER: The boxer Micky Ward, whose life story inspired the movie TORY ISLAND: A rugged beauty with a pirate past

DISPLAY UNTIL MARCH 31, 2011

Bill Doyle’s Photographs

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IRISH AMERICA February / March 2011 Vol. 26 No. 2

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64 F E AT U R E S

36 PROUD MARY LEADS THE PARADE: Mary Higgins Clark will lead the St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Fifth Avenue. 44 WILLIAM TREVOR: A short story by Ireland’s celebrated writer called “A Bit on the Side.” 50 THE FIGHTER: Boxer Micky Ward, whose life story inspired the recent movie, talks to Tom Hauser. 54 YOUNG IRISH WRITERS: On verge of international acclaim, three young Irish writers. By Sheila Langan.

61 ROOM AT THE TOP: Emma Donaghue, whose novel Room was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, takes questions from Kara Rota. 64 TORY ISLAND Nine miles off the Donegal coast, this island with near-preternatural beauty and a long and fabulous history is explored by Dan Casey. 68 A CORNER OF IRELAND IN AMERICA: An Irish mansion in northeast Tennesee, visited by Marian Betancourt. 72 ALIVE, ALIVE-OH: Edythe Preet discusses how the Irish have been eating shellfish since they first set foot on the Emerald Isle.

Celebrating 250 years of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT 4 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

DEPARTMENTS

29 THE MAGIC OF IRELAND: A retrospective of the work of photographer Bill Doyle.

6 The First Word 8 Readers Forum 10 Hibernia: “Imagine Ireland 2011” and other news and entertainment. 70 Roots 74 Books A selection of recently published works. 34 Poem 76 Crossword 78 Photo Album

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{the first word} By Patricia Harty

IRISH AMERICA Mortas Cine

Imagine

Pride In Our Heritage

“An Irishman’s heart is nothing but his imagination.” – George Bernard Shaw (John Bull’s Other Island) abriel Byrne says that the line between reality and imagination is very thin. I concur. Perhaps it’s because my father filled my head with stories of banshees and haunted fields with gates that never stayed shut. Perhaps it’s simply the beauty of the Irish countryside – some of the magic that you can see in Bill Doyle’s photos in this issue. I always feel close to the otherworld when I’m there. As a child my belief in the supernatural grew stronger with every cloud formation. When the sun suddenly burst forth in a gray sky, as it tends to do in Ireland, I thought it was God watching. From a very early age, I was aware of, and believed in, a parallel universe where the ancients, including members of my own family who had passed on, cavorted. All Souls Day falls on the day after Halloween, and on that day, or so we were told, the veil between our world and the otherworld is very thin and the faithful departed can return to share a meal with the family. As a child I always hoped that my grandmother would come back for a visit. In school we learned from books that drew little distinction between fact and myth. The ancient people, the Tuatha de Danann, were so skilled in magic that they established an otherworld kingdom when they were driven underground by the conquering Gaels. The farm over from ours had/has a Fairy Fort that you knew never to set foot in. (I sometimes think that building that highway so close to the Hill of Tara, stirred up some ancient curse that brought down the Irish economy). Add healing wells (and the belief that the seventh son of a seventh son had the gift of healing), and the magic of the hawthorn tree (we had one in our front field) and you get some idea of the Ireland that I grew up in. This is the Ireland that I took with me when I emigrated. It’s the Ireland that continues to exist in my imagination. Like the Tuatha de Danann, those of us who had to leave created our own otherworld, a place that exists somewhere between Ireland and America, and involves living in one place but having a sense of belonging to another. Sometimes, oftentimes, you have to leave a place to really

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Ireland

Founding Publisher: Niall O’Dowd

see it. Irish culture, traditions and music became more valuable to me when I no longer held them in my hand. And the appreciation that Irish Americans had for Irish culture made me look at it anew. I remember being astonished that the manuscript for James Joyce’s Ulysses was housed in a museum in Philadelphia. That Emory University and Boston College hold the papers of some of Ireland’s greatest writers. Could it be that Irish Americans have more of an appreciation for things Irish than the Irish? Particularly in the boom years there was a sense that Ireland couldn’t wait to “off with the old and on with the new.” I like to believe that the Ireland of my imagination is still there, I just can’t see it for the makeover. But perhaps it is time to marry the imagination to reality – and take a look at all that modern Ireland has to offer. A new campaign recently launched in New York could be just the thing. (See page 16). “Imagine Ireland brings to American audiences a wealth of contemporary creators and a calendar of culture which will reshape and reinvigorate notions of Ireland, what it means to be Irish and the potential for Ireland into the future.” That’s the promise of an Irish Governmentsponsored campaign that will bring 400 Irish shows to 40 states and will include an operatic version of The Importance of Being Earnest featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. It sounds like a whole lot of fun. And I look forward to attending many events in the coming year. I’m hopeful too, that in addition to updating our notion of what it means to be Irish, the some 1,000 artists participating in the Imagine Ireland campaign will also look at Ireland anew, through the lens of Irish America. Perhaps they will discover some of the treasures of a latter-day Ireland that lie in the repository of our emigrant mind banks and take some of that IA back home with them. Imagine that.

Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Harty Vice President of Marketing: Kate Overbeck Director of Special Projects: Turlough McConnell Art Director: Marian Fairweather Assistant Editor: Sheila Langan Copy Editor: John Anderson Advertising & Events Coordinator: Kerman Patel Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan Writers: Tara Dougherty Aliah O’Neill Marketing Intern: Amanda Cunniff

IRISH AMERICA 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 2100, New York NY 10001 TEL: 212-725-2993 FAX: 212-244-3344

Subscriptions: 1-800-582-6642 E-MAIL: irishamag@aol.com WEB: http://www.irishamerica.com 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: Irishamag@aol.com. Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders: 1-800-5826642. Subscription queries: 1-800582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 16. Periodicals postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Postmaster please send address changes to Irish America Magazine, P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. IRISH AMERICA IS PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

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readers forum

IRISH AMERICA THE ANNUAL BUSINESS 100

DEC. 2010 / JAN. 2011 Canada $4.95 U.S. $3.95

COACH KELLY

Bringing the Green Back to Notre Dame

DON KEOUGH First Irish America Hall of Fame Inductee DUBLIN, OHIO A celebration of heritage W.B. YEATS & THE MUSES The women behind the poet

VALLEY STATE IS GRAND! I enjoyed reading the interview of Coach Kelly of Notre Dame authored by Niall O'Dowd. I offer one correction. Kelly's prior coaching experience lists “Valley State.” The correct name is Grand Valley State University. GVSU has an enrollment of 24,000 students and is located here in western Michigan (Allendale) about 20 miles west of Grand Rapids, with a large presence in downtown Grand Rapids. Larry Mulvihill, Spring Lake, Michigan

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KELLYS ARE KEEPING THE IRISH TRADITION ALIVE! I was thrilled to see Brian Kelly’s smiling face on the cover of your last issue (Dec/Jan). His interview was great. Hopefully, he will return to the cover when he wins his national championship for the Irish in a year or two. I’m second generation Irish. My first awareness of Irish peopole came when we would get together with my grandfather Denis A. Kelly, who came to the States when he was seventeen from Kinawly, County Fermanagh. He made a success of himself and he has been my role model ever since I first met him when I was four years old in 1955. Now, years later, our Kelly family is being test-

ed, but when I think of my grandfather aboard CV-5 Yorktown at the Battle of Midway it makes difficulties easier to cope with. I’m the third child of twelve Kellys. My dear father Thomas J. Kelly just passed away in April 2010. We really miss him as he helped guide us and our family business Kelly’s Cards and Gifts, which he opened when he retired from McDonnell Douglas and Rockwell International. My dad was so proud to be Irish. We stock Irish surname mugs and he would help customers select their name mugs. My dear Mom Mary Elizabeth, aged 84, comes to our Kelly's store every day to greet customers. We keep the Irish tradition alive here at Kelly’s since 1971 and your magazine is very special to all Irish Americans. It stands out in the crowd. Gregory M. Kelly Kelly's Hobby Shop Tustin, California

McNulty Family Tribute Concert Ma, Eileen and Pete McNulty, the “First Family of Irish Music,” (featured in our Oct./ Nov. 2010 issue) will be celebrated and remembered during a tribute concert at Manhattan’s Symphony Space on Friday, March 11 at 8:00 p.m. The mother, daughter and son trio was the most successful IrishAmerican music act of the 20th century, with a career that spanned from 1930 through the 1950s. The concert, presented by the Irish Arts Center, will feature performances by Mick Moloney with Julie Feeney, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, Green Fields of America, and Courtney Grogan – Ma McNulty’s great-granddaughter. For tickets and information call Symphony Space at 212 864 5400l 8 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

BOXING BUDDIES: TUNNEY AND THE NUNS I enjoyed Sheila Langan’s “Boxing Buddies” about Gene Tunney and George Bernard Shaw. Tunney had a sister who became a nun, stationed in New York City. When Tunney fought Dempsey the first time, winning the heavyweight title in 1926, Tunney was friendly with the bishop in charge at the time and pulled some strings so his nun sister and her companions in the convent could listen to the fight. Radio was in its infancy. Tunney purchased the best model available, and hired two technicians to properly install it and the aerials, and tuned it to the proper station. The nuns enjoyed Tunney’s clear victory and, with the bishop’s intercession, the Mother Superior permitted nuns to keep and use the radio. Tunney, born May 25, 1897, was the most handsome pugilist in the history of boxing. He was also one of the cleverest boxers who ever lived. In his 77 recorded fights he lost only one match and later avenged this defeat. On January 13, 1922 he won the American light heavyweight (175 pound) title from the great Battling Levinsky, then lost the title to Harry Greb in 15 rounds on May 23, 1922. He regained the title by decisively beating Greb in a return bout on February 23, 1923. He won the heavyweight title by defeating Dempsey on 23 September, 1926 and also in a return bout in Chicago on 22 September, 1927 in a ten round decision. His final bout was on July 26, 1928 with Tom Heeney (“the hard rock from down under”) in an 11 round knockout, the first time Heeney had failed to go the distance. Pat Leonard Braintree, Massachusetts

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{news from ireland } By April Drew

Ireland Gets $110 Billion Bailout n November 21, 2010 the Irish government signed off on a $110 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) in an effort to restabilize the crumbling economy and inject new hope into a country that rapidly lost its Celtic roar during the financial crisis. As part of a four-year, $20 billion plan to pay back the loan package to the IMF and the EU, the government announced an $8 billion budget in December bringing protesters out in droves. The country is now facing a general election. An election was first called for by the Green party, the junior party in the coalition government, in November. The Labour Party and Fine Gael also called for an immediate election to seek “political certainty.” Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Brian Cowen indicated an election would take place in early 2011 after the budgetary process was completed.

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ANTI-ABORTION LAW IN IRELAND TO BE REWRITTEN Ireland will be required to change its antiabortion laws after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the current restrictions have in the past endangered the lives of Irish women. Ireland’s strict abortion laws regard the termination of a baby as illegal except if there is a substantial risk to a mother’s life. The court ruled that the laws violate Ireland’s constitution by failing to give permit abortions for women who have severe medical conditions. The issue was highlighted when a Lithuanian woman living in Ireland had a rare form of cancer and was forced to go to Britain to have an abortion after doctors in Ireland refused to terminate her pregnancy. The court ordered the Irish government to pay the woman $20,000. Mary Harney, the Irish health minister, insisted that legislation was the preferred option to a referendum. “I don’t want to pretend that there is an easy solution. We have to legislate, there’s no doubt about that,” she said.“This will take time as it is a highly sensitive and complex area.”

THOUSANDS WORLDWIDE CONSIDER THEMSELVES IRISH

Ireland’s Big Freeze Was a Nightmare A rctic weather hit Ireland with a bang in December, forcing airports to close, public transport to be suspended and thousands of homes across the country were left without water and heat for the holidays. In many parts of the country, pipes burst from freezing water. See photo above. Temperatures reached a record low of -18˚c. Severe ice and sleet were the cause of many accidents and some deaths. A Co Mayo man, John McCann, was found dead outside his home, apparently a victim of the extreme weather. It is believed that McCann, a

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single man in his late 40s, was dropped off near his home and may have fallen on the ice before he reached his house, located at the end of a lane. Ireland ran out of salt, and emergency supplies did not arrive in the country in time for the major freeze in December. Some 20,000 tons of salt arrived from Egypt and Morocco to help grit the roads but it still wasn’t enough. Ironically, 2010 was ranked in the top three warmest years since records began in 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Over a hundred thousand people around the world claimed Irish citizenship in 2010. Figures show that 115,000 people applied to Irish embassies in countries far and wide for Irish citizenship, citing the birth of a grandparent as their eligibility. The “Granny Rule” has been used for years by Republic of Ireland football managers to secure players from other countries who have Irish relations. Micheál Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the demand for citizenship through an Irish grandparent has spiked over the past two years. “There has been an increased awareness of the rule since the Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh with more of our citizens coming forward to claim the entitlement to call themselves Irish and to have the right to a passport,” said Martin. For people who are not entitled to Irish citizenship through the “Granny Rule” the Department of Foreign Affairs is developing a Certificate of Irish Heritage, which will allow millions of people with Irish heritage to form stronger links with the land of their ancestors.

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Older Molly Malone Song Tells Different Story he original Molly Malone may not have been a sweet-hearted Dublin girl selling her cockles and mussels from a wheelbarrow after all. “Molly Malone” is one of Ireland’s most famous songs, belted out in pubs worldwide, though ironically attributed to an American, James Yorkston, who is said to have written it in 1883. It tells the story of a fishmonger named Molly and her admirer. She later dies of a fever but her ghost still wheels the barrow through the streets of Dublin. The chorus line “Cockles and mussels alive, alive, oh!” is probably one of the most widely sung Irish ballad lines ever. But an older version of the song has now been located. It is a much more bawdy and risqué song, suggesting the original Molly may have been selling more than seafood.

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Lyrics that predate the popular version by about 100 years where discovered in an 18th century book that turned up at a literary festival in England. Molly doesn’t have a wheelbarrow in this version but her admirer has clear designs on her. The song ends with the following verse: “Och! I’ll roar and I’ll groan/ My sweet Molly Malone/ Till I’m bone of your bone/ And asleep in your bed.” The song places Molly “by the big hill of Howth,” which has been a fishing village since Viking times. A statue of Molly Malone was installed at the bottom of Grafton Street in 1988. Dublin wits soon christened it “The tart with the cart.’ If one is to believe the recently discovered lyrics, that moniker may be apt.

GIANT IRISHMAN HAD RARE MUTATION GENE The Irish giant, Charles Byrne, who moved to London in the 1780’s to make his fortune as a “freak” suffered from a rare genetic mutation. Byrne, whose exact height is still unclear (most accounts say he was between 8’2’’ and 8’4’’), measured 7’7’’ with his slouchy skeletal appearance. The Irish giant suffered from a mutation in his pituitary gland, which caused his gigantism. The researchers also found that four families in Northern Ireland had a history of related pituitary disorders and also carried this mutation. Byrne found work at Cox’s Museum in London. Fame and wealth soon overtook him, and he took to drinking excessively. According to newspaper reports he was out drinking when his pocket was picked of his 700-pound life savings. Inconsolable, he tried to drown his sorrows in drink and died in June 1783, in his apartment at the age of twenty-two, a year after moving to London. John Hunter, a surgeon, purchased Byrne’s corpse for five hundred pounds and his 7’7’’ skeleton now resides in the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

Horses Abandoned in Recession Hit Ireland

ccording to the Veterinary Council of Ireland, thousands of horses and ponies are being abandoned on the outskirts of Dublin as owners and breeders can no longer afford to continue their upkeep in the midst of Ireland’s financial nightmare. Animal welfare organizations such as the Dublin Society for the Protection of Animals (DSPCA) say the only solution to the problem would be a mass national cull. Ireland has the highest horse population per capita in Europe and an estimated 20,000 horses could now be ownerless. “The owners of horses with injuries are just leaving them out to die because it costs too much to get a vet to fix the animal. DSPCA used to get little in way of horse calls and now it’s the most common of the calls they get,” DSPCA welfare officer Lisa Kemp said. The DSPCA have already taken care of 105 horses in 2010, compared to 26 in 2008. Said DSPCA operations manager Orla Aungier, “It’s all down to the recession because the first thing to go in a family budget are luxury items and, sadly, horses were luxury pets when the good times were rolling.”

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{ hibernia }

PEOPLE

| HERITAGE | EVENTS | ARTS | ENTERTAINMENT

Upcoming Movies of Irish Interest When the bigwigs of the movie industry gathered in Park City, Utah, at the end of January for the annual Sundance Film Festival, the Irish were well represented. Brendan Gleeson’s new film The Guard, which also stars Fionnula Flanagan, Don Cheadle and Mark Strong, opened up the festival’s World Dramatic Competition. The Guard was directed by John Michael McDonagh – brother of acclaimed Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. The Guard features the always-brilliant Gleeson as a small-town Irish cop known for his bad attitude and dark humor. His mother is dying, and he may be involved in a drug-smuggling ring, which has attracted the attention of an FBI agent (Cheadle). Guard producer Ed Guiney recently said: “I’m delighted that Sundance has selected The Guard as the opening film of the world competition this year. It’s the most high profile slot in one of the world’s great festivals and we cannot think of a better way to launch the film.” Meanwhile, Sundance’s World Cinema Documentary Competition featured Knuckle, an intimate look at the brutal world of bare-knuckle boxing among Irish Travellers. Travellers, of course, are the nomadic tribe of people who wander through Ireland and other countries and live by their own set of rules. Director Ian Palmer followed a group of Travellers for over 10 years and focuses on James, a member of a group known as the Quinn McDonaghs. James often finds himself asked to defend his clan against the rival Joyces. At Sundance, Knuckle was described as follows: “Disturbingly raw, yet compulsively engaging, Knuckle offers candid access to a rarely seen, brutal world where a cycle of bloody violence seems destined to continue unabated.” Two Irish shorts, meanwhile, were among the 81 short films featured at Sundance. Small Change, starring Nora Jane Noone (The Magdalene Sisters), is about a bored, young Mom while the animated The External World is about a little boy learning to play the piano.

Nora Jane Noone

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Brendan Gleeson in The Guard.

Liam Neeson will apparently stay as busy in 2011 as he was in 2010. February 18 is the release date for the Ballymena thespian’s latest action flick Unknown. Neeson plays a doctor who lapses into a coma only to wake and discover that another man has assumed his identity. Unknown also stars Diane Krueger (Inglourious Basterds), January Jones (Mad Men), and Frank Langella.

If it works for Liam Neeson, why not Saorsie Ronan? The wunderkind actress from Carlow – last seen alongside Colin Farrell and Ed Harris in January’s The Way Back — will also appear in an action flick due out next year. Ronan once again teams up with Atonement director Joe Wright for the film Hanna. Ronan – who earned an Oscar nod for her work in Atonement – is the title character, a teenaged girl raised to be an assassin by her CIA dad (played by Eric Bana). Hanna also features Cate Blanchett, who portrayed crusading Irish journalist Veronica Guerin in a movie of the same title. Two upcoming superhero flicks have Irish ties. First, there’s Thor. The May release, about the hammerswinging Norse superhero, will star Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman and will be directed by Northern Irish acting and directing veteran Kenneth Branagh. Branagh, famous for his Shakespearean work, recently said that while Thor is based on a comic book, the Bard himself would appreciate the conflicts in this story. Branagh said he was drawn in by the “human-like qualities of these characters presented in the myths and in the Marvel

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{ irish eye on hollywood} By Tom Deigan

stories as gods, and the family dynamics between fathers and sons, and sibling rivalry and the competition for parental affection.” Meanwhile, in July, look for Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson to star in Captain America:The First Avenger. The Irish link here is a more surprising one. Though he is the most patriotic and American of all Anthony superheroes – red, white and blue right Hopkins down to his shield and tight costume – the as Thor Marvel comics backstory of Captain America is actually a bit more complicated. Believe it or not, according to Marvel, Steve Rodgers – Captain America’s alter ego – was actually born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Irish immigrant parents on July 4, 1917. No word yet on whether the film will include these details.

about one last shot at the ring. It’s that or return to work as a debt collector – which he is quite good at because he is so intimidating. The Leary family struggles to pay its bills and stick together in this show, which is slated to run for 13 episodes. Over on Showtime, Natasha McElhone – whose parents were from Ireland – stars alongside David Duchovny in Season Four of Californication. McElhone – best known for big-screen roles in films such as Solaris and The Truman Show – plays the girlfriend of troubled novelist and teacher Hank Moody (Duchovny). Californication’s fourth season premiered in January and will run Sunday nights on Showtime through the spring.

In May, reclusive and acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick will release his latest film Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, as well as Cork-born theater veteran Fiona Shaw. Shaw will play a grandmother in a family with two troubled parents and three sons. The film focuses mainly on the youngest boy, whose innocence is shattered as he watches his family struggle with adversity. This sounds about as cheerful and uplifting as previous bleak films directed by Malick, such as Badlands and The Thin Red Line. Colin Farrell’s film London Boulevard – based on Irish crime

writer Ken Bruen’s novel – was released in the U.K. towards the end of 2010, but there’s no word just yet if an American release is forthcoming. The talent gathered here could not be more impressive. Aside from Bruen’s source material and the artistically reinvigorated Farrell, you also have Keira Knightly and director William Monahan, who wrote the screenplay for The Departed. However, reviews of London Boulevard in England and Ireland were tepid. As the Irish Times put it: “There’s a fine film in here somewhere, but it’s buried very deep beneath a great deal of classy mediocrity.” As for what Colin Farrell will be doing next, he has been linked to remakes of two unlikely hits from the 1980s: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall, a sci-fi thriller which foresaw the rise of cutthroat reality television (it was based on a Philip K. Dick short story), as well as Fright Night, which will presumably attempt to tap into the current craze for all things vampiric. On the television front, the FX network must be thrilled at the success of The Fighter, the Mark Wahlberg film about “Irish” Mickey Ward. Right after The Fighter began wowing audiences and earning talk of Oscar nominations, FX began running a new series about another Irish-American boxer entitled Lights Out. The series features Holt McCallany as Patrick “Lights” Leary, a washed-up boxer who is thinking

Natasha McElhone and Madeleine Martin in Californication.

Finally, a gem of a documentary made its premiere on Irish television this past Christmas. Fans of Irish cinema should lobby for a U.S. release. Ireland’s TV3 channel premiered a new documentary entitled The Irish in Hollywood at the end of 2010. Spanning more than 100 years, the documentary was narrated by Patrick Bergin, and looks at earlier Irish and Irish American stars such as James Cagney, Maureen O’Hara and Pat O’Brien, before taking us through today’s stars such as Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan. According to director Paul Howard, Gabriel Byrne emerges as a key voice in the film, because of his widespread knowledge of Hollywood history. “One of the things about Gabriel – and it was one of the most amazing interviews that I have ever done – was that we sat down to interview him about his life and career in Hollywood, but he went way beyond that,” Howard tells us. ” Gabriel was very knowledgeable – knowledgeable to such a degree that he could form very credible opinions on our topics.” Until the documentary is released on DVD – which we very much hope it will be – you can read the book on which the documentary is based: Steve Brennan’s Emeralds in Tinsletown. IA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011 IRISH AMERICA 13

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{hibernia} By Sheila Langan

Launch of John Huston Archive at NUI Galway FAR LEFT: John Huston, Anjelica Huston and Donal McCann LEFT: One of Stephen Grimes’ storyboards from The Dead. BELOW: Rod Stoneman, Allegra Huston, Tony Huston and NUIG President Dr. Jim Browne.

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here is no doubt that John Huston – the famed director of motion picture classics such as The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The African Queen – loved Ireland. He lived, for many years, in a house called St. Clerans near Craughwell, Co. Galway, he was an Irish citizen, and the last movie he directed before his death in 1987 was an adaptation of James Joyce’s short story The Dead. It is only fitting, then, that the National University of Ireland, Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media, founded in 2003, recently launched The Huston Archive. Officially presented to the university on November 22nd in the Bailey Allen Hall, the archive includes draft scripts, production notes, recordings, legal documents, publicity materials and interviews – many of which concern Huston’s work on The Dead. Two of Huston’s children, Allegra and Tony (who was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay of The Dead), were in attendance. Of their decision to give the materials to NUI Galway, Tony said “The Academy of Motion Picture and Arts Sciences [in Los Angeles] has most of Dad’s own copies of scripts and I just thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to create an alternative pool on another continent, so that any researcher into John Huston would be compelled to come to Galway, would be compelled to come to Ireland – for it not to be merely an intellectual exercise. You can’t come to Ireland without being influenced by the weather, the people, the air; it’s instantaneous.” He added, “The Irish people really appreciated his magnificence, they saw something about him. The Irish really loved Dad’s attitude towards life.” Among the rare items in the archive are a riding crop that was given to Huston during the filming of The African Queen, beautifully illustrated storyboards and designs by Stephen Grimes, and a draft of the script for the film Freud: The Secret Passion

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by Jean-Paul Sartre, who visited Huston at St. Clerans in 1958. According to Tony, these materials are unique because “people who are interested in Dad will be able to see these things, get a sense of the man, in a way that is much more than just information.” The documents also include a copy of the May 1987 edition of Irish America, which featured an interview with Huston from the set of The Dead (pictured above). The collection will be housed in the James Hardiman Library, which also holds the papers of Irish writer John McGahern and the archives of the Druid and Lyric theatres. A good portion of the collection, said Rod Stoneman, Director of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, will also be available online, which he sees as a vital factor in its accessibility. He explained, “The archive as an online presence is carrying film into the present and future of digital media.” He called the archive “an exciting development for those interested in John Huston’s work. It is at the intersection of American IA cinema and Irish culture.”

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Imagine Ireland: A Year of Arts and Culture in The U.S.

For more information, visit www.imagineireland.ie and look for updates on performances and events all over the country in the coming issues of Irish America. Colum McCann, Gabriel Byrne, Julie Feeney and Frank McGuinness. 16 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

PHOTO BY WILL RAGOZZINO PATRICK MCMULLAN AGENCY

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011 is going to be an exciting year for the Irish arts in America. On January 7th, Culture Ireland announced its expansive project for the coming year, titled Imagine Ireland. Launched in New York City’s Lincoln Center by Cultural Ambassador and renowned actor Gabriel Byrne, Minister for Art, Sport and Tourism Mary Hanafin, and Culture Ireland CEO Eugene Downes, Imagine Ireland will bring over 1,000 Irish artists and producers to the Unites States, and will encompass more than 400 events across 40 states. The two seasons (Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter) will cover the entire Culture Ireland CEO Eugene Downes, Cultural Ambassador Gabriel Byrne, Minister Mary Hanafin, spectrum of the arts, from dance to the- author Colum McCann and Speaker Christine Quinn at the launch of IMAGINE IRELAND ater to music to literature and visual art. The founders’ hope is that these performances will breathe fresh Minister Hanafin echoed Speaker Quinn’s thoughts, expressing life into the strong cultural ties between America and Ireland, creImagine Ireland’s goal of reaching out to all corners of America’s ate new partnerships, and appeal to a wide range of audiences Irish diaspora – and beyond. “Culture is the means by which most throughout the country. Americans encounter Ireland,” she explained. “It connects with the The Irish government has invested $5.2 million in this year of deep sense of pride and belonging of more than 40 million Irisharts and culture – what some might consider a risky move in times Americans and also with the many millions of Americans who love of economic crisis. Imagine Ireland’s representatives were quick to great art. We have invested in Imagine Ireland because the arts and address this question and confident in their response. New York culture are so vital to Ireland’s recovery and it will bring Irish culCity Council Speaker Christine Quinn, one of the speakers at the ture to new audiences and generations across America.” New York launch, stated:“The arts are particularly important in Almost more impressive than the number of artists and events is times of economic downturn. We should not forget about them; the geographical scope of Imagine Ireland, which will extend far rather, we should treat the arts as an economic engine.” Speaker beyond the major tour destinations of New York and Los Angeles. Quinn also commented on the great power of the arts to “fill up not Chicago, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco are only revenues, but also people’s hearts and souls.” all set to be hubs of activity, as are many other smaller towns and cities – from Chincoteague Island, VA to Bay City, MI. higginsphotonyc.com “New York is amazing, we love New York,” said Fiach Mac Conghail, Director of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, “but it’s not the entire United States. We think that it’s important for the Abbey to go to other cities that it has a connection with as well.” That’s precisely why the Abbey’s production of Mark O’Rowe’s new play Terminus, like so many of the other shows and events, will travel. In this case, to Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Durham, Middlebury, and Baltimore. People all throughout the states will now be able to share in Ireland’s rich artistic culture first-hand. IA

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dna O’Brien, the Irish author of groundbreaking novels and short stories, recently enjoyed a New York stage debut. Her new play Haunted was performed at New York City’s 59E59 Theatre by the Royal Exchange Theatre’s Brits Off Broadway Tour.The three-person play starred the dynamic Brenda Blethyn and Niall Buggy as Mr. and Mrs. Berry, and Beth Cooke (the granddaughter of Irish actor Cyril Cusack) as Hazel, a young girl who unwittingly causes the troubled ties of their marriage to fray even further. Blethyn and Buggy gave brutally powerful performances, faithfully communicating the emotions behind O’Brien’s words and the many layers of her story.

IRISH ON STAGE Borkman Goes to Brooklyn The Abbey Theatre’s acclaimed production of Henrick Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman is running at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater from Jan. 7th to Feb. 6th. Lindsey Duncan,Alan Rickman and Fiona Shaw star in Irish playwright and poet Frank McGuinness’ new version of Ibsen’s penultimate play. With an all-star cast and its highly relevant themes of greed and financial downfall, Borkman is not to be missed.

The Beauty Queen in Chicago Chicago’s Shattered Globe Theatre is kicking off its 19th season with Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Athenaeum Theatre. Like many of McDonagh’s works (though primarily a playwright, he is most widely known for writing and directing the film In Bruges), the play is darkly funny and unsettling as it details the claustrophobia, broken hopes and machinations experienced by Maureen Folan and her mother Mag in 1990s Leenane, Co. Connemara. Performances from Jan. 16th to Feb. 27th.

Championship on Broadway

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Anniversary of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éirann Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éirann, the international group for the preservation, promotion and celebration of Irish traditional music, will celebrate its 60th year March 24th – 27th in San Antonio, TX. Visitors to the convention will be able to choose from a wide range of activities, from set dancing and music workshops to late-night ceilis and a gala banquet. Helen Gannon, the provincial chair, commended the San Antonio branch, which is new to the organization, for rising to the occasion. For more information visit www.cceconvention2011.org

state championship victory – all a little different than they imagined themselves being 20 years down the line in high school.The cast includes good friends Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric (the late Miller’s son) as the Daley brothers, and is rounded out by Brian Cox, Jim Gaffigan and Chris Noth.

Molly Sweeney at the Irish Rep As part of its 23rd season, New York’s Irish Repertory Theatre is staging the first major revival of Tony Award winning Irish playwright Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeney.The play, which debuted at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in 1994, tells the story of a blind woman whose peaceful, ordered world is shaken when her husband convinces a once famous surgeon to restore her sight. Directed by Charlotte Moore and staring Jonathan Hogan, Geraldine Hughes and Ciaran O’Reilly, Molly Sweeney runs Jan. 19th to Mar. 13th. Linda Ritter as Mag Folan in The Shattered Globe’s Beauty Queen of Leenane.

Irish-American playwright Jason Miller’s 1973 Pulitzer Prize winning Championship Season is coming to Broadway this spring. In Miller’s work, four former members of a Catholic high school basketball team come together at the house of their old coach to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their

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Celebrating Don Keough’s Induction into Hall of Fame Irish America magazine’s 25th annual Business 100 luncheon, held on November 30th at The New York Yacht Club in Manhattan, brought together national and international leaders from every sector of the business community. The celebration also marked the induction of Donald R. Keough into the newly formed Irish America Hall of Fame. Keough is chairman of Allen and Company and former president, COO and diretor of Coca-Cola. He was the driving force behind the Irish Studies programs at Notre Dame and its sister school in Dublin, and led several trade missions to Ireland. In recognition of his great accomplishments Keough was celebrated with speeches from Kevin Whelan, director of the Notre Dame Keough Centre in Dublin and Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Collins. Keough’s acceptance speech touched on Ireland’s economic woes and called for everyone in the room to do their best to help the country. Here are some of the highlights: “Ireland is going through here: five of my children – a tough period. It’s had a the parents of sixteen heady twenty years. grandchildren – I am We’ve had that in this proud of all of them, and country, but the sizes of my wife Mickie, who has our countries are differput up with me all through ent. In a place like Ireland, these years and been my every person who made a partner. mistake – well, everyone Of course I’d love to in the neighborhood acknowledge everybody in knows it….They are going this room but I can’t. Anne through a period of deep Sweeney, congratulations embarrassment. They’re to you on the brilliant job lashing out at each other, you’ve done at Disney; trying to come to terms I’ve followed your career with the issue. But we with joy. To Cathie Black: Above: Donald Keough receives his Hall of Fame Award, a beautiful custom made piece from Tiffany . know the Irish. There will Cathie, you’ve been be a day – and, Mr. through a tough two Ambassador, the sooner the better – when they decide to weeks, but the public school system in this city will be deal with it. When they will decide to, together, confront lucky to have you [as Schools Chancellor]. To my this issue, to do what is necessary, and to begin to think associates at Coca-Cola Company, thank you for about a new Ireland. An incredible Ireland – this special everything ... It’s been a privilege to be your colleague place with this special population. We should be beginning through these years. To Andy McKenna, the chairman of to think about what the new Ireland is going to look like. the board; to all the trustees who are here, and to the And everyone in this room, to the extent that they can be representatives from the University [of Notre Dame], thank helpful, should do their best to help this country. you. And to each one of you, thank you very much and You know, the real members of the Hall of Fame are the God bless all of you.” parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents who had the courage to come here. So to the honorees of the Business 100, I congratulate you, but to everyone in this room, let me say Thank God that we’re lucky enough to have Irish blood streaming through us and to have the privilege of calling ourselves Americans. America needs some optimism, too. So, to the leaders in the room, let’s be the missionaries of optimism. I am grateful to my associates and friends who are here: to Father Scully, Father McGraw and Father McNamee. My family is 13 18 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

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1|Denis Kelleher, Dr. Kevin Cahill and Chuck Feeney. 2| Keynote Speaker Anne Sweeney, Ambassador Michael Collins and Honoree Cathie Black. 3| Honoree Sean O’Sullivan. 4| Anne Whelan Dr, Kevin Whela.n 5|Consul General Noel Kilkenny and Hugh Gordon. 6| Honoree Brian Stack, Ray O’Connell, Honoree Emmett O’Connell. 7| Honorees Brian Moynihan, Margaret Brennan and John Fitzatrick, Editor-in-Chief Patricia Harty and Joe Byrne. 8| Ed Kenny and Siobhan Walsh. 9| Honorees James Heekin, Owen Dougherty, Ted Sullivan and Kieran Claffey. 10| NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Loretta Brennan Glucksman and Honoree Tom Moran. 11| Michael Graham. 12| Hall of Fame Inductee Don Keough and Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. 13| Joseph Madden, Honoree Andy McKenna, Art Decio, Honoree Bill Mullaney.

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Our Anne Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, gave a heartfelt keynote Address at Irish America’s Business 100 luncheon on November 30. Here it is in its entirety.

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e represent a broad spectrum of business and industry in this room and the one thing that I know we all have in common is our wonderful Irish heritage. I’ve come to realize that that feeling of home and that sense of belonging, being welcomed with open arms, just has to be Irish. No matter how far you’ve traveled or how long you’ve been away, it sticks. And I think it starts when you’re born. You’re welcomed into the world with a wonderful embrace from everyone who came before you, everyone who will be a part of you, and they want you to know that you are loved and you’re something special. In my home I have a letter that’s framed and mounted on my wall that my grandparents wrote to my parents on the day that I was born. It’s a tough one to read so I’ll cut to the chase on the part that I think resonates the most for all of us in this room. They wrote: “I’ll bet you’re very happy with your new charge. It will be very interesting for you to live out your lives giving everything for the comfort and advancement of your family, and most of the pleasure will come when you have to deprive yourselves of some comforts to afford their desires.” The spirit and the promise of that letter have prevailed throughout my life because everyone in my family is referred to as “our.” “Our Anne.” “Our Donald.” “Our Rosemary.” I grew up thinking that “our” was one of our family names that just got passed along and was applied to everyone named Sweeney. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized it was a possessive, it was a

claim on each of us so we knew we were part of the family – connected and inseparable from one other. And it wasn’t until much later that I truly understood the power of that claim: that whenever any of us are together, wherever that happens to be, we’re home. My husband and I are both from Irish families and we now live a good 3,000 miles away from our parents and a long way from our siblings and other relatives. Our children are grown now too. Our son Christopher is living on his own and our daughter Rosemary is thousands of miles away at college. But when we get together in any combination, to celebrate any occasion – and the Irish celebrate every occasion extremely well – we’re home, in a way that’s hard to describe to anyone not blessed by that Irish tradition.

My husband’s grandmother was from Dingle, which means two very important things. First, he claimed his Irish citizenship, which he proudly did just a few weeks before I spoke at the Irish America [Business 100] event in 1998, and I remember bragging a little bit about that in my speech that year. He officially became an Irishman and Bill and I took the children to Dingle to see where his grandmother was from. Well, my husband’s grandmother was the eldest of nineteen children – nineteen! – one of whom was actually born after his grandmother moved to the United States, so she didn’t get to meet her youngest sibling until she was in her 70s. Now, it was an extremely large family then and it’s even larger now, a couple of generations later. But the first day in town we were standing in a restaurant and just happened to run into two of his aunts and four of his cousins who were visiting from the U.S. And when I asked them if they knew how we could get in touch with any of the cousins in Dingle they gave me this blank look and they told me to just go out and stand on the sidewalk. And by the way, if you happen to be a Fitzgerald or a McLoughlin from Dingle, you are welcome to our house for dinner any time. My father’s family, the Sweeneys, are from a village in Co. Mayo. My mother’s family, the O’Connells from Co. Kerry, and her father’s family, the Tormays, emigrated from a thatched cottage in Kells, Co. Meath. My widowed great-great-grandmother put three of her nine children on a boat to America to live with relatives in Pennsylvania. My great-

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grandfather, Hugh Tormay, was just thirteen when he made that trip, leading his six-year-old brother and his four-year-old sister into the unknown. When I thought about how much courage it took for those kids and the incredible sacrifice their mother made to give them an opportunity for a better life, I realized it wasn’t unique to our family. It was just one of the countless stories of Irish emigration to the new world. Hugh Tormay and his siblings were just three of more than one million people who left Co-Founder/Editor-inemigration, 65,000 peoChief Patricia Harty and Ireland during the mid-nine- Co-Founder/Publisher ple left the country last teenth century. And Ireland’s Niall O’Dowd present year and they estimate economic downturns in the 30s Anne Sweeney with that another 125,000 may specially commissioned and the 50s and the 80s sent aWaterford follow them this year. Crystal bowl. more people far from home. I’m sure they’re going to According to an economics come back. The article professor from Trinity College in Dublin, also highlighted how Irish parents are emigrating is a cultural norm, even if it’s drawing strength and support from each not a preference. The Irish know how to other, as their children start new lives do it: they build networks and they take elsewhere out of economic desperation. care of each other. In light of Ireland’s Unlike my great-great-grandmother, kisseconomic crisis, another generation is ing her children goodbye and wondering beginning to scatter across the globe. And if she’d ever see them again, I’m hopeful recently, I’m sure you saw, the New York that this time technology will step in – Times discussed this recent wave of Irish phones, e-mail, Facebook and Skype –

and enable families to stay in closer contact and give us a new way to communicate the great culture of Ireland as their children embark on new journeys. But it’s hard. It’s hard enough to send your kids out into the world toward their passions and ambitions. Watching them go even though they don’t want to, but because they have no other choice, has to be devastating for everyone involved. But I have to wonder if this constant history of so many hearts and homes broken in half by emigration only deepens our devotion to the Irish family and makes it so important – and easy – for us to come home whenever and wherever we come together. However it came to be, that sense of home and belonging, I believe, is inherent in being Irish. For me it’s in the stories that have been passed down through the years and it’s one of the many things I gave thanks for last Thursday [on Thanksgiving]. And I thank you, for inviting me to come home to the Irish America Business 100. It’s an honor to be included and it’s a true privilege to be IA with you today.

Seeds of Hope Dinner oncern Worldwide U.S. held its annual Seeds of Hope Award Dinner on November 30th. Close to 500 guests attended to show their support for Concern’s charitable work and to recognize Joe Copotelli, vice chairman of Structure Tone and the 2010 Seeds of Hope honoree.The proceedings included opening remarks by Tom Moran, president and chairman of Mutual of America and chairman of the board of Concern Worldwide U.S., Concern CEO Tom Arnold, Father Jack Finucane and Concern U.S.’s acting executive director Dominic McSorley, who spoke of Copotelli’s great generosity and dedication – exemplified by his journey to Haiti with McSorley and Moran in the midst of the devastating cholera outbreak. Copotelli, who was presented with a unique sculpture constructed from 5,000 year old Irish bog oak, voiced his great admiration for the Concern workers in the field, calling them “the real honorees.”

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Concern Chairman Tom Moran, Honoree Joe Coppotelli and Concern’s CEO Tom Arnold at the annual Seeds of Hope Dinner.

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{hibernia} By Sheila Langan

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hen I talked to Matt Loughery on a recent Saturday evening, he had just finished his 218th consecutive climb of Croagh Patrick, the third-highest mountain in County Mayo. “It’s cold up there now,” he said. “We’ve been getting temperatures of -17˚c, -18˚c up on the top. We’re climbing in ice and snow at the moment, it’s a different animal altogether.” But Matt wasn’t complaining. Shortly after, he recounted that two peregrine falcons had nested on top of the mountain. “Every now and then you get one of them flying over your head, you’re that close to nature up there,” he explained, with palpable awe in his voice. But the 32-year-old Loughery isn’t just your average climbing enthusiast: he’s also a talented photographer, a father of two, and the man behind the ambitious and inspiring Croagh Patrick 365, a charitable project founded last summer. Since June 5, 2010, Loughery has ascended the mountain each day, no matter how grueling the conditions, and has pledged to continue to do so through June 4, 2011, at which point he will have completed 365 days of climbing and hopes to have raised €100,000. All proceeds go to Ireland’s St. Vincent de Paul charity, for the benefit of poverty-stricken and homeless families in the West of Ireland. It seems that Loughery has always had

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a connection with the mountain. He grew up in a small village called Murrisk, which sits at the base of Croagh Patrick. Starting in 2005, he spent some time leading tour groups up the mountain, and became increasingly familiar with its terrain. Then, last year, he decided to use his passion and expertise to help others: “It came to me around the end of May,” he recalled. “I was thinking about the way the world has changed financially, economically, and I figured there had to be something I could do about it, starting first with people in my area. I enjoy the outdoors and I love climbing mountains, so I thought ‘why not do something useful with it and make some money for charity?’” Since then, he’s been consistently scaling the mountain and documenting each day’s climb with a photograph. Photography, it seems, is Matt’s other passion: he’s been documenting his travels since he was a teenager. “I write about it,” he acknowledged, “but a picture says 1,000 words, does it not? I try to keep a visual diary for people.” Once the year of ascents is over, Matt hopes to produce a book in collaboration with some of his fellow climbers, friends and supporters. For now, his supporters can buy his photographs from the Croagh Patrick 365 website or see them on the project’s Facebook page. Loughery actually credits the social

PHOTO CREDIT: PAUL MEALY

A Year On Croagh Patrick network for contributing significantly to his success: “The public response has been fantastic,” he remarked. “At the start I was trying to promote this event by myself, trying to make it grow, so for the first three months it was very difficult. But Facebook has been absolutely tremendous. It’s a free tool, it’s great for spreading the news about an event. I mean, today there were 22,500 post views on the [Croagh Patrick] 365 page. It’s just amazing; the awareness is really getting out there now. When asked why he chose Chroagh Patrick, Loughery points to its roots as a place of pilgrimage, as a place where people come together. “It’s such a positive place,” he reflected. “It’s a place of pilgrimage. I’m not a particularly religious person – I’m a spiritual person, but what’s wonderful about Croagh Patrick is that everyone climbs it for different reasons – for religious reasons, for spiritual reasons, for challenge, for scenery – they’re all great reasons to climb and I’m really enjoying being caught up in all that and meeting people and hearing about why they climb it. You’d be surprised who you get talking to up there. Everyone has a story.” There’s no doubt that Loughery’s is IA one of the most remarkable. For more information, visit www.croaghpatrick365.com

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Sean T. Noonan

U.S. Soldiers Start Irish Hurling Team

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very year, many soldiers in the U.S. Army stop in Ireland’s Shannon Airport on their ways to and from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. For a group of soldiers in Army unit C/3-172 Infantry of the New Hampshire National Guard, these layovers were the introduction to a sport they had never before heard of: hurling. In 2005 Lieutenant Colonel Ray Valas saw a hurling match on one of the airport televisions and was intrigued

by the sport. The next time the soldiers passed through Shannon, other men in the unit became equally interested. After returning from their tour of duty in 2005, the soldiers decided to give the game a try. Clearly, they enjoyed it: they have since formed the Barley House Wolves Hurling Club and now have their own coach – a Cork native named Ruairi O’Mahoney. Their crest features a wolf to represent their army unit and nine stars to mark New Hampshire’s history as the ninth state to join the union. The team colors are blue, which represents the Infantry, and gray to indicate their roots in New Hampshire, “The Granite State.” Their motto is “Bona na Croin,” which translates to “No Collar, No Crown” and, to the team, represents “men who would be neither slave nor subject.” O’Mahoney praises his team’s determination and their commitment to mastering the challenging sport, the rules and strategies of which take quite some getting used to: “Coming from Ireland,” he said, “everybody that does play hurling would pick it up at a young age. So for this bunch of guys, some of whom are over 40, to take up this game is amazing and the commitment they have shown is something else.” It seems that they are, in fact, becoming experts with the sliotar and hurley: The men have played in the New Hampshire region Junior-C grade, they otre Dame football coach Brian Kelly (interviewed by Niall have competed in the U.S. National Championships, O’Dowd in our last issue) had a good end of the season. Though and they recently completed a hurling tour of things got off to a shaky start, with losses to Navy and Tulsa in October, Ireland. In 2009 they began a youth program to the Irish came back with a vengence, defeating Utah, Army, Southern introduce the sport to the children and teens in the California and Miami. The Irish’s 33-17 win against Miami in the Sun area, promoting the building of athletic skills and Bowl made Kelly the first Notre Dame coach to bring home a bowl victeamwork. tory in his first season. The luck of the Irish may be returning. The Barley House Wolves were recently the subject of a brilliant short documentary on The Pentagon Channel called “Two Fields, One Team.

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The Irish in

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he Irish Commissioner for the 2011 Venice Biennale has been named: Emily-Jane Kirwan, a director of the Pace Gallery in New York. A Dublin native and one of the Irish Voice’s 2010 Women of Influence, Kirwan, pictured below, earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in art history and English literature from Trinity College Dublin, and a higher diploma in arts administration from University College Dublin. For her Irish team at the six-month-long fair of international visual art, Kirwan has chosen sculptor Corban Walker as representative artist and Eamonn Maxwell, director of Lismore Castle Arts, as curator. Walker is best known for his site-specific and inspired installations, often constructed with industrial materials. Exciting things are in store for the Biennale’s Irish Pavilion, which will be open from July through November, 2011.

We Must Do Better

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ight before we went to press, tragedy struck in Tucson, AZ. We at Irish America offer our deepest condolences to the families of Christina-Taylor Green, Judge John McCarthy Roll and the others who were killed, and our hopes for recovery to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the others injured. We would like to draw attention to a powerful message from NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (pictured above), Rep. Giffords’ brother-in-law, who is currently posted to the International Space Station:

“We have a unique vantage point here aboard the International Space Station. As I look out the window I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately it is not.These days we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another not just with our actions but also with our irresponsible words. We are better than this. We must do better. “The crew of ISS Expedition 26 and the fight control centers around the world would like to observe a moment of silence in honor of all the victims, which include my sister-in-law Gabrielle Giffords, a caring and dedicated public servant.” Scott Kelly was Expedition 25 flight engineer and is Expedition 26 commander. He is the identical twin of Mark Kelly, who is married to Rep. Giffords. The two astronauts were honored by Irish America in 2006. Kelly is right, we must do better.

Daley Politics

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resident Obama has appointed third generation Irish-American and Chicago native Bill Daley as his new Chief of Staff. Daley is the former head of Bill Clinton’s Commerce Department, led Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, and has since worked for JP Morgan Chase. He commended Obama for restoring honor to political service and told the president that he is “honored to answer your

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call.” Pete Rouse, who had been the interim chief of staff since Rahm Emanuel’s departure, is to become a counselor to the president. As one brother enters politics, the other leaves. Bill Daley is the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who has been in office for 21 years. In an announcement that took the city by surprise,

Daley has announced that he won’t seek re-election for what would have been his 7th term.

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Those We Lost Joseph Gavin Jr. 1920-2010

Joseph Gavin Jr., a major figure in man’s first landing on the moon and the former president of the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, died on October 30 in Amherst, MA. He was 90. Working to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 pledge that the U.S. would land on the moon within the next 10 years, Gavin headed the team that created the lunar module, The Eagle, that touched down on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969. He was in the forefront again the following year when he helped guide three astronauts on their spacewalk to the module after an oxygen tank exploded aboard the Apollo 13. Born in Somerville, MA on Sept. 8, 1920, he became fascinated in boyhood with airplanes and science fiction stories that dealt with spaceflight. He majored in aeronautical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Gavin spent 39 years with Grumman, 14 of them as president of the company, which expanded into many other areas beyond aircraft during his tenure. He is survived by his wife of 67 years and two sons.

Gil McDougald 1928-2010

Gil McDougald, an All-Star New York Yankee who was a member of five of their World Series championship teams, died in Wall Township, NJ on Nov. 28. He was 82. McDougald joined the Yankees in 1951, quickly becoming a favorite of the fans with his fine hitting and slick fielding. His .306 batting average went a long way toward him being named the American League Rookie of the Year and in the World Series against the New York Giants he became the first rookie in history to hit a grand slam home run. Remembered mainly as 26 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

a second baseman, he also played third and sometimes shortstop during his decade with the Yankees, helping them to win eight league championships. McDougald’s career also was marked by tragedies. In a 1957 night game against Cleveland, he hit a hard line drive that smashed Herb Score, the Indians’ young pitcher, in the face, breaking his nose and severely injuring his right eye. Score recovered from the injuries but never regained his early brilliance. A few years prior to that, McDougald was the victim of a line drive drilled by a teammate during batting practice. The ball hit him in the ear, causing him to gradually lose hearing, until 39 years later when a cochlear implant cured it. After retiring from baseball, he owned a building maintenance firm in New Jersey and coached the Fordham University baseball squad for six years. He is survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters.

Pete Postlethwaite 1947-2011

Born to a working-class Roman Catholic family on February 7th, 1947 in Warrington, England, Pete Postlethwaite became a dynamic, powerful actor of both stage and screen – no small thing for a man whose parents expected him to become a priest or a teacher. Though Postlethwaite was British by birth, many of his landmark performances saw him playing Irish men. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his work as Giuseppe Conlon in In the Name of the Father, the 1993 movie about the Guilford Four, who were falsely convicted of the 1974 IRA Guilford pub bombings. Postlethwaite most recently acted in Ben Affleck’s The Town, in which he played the terrifying Boston Irish gangster “Fergie the Florist.” In April, audiences will be able to watch Postlethwaite’s final film performance in the Irish comedy Killing Bono. He was also known for his roles in The Last of the Mohicans, Aliens 3, The Usual Suspects, and Brassed Off. Postelthwaite died on January 2nd in Shropshire, England, after battling cancer. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Gerry Rafferty 1947-2011

Gerry Rafferty, the Scottish singer and songwriter of such hits as “Baker Street” and “Stuck in the Middle With You,” died on January 4th in Dorset, England. Rafferty, who sold more than 10 million albums throughout his career, was born on April 16th, 1947 in Paisley, Scotland. His father was an Irish-born miner. After dropping out of achool at 15, Rafferty worked in a butcher shop but also began to explore his musical talents in a local band called the Mavericks. The band also featured Rafferty’s friend, Joe Egan, with whom he later formed Stealers Wheel. “Stuck in the Middle” was one of the tracks on their 1972 debut album. After many years of contract negotiations and legal battles, Rafferty began a solo career in 1978, the same year he released the album “City to City.” He recorded several other albums, but none of them reached the same level of popularity. His success, reflected his former manager Michael Gray, was also inhibited by his refusal to tour internationally. Rafferty spent his recent years in America, then Ireland, then England – though he told the press that he was working on a new album in Tuscany. Rafferty is survived by his daughter, a granddaughter and his brother. IA

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{hibernia} “A lot of people went on Twitter to complain that the font size used on ballots was too small. . . . People who got the small fonts were like, ‘I can’t see anyone I want to vote for!’ People who got the regular size fonts were like, ‘I can’t see anyone I want to vote for!’” Comedian Jimmy Fallon on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Quote Unquote

“I don’t take things safe. I never have. That goes for things artistically as well as physically. I don’t really think in terms of boundaries.” Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark performer Christopher Tierney, who is recovering from four broken ribs, three fractured vertebrae and other injuries after falling more than 20 feet at a performance in December. Speaking to Patrick Healy of the New York Times, he said he relished taking risks for his craft and he hoped to return as soon as possible to Spider-Man. Three other actors in the musical have been injured working on the show since September. U2 men Bono and The Edge wrote the music and lyrics for the show, which is said to have cost $65 million in production fees.

“We were very confident, thinking we were doing great, and sure we made mistakes, as anybody can. Now we have the International Monetary Fund and the European Union coming to ‘rescue’ us – but also to interfere. But you’ll see. We’ve been invaded many times before, but never owned.” Micheal O’Doibhilin, a 66-year-old retired graphic artist in Ireland, speaking to John F. Burns of the New York Times, Dec. 7.

“I’ll help her out in the kitchen and do whatever she tells me. I don’t know about the washing up, I’ll just help her clean the place with my mouth and my hands.” Colin Farrell on heading home to Dublin to join his mother Rita for the Christmas holidays. – The Irish Voice

“Between the grand scale of the show, transforming it into 3D, total access to the cast, Lord of the Dance in 3D creates an experience as if the audience is right with me on stage. Never before and perhaps never again will anyone be able to experience Lord of the Dance like this.” Michael Flatleyperformed in “Lord of the Dance” in Belfast and Dublin, his first onstage performances in the show he created in 12 years. The show was filmed for a 3D movie which will be released on St. Patrick’s Day. – The Irish Voice

“We will need to reach deep to our roots, those of strength yet compassion, steadfastness yet innovation. And, most importantly, we will need to solve our problems together – by pursuing with great urgency not Republican ideas or Democratic ideas, but good ideas that know no political master or agenda.” Dannel P. Malloy, sworn in as Connecticut’s first Democratic governor in 20 years, called for a 2-Party effort. Malloy beat out Tom Foley (Rep.) in a very close race. Foley served as Ambassador to Ireland during the George W. Bush administration. – The New York Times, Jan. 6.

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Moments inIrishLife A retrospective of the work of the late Bill Doyle, one of Ireland’s great photographers, whose images of Irish working people and landscapes will be treasured by generations to come.

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B

ill Doyle, one of Ireland’s most celebrated photographers, who recently died at 85, was an artist of another time. He was frequently compared to the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose “decisive moment” approach to photography Doyle mirrored in his mostly black-and-white shots of dayto-day life in the Irish countryside, on the Aran Islands and in the streets of Dublin. Accordingly, his photographs are spontaneous and natural. Instead of staging multiple takes or altering his images in the darkroom, Doyle found his inspiration in things as they were. He used his lightningfast reflexes to capture everything from a traditional Aran Island funeral procession, to a Dublin boy looking back in delight at a passing girl, to an old man taking a deep gulp of a pint. As CartierBresson put it: “In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject.” Born in Dublin in 1925, Doyle grew up in the Marino area and lived in the city his whole life. After attending a commercial college on St. Stephens Green, he first worked for a ship chandlers firm and then as an insurance salesman until he began earning money for his photographs.

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Moments inIrishLife

OPENING PAGE: Máirtín Folan and Páraic Choilí Pheadaí Ó Conghaile, Inis Oírr, 1970s. OPP0SITE PAGE: TOP: Peadar Mhicí Ó Conghaile and Máirín Uí Chonghaile, Inis Meáin, 1970s. LEFT: One Horse Power, Baggot Street, Dublin, 1972. ABOVE: Gael Linn outing, Ballymun, Dublin, 1970s. RIGHT: Dolphins Barn Church, 1973.

Doyle’s first subjects as a professional were babies at the Rotunda Hospital, where he was paid to take photos of the newborns. His art, however, mostly took him outside, on journeys around Ireland – usually with either a Leica or a Rolliflex camera. An avid traveler, he also visited Spain, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy and Kenya, but his lens remained particularly focused on Ireland. Doyle’s first breakthrough came in 1967, when he submitted photographs he had taken on a cycling trip through Portugal to the Daily Telegraph Photographer of the Year Award – and won. After that, Doyle spent the rest of his life working as a freelance photographer and went on to publish many bound collections, including Ireland of the Proverb (1995), The Aran Islands, Another World (1999), Images of Dublin, A Time Remembered (2001) and Bill Doyle’s Ireland (2007). His work was exhibited around the world: in the United States, England, Australia and Japan, and, of course, throughout Ireland – most recently in a 2008 retrospective at Dublin’s Gallery of Photography (which, with the permission of Doyle’s daughter Lesley provided us with the images presented FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011 IRISH AMERICA 31

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Moments inIrishLife

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OPPOSITE PAGE: Anglesea Street, Dublin, 1978. ABOVE: Johnny Mhary Ó Donncchadha and Aindí Ó Conghaile, Inis Oírr, 1970s. LEFT: St. Stphens Green, Dublin, 1970s.

here.) A short documentary about Doyle’s life and work, which includes a 2010 interview, will soon be released by the gallery. Doyle once said, “I feel a certain responsibility to record the timelessness that still exists in this country.” And record it he did, in his shots of what were once quotidian moments in Irish life: fishermen conferring over currach boats, a parish priest solemnly baptizing a group of bundled infants, children driving an improbable horse and cart through the streets of Dublin, and hundreds more. But Doyle’s photographs are not, by any means, timeless. In fact, they are even more important for not being so. They are portals to a life and time that Doyle knew were fading in his day and are fading faster still in ours. They are works of art and they are pieces of history. Doyle, who died on November 24, 2010, is survived by his daughter Lesley and brother John. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011 IRISH AMERICA 33

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Moments inIrishLife

TOP: Seáinín Dhónaill Ó Conghaile, Inis Meáin, 1970s. RIGHT: Martin Hayes, 1970s.

Bill Doyle, photographed by Leo Doyle.

34 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

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Proud Mary Mary Higgins Clark, who will lead the 250th St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City on March 17, talks to Patricia Harty.

O

HIGGINSPHOTONYC.COM

n the morning that we meet, at her apartment tive that she thought would be a tad more glamorous. “I said, overlooking Central Park, Mary Higgins Clark why don’t you get a horse and carriage? I thought it was had just returned from a television appearance appropriate with the 250th anniversary, and they liked the on Fox where she took questions about her new idea.” book out in April called I’ll Walk Alone, a thriller The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City has often based on identity theft. come under fire from gay activists who want to march under “I often use song titles, or a line from a song, as my book their own banner. As far as Mary is concerned, and she is not titles,” she tells me. “And I loved ‘I’ll Walk Alone’ when I was a young teenager during the war. [The war] started when I was thirteen, I never hide my age, it’s useless and unnecessary. But those four years, from the time when I was thirteen to when I was seventeen, that was one of the favorite songs. ‘I’ll walk alone/ because to tell you the truth/ I’ll be lonely/ I don’t mind being lonely/ When my heart tells me/ you are lonely too/ I’ll walk alone . . .’” On March 17, Mary will certainly not walk alone. As Grand Marshal she will lead the St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Fifth Avenue on the occasion of the parade’s 250th anniversary. In fact, Mary will not walk, she will ride in style, in a horse and carriage. This is the first time in the history of the parade that the Grand Marshal will not walk the entire length of the parade route, some 40 blocks. Mary, who though she is in fine fettle at 83, told the parade committee that she just couldn’t Parade committee chairman John Dunleavy, Mary Higgins Clark and NYPD walk that far. “Look at my ankle,” she Commissioner Ray Kelly who served as the 2010 grand marshal. says showing me her swollen ankle joint. “I broke it 50 years ago ice skating with the kids and it without her gay friends, the parade is about Irish pride, not gay never healed properly. Twenty years ago I had a triple bone pride. fusion by the doctor who invented the process, only he hadn’t “Catholicism is very much a basis for the way I live and read his own book. It was a horrible job so I went for five think. [But when it comes to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade] I am years, then I had it done again.” not marching as a heterosexual. I don’t see any reason [for The committee offered her a golf cart (automobiles are people to march] specifically under a gay banner. I don’t think not allowed in the parade) but she suggested another alternait’s necessary. It [the controversy] takes away what the parade

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is about, which is a celebration of the Irish – their culture, their achievements, and their struggles. That’s what the parade is about: Irish pride.” Those who are close to her know that Mary’s Irish pride is never far from her heart. On television that morning she told the host Greg Kelly, co-host of Fox and Friends, and the son of last year’s Grand Marshal NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, that while others could judge whether she is a writer or not, she was proud to call herself “an Irish storyteller.” And as a storyteller, Mary Higgins Clark has found great success. She is the best-selling author of more than 40 books – sales in the U.S. alone number over 80 million copies. (Her books are also bestsellers in France.) Ten years ago, in 2000, her $64 million recordbreaking five-book deal with Simon and Schuster made publishing history. Mary remembers her first milliondollar deal. “It was 1978. And my agent called right as I was leaving work to go to Fordham [University] and she said, ‘Mary, are you sitting down?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Simon and Schuster is offering you $500,000 for the hardback and will offer a million for the paperback. Think about it.’ I said, ‘Think about it? Are you crazy? Say yes!’” Back then Mary was writing radio shows that enabled her to take care of her five young children when her husband died, and putting herself through college at night. Three years earlier she had received $3,000 from Simon and Schuster for Where Are the Children? when other publishers had turned it down. And now, the same publisher was offering her a million dollars for her second suspense novel, A Stranger is Watching. Despite the fact that she was about to become a millionaire, Mary continued on to school that night (graduating summa cum laude in 1979, with a B.A. in philosophy.) “I had three classes that night and all I did was write ‘a million dollars’ in roman numerals across the page. Later, as I got in my car to go home — it was 11 o’clock and I had 146,000 miles on the car — the muffler fell off. I tried to tie the damn thing up with the belt of my jacket. And of course it fell off again just as I was getting on the West Side Highway, so for 21 miles I hear ‘cerplunk, cerplunk’ the whole

38 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

way home while other drivers beeped at me and waved at me. Did they think I was too stupid or that I didn’t hear the racket? The next morning I bought a Cadillac.” Mary’s advice to young writers is not to give up. “There are people who have a talent for writing, and people who have a need to write. And when you have a need to write you won’t give up.” Not giving up is something she has applied to life, not just to her writing. She has had more than her share of knocks. Her father, an immigrant from

There are “people who have a talent for writing, and people who have a need to write. And when you have a need to write you won’t give up.

Roscommon, who owned a popular bar in the Bronx, died when she was 11. Her oldest brother enlisted during WWII and died shortly after shipping out. Her first husband, Warren Clark, whom she’d known since she was a child, suffered a heart attack and died in his 40s leaving her with five young children. “You have to keep going,” she says, “especially when you have children.” She cites the example of her mother who after her husband died, turned the family home into a boardinghouse. (Mary writes eloquently about all of this in a

heartwarming memoir called Kitchen Privileges.) It was her mother, a first-generation American with Irish parents who encouraged Mary to write. “Oh, I wrote my first poem when I was six. And of course it was terrible. I still have it on a yellowing sheet of paper. She thought everything I wrote was wonderful. And she’d make me recite it for the relatives when they came. I wrote skits and I’d have my brothers perform. And I wrote plays for the neighborhood kids. I was always writing.” After high school Mary took a secretarial course and found a job in advertising. Her descriptions of this time could have won an Emmy for the TV series Mad Men, but despite the tough working environment, it proved a good start. Or perhaps Mary was becoming adept at turning lemons into lemonade. “It was a blessing as it turned out. Because I worked as a secretary at eighteen to the creative director of the agency. So I was in all the meetings taking notes about why this campaign worked, why this caption worked, why the inside front cover of Life was the best buy, so I had a three-year tutorial in advertising. Served me very well when I went to work at the radio show.” In between the advertising firm and the radio show, Mary worked as a Pan-Am airline stewardess for a year. She retired when she married, but when her husband died in 1964, she worked for many years writing four-minute radio scripts. When she’d married Warren, she started writing short stories, and she continued to write every chance she could get after he passed away, which often meant getting up at five o’clock in the morning and writing for an hour or so before getting the children off to school. “As soon as Warren and I came back from the honeymoon, I said I’m going to be a professional writer and I started taking a writing course at NYU. And my professor taught me everything I needed to know about writing. After two weeks he said, I want all of you in with a short story next week. And I looked at him and he said ‘Mary, you’ve been a PanAmerican hostess. Take the most dramatic incident that occurred when you were a flight hostess, ask yourself two questions: Suppose? And what if? And turn it into fiction. And since then I still Continued on page 43

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c e l ebra t i ng 250 years of the

new york city

s t . p at r i c k ' s d ay p a r a d e

w r i t t e n b y J o h n T. R i d g e & e d i t e d b y L y n n M o s h e r B u s h n e l l

T h e S t . P a t r i c k ’s D a y P a r a d e C o m m i t t e e , I n c .

The Quinnipiac University Press

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A

n American landmark will be reached in 2011, when New York City celebrates the 250th anniversary of its St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The first parade was held on March 17, 1762, fourteen years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That heritage is uniquely presented in Celebrating 250 Years of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade, written by noted historian John T. Ridge and edited by Lynn Mosher Bushnell. This beautiful book, published by Quinnipiac University Press, pays heartfelt tribute to the Irish in America, descendants of the seven million who emigrated from Ireland over three centuries. The annual parade reflects their strength, their spirit, and their passion and contributes to the special character of New York City. Through moving narative, Celebrating 250 Years of the New York City St. Patrick's

Day Parade explores the past, present and future of Irish-American heritage in a vivid portrait of the nation’s longest-running parade. Drawing from New York’s most precious photographic archives, editor Lynn Mosher Bushnell has assembled a visual history of the parade that unfolds page by page with hundreds of rare and extraordinary photographs. Held each year to honor Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, the parade also honors the Archdiocese of New York by celebrating a proud legacy of Irish faith and heritage. This year the parade will again be reviewed from the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral by Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, a tradition dating from earlier days at the Old St. Patrick's Cathedral in Lower Manhattan. In 2011, as in all 249 previous years, the parade will be organized by volunteers from

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the community and the Ancient Order of Hibernians under the careful stewardship of the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee guided by Chairman-Director John T. Dunleavy. This year the Grand Marshal of this historic parade is best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark. “Recognizing the 250th Anniversary of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a momentous occasion worthy of great joy and celebration,” says Mr. Dunleavy. “By publishing this signature book along with Quinnipiac University Press, we strive to preserve the history of the parade and the memory of all the wonderful years for future generations to enjoy and remember. On behalf of the parade committee, our affiliated organizations, sponsors and supporters, we hope you enjoy this publication and all that it represents in our proud 250-year history of marching on the streets of New York.”

The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade workers and committee members are volunteers. Some members and their families have helped run the parade for several generations. All take great pride in the work while encouraging others of Irish heritage and descent to join them in organizing and running the world’s largest parade. In a recent message Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, said, “Every year on the 17th of March, we in Ireland come together with our extended family around the world to honor our patron saint and to celebrate all the attributes that made us proud to be Irish. It gives us immense pleasure and delight to see so many celebrations of our culture and traditions taking place across the globe. Our connection to New York and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in that city is a particularly strong and special one.”

“Abookthatissuretobetreasuredbyyour family forgenerationstocome…Now forthefirsttime,youtoocanenjoythis wonderfulkeepsakeofallthosememorableparadesthroughthedecades.” Best-selling author, Mary Higgins Clark 2011ParadeGrandMarshal

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JOHN T. RIDGE has been attending

St. Patrick’s Day Parades since the 1950s when his immigrant Irish parents first took him to watch the spectacle on Fifth Avneue. For more than 40 years he has been a regular marcher in the ranks and at the same time a careful observer of the parade’s struggles and triumphs in an era of major challenges. As historian for the parade committee, Ridge has combined his insider’s view with the years of research in libraries and archives to bring to life a unique picture of New York’s parade.

LYNN MOSHER BUSHNELL has

marched in the storied New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade under the Quinnipiace University banner for nearly 20 years. Quinnipiac University is home to An Gorta Mór, the world’s largest collection of art and literature devoted exclusively to Ireland’s Great Hunger. The extensive sculpture collection and other rare holdings may be viewed on the Quinnipiac University campus or online at www.thegreathunger.org.

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Proud Mary continued from page 38

do suppose and what if. And I still do why. Because there’s going to be a guilty party, a murderer or somebody who’s committed a major crime. Well who’s the why? Four people might’ve done it. One was psychotic enough, angry enough, vengeful enough to go over the line and commit that crime, take that life. So of the four who might have done it, only one would have done it. So I’ve been doing that ever since.” Stowaway, the short story she wrote about a stewardess who finds a stowaway from Czechoslovakia, received 40 rejection slips. “It went out 40 times before it sold six years later,” she recalls. She also remembers that at one time she had 11 short stories in the mail and received 11 rejection slips. In one of them the editor from Redbook had written “Ms. Clark, your stories are light, slight and trite.” “I thought, I’ll get you, baby. I will get you. Later on when Redbook requested a story I said to my agent, ‘Make them pay.’”

T

hese days Mary is counting her blessings, and rejection slips are long a thing of the past. On St. Patrick’s Day, 1996, her daughter Patty introduced her to John J. Conheeney, the retired CEO of Merrill Lynch Futures, who was a widower. They married the following Thanksgiving. “I was blessed in my marriage to Warren Clark at the beginning of my adult years and now I am blessed in my marriage to John Conheeney in my golden years. Having a prince in the beginning and a prince at the end is pretty wonderful,” she says. Family is everything to her. “ I have five children and six grandchildren. John has four children and eleven grandchildren. We see the children and grandchildren all the time. Most of them live within a few miles, none more than forty-five minutes away. But on the big holidays, we’re all collected in our home in Saddle River, New Jersey, along with nieces and nephews. We doubled the size of the kitchen/family room so we can set tables

for forty with room to spare.” And this St. Patrick’s Day, she will especially be thinking of her parents and what her Irish heritage means to her. In a freshly updated epilogue to Kitchen Privileges, she writes: “I cannot close without saying how much my Catholic faith has been the raison d’etre of my existence, the core of all that I am. I have tried to live its precepts fully and to always remember that much is expected of those to whom much has been given. “On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2011, as the parade goes up Fifth Avenue I will be thinking of the father who came over with five pounds in his pocket and who died when I was only eleven, the mother who encouraged my dreams of being a writer by treating every word I wrote as though it was scripted by the angels, the brothers I loved so dearly and lost so young, the Irish ancestors I never knew who sent their children to seek a better life knowing they might never see them again. They’ll all march with me. HAPPY ST. IA PATRICK’S DAY to one and all.”

Greatest Irish Americans of the 20th Century Edited by Patricia Harty Foreword by Senator Edward Kennedy The triumphs of the Irish in literature, music, family life, history, politics, and so many other fields are the triumphs of America, too, and all of us are very proud of them. –Senator Edward Kennedy (From the Foreword) Greatest Irish Americans of the 20th Century is a celebration of Irish Americans, their contribution, and their impact on American history, culture and life.

Signed by the author. $20 includes S&H. Contact: Kerman@irishamerica.com or 212 725 2993 X 150 to order.

The impact of over 150 Irish Americans, among them James Cagney, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Ford, and John F. Kennedy, is captured in this book through profiles and photos. Essays and reflections from prominent Irish American writers are featured throughout, including: The Paddy Clancy Cell, by Frank McCourt JFK – Our Jack, by Pete Hamill Two Grandfathers, by William Kennedy John Ford – The Quiet Man, by Joseph McBride My Wild Irish Mother – by Mary Higgins Clark John Steinbeck – The Voice of the Dispossessed, by Jim Dwyer

FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011 IRISH AMERICA 43

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FICTION

A Bit on the Side

From the cover of the Penguin edition of WIlliam Trevor’s A Bit on the Side.

By William Trevor

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n the Japanese café he helped her off with her coat and took it to the line of hooks beneath the sign that absolved the management of responsibility for its safety. They weren’t the first in the cage, although it was early, ten past eight. The taxi-driver who came in most mornings was reading the Daily Mail in his usual corner. Two of the music students had arrived. He hung up the coat, which still carried a faint trace of scent. Light-weight, and black, its showerproof finish as protection enough today, since the forecast they’d both heard – she in her kitchen an hour ago, he while he shaved in Dollis Hill – confidently predicted that the fine weather was here for another few days. He hadn’t brought a coat himself and he didn’t wear a hat in summer. From the table they always sat at, side by side so that they could see the street where the office workers were beginning to hurry by, she watched him patting a pocket of his jacket, making sure his cigarettes and lighter were there. Something was different this morning; on the walk from Chiltern Street she had sensed, for an instant only, that their love affair was not as it had been yesterday. Almost always they met in Chiltern Street, their two journeys converging there. Neither ever waited: when one or other was late they made do with meeting in the café. ‘All right?’ she asked. ‘All right?’ She kept anxiety out of her tone; no need for it, why should it be there? She knew about the touchiness of love: almost always, it was misplaced. ‘Absolutely,’ he said, and then their coffee came, his single croissant with it, the Japanese waitress smiling. ‘Absolutely,’ he repeated, breaking his croissant in half. Another of the music students arrived, the one with the clarinet case. Then a couple from the hotel in George Street came in, Americans, who sat beneath the picture of the sea wave, whose voices – ordering scrambled eggs and ham – placed them geographically. The regular presence of such visitors from overseas suggested that breakfast in the nearby hotel was more expensive than it was here. The lovers who had met in Chiltern Street were uneasy, in spite of efforts made by both of them. Discomfiture had flickered in his features when he’d been asked if everything was all right: now, at least, that didn’t show. She hadn’t been convinced by his reassurance and, within

I

minutes, her own attempt to reassure herself hadn’t made much sense: this, in turn, she kept hidden. She reached out to flick a flake of croissant from his chin. It was the kind of thing they did, he turning up the collar of her coat when it was wrong, she straightening his tie. Small gestures made, their way of possessing one another in moments they made their own, not that they ever said. ‘I just thought,’ she began to say, and watched him shake his head. ‘How good you look!’ he murmured softly. He stroked the back of her hand with his fingertips, which he often did, just once, the same brief gesture. ‘I miss you all the time,’ she said. She was thirty-nine, he in his mid-forties. Their relationship had begun as an office romance, before computers and their software filched a living from her. She had moved on of necessity, he of necessity had remained: he had a family to support in Dollis Hill. These days they met as they had this morning, again at lunchtime in the Paddington Street Gardens or the picture gallery where surreptitiously they ate their sandwiches when it was wet, again at twenty to six in the Running Footman. He was a man who should have been, in how he dressed, untidy. His easy, lazily expansive gestures, his rugged, often sunburnt features, his fair hair stubborn in its disregard of his intentions, the weight he was inclined to put on, all suggested a nature that would resist sartorial demands. In fact, he was quite dressily turned out, this morning in pale lightweight trousers and jacket, blue Eton shirt, his tie striped blue and red. It was a contradiction in him she had always found attractive. She herself, today, besides the black of her showerproof coat, wore blue and green, the colours repeated in the flimsy silk of her scarf. Her smooth black hair was touched with grey which she made no attempt to disguise, preferring to make the most of what the approach of middle age allowed. She would have been horrified if she’d put on as much as an ounce; her stratagems saw to it that she didn’t. Eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks, unblemished neck: no single feature stood out, their combination necessary in the spare simplicity of her beauty. Good earrings – no more than dots, and never absent – were an emphasis that completed what was already there. ‘Have your cigarette,’ she said. He slipped the cellophane from a pack-

et of Marlboro. They talked about the day, predicting what it would bring. She was secretary to a businessman, the managing director of a firm that imported fashion clothes, he an accountant. A consignment of Italian trouser-suits had failed to reach the depot in Shoreditch, had still been missing the evening before. She spoke of that; he of a man called Bannister, in the patio business, who had been underdeclaring his profits, which meant he would have to be dismissed as a client. He had been written to yesterday: this morning there’d be an outraged telephone call in response. The taxi-driver left the café, since it was almost half past eight now and the first of the traffic wardens would be coming on. From where they sat they watched him unlock his cab, parked across the street. With its orange light gleaming, he drove away. ‘You’re worried,’ she said, not wanting to say it, pursuing what she sensed was best left. He shook his head. Bannister had been his client, his particularly, he said; he should have known. But it wasn’t that and she knew it wasn’t. They were lying to one another, she suddenly thought, lies of silence or whatever the term was. She sensed their lies although she hardly knew what her own were, in a way no more than trying to hide her nervousness. ‘They suit you,’ he said. ‘Your Spanish shoes.’ They’d bought them, together, two days ago. She’d asked and the girl had said they were Spanish. He’d meant to say they suited her then, but the bagwoman who was usually in Chiltern Street at that time had shuffled by and he’d had to grope in his pocket for her twenty pence. ‘They’re comfortable,’ she said. ‘Surprisingly so.’ ‘You thought they mightn’t be.’ ‘Yes. I did.’ It was here, at this same table, that she had broken the news of her divorce, not doing so – not even intimating her divorce – until her marriage’s undoing was absolute. Her quiet divorce, she had called it, and didn’t repeat her husband’s protest when the only reason she had offered him was that their marriage had fallen apart. ‘No, there is no one else,’ she had deftly prevaricated, and hadn’t passed that on either. ‘I would have done it anyway,’ she had insisted in the café, though knowing FEBRUARY / MARCH 20011 IRISH AMERICA 45

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that she might not have. She was happier, she had insisted, too. She felt uncluttered, a burden of duty and restriction lifted from her. She’d wanted that. ‘Wire gauze, I suppose,’ he said, the subject now a cat that was a nuisance, coming in the bedroom windows of his house. Although such domestic details were sometimes touched upon – his house, his garden, the neighborhood of Dollis Hill – his family remained mysterious, never described or spoken of. Since the divorce, he had visited the flat her husband had moved out of, completing small tasks for her, a way of being involved in another part of her life. But her flat never seemed quite right, so used had they become to their love affair conducted elsewhere and differently. He paid and left a tip. He picked up his old, scuffed briefcase from where he’d leant it against a leg of their table, then held her coat for her. Outside, the sun was just becoming warm. She took his arm as they turned from Marylebone High Street into George Street. These streets and others like them were where their love affair belonged, its places – more intimately – the Japanese café and the Paddington Street Gardens, the picture gallery, the Running Footman. This part of London felt like home to both of them, although her flat was miles away, and Dollis Hill further still. They walked on now, past the grey bulk of the Catholic church, into Manchester Square, Fitzhardinge Street, then to her bus stop. Lightly they embraced when the bus came. She waved when she was safely on it. Walking back the way they’d come, he didn’t hurry, his battered briefcase light in his right hand, containing only his lunchtime sandwiches. He passed the picture gallery again, scaffolding ugly on its façade. A porter was polishing the brass of the hotel doors, people were leaving the church. Still slowly, he made his way to Dorset Street, where his office was. When she’d worked there, too, everyone had suspected and then known – but not that sometimes in the early morning, far earlier than this, they had crept together up the narrow stairs, through a dampish smell before the air began to circulate in the warren that partitions created. The wastepaper basket had usually been cleared the night before, perfunctory hovering had taken place; a tragedy it always was if the cleaners had decided to 46 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 20011

come in the morning instead and still were there. All that seemed long ago now and yet a vividness remained: the cramped space on the floor, the hurrying footsteps heard suddenly on the stairs, dust brushed from her clothes before he attended to his own. Even when she was no longer employed there they had a couple of times made use of the office in the early morning, but she never wanted to and they didn’t anymore. Too far away to be visited at lunchtime, her flat had never come into its own in this way after the divorce. Now and again, not often, he managed a night there, and it was then that there were the tasks she had saved up for him, completed before they left together in the morning. He thought about her, still on the bus, downstairs near the back, her slim black handbag on her lap, her Spanish shoes. What had she noticed? Why had she said, ‘All right?’ and said it twice? Not wanting to and trying not to, he had passed on a mood that had begun in him, the gnawing of disquiet he didn’t want to explain because he wasn’t able to, because he didn’t understand it. When she’d said she missed him all the time, he should have said he missed her in that same way, because he did, because he always had. When he had settled himself in the partitioned area of office space allocated to him, when he had opened the window and arranged in different piles the papers that constituted the work he planned for the morning, the telephone rang. ‘Hey!’ the voice of the patio-layer, Bannister, rumbustiously protested. ‘What’s all this bloody hoo-ha then?’ ‘It would have been Tuesday,’ she said. ‘Tuesday of last week. The twentyfourth.’ There was silence, a muffled disturbance then, a hand placed over the receiver. ‘We’ll ring you back,’ someone she hadn’t been talking to before promised. ‘Five minutes.’ The consignment of trouser suits had gone to York, another voice informed her when she telephoned again. There was ninety percent certainty about that. The Salvadore dresses had been on their way to York; the trouser suits must somehow have taken that route too. Hours later, when the morning had passed, when there’d been further telephone calls and faxes sent and faxes received, when the missing trouser-suits had definitely been located in York, when they’d been loaded to a van and con-

veyed at speed to London, the crisis was recounted in the Paddington Street Gardens. So was the fury of the patiolayer Bannister, the threats of legal action, the demands that fees already charged and paid should in the circumstances be returned. ‘Could he have a case?’ Not just politely, she took an interest, imagining the anger on the telephone, the curt responses to it, for naturally no sympathy could be shown. Listening, she opened the plastic container of the salad she had picked up on her way from the Prêt à Manger in Orchard Street. He had already unwrapped his sandwiches, releasing a faint whiff of Marmite. Edges of lettuce poked out from between slices of white bread. Not much nourishment in that, she’d thought when first she’d seen his sandwiches, but had not said. There usually was egg or tomato as well, which was better; made for him that morning in Dollis Hill. Small and sedate – no walking on the grass – the Gardens were where a graveyard once had been, which for those who knew added a frisson to the atmosphere. But bright with roses today, there was nothing somber about the place for those who didn’t. Girls sunbathed in this brief respite from being inside, men without their jackets strolled leisurely about. A lawnmower was started up by a young man with a baseball cap turned back to front. Escaping from a Walkman, jazz for an instant broke the Gardens’ rule and was extinguished swiftly. She didn’t want the salad she was eating. She wanted to replace the transparent lid and carry the whole thing to one of the black rubbish bins, and then sit down again beside him and take his hand, not saying anything. She wanted them to sit there while he told her what the trouble was, while all the other office people went away and the Gardens were empty except for themselves and the young mothers with their children in the distant playground. She wanted to go on sitting there, not caring, either of them, about the afternoon that did not belong to them. But she ate slowly on, as he did too, pigeons hovering a yard away. It was the divorce, she speculated; it was the faltering at last of his acceptance of what she’d done. It wasn’t difficult to imagine him lying awake at nights, more and more as time went by, for longer and longer, feeling trapped by the divorce. He would hear the breathing of his wife, a murmur from a dream; a hand would

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involuntarily reach out. He would watch the light breaking the dark, slivers at first at the edges of the curtains through which marauding cats had been known to pass. He would try to think of something else, to force into his consciousness a different time of his life, childhood, the first day in an office and all the strangeness there had been. But always, instead, there was what there was. ‘It’s over, isn’t it?’ she said. He screwed up the foil that had wrapped his sandwiches and lobbed it into the bin nearest to where they sat. He nearly always didn’t miss it. He didn’t now. ‘I’m using up your life,’ he said. Her unfinished salad was on the seat between them, where his briefcase was too. When they’d been employed in the same office their surreptitious lunches among the dozy attendants in the picture gallery hadn’t been necessary when it rained; there’d been the privacy of his partitioned space, a quietness in the building then, sometimes a transistor playing gently behind a closed door, usually not even that. But always they had preferred their picnic in the Gardens. ‘It’s what I want,’ she said. ‘You deserve much more.’ ‘Is it the divorce?’ and in the same flat tone she added, ‘But I wanted that too, you know. For my own sake.’ He shook his head. ‘No, not the divorce,’ he said. * ‘No end to the heatwave they can’t see,’ Nell the tea-woman remarked pouring his tea from a huge metal teapot, milk already added, two lumps of sugar on the saucer. She was small and wiry, near the end of her time: when she went there’d be a drinks machine instead ‘Thanks, Nell,’ he said. It wasn’t the divorce. He had weathered the tremors of the divorce, had admired – after the shock of hearing what so undramatically she had done – her calm resolve. He had let her brush away his nervousness, his alarm at first that this was a complication that, emotionally, might prove too much for them both. Sipping his milky tea, he experienced a pang of desire, sharp as a splinter, an assault on his senses and his heart that made him want to go to her now, to clatter down the uncarpeted stairs and out into the fresh summer air, to take a taxicab, a thing he never did, to ask for her in the much smarter office building that was

hers, and say when she stepped out of that life that of course they could not do without one another. He shuffled through the papers that were his afternoon’s work. I note your comments regarding Section TMA (1970), he read, but whilst it is Revenue policy not to invoke the provisions of Section 88 unless there is substantial delay it is held that when the delay continues beyond the following April 5 these provisions are appropriate. Under all the circumstances, I propose to issue an estimated assessment which will make good an apparent loss of tab due to the Crown. He scribbled out his protest and added it to the pile for typing. She was the stronger of the two, stoical, and being stoical was what he’d always loved. Deprived of what they had, she would manage better, even if the circumstances suggested that she wouldn’t. He wasn’t in the Running Footman when she arrived. He usually was, and no matter what, she knew he’d come. When he did he bought her drinks, since this evening it was his turn. He carried them to where she kept a seat for him. Sherry it was for her, medium dry. His was the week’s red wine, from Poland. Muzak was playing, jazzy and sentimental. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said before he said anything else. ‘I’m happy, you know.’ She intended to say more. She’d thought all that out during the afternoon, her sentences comprosed and ready. But in his company she was aware that none of that was necessary: it was he, not she, who had to do the talking. He said, again, that she deserved much more; and repeated, too, that he was using up her life. Then, for the forty minutes that were theirs, they spoke of love: as it had been for them, as it still was, of its confinement, necessarily so, its intensity too, its pain, its mockery it had so often felt like, how they had never wasted it by sitting in silence in the dark of a cinema, or sleeping through the handful of nights they’d spent together in her flat. They had not wasted it in lovers’ quarrels, or lovers’ argument. They did not waste it now, in what they said. ‘Why?’ she murmured when their drinks were almost finished, when the Running Footman was noisier than it had been before, other office workers happy that their day was done. ‘Please.’ He did not answer, then dragged the words out. It was in people’s eyes, he said. In Chiltern Street it was what the bag-

woman he gave alms to saw, and the taxidriver in the Japanese café, and their waitress there, and the sleepy attendants of the picture gallery, and people who glanced at them in the Gardens. In all the places of their love affair – here too ��� it was what people saw. She was his bit on the side. ‘I can’t bear it that they think that.’ ‘It doesn’t matter what people think. Come to the flat now.’ He shook his head. She’d known he would: impulses had never been possible. It was nothing, what he was saying; of course it didn’t matter. She said so again, a surge of relief gathering. More than anything, more than ever before in all the time they’d been in love, she wanted to be with him, to watch him getting his ticket for the tube, to walk with him past the murky King and Queen public house at the corner of India Street, the betting shop, the laundrette. Four times he’d been to the flat: two-day cases, in Liverpool or Norwich. She’d never wanted to know what he said in Dollis Hill. ‘I don’t mind in the least,’ she said, ‘what people think. Really I don’t.’ She smiled, her hand on his arm across the table, her fingers pressing. ‘Of course not.’ He looked away and she, too, found herself staring at the brightly lit bottles behind the bar. ‘My God, I do,’ he whispered. ‘My God, I mind.’ ‘And also, you know, it isn’t true.’ ‘You’re everything to me. Everything in this world.’ ‘Telephone,’ she said, her voice low, too, the relief she’d felt draining away already. ‘Things can come up suddenly.’ It had always been he who had made the suggestion about his visiting her flat, and always weeks before the night he had in mind. ‘No, no,’ she said. ‘No, no. I’m sorry.’ She had never asked, she did not know, why it was he would not leave his marriage. His reason, she had supposed, was all the reasons there usually were. They would not walk this evening by the murky public house, or call in at the offlicense for wine. She would not see him differently in her flat, at home there and yet not quite. It was extraordinary that so much should end because of something slight. She wondered what it would feel like, waking up in the night, not knowing immediately what the dread she’d woken to was, searching her sudden consciousness and finding there the empty truth and futile desperation. ‘It’s no more than an expression,’ she said. FEBRUARY / MARCH 20011 IRISH AMERICA 47

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He knew she understood, in spite of all her protestations; as he had when she arranged her divorce. It had become an agitation for her, being married to someone else, but he had never minded that she was. A marriage that had died, and being haunted by how people considered the person you loved, were far from the heart of love itself; yet these had nagged. They would grow old together while never being together, lines ravaging her features, eyes dulled by expectation’s teasing. They would look back from their rare meetings as the years closed over this winning time and take solace from it. Was that there, too, in the bagwoman’s eyes, and idly passing through strangers’ half-interested reflections? ‘I haven’t explained this well,’ he said, and heard her say there was tomorrow. He shook his head. No, not tomorrow, he said. For longer than just today she had been ready for that because of course you had to be. Since the beginning she had been ready for it, and since the beginning she had been resolute that she would not claw back fragments from the debris. He was wrong; he had explained it well. She listened while again he said he loved her, and watched while he reached out for the briefcase she had so often wanted to replace yet could not. She smiled a little, standing up to go. Outside, drinkers had congregated on the pavement, catching the last of the sun. They walked through them, her coat over his arm, picked up from where she’d draped it on the back of her chair. He held it for her, and waited while she buttoned it and casually tied the belt. In the plate-glass of a department-store window their reflection was arrested while they embraced. They did not see that image recording for an instant a stylishness they would not have claimed as theirs, or guessed that in their love affair, they had possessed. Unspoken, understood, their rules of love had not been broken in the distress of ending what was not ended and never would be. Nothing of love had been destroyed today: they took that with them as they drew apart and walked away from one another, unaware that the future was less bleak than now it seemed, that in it there still would be the delicacy of their reticence, and they themselves as love had IA made them for a while. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a member of PenguinGroup (USA) Inc., from SELECTED STORIES by William Trevor. Copyright © 2009 by William Trevor

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1942 SEPTEMBER

When autumn days turned golden cool And the beckoning river still ran with the heat of summer. When the unsmiling nuns called us back to our desks. Back to the catechism – kneeling – praying – hymn singing. Back to all the disciplines designed to snare our boyish spirits, And so bring us to humble conformity.

SEPTEMBER

When they couldn’t keep us from the river Not after school Not on weekends Not ever They couldn’t keep us from that tidal flow, That seaward bound river that eddied And surged to the Hudson. The gray-green river that meant more to us Than all the sermons that Father Brennan could ever spin From Sunday’s pulpit.

SEPTEMBER

When autumn days turned golden cool And God was in His heaven, When all of everlasting certitude belonged to them We turned our freckled backs on it all. For the river belonged to us To the boys. – James O’Gara

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MICKY WARD:

“The Fighter”

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The real-life boxer behind the movie. By Thomas Hauser ight years ago, this magazine honored boxer Micky Ward as one of “The Irish 100.” Ward received his tribute at the annual Irish America awards banquet at the Plaza Hotel in New York. “I don’t know why I’m being honored,” Micky said that night. Then he turned toward fellow honoree, Robert Morris, leader of the New York City Fire Department’s “Rescue One” unit. “I go in the ring two, maybe three, times a year, and it’s for myself. Guys like

E

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Captain Morris are the real heroes. They put their life on the line every day to keep the rest of us safe.” That’s Micky Ward. Unpretentious, soft-spoken, a bit shy, more of a listener than a talker. Now, seven years after the end of his ring career, he has been catapulted into the spotlight with the release of the feature film, The Fighter. The Fighter stars Mark Wahlberg as Ward and centers on the relationship between Micky and his half-brother, Dickie Eklund. Sterling performances by Christian Bale (as Eklund), Amy Adams (as Micky’s girlfriend, Charlene), and Melissa Leo (as Alice Ward, the conniving matriarch of the dysfunctional Ward clan) give it extra impact. Dickie’s addiction to crack and the havoc it wreaks on those around him is a key plot element. As this issue of Irish America goes to press, the film and its actors have been nominated for numerous high-profile awards. Ward was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on October 4, 1965. He turned pro at age nineteen and won his first fourteen fights before dropping a split decision to Edwin Curet. He rebounded with four wins; then went through a stretch that saw him lose six of nine bouts leading to a 32-month hiatus from boxing. He returned to the ring in 1994 and won nine straight to land a world title fight against Vince Phillips. Micky was stopped on cuts by Phillips (the only “KO by” of Ward’s career). He retired from boxing in 2003 with a 38and-13 record and 27 knockouts to his credit. The key to Ward’s legacy as a fighter lies in his last three fights; a brutal trilogy against Arturo Gatti. The first of these encounters is widely regarded as one of the most dramatic slugfests of all time. Micky won. “It was a tough fight,” Ward said afterward. “Two guys with a lot of heart; two guys with the will to win. I was very drained, as tired as I’ve ever been. The night after the fight, I sat down and watched the tape. That’s when I knew it was something special. That’s also when I said to myself, ‘These two guys are nuts.’”

TOP: Mark

Ward versus Gatti captured the Wahlberg and or been knocked unconscious imagination of fight fans across Micky Ward after a night of hard drinking LEFT, TOP: Ward the nation. For their rematch, and Arturo Gatti and been strangled to death. His each man was paid the remark- – friends outwife (an exotic dancer named able sum of $1,200,000. That led side the ring; Amanda Rodrigues) was Micky to note, “If someone had fierce competicharged with first-degree murtors inside it. told me ten years ago when I lost BOTTOM: Ward der. Then investigators did a all those fights and retired from post fight. suspicious about-face, claiming boxing that someday I’d make a that Arturo had committed suimillion bucks from one fight, I’d have cide by hanging himself with the strap thought they were crazy.” from his wife’s purse. Gatti prevailed in their second “Arturo’s death really shook me up,” encounter and also the third. “Micky is a Micky says. “It was a terrible tragedy. I great guy,” he said when the fighting was wasn’t there, so I can’t tell you what hapdone. “I can’t say anything bad about pened. But it’s hard for me to believe that him. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t find he killed himself.” anything bad to say.” That brings us to The Fighter, the Ward responded in kind, offering, “It’s Hollywood version of Ward’s life. Purists not about who’s tougher. We’re both don’t like the movie. Its factual distortough guys. It’s about respect. In the ring, tions and other departures from reality we tried to kill each other. But I have a bother them. lot of respect for Arturo. I like him; he’s George Kimball, longtime boxing a nice person. I’d never say anything bad writer for the Boston Herald, covered about him and I think that he feels the Ward from his days as an amateur same way about me. I wanted to beat him through Micky’s final professional fight. more than anything in the world. But out“I have problems with the movie,” side the ring, he’s a beautiful guy.” Kimball says. “It depicts Micky’s family Gatti died in Brazil in 2009. Initially, in a way that’s bound to humiliate them. the authorities ruled that he’d passed out I can live with that because some of them

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“I loved boxing, were pretty bad. But the boxing career that’s shown in the film isn’t Micky’s and that bothers me. Chronologically, the storyline is way off. There are fights in the film that bear no relationship to what actually happened. And the make-believe world championship fight at the end is ridiculous. Micky never won a world title. When he beat Shae Neary in London (the climactic scene in The Fighter), it was for a belt given out by a silly alphabet-soup organization called the World Boxing Union. That belt meant so little to Micky that he gave it up rather than defend it. The great thing about Micky Ward is that he’s appreciat-

the one-on-one, the competition. Being a fighter is about sacrificing your body and doing everything you can within the rules to win.” “Some of the people in my family don’t like the movie,” Micky acknowledges. “I understand how they feel. But I like it; I think it’s great. The one thing I’m sorry about is that they ended the movie before my three fights with

Trainer Gil

ed and respected by people who Clancy with Arturo. They wanted the film to Micky Ward at know boxing even though he Irish America’s focus on me and Dickie and never won a world title. Why Top 100 celeDickie’s problems with drugs. construct a nonsense storyline bration in But Arturo was such a great guy. and pretend that fiction is histo- 2003. We shared so much. He had his ry?” issues; he lived like he fought. The best way to enjoy The But he deserved to be in the Fighter is to forget about the details of movie.” Micky’s life, treat it like fiction, and Dickie Eklund has had problems with enjoy the show. drugs and the law in the years since the That might be hard for some members happy ending portrayed in The Fighter. of Ward’s family to do. As Kimball Micky has enjoyed smoother sailing notes, “Micky’s mother is presented as and is content with his life today. He and such a selfish venal matriarch, she could Charlene were married in 2005. He has be Fagin in drag. Alice presides over a one child, a 21-year-old daughter named flock of daughters; big-haired, gumKasie, from a previous relationship, and chewing, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, is a member of Teamsters Union, Local small-town bimbos. This gaggle of 25, in Boston. slovenly crones serves the approximate “I shuttle people around to movie sets function of the witches in Macbeth.” when there’s work in town,” he explains.

52 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

“When I’m not doing that, I’m busy with other things.” Those other things include part ownership of an outdoor hockey rink in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and teaching youngsters to box on the second floor of a nearby Gold’s Gym. “I loved boxing,” Ward says, looking back on his years in the ring. “The oneon-one, the competition. Being a fighter is about sacrificing your body and doing everything you can within the rules to win. I gave boxing everything that was in me. I never cut corners in training or in a fight. I started my career at 140 pounds and I finished my career at 140 pounds, which tells you how hard I worked to stay in shape. I still follow boxing. John Duddy [the Derry middleweight now living in New York] is one of my favorite fighters. I’ve met him a few times; he’s a great guy. He gives it his all and never complains. He fights like me, which is one of the reasons I like watching him. But the fighting part of my life is over now. I’m 45 years old. To be honest with you, I don’t miss it.” It has been suggested that The Fighter will boost Ward’s profile the same way that Raging Bull elevated Jake LaMotta to iconic status. In truth, that’s unlikely to happen. LaMotta was a hall-of-fame fighter. Micky was a courageous warrior, but his skills weren’t at that level. And just as significantly, Ward shuns the limelight. “Some people like a lot of attention,” he says. “I don’t. I’m happy being in the background, so the movie won’t change my life. I’m just a regular guy, the same old me. Don’t worry; I IA won’t go Hollywood on you.” Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at HYPERLINKmailto:thauser@rcn.com His most recent book (Waiting for Carver Boyd) was published by JR Books. Hauser calls it “the best pure boxing writing I’ve ever done.”

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Young Irish

Writers In November NYU’s Glucksman Ireland house held a reading that featured three young Irish writers: Kevin Barry, Claire Kilroy and Paul Murray. The reading itself was wonderful and the conversation that followed was almost even better. To hear these voices, both individually and in dialogue, was to hear a refreshingly new perspective on contemporary Irish literature and society.These emerging writers are all influenced by Ireland’s rich literary past but write in ways entirely unique from their predecessors and from each other. In these interviews, Sheila Langan follows up with the three writers as they offer insight into their lives, their work, and what it’s like to be a writer in Ireland right now. 54 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

KEVIN BARRY

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imerick native Kevin Barry got his start as a journalist for a local paper. He went on to do freelance work, columns and sketches for Glasgow’s Sunday Herald, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Times and The Guardian. After leaving journalism to write fiction, Barry published his first collection of short stories, There Are Little Kingdoms, which won the 2007 Rooney Prize for Literature. He now lives in Co. Sligo and is finishing a novel, City of Bohane. His short story, “The Fjord of Killary,” was recently published in The New Yorker.

Sheila Langan: How did you come to write There Are Little Kingdoms? Kevin Barry: I was writing fiction in my 20s but in a pretty undisciplined way – late at night, maybe, after I’d peeled myself from the walls of a nightclub and crawled home along the gutters. But I slowly became more serious and more devout in my work, and I fell seriously in love with the short story form. Eventually, the stories I was working on began to seem less random and seemed to resonate with each other, thematically, so a collection looked possible. Fortunately, a publisher in Dublin felt the same. SL: You originally wrote for newspapers – how did you make the transition from journalism to fiction? Is there anything that carried over? KB: I greatly enjoyed working as a freelance journalist, because it gets you out of the house, and it gets you talking to people, but it wasn’t satisfying all of my cravings, and I knew that I needed to work with the other side of my brain – the darker, murkier side! I think journalism is useful training for a writer in the way it takes the preciousness out of the pragmatic side of the craft. You realize you don’t have to sit around waiting for inspiration and that you can always work if you just put your mind to it (and stay out of reach of the Internet!) In my very early days as a journalist, as a cub reporter on a local newspaper, I used to cover the district courthouse in Limerick city – all

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up in a city. As the stories in There Are Little Kingdoms started to come together, I was living in the UK, and my experience of Ireland at that time was coming back in the summer and going for bicycle trips in the west, passing through all of these one-horse and three-pub little towns, and I think it was the sheer bleakness of them that appealed to me! I am always struck, in particular, by the sense of entrapment you can see among younger people in such places – there are stories there. Accents are critical for me. I work from the ear, and when the accent changes – as it does every second mile in Ireland – the meaning changes, the humor changes, the soul changes. SL: What writers made you want to write? How have they influenced you? KB: The novelist Saul Bellow, for the way he could combine street lowlife and a high-flown literary style and language. The story writer V.S. Pritchett, for his talent in capturing and manipulating so many disparate human voices. The all-round genius Flann O’Brien, for his demented comic vision. I think the trick, for younger writers, is to read as widely and as passionately as possible – the more you read, the more likely your influences will tangle up and fuse into something unique. SL: What is it like to be a writer in Ireland right now, particularly in light of the economic crisis? KB: Writers are generally immune to the vagaries of boom-and-bust economics. We never have booms, so busts are the norm. There is little money in writing, and what little there is shrinks with every passing year. But you don’t do it for the money, you do it so that you can breathe. The greatest literary advice ever was this succinct statement from Annie Dillard: keep your overheads low! human life passed through that establishment, and my time there remains a source of inspiration. SL: During the conversation following the reading at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House, you mentioned that some writers work mainly from images, while others work more with sounds, with what they hear, and that you fall into the latter category. Not to sound like a therapist, but what do you hear? KB: Voices! I hear voices! A story comes to me, most often, from a scrap of talk, from something overheard or just caught on the fly. It’ll be just a line or two, something that on the surface might seem meaningless, but it’ll buzz about in my head for a few days, like a trapped wasp, and if it doesn’t go away, I know that I have to write it away. This is usually how a story is triggered for me. SL: Your stories are mostly set in the country and in smaller towns and villages (both named and unnamed). How do the many accents in Ireland play a role in how you shape your characters and dialogue? KB: Lots of my stories are set in smaller places, though I grew

SL: Are you going to stay in Ireland? KB: Yes, but with frequent jailbreaks. I tend to make a headlong dash for brighter climes in the winter, usually to Spain. The simple motion of traveling is good for the work, I find. The physical sensation of movement causes the brain to keep on whirring. Ireland is a little bleak at the moment but on a quiet morning in County Sligo, when I’m cycling my bike around the lake, and the rain looks like it might hold off for a good five or six minutes, it can still seem very heaven. SL: Can you tell our readers about City of Bohane? KB: Bohane is an imagined city on the western seaboard of Ireland, and the novel is a look at how things are out there in the middle of the 21st century. It’s about gang fights, and old love affairs, and city politics, and fashion, and lots else besides, but mostly it’s about the language – it’s a projection of what the language might be like in a small tormented Irish city in the 2050s. All similarities to actual Irish cities are entirely intentional. The novel will be published in the U.S. next September. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011 IRISH AMERICA 55

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CLAIRE KILROY

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orn in Dublin in 1973, Claire Kilroy is the author of three novels: All Summer, which won the 2004 Rooney Prize for Literature, Tenderwire, and All Names Have Been Changed. Kilroy studied English at Trinity College Dublin, where she also earned her Master’s degree in creative writing. She lives in Dublin. All Names Have Been Changed chronicles the year of a creative writing class at Trinity College in 1980s Dublin. The story is narrated by Declan, the only man in the group – aside from its leader, Glynn, one of Ireland’s greatest writers. The students all idolize Glynn but as the year progresses, the pedestal they’ve placed him on shrinks nearer and nearer to the ground. SL: How did you come to write All Names Have Been Changed? Claire Kilroy: I began it in 2006. John Updike had just published Terrorist to mixed reviews, and I wondered what it must be like to have been the foremost voice of your generation, the most celebrated and lauded writer of your time, and to then have that status questioned, to be yesterday’s man. This fused with the image of a poet on the cobbles of Front Square in Trinity, wandering around in no particular direction – he was lost. I saw the poet from above. Someone was watching him from an upstairs window. That someone was Declan, the narrator of All Names, who wants to be a writer himself, and the lost poet was Glynn, who ended up being a great Irish novelist, but one who 56 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

hasn’t published new work in years. To dramatize the endeavor of writing, which is a silent solitary occupation, I made Glynn the head of a writing class in Trinity. That’s when all the girls appeared, the beautiful, clever, mysterious girls. SL: You attended Trinity College Dublin, where your novel is set, though you were there a decade after your characters. Why didn’t you set the novel during that period? CK: I set the novel in the eighties because I couldn’t write about contemporary Dublin at the time. I was unable to understand what was going on. It made no sense to me. All Names was begun when the Celtic Tiger was going at full throttle. There was no suspicion that it would come to an end, and that mindset changed people. It changed the way they thought, changed their values, their aspirations, their expectations, their plans. If you weren’t part of it – and as an unsalaried novelist, I wasn’t – it was like being trapped on the set of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. People you thought you knew were suddenly different. When the recession first kicked in in 2008, I initially felt relieved. It proved that I hadn’t been deluded, that the property market was a pyramid scheme, that these vast sums of money everyone was talking about, these massive personal fortunes, were notional. The boom had been a period of hysterical thinking. Of course, the recession has since deteriorated into a fullscale economic crisis and I am deeply saddened by that, by all we’ve lost, by all the opportunities we’ve missed, and particularly by the fact that emigration has started again. My anger at

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Writers the architects of the boom is fueling my next novel. Going back to why I set the novel in the eighties: the Celtic Tiger sought to eradicate the Dublin I had stumbled into as a teenager. The new Dublin strove to be bling, strove to be Miami, strove to eradicate poor Dublin, eighties Dublin, but I had loved that Dublin. Run down though it was, scuzzy though it was, I found it an exciting place. People were doing things. People were writing things, singing things, filming things. Creativity hadn’t yet been subsumed into jobs in advertising firms and web design companies as they subsequently were. The writers who are winning awards all over the world right now were knocking around that Dublin – Colum McCann, Colm Toibin, Anne Enright, Joseph O’Connor – the list goes on. And so I wanted to commemorate that Dublin as a city where a writer might thrive – “a place where a thought might grow,” in the poet Derek Mahon’s words. And in 2006 when I began All Names, that Dublin was gone. It had been buried under British shops and glitzy bars, which are now steadily closing down. In short, it was an archaeological impulse that made me set All Names in ‘85, ‘86. SL: Your two previous novels, All Summer and Tenderwire, were narrated by women. What was it like to write from a male perspective, this time? CK: Liberating. A worry with the first two was that people felt that the female voice was my voice, and that I was Eva Tyne, and that I was Anna Hunt. Although I didn’t let that censor what I wrote, it did make me uncomfortable. So when I did hit upon Declan’s voice, I felt free. I had a male editor, Angus Cargill in Faber and Faber, so I trusted him to let me know when the voice didn’t ring true. The only correction he made was that Declan described a hearing aid as “knicker pink.” No man would use that adjective, according to Angus. It was very interesting to try to write about the girls from Declan’s point of view. I knew what the girls in the novel were thinking, but I’ve had to wonder at various junctures in my life what on earth certain men were thinking, and so in All Names, I tried to join the dots. SL: All Summer and Tenderwire orbit around art objects that may or may not be authentic yet are capable of producing intense rapture: a painting and a violin, respectively. In All Names Have Been Changed the focus of your characters’ obsession is Glynn, a writer. What were the differences and similarities in creating your characters’ relationships with him? CK: Rapture is rapture, and you can be enraptured with anything or anyone. It’s all about what captures the imagination, what ignites that spark, and writing about rapture is a shared characteristic of those three novels. They feel linked that way. With All Summer and Tenderwire, the enrapturing object remains aloof, perfect, and as unattainable as it is inanimate. However, in the case of All Names, Glynn, the adored one, has feet of clay, he answers back, and so Declan’s rapture cannot be

sustained. It sours into frustration and disillusionment – he’s growing up, really. I loved writing the closing scenes of the novel, about the acceptance of imperfection, about the fragility of your heroes, and about picking yourself back up. SL: What writers made you want to write? How have they influenced you? CK: John Banville and Vladimir Nabokov are the two biggies for me. They both write beautifully and illuminatingly and wittily about rapture and its pitfalls. As novelists, they function on every plane – not only at the level of the unit of the sentence (“the greatest invention on earth,” is how Banville describes it), but also at the bigger picture, the arc of a finely tuned and devastating plot. When I read Lolita at the age of 16, I transcribed bits of it into a notebook, as I wanted to be able to write sentences of my own, and I wanted those sentences to be as vivid as Nabokov’s sentences, and as piercing. I wanted to be able to capture the way, say, an afternoon in late September feels, that sadness of summer fading. Glynn is one of those writers. All Names opens – and indeed closes – with the observation that “Nobody wrote about September like Glynn.” SL: What is it like to be a writer in Ireland right now, particularly in light of the economic crisis? CK: It’s easier, in that basic necessities are cheaper, getting by is cheaper, and there’s no longer shame in not having the money to go out to dinner. It’s quite peculiar too, in that suddenly the government is looking to writers as the innovators who’ll get us out of this economic crisis. Anything to do with Fianna Fail makes me suspicious. Having said that, writers are on the other side of the fence to the builders and bankers who brought the country to its knees, in that writers create, they invent something new, whereas the builders and bankers simply destroyed. They extracted wealth from the land and left the country with ghost estates, a black hole of debt. A writer starts with the black hole of the blank page and imagines things into being – characters, stories, places. We make something out of nothing. So the country has moved from a period of destructivity back to celebrating its opposite: creativity. That can’t be a bad thing. SL: Will you stay in Ireland? CK: In the past, it’s been economic stagnation that has forced people to leave. Bizarrely, the fact that Ireland was thriving was the thing that was driving the likes of me away, for the simple reason that I could barely afford to live here anymore. Yes, I’ll stay, absolutely. Delighted to. I love it here. I always have. I was reared for export, and dreaded the prospect of it, so I still can’t quite believe my luck that I’m here. SL: What are you working on now? CK: A novel about the boom and bust. It’s a tale of folly and hubris.

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PAUL MURRAY

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aul Murray’s first novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes, was shortlisted for the 2003 Whitbreat Award. His second novel, Skippy Dies, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Murray studied English at Trinity College Dublin and received his Master’s in creative writing from the University of East Anglia. Skippy Dies takes place inside and outside the walls of Seabrook College, an established Catholic boarding school in wealthy South Dublin. Daniel “Skippy” Juster, one of its fourteen-year-old students, does die, on page 5 of the prologue. Murray spends the rest of the 661 pages telling us what led up to and what follows Skippy’s death on the floor of Ed’s Doughnut Shop – revealing much about contemporary Irish society along the way.

SL: How did you come to write Skippy Dies? Paul Murray: Well, I finished my first book and I had no idea what I was going to do next. I had a two book contract and I remember the publisher saying “have you any idea for your second book?” and I said “no,” which kind of alarmed them. But then it started off. It was initially a short story, actually, about a teacher, Howard, who gets the feeling that something is terribly wrong with this boy in his class, Skippy. But as soon as I started writing it I found that I really enjoyed the environment of the school. Ideas kept coming to me for characters and situations, and the writing kept going. That’s just the way it works sometimes. You never really know which stories you’re going to feel at home in or an affinity with until you actually start writing them. In this case, what started off as a short story then turned into this 1,000 page monster. Then there was a long period of trying to cut it back. It took seven years to finish. It was fun to write, that’s why it got so long. SL: How did you enter the mental space of your teenage characters? PM: I just tuned in. My inner fourteen-year-old is still quite vocal and present. I enjoy humor and comic writing and I found that with school-age characters you can almost have them saying anything you like. I found it quite easy – maybe scarily easy – to regress into my fourteen-year-old state. I’m still friends with a lot of the guys I was in school with and when we hang around together I find that that’s what happens: you find yourself slipping back into that way of speaking. It really wasn’t a huge stretch for me, I’m afraid to say. SL: You mentioned that you enjoyed working with the environment of a school, which is something I found particularly interesting about Skippy Dies: schools are such specific places, with their own strange populations, rules and possibilities. What did setting your book in a school allow you to do? PM: It allowed me to write about the world that I had come from, which is the world of South Dublin: one of the wealthiest parts of Dublin and Ireland. It is quite a conservative place – quite money oriented and status oriented – not an especially inspiring place to grow up. I thought that a school was a really interesting 58 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

PHOTO BY CORMAC SCULLY

prism through which to look at that world. In a school you learn your maths and history, but you’re also inculcated with a set of ideas about how the world works and what it is to be a citizen of that world. So what better way to look at a society than to look at a school? In this case, one where you’re told that to be a significant and successful person is to tick various boxes: study hard, go to college, get a job in business, buy an SUV and a big house and have kids. That’s very much what they presented you with in my school, and in the school in the book. Writing about teenagers was very liberating since, like I’ve said, they can be quite extreme: they can do and say things that adult characters might not. Also, I would argue, teenagers are the ones who experience the changes in a society most directly. What we adults experience as a change, they experience as a reality. In the 90s and 2000s, Ireland changed really drastically. The morality imposed by the church was overturned and was replaced by this new, very materialistic kind of thinking. Many people were at sea in this new kind of world, but for their kids these changes were presented as established, finished facts. It was the Celtic Tiger, and the kids of this generation were known as the “tiger cubs.” They were the first generation, basically, in Irish history that had never known widespread poverty. Obviously there were many parts of the culture that were still completely marginalized and left out of the discourse, but a lot of kids were very indulged and grew up thinking that they would automatically get jobs and

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Young Irish

Writers that they would never have to emigrate. All those things that had haunted Irish society for the last one hundred years didn’t exist for them. Then the way they thought the world worked turned out to be a total fiction and now they’re the ones who have to bear the brunt of that. I found school to be a really interesting way of looking at all the crazy changes. SL: Skippy Dies covers an astounding range of topics: video games, string theory, school life for both students and teachers, drug abuse, crushes – just to name a few – but you bring them together in a way that seems very natural. How did you accomplish that? PM: That’s part of why it took so long to write. Writing is a strange game: the links between things sometimes aren’t apparent for a long time. You’re looking at your own book, and those secret correspondences and resonances in it take a long time to appear. The fact that it had the single setting of the school was really helpful. Because that architecture was there and was something people were familiar with, I felt I could do more left-field, disparate things with the knowledge that this setting, this scenario, was going to be strong enough that readers would still be able to understand how the book worked. In school you’re thrown into this pool with 200 people who are completely different: there are stupid people and really smart people, there are chronic over-achievers and chronic overeaters and gifted tennis players and so on. The beauty of setting a book in a school is that you can really have as many stories as you want. They’re all right there and you can pick them up and you can put them down and it’s all focused for you by this single setting. My first book was a firstperson narrative so everything was tied together by a single voice. But it was also limiting because this one character couldn’t really express all the things you might want him to see and feel. ... When I came to the second book I really wanted to write in the third person; I wanted to go to different places. Also, all the [characters] are studying different subjects in school, which was really useful because I could bring in history or poetry or science and it wouldn’t seem contrived, It was something they could legitimately come across as part of their every day. SL: What writers made you want to write? How have they influenced you? PM: Well, if you grow up in Dublin you’ve got some pretty heavy hitters. In college I read Joyce and Yeats. They’re inspiring in so many ways because they both had an astonishing range and astonishing courage. For me humor is really important and Joyce and Beckett were unafraid to tackle the biggest themes and the darkest themes, but they also weren’t afraid to do it with humor… They were not afraid to say that humanity and existence are in some ways pretty silly. Pynchon was also really important to me. He writes books that are absolutely as ambitious and complex as it’s possible for literature to be, but are also, again, extremely funny. I think that there’s a certain compassion that comes with humor.

SL: What is it like to be a writer in Ireland right now, particularly in light of the economic crisis? PM: I think that Ireland was actually a very difficult place for writers during the Celtic Tiger. The country was just so nakedly obsessed with money, and I know that sounds like a very judgmental thing to say, but it was honestly very cynical. If you were poor or part of a marginalized community, you were left behind in that society. Ireland became, very quickly, quite an uncaring place. And one corollary, another effect of the boom, was that culture became sort of unimportant. The outdoor hot tub became the defining purchase. If you’ve ever been to Ireland then you know you do not need an outdoor hot tub in this country! But many people just weren’t interested in introspection or looking into their souls or what it is to be alive because it seemed like we had the solutions to those questions and they were the hot tub and the panini and the new kitchen. Artists were out of the frame in a really strange way. So what’s happened since the crash? Well, the cost of living is a bit cheaper, which is nice…And people are turning back to art again. The artists kept plugging away at a time when no one was really interested. They weren’t looking for medals or anything, they just kept doing what they were doing and stuck to their guns. Now the tide has sort of turned. At times like this the outdoor hot tub no longer ticks the boxes and you find yourself needing to read a book or a poem or go for a walk in the park – you need those things more than you did in times of plenty. It is a really scary time, but the argument could be made – and I’m wary to make it since there are so many people suffering right now – that maybe there will be some good. Maybe people will become a little bit more alive to what’s going on around them. Hopefully there might be a recovered sense of community and place that was lost in the feeding frenzy of the Celtic Tiger. SL: Will you stay in Ireland? PM: There is this slightly annoying thing: they’ve capped the artist’s exemption. It used to be that, as an artist, you didn’t have to pay taxes in Ireland. So obviously that was really great for Bono and Enya, but it was also a sort of cultural apology for the appalling way artists were treated in the early years of the state, when they were censored and often had to leave the country. It basically means that if you spend 5 years writing a book, not making any money, then in the year that your book comes out, you’re not going to get buried with taxes when you actually earn something. But now they’ve capped it at €40,000. Most Irish artists don’t make anywhere near that so it doesn’t matter in a lot of cases, but given that it’s still a very expensive country to be an artist in, that does make it slightly harder to stay here. But that being said, my family is here, all my friends are here and I think that Dublin is a really great city. It’s small, it’s easy enough to find your way around and there really is a sense of community here that is increasingly rare in the world. As I get older I value that more and more: the importance of friendship and the importance of having people around you who you trust and you can talk to. It would take a lot for me to leave that. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011 IRISH AMERICA 59

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Young Irish Writer Finds

Room at The Top Emma Donoghue is one of the younger Irish writers who found international success in 2010 when her novel Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

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fter years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 Emma Donoghue settled in London, Ontario, where she lives with Chris Roulston and their son Finn (7) and daughter Una (3). Born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, Donoghue is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue (the literary critic, Henry James Professor at New York University). Prior to Room (2010), she was mainly known for her historical fiction and her collection of short stories Touchy Subjects (2006). Kara Rota met her at a reading at the Irish Arts Center in New York. I began reading Emma Donoghue’s critically lauded novel Room in the auditorium of the Irish Arts Center, while waiting for the her reading to begin. I’d just been handed a press copy, and upon turning to the beginning of the story, I found that I couldn’t stop. Room, shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, is narrated by 5-year-old Jack, who lives with his Ma in an 11’x11’ room and has never experienced the world outside of it. His Ma, however, retains vivid memories of the last time she set foot in the world: seven years earlier as a 19-year-old student, before she was kidnapped and imprisoned by “Old Nick,” who is also Jack’s biological father. Like any 5-year-old, Jack’s days are filled with lessons and play, savored candy and rationed TV time, where the evening news holds no more relevance to his experience of the world than Dora the Explorer. When Ma’s fear for their lives and Jack’s multiplying questions about the abstract reality of the world outside Room force them to risk everything to escape, the novel cracks open wide into a universe that brings both Jack and Ma inexplicable joy and wonder and overwhelming challenges. I later had a chance to talk with Donoghue about her novel. KR: To me, Room is an allegory for all parent-child relationships. For a small child, his mother can often feel like his entire world, while her child’s love both traps her and gives her very existence meaning. The

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inevitable opening up of the rest of the world is differently wondrous and traumatic for both of them. Which came first – the idea of writing a book about the closed-circuit intimacy of the mother-child connection, or the setting of a tiny room to emphasize the claustrophobia and incredible creativity and love therein?

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EMMA DONOGHUE ED: The setting came first. I had no plans to write a book about parenthood, because I assumed that although my head was full of thoughts about babies and how they change your life, anything I could write on the subject would be banal, since nearly everybody goes through it. But when I heard about the Fritzl case* and imagined writing a book from the point of view of a child who comes out of a one-room prison into our world, I soon realized that this would be a way to talk about parenthood in a way that restores the primal drama to it, the intensity that every parent encounters. Why do you think people relate so deeply to the story, which is about such a specific experience that most of us have never experienced anything akin to? I know the novel becomes different with each reader; in a sense, a book is what happens when an individual reader encounters a text (in any form – paper, audio, screen), it happens in the gap between them. So yes, to some Jack is their own aching troubled childhood self, and to others their witty grandson, and to some Ma is a cheerful saint, and to others she’s a messed-up rape victim. And that’s all fine; what matters to me is that people care about this story. I think Room is working because it’s about such universal subjects – love, freedom, closeness, individuality. And also because, although it may seem “ripped from the headlines,” it’s actually an ancient story with echoes of old legends such as Rapunzel. How did your relationship with your children inform the writing of Room, and vice versa? My son Finn, who was five while I was drafting the novel, is not Jack, mostly because his rearing has been the complete opposite; he’s sociable, expansive, laidback, messy. But they do share a certain scientifically curious and playfully imaginative spirit. Much of Ma’s conversation with Jack is based on mine with Finn, and certain exchanges (for instance, when he asks her to promise that if he’s born from her body again in the next life she’ll call him by the same name) are word-for-word from conversations I had with Finn when he was five. I was struck by how my image of Ma shifted once we were brought outside of Room and into “the real world.” In the early chapters, she is the goddess that holds the entire world together. On the outside, she is so young, and as unversed in being an adult in the world as Jack is in being a child in it. Did you have a conception of Ma that was separate from how Jack saw her throughout the book? Yes, I didn’t have an elaborate back story for her pre-Room, but I did for the years when she was locked up. Actually, the real tech-

nical challenge of Room wasn’t making a voice for Jack, but managing to create Ma as a three-dimensional character who is only represented through Jack’s eyes and recorded dialogue –“in a glass darkly,” to quote Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In the second half, I’m revealing her resentment and uncertainty that was there all along. To some readers this is a disappointment or even a betrayal, but I wanted to invent a real human being, not a goddess. I found the critical focus on Ma’s breastfeeding of Jack as a disturbing factor to be perplexing. Not only invaluable as a source of comfort, it seems obvious that the continued nutritional factor supplementing a poor diet composed of packaged and processed foods is probably all that has allowed Jack to develop, physically and mentally, as normally as he has. Did you find this to be a specifically American reaction to that aspect of the story? Did you intend for it to raise complex questions about sexuality, attachment and growth, as Aimee Bender’s review in the New York Times suggested? I did realize it was going to cause a stir, because an assistant of my agent’s reacted with horror to the breastfeeding in the first draft. “Aha,” I thought, “I must keep that in, as clearly it stirs up all sorts of discomfort about the more visceral side of motherhood!” But I’m still staggered by how much of a mental block some readers, specifically in the U.S., have about it. I’m not a zealot about breastfeeding; it worked for me with my daughter but not my son. To me, weaning is tied to the child’s entry into the social world and that doesn’t happen for Jack till five, so why would she wean him until then? During your reading at the Irish Arts Center, you mentioned that Room came to you as if in a rush, that you wrote it very quickly and without much drafting. Its critical reception has also been huge and overwhelmingly positive. What has that experience been like? An absolute joy. Like most writers, I have often felt as if I’m throwing stones into a lake, causing barely a ripple. I’m used to getting good reviews but I’ve never caused such a big ripple as with Room; not only is it reaching so many more readers, worldwide, but it’s getting people talking and arguing, it’s moving them as I never have before. I just can’t believe my luck, that I came upon such a great premise for a novel with no particular effort. It’s not how the writing process usually goes!

*The Fritzl case emerged in April 2008 when a 42-year-old woman, Elisabeth Fritzl, stated to police in the town of Amstetten, Austria, that she had been held captive for 24 years in a concealed corridor part of the basement area of the family home, a condominium-style apartment complex built by her father, Josef Fritzl and that he had physically assaulted and sexually abused her numerous times during her imprisonment.The physical relationship forced upon her by her father resulted in the birth of seven children and one miscarriage. 62 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

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A Rugged Beauty Tory Island lies nine miles off Bloody Foreland on the Donegal coast – a rugged, treeless, windswept Atlantic outcropping with striking, near-preternatural beauty and a long, fabulous history.

“. . . like it or not, we are, all of us, Tory Islanders under the skin.” — Marius O’hEarcain

Story by Dan Casey

T

he remotest of Ireland’s inhabited islands, Tory has Neolithic and Bronze Age roots and a fascinating mythology all its own. But for the past several decades the Island has been feeling its way into the Big World, venturing into new, uncharted waters: it’s become a tourist destination and home to an indigenous artist colony. Year-round ferries from Bunbeg and Magheroarty in Donegal carry tourists and islanders to and fro, barring occasional interruptions from “perfect” and imperfect storms. A helicopter from Falcarragh sets down on a makeshift Island pad every other week. Tory is still Irish speaking – natives there speak a dialectal variant of Ulster Irish – but the island is not just another Gaeltacht gem, it’s a rich repository of Irish culture, an archaeological and anthropological treasure. Isolated on the Celtic fringe for centuries, Tory offers unique insights into Old Ireland and early Irish society. It preserves traditions and remnants of traditions: storytelling and song long gone from the mainland, rundale farming, naming systems, kinship patterns, marriage customs, bi-lateral inheritance, and more. Tory Islanders, like islanders elsewhere, are resilient and fiercely independent. Patsy Dan Rodgers is the current King of Tory, a position that may, in fact, be a latter-day holdover from the age of the Gaelic chieftains and brehons. (The office is not hereditary it’s kingship by consensus). In addition to being island spokesman, Patsy Dan is an affable “man for all seasons”: painter, musician, storyteller, fisherman, and guide. He welcomes visitors to his island, referring to mainland Ireland as “the country.” “Always a pleasure to welcome people from the country here,” he says. Islanders heading to the mainland for the day, talk of “going to Ireland,” and Maire Clar McMahon, an Island teacher, tells of a youngster who when asked to describe Ireland wrote, “Ireland’s a large island off the coast of Tory.” And, in a way, 64 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

that’s how Tory people see themselves. Nearly three miles long and a little over a half-mile wide, Tory has a population of about two hundred, depending on the season or who is asked. In pre-Famine times there were perhaps as many as four-to-five hundred living in three or four clachans, distinctly Irish cottage clusters appropriately named East Town, West Town, Middle Town, and New Town. By 2002, population had declined and was concentrated in An Baile Thiar (West Town) and An Baile Thoir (East Town). In ancient times West of Ireland islanders, and Tory Islanders in

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With a Pirate Past

Clockwise from left: The Sixth-century Bell Tower. Patsy Dan Rodgers, artist and King of Tory. Colmcille’s chapel. Main Street on Tory.

particular, were typecast as wicked Formorian pirates, as smugglers and thieves living by stealth and the law of wrack. Though the island likely takes its name from the high torrs at its Northeast corner or from tor ri, “the king’s tower,” in Irish, the word toraigh means “robber” or “bandit.” Not only that, but T.W. Rolleston, in his once popular Myths and Legends of the Celts, tells us: “The stronghold of Formorian power was Tory Island, which uplifts its wild cliffs and precipices in the Atlantic off the coast of Donegal – a fit home for this race of misery and horror.” The text goes on to describe Islanders as “huge, misshapen, violent and cruel.” But that is, of course, pure fiction – legend and invention. The reality is that, going back more than four thousand years, Tory Islanders have been farmer-fishermen, monks, currach-

builders, poitin-distillers, kelp gatherers, spinners and weavers, warring occasionally with aggressive interlopers and an unpredictable, tempestuous sea. Braving sometimes forty-foot waves, force-nine gales and sub-zero temperatures, men and women of “Toraigh na dTonn,” the Tory Island ferry, have carried on.

A Rich Mythology and a Modern Day Saint The island’s landscape is steeped in mythology and folklore. It is said that Balor of the Evil Eye, a mythical Cyclopsean giant and demon deity of darkness, made Tory his island and Tor Mor, a tower on Tory, his fortress. That mythological tale, preserved as it is in living folklore, has many variations, and Islanders have been FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011 IRISH AMERICA 65

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Far left: Maire Clar McMahon, an Island teacher. Above: Welcome to West Town. Left: A monastic ruin.

known to regale visitors with Balor stories and tales from the Celtic myth-cycle, pausing dramatically to gesture towards Tor Mor or Balor’s Fort or stone effigies of Balor’s soldiers in nearby rock formations. Those telling the story may sometimes even suggest that the old gods may not be dead, just napping. Storytelling is, after all, high art on Tory. Since Old Balor’s day, a lot has happened on the island. It’s said Colmcille himself established the mid-sixth-century monastery that dominated Tory life for more than a millennium and served as an important house in the Columban church. There’s little physical evidence of the monastic foundation now, other than the ruin of a sixth or seventh-century bell tower, outlines of chapels and oratories, and the symbolic twelfth-century Tau Cross. In spite of the very few references in the Irish Annals, it’s difficult to imagine, especially given its isolated geographic location, that Norse raiders didn’t pay frequent plundering visits to the Tory monks or didn’t enslave them, as they did those on Iona. However, there’s but a single story of an attack by “Danes” (Norse) in Tory folk memory. In 1595, the island was, we know, overrun by English army despoilers who pillaged and destroyed more than a thousand years of monastic continuity. There are, of course, other memorable events associated with Tory history: the vicious slaughter of O’Doherty and O’Donnell forces on the island in 1608; the final naval encounter of the 1798 Rebellion, fought within sight of Tory; and the wreck of “HMS Wasp,” a British gunboat on an eviction and tax-collecting mission in 1884. The Islanders credited the power of prayer and their “Cursing Stone” for the taxmen’s “terrible misfortune.” Tory Island has also escaped more recent calamities, like the Irish government’s evacuation and relocation scheme. In 1974, after a nearly eight-week storm mercilessly pounded the island, cutting off food supplies and communication, it appeared Tory’s fate was sealed. Off-shores, like Inishturbot and Inishbofin, were doomed, but Tory simply would not die. Enter Diarmuid O’Peicin, feisty Jesuit and parish priest of Tory, 66 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

to champion the Islanders’ cause. On arrival in 1980, Fr. O’Peicin vowed to go down fighting. Highlighting the plight of the Islanders, taking their cause to the European Parliament and the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress, the determined priest called attention to the Irish government’s “benign neglect,” and raised funding to help underwrite ferry services and an electric power station. Cottage industries and an Island Co-op added to Tory’s fiscal stability. Nonetheless, offers of government housing on the mainland and memories of the ravages of “the Great Storm” drove some island families to relocate, many to nearby Falcarragh. Frank Dolan, writing in The Irish Post, called the unfortunate affair “a mighty battle against all the odds.” It was, in fact, a Pyrrhic culture-shattering victory, but, in the end, the Islanders would persevere.

Of Art, Artisans and Artists The island has had its share of talented artists – accomplished musicians, sean-nos singers, dancers, and storytellers – though, in more recent years, the traditional arts have been eclipsed by “mainland arts.” It’s said that when the English artist Derek Hill came to Tory in1956 and set up his easel to sketch the landscape, he was confronted by Jimmy Dixon, an unimpressed local who informed Hill that he (Jimmy) could do better. And, on Hill’s successive returns to the island, he found others who said they could do better still. With the most rudimentary art supplies, Jimmy Dixon and others worked and reworked canvases, using ordinary house paints to produce startling visual representations of Island life. Hill was astounded at the raw talent shared among the islanders, he must have thought Tory a place that bred artists. His own portraits of the Islanders have been judged among his finest works.

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Far left: Mary Meenan, A Woman of Tory. Left: At the Pier. Below: The Future: Tory Island Schoolkids.

A second generation of painters – Patsy Dan Rodgers, Ruiari Rodgers, Michael Finbar Rodgers, Anton Meenan – followed in the 1970s and 80s, establishing the now well-regarded Tory School. Their paintings capture a sometimes romantic, mystical Tory, as well as a Tory that’s bleak and threatening. Works by these and other Tory artists have been exhibited in European galleries and are found in major private collections. The Dixon Gallery on the Island also houses many of the Islanders’ best pieces.

happening on. More than the Arans and other Gaeltacht showcases, it preserves genuine customs and beliefs. Tory is not a mere remnant of an Ireland that’s fast disappearing, it’s living testament to a vibrant language and culture, to a way of life. The island has, for decades, fascinated anthropologists, archaeologists, folklorists, genealogists, linguists, musicologists, ornithologists, writers and poets. It offers scholars, curiosity seekers and visitors alike not only spectacular vistas and a grand day away from it all, but “the full Irish-Irish experience.” In that, Tory is unique. Moreover, the Islanders are friendly, hospitable and welcomThe Traditional Arts ing; and, if the island is enjoying a kind of cultural renaissance, it Song, dance, and storytelling are, it seems, ingrained in Tory is a renaissance now dependent on tourism and art. life. Singers and dancers, renowned for renditions of “An Maidrin Is it a matter of time until tourism fades and Tory artists find Rua” and other Island favorites, are fondly remembered. At the more distant subjects? The craic in the hotel bar on any given fireside in the Ostan Torai, the island’s only hotel, the Doohans, night – there’s only the one hotel – or in the social club denies inn-keepers whose families go back centuries on Tory, make menthat. Tradition lives on in language, music, dance, and in great tal notes as a local historian recounts a litany wonder-tales. of shipwrecks that brought the Islanders As long as there are fish in the sea and a occasional “gifts” of wood, coal, cloth, and king with charisma and pride of place, like foodstuffs . . . and of the landlords – good, Patsy Dan Rodgers, the Island will beckon bad, and indifferent – who attempted visitors and émigrés to return. And return reforms of a rundale farming system that cut they will. deep into the fabric of Tory life. The people of Tory have a will to survive A folklorist from Dublin collects folk – it’s in the genes. There have been dramatremedies and cures and learns of the power ic changes since the seventies and eighties of blessed Tory clay and poitin in banishing – Tory has a modern school, a new commuspirits and of the curse of red-haired women nity center, a fine hotel, art gallery, and on fishermen. She shows special interest in supermarket. Population rises and falls, and Colmcille’s holy well. adversities come and go, but as long as Patsy Dan Rodger’s Tory Landscapes. Though they represent strong Tory tradi- (McGilloway Gallery). the Island has a school and children in it, tions, there’s little fishing and lobstering, and men and women passionate about life and even less farming on Tory today: currachs have been retired, and about their way of living it, there will be a Tory. West Town and Port Doon piers rebuilt, and shallow harbors dredged. The once self-sufficient economy of the place has To paraphrase Tourism Ireland: There’s more than a little Tory changed. Islanders no longer look for seasonal work in Derry or in all of us. IA Scotland or far-off England. With improved transport and the technology revolution, they can, at last, have a life on Tory. Dan Casey has authored hundreds of articles and reviews, as well as books of fiction and poetry. His prize-winning docuApart from shipwrecks and stray fishing boats, no one “accimentary, “The Green Square Mile: Story of the Charlestown dentally happens” on Tory Island. Yet, Tory is a place well worth Irish,” has won critical recognition in Ireland and in the U.S. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011 IRISH AMERICA 67

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{corner of ireland}

The Irish Mansion in Greeneville,Tennessee Marian Betancourt tells the story of the Dickson family legacy in the mountainous region of northeast Tennesee.

W

COURTESY OF TH E AME

RICA

NA

RT CO L

LE CT I

illiam Dickson left County Antrim, Ireland at the age of 16 for a better life in Greeneville, Tennessee. He succeeded. By 1796, O NIAN TH S when he was 21, he was comSMI E TH AT missioned by President N O George Washington to be the town’s first postmaster, a lifetime appointment. He also amassed a considerable fortune as a merchant. This mountainous region of northeast Tennessee was not easy to get to except along old Indian trails. It did have a good water source, known as “Big Spring,” but there is nothing to explain why the area was amenable to the Irish, or to merchants, who needed to ship goods in. They named an early road Irish Street, so they obviously worked it out. No matter the difficulty of the terrain, what the Irish settlers found was a vast improvement over conditions in the homeland, as reported by Dickson’s brother John, in an 1816 letter from Rocksborough, where landlords charged enor-

A Charming Historic Town • The plaque at the Andrew Johnson National

Historic Site claims his Federal house was built “in the Irish Style.”

The General Morgan Inn, a historic hotel, is steps away from the Williams-Dixon Mansion.

Nathanael Greene Museum features history of the area.

Big Spring is located behind the library on North Main Street.

Irish Street was the road to Knoxville, but today, Route 81 is more efficient.

68 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

mous prices and tenants could not pay their rents or afford oatmeal or wheat. “I think there is very little prospect of doing any good in this country for a long time, as the people are destroyed with religious feuds and heavy taxes.” About half the first families of northeast Tennessee came from Ireland, with the largest numbers from Antrim and Ulster according to the East Tennessee Historical Society, which has been identifying the First Families of Tennessee. There were more Irish settlers there than the combined sum of Scottish, German and English. Two years after his letter, John Dickson arrived in Greeneville with his wife to live in what must have seemed a paradise. By then William Dickson had married Eliza Douglas, the daughter of one of George Washington’s soldiers (she was 9 years his senior), and they had a In 1815 Dickson daughter Catharine, their only child, on commissioned whom they bestowed what was at the time Raphaelle Peale an exceptional education for a girl, so that to paint his she would be able to skillfully manage the portrait on ivory miniature. In family business and, hopefully, a large 1818, he had household. Dickson had already built fine one made of homes on Main Street for his and his brothhis 16-year-old daughter er’s family, but he was already planning the Catharine. ultimate dream house for his daughter. Although Catharine did not marry Dr. Alexander Williams (another wealthy merchant) until 1823, Dickson, in 1815, began construction of the imposing high Federal style mansion that would be his daughter’s wedding gift. He hired Irish artisans Thomas Battersby and John Hoy to direct the construction and do the finishing work. Catharine was a gracious hostess and the home and gardens became known as the “Showplace of East Tennessee.” Presidents Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and Andrew Johnson were entertained here, as well as “celebrities” like Davy Crockett and the Marquis de Lafayette. William Dickson himself must have enjoyed visiting his grandchildren in this spacious home. Catharine gave birth to ten children, but only four survived: Elizabeth Douglas (1824), William Dickson (1826), Joseph Alexander (1832), and Thomas Lanier (1838). William

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PHOTO BY MARIAN BETANCOURT

(COURTESY OF PHIL GENTRY, GREENEVILLE SUN.)

PHOTO BY MARIAN BETANCOURT

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LEFT: The Dickson-Williams mansion, Greeneville, Tennessee. TOP: The Raphaelle Peale miniature portrait of Catharine Dickson, age 16. ABOVE: Irish Street sign.

Dickson died in 1842 and did not live to witness the incident Union but she denied the charge for the rest of her life. (The that would make this house famous for all time. razor Morgan carried out with him is now displayed in the On September 3, 1864, General Thomas Hunt Morgan, known upstairs bedroom, known as the Morgan Bedroom.) as The Thunderbolt of the Confederacy because of his surprise The horror of the event at her home is said to have led raids, arranged to stay in the home of his friend Mrs. Williams, Catharine to despair and she died six years later. The mansion now a widow. Although Tennessee did secede from the Union, eventually passed from family hands and over the next 100 northeast Tennessee was known for its Unionist sentiment. years served as a school, a tobacco factory, an inn, and a hospiCatharine never said which side she favored and entertained both tal, until it was privately purchased and restored to its mid-19thUnion and Confederate officers when they were in town. century appearance. It is now operated by the Dickson-Williams Learning of Morgan’s presence, Union Historical Association as a museum. troops, with orders to take him dead or William Dickson’s great-great-grandalive, surrounded the block. Morgan, son, Beverly Williams, 66, (descended who had been in the upstairs bedroom from Thomas Lanier Williams) has, with shaving, pulled on his pants and ran from his wife Wilhelmina, always been The playwright Tennessee the house in his nightshirt, razor still in involved with activities at the house. Williams is descended from hand, and headed for the stables. He was Since his retirement from the dairy William Dickson. He changed his chased and fatally shot and his entire industry, he is a full time tour guide. name from Thomas Lanier staff was captured with the exception of (His unusual first name is a family name Williams to Tennessee Williams Catharine’s son, Captain William D. from the Beverley family, which came in honor of his ancestors’ home Williams, who, according to local histofrom England to Virginia in the 1600s.) rian Robert Orr, hid in the cistern until he He has lots of stories to tell. To visit the state. He was a fourth cousin to could escape. Some reports say young house, call Main Street Tours at 423Beverly Williams. Lucy Williams, Joseph’s wife, tipped the 639-7102. IA

Famous Kin

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{roots} By Julia McAvoy

The Joyce Family T

hough not Gaelic and sometimes found in England of non-Irish origin, Joyce may certainly be regarded as a true Irish name, and more particularly a Connacht one. The first Joyce to come to Ireland of whom there is an authentic record was Thomas de Jorse a Welshman, who in 1283 married the daughter of Turiogh O’Brien, Prince of Thomond and went with her to County Galway; there in Iar Connacht, which runs over the Mayo border, they were at first aligned with the O’Flahertys but they went on to establish themselves so firmly and so permanently that the territory they inhabited became known as Joyce’s Country. Statistics of births, deaths and marriages show that this is still their stronghold: over eighty per cent of the Joyces in Ireland come from Galway or Mayo. Derived from the Brehon personal name “Iodoc,” which is a diminutive of iudh meaning lord, the name was adopted by the Normans in the form of Josse. While some scholars believe the name derived from the French Joice, which means joy, a multitude of names developed in Ireland and England from Josse, including Joce, Joass, and Joyce. The Joyce coat of arms displays two eagles in tribute to the special relationship the bird has to the clan. Legend has it that while William Joyce was traveling in Europe during the Crusades he was captured by Saracens and sold into slavery to a goldsmith in Algeria. He escaped and was led by an eagle to the location of a buried treasure. After returning home, he used the riches from this treasure to build the walls of Galway City. It is believed that it was William who designed the Claddagh Ring, one of Ireland’s most enduring symbols. He is said to have learned his silversmithing trade when he was James held captive in Algeria. Later, Joyce William Joyce’s granddaughter Margaret Joyce, or Margaret na Drehide (of the bridges), built bridges throughout Connaught, which includes the modern counties of Mayo and Galway. Margaret also encountered an eagle, one that dropped a jewel into her lap. Many of the Joyces became successful merchants and interspersed themselves throughout the Fourteen Tribes of Galway. The clan also produced many fine scholars, historians, linguists, and folklorists. The Joyce clan also produced a most infamous member. During WWII, William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw Haw, was the voice on the radio that embraced fascism. Born in New York City but raised in County Mayo, he was eventually captured by the Allies, convicted of treason, and hanged.

70 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

Without a doubt the most famous Joyce is author James Joyce, who was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882 (d. Jan. 13,1941). A poet, novelist, playwright, and author, Joyce is arguably the only 20th century novelist to have published only masterpieces. His notable works include: Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake. June 16 marks the annual celebration of Bloomsday when Ulysses’ Leopold Bloom began his modern-day odyssey through the urban landscape of Dublin in 1904. Joyce chose this day because it marked his first outing with Nora Barnacle, the Galway woman who became his wife. Other Joyces in the publishing business include novelist Brenda Joyce who specializes in mystery and romance novels and Brenda William Joyce, author and illustraJoyce tor, whose illustrations have appeared on many New Yorker covers. In entertainment, Alice Joyce (1890-1955) made a great impact in the silent film era. She performed with Clara Bow in the 1926 film Dancing Mothers and appeared in close to 200 films. Unfortunately, her career dwindles with the rise of sound in movies. Michael Joyce (1951) is the founder of Cinema Production Company Services Incorporated, a Los Angeles-based movie visual effects company. He has worked as the Innovative Miniature Supervisor behind movies such as Godzilla, Independence Day, Cliff Hanger, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Die Hard 4. Joyces in the sports world are represented by Matt Joyce (1972), an offensive tackle who played for ten seasons in the NFL until retiring in 2004, and Matt R. Joyce (1984), a Major League baseball outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. In the world of cricket, former England batsman Ed Joyce (1978) is playing for his native Ireland in the 2011 World Cup. And in politics, Irish-American State Senator Brian A. Joyce (1962) is serving his seventh term in Massachusetts. He said of his Irish ancestors: “The Joyces have come a Brian A. Joyce long way since leaving Claremorris, County Mayo 100 years ago, and much of our success is due to the values and work ethic brought by my grandfather from Ireland.” IA

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{sláinte} By Edythe Preet

Alive, Alive-Oh! ately, I’ve been craving oysters, crab, and mussels. I could write it off to the fact that I keep seeing rafts of the succulent treats on shopping forays. Like many things I’ve written of, however, I’m sure the shellfish love affair that began in my childhood with clams, oysters, shrimp and crab, was my father’s doing. During summer vacations we spent many a dawn netting crabs off a New Jersey pier. We made monthly pilgrimages to all-youcan-eat Friday night shrimp feasts at Dad’s VFW Post. On rare restaurant outings, we shared plates of clams on the half-shell like co-conspirators in on some briny secret when everyone else ABOVE: Killary Harbour mussel farm. BELOW: Dublin’s iconic Molly Malone statue. Courtesy of Tourism Ireland. was ordering chowder. One of Dad’s favorite ditties was “Molly Malone.” I learned to warble the song before I learned territory of fishermen who lived in a settlement near the Spanish the alphabet. “In Dublin’s fair city where the girls are so pretty, Arch, known as the Cladach (Beach). A 19th century advertiseI first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone, as she wheeled her ment for fish sold on Claddagh Quay offers “...cods, lings, wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow, crying Cockles hawkfish, turbets, plaises, pilchards, liberal of oysters, scallops, and Mussels, alive alive-oh!” For some reason, I just never put cokles, musles, razures, and plentie of lobsters, crabs and it all together. Molly. Mussels. Dublin. Ireland. shromps.” The Irish have been eating shellfish The wide-open Atlantic off Ireland’s since humans first set foot on the western coast has always been known Emerald Isle. Huge shell piles called for its abundance. Tomas O’ Crohan, middens have been found at every seawho was born on Great Blasket Island in side archaeological site, which proves 1856, wrote about local seafood in his that shellfish were a dietary mainstay for masterpiece The Islandman. “The food I Ireland’s Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. got was eggs, lumps of butter, fish, Some mollusks were used to make the limpet and winkles – a bit of everything rare purple dyes reserved for garments going from sea to land...My mother had of kings and princes, but for the most brought a dish of limpets from the strand part shellfish provided a vital source of with her...She was roasting the limpets protein along with fish and marine vegand throwing them to us one by one like etables like dulse, laver and carrageen a hen with chickens.” moss. Eons later, during the Great According to the Gaelic proverb: Ri Famine, the inhabitants of fishing vilsea Diuilicini ach ria tualaigh sea lages survived best. Ironically, tales of bairnight (Mussels are the food of kings, starving famine victims desperately limpets are the food of peasants.) searching the beaches for food turned Certainly mussels are bigger, more flasucceeding generations against shellvorful and easier to prepare in a myriad fish. It took more than a hundred years for the bitter memory to of ways than tiny limpets. But it was their easily acquired abunfade. dance that made the blue-black bivalves a primary food item for Today, mussels and oysters take top billing on the list of Irish rich and poor alike. Mussels grow almost everywhere. They are mollusks, but in times past all manner of shellfish were eaten. found clinging to offshore boulders, adhered to the rocks of pebThe catch was especially rich in Galway Bay, once the exclusive ble beaches, and bound up in the seaweeds of muddy estuaries.

L

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RECIPES When the tides retreat, they are effortlessly harvested by hand or with nets. In his book Irish Folkways, author E. Edtyn Evans related how the waters off the coast of Donegal were once home to so many mussels that they were regularly scraped off the rocks and used to fertilize potato plantings. Today, thanks to huge offshore farming operations, mussels are the commonest shellfish sold in Ireland, and thus the reason they are found on practically every pub menu. While mussel farming was perfected by the French, the method was actually invented in 1235 A.D. by a Corkman named Walton who was shipwrecked in the Bay of Aiguillon on the west coast of France. Desperation being the mother of invention, Walton devised an ingenious way of trapping sea birds with a net attached by long poles to offshore mudflats. When he discovered that the poles became covered in mussels, the savvy Irishman abandoned bird hunting for full-time mussel farming. Today mussels are most commonly farmed on ropes suspended from rafts that are anchored in shallow waters. Tiny mussels are seeded onto the ropes, and when the spawn reach a mature size, the ropes are simply pulled up and harvested. Until recently, most of Europe’s mussels were grown in the Mediterranean Sea, but it is now so polluted that Ireland’s pristine waters have become the principal mussels source for the European market. One of Ireland’s largest mussel farms permanently bobs in Cork County’s Bantry Bay. Washed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and sheltered from winds by the mountains that surround it, the bay, which is one of the world’s deepest, provided safe haven to sailing ships for centuries. Then, in the early 1980s local fishermen began setting out mussel pots in the calm waters. What began as an experiment has grown to become a major industry supplying jobs for hundreds of people and earning millions of euros in export trade annually. Unlike the more meaty mussel, cockles are mere tiny morsels, but delicious nonetheless and abundant as well. In times past, fishermen believed that cockles could not be eaten “until they had three drinks of April water.” Immediately after the third April tide, cockle pickers flocked to the beaches. Where the sand curled like a worm was the place to dig. Sometimes the meat was extracted from the shell with a pin and eaten on the spot, but usually the cockles were taken home, washed to remove the sand, and boiled in salted water. Cockle Pie (cooked cockles and grated onions baked in a pastry shell) was once a favorite supper dish. Few people go to the bother of gathering mussels or picking cockles anymore, it being easier to purchase from the wide assortment of seafood offered by a neighborhood fishmonger or supermarket. But Molly has not been forgotten. On Dublin’s Grafton Street, a bronze statue of a maid pushing her cart laden with mollusks pays eternal homage to the women who once sold cupfuls of cockles and mussels from wheelbarrows in the Liberties. We always will love you, IA sweet Molly Malone. Sláinte!

Selecting & Cleaning Mussels

Mussels must have tightly closed shells until cooked. If the mussels are placed in a plastic bag, make sure it is left open. Without air the mussels will die. If any are open when you are ready to clean them, a dunk in fresh water or a sharp squeeze should cause the shell to close. Clean mussels just before cooking. Scrub them under running water with a stiff brush to remove debris, and pull off the “beards” (tufts of fibers projecting from the shell that anchored the mollusk to its underwater perch). Never cook a mussel that remains open. Gaping or broken shells mean the mussel has died, and is not safe to eat. Conversely, never eat a cooked mussel if the shell has remained tightly closed.

Classic Steamed Mussels 3 2 1 1 2 1 1

pounds fresh cleaned mussels tablespoons butter medium onion finely chopped bunch parsley, stems removed and minced cloves garlic, minced cup dry white wine cup half and half

Melt butter in a large stainless steel soup pot. Add onion, parsley and garlic, and sauté until wilted. Add mussels, pour in wine, and bring to a low boil. Cover tightly and steam for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mussels have opened. Remove mussels to serving dishes. Add cream to cooking liquid and return to the boiling point. Remove from heat, stir and pour over the mussels. Accompany with lots of crusty bread to mop up the broth. Makes four appetizer servings or two main dish servings.

Garlic Stuffed Mussels 24 1 ⁄4 2 2 1 1 ⁄4

(An Bord Iascaigh Mhara - Irish Sea Fisheries Board) fresh cleaned mussels cup water tablespoons melted butter cloves garlic, minced cup fine dry bread crumbs cup minced parsley fresh lemon juice salt and pepper

Place mussels in a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and steam for approximately 5 minutes, or until the shells have opened. Remove and discard one side of each mussel shell and place the mussel halves in a shallow baking pan. Combine the butter, garlic, breadcrumbs and parsley with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon bread crumb mixture onto each mussel half being sure to cover the meat completely. Place under a pre-heated broiler and grill 5-10 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Makes four appetizer servings.

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{ review of books}

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

Recommended Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox couple of years ago, comedian Greg Fitzsimmons, known to me as Greg Fitz or Fitz, was honored as one of Irish America’s Top 100 and we roped him in to perform. He brought the house down with his stories of growing up in an Irish household where a sense of humor was not only highly valued, it was a necessary tool for survival. Fitz grew up in Tarrytown, New York and started out in stand-up as a student at Boston University doing the rounds of the clubs in Boston. He looks like a cross between Tim Conway (the much underappreciated genius of The Carol Burnett Show) and Bob Newhart, both of whom have Irish roots, and he has the comic timing of both, with the irreverence and edginess of George Carlin, another IrishAmerican great, thrown in. I knew Fitz was funny but I didn’t know he could write, so it took me longer to get around to reading his memoir than it should have. Fitz can write (in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that he’s a friend of a dear friend). At just 44, he may seem a bit young to write a memoir, but when he came across a box of notes from teachers that his mother had kept, including one from a Kindergarten teacher complaining that he didn’t know “how to wiggle,” a flood of memories came back and an idea for a book was born. The notes and letters act as a linking thread in Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox, but the writing in between the notes has a purity and directness that is elegant, and of course, since it’s Greg Fitz we are talking about here, a good dose of bawdy. One gets the impression that every insult or injury is remembered, but he gives equal time to people he sinned against. In addition to teachers complaining about Greg’s inability to pay attention, we learn that Fitz’s Irish family includes cousins and aunts who are “ball busters,” and an uncle Jimmy who is a down-andout but who gives him lots of great books

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to read about the Bible and American history. And about his early days breaking into the business when he figured out how not to let the tough, largely Boston Irish, audiences break him down. And that’s the fun part. There is also the stuff that will gut you, like his early addiction to drugs and alcohol and how he decided to quit cold turkey when he bombed at a charity event because he was so stoned his timing was off. Most poignant is his coming to terms with his relationship with his father, a radio talk show personality, whom he adored, but who had his

own addictions and a dark side. At the launch of this book, Greg signed a copy to me, “Thanks for honoring our people no matter how we act.” Comedienne Sarah Silverman describes Fitz as “Irish to the core. Despite himself, Greg Fitzsimmons has this bottomlessness oozing from his pores, and it’s raw, honest, and hilarious. This portrait of one comic’s life is funny, and true.” I can only concur. Watching Fitz perform on stage at Caroline’s, as I did recently, I realized that what makes him so engaging as a stand-up artist is the undercurrent of empathy and understanding of human

nature. This sensitivity, which he uses so well in his stand-up routine, translates beautifully into this memoir. Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox deserves a standing ovation and months on the bestseller list. – Patricia Harty (210 pages / Simon & Schuster / $25)

Ghost Light here may be no finer Irish writer of historical fiction than Joseph O’Connor. Author of the equally beloved and acclaimed novels Star of the Sea (2003) and Redemption Falls (2007), O’Connor approaches his genre and the pages of Irish history with unsurpassed depth and, for this reader at least, the perfect amount of artistic liberty necessary for reaching the emotional – if not always factual – truth of the past. In Ghost Light, O’Connor’s seventh novel, he turns his attention from emigration and the famine (the topics explored in his last two books) to the well-known but little documented relationship between the Irish playwright John Millington Synge (writer of The Playboy of the Western World and founder, with W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre) and the actress Molly Allgood (stage name Marie O’Neill). For various reasons, ranging from differences in class, religion and age to Synge’s failing health, their relationship was essentially doomed from the start. But in O’Connor’s rendering of 1907 Edwardian Dublin, the time they do spend together deeply affects Synge’s work and Molly’s life (it is said that the role of Playboy’s Pegeen Mike, which Allgood originated, was influenced largely by the time Synge spent with her). Readers access these years in Dublin through the memories of a now older, poorer Molly, just getting by in a dark 1952 London. O’Connor portrays his pro-

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from drug runs, skipping school, watching her parents’ relationship dissolve, sleeping in different houses and subway cars every night, and losing her mother to AIDS. Murray eventually found Humanities Preparatory Academy in Manhattan and teachers who did not give up on her. Murray does not ask for the reader’s pity although many might feel that her experiences warrant it. She speaks of her love for her parents and her perseverance to rise above the circumstances she was born into. What Murray has overcome in her life gives hope that other children in similar circumstances will use her experiences as a guide and as inspiration. Her fortitude is simply remarkable. – Kerman Patel

Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary n addition to being a gifted statesman and sociologist, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) was also a writer – a fact made clear by the close to twenty books he authored or contributed to. A dedicated writer of letters, the four-term senator also approached his personal writings with equal enthusiasm. These letters have been carefully compiled and introduced by Steven Weisman, a journalist and friend of Moynihan’s, in the late 2010 release Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary. They span an impressive period of time – from a 1951 letter Moynihan wrote to apply for a job while completing his Fulbright, to a brief, contemplative memo from the month of his death, detailing what he learned during his years in office. The letters in between range from political writings to his contemporaries to personal correspondences, from musings to humorous dispatches to The New Yorker. What emerges is a vivid portrait of Moynihan’s many sides. – Sheila Langan

(249 pages / Hyperion / $25)

(708 pages / Public Affairs /$35)

I tagonist with compassion and honesty throughout all her ruminations, which take place over the course of one day, as Molly slowly makes her way through London to a rare job opportunity: the part of an old Irish woman in a BBC Radio reading of Sean O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie. O’Connor makes unexpected shifts in narration, switching suddenly from addressing Molly in the second person to describing her in the third. Though initially somewhat disorienting, this choice is ultimately a powerful one, mirroring Molly’s alternating focus on her present circumstances and her deep nostalgia. In the “Acknowledgments and Caveat” section that follows the close of the novel, O’Connor freely and somewhat apologetically admits “most events in this book never happened at all.” He then adds that “certain biographers may want to beat me with a turf shovel.” It seems unlikely, though, that O’Connor will suffer the same fate as Old Mahon in Synge’s Playboy of the Western World. Rather, I believe that readers will be immediately drawn in by O’Connor’s rendering of this fascinating pair. – Sheila Langan (256 pages / Farrar, Straus and Giroux / $24)

Memoir

Breaking Night n Liz Murray’s honest and moving memoir, Breaking Night, she recounts her journey from a child who subsisted on egg and mayonnaise sandwiches and chapstick while her parents used their welfare checks on cocaine to an accomplished Harvard University student. Her experiences in the years between included staying up until all hours of the night waiting for her parents to come home

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Children’s Literature Tales of Irish Enchantment The stories of Cuchulain and Finn Mac Cool have been passed down through generations and are among the most well known Irish legends. Patricia Lynch adapted these tales, along with other classics, so that young children could learn about the heroic myths of ancient Ireland. Combined with vivid illustrations by Sara Baker, a Northern Ireland native and mother of two who won the Mercier Press Illustrators’ Competition, Lynch’s stories come alive to a whole new generation of readers. Baker uses her skills as an artist to hold the reader’s interest with her illustrations, which liven every page of the book.The images are somewhat reminiscent of the animation in the 2009 film Book of Kells, and are sure to capture the imaginations of both children and adults. Lynch had the ability to keep true to the original legends while also adding a childfriendly spin to the story. Tales of Irish Enchantment is the type of collection that can be read in chapters by parents to their young children or devoured in one sitting by eager young readers. – Kerman Patel (208 pages / Mercier Press & Dufour Editions / $ 29.95)

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{crossword} By Darina Molloy

ACROSS 1 3 9 11

12 13 14 16 17 20 24 25 27 29 30 32 33 34 36 39 41 43 44 45 46 47 48 49

Brooded or sulked (5) Fishy soup (7) Daughter of Maud Gonne (6) (& 8 down) Irish heart surgeon who died last year (7) Family (3) Aid (4) (& 38 down) New NYC school chancellor (6) Christmas-hating Dr. Seuss creation (6) See 33 across (8) (& 34 down) ____ and _____: Belfast shipyard where Titanic was built (7) ____ meeny miny mo: children’s ‘odd one out’ chant (4) Dublin’s newest venue: Grand ____ Theater (5) Fish used in gravlax (6) Abbreviated national school (1, 1) Short for William (4) Type of air pollution (4) (& 17 across) Co. Antrim world heritage site (6) See 1 down (4) (& 15 down) New movie starring Jack Black (9) Irish potato chips (5) Celtic _____: singing group (7) Ms. Lynch, Harry Potter star (6) Counterfeit (4) (& 7 down, & 2 down) Capital of Haiti (4) Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy (5) Shock and ____ (3) See 22 down (6) See 23 down (7)

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1 (& 34 across) Mark Wahlberg’s new boxer character (5) 2 See 45 across (6) 4 This Noel is retiring from Irish politics (7)

5 ____ 66 (5) 6 Where 16 down is trying to win a Dail seat (5) 7 See 45 across (2) 8 See 11 across (7) 10 Not here (5) 15 See 36 across (7) 16 (& 40 down) Sinn Féin leader running for Dail seat (5) 18 Song: Walking on ______ (8) 19 Cry of grief, pain or anger (4) 21 See 42 down (4) 22 (& 48 across) Boxer friend of George Bernard Shaw (4) 23 (& 49 across) Barack Obama’s Irish greatgreat-great-grandfather (8) 26 Spiritual guide (5) 28 Friend (4) 30 Wicklow town (4)

Win a subscription to Irish America magazine Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than February 23, 2010. 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 December/January crossword: Jane Kelly 76 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

31 The Stray ___ Country by Patrick McCabe (3) 34 See 20 across (5) 35 Iconic Queens beach, part of the Irish Riviera (8) 37 Tyrone mountains (7) 38 See 14 across (5) 40 See 16 down (5) 42 (& 21 down) Team coached by Brian Kelly (5)

December/January Solution

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{photo album} Family Pictures

The Luck of the Irish T wo of my family’s more amusing traditions are pictured here: boating and baseball. Involvement in these pursuits gave proof to all of the “Luck of the Irish” gene running in the Dougherty family. Pictured are my great-grandparents, John Edward Dougherty and Mae O’Brien Dougherty, date unknown. The two Irish Americans met and married in New Jersey, making a life for themselves in Jersey City with three children, Jack (my grandfather), Margaret Mary and James. While they seem perfectly happy to be on the water here in their courting days, John’s time in the Navy proved somewhat less peaceful. John, fondly known as Pop-op to his grandchildren, was aboard the USS San Diego in 1918 when it sank miles from Fire Island. The cause of the explosion and subsequent sinking was never determined, and despite my grandfather’s history of picturesque rowboat courting, he had never actually learned to swim. Lucky for him, and all future Doughertys, John managed to grab hold of a mattress until rescued. Two of his grandchildren, my uncles Mark and Jack Dougherty dove the wreck decades later.

experienced Jack’s crafty parenting after getting into some childhood mischief. While my father’s initial transgression has been lost to memory, his punishment wasn’t. Grandpa Jack made him choose between his Little League game or the neighborhood trip from Crestwood, New York to Shea Stadium for a Mets game— whichever was more important he would have to miss. After a few grueling sleepless nights of backand-forth my adolescent father finally chose to miss his Little League game. To which my grandfather said, “I think having to choose was punishment enough, don’t you?” And judging by the fun my great-grandfather seems to be having in that picture, it wouldn’t surprise me to know my grandfather dreaded missing that Little League game as much as my father did. IA – Tara Dougherty

The other picture shows John taking a crack at baseball. His son Jack would also embrace the American tradition. After marrying my grandmother Nora Ann McDermott, daughter of Roscommon natives John McDermott and Brigit Ward, Jack coached his five sons’ Little League teams. Baseball holds a bittersweet memory for my father, Ed, who

Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description, to Sheila Langan at Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. If photos are irreplaceable, then please send a good quality reproduction or e-mail the picture at 300 dpi resolution to Irishamag@aol.com. No photocopies, please. We will pay $65 for each submission that we select. 78 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2011

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Irish America February / March 2011