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IRISH AMERICA Feb./Mar. 2012

Canada $4.95 U.S. $3.95




The Irish & Drink PASTIME or PROBLEM?


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February • March 2012


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Her mother surprised her with a trip to Ireland and Heidi Boyer fell in love.

34 MARTIN HAYES Virtuoso fiddler from East Clare talks to Tara Dougherty about the state of Irish music and more.

40 CLINT EASTWOOD The legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood talks to Patricia Danaher about the director John Ford and more.

44 THE ART OF FOLEY The Irish American behind the foley artists – the people who bring the sound effects to movies, television and video games. By Daphne Wolf


Leading psychiatrist Garrett O’Connor, himself a recovering alcoholic, writes about what some believe to be the Irish national pastime.

56 CLOSE’S IRISH ODYSSEY Hollywood actress Glenn Close, who labored for years to bring her latest movie, set in Dublin, to the screen, talks to Patricia Danaher.

DEPARTMENTS 6 8 10 14 48 62 66 68 70 72 74

First Word Readers Forum News Hibernia Roots Music Reviews Book Reviews Poem Family Album Crossword Quotes


Artist Roisin Fitzpatrick answers questions about her art and lifestyle.


Columnist Edythe Preet writes about Irish winemakers and pairing the right wine with food.

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{the first word} By Patricia Harty

Something to Shout About hen we first published the magazine back in 1985, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with our slogan “Mórtas Cine,” which translates from the Irish as “Pride in one’s heritage.” As children we were warned about “pride” and its place at the top of the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. “Pride goes before a fall,” my mother would caution. Growing up in Ireland, surrounded by other Irish, one didn’t necessarily think about pride in one’s heritage. And Irish history, as it was taught in school, didn’t exactly infuse one with pride – it scared the hell out of me. There was always “another martyr for old Ireland, another murder for the crown,” as the song goes. Every small victory was followed by a big defeat, betrayals of treaties negotiated, mass starvation and emigration. Pride fell in with those other idioms of Irish life: knowing your place, not standing out in a crowd. And history showed that those who stuck their neck out usually had their head lobbed off. I don’t know if we all suffered from malignant shame, that residue of colonialism that Dr. Garrett O’Connor writes about in this issue, but certainly there was a fear of drawing attention to oneself or trying anything out of the ordinary. America, then, was a revelation. Its sheer size a liberation. The anonymity that came with living outside the confines of one’s community was refreshing. I remember someone asking me what I really wanted to do. It was the first time in my life that anyone had asked that question.“I’d like to be an actress,” I replied, expecting to be shot down. Instead I heard, “I think you’d be a great actress.” This can-do attitude was something new for me to consider, but even more startling was the pride that the American Irish exhibited in their heritage. It was chest thumping, bagpipes at top of the parade, shout it from the rooftops loudly and proudly. And “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” I didn’t get it at first but as I learned more of the grand story of the Irish in America, from pre-Revolution to modern times, I became enthralled. It was a much more hopeful story than the history back home – for every knock-down there was an upswing, there were pioneers, and Irish war heroes, and movie stars, politicians, and businessmen, who for all their success were still proud to be of Irish stock. I began to identify with those immigrants who went before me, and to seek out their stories. When I was lacking in courage, I channeled Mother Jones, that firebrand labor leader and angel of the mining camps. And I began to see my Irish heritage through a different lens and appreciate the part that Irish Americans had played in preserving the culture. At university in California, I read James Joyce’s Dubliners, and as the only Irish-born person in the class, I took questions, but the Irish-American students knew far more than I did about



Joyce. It was an Irish American, John Quinn, who had argued the case for the publication of Ulysses in the United States, I discovered. In the correspondence of Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and John Millington Synge, Quinn’s name constantly pops up. He was behind the Irish literary renaissance both as an advisor and a financial backer. He also provided financial support for Douglas Hyde, founder of the Gaelic League. Quinn is just one of many who helped preserve the language, literature and culture of Ireland in this country. The old Irish tunes were preserved in large part through the efforts of Francis O’Neill, a Chicago police chief. O’Neill, born in Cork in 1849, left home at age 16, bringing his love of Irish music with him. A proficient flute player, he set about collecting tunes with his friend and fellow officer James O’Neill who was able to write music and transcribe the tunes that Francis played for him. And so, over the years, as I came to a better understanding of the Irish in America, I began to think of Mórtas Cine not so much as pride in race or heritage but pride in my people. There are so many Irish Americans I am proud to be associated with in one way or another. There’s Chuck Feeney, who has funded educational programs in Ireland and is now funding medical research on a global level. Donald Keough, who funded the Irish studies program at Notre Dame. John Lahey, who is building an Irish Famine Museum on the campus of Quinnipiac University. Bill Flynn and Tom Moran who helped out in the Peace Process and others. I am proud of the Irish lineage at the Ford Motor Company, and the participation of William Ford, Jr., as Keynote Speaker at our Business 100 lunch. As I write this, Ford executives are meeting with President Obama to discuss the Way Forward plan the company has initiated that will provide 12,000 new jobs for Americans in the next three years. Over lunch, Bill Ford talked to me of his love of Irish music. And it seems to me that music is the main link across the generations, and the ocean, between Irish and Irish American. It has a transcendent quality that links us up to our ancient past and our home place. We have a wonderful interview with Martin Hayes by Tara Dougherty in this issue, in which he discusses the crosspollination of the music, Irish and American, and how the one enriches the other. I do hope that you get to experience Martin Hayes and The Gloaming, as I did on a recent evening in New York. The group of Irish-born and American musicians touched my heart and made me very glad to be Irish, glad that this music is part of my culture. As I listened to the haunting songs of old being sung in Irish, I was sad that the language is lost to many, but I am grateful that so much of the essence of Irish culture has survived. It was a cold night in New York City but I was full of warmth, and pride in my people and culture. Mórtas Cine.

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readers forum Did the Irish Brigade fight under an Irish flag? Michael Quinlin’s answer to the above question (Dec./Jan. issue) was accurate as far as it went, but it did not get to the essence of James J. Haggerty’s issue. Haggerty was likely referring to the 69th Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Philadelphia Brigade, serving under Col. Dennis O’Kane, a native of Derry. The Civil War was fought by militias, carrying state colors not the U.S. flag. The 69th Pennsylvania, an all Irish regiment, fought under a green flag with the Pennsylvania arms on one side and an Irish wolfhound, sunburst, and round tower on the other. The regiment received permission to bear the same distinction (the 69th) as did their New York heroes from Bull

A GREAT FIRE CHIEF In the story on the presentation of Certificate of Irish Heritage to the family of Joseph Hunter, a firefighter who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, Joseph’s mother, Bridget is pictured with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, as is the current Chief of Department Edward S. Kilduff. Chief Kilduff, who was not mentioned in the story, is a great Irish American and the uniformed leader of the 11,000 plus members of The New York City Fire Department. I am and have been a member of the executive board of the FDNY Emerald Society for over 20 years. As a first-generation Irish I can relate to some of the stories in your magazine. Keep up the good work. – William P. Treanor, Bronx, New York

Run, and fought in every Virginia and Pennsylvania engagement except for Bull Run. James Smith Received by E-Mail

William Ford, Jr. Your article on William Ford, Jr., was interesting and enlightening. The Ford family exemplifies and reflects well on us and our Irish her-

itage. This is particularly the case in Bill’s case since he had the handicap of growing up in an extraordinarily wealthy family. This article partially makes up for the atrocious cover and story on Bill Maher (2008). Ford is the best example of the Irish; Maher is the worst. Frank McGinity Santa Barbara, California

Death or Canada The Bill Ford article references a docudrama Death or Canada. Do you know how I can obtain a copy? Jim Toner Received by E-mail

Editor’s Note: Death or Canada was first broadcast on RTE in 2008. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find any purchasing information.

Missing Honorees? I read with great interest your feature article on the 26th Annual Business 100, plus the companion article on William Ford, Jr. However I couldn’t help but notice that the short profiles only total 96 individuals.

What happened to the four missing honorees? Ed Zaremba Cleveland, Ohio

Editor’s Note: We published longer profiles on honorees John and Jim Concannon, John Fitzpatrick, Susan Kelliher Ungaro, and Nanette Lapore and her husband Bob Savage.

Top 100 Occupiers Since you incessantly regale us with the top 100 Irish American business persons, could ye ever do a piece on the Top 100 Occupiers? Patrick Donlin, Sr., Warren Ohio

CORRECTIONS In the December / January issue’s Business 100 list, Patrick W. Dolan’s profile incorrectly listed his wife’s name as Helen; it is Nancy. They have three children, Kevin, Patrick and Erin. F. Michael Heffernan’s profile contained the following errors: Heffernan Insurance has 9 branches, not 6; his mother’s maiden name is Bertagna, not Venucci.

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



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Vol.27 No.2 • February / March 2012

IRISH AMERICA Mortas Cine Pride In Our Heritage

Founding Publisher: Niall O’Dowd Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Harty Vice President of Marketing: Kate Overbeck Art Director: Marian Fairweather Deputy Editor: Sheila Langan Copy Editor: John Anderson Advertising & Events Coordinator: Tara Dougherty Ad Design & Production Genevieve McCarthy Director of Special Projects: Turlough McConnell Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan Editorial Assistants: Molly Ferns Catherine Davis

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

Subscriptions: 1-800-582-6642 E-MAIL: Irish America Magazine ISSN 08844240) © by Irish America Inc. Published bi-monthly. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. Editorial office: 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Telephone: 212-725-2993. Fax: 212-244-3344 Email: Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders: 1-800-582-6642. Subscription queries: 1-800-582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 150. Periodicals postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Postmaster please send address changes to Irish America Magazine, P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. IRISH AMERICA IS PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

Heidi Boyd Heidi Boyd divides her time between her home in Cleveland, Ohio and future home in Herndon, Virginia where she is relocating to be closer to the new headquarters of the Jack Welch Management Institute where she is the Admissions Manager. She shares her love of travel with her husband of seven years, Michael. Their furry family of two dogs and two cats prefer to stay at home.

Patricia Danaher Patricia Danaher is a writer, journalist and producer based in Los Angeles. She is the only Irish member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with a vote in the Golden Globes. A longtime political correspondent for UTV, she was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University for stories which she broke regarding the Northern Ireland peace process. She is developing a movie on the Irish born hellraiser Mother Jones.

Tara Dougherty Irish America’s advertising and events coordinator, Tara also contributes to the music section of the magazine and has interviewed such music legends as Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains) as well as newcomers Julie Feeney and James Vincent McMorrow. A graduate of New York University with degrees in history and creative writing, Tara is a native New Yorker with roots in Roscommon. In this issue, she interviews fiddler Martin Hayes.

Dr. Garrett O’Connor Dr. Garrett O’Connor, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA, is President Emeritus of the Betty Ford Institute and was formerly Chief Psychiatrist of the Betty Ford Center for Drug and Alcohol Treatment. O’Connor, who was born in Dublin, received an Honorary Doctorate of Medicine from the National University of Ireland in December, 2010. That month, he also delivered the prestigious annual Michael Littleton Memorial Lecture on RTE Radio. He has been married to actress Fionnnula Flanagan for 39 years.

Daphne Dyer Wolf Daphne Dyer Wolf earned a master’s degree in Irish Studies in 2011 at New York University, where she continues to do battle with the Irish language. She worked for the Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark, NJ for over 25 years.




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{ hibernia }



Former Leaders Lose Perks


s part of cutbacks in government spending, the Department of the Taoiseach has withdrawn a range of perks previously available to ex-government leaders. In the past, anyone who had held the office of Taoiseach was entitled to secretarial services and the full-time provision of a state car. However, current Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny announced that a series of cutbacks would be made, including the withdrawal of a state car for private use other than important state occasions. While the actual savings involved are miniscule in relation to wider financial deficits within the exchequer, there is widespread public support for a move against what is perceived as perks for a political elite in a time of severe economic hardship for ordinary people. Taoiseach Enda Separate studies by the EU Kenny Commission and by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicate the sort of pressure which the government will face in 2012, particularly when it comes to drawing up the budget. Amid general fears of how deeply Ireland’s recession might stall economic recovery, the Minister for Finance will need to make €3.5 billion in savings – about two thirds by cutting government expenditure and a third raised by new taxes. One of the key areas targeted is the Department of Health, which had €724 million trimmed from its budget last year. A further €550 million cut is proposed at the department for 2012, generating widespread concern about effects on an already deteriorating standard of public health service. The Commission and IMF also target a change in tax bands, which would create political difficulty for a coalition government elected on promises not to increase income tax. The IMF is also looking for tighter controls on welfare fraud and a reduction in the numbers employed in the public sector. As part of getting its books in order, the state proposes selling off €2 billion in state assets, while the IMF proposes that the government divest itself of €5 billion worth of assets. The bigger cuts are yet to come, but the Taoiseach’s announcement on cutting expenses for former taoisigh was welcomed. The Irish Times reported that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern claimed €367,000 for secretarial services since 2008, an amount greater than all other former taoisigh combined. Mr. Ahern’s successor Brian Cowen claimed €32,000 in secretarial services last year, while €30,000 was similarly expended by the late Dr. Garret FitzGerald until his death last May. The department also paid €25,000 in respect of a secretary for Albert Reynolds and €16,000 for former Fine Gael leader John Bruton. Another former Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, did not claim under the expenses scheme. Pensions for former taoisigh were also cut by 20 percent as part of a general review at the department.




roperty websites confirmed that house prices in Ireland continued to fall last year. Studies by and show that house prices fell between 13-18 percent for 2011 with further fall in value expected for 2012. In an effort to stimulate a moribund property market, last year’s budget contained some mortgage relief measures. However, commentators say these measures will have little or no effect until consumer confidence returns and the banks make credit available to prospective buyers. “The market will not rebound because of this,” contended Ronan Lyons of “People can’t get mortgages and they are not confident where the prices will go.” Construction was the key driver of the Celtic boom, but numerous studies show that the state became overdependent on the tax dividend from building houses. A serious oversupply of housing stock as well as a market set at unrealistic prices has led to a virtual collapse in the property market.The average price of a residential home is currently about €170,000, almost half the price during the peak market just five years ago. Photo above: “Spa Cottage,” Boyle, Co. Roscommon, listed on an Irish “cheap properties” website for €230,000, as a “captivating detached stone cottage nestling amidst total peace and seclusion on approx. 1 acre of delightful grounds with beautiful views of the local countryside now presents itself on to the market. The original cottage (approx. 100 years old) has been extended and now offers bright and spacious accommodation, including 3 bedrooms, suitable for modern day living.” For information see:



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{news from ireland} By Frank Shouldice

IRISH ARMY ARCHIVES TO GO PUBLIC he Irish Armed Forces is about to make a huge volume of historical documents available to the public by putting them online for general access. Lieutenant General Sean McCann, Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, confirmed that an ambitious project will be carried out with the National Archives of Ireland, placing 36,000 pages of material online relating to military matters for the period 1913-1921.This will cover the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence and will provide a unique insight into events that shaped the creation of the Republic of Ireland. It is planned that the site – – will go online in March. Meanwhile, a BBC Radio documentary provoked controversy by revealing that Irish Army personnel who joined the British Army during World War II were treated as deserters when they returned to Ireland. According to “Face The Facts: Deserters Deserted,” an estimated 5,000 Irish soldiers left the Irish Army to fight alongside the Allies against Nazi Germany. Some of them participated in major military campaigns, including the D-Day landings in 1944. However, it is claimed that on their return home from the front they were dismissed from the Irish Army as deserters, denied all pay and pension rights and banned from state employment for seven years.The program alleges that the names of returned soldiers were circulated on a blacklist in a covert effort to deny them any opportunity at finding work. A campaign group is now seeking to have a full pardon issued to these exsoldiers. Labor TD Gerald Nash told the documentary-makers,“what happened to them was vindictive and not only a stain on their honor but on the honor of Ireland.” Minister for Defense Alan Shatter was reportedly baffled by the revelations and has sought the advice of the AttorneyGeneral on the matter. IRISH DEFENSE FORCES MILITARY ARCHIVES


Defense Forces chief of staff Lieut. Gen. Seán McCann shows the new online military archives to Mary-Clare Collins-Powell, the grandniece of Michael Collins.

Rory McIlroy Named Sports Star of Year R

ory McIlroy was named RTE’s Irish Sports Person of the Year at a televised ceremony in Dublin. The 22-year-old golfer from Holywood, Co. Down capped a memorable year by winning the U.S. Open just two months after he suffered a meltdown when leading the field into the last day of the Masters. McIlroy held off fellow Ulsterman (and British Open winner) Darren Clarke to take the prestigious RTE award. A week later both players were named on the Queen’s New Year list for Honours. When the list was announced, McIlroy was holidaying in Thailand with Caroline Wozniacki, his girlfriend and number one world tennis star. The Co. Down golfer said he was “delighted” to be named on the MBE honours’ list. Also shortlisted by RTE for their outstanding contribution to Irish sport last year were European boxing champion Katie Taylor, hurler Michael Fennelly, Gaelic footballer Alan Brogan, rugby player Sean O’Brien, boxer John Joe Nevin, cricket player Kevin O’Brien and footballer Robbie Keane. At the same ceremony, Republic of Ireland soccer manager Giovanni Trapattoni was named RTE Manager of the Year for 2011. His award was recognition for the 72-year-old Italian’s success in steering Ireland to the European Championships to be staged in Poland/Ukraine this summer. Despite being seeded third in a difficult qualifying group, Ireland made it through to the playoffs and beat Estonia 5-1 on aggregate to qualify for the finals of an international tournament for the first time in ten years. It was a fine achievement even if many Irish soccer fans remain dubious about the dour style of play demanded by the veteran boss. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) endorsed the manager’s successful term by extending his contract for another two years. In a deal reputed to be worth €1.7 million a year, it will take Trapattoni up to the end of the qualifying games for the 2014 World Cup. “I am very happy to continue my job with the FAI,” said the manager after agreeing to terms. “I have always said that my assistant Marco Tardelli and I believe very strongly in the work that we are doing to grow and develop the Irish team. It is a huge honor and a privilege to represent the Irish team and we look forward to continuing this important task.” The RTE Team of the Year award went to Heineken Cup-winning Leinster rugby team. Former rugby great Jackie Kyle, who was a key part of Ireland’s 1948 Grand Slam team, was also presented with a Hall of Fame award. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 11



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{news from ireland} By Frank Shouldice

DUBLIN ZOO BRINGS IN RECORD CROWDS IN 2011 ublin Zoo pronounced 2011 as a record year with over one million guests visiting the venue. Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel suggested it was a “small miracle” in recessionary times when the Barrett family from Dublin clocked in the magical million mark at lunchtime on New Year’s Eve. Officially the zoo recorded 1,001,083 visitors for the year, up some 38,000 visitors on last year. The popular attraction, located in Phoenix Park, first opened its doors 180 years ago but has doubled in size over the past two decades, with a particular effort made to develop the celebrated African Plains habitat two years ago. Oosterweghel described Dublin Zoo as a worldclass centre of learning about wildlife and conservation. “Many of our animals have wonderful new living conditions,” he said. “The zoo has become an integral part of more and more European breeding programs for endangered species. “I am extremely proud to be in a position to say that, after a decade of continuous development, Dublin Zoo is now amongst the best zoos in the world and is Ireland’s top visitor attraction.” The zoo is not without its own unique history. “Slats,” the first lion used to introduce films from the MetroGoldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios, was born at Dublin Zoo on March 20, 1919. Slats was used on all blackand-white MGM films between 1924 and 1928. Johnny Weismuller, who later achieved screen celebrity as Tarzan, also made an appearance there in 1924. He took part in the first Tailteann Games in Ireland, which used the large pond at the zoo for swimming competitions.Tapping into the 1924 Paris Olympics, Tailteann Games promoters managed to attract top international athletes, including Weismuller, to Dublin. Bringing in record crowds through 2011 was a huge achievement considering the zoo was closed to the public during the visits of President Obama and Queen Elizabeth, both of whom visited Áras an Úachtaráin (the Irish President’s residency) in Phoenix Park. In addition to the outstanding attendance, the zoo also welcomed 42 new arrivals in the last 12 months including two baby gorillas, hippo and giraffe calves and two red panda cubs.



Haulbowline Island has been the site of a dump for decades, created while the Irish Steel plant was based there.

EU Demands Clean-Up at Co. Cork Steel Plant nder threat of massive fines by the European Commission, the Irish Government has finally undertaken the job to clean up the former steel plant at Haulbowline in Cork harbor. The plant, which operated for six decades, poses a serious environmental risk from residual toxic waste ever since the Ispat steel factory closed in 2001. The island at Haulbowline became an unregulated dumping ground for hazardous waste from the plant’s steel furnaces. The health risk posed by airborne and seaborne dispersal of toxic deposits has caused widespread concern at population centers in nearby Cobh and Ringaskiddy. These concerns were exacerbated by studies carried out by the National Cancer Registry (NCRI) which showed that some 397 cases of cancer were diagnosed in Cobh between 1994 and 2006, a figure which ranked 44 percent higher than the national average. In reaction to these findings, Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, announced last July that he had taken consulted his Chief Medical Officer. Based on that analysis, the Minister concluded there was no need for a further public health investigation into Haulbowline. The Government’s tardy response to clearing the site of toxic materials put it at risk of incurring significant fines from the European Commission. It is thought that the spectre of looming environmental penalties prompted action on the issue. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who represents the Cork South Central constituency, has been charged with overseeing the clean-up. He suggested that the waste could be safely stored onsite rather than removed from Haulbowline. “This whole cleanup plan will be peer reviewed so it’s best practice but it could be better to contain the material onsite rather than remove it,” Coveney told The Examiner. “We will be doing all that is reasonable to ensure the site is safe. The European Commission is happy with the site development so far. This is all about turning a highly negative environmental scar into something wholly positive.” Mary O’Leary, chairperson for Cork harbor Area for a Safe Environment (CHASE), was invited to join the clean-up project steering committee. In welcoming the government announcement she noted the clean-up plans are not yet finalized. “I am fully aware of other sites where a seal was developed, built well and properly monitored,” said O’Leary. “If that is done, a site can be made very clean and safe.”


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{hibernia} The Irish Voice newspaper hosted its third annual Education 100 reception on December 17th at the residence of Consul General Noel Kilkenny. In addition to celebrating the honorees, the event also recognized Father Joseph O’Hare, president emeritus of Fordham University, and Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, former president of Barry University in Miami.


Niall O’Dowd and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Father Joseph O’Hare.

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1. Angela Alamio and honoree Dr. Brendan O’Donnell, president of Manhattan College. 2. Niall O’Dowd, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, Consul General Noel Kilkenny. 3. Honoree Robert Connors of WPI, Carolyn Connors, and honoree Nicholas Farrell of VCU. 4. Mark O’Grady and honoree Marijo Russell O’Grady of Pace Niall O’Dowd, honoree Dr. James McCarthy of University. Baruch College, Consul General Kilkenny.

Fate of Boston College IRA Tapes to be Determined in Full Hearing


n recent weeks, the case between Boston College and the U.S. government (working on behalf of the British government and a body rumored to be Police Service of Northern Ireland) has taken a few important turns. The case, which will now be given a full hearing on January 27th, began nine months ago, when Boston College was subpoenaed to release its collection of oral histories and interviews with former IRA members and paramilitaries. The collection, part of the college’s larger Belfast Project, was gathered between 2001 and 2006 by journalist and former IRA member Anthony McIntyre and Bronx-based Ed Moloney. The interviews were given under the condition that they would be confidential, and that none of the materials would be released until after the interviewees were deceased. The subpoena initially called for all of the interviews to be released, but was then revised to request only materials that refer-


enced the 1972 murder of Jean McConville. Particular emphasis has been placed on the taped interview with ex-IRA member Dolours Price, in which it is believed Price discusses Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’ involvement in the McConville murder. In another interview with the Belfast Project, Brendan Hughes, a now deceased ex-IRA member and close associate of Gerry Adams, claimed that Adams ordered McConville’s murder because she was allegedly spying on the IRA for the British Army. In mid-December, U.S. District Court Judge William C. Young conducted an incamera review of a portion of the tapes, which the college had called for. On December 22nd, he gave the college a deadline of December 30th to release the tapes. Though the college failed to meet this deadline, the materials were handed over to the court soon after. “These are serious allegations, and they weigh strongly in favor of disclosing the confidential

information,” said Judge Young. His decision was reported to be based on a treaty that binds the U.S. and U.K. to share information relevant to ongoing criminal investigations. Though the college did not appeal Judge Young’s ruling, it expressed disappointment, saying that it “could have a chilling effect because people could be reluctant to participate in oral histories moving forward.” Lawyers working on behalf of Moloney and McIntyre then submitted a motion to forestall Judge Young’s decision, on the grounds that it was a violation of academic freedom. They also claim that handing over the tapes might undermine the Northern Ireland peace process and threaten the safety of all those involved. The U.S. Department of Justice accepted their motion, scheduling the full hearing. As the case has garnered significant media attention on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout the island of Ireland, the fate of the tapes will be closely monitored and dissected in the weeks to come. – M.F. and S.L.



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{news from irish america}

Schumer Irish Bill ew York Senator Charles Schumer has gained a great deal of support from the Irish in America since mid December when he introduced an Irish visa bill to the Senate. The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin of Vermont and Illinois, respectively, would permit 10,000 Irish citizens to live and work in the United States per year on a newly proposed E3 non-immigrant visa. One condition of obtaining such a visa is a secure job offer in the United States in a specialty field. Spouses and children are also granted visas not to be counted in the 10,000 quota. Irish nationals currently living illegally in the United States would be eligible to apply. The movement was introduced as an amendment to immigration legislation passed by the House in November. Senator Schumer called this a “common sense bill” which was built on with the same structure as a current visa program for Australian nationals. The legislation creating the E-3 visa in 2005 followed the same model as this new Irish visa bill, allowing Australians to work and live in the United States. The visa would be renewable indefinitely; the Australian version is up for renewal every two years. Senator Schumer commented, “[The bill] has already passed the House with overwhelming bi-partisan support and we hope that we will find similar support in the Senate for this common sense bill that improves the fairness and efficiency of our immigration system, while also including a mutual visa exchange with Ireland, one of America’s steadfast allies.” Ireland, in the face of the world economic crisis, has clocked staggering emigration numbers in the recent years. In 2010, 65,300 left Ireland in search of jobs, the majority leaving for the US, Australia and other English-speaking countries. This is the highest emigration rate since the 1980s. The new bill would aid much of the Irish who pour into America, most often illegally, to establish themselves as legal residents of the United States. – T. D.




onan Farrow, 23, son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen is one of 32 American students to receive a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, it was announced on November 20. Ronan, who graduated from Bard College at 16 and entered Yale Law School the following year, has been working as a special adviser to Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. He will continue his studies in international development issues at Oxford.

CHUCK FEENEY’S LATEST DONATION America’s most beloved billionIIrishrish aire philanthropist has done it again. America Hall of Famer and founder of Atlantic Philanthropies, Charles F. Feeney is the man behind a massive project to build a new house of graduate learning on New York’s Roosevelt Island. The new high-tech science learning center will be a branch of Cornell University. Cornell announced in December that a $350 million donation was made by an anonymous donor to fund this extensive project. Atlantic Philanthropies later confirmed that it was Feeney behind the largest donation in Cornell’s history. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long championed the project, which would expand efforts to make New York City a technological center of the world. The hope is that this university and other New York universities will expand to attract the best and brightest students to pave the way for science and technology in the coming decades. Feeney, a graduate of Cornell, said in his statement concerning the gift, “This is a oncein-a-generation oppor- PHOTO: PETER FOLEY tunity to create economic and educational opportunity on a transformational scale.” The building of the center is estimated to create 20,000 construction jobs. Once opened, the school is expected to create a multitude of jobs and to foster opportunities for the technology industry in New York. Feeney, known for his secretive donations, made his billions with his Duty Free Shoppers Group. The man owns neither a house nor a car and has made a commitment to disperse his fortune through Atlantic Philanthropies. Feeney was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame last March along with President Bill Clinton, Michael Flatley and others. An intensely private individual, Feeney’s gifts often remain anonymous for years. This newest donation may prove to be one of the longest standing testaments to Feeney’s generosity and dedication to fostering education. – T. D. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 15



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{ irish eye on hollywood} By Tom Deignan

Michael Fassbender, who was raised in Kerry by his Irish mother and German father, is Hollywood’s current “it” guy. After shocking audiences in 2008 in the harrowing film Hunger, in which he portrayed Northern Ireland icon Bobby Sands, Fassbender has been impressing critics and audiences non-stop. He earned a Golden Globe nomination and is also expected to earn an Oscar nod for his depiction of a sex addict in the critically acclaimed Shame. Not surprisingly, Fassbender is slated to have a busy 2012. First, he appeared alongside Michael Douglas in the January film Haywire, directed by Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Traffic). Then, in June, Fassbender will team up with another proven Hollywood director – Ridley Scott – in the outer-space thriller Michael Fassbender in Prometheus. Prometheus. Prometheus, which also features Charlize also features Dublin-born actor Aidan Gillen, who recently Theron, Patrick Wilson and Guy Pearce, is about a team of appeared in the Jason Statham action flick Blitz and is perscientists who have possibly discovered the origins of the haps best known to U.S. audiences as ambitious Baltimore universe, only to also discover they may have stirred up mayor Tommy Carcetti in the gritty HBO series The Wire. some seriously dark forces. Neeson, who appeared in the January release The Grey, will also appear in Wrath of the Titans, an action-fantasy folPrometheus also stars Noomi Rapace, who played rebel low-up to Clash of the Titans, which Neeson also starred in. hacker Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish version of The Girl Neeson, in both films, portrays the Greek god Zeus. with the Dragon Tattoo. Rooney Mara, of course, snared that part and won over hordes of U.S. moviegoers in the Wrath of the Titans should hit theaters around St. Patrick’s recent version of that flick. Day. After that, Neeson will be seen in the board-gameMara (member of the famous Irish-American Rooney and based flick Battleship and a sequel to his sleeper hit thriller Mara clans of NFL football fame) earned raves for her perTaken. formance. She has now dropped out of what had been slated to be her follow-up role. Mara was set to reunite with Neeson had been planning for years to portray Abraham Tanner Hall director Francesca Gregorini for a film called Lincoln in a film about the U.S. president and directed by Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes. However, Mara – Steven Spielberg. Neeson has since backed out of the projpossibly because her Hollywood stock has risen so dramatiect (presumably because there simply aren’t enough hours in cally – has decided against the project, and is currently on the day for the oh-so-busy Ballymena native). In a strange the lookout for her next big role. twist, one extra-busy Irish actor She may not have to look for very was replaced by a famously Liam Neeson long. Don’t forget: The Girl With reclusive one – Daniel Dayas Greek Lewis. The two-time Oscar winthe Dragon Tattoo book had two god Zeus. ner has started filming blockbuster follow-ups. Spielberg’s highly anticipated Lincoln. Speaking of blockbusters, Liam Neeson is slated to appear in the “I’m so excited to work with latest Batman movie Dark Knight one of the greatest actors of our Rises. The summer flick features a time,” Spielberg recently told the galaxy of stars including Christian Chicago Sun-Times. “He wouldBale as the caped crusader as well n’t say yes for years. He even as Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, turned me down seven years ago Michael Caine and Morgan when I asked him to play Lincoln. Freeman. The Dark Knight Rises I think he was intimidated. You 16 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012



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think about playing Lincoln, and it’s true that he was too great a man.” Many of Day-Lewis’ career highlights include playing Irish characters in flicks such as The Boxer and In the Name of the Father. (He also played an anti-Irish bigot in Gangs of New York). It remains to be seen if Spielberg will tackle Lincoln’s complicated relationship with the Irish in America. The Irish were loyal Democrats at the time of the U.S. Civil War, while Lincoln’s new Republican Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln. party contained a deeply anti-immigrant faction. features the vocal stylings of Salma Hyeck, Jeremy Piven and The Civil War only made these rifts deeper. Not for nothHugh Grant. ing did the famous Irish ballad “Paddy’s Lament” bitterly That same month, Gleeson’s voice as well as the rest of his explain that Irish immigrants were being told, “You must go body will appear in The Raven, alongside Irish American thesand fight for Lincoln.” pian John Cusack. The Raven is a thriller set in the early 19th century and – yes – features none other than the famous Two young Irish stars are slated to appear in a film based writer Edgar Allan Poe. It appears that a serial killer is on the on one of the most famous Russian novels of all time. Saoirse Ronan as well as Dohmnall Gleeson will star in loose and the murders just happen to mirror the crimes comthe latest film version of Anna Karenina, the tortured love mitted in some of Poe’s more gruesome stories. Only the story featuring Vronsky and the titular heroine. writer himself can solve the crimes, in this flick directed by The new Anna Karenina film will reteam Ronan with Aussie James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) and also starring director Joe Wright, who directed her to fame in Atonement, Alice Eve and Oliver Jackson Cohen. which earned Ronan an Academy Award nomination in 2007. Gleeson, of course, is the son of acclaimed actor Brendan Finally, Ed Burns and Colin Farrell are both looking back to the past when it comes to making future movies. Gleeson. Before Anna Karenina hits screens, look for Farrell, whose Fright Night remake more or less split Dohmnall Gleeson in the September film Dredd, the latest critics, will tackle another remake when he steps into Arnold big-screen version of the Judge Dredd comic book. Schwarzenegger’s shoes for the new Total Recall film, (Sylvester Stallone starred in an earlier version of Judge also starring Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy and Dredd back in 1995.) Bryan Cranston. Word is the film – about a lowly factory Meanwhile, it looks like Irish film fans will have to wait worker who just may be working until 2013 for one of the most highas a spy for a superpower nation – ly anticipated Irish films in years: will be more dramatic and have At Swim-Two-Birds, to be directed by fewer comedic stylings than the Brendan Gleeson and starring 1990 original. Dohmnall and a host of other Irish Meanwhile, Ed Burns is reporttalent, in a film based on the edly going to revisit the family famous Flann O’Brien novel. that made him famous. The actor/director is working on a Indeed, it should surprise no one sequel to The Brothers McMullen, that Brendan Gleeson is keeping busy. which may be completed in 2014. Following his success in the Irish Burns recently said: “I’ve kind movie The Guard, he appeared of always stayed in touch alongside Ryan Reynolds and with Jack Mulcahy and Mike Denzel Washington in Safe House. McGlone from The Brothers The film is about a rookie intelliMcMullen. Your lives get more gence agent (Reynolds) who teams Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Gerry Boyle in complicated and you have kids The Guard. up with a renegade when they must so you don’t get to hang out as take on a crew of killers. (Gleeson had some Irish company much as you used to, but McMullen was such an amazing on the set of Safe House: Liam Cunningham, whose credchapter in all of our lives. To go from a pack of nobodies its include The Wind that Shakes the Barley as well as, more who had never been in front of a camera before...all of a recently, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse.) sudden that film gave all of us a career. So I think we all feel IA In March, Brendan Gleeson will lend his voice to the anikind of connected to that.” mated adventure flick The Pirates! Band of Misfits, which also FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 17



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Michelle Williams to Receive Honorary Irish Award

M Lord of the Paint-Dance


ot one to limit himself to a single medium, Irish dancer and flute player Michael Flatley can now add “painter” to his artistic resume. He sold his very first painting at an auction this past December for €5,600. His method, however, is not of the traditional paintbrush-and-easel variety. Rather, he takes a canvas that has been painted a solid color, places it on the ground, dips his shoes in paint, then tap dances in places on it. Unlike the visual arts, a dance lasts only for as long as it is being created. But in combining the movement of dance with the preservative powers of paint, Michael is able to capture and immortalize his movements on the canvas. Michael, who is in the Irish America Hall of Fame, has been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records multiple times. His first tap record, set in 1989, was for an unprecedented 28 taps per second, though he has since topped himself, executing 35 taps per second at the age of 39. His legs are insured for $40,000,000, making Bette Grable’s Million Dollar Legs seem conservatively appraised. Upon finding out how much his painting had sold for, Michael said he was, “very encouraged and a little bit stunned.” The money will go towards the restoration of Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral. The painting, which he created by dancing the Al Capone solo from his show Celtic Tiger, is titled ‘I’. One woman at the auction said, “It’s magnificent – very Chinese looking,” while another claimed, “I wouldn’t be mad about him; he’s a genius in his own field but I don’t like the painting.” Michael says that he has done other paintings in this style, and that he plans to continue making more. – C.D. 18 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

ichelle Williams has already received SAG and Golden Globe best actress nominations for her role as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn and is also predicted to be the Oscar nominee in the same category. But that’s not all Williams is being recognized for. The actress will be recognized as the US-Ireland Alliance’s first honorary Irishwoman at this year’s annual “Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film” event. The US-Ireland Alliance is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. It was founded with the purpose of highlighting the dynamic relationship between the Irish and Americans. Hollywood stars such as J.J. Abrams and Paul Rudd have also received “honorary Irishman” titles. “Honorary” is the key word in Williams’ title. The actress does not claim any direct Irish ancestry. She was born in Montana and was raised in San Diego, California. However, the Alliance explains that Marilyn Monroe, who Williams portrays, may have been of Irish decent. “Her mother’s last name was Hogan,” notes Trina Vargo, President of the US-Ireland Alliance, in the organization’s press release. The release also notes that Michelle Williams’ agent, Hylda Queally, is a native of Ireland and a member of the US-Ireland Alliance advisory board. She represents notable actresses including, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Cate Blanchett. Queally was honored at the Oscar Wilde event in 2009. Other former recipients include Saoirse Ronan, Brendan Gleeson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Van Morrison. In recent years, the event has garnered more Hollywood buzz. Tom Cruise attended two years ago to present the award to Abrams, and Julia Roberts was in attendance last year to present Rudd’s award. This years 2012 Oscar Wilde event will be held in Santa Monica, California just three days before the Academy Awards. Additional honorees are yet to be announced. – M.F.

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Irish Talent Lights Up the Globes


s the sole voter from Ireland in the Golden Globes, I will also be attending her first Golden Globes with her husband, must admit I was delighted to see Irish talent being recas a guest of yours truly. She stars in a new CBS TV drama that ognized in a variety of fields in this year’s awards. My airs in the spring. hope is that the Midas touch conferred by the Hollywood Warner Bros. VP, Desiree Finnegan from Dublin, will also be Foreign Press Association’s adjudication will also continue at in attendance as will the formidable Ennis born uber agent at the Oscars next month. Endeavor, Hylda Queally. Michael Fassbender – who had the most The awards season as it is known begins extraordinary 2011, ranging from playing the for a voter like myself in September each year lead in the X Men blockbuster, to Carl Jung in at the Toronto International Film Festival. David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, to There, Hollywood begins to roll out the his searing role as a sex addict in the art house movies which the studios hope will be in conmovie Shame, for which he is nominated as tention for the coveted gongs. Between then best actor – will be lighting up the red carpet and the first week in December, the viewing for the first time. is pretty intense, as we attempt to see not only Glenn Close, the powerhouse behind and all of Hollywood’s offerings, but all the forlead in Albert Nobbs, is nominated for Best eign film entries, as well as television drama Actress, and her co-star Janet McTeer. Sinead and comedy. By the time I cast my vote for O’Connor will be there, along with the the nominations on Dec 10, I was feeling Navan-born composer Brian Byrne who severely overloaded, but still conscious of the wrote the score for the movie and is also nomhuge, career-changing potential of each vote. inated for Best Song. As a foreigner in Hollywood, one is keenly Brendan Gleeson is up for his second nomaware of the impact which even a nomination ination, this time also for a movie written and Patricia Danaher with Colin Farrell. can have on the life and career of an artist, pardirected by Michael McDonagh, The Guard. ticularly non-Americans. (Just ask host Ricky Three years ago, Gleeson accompanied Michael’s brother Martin Gervais, who frequently says his career in the U.S. began with his McDonagh to the Golden Globes when his movie In Bruges was Golden Globes nomination for The Office nine years ago). nominated for best comedy. Colin Farrell took home a Globe that It’s not called show business for no reason, and although the year for the same movie and is expected to attend also this year, attendees will kick back and relax as the night wears on, every alongside Martin McDonagh. He’s playing the lead in nominee at the Golden Globes knows that even appearing on the McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths which is currently being filmed long list practically ensures they will have work at least in the in LA. coming year. Victoria Smurfit, who transplanted her family to LA a year ago, Beir bua le gach aon duine. – Patricia Danaher

The Reality of Dance I

t is hard to overstate the way Irish step dancing has exploded onto the scene in mainstream media.The onceniche sport will be the topic of a new show to air on TLC called Irish Dancing Tweens. TLC, formerly The Learning Channel, has begun production on a documentary series which will follow several competitive Irish dance schools chronicling everything from choreography to costume. With the hit show Toddlers & Tiaras, TLC has certainly been the network frontrunner in the race to capitalize on children in individualized competition. Irish step dancing fits the mold for the perfect backdrop for a show of this nature with the hard hours of training,


the parental involvement and, of course, the glitz and glam. Irish dance costumes, wigs, makeup and shoes are known to cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, more than dance lessons and competition fees.A compelling notion, which will no doubt be a focus for the series, is that while the expenses are astronomical, there are hardly ever cash prizes involved for Irish dancers. In fact, most of these dancers are in it just for the win. Irish dance became a documentary darling with the hit film Jig! filmed at the World Championships in Glasgow in 2010.TLC has obtained rights to air Jig! on their network as well as recruited the film’s director Sue Borne to work on Irish Dancing Tweens.

TLC has faced its fair share of criticism in the past for its series Toddlers & Tiaras, which documents children competing in beauty pageants.The show has been labeled exploitative with the children’s parents coming under the most fire. It is unclear whether Irish Dancing Tweens will bear a similar tone to the network’s other series, but it is probably a safe bet that by the end of the first season Irish step dancing will come under some amount of skepticism from viewers who often take up arms when children in competition is the subject matter. One can only hope the focus will remain on the craft rather than the costume but then again this is show business. Jig! aired Sunday, January 8th.TLC has yet to announce an air date for Irish Dancing Tweens. – T. D.



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Move to Restore “Quiet Man” Cottage


ocals and fans from around the world are rallying on the Facebook social network to renew the dream of seeing “The Quiet Man Cottage” restored to its former cinematic glory as it appeared in the 1951 movie The Quiet Man. Today, the structure is barely recognizable as it lies in shambles. For Paddy McCormick, from Belfast, this dream began in 1998. As an ardent fan of the movie he began what he termed a “pilgrimage” to visit the film sites. He was delighted to find most of the areas just as they were on the screen. Unfortunately, his dream trip fell short when he found the once romantic cottage of Sean and Mary Kate in total shambles on a neglected farm lot. He decided to try to do something to restore the cottage. He made two vows: (1) to make the cottage exactly as it was at the time of filming, and (2) to make sure that it would not be exploited for purely commercial purposes, but serve as a historic part of Ireland and a tribute to the legacy of John Ford. Maureen O’Hara, who starred with John Wayne in this John Ford film masterpiece, said, “Ireland is the star of this film.” Winton Hoch, gifted cinematographer, used his skills to capture the Emerald Isle in its Technicolor panorama for all the world to see. Paddy is in the process of setting up a non-profit foundation, which hopefully could buy the site, restore the cottage and make sure that any money generated from visitors to the site would be used to manage and maintain the site in perpetuity. He contacted heads of Irish govern-

dream until Facebook and several other parties with the same mission surfaced. They are now combining their efforts to bring national and global attention to this historic mission. Paddy has registered the “White O’Morn Foundation” and with the help of supporters, continues to move forward. It is everyone’s hope that Maureen O’Hara, who offers encouragement to these efforts, can see this happen in her lifetime. – June Beck ment, but unfortunately the one stumbling block is the American owner’s unwillingness to sell the property. Paddy had pretty much given up on his 9675522439

Atlanta Celtic Christmas on TV


he Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert, a popular holiday tradition at Emory University, was televised for the first time and broadcast throughout the state on Georgia Public television this past December. For 18 years the concert, which is directed by Yeats scholar James Flannery and celebrates music, dance, poetry, song and story, has featured top class performers, and this year was no exception. Featured artists in the telecast include three Grammy winners: “First Lady of Celtic Song” Moya Brennan; Celtic and bluegrass banjo virtuoso Alison Brown; and “Riverdance” composer Bill Whelan with a stunning choral setting of a seventh-century Irish prayer poem. To order a DVD of the concert, go to


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Those We Lost the Old St. Patrick’s Church, video of the service was streamed to a nearby park where people were gathered – a sign of how much Chicago’s former first lady meant to the city. – S.L.

Joseph Farrell 1935 - 2011

Margaret Corbett Daley 1943-2011

Maggie Daley, the wife of former Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley, passed away at home in Chicago on November 24th. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. A much-beloved figure, Daley, 68, was Chicago’s first lady for 22 years. Throughout her husband’s six-term reign as mayor, she struck a fine balance between maintaining her family’s privacy and playing an active public role. She championed education programs for young people, developing gallery37, an arts-related jobs-training program for the city’s youth, and After School Matters, a city-wide program for Chicago’s students. She had also served as president of Pathways to Awareness, a nonprofit aimed towards informing parents about childhood disabilities. As mayor, Daley often nudged funding towards some of her key causes. Born Margaret Ann Corbett in 1943, Daley was the youngest child and only girl in a family of seven children. She grew up in Mount Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where her father ran an auto parts dealership. She attended the University of Dayton, after which a job with Xerox took her to Chicago where she met Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, who was then mayor. They married in March 1972, and had four children together: Norah, Patrick, Kevin and Elizabeth (“Lally”). Kevin died at 33-months from complications due to spina bifida. Daley was laid to rest on November 28th, following a funeral service attended by her extended family, President Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Chicago residents who wished to pay their respects. For those who could not fit into


Joseph Farrell, the founder and former chairman and CEO of National Research Group, which revolutionized the film industry by introducing the now standard practice of market research, died in Los Angles on December 7th. Farrell founded NRG in 1978, putting his background in the arts and political polling to a new use in forecasting the success of major motion pictures via demographic analysis. Of particular note was NRG’s influence over the 1987 film Fatal Attraction, starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas. Test audiences indicated that the film’s original ending was unsatisfying, and Farrell recommended that the ending be changed. His advice was followed, and the film went on to become a commercial and critical hit. Born in New York City in 1935, Farrell initially seemed interested in becoming a priest, but dropped out of a seminary at age 18. He then attended St. John’s University, studied sculpture at Notre Dame, and earned a law degree from Harvard. He held various positions with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Louis Harris and Associates, and the American Council of Arts. He was also the author of three books, and designed furniture under the name Giuseppe Farbino. NRG was bought by the Dutch media company VNU in 1996. Farrell and his business partner, Catherine Paura, left NRG in 2003 to found their own production company, FP productions. Farrell is survived by his wife, Italian actress Jo Champa, and their son, Sean. – S.L.

Desmond FitzGerald 1937 - 2011

The 29th Knight of Glin, Desmond FitzGerald, died on September 14 in Ireland, at the age of 74, after battling cancer for two years. FitzGerald was the last heir to one of Ireland’s oldest hereditary titles, also called the Black Knight. FitzGerald was recognized by many as a ‘true patriot’ and a ‘passionate man.’ Since 1991 until his death, he was president of the Irish Georgian Society and spent much of his life dedicated to preserving Irish art, architecture and heritage. He was involved in many projects, including the restoration of Irish country houses, parks, gardens, and his own family estate of Glin Castle. He authored several books and articles on painting,

architecture, landscape and furniture. FitzGerald was born on July 13, 1937 to Desmond FitzGerald, the 28th Knight of Glin, and Veronica Villiers. He left Ireland and was educated at the University of British Columbia and received his master’s degree in fine arts from Harvard University. After graduation, he moved to London and worked as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum for 11 years before returning to Ireland to inherit the title. Desmond FitzGerald leaves behind a wife, Madam Olda FitzGerald, and his three daughters, Catherine, Nesta and Honor. – M.F.

John P. Foley 1935 - 2011

Cardinal John Patrick Foley, former spokesman for the Vatican, passed away on December 11th in Darby, Pa. He was 76. The cause, according to the Catholic News Service, was leukemia. Cardinal Foley’s voice is recognizable to many as the English narrator for the pope’s Christmas midnight Mass. His offi-

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cial title was president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and he helped issue church declarations, coordinate news coverage and expand the church’s electronic news media. Cardinal Foley was ordained in 1962 after attending St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He graduated from St. John’s University in 1957. In 1966, he decided to follow the advice of his mentor, Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, and earned a master’s from the Columbia Journalism School. He was media liaison for Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States in 1979. In 1984, Cardinal Foley was named an archbishop and the Vatican spokesman. Born on November 11, 1935 in Darby, Pa., John P. Foley was the only child of John Edward Foley and Regina Vogt. He leaves no immediate survivors. – M.F.

Oscar O’Neal Griffin, Jr. 1933 - 2011

Oscar O’Neal Griffin, Jr., passed away at his home in Texas at the age of 78 on November 23 due to cancer. Griffin is best known as the reporter who helped expose the fraud schemes of business tycoon Billy Sol Estes. He earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for distinguished local reporting. In the 1960s, Billy Sol Estes ruled the town of Pecos, Texas, after buying up businesses and having political connections to longtime friend, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. That was until Oscar Griffin, then a 29year-old reporter, published four investigative articles in 1962. Griffin exposed that Estes had borrowed $24 million, using phantom fertilizer tanks as collateral, and sold mortgages on the nonexistent tanks to farmers. Estes was arrested on March 29, 1962.

Griffin was born on April 28, 1933 in Daisetta, Texas. He served in the Army and graduated from University of Texas in 1958. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. Following his work at the Pecos Independent, Griffin joined the Houston Chronicle. He covered the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and worked as a spokesman for the Transportation Department. Griffin leaves behind his wife, Patricia Lamb, three daughters, a son, and seven grandchildren. – M.F.

Caroline Walsh 1952 – 2011

Caroline Walsh, the long-time literary editor of the Irish Times, died unexpectedly on December 22 in Dublin. She was 59.

Patrick V. Murphy 1920 - 2011

Patrick V. Murphy, former New York City policeman who led the Police Department through a period of reform in the early 1970’s, died on Friday, December 16 at a hospital in North Carolina, due to complications following a heart attack. He was 91. Murphy joined the police force in 1945, starting out as a foot patrol officer in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. In 1970, Mayor John V. Lindsay appointed him to the Knapp Commission to help expose police officer involvement in bribery, heroin transactions, and information selling. Murphy began planting spies within the Department to uncover corruption, in the process establishing stricter standards of performance. He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and a master’s in public administration from the City College of New York. He also graduated from the F.B.I. National Academy. Murphy was born in 1920 , in Brooklyn, to Patrick and Nellie Murphy. The two had immigrated to the United States from County Cork, Ireland. His father and two of his older brothers, Andrew and John, were also New York City police officers. He was one of eight children. Patrick and his wife, Martha, had since moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. He is survived by Martha, their eight children, 21 grandchildren 17 great-grandchildren and two sisters. – C.D.

A much-loved and highly regarded figure in Ireland’s literary community, Walsh had joined the paper in 1975. She held various positions, including features editor and regional news editor, and had been literary editor since 1999. In an article published shortly after her death, novelist John Banville, who was Walsh’s predecessor at the Irish Times, recalled “I remember vividly, with a renewed stab of mortification, at the end of her first week in the job opening the Weekend section and being dazzled by the blaze of energy, inventiveness and imagination that her pages gave off. A new star had arrived in the literary firmament.” Born in 1952, Walsh was a daughter of the noted Irish short story writer Mary Lavin. She earned degrees in English and art history from University College Dublin, and lived in London for a short time after graduating before starting to write for the Irish Times at age 22 and devoting the rest of her career to the paper. She was the author of The Homes of Irish Writers, and the editor of three collections of Irish short stories. She was married to novelist James Ryan, with whom she had a son and a daughter. A funeral service took place in Dublin on December 24. Walsh’s family, the staff of the Irish Times and the writers and poets who were Walsh’s friends and colleagues paid tribute. Those in attendance included poets Seamus Heaney, Denis O’Driscoll, Paul Durcan, and Theo Dorgan and novelists John Banville, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton and Claire Kilroy. – S.L. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 23



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A Museum for American Writers “It has to be spectacular or not at all,” said Malcolm O’Hagan, about the American Writers Museum he is founding to “help people understand the power of the word, how much it influences our culture and identity as a nation.” Born the day before St. Patrick’s Day in Co. Sligo, 71 years ago, O’Hagan, who holds a doctorate in engineering, admits that it wasn’t until he moved to America that he became an avid reader. “So many books have influenced my thinking,” he said, recalling the anger he felt about the way the migrant workers were treated after reading John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. As founder and president of the proposed museum, O’Hagan’s mission is to give American writers their due by taking stories from between the covers of books and plays, and putting them on

display in a way that will engage and delight visitors. Other countries have such museums including Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Korea, and China. The Portuguese Language Museum, honoring writers in Brazil, is the most visited museum in South America. O’Hagan has spent the past year testing the museum concept, to enthusiastic response. Cities considered for the museum’s location must have major convention and tourism business as well as a rich literary tradition. At this writing, “it looks like Chicago,” O’Hagan said, after having had conversations with former Mayor Daley as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s transition team. The museum will probably be housed in an existing building for the first five years, “until we 24 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

can build our own space, hopefully on the lake,” O’Hagan said, referring to Lake Michigan. Core exhibitions will provide a chronological overview of American Literature, while changing exhibits introduce individual writers, great fictional characters, or particular themes. Plans include a lecture hall, movie theatre, and a Scribblers Café. O’Hagan is president of New Hampshire Inc. Real Estate Holdings, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where he lives with his wife, Virginia, whom he met when he came to Washington many years ago. Armed with a scholarship from The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, he earned his doctorate at George Washington University. Both O’Hagan sons are helping to get the museum organized. John, the older, a film director, is producing a film about the museum project. Patrick, a partner with the international strategic consulting firm Bain in Boston is on the executive planning team. O’Hagan visits Ireland at least once a year to see his two brothers and four sisters and their families. “Most of my family lives in Dalkey, outside Dublin, where James Joyce’s Ulysses starts and ends,” O’Hagan said. “I love to visit the Dublin Writers Museum and also the Yeats exhibit.” He visits a sister in Limerick, and another in Sligo, where they all grew up. “Next to Sligo my favorite part of Ireland is Connemara,” he said. “The Irish are known for their story telling and Irish Americans are proud of their heritage,” O’Hagan said. A significant percentage of America’s great writers were Irish Americans, such as Eugene O’Neill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Flannery O’Connor, James T. Farrell and Frank McCourt. It seems only fitting that an Irish American would create the American Writers Museum. To learn more go to Take the survey of what you would like to find there, and lend your support. There is also a link to Dr. O’Hagan’s 30-minute 2010 interview on CSPAN’s Book TV. – Marian Betancourt

Seamus Heaney Donates Papers to Library of Ireland


he National Library of Ireland has become the new home to Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney’s collection of literary papers. “I’m overwhelmed at the number of people that the library has brought in to celebrate this moment and I’m deeply indebted and deeply honoured,” said Heaney at a reception held in the reading room of the National Library on December 21.

Among those who attended the event was Taoiseach Enda Kenny who said it was a privilege for the Irish nation to receive the archives of “one of the world’s foremost word sculptors.” The collection includes at least 12 boxes of manuscripts and notebooks containing drafts of Heaney’s poems, essays and dramas spanning his entire literary career. Scholars regard the collection as a treasure trove worth a fortune, yet Heaney gave his collection to the National Library free of charge. “I had no qualms about it,” he said, joking that it freed his house of clutter. “It’s a happiness to feel no regrets at the removal of the stuff from the house, but to feel a cause for gratitude and pride,” said Heaney, now 72. Fiona Ross, the director of the library, said, “we look forward to making this collection available to scholars and researchers from all over the world.” Heaney has always had a close relationship with the library. Some of his poems were actually written in the library reading room. Heaney also said that he was proud to be “joining the great writers of the past and present who have also contributed,” and referenced his most recent collection of poetry, Human Chain (2010).“It is all part of a chain. A written, human chain.” – M.F.

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Bill Ford, Jr.: Celebrating Heritage, Family and Moving Forward The 26th annual Business 100 luncheon, which took place on December 15th at the Metropolitan Club in New York City, drew many of America’s top corporate leaders. Highlights included the presentation to Jim Quinn, president of Tiffany & Co., of the Irish Spirit Award, the keynote address by William C. Ford, Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, and a parting song by Bob Savage, president of Nanette Lepore. In their speeches, Ford and Quinn both paid insightful tribute to their Irish ancestors – to the challenges they faced and the risks they took, and to the inspiration that can be drawn from their journeys as we move forward, in both our daily lives and in the exciting technological milestones on the auto industry’s horizon. Enjoy their speeches, edited lightly for length.

FORD: We all came here today because of a powerful force that connects us to one another, and that’s the pride we have in our Irish heritage. It also provides insight and inspiration to help us address the challenges of the future. So I’d like to say a few words about the importance of honoring our heritage, as well as the necessity of moving forward, boldly. And frankly, that’s been a guiding principle of ours at Ford. We honor our past, but we don’t dwell on it, we build on it. And knowing where we came from helps guide us towards where we’re going. I’ve always been proud of my Irish heritage, and so this last summer I took my family back to Ireland. I particularly wanted my kids to be able to understand their Irish heritage. We went all over the country, including a stop in Ballinascarthy which is where the family farm still is. My great-great-grandfather, 26 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

FROM THE TOP: Editor-in-chief Patricia Harty, keynote speaker Bill Ford, Jr. and publisher Niall O’Dowd. Lisa Quadrini and honoree Anne McCarthy of Westmeath Communications. Tom Finnegan, honoree Kieran Claffey of PwC, Bill Ford, Jr. and honoree Brendan Dougher, also of PwC. Honoree Bob Savage, president of Nanette Lepore, raises a glass of Concannon Wine as he sings “The Parting Glass.” Honoree Brendan Farrell, Jr. of XSP and Niall O’Dowd.

William Ford, came over [to the U.S.] on a famine ship in 1847, and settled on a farm in Dearborn, Mich. and that’s where in 1863, my greatgrandfather Henry Ford was born. Ireland is the only place where Ford Motor Company isn’t officially “Ford Motor Company.” It’s actually called Henry Ford and Son. The reason for that is, after Henry came over to visit Ireland in 1917 he wanted to open a Model T facility in Cork, and his Board of Directors said, “No chance. We’ve got other priorities.” So he took his own money and built the Model T plant, but he couldn’t call it “Ford Motor Company,” so he called it “Henry Ford and Son.” And so, to this day, Ford’s name in Ireland is, legally, still Henry Ford and Son. Henry was a fascinating individual, and many of his innovations, such as the Model T, the assembly line, and the five-dollar-a-day wage, are familiar to us, because in many ways, they helped change the world. But to me, his most fundamental innovation was his belief that the function of business was to serve society. He believed that the main purpose of a corporation should be to serve customers, employees, and communities. And he fought with his partners to build a car that would enhance the lives of the average person, and not just the most affluent. He insisted on reinvesting profits into building a better, less expensive product, and then sharing those profits with his employees. In fact, he was thrown out of almost all the business groups he was part of for having introduced profit sharing. He was told he was never welcome on Wall Street and that was fine with him. But he also said, “There is a most intimate connection between decency and good business. The only foundation of real



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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Honoree William Flynn, chairman emeritus of Mutual of America. Honoree Thomas Hunt of Ranger Pipelines with family and friends. Rich Harris, Wall Street 50 honorees Sean Kilduff and Sharon Sager of UBS, honoree Frank Comerford of NBC Universal. Niall O’Dowd, Patricia Harty, Consul General Noel Kilkenny and Hanora O’Dea Kilkenny present Bill Ford, Jr. with the Certificate of Irish Heritage. Niall O’Dowd and J. Timothy Gannon of OSI Restaurant Partners. Honoree Joseph Fallon of The Fallon Company and his wife, Susan. Bill Ford, Jr’s Cliffs of Moher award and James Quinn’s King’s Bowl by House of Waterford Crystal. Honoree Bill Kelley, Jr. of Jelly Belly Candy Company with guests Patricia Collins, John Pola and Ryan Schader. Patricia Harty with honoree Bill Daly of Warner Bros. Shamrock awards by House of Waterford. Honorees George Moore of Targus Information Group and Shaun Kelly of KPMG with Zoe Fogarty and Angela Moore.



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business is service.” That wasn’t the conventional wisdom of the day, but I’m convinced it’s the reason why he was able to build a great enterprise – and put the world on wheels. At Ford Motor Company, we continue to follow the values of our founder today. And my vision is to build great products, a strong business, and a better world. We remain a family company to this day. But we also think of our employees as extended members of our family, and that’s not just rhetoric. We have so many people in our company that are

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atives that I’d just mortgaged everything, including the family name, to keep us going. But they were great, and they understood, and they agreed to it. So when the worst hit in 2008, we were ready. During the recession, sales plummeted to the lowest level in twenty-five years. But we made it through, and we were able to keep investing in a complete line of fuel-efficient vehicles. And that gave us a great head start on the sales and profit growth that we’re achieving today. I kind of like to think that it’s our combative Irish heritage that got us through the tough times. If I could just say a few words about the present day and what we’re looking at in the company. This really is not going

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: A poster of Bill Ford, Jr. from the cover of the Business 100 issue. Wall Street 50 honoree Mike Haverty of Kansas City Southern and his wife, Marlys with, Barbara Cashin and honoree Pat O’Connor of Starcom. Sean Reidy, CEO of JFK Trust, presents Bill Ford, Jr. with the crystal plate marking his induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame, housed at the Dunbrody Famine Ship.

second, third, fourth, and even fifth-generation employees working there, and it really, I think, makes us a special company. We’re not a nameless, faceless company. Our name is on all our products and I believe that gives us a strong sense of commitment and responsibility. The stability and long-term perspective of our family provides a key element of the success of our company. Five years ago, we anticipated that a downturn was about to happen – although there’s no way we could have anticipated how bad it was really going to be, and we clearly did not know the credit markets were really just going to freeze up completely. So, we went to the banks and borrowed as much as we possibly could, so that we could keep investing in new products. We mortgaged the Blue Oval, and you can imagine what our family discussion was like when I had to tell all my rel28 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

to be a company speech, but we’re at the intersection, I believe, of three critical global issues: the economy, energy, and environment. There are concerns about employment, the availability and affordability of fuel, and the impact of CO2 on the climate. The demand for energy efficient and environmentally friendly goods is growing and will continue to grow, and smart companies have been racing to get ahead of this trend to create green products and green jobs. At Ford, we placed a huge bet back in the darkest days of 2006, 2007 and 2008, and we said, “we want to be the fuel economy leader in every single segment that we participate in, and for us that was a huge departure, because the one thing we were not known for was fuel economy. We started investing billions in research and development to power this

fuel-efficient drive we were on. And so, while many of our competitors cut back during the lean years, we actually kept investing in research and development, and because of that we now have a dozen vehicles that are best in class, and four models that get at least forty miles per gallon. We just began rolling out our new Electric Focus and next year we’re going to introduce our first plug-in vehicle. But we’re also investing in something that isn’t getting a lot of air time today, the next generation of technology, and intelligent vehicles – vehicles that can communicate with each other and with the infrastructure around them. It will make vehicles much safer. You will be able to find parking spaces without driving around; your vehicle will find it for you. It will be able to gather data from everywhere and then guide you very quickly to where you want to go. And this isn’t science fiction – you’re going to start seeing these vehicles on the road within the next five years. We have a concept vehicle right now called EVOS, which can route you around traffic jams, anticipate bad weather, and will immediately change your suspension to whatever weather is coming up. It can monitor your health, including your blood sugar and your blood pressure. It can even turn down the temperature and turn off the lights in your house as you pull away from your garage. We’re pushing hard on this, and I think it’s going to be a really interesting and very useful technology, and will help make people’s lives better. In fact, some of the research that we do with government agencies has shown that crashes could be reduced by eighty percent with this technology. Importantly though, it’s also going to help us deal with traffic congestion, which is becoming a huge issue. If you just do the math, today there are about a billion vehicles on the road. By mid-century, that’s going to be between two and four billion. Where are they going to go? How are they going to operate? We see it probably less here in America than when you go to Asia – where, one day last year, there was an eleven-day traffic jam in China. We do need new technology, and it’s coming. And it’s going to be very liberating. In the process, we’re becoming a very



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high-tech industry. Prior to the recession, I think most people dismissed the auto industry as old-fashioned or even irrelevant. Most of America admired people who made deals, not people who made things. The auto industry was viewed by many as sort of a Rust-Belt dinosaur. But I’m happy to say I really think that’s changing. And I think if anything good came out of the downturn we just had nationally, it was an increased national recognition that industry does matter. There hasn’t been a strong economy anywhere since the Industrial Revolution that wasn’t built on the back of strong industry. So it’s my hope, and actually it’s my belief, that in this country we’re waking up to that fact and starting to value what we have, and wanting to build upon it. We’ve been able to do this by following the principles of our founder. And it’s important to note that we haven’t idolized the past at the expense of the present. If we had, we’d still be building Model T’s, and not electric Focuses. If we over-idolize our past, we can stifle progress. It’s important, though, to still be guided by the principles that we hold dear. Our goal is to help people have a better life. To do that, we’re using the latest in technology. It’s an exciting time for our industry, for our company, and for me, personally. I cannot wait to get to work everyday to get going. Thank you, so much, for this wonderful recognition, it’s incredibly meaningful to me. As I was talking to my children about it last night, it was really amazing. They loved their trip to Ireland. I wasn’t sure quite how much of it would stay with them, and now they want to go back next summer. This recognition means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family, and I’d like you to – as we think about it – remember your heritage with pride, and be mindful of all the experiences of our forbearers. And use those as we guide our companies, as we go into the future.

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Jim Quinn: The Soul of an Irishman


ost of us in this room enjoy the great benefits that have flowed from the Irish diaspora. And likely many of us are 1st or 2nd generation, in some people’s cases it maybe goes back a few more generations. But we’re here because our parents or grandparents or perhaps someone further back in our history left terribly dire circumstances to begin a new life with little more than the soul of an Irishman – or an Irish spirit, if you prefer. In my view, Irish spirit has something to do, perhaps, with being a cocktail. One part mystic and one part humor, equal parts of optimism and compassion. That’s certainly a potent cocktail that has fueled the success and prosperity of this generation. And success and prosperity are clearly on display today. Here in this room with the Business 100 honorees and with all of our friends and supporters, it’s a tribute to talent and hard work and good fortune. And the good fortune that we enjoy flowed, in part from those who came before us, who trampled down the ground in front of us to clear a path for us to follow.

Those ancestors helped you and they helped me to bring to these shores the best that Ireland has to offer. They left behind desolate circumstances, bleak prospects and an impoverished future, and they built a life that ensured that their offspring would rise through education and through hard work, and perhaps some of them even

dreamed of a day when their namesakes might be honored as we are here today. We remember them today, those who helped us gain a foothold so that we could grasp a full measure of opportunity. We're also reminded today that, while we lack little, many, many more need a helping hand, words of encouragement, and a chance to travel an unobstructed path forward. I was at a small gathering, as were a few people in the room, a small gathering for friends and supporters of the Donaldson Adoption Institute. And President Clinton addressed the group. As always, he made insightful comments. He remarked that in all his travels and all his experience, that he has observed that human talent and ability is evenly distributed across the spectrum of income and race and geography, but that good fortune is not so evenly distributed. Those of us who have been able to exercise our talents in a robust field of opportunity can do much to help others grasp the levers of success. We can, as individuals, help one by one, and we can make a difference. And we can join with others in support of organizations that provide much-needed aid. There are of course many here in our town in New York, and there are of course other organizations, like the American Ireland Fund, which does so much for our beloved Ireland, and still others like Concern Worldwide, the Irelandbased relief organization that’s doing such great work in Haiti and in African nations torn by conflict and disease. So I just mentioned that thought, it’s perhaps a touch more uplifting than talking about the 1847 Famine, but we are in the Christmas season and we who have enjoyed the bounty of such good fortune also need to think about those who haven’t been so fortunate. I’m also reminded of my mother’s advice on occasions like this: “Jimmy, be grateful and be brief.” This is truly a great honor, I am deeply grateful and honored to receive the Spirit of Ireland award and for being included among such an extraordinary group of honorees. I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and peace in the new year. Thank you very IA much. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 29


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Ireland land of enchantment

By Heidi Boyd

o you have Irish ancestors?” This is normally the first thing people ask me upon finding out I went on holiday in Ireland. In most cases, the person asking has Irish roots and is happy to meet a fellow Irishman. And maybe they’ve found one in me. Maybe. Prior to my vacation in Ireland, I had no connection to Ireland, or any other ancestry. At six weeks old, I was adopted by the most delightful, loving parents who helped me grow up without attachment to any particular heritage. In fact, my upbringing shaped me into a person who feels part of anywhere and everywhere all at once. That said, I experienced an intense and life-changing relationship with Irish people and culture that convinced me that in my heart – and perhaps my genetics – Ireland is my home.


Pictured above: Heidi Boyd and her mother. Opposite page: A montage of photographs from Heidi’s trip. Third row far right: Twins: Heidi’s mother and aunt, Karol and Kathy.


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Pictured above: Heidi, her mother, her aunt Karol and travel friends.


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Your Turn

What part of Ireland makes your heart sing when you remember your visit? Do you find yourself longing to return? We’d love to hear your favorite places to visit.

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I received this trip to Ireland as a surprise gift from my mother. She and a friend, whose Irish roots are in Leitrim, had planned the trip the year before. My mom’s twin and another friend joined the group. At 34 years of age, I’m fairly well traveled, and Ireland wasn’t on my personal top five vacation choices, but I accepted. After losing my beloved father fairly recently, I looked forward to making new memories with my mother and aunt. This all coincided with the busiest year I have had in my career and personal life. I didn’t get too involved in the planning of the trip; I literally just packed my bags and showed up at the airport. I was frazzled, exhausted, and very much in need of a reprieve from my own life. Then – magic. The moment I saw Ireland’s lush green landscape from the airplane’s window as we began our descent into Shannon, I sensed I was entering a world that was unlike anything I had experienced before. When I walked outside the airport and the sea breeze hit me; “The landI was enchanted. For the next two weeks, I left everyscapes, the food, thing behind me and let Ireland sink into every pore of the drink, the my being. I went from stressed to blissed in about a people, and the second flat. It was a feeling I will never forget and will mystical energy cherish for the rest of my life. of Ireland creatWe rented a house for two weeks on the Ballina side ed a festival for of the Killaloe/Ballina Bridge on the river Shannon. all of my senses Five women with two rental cars and no reservations and kept me or itinerary, we planned only on doing what inspired us enraptured for in the moment. We went to the Aran Islands and saw two weeks the most beautiful view of the Cliffs of Moher from straight.” below instead of on top; we frolicked around County Clare as if we were residents, and made many friends in Killaloe at the local pubs. I met my new friend Missy when we were seated beside each other for lunch and she began chatting away. Missy gave us the phone numbers of her chums who would give us a private boat ride on the Shannon, and to another who gave us a tour of the bell tower at St. Flannan’s church, which is built on the grounds that once held the castle of Brian Boru, the High King. We bet on the races at Listowel and traveled to the Matchmaking Festival in Lisdoonvarna for a kiss. We followed the footsteps of President Obama, and had a pint at Ollie Hayes pub in Moneygall. Following Missy’s instructions to visit Brian Boru’s Fort, I went out for an evening walk and serendipitously, I met her along the pathway. She and I spent the evening on the fort walk, and she gave me a personal history lesson, intertwined with the local gossip. On our last night, the town celebrated with us at Flanagan’s, dinner at The Wooden Spoon, followed by pints and craic at our favorite pub, The Anchor. Ireland engages every one of the human senses unlike no other. The landscapes, the food, the drink, the people, and the mystical energy of Ireland created a festival for all of my senses and kept me enraptured for two weeks straight. This was an adventure that I never could have imagined. The people were as mesmerizing to me as the perfect landscapes. Coming from Cleveland, where the drivers are very impatient and rude, I was struck by how the people in Ireland stop, and instead of yelling, asked us to pull over so they could help us with directions. The absence of arrogance in the Irish people left me falling in love with everyone I spoke with. The open hearts, the transparency, the pure intentions; at first I thought it foreign and odd. Then it dawned on me that this is the way humans are meant to treat each other. This is how God intends us to love one another. I was not expecting what I found in Ireland. I have seen with my eyes the most beautiful things on Earth. I could go blind today and have memories to satisfy me for the rest of my life. As our plane took off for home, tears fell down my face. I was already aching for this place that felt like home. I wasn’t expecting such a delicious and intense connection, much like I wasn’t expecting to go through culture shock when I returned home to my own life. It took me a few weeks to readjust, and it was a little rocky. My husband thought maybe I fell in love when I was IA on vacation in Ireland. He was right. I fell in love with Ireland. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 33



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and Strings


Whether he is playing solo or with the newly formed The Gloaming, Martin Hayes, the marvelously gifted fiddler, finds his mesmeric rhythm in the Irish tunes he learned from his father – the leader of the famed Tulla Ceili band – and other master musicians in east County Clare. BY TARA DOUGHERTY



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he first time I heard Martin Hayes it felt like an earthquake. Not ten seconds into his first tune, the ground started to pulsate, the bottles behind the bar were shaking as everyone in the room felt the urge to stamp their feet to the rhythm of Hayes’ fiddle. While there is undeniable electricity in the way Hayes commands an audience, it is juxtaposed with a very distinct gentleness. He plays as if each note is made of glass; mishandle it slightly and the emotion is shattered. As a man, he exudes that same gentleness. Quite soft-spoken and self-deprecating, the County Clare native is uninterested in fame and has no concern with being best. His concern, it seems, is always to connect with people. He works to be better only than himself, than how he played the day before. Hayes, who now splits his time between Connecticut and Ireland, has lived in the U.S. for 23 years. As well as playing, he composes scores for film and stage. His newest project, The Gloaming, is a dream team of Irish and Irish American musicians. Hayes is joined by Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh on fiddle, his longtime musical partner Dennis Cahill on guitar, the legendary Iarla Ó Lionáird on vocals, and newcomer Thomas Bartlett on piano. I spoke with Hayes just before the group’s debut at Webster Hall, in New York City.


When did your life as a musician begin? I started playing when I was seven. My father was a fiddle player in the Tulla Ceili Band so there was always music in the house, always musicians coming and going and people interested in music. I had been hearing traditional music as the predominant music form since I was a little child so it wasn’t something I had to get to know. I grew up in that environment. I don’t know that I exactly learned. I learned some tunes from my father, but there was a lot of just being around it, kind of absorbing it.

Osmosis? Right, osmosis. Like the way people learn a language I suppose... As a teenager I became quite curious about lots of other musicians. I became curious about styles of music in my locality. I would tape all these old players, learn their tunes, talk to them, hang out with them. As a teenager, I was kind of friendly with people who were 60 or 70 years of age. I was lucky I did that because they aren’t there now. There is such a strong tradition of music in Clare. Do you think



it’s a function of those family traditions that you are a product of? The music was carried in certain families for sure. And I suppose, for some reason I can’t really explain, there just were a lot of musicians in the county. There’s a strong tradition there that hasn’t ever really weakened. Would you describe your style as Clare specific? I suppose I have some of that accent in my music, but I’m not particularly concerned or obsessed with preserving that now. I think I did start out with a real mission to preserve it, but I don’t think it needs to be preserved anymore. It’s kind of a ranking of priorities. There’s the regionalism, there’s the family, tradition and heritage, but number one there is music. Music is the main thing. In that array of things, one just views it not so much from the cultural or historical or social but purely music perspective. There’s a long history of the Irish coming to America and bringing this music with them. Now especially, it seems those two lines of music are crossing over again. Do you think

the style of traditional music has been influenced by this crossfertilization? All through the 20th century for sure what was happening in America was affecting what was happening in Ireland. Probably more so than what was happening in Ireland affecting what was happening in America. I think that’s more bal-

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill

anced now. And over the course of the 20th century [Irish] music on both sides of the Atlantic developed quite differently as well.

Is Irish traditional music still Irish or is it global? I think global at this stage. I played seisiuns this year in places like Japan. People are playing this music everywhere. What do you think it is about the music that translates? Underlying all the techniques and all the different elements that sometimes make it sound like it’s Irish music, the main characteristic is the strength of the melody line. It’s a melodic music. It’s why pop music is successful sometimes, it’s melodic. The Beatles were very melodic. Simon and Garfunkel were very melodic. I think the beauty of the melodies and their accessibility is what makes them successful. The other quality of the music is that it’s non-hierarchical. There isn’t a separation between professional and amateur in any real sense. The playing system in seisiuns is very equal, circular and kind of egalitarian most of the time. It’s a music that is made for participation and not necessarily always be a distant observer of. It’s music people can partake in. How did your partnership with Dennis Cahill begin? I met Dennis in Chicago in 1985 so I’ve known him a long, long time. We actually played in a band together for a




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while in Chicago. Then some years later when I moved to Seattle and I was looking for a guitarist to come on the road with me on a more full time basis, Dennis said, “Hey I’ll do that.” And that was it. We’re just very good friends and we built up a musical rapport over the years. We understand each other musically.

It became second nature? Yes, we have a way of working on it together. We have a comfortable way of touring and traveling together and those are all important things too.

What are some of the elements each member brings to it? There’s a kind of moodiness we’re all attracted to in our styles of music. We definitely seek to evoke and arouse feeling in a very real way. Sometimes musicians are not necessarily oriented that way, but I think every musician in this group is that way. Sometimes musicians are driven toward that high energetic side of music. I knew all these musicians had 36 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

The Gloaming pictured above from right to left, Thomas Bartlett, Dennis Cahill, Iarla Ó Lionaird, Martin Hayes and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Below, The Gloaming in concert at Webster Hall in New York City.

a longing for other elements of the music. There is a more gentle side of the music that often doesn’t get explored in ensemble playing. It allows us to go in a slightly different direction sometimes by just having other people who think or feel the same way. Thomas brings in a lot of worlds. It was a bit like when I first started with Dennis, he had backgrounds in different areas outside [Irish] music. So he brought new ideas to the guitar way of dealing with specifically how I was playing. I think that Thomas brings another dimension because he works in a very cutting-edge world of music in a way. He has leanings toward jazz and rock-androll and traditional. He works with Anthony and the Johnsons and The National and all these other bands that are very current and doing great things. He has that great ensemble ability to really feel and respond to things as they’re happening. And he knows traditional music very well because he did that as a kid. So I just thought he would be a great compliment to Iarla’s singing. So when Iarla told me he’d like to do some stuff with me, I said, well, why don’t we get Thomas Bartlett? And he hadn’t heard of Thomas yet but was real-


Tell me about The Gloaming? I’ve known everyone in The Gloaming for a long time. I’ve known the singer, Iarla Ó Lionáird, since we were little kids. He was always an amazing singer. I’ve known Caoimhin since he was a young teenager. And I’d known Thomas Bartlett since he was a little kid. And Dennis, of course. We all kind of knew each other in various combinations, and I knew enough about them all to know we all had a similar aesthetic feeling around music and a shared sense of what this music is and how we like to look at it. The idea of doing this project together was that rather than picking the most flamboyant musicians or even picking a band based on instrumentation, because this is a strange combination: vocals, two fiddles, guitar and piano, no one puts a band together of that structure. But we put it together based on the idea that all the people would be very sympathetic to each other and each other’s viewpoints and that we had similar outlooks on music. And at the same time everyone in this band has an absolutely unique voice. It’s safe to say that every musician in this band doesn’t carry a standard set of music tools. Caoimhin absolutely only sounds like Caoimhin. Iarla just sounds like Iarla. There’s only one Thomas Bartlett. There’s only one Dennis Cahill.

ly thrilled when he got to meet him. Then I knew the band was out of balance instrumentally, that this was a lot of guitar and piano for me to overcome with the fiddle. So I knew that Caoimhin had been working with Iarla and I had also been working with Caoimhin on separate projects. So he had two people in the band he could hook into. And I had my hooks and connections with Dennis. It fitted together surprisingly easy in the end.

I understand you and Thomas have an interesting history. Back in the early 90s, I did a tour in



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Ireland. Thomas and his family had come [from Vermont] on holiday and they hadn’t really a clear plan of where they wanted to go. Thomas, just a small kid at the time, had been interested in traditional music as he had been interested in contra dance music in New England as a kid. At the beginning of their vacation, they came to a concert that I played. They really enjoyed it. They decided that rather than make a plan for their vacation they would allow serendipity to dictate it. Thomas said he wanted to go to all the concerts on the tour so they did. They went back to America after that and I basically forgot about them. I forgot this kid’s name. Maybe it was a year or two later we got an e-mail from this guy called Thomas Bartlett. We didn’t know who this was but he was asking if we’d be available to do a concert in Vermont. We responded by saying, “well if you can let us know of some concert presenter there we’ll certainly do it.” So some time passed and we got another email saying, “We found a venue and will you be able to come at this time?” The correspondence kept going back and forth. Then something slipped in the email. Some little bit of information that

been talking to Iarla so I said this is the opportunity to put it all together.

made us wonder “What the hell?” [He said something like], “I have to ask my mom.” We found out that we were being booked by an eleven-year-old to play a concert [laughs]. Thomas put on this concert and it was really amazing. The place was full, the hall was booked, the stage was there, the PA was there, the PR was done. We had a great night. After that I never really lost contact with Thomas. We would cross paths occasionally. And just before the Gloaming project we had made contact and done some jamming together in the studio just to see what it’d be like. Then I’d

forces concentration. I think [The Gloaming] is a band of really good listeners. All the arrangements… it has an inherent looseness built into it. In other words, ‘Let’s see what happens on the night when we play this part here.’ We have a good sketch of things but people are generally free to create and invent right in the whole form as we’ve moving forward. So there is a kind of aliveness and an improvisational quality there all the time.

When did you all start playing together as The Gloaming? Last winter. We got together in the studio in the midlands of Ireland for a week just to generate music and throw all the ideas in and see what happens. So basically we just sat in a circle and [someone would] say, “Ok, I’ll start out with something. So everybody just throw whatever you got at it.” And so it kind of went around in circles like that for a week and we were generating material every day. Thomas was writing melodies with Iarla. Dennis, Caoimhin and myself were putting together medleys and tunes. So we had loads of material before the week was over, enough for some concerts. So then we did a tour of Ireland. We were really happy with it. That was the real testament. Do some concerts and see what happens. You can’t know what you have until you walk on a stage and try it. Is there a different atmosphere on stage as opposed to when you’re all just in a circle? The stage brings an energy to things and


Is there a story behind the name? The name came from Caoimhin, he’s a really creative guy. To tell you the truth,

naming this project was probably the most difficult part of it. It’s excruciating trying to come up with a name for a band. I don’t know how many names I sent in and they were all stupid really.

But you all came to a consensus? We just gave up [laughs]. “Ok, Caoimhin, that’s it.” He had come up with it earlier and we couldn’t come up with anything better. Is there a different atmosphere you find playing to American audiences? I personally don’t make any distinction at all. Playing New York feels like playing Dublin to me. I don’t look at it any differently, I don’t see the audience any differently. I treat the audience the same way whether we’re in Tokyo or New York or Dublin. Do you have plans for the future? In so far as we can. We’d like to do some touring in the States, Europe and maybe Asia as well. We’d like to record. We think it’s a good band and a good project so we don’t want to mess it up. We want to give it the best chance it has.


We’re not particularly obsessed with fame and fortune. You get to a point in life when you’re happy to just do the thing. You can let go. We just want to give it its best opportunity and see what happens. Then we’ll know. Maybe it’ll be successful, maybe it’ll be okay, maybe it won’t. We’re pretty certain that we will enjoy doing this while we’re doing it no matter what. Where it leads we’re not sure. Almost everybody in the band has an active interest in other genres. Certainly Iarla branches out to other areas [and has] for many years – with Afro-Celt or FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 37



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what he does with Crash ensemble or with composer Gavin Byer. Caoimhin has been exploring obviously traditional Irish music but has also taken a huge interest in Scandinavian music and in improvisational, free-form music that he does as solo work as well. Dennis has lots of background in classical and jazz. Thomas similarly has that background with all these other forms of music. We share a lot of common interests. Both Thomas and I are fascinated by the musicality of Keith Garrett and his improvisational skill and his performance intensity. Even though there’s a lot of varied interest, there’s plenty of junction points as well. Both Caoimhin and I would be very interested in very old forms of fiddle playing in Ireland and obscure ways of dealing with the music. It would be of interest to both of us in very different ways but I think in the end it’s complimentary.

Is there a story behind the instrument you play? It’s a fiddle I picked up ten years ago in Chicago. It’s not a particularly valuable instrument. It’s a good instrument. It doesn’t have pedigree, but it’s good. It’s like a mutt dog. Fiddles are... people have sounds in their head – what they want to sound like when they play. It isn’t so much that the instruments can be exactly that but they allow you to make that sound easier. The instrument that allows you to make that sound the easiest way possible, that’s the instrument you want. With this instrument I felt that the sound was the way I wished to sound. 38 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

You have quite a bit of experience playing competitively. [Six All-Ireland championships.] How

does that competitive playing differ from what you do now? When I competed I didn’t really focus on the competition. I didn’t focus on competing per se. I focused on playing as deeply and as well as I could. When I played in a competition I played to the people in the hall as opposed to the judges. The only thing I ever knew how to do was access feeling in music, and technically I wouldn’t be so sure I could compete with anything. I knew I could get into music and play what I felt and what I like. In that sense, nothing ever really changed. I got through that competitive arena of music looking at it that way. Do you ever still do scale work? I mostly just play. I just play the things I like to play. My practice is really the idea of pushing. When I play, I want to go a little bit further than I’ve gone before. I always try to do that, and I always try to imagine that this performance is going to be the one that I haven’t yet achieved. So I’m always, when I play, pushing myself that way. I could be pushing toward quietness. When I say push it doesn’t mean toward wildness and fire all the time. It’s the idea of being able to play from a deeper place continually. I find that much more important than any number of scales one can play. Almost any of the technical stuff can fall away to nothing if it’s not coming from a deep meaningful place. It excuses my inability in other areas.

Where do you see Irish music finding its home in the world? I think there was a peak of popularity in the 90s and early 2000s. So it’s not as popular as it was. At the same time it’s a good deal more popular in the world than it was at any time in the 20th century. It’s widespread. I think that if you went back to the 50s the issue was: would it survive at all? Now it’s inconceivable to ask that question. I also think that the new generations of musicians, the teenagers out there, bring a remarkable ability. I also find that a lot of classical musicians are engaging in and interacting with this music. This music is having little effects in other areas of music too, so the barriers of genres are falling. It’s no longer that you would have a classical violinist and a traditional violinist. It’s very often that you would find both combined, especially in the next generation of musicians more so. Less barriers, less boundaries. So there’s probably an exciting future there. And I think no matter what happens musicians will continually go back to the source. I think there’s a cycle where you push out but find yourself coming back again. There’s a wellspring there. There’s a large body of melody and playing technique that’s sufficiently rich for people to keep coming back to. I think there will be many failed attempts to turn it into something completely different and it will revert again and again. In the meantime overall it adjusts IA itself to the world it’s in. Thank you, Martin.

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The Directors

Clint Eastwood Receives John Ford Award By Patricia Danaher

“I’d love to make a movie in Ireland sometime,” Clint Eastwood said when I caught up with him at a recent Hollywood Irish event. “The best part of me is the Irish part – Egans on my mother’s side – she had roots in Monaghan and I’ve been there many times. It’s one of my favorite places to golf.” Eastwood was being presented with the inaugural John Ford Award at a special event at Warner Bros, hosted by the Irish ambassador Michael Collins and Aine Moriarty, CEO of Irish Film & Television Awards (IFTA), in December. Ford’s contribution to film will be marked in Ireland with a new annual John Ford Symposium, presented by IFTA in Dublin in June. “John Ford was a pioneer and I was a 40 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

huge admirer of his Westerns,” Eastwood said of the legendary director. “I grew up on all that and it definitely influenced me. It’s a great privilege to be associated with John Ford in this way, as he was such a pioneer of American film making. Every filmmaker I know is very influenced by Ford, whether it’s his Westerns or The Grapes of Wrath.” Ford’s influence has been acknowledged by giants of the industry from Federico Fellini to Ingmar Bergman to Alfred Hitchcock. “When I worked with Sergio Leone he often talked about Ford’s influence on him. I’m sure he would have persecuted me like he did many of his actors, but I would have been able to take it,” Eastwood joked. “Two alpha males like you guys might not have gotten along too well on set, but

I know he would have had a lot of respect for your style of working,” Ford’s grandson, Dan Ford, acknowledged. Dan, who wrote a biography of his grandfather called The Unquiet Man, remembers the man as “irascible, eccentric, extremely funny and a terrific card player and binge drinker.” John Ford was closely connected to his Irish roots and was a frequent visitor to Spiddal, from where his father emigrated to Maine in the late 1880’s. His mother, Barbara, who came from Inishmore, left at the same time. At 81, Eastwood is flirtatious, warm and gracious to everyone who crosses his path. All 6 foot 2 of him dwarfs nearly everyone in his orbit in both stature and presence, a star wattage brighter than that of many who are a quarter of his age.



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Eastwood, who was born in San Francisco, first came to prominence as an actor on television’s Rawhide and went on to star in such westerns as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Paint Your Wagon, Two Mules for Sister Sara, and Play Misty for Me, which he directed as well as starred in. That same year, 1971, he took on the role of tough cop in Dirty Harry, a blockbuster success that made him a superstar. In his long-lasting career, Eastwood has become one of the most honored actors and directors in America. Whether it’s Unforgiven (1992) which garnered his first Best Actor Oscar nomination, as well as wins for Best Director and Producer of Best Picture, or the Oscarwinning Million Dollar Baby (2004), he seems to be constantly pushing his own boundaries, unperturbed by age or mortality. His latest movie, J. Edgar, a biopic about J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the F.B.I., again shows his willingness to explore unpopular and noncommercial subjects. “I’m always learning something new and that’s why every film is a challenge for me,” he said. “I like working. I thrive

Left to Right: John Ford; Eastwood with Irish ambassador Michael Collins and Aine Moriarty, CEO of Irish Film & Television Awards; Aine Moriarty presents Eastwood with a history of Ireland; The John Ford Award.

on it, so it’s fun for me. A lot of people ask me about retiring and seem to have thought about it a lot for me!” he says with a grin. “I was always curious why somebody like Billy Wilder would stop directing in his 60s, or not be considered hireable in his 60s. Then you have people like John Huston, who was actually directing The Dead in a wheelchair, with an oxygen tank beside him. Some people just have a different time in their life when they peak.” Clint Eastwood could hardly be described as having led an unlived life, or even, as he sees it, to have peaked. As well as acting and directing consistently over seven decades, he also served a term as Mayor of Carmel in the early ’80s. The town, in Northern California, has been his home for most of his adult life. He also owns a hotel there. Eastwood, who is the father of five daughters and two sons from three different relationships, and a grandfather of two, was born to itinerant workers during the Depression. The family moved constantly in search of work. He attended

eight different primary schools and, perhaps because of the lack of stability in his early life, living in the here and now is what appeals to him. “The life you have is the only possession you’re given and that’s the hand you’re dealt, and you play it out. If you’re worrying about the end of it all, you can’t really live the present of it all. “My perspective on life is that whatever is out there, is out there. I don’t think too much about the hereafter, because I feel you’re given one opportunity to live in this world. Whether you believe in God or nature or whatever, you have to take advantage of that and do the best you can, whatever your profession may be.” I ask: if he had a say in his reincarnation, what animal might he choose to return as? “Well, if it was in New York, I’d be a bedbug. At least that way, you’d never miss a meal,” he says laughing. “There used to be a calypso song about a guy who wanted to be a bedbug, because he wanted to bite certain people. I rememFEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 41



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“Whether you believe in God or nature or whatever, you have whatever your profession may be. The life you have is the only play it out. If you’re worrying about the end of it all, ber finding it very amusing when I was younger.” He hums a tune for a few seconds, trying to remember the name of the song, then he exclaims, smiling. “‘The Bedbug!’ The Mighty Zebra was the guy who sang it. It was kind of a crazy song.” Eastwood made his movie Hereafter (2010) not because he was thinking about death or because the once most macho man on screen is secretly obsessed with psychic phenomena and the afterlife. He made it because Steven Spielberg had read Peter Morgan’s script,

liked it and passed it along. End of story. Almost. “I haven’t had a near death experience, if that’s what you’re asking. I was just going by what people of many different religions think. Most people want to feel there is something after death. I’m interested in it to a degree. I once watched Uri Geller bend keys by looking at them. I believe there is some sort of energy there other than manhandling the keys, which you couldn’t do because they were too thick. “But it’s not like a religion with me, where I think about it all the time. But

I’m open. There are a lot of things that we don’t know in this world and will not know in our lifetimes.” Having starred in and directed such an enormous array of movies during his long career, he has formed a close bond with the actor Matt Damon, with whom he has collaborated on two of his more recent movies, Invictus and Hereafter. He pays Damon a compliment that suggests Eastwood believes he’s cut from a similar cloth as himself. “What I like about Matt is that he’s an actor who’s not actorish. You don’t get the feeling he’s performing, and there’s

John Ford:

the Man, the Icon

ohn Ford garnered many superlatives to describe his lifetime of works. In a career that spanned 57 years, he directed 136 films and received a total of 26 Oscar nominations. To this day, he holds the record for winning the most Oscars for Best Director. His How Green Was My Valley won a staggering five Oscars. He was also the first filmmaker to receive the Medal of Freedom, which President Richard Nixon presented him with on March 31, 1973, at the first AFI Lifetime Achievement Ceremony. The Quiet Man, one of his many iconic movies, explored the desire to return to Ireland and attempt to fit in with an insular society. It made a huge star of Maureen O’Hara and further cemented John Wayne’s stature – they both won Oscars for the movie. It also put Ireland on the map as a film making destination. In an interview with Irish America in 2004, O’Hara, who worked with Ford on five movies, said, “He was a genius. He was the finest director any of us ever worked with, and we were proud to work with him and work for him. We realized that he was bad-tempered and awful but we accepted it and forgave him. . . . He was abusive if it suited him and what he was after. I used to watch him and think, ‘Oh, he’s after something.’ … He hated my character or he loved my character. When he did a script he totally immersed himself in both the female and male characters and they would inhabit his dreams.” Ford was born John Martin Feeney in Cape Elizabeth, Maine



on February 1, 1894. His father, John Augustine Feeney, was born in Spiddal, an Irish-speaking area in Co. Galway. His mother, Barbara Curran, was born on the Aran Island of Inis Mor. O’Hara also said of Ford, “He wanted to be born in Ireland. He wanted to be a military hero in Ireland’s problems.” The Informer, based on Liam O’Flaherty novel about the IRA, won Ford his first Oscar and the movie took home a total of four that year, including Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Score. Mother Machree is notable as the first Ford film to feature John Wayne. It was also one of the first “talkies” made by Fox Studios. He adapted Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars for the screen, using the Abbey Players, and he also directed a biopic on the life of O’Casey in Young Cassidy. The Grapes of Wrath remains a cinematic classic and was one of the first 25 films to be selected for preservation in the



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to take advantage of that and do the best you can, possession you’re given and that’s the hand you’re dealt, and you you can’t really live the present of it all.” no particular gimmick to him. He’s just a guy who wants to expand. He’s been successful as a writer and as an actor, and I assume he’ll be successful as a director in his life, too.” Despite the breadth and range of the work Eastwood has brought to the screen, is he now feeling pressure to start making movies in 3D? Hardly. “I’ve lived through a lot of phases of 3D, from Bwana Devil to The House of Wax – all the various times 3D has come into popularity and then left again. I think it would be interesting to make a movie in 3D, but I’ve yet to find a

project that would lend itself to that. I would find it distracting with certain types of subjects. “I haven’t seen Avatar, so you’ll have to excuse me on that. I hear it’s wonderful. I’m probably the only person who hasn’t seen it. The reason I’ve been postponing it is because I want to see it in an IMAX Theatre in all its glory. “I think most people who are making films are trying to do things that are new. I mean, I could have been satisfied to stick with the genres I’d become well known for years ago. But in the last decade, I’ve been doing a lot of films that

were certainly different for me. I don’t think it’s insecurity, I think it’s more just encompassing more in your life, learning more and experimenting with more subject matter.” Our time is up and the publicists start to swarm towards us, but Eastwood does not bolt off into their clutches. Instead, he politely ignores them, chatting with me as he buttons his jacket about the Irish actors he’s worked with, remaining very present until he’s ready to leave. Did I feel lucky? You betcha. Did he IA make my day? And then some.

National Film Registry by the Library of Congress Left to right: and George Lucas have all acknowledged a debt to as being “culturally, historically and aesthetically John Wayne dukes Ford’s influence. significant.” The Searchers was named The Greatest it out with Victor Ever the filmmaker, Ford made two documenWestern of All Time by the American Film Institute McLaglen in The taries for the Navy Department in World War II, even Quiet Man. in 2008. though he was wounded at the time. Both The Battle Ford was considered one of the prime influences A scene from The of Midway and 7th December won Oscars. Searchers. on the radical French New Wave movement in the The Man Who Shot The John Ford Ireland Symposium in Dublin in 1950’s and 1960’s. His influence on other masters of Liberty Valance. June will feature screenings of many Ford classics, the cinema has been well documented. Ingmar as well as exhibitions of photos, posters, memorabilBergman said simply that “Ford is the best director ia and scripts. There will also be master classes, lecin the world.” Orson Welles, who said he watched tures and a John Ford Film Trail featuring some of Stagecoach over forty times in preparation for making Citizen the Irish locations he used in his movies, such as Ashford Kane, put it this way: “I like the old masters, by which I mean Castle, the Aran Islands, Dublin and Wicklow. Next year John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.” Fellini put it thus: “Ford (2013), an international competition and scholarship will be – I esteem him, I admire him and I love him.” offered to eight young aspiring international film makers to Modern filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg have their work screened as part of the symposium.




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JACK FOLEY and the Jack Donovan Foley, the American grandson of Irish immigrants, invented “foley art,” a sound-effects technique still used in films today – so subtle and perfect that viewers don’t notice anything has been added. Daphne Wolf explores Foley’s life and that legacy.


omething was not quite right on the stage of Alice Tully Hall at New York City’s Lincoln Center one night last September. It was the U.S. premiere of the recently restored Irish silent film, Guests of the Nation, and the RTE Concert Orchestra, on stage to accompany the film, was getting into place in front of the movie screen. Woodwinds, percussion, brass, all ready to tune up. But who were those strange people in long white coats, and what were the bizarre mechanical contraptions they were assembling right next to the violins? Emcee Gabriel Byrne, the actor and Cultural Ambassador of Ireland, cleared up the mystery. They were “foley artists,” he explained, the veritable magicians who create the sound effects we hear in films and television. They got that



name because in the 1920s an enterprising Irish-American named Jack Donovan Foley figured out that the most efficient and effective way to enhance the audio in films was to make the sounds himself. The crew at Alice Tully Hall that night used their peculiar instruments to deliver a delightful live soundtrack of squeaks, crashes and squeals to The Lactating Automaton, a 2011 silent short by Irish filmmaker Andrew Legge, which the Irish Film Institute screened before the main feature, Guests of the Nation. The foley artists on stage waved, banged and twirled their noisemakers while the main character in Legge’s whimsical film, a mechanical woman raising a human child, creaked and clanged across the screen. But as the film progressed, their frenetic activity gradually evaporated into the totality of the

film, and even though they were still making their noises on the stage right below the screen, they effectively disappeared. That is just as it should be. When done correctly, foley is undetectable. Although Jack Foley worked in cinema for 40 years, his name never appeared in any film’s credits. Audiences were not supposed to notice his handiwork or realize that the sounds they heard in movies of clinking glasses, swishing skirts or flapping bird wings were anything but real. We still accept the added sounds in film and television as implicitly authentic, even if we really know they are not, just as we pretend that the beeps and whirrs from our technological gadgets are actually connected to their functions. We live in a world of created sound, and we are glad to play along with the illu-



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Art of Sound sion, especially at the movies, allowing ourselves to be fooled for the sake of the narrative. “Even sophisticated audiences rarely notice the soundtrack,” said film sound expert Elisabeth Weis in Cineaste, “Therefore it can speak to us emotionally and almost subconsciously put us in touch with a screen character.” Raised by a mother well known for her yarns, Jack Foley understood the power of feelings in telling a story. In the beginning, foley art was all about footsteps and the sounds of clothing. Jack and his crew “walked” thousands of miles in place on small patches of dirt or gravel in a post-production studio, eyes glued to the screen in front of them as they imitated the film characters’ gaits and used the pieces of cloth in their pockets to simulate the rustle of a pair of pants or the crinkle of a shirtsleeve. It wasn’t enough just to match the footfalls and movement of clothing, Jack wanted to reproduce the personalities of characters, to become them, and let the sound of their tread augment the story. He created footsteps and body movement sounds for stars like Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Kim Novak, and Sandra Dee. He said Rock Hudson had “deliberate” footsteps, James Cagney’s were “clipped” and Marlon Brando’s were “soft.” As with other sound effects, like slamming doors, broken glass, or falling bodies, Jack and his crew would strive to create the perfect sound that fit the character’s personality and the nuances of the scene. The foley crew were not just noise makers, they were actual performers. “Foley artist,” if it appears at all, is one of those job titles in movie credits like “gaffer” or “key grip” or “best boy” that few people understand, but like those other jobs, it is essential to the completed artistry of the film. Today, foley artists work closely with new technology like ProTools software, but their real skills lie

Opening page: Left: Jack Foley, the master of sound-effects (1940s). Right: Foley and a friend outside the Foley bungalow at Universal Studios (1950s). This page: Caoimhe Doyle (below) and other foley artists in action, at a live screening of the film Brand Upon the Brain (2007).

in physical agility and perfect timing (many are former dancers), as well as in a kind of glee in the bounteous joys of making noise. According to his granddaughter, Catherine Clark, Jack Foley was full of fun and loved the challenge of thinking up new ways to reproduce sound. “On Sundays after Mass, our kitchen became a sound stage,” she recalled. “My grandfather and the kids would be playing around with all sorts of things

from the house trying out different effects on the table.” While some silent films had sound before Foley’s time, from live performers and recorded effects, he was the godfather of the post-production method that allowed a crew to physically create spot effects, match them to the action on screen, and record it all on one reel. He didn’t invent sound effects in film, but he did develop the best way to make them work. Foley art has always been vital because microphones on a movie set are primed to pick up actor’s voices, and therefore do not adequately record incidental sounds like the pages turning in a book, or silverware tapping on china. Also, location shooting can involve unwanted background noise, so the sounds of wagon wheels and fallen garbage cans need to be added after the shoot is completed. Pre-recorded sound effects can be useful, but they do not always match the particular ambience of a given scene. Caoimhe Doyle, the Irish foley artist who led the white-coated crew at Alice Tully Hall, explained in the journal Irish Film why foley is best for many sounds “like the kisses and the punches.” She FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 45



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said that, while those effects can be found in CD libraries, pre-recordings “don’t always work because we as humans act so, well, randomly.” Foley effects can be so lifelike that no one would ever suspect how they are actually created. Doyle claimed “every car chase you have ever seen” gets its squealing tire sounds from a hot water bottle being dragged across damp kitchen floor tiles. Like today’s professionals in the field that bears his name, Jack Donovan Foley knew how to work hard and, even more importantly, how to improvise and be flexible. Over his lifetime, he was an accountant, a cartoonist, a stunt man and movie double, a semipro baseball player, a film director, a writer and an oil painter – in addition to pioneering the field of sound effects in film. Bred with the resourcefulness of immigrant stock, he was not afraid to quit his job at the Bell Telephone Company in his early twenties, pack up his family and move from New York City to the California desert to find a new home. In 1927 his employer, Universal Pictures, was facing stiff competition from Warner Bros.’ The Jazz Singer, which featured characters speaking dialogue and singing. Not to be outdone, Universal scrambled to retrofit its already completed version of the stage musical Show Boat with sound. Using borrowed audio recording equipment, an orchestra was set to play the score as the musicians watched the movie on a screen. It was Foley, then an assistant director, who assembled a team to add incidental sounds like clapping or cheering to be recorded at the same time. The “direct to picture” technique was born, and other studios brought their films to Universal for similar post-production treatment. No one had planned or “workshopped” this technique; it was forged out of necessity, almost on the spot. In its early years, the motion picture business was not organized in the way it is now. There were few job titles with specific responsibilities, so everyone did whatever was needed to get a film made. Foley wrote in the Universal Studio Club News that a call had gone out for employees with “any knowledge of radio” to help with the recording work on Show Boat. Claiming his “short stint with the telephone company” as radio experience, Jack dived into the unknown. According to Vanessa Theme Ament in The Foley Grail: The Art of Performing Sound for 46 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

Jack Foley pictured with his two nieces, the Gilmartin twins, in 1955.

Film, Games and Animation, the industry was “being reinvented on a daily basis,” and was perfect for people “with ‘gumption’ and ingenuity” like Jack. Foley was born in 1891 in the Yorkville section of New York City to the children of Irish immigrants. His father, Michael, whose family came from the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, worked on the docks and as a volunteer fireman, and wrote songs that he sang at a local pub. Soaked to the skin while fighting a warehouse fire, Michael died of pneumonia when Jack was a baby. His mother, born Margaret Donovan, lived with her widowed father and four sisters on East 82nd Street, until she married Michael Gilmartin, the son of Sligo immigrants, when Jack was 16. Foley worked as a clerk on the docks before joining the phone company, but he lived for baseball. Thinking that the weather in California would be more suitable to the pursuit of his favorite sport, he moved there in 1914 with his wife, Beatrice Rehm, a championship ocean swimmer, who shared his love of athletics. Because Foley was a Catholic and she was a Protestant, they married in secret, but by 1920 he was the sole support for both their families. All 11 of them, including both sets of in-laws, lived with Jack and Bea in California. They settled in Bishop, 300 miles north of Hollywood, where Jack had a job during World War I guarding natural

resources from possible foreign sabotage. He also worked for a hardware store, wrote and drew cartoons for the local paper, and was active in the Bishop theater group, where he wrote some plays. When farmers near Bishop sold their land to supply the rapidly expanding city of Los Angeles with water, revenue began disappearing in the town. Foley contacted friends in the film industry to persuade studios to use the area around Bishop to shoot westerns. The town received needed income and he got a job as a location scout. In 1923, an advertisement for a movie he co-wrote and co-directed, How to Handle Women, claimed that Foley had “successfully crashed the gates of Hollywood without any ‘pull’ other than his own ability, inclination and perseverance.” He scripted other films, but after Show Boat, put all of his efforts into the new horizons of sound, even enrolling at the University of Southern California to learn more about it. In 1929, he voiced the first “Tarzan yell” on film in Tarzan the Tiger, with Frank Merrill. It was a hearty “EEEYawh” which he said was modeled on the coaching style of Detroit Tigers’ baseball manager Hughey Jennings. In 1959, according to TV and movie soundman Jim Troutman in an RTE radio documentary about Foley, Stanley Kubrick was ready to send the cast and crew of Spartacus back to Spain to reshoot a bat-



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tle scene because he didn’t like the sound of the soldiers’ footsteps. Jack got the job done by shaking a few handfuls of keys on rings in front of the microphone. Voila! There were the Roman legions with their armor and spears tramping into battle. Cathi Clark said the film industry began using her grandfather’s name to designate the art of adding sound effects to film after people he had worked with at Universal spread out to jobs at other studios. Foley had a deep affection for the people he worked with, and Clark said his former crews honored him by referring to the process he developed as “making foley.” Before long, they became known as “foley walkers.” “Foley” stages now appear on movie lots everywhere, like the new one at Skywalker Sound, George Lucas’s facility north of San Francisco. Even though he was never an editor, the Motion Picture Sound Editors named Jack Foley an honorary member at a dinner in 1962. (“The Irish Washerwoman” played as he walked to the podium, and he stopped everything to dance a little jig.) In 1997, a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to Clark by the MPSE at its Golden Reel Awards Dinner. In 2000, a National Public Radio production, Jack Foley: Feet to the Stars, won a George Foster Peabody Award and RTE recorded another radio documentary on Foley in Ireland. An Irish film about him and his family connections in Dingle had been in the works, but was shelved in 2008 by the economic downturn and the sudden death of one its developers, Chips Chipperfield – a 1996 Grammy winner for The Beatles’ Anthology documentary. A longtime friend, actress Mae Clarke – who got a grapefruit shoved into her face by James Cagney in 1931’s Public Enemy – believed that Jack never got the recognition he deserved. Still, his favorite spot was not on the dais at a fancy awards dinner. He much preferred to sit on a bench outside the Universal commissary, talking to people as they came and went, harvesting material for his column and cartoons in the Universal Studio Club News, which he wrote under the name of Joe Hyde, a studio janitor. Foley, who died in 1967, was a shy, unassuming man who, his granddaughter says, would be embarrassed by any adulation, but pleased to know that his namesake field is flourishing. “Foley is far from a dying craft,” said

Caoimhe Doyle, whose lengthy résumé of film and TV assignments backs up that claim. In addition to feature films and television, demand has mushroomed from computer generated animation projects and films dubbed for foreign markets, which require lots of postproduction sound. Nominated for an Emmy as part of the sound team on the 2011 HBO series Game of Thrones from Ireland’s Ardmore Studios, Doyle has created sound on films like The Guard (2011), The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009) and Knocked Up (2007). She echoed Jack Foley’s philosophy that a character’s feelings have to be “transcended into the sound of footsteps.” “The picture will tell you what is going on,” she said in an interview about Game of Thrones on The Irish Film and Television Network website, “but sound tells you how to feel about what is going on. It’s a subtle but very persuasive tool for the director.” Doyle, who learned her craft from Andy Malcolm and his team at Footsteps Post-Production Sound Inc. in Ontario, praised the foley facilities at Ardmore, near Dublin in Bray, County Wicklow, which were purpose-built to accommodate sounds in scenes from wide-open plains to intimate interiors. “The room is designed to record really minute, detailed sounds – skin touches, and very subtle stuff as well as explosions and big stuff like that – we can do the full range.” Doyle was an assistant film editor before she became a foley artist, and she said the only way to learn how to do it is on the job working with an experienced foley practitioner, almost like a medieval craft passed down through generations.

Every foley artist becomes a garbagepicker, constantly on the lookout for stray objects that might produce just the perfect sound for a character or scene, and a foley prop room looks like a junkyard. Foley artists all have their own “bag of tricks,” filled with their favorite noisemakers. Doyle said her constant companion is a piece of chamois cloth, the kind you use to wash your car. “We’ve delivered babies, amputated legs, heads and all sorts with the chamois. It is also good for cooking and even wet fish. I would say that we have used it once on every film I have ever worked on.” As she told Film Ireland, technology has given foley editors great flexibility to manipulate sound effects, but foley is still done “in the same way it has been performed since the 1930s when Jack Foley first did it: we stand in front of the microphone and watch the screen and do it when the actor does it.” Foley’s work, his meticulous synchronization of sound to action and emotion, has seeped into our communal consciousness, and those made-up sounds can be as real to us as physical objects. When actor Ewan McGregor first picked up a Jedi weapon on the Star Wars set, he couldn’t stop himself from making vocal sounds as he waved it about – the same sounds made by a foley artist in the earlier films in the series that McGregor had internalized as a boy. Director Lucas approached him, “Ewan, don’t worry about making that sound, we have enough money to create it in post-production.” Now, that’s a story Jack would have IA loved.


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A foley crew in action, from Footsteps Post-Production Sound Inc.: ( Conan O’Brien cavorting on the Foley Stage at Universal: ( NPR’s “Jack Foley: Feet to the Stars”: ( RTE radio documentary: “Foley”: (


In addition to Vanessa Theme Ament’s book, The Foley Grail: The Art of Performing Sound for Film, Games and Animation (Burlington, MA and Oxford, UK: Focal Press, 2009), another good source on foley is David Lewis Yewdall, Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound, (Waltham, MA and Oxford, UK: Focal Press, 2011) FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 47



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{roots} By Catherine Davis

The Foley Family


he surname Foley is found in greatest concentration in counties Cork, Kerry, and Waterford. It is generally understood to be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic Ó Foghladha, which translates loosely to “pirate,” or “marauder,” possibly implying distant Viking roots. It may also be an Anglicized version of the Northern Irish name Mac Searraigh, chosen for its phonetic approximation to the English word “foal.” The Foley name is perhaps most closely associated with the arts. John Henry “J.H.” Foley (1818 1874) was an influential Irish sculptor. John Born to a Dublin family of modest means, Henry he established himself as a prodigy early Foley on, beginning his studies at the Royal Dublin Society’s art school when he was only 13. He is best known for his statues of Daniel O’Connell in Dublin, Prince Albert in London, and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in Richmond, Virginia. The street he grew up on in Dublin, Montgomery Street, has since been renamed Foley Street, in his honor. Born in the Yorkville neighborhood of New York City, Jack Foley (1891-1967) – featured in this issue – developed many of the sound effect techniques still employed in filmmaking today. He started out working for Universal Studios during the silent movie era, and began creating what is now known as “foley art” in 1927. Red Clyde Julian “Red” Foley (1910Foley 1968) was one of the most popular country singers in post-World War II America. Ellen Born in Blue Lick, Kentucky, Red began Foley playing the guitar and the harmonica as a child. In 1945, he was the first major performer to record in Nashville. He was a regular on NBC’s “Grand Ole Opry” program. Some of his most popular songs were “Smoke on the Water” and “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy.” Ellen Foley (b. 1951) is an American singer and actress, best known for her collaborations with singer Meat Loaf. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she first gained notoriety after recording the duet “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” with Meat Loaf on his 1977 album Bat Out of Hell. Ellen is also remembered for her role as Public Defender Billie Young on the sitcom Night Court. She has had success on the stage as well, appearing in a revival of Hair, and originating the role of The Witch in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, before the part was taken over by Bernadette Peters when the show came to New York. Actor Scott Kellerman Foley (b. 1972) was born in Kansas


City, though he moved all over the world as a child because of his father’s work. His family eventually settled in St. Louis, where Scott became involved with community and regional theatre. He is best known for his roles as Noel on the television show Felicity, and as the murderous director in Wes Craven’s film Scream 3. Straddling the line between entertainment and athletics is semiretired professional wrestler, author, comedian and actor Michael Francis “Mick” Foley (b. 1965). He was born in Bloomington, Indiana, though his family eventually moved to Setauket, New York. It was there that he attended high school, joining the wrestling team along with future comic actor Kevin James. Comedy fans may associate the Foley name with Saturday Night Live character Matt Foley, the bumbling motivational speaker who describes his misfortunes (he lives in a van down by the river, among other hardships) to scare delinquent teens into behaving responsibly. Created by Chris Farley, the character is actually named after Farley’s college friend and former rugby teammate Matt Foley (b.1962) The real Matt Foley went on to become a Catholic priest in Chicago, and is currently serving in Afghanistan as an Army chaplain. Also a member of the Church, Fr. Theodore Foley, C.P. (1913-1974) Scott Foley was a Pittsburgh priest who is a candidate Matt Foley (left) played by Chris Farley

for sainthood. Throughout his life, he was in high demand for Confession, serving at three Catholic hospitals, and eventually acting as confessor to Vatican officials. Though he had never before left the country, and spoke no Italian, he readily accepted his election to a Passionist post in Rome, saying “If I could drive the snowy hills of a Pittsburgh winter in a Thomas Foley stick shift Ford, I can do something else.” In politics, Thomas Stephen Foley (b. 1929) was the 57th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1989 to 1995. Born in Spokane, he represented Washington’s 5th congressional district for 30 years as a Democratic member from 1965 to 1995. He served as U.S. IA ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2001.



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THE IRISH AND DRINK Irish drinking patterns have their roots in a history where alcohol often made the difference between survival and death.


e Irish are known for being couraW geous, compassionate, spiritual, creative, difficult, resourceful, witty, sad, lovable, clannish, hot headed, devious, self-destructive and brilliant. Sociologists agree that we have been the most successful and accomplished immigrant group in the United States, with the possible exception of the Jews. Since our arrival in the U.S. in the early 1700s we have excelled in business, education, medicine, the law, religion, the military, entertainment, construction, professional sports, and, last but certainly not least, politics and organized crime. For all that success, it is sad to say that we are still known as a race of drunks. Not all of us, of course, but more than enough to provide a statistical basis for this unfortunate stereotype. A 2009 Irish Health Board Report showed that 54 percent of respondents (about 2.14 million adults out of a population of 4.2 million) engage in harmful or risky drinking each year, compared to a European average of 28 percent. With respect to the problem of alcohol abuse and dependence in Ireland, John Waters, a controversial and crusading Irish journalist, stated the following: “Drinking in Ireland is not simply a convivial pastime, it is a ritualistic alternative to real life, a spiritual placebo, a fumble for eternity, a longing for heaven, a thirst for return to the embrace of the Almighty.” Irish drinking patterns are, he


“Drinking in Ireland is not simply a convivial pastime, it is a ritualistic alternative to real life, a spiritual placebo, a fumble for eternity, a longing for heaven, a thirst for return to the embrace of the Almighty.” – John Waters writes, “evidence of a deep hole in the Irish psyche which only alcohol can fill.” Widespread hard and harmful drinking is also a serious social and public health problem among Irish Americans today, not to mention the family trouble, shame and enabling silence that often accompany it. Breaking the national silence about alcohol abuse and dependence in Ireland and Irish America needs to become a priority. Breaking the silence, and spreading the message that recovery is possible.

WHY WE DRINK Contemporary Irish drinking patterns, particularly drinking regularly to intoxication, have their roots in history where alcohol often made the difference between survival and death.

This propensity has been carried down in the Irish cultural DNA as a sort of unspoken dispensation for Irish Catholics to regard hard drinking as a justifiable consolation for 400 years of extreme poverty, shame, starvation and persecution suffered by their forebears under colonial rule, but which they themselves may never have endured. The living conditions of the Irish peasantry during the 17th and 18th centuries were indeed abominable. Periodic famine led to life-threatening starvation, fatal diseases, illegal dispossession of lands through eviction, and forcible banishment to barren and inhospitable regions of the country. The miserable lot of Ireland’s Catholic poor declined to an even greater extent after 1691, when the draconian Penal Laws were introduced “to further impoverish the Irish, prevent the growth of Popery, and eliminate Catholic land ownership.” By the early 1600s, heavy drinking was widespread among the peasant classes in Ireland (who were mostly Catholic and poor) and the aristocratic landowners (who were mostly Protestant and rich, with a small minority of Catholics). Using land agents, many of whom were Catholic, landlords from both groups mercilessly exploited the small farmers and the cottiers for all they were worth – which was, in reality, next to nothing. To dull the chronic pain of hunger and humiliation, the peasantry drank home-

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“The Day After the Ejectment.” The Illustrated London News, 16th December, 1848. Courtesy of National Library of Ireland.

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distilled poitin, made from potatoes or grain, while the upper classes guzzled imported beer, brandy and wine in massive amounts. At one time it was said that every second cottage had a poitin still, which could legally produce up to 12 gallons of uisgue beatha (Irish whiskey) at a time. Around 1780, evicted tenants began to form secret societies such as Rapparees, Rockites and White Boys, to conduct terrorist activities against landlords and others thought to represent the hated colonial government. These dangerous guerrilla actions were usually carried out at night, by young men undoubtedly bolstered by generous draughts of high-quality poitin. In the early part of the 19th century primogeniture was introduced, and this granting of land ownership to the firstborn male in the family, where previously the land had been divided up between the male heirs, produced a sizable group of unemployed single men – dubbed the bachelor group. For many of this group, manhood was defined by their tolerance for alcohol and physical pain. Their hard drinking and faction fighting activities were often supported by the community as a form of remission for the social and sexual privations they were expected to endure on behalf of society. In the mid-19th century, a remarkable temperance crusade was initiated by Father Theobald Mathew, a Capuchin priest who, while working in the slums of Cork, managed to motivate his flock of drunken parishioners to rise above their alcohol and poverty-based indolence and despair by persuading them to take a pledge of total abstinence from alcohol. Father Mathew’s crusade was immensely successful, eventually resulting in hundreds of thousands of sober Catholics being willing and able to attend the “monster meetings” of Daniel O’Connell, which led to significant concessions being made to Catholics by the British Government beginning with the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. Then came the death-dealing potato blight of 1845-1852, seven years of social, economic, and spiritual devastation. In just seven years, an entire class of Irish people (poor Catholics) came close to being wiped out by starvation, disease and British governmental policy, aided and abetted by land agents and others frequently drawn from the Irish Catholic middle classes. Even if genocide was not consciously intended, the forced migration during and after the famine of two million 52 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

Irish Catholics to North America and elsewhere in the world jeopardized the nation’s future by destabilizing the intellectual, cultural, and political life of the country. What awaited these emigrants in the land of promise was poverty worse than anything they had known in Ireland and a seemingly impenetrable wall of racial prejudice and religious discrimination. In North America, alcoholism and chronic drunkenness took a frightful toll on the Irish immigrants in terms of economic failure, pathological family relationships, intimate and public violence, and crime. With time and the growing success of the Irish immigrants in the American melting pot, assimilation rendered the Irish in the U.S. more culturally invisible. However, even today, hard drinking, alcohol dependence, shame and “keeping up appearances” are still detectable as historical undercurrents in the Irish Catholic community.

LEGACY OF SHAME The net effect of religious persecution, land rape, extreme poverty and intermittent abuse of military power by English colonists in Ireland during 700 years of continuous occupation was to produce a national inferiority complex in Irish Catholics which I identify as cultural malignant shame, characterized by chronic fear, suppressed rage, self-loathing, procrastination, low self-esteem, false pride and a vulnerability to use alcohol as remission for suffering – past and present. In addition, and because of malignant

shame, there is often a tendency to keep the behavior of problem drinkers a secret from the outside world. Under these circumstances of silence and denial, the family can become seriously isolated from the community, and dangerously deprived of vital access to dependable sources of emotional support and growth. In Ireland, the demise and fall of the Celtic Tiger has brought the ghost of colonialism back in the guise of unemployment, eviction, forced emigration and unconscionable national debt which has, once again, plunged large segments of the Irish population into a state of terror, despair and cultural malignant shame not seen since the post-famine years of the mid 19th century. In consequence, alcoholrelated family breakdown, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, drunken driving, motor fatalities and suicide have all increased significantly in Ireland during the past five years without any end in sight. As I am writing this, there are about 110,000 children in Ireland, aged 14 years or younger, living in families affected by parental alcohol abuse. In the United States, more than nine million children, of whom about at least one million are of Irish descent, currently live in chaotic homes with addicted parents or other caretakers. Through the genetic gift of natural resilience, some young children will emerge unscathed, and even stronger, from these stressful beginnings. However, many will not. These children’s lives may be attenuated by their response to traumatic childhood experiences, which, encoded in the brain, may manifest themselves later during adolescence or young adulthood in the form of alcohol and other drug abuse, learning difficulties and behavior problems.

MY STORY For 25 years I drank like a fish, and, to date, I have spent 35 years in abstinent recovery from the disease of alcoholism, trying to make amends for the damage I did to myself and to others through drinking. I have also logged 31 years of professional experience as an addiction psychiatrist, helping other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. My own family history is, perhaps, a classic example of how alcoholism can be handed down from one generation to another. Over a period of more than one hundred years, alcohol has wreaked havoc on many lives, careers and relationships in

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Dr. Garrett O’Connor receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award Betty Ford Institute. The California Society of Addiction Medicine recently recognized Dr. O’Connor of the Betty Ford Institute for a lifetime of achievement in addiction medicine. Karen Miotto, MD, presented Dr. O’Connor with a glass statue commemorating his ceaseless efforts to give voice to those who have been silenced by the disease of addiction. The inscription read “Garrett O’Connor, MD, who speaks for the ‘invisible people’ and inspires us to do the same.”

our family. There is an extensive history of alcoholism on the paternal side – a grandfather, several uncles, an aunt and a male cousin all died from the disease. My mother was addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs, and smoked two to three packs of cigarettes a day. My father was a heavy drinker in his later years, and an older brother died of cancer after 13 years of sobriety. An alcoholic uncle-in-law on my mother’s side used to steal bottles of whiskey from my father’s liquor cabinet when he visited the house. Like the Artful Dodger or Harpo Marx, my uncle always wore a heavy overcoat which he never took off during his visits, regardless of the weather. It was equipped with two gigantic pockets, each of which was big enough to accommodate a couple of bottles of Jameson’s 12-year-old Green Spot Whiskey – my father’s favorite, and my uncle’s too. I remember feeling both sad and embarrassed when my father would insist on searching my uncle for contraband whiskey on his way out the door after a visit. Despite these risk factors, we were a successful family and both of my parents were distinguished professionals who were widely respected and admired in the community. An attack of tuberculosis when I was 12 was treated at home with bed rest for eight months and up to three pints a day of

Guinness’ Stout. At first, I hated the taste of the bitter black liquid and would often throw it down the toilet. But gradually I developed cravings for the relaxing effect of the alcohol – so much so that I took to searching the house for places where I thought my mother might have concealed her clandestine bottles of cheap South African sherry. This uniquely Irish treatment for TB launched me on the path to hard drinking by the age of 18, and to full-blown alcoholism by the time I was 27 or 28. The atmosphere in the house where I grew up, although loving in its own way, was also fraught with anxiety and laced with secrets. I remember that I was constantly on edge, anticipating Vesuvian outbursts of temper that could erupt without warning from any person or any direction at any time. The secrets were usually cloaked references to my mother’s ill health, or sordid stories describing the eccentric behaviors of other alcoholic relatives, which were attributed to everything under the sun except drink. Undeclared feuds within the family were frequent, and led to significant distress because any attempt to identify or uncover them would be met by strong denial from all concerned. I recall feeling fear and shame at the prospect of being found wanting in anything I did, and as a result, felt chronically inferior and usually wrong, even when I knew I wasn’t. At the age of 11 or 12, I witnessed at close quarters two violent attacks on my mother by adult members of my family – one of which was alcohol-related. On June 26th, 1960, after six years of happily drinking my way through medical school in Dublin, I left for the U.S. at the age of 23 with my wife and our fivemonth-old son. Sadly but predictably, I carried many of these post-traumatic attitudes and behaviors from my family of origin into my two families of choice, and into my work environment. My first marriage ended in divorce after ten years, mainly because of my increasingly out-of-control daily drinking. I was not a very good husband in either of my marriages, nor an attentive father to my two children. To my undying shame, I turned up late for the births of

both of my sons because I was drinking, and I once assaulted my beloved second wife in a drunken rage. While my life at home was deteriorating rapidly, my professional career as an academic psychiatrist was beginning to attract a modicum of recognition. Even though my behavior at work and elsewhere was often bizarre and irresponsible because I was a “black-out” drinker, I was rarely taken to task for it by friends and colleagues on the grounds that I was “Irish!” and therefore expected to be witty, outrageous, argumentative and entertaining. I was arrested and jailed for DUI in Culpepper, Virginia, and was forcibly taken into “protective custody” by the police on two occasions – once in Montreal and once in Hibbing, Minnesota – to prevent me from being seriously injured in bar fights that I had started. Neither individual nor couples psychotherapy was able to halt the inexorably downward course of my alcoholism. Efforts to stop drinking on my own usually ended prematurely with a drunken binge. Eventually, I resigned my post at a major university about two weeks before I would have been asked to leave by an academic committee which had been set up to investigate my erratic conduct and inconsistent work performance. By this time, my marriage was on the rocks, our children had developed serious alcohol and drug problems, and I was hiding out at home in a state of chronic malignant shame and despair, unable and unwilling to work. I was physically and emotionally ill, and sometimes even suicidal, although I never made a deliberate attempt to end my life. I was morally, spiritually and financially bankrupt. Three months following my departure from the university, I accepted a lucrative and permanent professional position, but was let go after a few weeks because I was caught drinking on the job. That’s when I finally hit bottom and sought help through a well-known organization of men and women who share their experience strength and hope to help other alcoholics to get sober. I attend meetings regularly, and I follow a program involving 12 simple shamereduction steps which help me to maintain my physical and mental health to the best of my ability, and to practice good citizenship in terms of being socially accountable and responsible to others. The program also suggests that I make amends to


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“We must establish forums for recovery guided by principles of peace and honest reconciliation instead of shame, blame and punishment.” my family members and others for the damage and hurt I caused them through my drinking. With fellow members of the group I try to carry the message of recovery to other alcoholics who still suffer. I have now been sober from alcohol for 35 years, and my personal and professional life in recovery has improved dramatically. I have also logged 31 years of professional experience as an addiction psychiatrist helping other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. After a successful run in private practice (1981-2003), I joined the Betty Ford Center in 2002 as Chief Psychiatrist and today I serve as President Emeritus of the Betty Ford Institute. My wife has attained 27 years of sober recovery, and both of our sons, now major business owners in their own right, are also in long-term recovery. One of our daughters-in-law has 24 years of recovery, and our 26-year-old granddaughter has just celebrated six years of sobriety. Tragically, however, two of our family members didn’t make it into recovery. Our heroin and cocaine addicted daughter-inlaw committed suicide by gunshot on her thirty-first birthday, leaving behind our granddaughter, then aged five. A few years afterwards, my nephew, who was addicted to alcohol and cocaine, shot himself at the age of 33. While my family story exemplifies the transmission of alcohol dependence across five generations, it also shows that recovery with all its gifts and miracles can be transmitted in the same way – in our case three generations and counting. By now, many of you reading this may be wondering why I am willing to reveal these family intimacies in a public forum. At the risk of exposing myself to criticism and contempt, I do so, with permission from members of my immediate family, in order to break the chains of shame and denial that bind us all to lifelong silence about alcohol abuse and dependence outside the protected confines of the confessional and the therapist’s office. I share my story to spread the word that recovery is possible, no 54 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

matter how deeply one has fallen into a deadly abyss of shame and despair.

HEALING Up to now, the pain and suffering caused by alcoholism, which plays such a central role in Irish and Irish American life, has been depicted in literature, drama, poetry and song where it can be contemplated from a comfortable distance without significant personal identification or involvement. To get at the truth of the matter requires a realistic and fearless confrontation with the ugly, destructive and dangerous consequences of untreated alcohol abuse and dependence in society, as well as an awareness of the shame-based system of economic, social, psychological, religious, political and cultural denial that has evolved over the centuries to banish the problem from public consciousness. It is only recently that a small group of very courageous writers and historians have been willing to lift the veil of denial from the face of Irish culture to reveal and confront the truth about the past and to embrace our responsibility for whatever role we may have played in causing it. In addition to the Irish journalist John Waters, Irish American writers such as Pete Hamill, Frank and Malachy Mc Court, and singer Judy Collins, in her memoirs, have already contributed much to the process of breaking the silence by generously sharing their personal experiences for the greater good of alcoholics and other addicts who still suffer, as well as for those of us who have been hurt by their behavior. The reality and social dimensions of these disorders, including what we as individuals and a society, may be doing to perpetuate the problem, must be defined and accepted before anything can be done to heal the social wound. Most importantly, formal efforts to address the problem must be led by individuals whose fundamental understanding of alcohol abuse and dependence is based on personal recovery, and a broad knowledge of scientific

advances in the field of addiction that now promise an excellent prognosis for recovery if treatment is followed. We must establish forums for recovery guided by principles of peace and honest reconciliation instead of shame, blame and punishment. Only in this way will those of us who have been caught in the knackers grip of alcohol abuse or dependence be free to share our shame, our guilt and our responsibility for the damage we caused in the spirit of true forgiveness and the hope for recovery.

GETTING HELP First, try to realize that you are not alone, that alcohol problems are readily treatable, and that full recovery is possible no matter how hopeless you think your case might be. Keep in mind that denial and procrastination are hallmarks of the malignantshame syndrome that has kept you – and perhaps your family members as well – silent for so long That was certainly true in my case. Try not to get caught up with the endless argument about whether alcoholism is a disease or a bad habit. If alcohol is a problem for you or your family, the difference doesn't matter, and worrying about it will only delay or even prevent you from seeking the help you need. You can sort out the argument once you are in recovery. Look over a list of people you know who might be in recovery and try to meet with them to share your fear and shame about your situation. Believe me, they will understand, and will embrace you in friendship and admiration for your courage in making the approach. This is what I did, IA and it saved my life. The following websites offer useful and reliable information about alcohol abuse and how to seek help: (Alcoholics Anonymous) (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), and

The author is grateful to Tony Scully whose love and support gave him the confidence to begin and continue this exploration of Irish drinking.



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Glenn Close’s

Irish Odyssey By Patricia Danaher hen Glenn Close puts her mind to something, the fates seem to have a way of conspiring to make it a reality, even if in some cases it takes decades. Take her latest movie, Albert Nobbs, as an example. Based on a novella by late 19th century Irish writer George Moore, it is the story of a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive. After thirty years of donning the male costume, Albert, working as a butler in a Dublin hotel, is now trapped in a lonely prison of her own making. The novella was first adapted for the stage in 1982 by French playwright Simone Benmussa. Glenn Close, then just starting out as an actress, played the eponymous Albert in that very first production; a performance for which she won an Obie. Fast forward almost three decades, and she has co-written, produced, financed



and starred in a big-screen adaptation of Albert Nobbs, filmed in Ireland with a largely Irish cast and crew. In December, the movie garnered Golden Globe nominations for herself, for co-star Janet McTeer and for Best Song, sung by Sinead O’Connor. The Screen Actors Guild also nominated Ms. Close for her performance in this movie. But despite all the awards buzz surrounding Albert Nobbs, it’s very quickly apparent that this is not what inspired Close to sell an apartment in New York and plough significant amounts of her own money into making this movie. “I read it for the first time when I auditioned for the play in 1982 and I was absolutely taken with it,” she told me over an Irish breakfast in Beverly Hills. “In the story, George Moore calls her a ‘perhapser’ – perhaps she’s a woman, perhaps she’s a man. During the run of the show, I sensed the huge emotional wallop that this simple story provided, and people were very, very moved by it,

and I started to sense it would make a wonderful movie. The essence of the character has grown with me since 30 years ago. I said, ‘I must play this character on the big screen before I die.’” And so began a period of what is so euphemistically called development hell. While Close’s film career sky-rocketed with unforgettable and Oscar-nominated roles in movies such as Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons and Reversal of Fortune, she quietly bought the rights to Albert Nobbs before it entered the public domain and wrote her own adaptation of the story. Then she went the rounds of myriad production companies and financiers, most of whom didn’t quite get it or were nervous of putting such a sexually ambivalent creature on screen. “It was really hard for people to imagine, and this transgender thing put people off,” she recalls. “I knew I just had to keep at it, despite how hard it was for people to get, I had to trust that I would find people with the vision and talent to



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Opposite page: Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs. Above: Glenn Close and Janet McTeer; Close and Mia Wasikowska. Below: Aaron Johnson and Close. Photos by Patrick Redmond.

put it together. In the end, I put a lot of my own money in and not one cent came from Hollywood. We sold an apartment we had in New York and I put that money into it. The money that came from the Irish Film Board was very, very important, and they gave us incredible support from Day One. They had known about this project since I went to them ten years ago. “Everyone tells you ‘you’re crazy’ and ‘no one puts their own money into a movie,’ but I thought how could I, who believed in something so deeply, go to people and ask them to put their money into it, if I wasn’t prepared to put my own money in? It’s called ‘having skin in the game,’ and it meant a lot to people.” She won’t say how much exactly she put into the movie, which is believed to have had a budget of around $10m, but she says that she and the Broadway producer Darryl Roth put up the bulk of the financing. And she was always adamant that the movie should be made in Ireland, where the story was born and based. “There were times when we were looking at East Germany, Hungary, Montreal. But I always, always, always thought the only place to make this movie was Ireland, and I’m so happy we did.” Although she is not especially familiar with Ireland – her first visit was in the 1980’s to see her friend Sinead Cusack in a production of Three Sisters at the Gate, she has long been friends with Jonathan Rhys Myers, who plays a charming cameo in Albert Nobbs. “I fell in love with Johnny Rhys Myers when he played the King of France in The Lion in Winter,” recalls a beaming

Close. “One of my favorite memories was singing ‘Somewhere Out There’ in a Hungarian karaoke bar with Johnny! We just wailed and it was so much fun. He’s the best and he has a heart of gold. I called him up out of the blue and said ‘I have this movie I’m making in Ireland, and I think it could be a lot of fun, and I’d love to have you in it’. Without hesitation he said, ‘Glenn, I’ll be there for you

whenever you need me.’ I can only thank him by hoping he’ll be proud of the movie.” Brendan Gleeson and Brenda Fricker also agreed to get involved, as did the three original gals from The Commitments, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Angeline Ball and Bronagh Gallagher. In 2001, Close arrived in Ireland to scout locations for Albert Nobbs, and among the buildings she found was Cabinteely House in Dublin. Ten years

later this became the Morrison Hotel where most of the story is set. Most of the exteriors were shot on Henrietta Street, in Dublin. Alan Moloney was the Irish producer who pulled it all together at the Irish end, once the private finance had been secured. “Glenn suggested the main location, after coming here ten years ago, and it was a wonderful choice. We also shot at Portmarnock beach, but most of it unfolds in Morrison’s,” said Moloney. “It really helps when Glenn Close is also your location scout!” Irish novelist John Banville cowrote the script with Close, and the movie was directed by Rodrigo Garcia, whose father is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In addition to cowriting the script, playing the lead and producing Albert Nobbs, Close also wrote the lyrics for the closing song, “Lay Your Head Down,” which is sung by Sinead O’Connor and composed by Brian Byrne. Already there is talk in Hollywood and elsewhere about Close getting nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Nobbs. Meryl Streep is another very likely contender, for her role as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Iron Lady, and the two have often come up against each other in the awards season. “I’ve often been mistaken for Meryl Streep, but never on Oscar night,” Close says somewhat tartly. “I’ve never really been close to her. We did House of Spirits together and even though we started our careers kind of at the same time, I’m kind FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 57



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Above: Glenn Close being directed by Rodrigo Garcia in the movie Albert Nobbs. Right: Close as Nobbs, a waiter at a small hotel in Dublin.



of a loner and I don’t necessarily keep connections going. I have huge respect for Meryl, but I can’t say she’s one of my close friends.” Close has frequently played manipulative and scary characters on stage, screen and television. She is refreshing in not being worried – as so many are in Hollywood – about being “likeable.” She will probably never live down Cruella de Ville or Alex (the bunny boiler) in Fatal Attraction, but she’s from the old school in so many ways. “Everyone comes up to me and tells me I terrify them,” she says shaking her head wryly. “I started my career relatively late in Hollywood terms. My first movie, The World According to Garp, I was 32. But I always choose parts subjectively. I’ve never said ‘this is going to make me a lot of money’ or ‘this is going to win me a lot of awards.’ It has to have some creative challenge. The message you get from Hollywood is not very attractive to me: it’s all about boyfriends and what people are wearing and their jewelery, and it doesn’t have much to do with the work they’re doing. I’m a terrible shopper and I find the whole red carpet thing really difficult. I’m actually quite proud to be on the Worst Dressed List.” The steeliness in Close, which belies a very gentle, diminutive and softly spoken presence, no doubt comes from her upbringing in the Belgian Congo, where her father, a surgeon, was a strong and active member of Moral Rearmament. “It was an amazing experience. I was there at times when there were mutinies going on. It was all pretty basic. My father was out there trying to get food

“But I always choose parts subjectively. I’ve never said ‘this is going to make me a lot of money’ or ‘this is going to win me a lot of awards.’ It has to have some creative challenge.” and medicine to the refugees during all that fighting. Nobody knew where death was coming from.” Close and her siblings were educated in Africa and Switzerland, before returning to live on the family estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended the College of William and Mary, majoring in theater, and spent several years touring with the international singing group Up With People, before finding her way to New York, where she had an extensive career in Broadway musicals before taking on Hollywood. Close married her longtime boyfriend,

David Shaw, in December 2010. She is the mother of a 23-year-old daughter, Annie Starke, from an earlier relationship. She is busy promoting Albert Nobbs and getting ready to film a new season of her successful television legal drama Damages, but says she really wants to go back to Ireland. “It broke my heart that we were shooting when the whole country was closed down because of the snow. I didn’t have a chance to get in a car and go driving around because the roads were closed. I still have to treat myself to a big dose of Ireland, hopefully in the coming year.” IA



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{what are you like?}

Roisin Fitzpatrick Roisin Fitzpatrick, Artist of the Light®, is a leading contemporary Irish artist. She grew up in Howth, Co. Dublin, the youngest of four daughters. Her father was a director of Fitzpatrick Shoes and later established Thomas Patrick Shoes on Grafton Street. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the University of Geneva. Roisin specialized in business and international relations, speaking both French and Italian. She followed a career at the United Nations, European Commission and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Following a brain aneurysm and a near death experience, Roisin turned this adversity into a positive life change. She was inspired to create a series of contemporary artworks evoking a sense of serenity and peace. Roisin’s primary intention through her art is to share the beauty of the light and create a greater sense of well-being. Many leading European and U.S. art collectors own Artist of the Light® artwork, including Christy O’Connor, Jr., Mark Burnett, TV producer of The Apprentice, and actress Roma Downey of Touched by an Angel. Roisin’s art is also featured at entrepreneur Richard Branson’s new resort near New York City, and at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel. Her work has been endorsed by Deepak Chopra and critically acclaimed by Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Irish Arts Review, The Irish Times and Artnews. Roisin exhibits regularly on both sides of the Atlantic, with six exhibitions in Manhattan in the past two years. Roisin has selffinanced all of her exhibitions. Her solo exhibition in the fall of 2011 at the Consulate General of Ireland in New York was opened by Loretta Brennan Glucksman, and 10% of the sales was donated to three of the American Ireland Fund’s children’s charities. Her most recent exhibition at the VisArts Kaplan Gallery near Washington D.C. was launched on the date of the winter solstice, December 21, a wonderful serendipity for her Newgrange-inspired pieces. Michael Collins, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, officiated at the opening. He said “Roisin’s artworks are a great example of contemporary Irish art. Thank you Roisin for bringing much-needed light into our lives at this time when we risk being overwhelmed by darkness. Thank you for creating works of beauty and joy…Ireland is very proud of our rich culture and the work of our contemporary artists. It is a measure of the vibrancy and resilience of Ireland that we continue to produce such wonderful talent as Roisin.” Her art provided the stage setting for the Conscious Capitalism Conference in 2011. Roisin was also a guest speaker at the United Nations SRTC Enlightenment Society in New York. Roisin has upcoming exhibitions at La Luna Gallery in Washington, D.C. for March and April, at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany from May 8 – June 30, and in the Gallery at Four Green Fields in downtown Boston through July and August. See for information about Roisin’s upcoming exhibitions in the United States. 60 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

Your earliest memory? Sitting on the floor beside my dad’s chair watching Come Dancing on the television. I asked him if he could dance like that and he said “No, I have two left feet” and I looked at him and looked at his feet and replied “Thank goodness you are in the shoe business, Dad.” I really thought my father had two left feet! Your perfect day? Waking up to a sunny morning and going for a swim in the sea across from my house. Then having breakfast in the garden and creating art for the day continuing well into the long summer evening. Your favorite extravagance? A huge 9 ft by 7 ft Victorian gilt mirror in my sitting room, to bring more light into my home. It seemed like a great idea when I saw this fabulous mirror in an antique warehouse. However, watching five of my friends squeezing it into my house was nerve-wrecking. I assure you that mirror is never leaving my home! What’s on your bedside table? A gratitude journal – I write five highlights from every day and it has been one of the best things I have ever done. It keeps me focused throughout the day on what brings joy and happiness. It is amazing to see the pattern over time. I generally write about the kindness of people and the beauty of nature. I am so grateful for the support and genuine kindness of so many people from the Irish American community who have helped me since I have been in the United States.



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Your hidden talent? Tango and salsa dancing – thank goodness I did not inherit my father’s two left feet! I love tango dancing at weekends in Central Park during the summer. Movie you will watch again and again? It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic for a good reason. I watch it every Christmas without fail and it becomes more relevant every year. Your favorite qualities in close friends? Absolute honesty, always having each others’ best interests at heart, enjoying life and having a great laugh together. Your most prized possession? A beautiful quartz crystal blessed by the Dalai Lama when he was in Ireland last year. I was so lucky to have met him and will treasure this for the rest of my life. Ah well, so much for the Buddhist approach to life and not to have any attachments to possessions! Your favorite hero in real life? The Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins. He was a brilliant visionary. The best advice you were ever given? It is from my aunt who is 94 – she always reminds me “Life is so short dear, live a happy and fulfilled one.” The most interesting person who inspired you? I have to say there were 60 people who inspired me, not one. Walter O’Hara. Jr., chairman emeritus of All Hallows School in the Bronx, asked me to give a talk to the students. I honestly thought how on earth am I going to connect with 60 boys all around the age of 13 when I cannot even begin to imagine the tough challenges they face every day? The boys, led by their vice principal Kelvin Ramirez, were unbelievably inspirational. Listening to their fears and joys, dreams and hopes, challenges and passions was an incredible experience. The great irony was that I intended to give these young men a sense of hope to create a great future, and that is exactly what they gave me! Your greatest passion? I love creating the art and then seeing when someone really connects with it. I literally see the person transform in front of me and light up from within. Your favorite country you have visited? I was so lucky as a child. My family went to Italy every year, as my father combined his holiday with shoe-buying trips. So I grew up with a passion for the food, culture and arts.

Your favorite color? White because it is a combination of all colors. I love all colors – the more vibrant and alive the better. Your favorite writer? Frank O’Connor Your favorite artists Philip Grey and Judy Cobbe. If you could have a drink with anyone dead or alive, who would it be? My mum and dad, to thank them for being the best parents. I love them dearly. What is your driving force? A few years ago I was lucky enough to have a life-changing near death experience. While “I” was out of my body, I connected with the “Oneness” eastern philosophies speak of – it was alive, vibrant and infinite. I made the decision to come back and fully integrate all of this energy and live my life from my heart and share the beauty of this light with people. I have absolutely no fear of death whatsoever and a passionate joy to live life to the full! Your core values? I believe life is really so simple. It is about coming from the heart, treating everyone with respect and sharing the light that is within us all, and giving back in whatever way we can. For me it is through the art and by donating art to raise funds for different charities. Your idea of happiness? That wonderful deep sense of inner peace and connection I feel that is totally unshakable, no matter what challenges life may bring. Best line from a book? “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” From Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love. Accomplishment you are most proud of? Bringing the art to the U.S. and self-financing the exhibitions. I was told by many people that this could not be done. However, thanks to the kindness of people in the Irish American community it was made possible. What are you working on now? My upcoming exhibitions in Washington for March and April, with the Irish American Heritage Museum for May IA and June, and in Boston during July and August. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 61



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{music reviews} By Tara Dougherty

Traditional Irish Music on the Button Accordion Dan Gurney mong the most exciting releases to come from an Irish American in recent months is Boston-native Dan Gurney’s Traditional Irish Music on the Button Accordion. Gurney first entered public consciousness in 1998 at the age of 11 when The Wall Street Journal published an article on the button accordion prodigy. Since that time, Gurney spent a year in Ireland exploring the trad music scene and perfecting his craft. “I grew up in the States and had acquired a certain knowledge of Irish music, but I didn’t really understand the culture, which is just as important,” Gurney states in the introduction to the album. After a year in Ireland, Gurney embarked on this solo project, which demonstrates not just precision but the development of ornamentation that few accordion players manage to master. The album is one of the most refined works of button accordion released in recent memory, an astounding fact when considering that Gurney recorded the majority of the album in one 3-hour session. It is a steady and solid piece of work. There is no lag in the tracks, no song that asks to be skipped over. As a first solo effort, Traditional Irish Music on the Button Accordion is quite impressive. Hopefully as Gurney matures as an artist, a more personal style will develop, as there is nothing distinctly “Dan Gurney” about the album, but that is certainly a break we can cut this 25-year-old.


Heartland: The Composer’s Salute to Celtic Thunder Phil Coulter and His Concert Orchestra hil Coulter’s Heartland: The Composer’s Salute to Celtic Thunder comes as Coulter’s swansong to his partnership with Celtic Thunder, the enormously popular male answer to Celtic Woman. Legendary composer Coulter wrote a number of songs for Celtic Thunder since 2008. Now he has selected some of his favorites for



performance by his concert orchestra for Heartland, to salute his time with Celtic Thunder. The album is a fine collection of soothing pieces. The tone is very much that of a farewell. The mood of the soaring strings and delicate piano in “Buachaill Ón Eirne” (“Come By The Hills”) is accented by a lamenting female voice. It is a sad composition, but a beautiful one. The titles of the songs evoke a constant feeling of goodbye throughout the album including “Ride On,” “Gold and Silver Days” and “Farewell to Inishowen.” Heartland’s title track feels the most Celtic of all on the album. The Derry-born composer makes use of the voices of uileeann pipes to distinguish these as Irish sounds. The album is a must-own for Celtic Thunder and Coulter fans and definitely a worthy purchase for any orchestral Celtic fans.

Feels Like Home The Celtic Tenors

t’s been twelve years since the Celtic Tenors first burst onto the scene. Now, more than six albums later, Feels Like Home is the most hopeful and optimistic album yet in the Tenors’ repertoire. The album takes an assortment of the most uplifting tunes from Ireland, Scotland and Wales and reinvents them in a harmonic and pacifying tone that only the Tenors can master. The tenors themselves, James Nelson, Matthew Gilsenan and Colm Rogan, are all from different corners of Ireland and Northern Ireland and succeeded with the record in conveying a unity of spirit. “We were looking for a new theme for the new album,” James Nelson explains. “It’s even in the way we sing. You have three very different and distinct cultures singing in harmony. It makes for a very positive image and a very powerful musical statement.” Highlights on the album include “Westering Home” and “The Wild Mountainside,” which both contain melodies that lend in subtle ways to the voices of the trio. Each tenor has his moment to shine solo throughout Feels Like Home, but as always fans will relish most in the aweinspiring three-part harmonies that make the Celtic Tenors IA who they are.


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{sláinte} By Edythe Preet

Wine: Another The legacy of the Celts in Ireland, and how, in the absence of grapes, they used their wine making skills to create a honey-wine. By Edythe Preet.

dds are, you’re familiar with the fact that beer, stout and whiskey have been mainstays of Celtic culture for eons. What I’ll bet you don’t know is that the Celts also played a key role in the development of humanity’s fascination with wine. Not that the Celts ‘invented’ wine. That epicurean advance is credited to an accidental spoilage of grapes somewhere in ancient Persia as early as 6000 BC. Four thousand years later, while Egyptian workers building the pyramids slaked their thirst with beer, the local royalty was drinking wine. Passages in Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad reveal that by 1600 BC wine making and trading was an important part of Greek commerce, and wine was a favorite beverage of just about everyone, peasants and blue-bloods alike. Starting about 1000 BC, the Romans made major contributions in classifying grape varieties and colors, observing and charting ripening characteristics, pruning, identifying diseases and increasing yields through irrigation and fertilization techniques. Not to mention spreading cultivation of the grape throughout the Empire. So where do the Celts come into the picture? To get the full story, one has to look back to the days of the original Celts, the prehistoric people who lived on the banks of eastern Europe’s Danube River, and whose descendants moved ever westward to become the first inhabitants of Ireland — the Tuatha de Danaan (People of the Danube) in legend and lore. Peaceful farmers by nature — and fierce warriors on provocation — the Celts were also master metallurgists who perfected the process of extracting ore from rock via smelting. By melting together tin and copper they ushered in Europe’s Bronze Age, and later excelled in working with iron, inventing not only sturdier weapons but agriculture’s first iron plough and scythe as well. The Celts were also responsible for a major advancement in transportation and trade. By affixing an exterior iron sheath to the wooden wheel, they made the device much sturdier, able to carry heavier loads and less susceptible to breakage. It was at this point in history that the Celts contributed their expertise to wine making. In addition to metallurgy, they were also master woodcrafters. For more than a thousand years, wine had been transported in clay jugs called amphorae, risky containers at best that were prone to cracking, seepage, and in worst case scenarios smashing to pieces even when carefully cradled in layers of straw. Having learned from the Greeks and Romans the methods of growing grapes and transforming the juice into wine (not to mention being very fond of the drink and even fonder of the rev-



enue it provided), in approximately 900 BC the Celts combined their woodworking and metallurgic skills and invented the barrel. Consisting of curved wooden staves encircled by bands of iron and closed on either end by flat wood caps, this Celtic invention forever changed wine production. Not only did the wooden barrel contain the liquid more efficiently and safely, it was discovered that the wine’s flavor changed dramatically depending on what wood was used. A phenomenon that wine

lovers the world over appreciate to this day. It must have been dismaying when on finally reaching Ireland the Celts realized that the climate of their newest territory did not support grape growing. No matter. Being endlessly creative, they made a wine-like beverage from what was most easily at hand: honey. When honey is simply dissolved in water and exposed to air, wild yeast spores feed on its sugar content, causing the liquid to ferment, and transforming it into a potent alcoholic drink. Call them fickle or call them smart, the ancient Celts quickly adopted mead as a grape wine replacement. The heady golden liquor was believed to enhance virility and fertility, and for a bonus it also served as an aphrodisiac. It doesn’t take much reasoning to understand why mead almost immediately became the preferred drink at wedding ceremonies. In fact, the term ‘honeymoon’ probably stems from the Irish tradition of newlyweds drinking honey wine every day for one full moon (a month) after their weddings. Even now some Irish nuptial celebrations still include a traditional mead toast to wish the wedded couple well in their new life together.



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Irish Triumph! Notwithstanding Ireland’s inhospitable grape growing climate, Irish chieftains’ thirst for wine never waned. One King of Connaught is reported as constantly ‘going from one feast of purple wine to another’ and in the 11th century the Norsemen of Limerick paid an annual tribute of ‘one cask of red wine for every day of the year’ to Brian Boru. Compared to the Irish, British wine drinkers were pikers. In 1740, Bordeaux supplied England with only 1,000 casks of wine while 4,000 casks were shipped to Ireland. Then came the bleak days of the 18th and 19th centuries when Irish Catholics were persecuted for their faith and the Potato Famines brought widespread starvation to the population. Hundreds of thousands of Celts migrated once again. This time to lands across the seas to France, America, and remote Australia. Move the clock forward a few clicks more, and behold! Those indefatigable Celts began making grape wine again. ‘Winegeese’ is the name given to the emigrant Irish families and their descendants who, from the 18th century onwards,

engaged in the various endeavors of the wine making and trading industry in their adopted countries. Many of these pioneering wine families have played significant roles in the viticultural development of some of the finest wine-growing regions around the world, ranging from the Concannon Winery, in Livermore, to Napa Valley in California, the Loire Valley in France, to the Clare Valley in Australia and the Hemel En Aarde Valley in South Africa. To find a listing of Irish heritage winemakers and wineries in France, the United States and Australia visit The Ireland Funds Winegeese Society at: For a complete history of Irish winemaking (and a good read besides), dive into Ted Murphy’s encyclopedic book The Story of the Winegeese. And the next time you’re looking for a great complement to a great meal, pour some of the fine wines created by Irish American vintners who continue to advance the art of winemaking begun by the Celtic barrel makers umpteen ages ago! IA Sláinte!

PAIRING WINE & FOOD The world of wine is wide and can be consummately confusing when it comes to pairing wine with food. Here are some suggestions. For more info, or if your favorite varietal is not included, check out the great interactive site BURGUNDY: medium bodied with flavors of berries and earthy notes. SERVE WITH: salmon, tuna, duck, turkey, pork, veal, braised beef. AVOID: light seafood, lamb, cream sauces. CABERNET SAUVIGNON: fullflavored with flavors of black currants, chocolate, cedar. SERVE WITH: beef, duck, lamb, roast chicken, game, mushrooms, roast squash. AVOID: seafood (except rare tuna), citrus, cream sauces. CHAMPAGNE: crisply acid with flavors of yeast, toast, citrus, apple, grapefruit. SERVE WITH: caviar, lobster, oysters, light chicken dishes. AVOID: sautéed scallops, smoked salmon, red meat, rich cream sauces. CHARDONNAY: full-flavored with flavors of apple, butter, oak, vanilla, honey, lemon.

SERVE WITH: lobster, sea bass, shrimp, chicken, turkey, pork, cream sauces, avocado, spinach, squash. AVOID: tuna, beef, lamb, BBQ, tomato sauce. GEWURTZTRAMINER: full-flavored with flavors of roses, lychees, spices SERVE WITH: chicken, fish, turkey, cheese. AVOID: mild fish dishes. MERLOT: soft and supple with flavors of black cherry, plum, vanilla, oak SERVE WITH: tuna, salmon, beef, duck, mushrooms, wild rice, mild cow and goat cheeses. AVOID: most fish and crustaceans, pork, citrus and cream sauces. PINO GRIGIO: light semi-fragrant with lemony-citrus flavors. SERVE WITH: light fish, oysters, chicken, ham, veal, light pasta, ravioli, antipasti. AVOID: salmon, tuna, beef, duck, game,

rich cream sauces. PINOT NOIR: medium-bodied with flavors of black cherry, strawberry, smoke. SERVE WITH: salmon, tuna, beef, lamb, duck, ham, butter sauces, mushrooms, potatoes. AVOID: heavy cream sauces, pumpkin, sweet potato. SAUVIGNON BLANC: crisp with flavors of grapefruit, lemon, fresh grass SERVE WITH: scallops, shrimp, grilled or sautéed chicken and pork, vinaigrettes, citrus sauces. AVOID: crab, oysters, lamb, rich cream sauces. SHIRAZ: fruit-forward with flavors of blackberries, black currants, oaky vanilla, chocolate. SERVE WITH: brisket, stew, steak, lamb, venison, pork, roast duck. AVOID: everything light and delicate.




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{ review of books}

Recently published books of Irish and Irish-American interest.

Recommended: City of Bohane

evin Barry’s eagerly anticipated debut novel, City of Bohane, confirms his status as one of the most exciting and inventive writers working in Ireland today. His first book, an award-winning collection of short stories titled There Are Little Kingdoms, introduced his unique voice and perspective, as he took readers on a hilarious journey through the strange but important minutiae of life in small-village Ireland. A departure in form and content, City of Bohane is set 43 years in the future, in a functionally depressed city on the west coast of Ireland. Bohane plunges straight into the city’s competing neighborhoods and gangs, street lingo, violence and erratic sartorial trends, gradually introducing us to the city’s key figures: Logan Hartnett, the man with the run of the place; his wife, Macu (short for Immaculata); his mother, Girly Hartnett; various boys from his gang, the Fancy, and the wildcard vixen Jenni Ching. Soon, another figure emerges in Bohane: Gant Broderick, Logan’s old nemesis, who has been gone for 25 years and is back to win Bohane and Macu’s heart. However, the storyline is clearly less important than the fun Barry palpably had in creating this idiosyncratic world. Half a Clockwork Orange-ish comedy, half an almost Joycean rendering of a dystopian city, Bohane wanders off at points, but is more than worth reading for the brilliance of Barry’s language and his delightfully weird imagination. In fact, it somehow wouldn’t feel right if the book followed the straight and narrow. As the unnamed narrator who infrequently addresses the reader explains at one point, “In the Bohane creation, time comes loose, there is a curious fluidity, the past seeps into the future, and the moment itself as it passes is the hardest to grasp.” Readers should just go with it, and enjoy. – Sheila Langan


($25.00 / Gray Wolf Press / 288 pages)

The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City

n the newest addition to Penguin’s History of American Life series, The



Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City, James R. Barrett, a professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Illinois, sheds new light on the role the Irish played in forging the American identity. Rather than the expected chronicle of Irish immigrants and their encounters with nativists, prejudice, and hardship, Barrett takes a significantly more positive and lively approach to the Irish experience. In attempting to prove that the Irish played a major role in influencing Americanization, Barrett uncovers that, rather than modeling themselves after a WASP society, new immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were more likely to model themselves after people of Irish descent because they represented the ideal: immigrants who succeeded in America. Barrett’s principal focus is the specific areas in which the Irish succeeded in cities: in the streets, on the stage, in public schools and parishes. He clearly categorizes and chronicles where and how newcomer immigrants interacted with Irish Americans, as well as the IrishAmerican reaction to immigrants of other cultures, which, though initially somewhat hostile, became increasingly positive and accepting. Combined, these carefully presented facts and details provide great support for his fresh perspective on the history of Hibernian Americans and their impact on American identity. – Molly Ferns ($29.95 / Penguin / 370 pages)


Benedict Kiely: Selected Stories

enedict Kiely (1919-2007), novelist, lecturer and journalist, is best remembered as one of Ireland’s foremost masters of the short story. His works, which were first published in Ireland in the 1950s and went on to be printed in the New Yorker and the Kenyon Review, among others, were distinguished successors to the stories of Joyce, O’Connor and O’Faolain. The skill and power of his short stories are evident in this new collection, edited and including an afterword by Ben Forkner. Editor of Modern Irish Short Stories and A New Book of Dubliners,


Forkner was, until recently, professor of English at France’s University of Angers. His carefully chosen selections provide a comprehensive look at the span of Kiely’s work, from the earlier “A Journey to the Seven Streams” and “A Ball of Malt and Madam Butterfly” to the later, more personal “Down Then by Derry” and his last work of fiction, “A Letter to Peachtree,” both of which draw on Kiely’s time as a lecturer and writer-in-residence in the American South. Each story is a prime example of Kiely’s trademark conversational style of layering stories within stories and meandering digressions within larger narratives to create a much bigger picture – always with an understated sympathy for his characters and a distinct gift for capturing their unique voices. As the afterword explains, in addition to studying Kiely’s works, Forkner also had the chance to actually spend time with him – talking not, as might be expected, about Kiely’s works or life, but answering the writer’s questions about his own. This experience led him to a special understanding of Kiely’s writing, as he pinpoints a “Kiely method” based on the writer’s ability to coax a person’s life story to “reveal itself as worthy of being remembered and told.” That very method, Forkner argues, “can be found in much of his fiction, especially in the short stories, in which the narrator, almost always Kiely himself, prompts and lures the main story out of whomever he is talking with, whether it be an old friend or a chance encounter on the road. “ As he concludes, and as the collection readily demonstrates, “There are stories everywhere, but it helps to have a Benedict Kiely close at hand to bring them back to life.” – Sheila Langan ($34.95 / Liberties Press / 328 pages)


Begging for Vultures

couple of pages into Lawrence Welsh’s Begging for Vultures, and your breathing begins to slow. The heart steadies, and, reluctantly, the mind quiets. A subway car can easily become the




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desert. The flashes of electricity which illuminate the tunnel look like heat lightning, and the voice crackling over the loudspeaker begins to sound more and more like the cawing of a distant crow. Reading the latest collection from this El Paso professor is a wholly meditative experience. The language is sparse, like the land it reflects. Change – relentless when unwelcome and lacking when needed – is a recurring theme, as are whiskey and the folkloric coyote. That Welsh is a first-generation Irish American might come as a surprise, given the Southwestern setting. But he does slip in nods to his Irish heritage throughout, playing with the obvious clashes, and the less obvious similarities, between the two cultures. In a poem called "New Irish Whiskey," he writes, "an ad tonight / for michael collins' / irish whiskey // 'the big fellow' / it says // my god / i think of crazy horse / malt liquor / and its disappearance // but i will not drink / my heroes now/ i will not puke / or genuflect / on their graves." Welsh manages to do in a few words what others fail to achieve with entire tomes. He creates a world so alive that it does not disappear with the turn of the page, but lingers inside the imagination, open to independent exploration. It is as if the reader has not simply finished a collection of poetry, but has instead just returned from an unexpected visit with an Irishman in the desert. – Catherine Davis (212 pages/ University of New Mexico Press/ $21.95)


Emerald Illusions: The Irish in Early American Cinema

t the beginning of Emerald Illusions Gary D. Rhodes, co-director of film studies at Queens University, Belfast, throws down a scholarly gauntlet. The increasingly popular field of IrishAmerican film studies, he argues, lacks a definition, a solid idea of Irish-American cinema and cinematic history from which the field can grow and become a true source for research and debate. His goal in writing this comprehensive volume, which mainly covers the years 1900 – 1915, is to question whether the idea of early Irish-


American film is an actual part of film history, or merely a construct of over-eager contemporary scholars. Rhodes tackles the question carefully, covering all angles, from the importance of Ireland as a plot element in seldom discussed films such as D.W. Griffith’s Caught by Wireless; to works of the Kalem Film Company, which were actually filmed in Ireland; to the influence of the IrishAmerican audience. With hundreds of photographs and extensive research, Emerald Illusions has set a new standard for studying the role of the Irish in the history of American film. – Sheila Langan ($79.95 / Irish Academic Press / 426 pages)


Revolution: A Photographic History of Revolutionary Ireland, 1913–1923

ádraic Óg Ó Ruairc’s recently published photo-history presents a new look at ten of Ireland’s most formative and turbulent years, from the stirrings of the 1916 Easter Rising, to the heights of the Irish Civil War. A concise timeline at the beginning of the book tells all of the crucial dates and facts, which many readers may already be familiar with. The pages that follow, however, provide astonishing visual insight into this period in Ireland’s history. The carefully arranged and reproduced photos, many of which were previously unpublished, create a window into the key moments and confrontations of these years, as well as the realities of daily life during this time. An early photo shows Roger Casement, Lord Ashbourne and Alice Stepford Greene, architects of the Howth gun-running. A dramatic shot soon follows of Sackville Street blazing during the final hours of the Rising, with the GPO visible in the foreground, while another presents a view of Eamon de Valera’s 1917 election speech at Ennis Courthouse. Still other photographs depict families displaced by the sectarian unrest; violent clashes; car-


rier pigeons being prepared to deliver messages during the 1922 Irish postal strike. The images in Ó Ruairc’s visual history range from early journalistic snapshots to memorabilia series, from photographs of captured prisoners or wanted rebels, to posed portraits of the Revolution’s key figures and family members, many of them left behind. Thorough and revealing, this collection is an important volume for anyone with an interest in Irish history. – Sheila Langan ($39.95 / Mercier Press / 288 pages)

Ghosts of the Faithful Departed

n Ghosts of the Faithful Departed, Corkbased photographer David Creedon casts a new and timely gaze on Irish emigration. Rather than depicting those who left Ireland or the new lives they built abroad, Creedon points his lens at what Irish immigrants left behind. Inspired by a chance encounter with an abandoned house in Co. Sligo, where the image of a pink dress still hanging in a wardrobe etched itself indelibly into his mind, Creedon spent two years traveling throughout Ireland, looking for similarly deserted houses. His haunting photographs catalogue what he found along the way: Sacred Hearts resting on top of crumbling mantle pieces, propped up on chairs, hanging on walls covered with peeling plaint; a red 1970 Suzuki scooter covered in dust; a rusty Singer sewing machine; a yellow blazer; a half-used jar of Morgan’s hair color restorer; a trunk that once belonged to a Mary Sullivan and, according to its tags, went with her to the U.S. from Cobh in 1911 aboard the RMS Cedric, and returned with her to Ireland 19 years later. Taken between 2005 and 2007, Creedon’s photographs are sad and eerily beautiful foreshadowings of the ghost estates that now dot the country in the wake of the economic collapse and the new surge of emigration. Occupying this unique space, the photos shed an important light on both Ireland’s past and present. – Sheila Langan


($44.95 / The Collins Press / 168 pages) FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012 IRISH AMERICA 67



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An Irishman in Coventry A full year since, I took this eager city, the tolerance that laced its blatant roar, its famous steeples and its web of girders, as image of the state hope argued for, and scarcely flung a bitter thought behind me on all that flaws the glory and the grace which ribbons through the sick, guilt-clotted legend of my creed-haunted, godforsaken race. My rhetoric swung round from steel’s high promise to the precision of the well-gauged tool, tracing the logic in the vast glass headlands, the clockwork horse, the comprehensive school. Then, sudden, by occasion’s chance concerted, in enclave of my nation, but apart, the jigging dances and the lilting fiddle stirred the old rage and pity in my heart. The faces and the voices blurring round me, the strong hands long familiar with the spade,

Poet John Hewitt (October 28, 1907June 22, 1987), was born in Belfast. His collections include The Day of the Corncrake (1969) and Out of My Time: Poems 1969 to 1974 (1974). Hewitt moved to Coventry, England, in 1957 and served as the Director of the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum until he retired in 1972 and returned to Belfast. He was appointed the first writer-in-residence at Queen’s University, Belfast in 1976. The John Hewitt Society, established in 1987, the year Hewitt died, annually hosts The John Hewitt Summer School, which commemorates the poet’s life and work. The 2012 Summer School will take place July 23-27 at the Market Place Theatre, Armagh. For information visit:


the whiskey-tinctured breath, the pious buttons, called up a people endlessly betrayed by our own weakness, by the wrongs we suffered in that long twilight over bog and glen, by force, by famine and by glittering fables which gave us martyrs when we needed men, by faith which had no charity to offer, by poisoned memory, and by ready wit, with poverty corroded into malice, to hit and run and howl when it is hit. This is our fate: eight hundred years’ disaster, crazily tangled as the Book of Kells; the dream’s distortion and the land’s division, the midnight raiders and the prison cells. Yet like Lir’s children, banished to the waters, our hearts still listen for the landward bells. – John Hewitt

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Mary Moriarty with six of her nine children: Left to right: Aileen, John, Mary holding Dennis, Steve and Daniel.



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{photo album} Family Pictures

Mother ary O’Connell and her six siblings were born in Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick, Ireland. They were orphaned at an early age. Under the guardianship of their aunt Mary Hartnett Smith and uncle Rev. John Hartnett, pastor of St. Cecilia’s Church, they immigrated to San Francisco during the early 1920s. The young family finished their education at St. Joseph’s School of Nursing and San Francisco State Normal College. Mary was to start a teaching career when she met Daniel Moriarty at a Knights of the Red Branch dance. He had recently emigrated from Killarney, Co. Kerry with his widowed mother and sisters. He was employed by the San


Francisco Police Department, ultimately retiring as a police lieutenant. Mary and Dan married in 1919. Our mother gave birth to nine children, losing son Mickey, age 2 1/2 in 1935 to a childhood disease. Our parents were devoted to the church, which was an important part of their lives. Education was equally important, and an excellent education was received by all under the auspices of the Sisters of the Holy Name, the Jesuits and the Madams of the Sacred Heart [those in the top tier of the Roman Catholic Womens Teaching Order]. We were blessed with wonderful parents. May they rest in peace. – Submitted by John Moriarty on behalf of the Moriarty children.

San Francisco, 23rd Avenue, 1939. We had just returned from shopping at Brooks Brothers’s clothiers.

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 No photocopies, please. We will pay $65 for each submission that we select.


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Quote Unquote A selection of quotes by and about the Irish and Irish Americans.

“I really felt quite strongly that I could bring something new to the part and that I really had to play it. I felt like I understood something about the character on a very deep level and I really could relate to her. I just understood her.” – Rooney Mara who persuaded director David Fincher she was right for the lead in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. From Variety.

“This past year has also seen some memorable and historic visits, to Ireland and from America. The spirit of friendship, so evident in both these nations, can fill us all with hope... Relationships that years ago were once so strained have through sorrow and forgiveness blossomed into long term friendship. It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today and so give us hope for tomorrow.” – Queen Elizabeth reflecting on her historic May 2011 visit to Ireland. From her annual Christmas Day address to the British people.

“Our most effective succor, however, may rest in what has not changed at all: our persistently grim cheerfulness. One could say, as some do, that we Irish are congenitally masochistic, that we secretly welcome misfortune. But it does not feel like that. Rather, we have always had a propensity to laugh at ourselves, which stands us in good stead in these melancholy times, when laughter, even the self-mocking kind, is at a premium.” – An excerpt from Irish novelist John Banville's recent NY Times op-ed, “The Grim Good Cheer of the Irish.”

“Over the Christmas holy days I finished a biography of President Kennedy, and recalled his reply to someone who sincerely congratulated him on the honor of the presidency. ‘Thanks,’ John Kennedy replied, ‘but I don’t look at it so much as an honor as a call to higher service.’ My sentiments exactly. This is not about privilege, change of colors, hats, new clothes, places of honor, or a different title. Jesus warned us about all that stuff. No: this is about an affirmation of love from the Pope to a celebrated archdiocese and community, and a summons to its unworthy archbishop to serve Jesus, His Church universal, His vicar on earth, and His people better. I’ll try to do that…but I sure need your prayers.” – Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, on Pope Benedict's decision to appoint him Cardinal.

“And I have my 4-year-old daughter, Dakota, and her wonderful father, Wes. As we prepare to celebrate the holidays together, I think of all the soldiers who are coming home from Iraq as the troops pull out for good. I think of how happy the families will be, together again. The soldiers are finally coming home.” – Jessica Lynch, the young soldier who famously became a prisoner of war in Iraq, recently graduated from West Virginia University. From Newsweek.

“I wasn’t going into this vain. I wanted [Brandon] to be vulnerable, childlike, repulsive in certain moments.” – Irish actor Michael Fassbender on receiving the Venice Film Festival Best Actor award for his performance in Shame, the Steve McQueen movie about sex addiction. From Newsweek. 74 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012

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Irish America February / March 2012  
Irish America February / March 2012  

The February / March 2012 edition of Irish America magazine, featuring interviews with fiddler Martin Hayes, actor Clint Eastwood, Glenn Clo...