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FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015 CANADA $4.95/ U.S. $3.95
A champion leaves the ring for the stage
Catching up with singer Gemma Hayes
Music & Love
One Last Report
(And it’s Genealogical)
A trip to Ireland provides both
Cathal Armstrong Putting the fine in Irish dining
Irish love in folklore and mythology
Inside the West Cork haven for spiritual healing 0
DISPLAY UNTIL MARCH 31, 2014
Reflections on Bere Island
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contents | february / march 2015
16 Hop On, Hop Off
Dublin native Kate Hickey reviews her hometown’s new fleet of CityScape bus tours.
34 Follow the Music
Four friends make a November escape to Ireland.
38 Cover Story
There are no tourists, and it’s magical
Irish Eye on Hollywood
Genealogist Megan Smolenyak digs deep into Stephen Colbert’s Irish roots.
The latest Irish news in film and television.
42 The Girls Are Alright
How a Maryland family endures five years after tragedy. By Ellen McCarthy
46 In This Corner…An Actor
Boxing champion John Duddy trades the ring for the stage. By Thomas Hauser
The Northern Irish peace mission celebrates 40 years.
48 Reflections All Around
Rosari Kingston takes a spiritual retreat to West Cork’s Bere Island.
Photos from our December Awards.
52 What Are You Like?
Author, filmaker, and frequent Irish America contributor Mary Pat Kelly takes our questionnaire. By Cliodhna Joyce-Daly
Commentary from Enda Kenny, Hozier, and others.
54 Gemma Hayes Plays for You The Irish singer talks about crowdsourcing her latest album. By Katy Harrington
56 His Irish Table
Ireland’s history of star-crossed lovers, gods, and high kings. By Edythe Preet
62 Roots: The Macs
McCreash, McCrory, and McMahon and the inconsistency of anglicization. By Adam Farley
4 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
Chef Cathal Armstrong knows his way around a kitchen. By Kara Rota
58 Sláinte! Love
Celebrating the 2014 Business 100
Departments 56 48
8 10 12
30 60 64 66
Those We Lost
Readers Forum News & Hibernia Books Crossword Family Album
Enjoy the Waterford Crystal Factory Experience. Book your tour online today. Visit waterfordvisitorcentre.com or phone +353 (0)51 317000
Dublin to Waterford Car - M9 - 1.5hrs drive Bus - 11 daily scheduled departures to Waterford Train - 8 daily departures to Waterford Cork to Waterford Car - N25 - 1.15hrs drive Shannon to Waterford Car - M6 - 2hrs drive
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Vol.30 No.2 • February / March 2015
IRISH AMERICA Rosari Kingston
Circle of Friends
A group of friends, Liz (Cunningham) Purchia, her boyfriend (Tim Gannon), his sister (Clare Gannon), and her husband (Jano Cabrera), all Washington, D.C. residents, give an account of their six days in Ireland eating and visiting pubs and finding the music.
Ellen McCarthy is a feature writer for the Style section of The Washington Post. Her first book, The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook, will be published by Ballantine Books in April.
© HOWARD SCHATZ
Thomas Hauser’s most recent book – The Final Recollections of Charles Dickens – was published by Counterpoint. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored him with the Nat Fleischer Award for Career Excellence in Boxing Journalism.
Megan Smolenyak is a genealogist and the author of six books, including Trace Your Roots with DNA and Who Do You Think You Are?, a companion to the TV series. She has uncovered the Irish heritage of everyone from Barack Obama (3%) to Barry Manilow (25%), and focuses her attention on Stephen Colbert (94%) in this issue. 6 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
Rosari Kingston is a medical herbalist based in West Cork who incorpoates modern medical knowledge and the latest research with the Irish herbal physician tradition, which flourished in Ireland until the early 17th century. She is a member of the Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists, a professional body committed to the highest standard of training for herbalists.
Born in Cork, Katy is an experienced features writer and editor. She has written for The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, Image Magazine, The Huffington Post, Women’s Health, Journal.ie, The Irish Post and many other websites and publications. She also has an irreverent weekly relationships column in The Sunday Independent. Follow her on Twitter @tweetkatyh.
Kara Rota is director of Editorial and Partnerships at Cookstr.com, the top resource for cookbook recipes online. She is also host of the Clever Cookstr podcast on quickanddirtytips.com. She studied writing, technoethics, and food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker on food and technology at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference.
Pride In Our Heritage
Founding Publisher: Niall O’Dowd
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Harty Vice President of Marketing: Kate Overbeck Advertising & Events Coordinator & Music Editor: Tara Dougherty Art Director: Marian Fairweather Deputy Editor: Adam Farley
Contributing Editor: Matthew Skwiat Copy Editor: John Anderson
Director of Special Projects: Turlough McConnell Financial Controller : Kevin M. Mangan
Editorial Assistant: Cliodhna Joyce-Daly
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: 212725-2993. Fax: 212-244-3344 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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the first word | By Patricia Harty
Telling It Like It Is
ur cover story on Stephen Colbert’s Irish roots reminds us that with his ascension to the Late Show throne this coming fall, he will be joining a venerable group of Irish-American hosts on late night television, past and present. While today’s audiences are familiar with Conan O’Brien who hosts Conan and Jimmy Fallon who took over from Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, the Irish have been among the most popular “talk” personalities in the medium since the early days of television. These esteemed broadcasters include the very first Tonight Show host, Steve Allen (his mother was a Donoghue), whose show premiered opposite Ed Sullivan’s popular Sunday night variety show. Then there was the one-time king of daytime talk television, Phil Donahue. Later, Rosie O’Donnell’s popular talk show helped seal the notion that the Irish are good at talking or at least good at asking questions. Yet, for all the reputation that we Irish have as great talkers and storytellers, I think of us as a quiet people. In the Ireland I grew up in, so much was communicated with a nod or a wink or a raised eyebrow. People talked in whispers, and it seems to me, looking back, there was a “say nothing to no one” wariness about the place. A sort of subdued battle-weariness from the brutality of centuries of occupation, ending in the brutal civil war that divided the country in two. Censorship was rife, especially during the Troubles. Under Section 31 of the Broadcasting Authority Act, people rather than content were censored. This prevented RTÉ, the national broadcaster, from interviewing Sinn Féin spokespersons on radio or television even when the subject was not related to the conflict. (At least one RTÉ journalist that I know of, Jeannie McKeever, was fired for breaking this rule. She had previously worked for The Irishman newspaper in San Francisco, a forerunner to Irish America.) When Gerry Adams finally got to speak on television on his first trip to the U.S. in 1994, generations of Irish people had never heard his voice before. There was also censorship of movies and newspapers (The News of the World was still, in theory, banned when it ceased publication last year), and of course, books. Some of our best known authors, including John McGahern and Edna O’Brien, fell victim to the aptly named Committee on Evil Literature. Such righteous legislation meant that there was a damping down of the voice of the people by those in power. But there was also a kind of self-censorship that went on – how else to explain the damning silences on abuses of children in industrial homes 8 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
and the treatment of unmarried mothers? Section 31 was in place until 1994. No surprise then that it took an American, George Mitchell, to chair the talks in Northern Ireland which, after some years, finally led to the Good Friday Agreement and the laying down of arms. While more recent times have signaled new social advances in Ireland, there are still silences about dark happenings in the past that need to be broken. For instance, the families of those who disappeared during the Troubles need information, even if it’s just where their relatives are buried. But let’s turn now to the Irish in America. After centuries of learning to hold their tongues, our Irish forebears found their voice in America and used it well. As political reformers, writers, journalists, broadcasters, and union leaders they made their presence felt in a country where freedom of speech was not just a given but was protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. By far the best political satirist in the United States today, Colbert has used his constitutional right to free speech to highlight issues of paramount importance to all of us, and he has never been afraid to speak truth to power. (Google his 2006 performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner for a real treat of humor with guts). We can only hope that Colbert will keep some of the audaciousness of the fictional character he played on the Colbert Report when he takes over The Late Show, broadcasting from the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York in September. As Megan Smolenyak illustrates in her wonderful exploration of Colbert’s roots, there’s a good chance that the ironic humor that Stephen “Tyrone” (so named for his N.I. ancestors) employs to such good measure is inherited from his Irish great-grandfather George Colbert. George converted to Catholicism on his marriage to Angeline Garin, also Irish. As Megan reports, when the wedding provoked a cross-burning in the couple’s yard by anti-Catholics, George calmed his new bride saying, “Let it burn. It sheds a lovely light.” Mortas Cine.
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letters | readers forum
I am very grateful to Shannon Deegan’s father, Brendan, [who introduced] me to this wonderful 118-page well-formatted, highly informative and ethnically-oriented, magazine. All the articles are interesting and stimulating. ABOVE: Shannon I particularly liked [the Deegan (center) with cover article on] Shannon his parents Brendan Deegan, “Hollywood’s and Katie at the Irish Trinity,” and Hamill 2014 Business 100 Awards Luncheon. Honored by Dan Barry. Brendan is responsiKeep up the good work! ble for growing our subscription base.
Jalaluddin S. Hussain Montreal, QC
In “The Point,” our article on the history of two Irish neighborhoods in Montreal, the image of Montreal’s working-class hero Charles “Joe Beef” McKiernan was in fact an image of Louis Cyr (1863 – 1912), a French Canadian strongman who also served as a police officer in Montreal. The image at right is the real Joe Beef. Thank you to Lul Wat, Patrick Neault, Todd D. McFarland, and Kelly for pointing out the error. – I.A.
10 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
Regarding The Lists
I agree wholeheartedly with letter writer, Eileen Flockhart [Oct. / Nov.]. It would be nice to highlight some of the heroes working with the poor and disadvantaged. You might start with Sister Mary Scullion, the daughter of Irish immigrants. She’s doing a marvelous job here in Philadelphia working with the homeless.
Jim Cole Chalfont, PA
I am a long-time reader of Irish America magazine, and a huge fan of your annual Business 100. Have you ever considered a similar list for Irish in the tech industry? As a second-generation Irishman working for a tech company in Boston, I see a lot of exciting work being done by Irish people here – dynamic characters like Trustev’s Pat Phelan and Colm Long at Facebook.
John Lynch Boston, MA
My name is Greg Miller, and I’m writing to tell you about my future father-in-law James Murphy. James was one of the original founders of Gaelic Park on the Southside of Chicago and was born and raised in Mayo, Ireland. His daughter and I will be married this May, and I have never seen him happier than when he found out about it. A few short months after we got engaged he also found out that he has an extremely rare form of
Leukemia that requires a bone marrow transplant. The transplant could be a possible cure for him, and give him the chance to walk my future wife down the aisle. We are organizing a benefit for James Murphy on April 12th at Gaelic Park and all are welcome to join.
Greg Miller, Chicago, IL
ABOVE: James Murphy. TOP: Gaelic Park in Oak Forest, on the south side of Chicago, where the benefit will be held April 12th.
For more information see: joiningtogetherforjames.com
Visit us online at Irishamerica.com to leave your comments, or write to us:
Send a fax (212-244-3344), e-mail (email@example.com) or write to 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.
HOLY LAND PRINCIPLES A vacuum crying out to be filled A Role Waiting For You
The Mac Bride Principles has been the most important campaign ever against anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland. The Holy Land Principles—also launched by Fr. Sean Mc Manus—can do for Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians what the Mac Bride Principles did for Catholics in Northern Ireland. England—NOT GOD—sowed the seeds of partition in both lands: the Balfour Declaration for Palestine (1917) and the Government of Ireland Act (1920). Until Fr. Sean Mc Manus—President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus—launched the Mac Bride Principles on November 5, 1984, the American companies doing business in Northern Ireland were never confronted with their complicity in anti-Catholic discrimination. Incredibly, that obvious domestic and foreign policy nexus, with its powerful economic leverage for good, was missed. Same, too, with the American companies (apart from a few with obvious military-security aspects) doing business in Palestine-Israel ... A vacuum crying out to be filled—and filled by the Holy Land Principles, launched on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012. The Holy Land Principles are a corporate code of conduct for the 546 American companies doing business in Israel-Palestine. The 8-point set of Principles does not call for quotas, reverse discrimination, divestment, disinvestment or boycotts—only American fairness in American companies. The Holy Land Principles are pro-Jewish, pro-Palestinian and pro-company. The Holy Land Principles do not take a position on any particular solution—One State, Two State, etc., etc. The Principles do not try to tell the Palestinians or the Israelis what to do—they only call on American companies in the Holy Land to proudly declare and implement their American values by signing the Holy Land Principles. One hundred sixteen American companies doing business in Northern Ireland have signed the Mac Bride Principles. Can American companies now say: “Catholics in Northern Ireland deserve these principles but Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians do not?” And can fair-minded Americans—companies, consumers, investors and other stakeholders—go along with that? PLEASE SUPPORT OUR SHAREHOLDER RESOLUTIONS Shareholder resolutions are proposals submitted by shareholders for a vote at the company’s annual meeting. Holy Land Principles has three Resolutions filed for 2015 proxy votes: GE—Annual Meeting, April 22; Corning—Annual Meeting, April 29; and Intel—Annual Meeting, May 21, 2015. We need your help to get these Resolutions passed. Please urge investors you may know in these three companies to vote for these three Resolutions filed by Holy Land Principles. ALSO, please email the Investor Relations Contact (IRC), the person who deals with the issue for the companies: GE (firstname.lastname@example.org); Corning (email@example.com); and Intel (firstname.lastname@example.org) urging the company to sign Holy Land Principles. Just address them as “Dear IRC.” WHAT MORE YOU CAN DO Go to HolyLandPrinciples.org—to “Contact Companies,” to the list of companies. See email address list of the Investor Relations (ICRs)—the individuals who deal with the issue for the Companies. Please follow directions and email all the IRCs urging their Company to sign the Holy Land Principles.
MY AMERICAN STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE IN NORTHERN IRELAND ... AND THE HOLY LAND “No one has done more than Fr. Mc Manus to keep the U.S. Congress on track regarding justice in Ireland.” Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY) Chairman, House International Relations Committee
FR. SEAN MC MANUS
CAMPAIGN TO DATE 1. Holy Land Principles campaign was launched by mailing Fr. Mc Manus’ Memoirs, My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland ... And The Holy Land to all the 550 CEOs and 550 IRCs, to all Members of Congress, House and Senate, and to thousands of media. 2. Monthly mailings and emails to all the CEOs and IRCs. 3. Our Pamphlet publications to date are: Why Cisco Should Sign The Holy Land Principles, Why Intel Should Sign Holy Land Principles, Why GE Should Sign the Holy Land Principles, and Why Corning Should Sign Holy Land Principles. These pamphlets contain a Special Report, we commissioned, by the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2): “The first reports of this kind published by Si2 or any other organization.” WE TOLD YOU THERE WAS A VACUUM CRYING OUT TO BE FILLED. 4. Shareholder Resolutions: Filed with Intel, GE, and Corning. With many more to come, like Coca Cola, FedEx, General Motors, Cisco, and so forth.
Holy Land Principles, Inc. • Capitol Hill • P.O. Box 15128, Washington, D.C. 20003-0849 • Tel: (202) 488-0107 Fax: (202) 488-7537 • Email: Sean@HolyLandPrinciples.org • Barbara@HolyLandPrinciples.org Website: www.HolyLandPrinciples.org
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hibernia | news from ireland
otanists at Trinity College Dublin have launched a database that documents significant ‘life events’ for nearly 600 plant species across the globe. Working with like-minded individuals across five continents the team has gathered
data over a near 50-year span. At a time of climate change, the researchers hope their COMPADRE Plant Matrix database will foster collaborations between scientists and allow them to better answer questions like how we can conserve species critical for ecosystem services, which may provide food for billions. – I.A.
N.I. Stalemate Ends A
n 11-week political stalemate at Stormont ended with lastminute talks late in December with Christmas looming. The deadlock stemmed from disagreements over marches and flag-waving policies combined with disputes over a financial assistance package from Westminster that would help curb the impact of welfare cuts in the North. The U.K. government eventually increased its offer of financial assistance to £2 billion that The Belfast Telegraph reported to be in a “mixture of loans and cash,” and was a significant increase from the original offer Prime Minister David Cameron laid out earlier in the month. "I am delighted that a workable agreement has been reached that can allow Northern Ireland to enjoy a brighter, more prosperous future, while at the same time finally being able to deal with its past,” Cameron said in a statement. First Minister Peter Robinson called the deal, which also opens a route for the Northern Irish Executive to take over the North’s corporate tax laws independent of U.K. corporate policy, “monumental.”
Prior to the resolution, several senior U.S. officials, including Irish America Hall of Fame honoree and former congressman Bruce Morrison, sent a letter to Robinson and Deputy Minister Martin McGuinness calling for an end to the posturing. The letter also warned of the effect the stalemate was having on the endurance of the peace process, saying “children growing up without a vision of a shared cross-community future can too easily learn the ways of conflict again,” the Telegraph reported. – Adam Farley
Maurice Harron’s bronze sculpture of two men reaching out to each other in the spirit of reconciliation was unveiled in Derry in 1992, 20 years after Bloody Sunday. “Hands Across the Divide” stands at the west end of Craigavon Bridge in Derry.
The first Irish baby of 2015, Kian Anthony Bourke, arrived at the Rotunda hospital in north Dublin at four seconds past midnight. Throngs gathered in Times Square to ring in 2015 and watch the Waterford Crystal Ball begin its descent at 11:59 New Year’s Eve. Dublin held its inaugural NYE Dublin Festival where 10,000 attended the concert in College Green. As for next year’s celebration, Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar promised “More music, more people, and bigger fireworks.” – I.A. LEFT to RIGHT: Born in Dublin, the first Irish baby of 2015 with parents Jennifer and Karl, and sister Gemma Bourke from Artane. The Waterford Crystal + Philips Lighting Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball in New York. The crowd at College Green. MAGE: SASKO LAZAROV/PHOTOCALL IRELAND
12 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
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The President’s New Year Message
resident Michael D. Higgins’s Christmas New Year message, broadcast from Aras on Uchtairan on December 31, remembered the Irish abroad, those who assist them, and the communities which have welcomed them. Higgins also encouraged those “who may be feeling distressed or lonely to look beyond the long dark nights, to the promise once again, of the dawning light of Spring,” adding that “the story of Bethlehem, of the homeless Joseph and Mary anticipating the birth of their child, is at the heart of this holiday and it invites us to reflect on how we relate to the stranger, the vulnerable in our midst.” He went on to say that Christmas is a season of peace, “a time to recall all that can be achieved through reflection, forgiveness and reconciliation,” and spoke about the “great honor” of being Ireland’s first head of state to pay a state visit to the U.K. “It was an immense privilege and pleasure to be thus able to manifest the friendship between our two peoples, who no longer look at each other with doubtful eyes,” he said. – I.A.
Winter Solstice in Newgrange
she was forced to remain in her car p to 100,000 protesters opposed for three hours, according to The to the introduction of water Irish Independent. charges brought Dublin to a standstill Frustration with the charges is farin December when they rallied outranging, and even the Oscar-winning side the Irish parliament building. Irish musician Glen Hansard came The December 10th protest was the out to perform for the protesters. largest yet in what has become an in“I think there is a general sense of creasingly strife-filled argument beanger, a seething dissatisfaction and tween the Irish government and the taxpayers. The charges, which are mandated by the 2010 E.U. bailout agreement, will mean that the Irish will pay some of the highest rates for water in the E.U. “I don’t believe I should have to pay for water next year ,” I’m just like anyone Protesters rally in Swords County, Ireland one protester told the else,” he told The Irish against a government BBC. “I already pay for Times. plan to tax domestic water as it is through gen- water use. British actor and coeral taxation.” median Russell Brand The immense size of the rally esalso lent his voice to the protest in a calated already high tensions in video posted to YouTube. Dublin, with some protesters throw“We should support the people ing stones and bottles at police who are protesting in Ireland for the lines, resulting in the hospitalization most basic of rights, water,” he said. of one Garda officer and the arrest Although the water charges are set of two protesters. The O’Connell in place for this year, leftwing TD Bridge was blocked for much of the Paul Murphy says he hopes to pass a day, and even Ireland’s Deputy bill to annul the water charges come Prime Minister, Joan Burton, was April. not exempt from the standstill as – Cliodhna Joyce-Daly
here were 30,532 entries for a lottery to experience Winter Solstice 2014 at Newgrange in Co. Meath. Fifty names were drawn, and each of those fifty people were invited along with a guest to gather at dawn (8:58 a.m.) from December 18th to December 23rd. Newgrange is the best known Irish passage tomb and dates to around 3200 B.C. At dawn on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (December 21st) and for a number of days before and after, a shaft of sunlight enters the chamber through an opening in the roof box. To the Neolithic culture of the Boyne Valley, the winter solstice marked the start of the New Year – a sign of nature’s rebirth, promising renewed life to crops, animals and humans. It may also have served as a powerful symbol of the inevitable victory of life over death, perhaps promising new life to the spirits of the dead. Those of you thinking you may want to enter the lottery next year can fill out an application form in Brú Na Bóinne Visitor Centre when you visit Newgrange. If you don’t think you’ll make it to Ireland before the drawing deadline, you can also email your postal address, a contact telephone number, and an indication whether or not you have ever visited Newgrange. Upon receipt, a member of staff will complete an application on your behalf. Applicants must be over 10 years of age and an adult must accompany anyone under 18. Only applications on the official form can be entered into the draw. The drawing for places at Newgrange for Solstice 2015 will take place on September 25, 2015. Children from three local schools will choose the winning applicants. The successful people will be notified by mid October. – I.A. For more information visit: newgrange.com Email: email@example.com
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hibernia | news from ireland
A Danger for Ireland Rising Sea Levels
A storm off the coast of Donegal
n a global warming special on dated, and that doesn’t account for the RTÉ’s environment series Eco Eye, big wash that would come off the experts warned about the catastorm surge and the destruction from strophic dangers of climate change on that.” Ireland. They predicted that rising sea As we went to press, Ireland’s levels would bring significant coastal worst storms in 15 years wreaked damage and the extinction of many havoc on coastal and inland commuplant and animal species, and large nities with devastating floods and areas of country could disappear into gales. the ocean. – Patricia Harty The show’s presenter Duncan Stewart travels to Iceland to investigate how its melting glaciers are contributhe U.S. agreed last year to lift the ban on Irish ing to the rise in sea beef. The ban had been in place for 16 years, levels. following a Europe-wide ban in the late 1990s Dr. Barry Dwyer, an due to an outbreak of Bovine spongiform enenvironmental scientist cephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. with the Coastal MaIreland is the first country in the European Union rine Research Centre at to regain access to the U.S. beef market and the rethe Irish Naval Headaction in Ireland is one of jubilation. “This is a huge quarters, said that two prize, given the size of the market and the demand percent of Dublin we know exists there for premium grass-fed beef,” could be swallowed by said Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture Simon the sea, along with Coveney, speaking on Irish radio. Ireland’s beef exmore than three percent ports to the U.S. may total at least 50 million euro of northern counties. ($59.6 million) to 100 million euro this year, with “The big problem is the potential for shipments “to go way beyond that storm surges that we in the future,” he added. have in Ireland with Drought and rising feed prices have had a severe sea level rises, and then effect on U.S. beef production. According to the U.S. add another storm Department of Agriculture, U.S. cattle numbers are at surge on top of that and their lowest point since 1951, making Irish beef comthat becomes a twopetitive in the North American market. – I.A. meter storm surge,” Dwyer said. “In the more northerly counties we are looking at up to 3.5 percent of the entire land area being inun-
U.S. Lifts Ban on Irish Beef
A curious cow in Co. Mayo
14 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
News in Brief
Father Martin Dolan, a priest at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra in Francis Street in Dublin's city for 15 years, came out as gay to his parishioners during a Sunday Mass in early January while calling for same-sex marriage equality in advance of the country’s May referendum on the issue. He received a standing ovation from his parishioners. The Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who has been critical of the church himself, has declined to comment. Researchers at Maynooth University have reached a breakthrough in the fight against diabetes. They have identified a protein called Pellino3 which may block inflammation and hence ward off type 2 diabetes. The National Library of Ireland announced plans in January to digitize almost 400,000 microfilm images of Catholic parish registries and make them available to the public for free. The project is the most ambitious undertaking NLI has ever taken and is arguably the greatest contribution to genealogical research ever made by an Irish institution. Geneticists at Trinity College Dublin have made a major breakthrough with important implications for understanding the evolution of genomes in a variety of organisms. They found a mechanism that explains how gene duplication leads to novel functions in individuals. Gene duplication is a frequent phenomenon in eukaryotic organisms (which safeguard their genetic material within cell membranes), including yeast, plants, and animals. But understanding how duplication leads to biological innovation is difficult because evolution cannot be easily traced, since it occurs on timescales in the order of millions of years. Recent figures released by the Immigrant Council of Ireland for the 2014 year reveal that incidents of racism in Ireland have more than doubled. The report found that there were 217 reported cases filed, up from 144 in 2013. The statistics reveal that 76 percent of the perpetrators were Irish and that a majority of the victims were of an African background. Ten percent of the incidents reported were physical, with verbal abuse being the most common. IA
N O W AVA I L A B L E F O R P U R C H A S E : Fa min e Fo liosâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;fo u r e s s ays by distinguished scholars & ar t historians Luke Gibbons | Christine Kinealy Catherine Marshall I Niamh Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Sullivan
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Hop Into Dublin
Is there a better way to take in Ireland’s capital than sitting back with coffee on a hop-on hop-off coach tour while a great Irish storyteller fills you in on the history? By Kate Hickey
nlike many major cities Dublin is small, but perfectly formed, with its center measuring just over 44 square miles. The first settlement on the site dates back to prehistoric times. Tales of battles, revolts, literature and the development of the city flow from the Vikings and High Kings right through to the Georgian period and continue today. Dublin is alive with stories about its every nook and cranny, which is good, because the one thing us Irish love to do is tell stories. A new service on the streets of Dublin is CityScape luxury hopon hop-off bus tours. The group has a fleet of coaches on the move with 14 tour guides, all with different interests and tales to tell, along their 28-stop route. The tour runs from Phoenix Park on the north side of the Liffey to Ballsbridge in the south, and with so many stops and different guides and historians to learn from, you won’t need to book any other guide of the city. I spent a cozy afternoon on one of the CityScape buses last December, and as the winter chill filled the air and Dubliners went about their everyday business I was transported in the lap of luxury. With a piping hot coffee provided on board, I listened to tour guide Terry Quigley talk about his Dublin. A native of the Liberties, in Dublin’s city center, Quigley is a history student at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. His passion for history and the city where he was born and bred had me rapt for
almost three hours as we drove the circuit of the city. What a treat, as a native Dubliner, to be entertained with these stories, hidden gems of history, many of which I’d never come across before. Our guide seemed to know stories about every mysterious hideaway in the city. Aside from a rich knowledge of the main tourist attractions and understanding of the characters and events that shaped Dublin, what I thoroughly enjoyed were the forgotten and hidden gems our tour guide imparted. Heading towards the Guinness Storehouse, named after the area of Dublin called St. James’s Gate, Terry pointed out the presbytery of St. James’s Church, where pilgrims would have their cards stamped to signify the start of the trail to Camino de Santiago, Spain. He told us “In the Middle Ages 20,000 people a year used to de-
16 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
part from Ireland to go to Santiago. Of course if you are wealthy enough you would have your servant do the pilgrimage for you and you would reap all of the spiritual rewards.” The church still performs this service today. Driving along the north quays of the River Liffey, he told us about the wealthiest Cistercian Abbey in Ireland, St. Mary’s Abbey, now buried deep beneath the Capel Street area. “You go downstairs, about two meters, into the old Chapter House,” he told us. “What you’re really doing is going two meters through 800 years of history.” Where the King’s council met and Silken Thomas declared rebellion, the abbey remained until after the Reformation when the stones in the buildings were used to build up the quays of the river and even build a bridge, where Grattan Bridge stands.
LEFT: The Wellington Memorial in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. TOP: Historical reenactment performers with the new CityScape bus. ABOVE: Christ Church Cathedral. RIGHT: A glimpse of Dublin’s famed Georgian architecture.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF CITYSCAPE
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Moving down the river, we hit the financial and tech hub of the city, where modern glass buildings line the Liffey, housing international brands and tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter call home. As we crossed the river our guide reminded us that there has been human settlement on this land since 6000 B.C. Terry said, “Along the quays were found fish baskets, which are like woven nets, preserved perfectly in the mud and silt and they dated back to Mesolithic times, 6000 B.C. They were hunter gatherers, they moved around, they didn’t farm – they hunted and fished. They must have fished here along the sand flats. It’s just nice to remember that as you’re walking through the city.” As our tour guide said, exploring Dublin past and present is “like peeling back the layers of an onion to see how the city has developed.” The variety among CityScape’s tour guides means that every time you get on a bus you’re bound to hear a new story. The guides come from backgrounds as varied as archaeology, thatching, acting, music, history, sports, journalism, and others. “That’s the fun of it,” says Aoife Dunphy, a spokeswoman for the tour group. “You can get on and off the bus over three days and never hear the same stories twice. There’s just so much to learn.” CityScape prides itself on bring-
ing the traditional art of storytelling in Ireland to the tour guide business. The tour guides have been specifically trained as storytellers, with tales from numerous sources, events, and oral histories. The result is a fascinating and entertaining collection of tales offering little-known glimpses into the history of Dublin and its present day. From prehistoric settlements to Viking invasion, Dublin’s architecture, colorful locals, the Great Hunger, the Easter Rising, the good, the bad and the ugly, our tour gave us a picture of the many layers of history that make Dublin so special. Of course the city’s not all about old history, and the guides also know what’s going on about town. They will point out great spots for a bite to eat, what exhibitions are on, where to stop for a pint and any upcoming events that cosmopolitan Dublin has to offer. On a bright winter afternoon we picked up tourists, business people, and some resident Irish along for the ride as we drove through a magical winter wonderland of Dublin. All the while I simply sat back and enjoyed the stories and banter along the way. The flexible three-day hop-on hop-off tickets allow visitors to explore the city in depth. Currently CityScape is also running a deal that includes a free night at the dog races, 30 percent off a tour of the five-year-old Aviva stadium and one euro off entry to the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction. Stopping at top tourist attractions, historic monuments, the main thoroughfares of the city and near most major hotels, their route takes in the key vacation mustsees and some local secrets too. Starting off at Kilmainham Jail just south of the Liffey where many Irish revolutionaries were interned and executed, we traveled across the river and out of the city
center towards Phoenix Park, Europe’s largest city public park and home to the U.S. Ambassador’s residence and Dublin Zoo and home to Ireland’s President. Heading back into the city along the north bank of the river, our tour passed Collins Barracks, now home to the National Museum of Ireland, and the Jameson Distillery, along towards Parnell Square, the Garden of Remembrance and the Irish Writers’ Museum. Heading south we passed the General Post Office (GPO) and O’Connell Street then passing the stunning Custom House and Ireland’s International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) on our way to the relatively new neighborhood of Grand Canal Docks and on to the Aviva Stadium in Ballsbridge and the Royal Dublin Society (RDS). From the area of Dublin 4 and reentering Dublin 2, the tour brought us from Victorian Dublin back into the Georgian elegance of Merrion Square along to Ireland’s government buildings and museums on Kildare Street. Then it was back to Dame Street, past Trinity and on to Viking Dublin and to St James Gate, home of Guinness. The tour passes too many of Dublin’s highlights to mention but with 28 stops on the route, there are more than enough of them to keep you entertained for your three-day hop-on hop-off adventure in Dublin. IA Exclusive online offer! Irish America readers will receive a further 15% off ticket price by entering promo code:
when booking online at www.cityscapetours.ie
FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015 IRISH AMERICA 17
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hibernia | irish eye on hollywood
By Tom Deignan
The Irish had another strong showing at the Sundance Film Festival in late January, with a number of films expected to come to the U.S. with rave reviews. Perhaps the most highly anticipated is Brooklyn, which had its world premiere at the world-famous Utah festival organized by screen legend Robert Redford. Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson and was directed by John Crowley (Intermission, Boy A). It is based on Colm Tóibín’s acclaimed novel of the same name. In the film, Ronan stars as a young Irish immigrant in 1950’s New York who is torn between a lover in New York and family responsibilities back in Ireland. There is no official U.S release date for Brooklyn just yet. Either way, Saoirse Ronan had a busy Sundance fest. She also starred in the Sundance drama Stockholm, FROM TOP: Denis Pennsylvania, about a Leary (left) with the teenager who vanished cast of Sex&Drugs& only to be reunited with Rock&Roll. ABOVE: Domhnall her parents almost 20 Gleeson with Saoirse years later. Cynthia Ronan in Brooklyn. Nixon (Sex and the LEFT: Jamie Dornan in a scene from 50 City) also stars, as the Shades of Grey. teen’s grieving mother.
As television dramas become more prestigious, Irish acting talent continues to flock to both cable and network shows. We already know that, this year, Irish American cable-drama veteran Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”) will unveil his new show about an aging rock star called Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. The comedy-drama will be on the FX network and will also star John Corbett (Sex and the City) and another Irish American comic Bobby Kelly. Meanwhile, Colin Farrell will star alongside Vince Vaughn in the next season of HBO’s drama True Detective. The chilling first season (starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) earned raves and spooked audiences with its gritty portrait of New Orleans’ gruesome underworld. Joining Farrell in the new season will be Tralee-born star Timothy V. Murphy, best known to TV audiences for roles in Criminal Minds, NCIS: LA, Sons of Anarchy, and the Irish show Glenroe. Finally, the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, starring Bob Odenkirk as sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman, will also feature Tipperary native and Walking Dead star Kerry Condon.
As for the big screen, Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan gambled when he took on the starring role in the erotic thriller 50 Shades of Grey, which hits screens in February. At one point Dornan feared devoted fans of the books might hate the movie so much they would murder him “like John Lennon.” With 50 Shades behind him, Dornan is not resting on his good looks or his bondage equipment. He’s currently filming two movies; the first (as yet untitled) features A-listers such as Bradley Cooper, Emma Thompson, Siena Miller and Uma Thurman about a chef (Cooper) who sets out to dominate the world of highend restaurants. Dornan is also filming The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, a smaller-scale project also starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul. Dornan plays a doctor examining a young boy who nearly died, and whose brief life seems to contain an inordinate number of coincidences.
18 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
Another Irish flick earning plaudits at Sundance was Glassland, starring Irish actor Jack Reynor (What Richard Did, Transformers: Age of Extinction) as well as Toni Collette. Directed by Kerry native Gerard Barrett, Glassland is a dark look at a taxi driver driven to desperation to save his mother from a harrowing addiction. Another Irish film screened at Sundance was The Hallow, a supernatural flick set in both London and Ireland, about a scientist from England who traipses to Ireland to study an ancient forest believed by locals to be populated by demons.
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Two up-and-coming Irish stars recently received praise and are poised to have strong years in 2015. Dublin actor Emmett Scanlan was tabbed an “International Star You Should Know” by Variety magazine. The 35 year-old Emmet starred alongside Jamie Dornan in the BBC drama The Fall (available in the U.S. on Netflix). Scanlan told Variety that the classic American movie Rocky turned him onto acting. “I remember being a kid watching the movie by myself in the living room,” he said. “Right then, I knew I wanted to do what Stallone did. I wanted to act.” Scanlan even played an Irish bare-knuckle boxer in the 2009 film Once Upon a Time in Dublin. Scanlan also had a role in the 2014 hit Guardians of The Galaxy and will next be seen playing a haunted hitman in the film Breakdown. He will also appear in the April biblical TV series A.D. (More on that later.) Meanwhile, Waterford native Moe Dunford is earning raves for his searing portrayal of a schizophrenic in Patrick’s Day. Dunford was selected as one of 2015’s European Shooting Stars, an honor previously nabbed by acclaimed Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson as well as former James Bond Daniel Craig. Dunford has appeared in the TV series Vikings, but his turn in Terry McMahon’s Patrick’s Day (which shared Best Irish Feature honors at the Galway Film Fleadh with the aforementioned Glassland) opened many eyes on the cinematic scene. “Moe’s physicality and sly charm first drew us to him – the ingredients of a modern-day Hollywood hero – but his work in Patrick’s Day sealed the deal,” the European Shooting Stars jury declared. “As schizophrenic Patrick, he shows compassion and subtlety always putting the character first, never letting Patrick’s issues overwhelm the performance.”
As these up-and-comers earn attention, Irish film veterans are also holding their own. Kenneth Branagh goes big once again behind the camera with his latest directorial feature Cinderella. The most recent version of the fairy tale hits theaters on March 13, and stars Lily James as the title character, along with Cate Blanchett and Richard Madden. Branagh, meanwhile, will soon be seen in the latest installment of the BBC detective drama Wallander, written by fellow Northern Irishman Ronan Bennet. Wallander seasons have traditionally been shown in the U.S. on public television and can also be accessed via Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services.
TOP: Meath native and former James Bond actor, Pierce Brosnan. ABOVE: Monaghanborn Charlene McKenna, who stars in the New Roma Downey biblical series, A.D.
Pierce Brosnan also has two new movies
on the way. First up is The Coup, opening March 6, also starring Lake Bell and Owen Wilson. The Coup is an action thriller about a businessman who moves with his family to a new country just in time for a violent government overthrow, leaving all foreigners vulnerable to execution. Then, in April, Brosnan appears in The Moon and the Sun, playing French King Louis XIV, in a film based on the novel of the same name by Vonda N. McIntyre. Set to open April 10, the mind-bending sci-fi flick also stars William Hurt, Kaya Scodelario, Benjamin Walker and Paul Ireland (who is actually Scottish) and revolves around the king’s quest for eternal life. The Sun and the Moon is directed by celebrated children’s movie and TV director (not to mention Irish American) Sean Patrick McNamara.
Also in March, Irish actors Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Michelle Fairley join an impressive cast which also includes Chris Hemsworth for Ron Howard’s latest epic In the Heart of the Sea. The film is set in the early 1820s, and explores the crew of the whaling ship The Essex, which was rammed by a whale while out at sea, forcing the crew to fend for themselves under life-threatening circumstances. It is believed that the tragedy of The Essex is what inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick.
Finally, Roma Downey’s forthcom-
ing biblical series A.D. (set to premiere in April) is a very Irish affair. Aside from Downey’s contribution as producer (following the smash success of the TV series The Bible as well as the movie spinoff Son of God), Irish acting talent slated to appear in A.D. includes Emmet Scanlon as well as Monaghan native Charlene McKenna (who won an Irish Film and Television Award for her performance in Raw) and Vincent Regan, whose parents were born in Ireland. Irish talent behind the camera working on A.D. includes director Ciaran Donnelly (Titanic: Blood and Steel). IA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015 IRISH AMERICA 19
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hibernia | spotlight
t the Golden Globes in January, Michael Keaton took home the Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy prize for Birdman, beating out two other actors
Khloe Kardashian Rocks Irish Design K hloe Kardashian looked fierce wearing a Theia gown at the Golden Globes E! Entertainment after party. The dress from Theia’s spring 2015 collection featured a turtleneck halter bodice in black crepe with a duchess satin waist band and circle chiffon skirt with a thigh-high slit. The collection is a manifestation of Kerryborn, New York-based designer Don O'Neill’s vision to “bring out every woman’s inner goddess.” O'Neill also dressed Carrie Underwood at the 2013 Grammys and Oprah Winfrey at the 2012 Oscars. – I.A.
(Dominic West, Paddy Considine). The film is set during the 1984 miners’ strike in England and explores the unlikely bond that formed between union members and gays and lesbian activists who raised money for them. Also earning several BAFTA nods was the gripping Northern Ireland film '71, about a British soldier who gets separated from his unit and must navigate a hostile Catholic Michael Keaton, Imelda neighborhood on his Staunton, and Bill Murray. own. '71 was nominated Nominations for the with Irish ties – Chicagofor Outstanding British British Film and Televiborn Bill Murray, and Film as well as Outstandsion Awards were also Ralph Fiennes, who was ing Debut by a British announced in January, born in England but raised Writer, Director or Proand nominees with Irish in Ireland. ducer. Fittingly, '71 star ties included (again) St. Vincent (starring Mur- Keaton and Fiennes as Jack O'Connell (whose ray as well as fellow Irish well as Imelda Staunton, father is from Kerry) was American Melissa Mcwhose parents were born nominated for an EE RisCarthy) was also nominated in Mayo. Staunton starred ing Star Award. for Best Motion Picture – Tom Deignan in the film Pride with Musical or Comedy. other Irish talent Dominic West (who attended Trinity College after his Irish parents he beloved Irish Repertory Theatre on moved to England) was In the meantime, the IRT has found a temWest 22nd Street in Manhattan has been nominated for Best Actor porary home at the DR2 Theatre for its 27th all but hammered to bits – but not for in a TV Drama, and West’s season to showcase the best Irish classic and series The Affair (on Show- long! Breaking ground in September 2014, the contemporary works. Hugh Leonard’s Tony Irish Rep has begun the massive rehabilitation time) won the Golden Award-winning Da began its run on January Globe for Best TV Drama. of its iconic location in New 22nd. Set in Dublin in the York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Irish American Gillian 1960s, the play explores the The Irish Rep has brought Flynn was also nominated complexities of family life and over 150 productions to its for a Golden Globe in the loss as middle-aged writer stage since opening in 1995, Best Screenplay category Charlie returns to his boyhood for writing the script based but it was always a tight fit. The home and his ghostly ennew space promises a state-ofon her best-selling book counter there. – Tara Dougherty the-art facility. In addition to Gone Girl. Meanwhile, Oscar nomi- adding a balcony, more bathDa plays through March 22 at nations gave Keaton a Best rooms, and knocking down the DR2 Theatre (103 E. 15th St. some walls, the theatre will Actor nod while Fiennes’s For tickets call 212-727-2737 or boast new LED stage lighting movie Grand Budapest visit irishrep.org. and sound systems. Hotel was nominated for Best Picture, and the thoughtful animated Irish film Song of the Sea also received a nomination in the Best Animated Feature Film category.
Irish Rep Stages Da at New Home
20 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY/ MARCH 2015
PHOTO COURTESY OF KHLOE KARDASHIAN'S INSTAGRAM.
Golden Globe Moments and Oscar Nominations
M ARY PAT K ELLY M ARY PAT K ELLY T OUR.COM for tour details
IT’S 1903. Nora Kelly, twenty-four, is talented, outspoken, progressive, and climbing the ladder of opportunity, until she falls for an attractive but dangerous man who sends her running back to Paris. There she stumbles into the centuries-old Collège des Irlandais and meets a good-looking scholar, an unconventional priest, and Ireland’s revolutionary women who challenge Nora to honor her Irish blood and join the struggle to free Ireland.
“Of Irish Blood is a riveting novel that brings the heroines of the Irish Revolution to vivid life…a great read and a wonderful addition to every Irish-American’s library.” —PATRICIA HARTY, Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Irish America Magazine
“Captures the drama, the turmoil, and the excitement of the complex history of Irish and Irish Americans in the early twentieth century...and illuminates the arduous task of finding one’s true self in the heart of a whirlwind.” —MARY GORDON, award-winning author of The Company of Women
“Kelly is a wonderful, creative, intelligent writer who’s endowed with a sense of humor.” —MALACHY MCCOURT, New York Times bestselling author of A Monk Swimming
“A passionately told tale of romance and revolution...Irresistable.” —PETER QUINN, Winner of the American Book Award for Banished Children of Eve
Visit the author online at MaryPatKelly.com FOLLOW US on Twitter and Facebook // tor-forge.com GET FREE EXCERPTS when you sign up for the free Tor/Forge monthly newsletter GET UPDATES about your favorite Forge authors when you sign up for Author Updates
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hibernia | news from irish america
Irish Win Smarter Planet Challenge
project using smart technology to help the plight of the humble honey bee has won a global competition for Irish students at University College Cork against challengers from MIT/Boston University (2nd) and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (3rd). The students created an energy-neutral smart beehive for the IEEE /IBM Smarter Planet Challenge 2014. The competition organizers asked students worldwide to come up with an innovative solution to a grand challenge facing their community. The UCC pilot project uses big data, mobile technology, wireless sensor networks and cloud computing to look at the impact of carbon dioxide, oxygen, temperature, humidity, chemical pollutants and air-
O’Malley Stay of Execution
borne dust levels on bees also protect it, as L-R: Lily Pinson, Fiona Edwards the honey bees, using team leader Fiona EdMurphy, Katie solar panels for an enwards Murphy says Hetherington, ergy neutral operation. UCC President Dr “Honey bees are viThe energy neutral cious when protecting Michael Murphy, Liam O’Leary and smart beehive, curtheir hive, including Killian Troy. rently in its first pilot our data!” phase, can auThe students’ tonomously monitor research will also the activity of the bee colony allow bee keepers to monitor and conditions within the beetheir hives at times hive. The data, stored in an acthat were previously difficult tive beehive, is protected or impossible such as during through traditional methods inthe night, heavy rain, or in the cluding cryptography, but the depths of winter. – P.H.
As Grand Marshal of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will have the honor of leading the first group of LGBT marchers under their own banner this March 17th. He welcomed the decision by the parade committee to allow OUT@NBCUniversal, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource group to march, saying he prayed “that the parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us.” – I.A.
Protesting the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.
Dolan ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES
22 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
aryland governor Martin O’Malley announced late December that he would commute the execution sentence of the last four death row inmates in the state. O’Malley, a Democrat who is wrapping up his second term in
office and is considered a frontrunner for the 2016 presidential elections (if he runs), said, “in my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland – present or future.” O’Malley’s decision comes after the state legislature voted to repeal the death penalty in 2013, which was later signed into law by O’Malley. – M.S.
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IACI Gifts Irish Collection to Great Hunger Museum
he Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University recently received over 4,000 books, historical documents and rare first editions, from the Irish American Cultural Institute. Professor Christine Kinealy, director of the Great Hunger Institute said of the gift, “We are delighted that the Irish American Cultural Institute has chosen the Great Hunger Institute to act as stewards of their wonderful collection...We see this donation as the beginning of a wonderful partnership between the two Institutes.” Since its founding in 1962, the Irish American Cultural Institute has been a beacon of cultural, educational, and artistic initiatives in both America and Ireland. Dr. Halas, IACI’s chairman, said he, along with his fellow organization members were, “pleased and excited to join Quinnipiac University and the Great Hunger Institute in a mission to promote and appreciate Irish History with the donation of our library.” The acquisition also includes a complete collection of the academic journal Eire-Ireland and countless collections of historical and anthropological works. – M.S.
Accolades for Ward’s Irish Music Archives
ollowing the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History, the Sheet music Ward Irish Music Archives, the largest for an Irish WWI anthem. public collection of Irish music in America, is receiving national attention again this year. The Association of College Research Libraries posted a positive review of the archives in the organization’s December 2014 issue. J. G. Matthews, of Washington State University Library, wrote: “Online since October 2013, this incredible archive of Irish sheet music makes freely available high-quality digitized images of public domain print music held by the Ward Irish Music Archives in Milwaukee, WI. The collection includes music published from approximately 1750 to the present. Irish American content is particularly strong. The browsing interface is remarkably easy to use and allows one to search by a number of facets, including instrumentation, music in the public domain, subject, and place of publication, to name a few. In addition, the archive provides a growing selection of “galleries” focusing on thematic groupings of sheet music; these galleries feature brilliantly designed landing pages containing useful contextual information about the topic as well as links to relevant sheet music. Users have access to information about approximately 5,000 pieces of Irish music, but they have full access only to those items published before 1923. Music published since that year remains under copyright. Even so, the archive provides invaluable metadata about copyrighted material, along with information about how to procure high-resolution copies of these currently undigitized items for a fee. “This archive’s design is consistently elegant, uncluttered, and richly illustrated. The potential for such a resource is enormous: scholars of 19th century visual culture, printing, publishing, illustration, design, techhe Shannon Gaels GAA Club in New York clubs in the United States. nology, and history – is one step closer to building its field of “This funding will particularly benefit the as well as music perdreams – a children’s playing field in Frank younger Shannon Gaels members and enformers, composers, Golden Park in College Point, New York. courage their ongoing participation in and historians – are In January, Minister for the Diaspora Gaelic games. This grant recognizes the richly served by this Jimmy Deenihan, TD announced that the strong links between GAA clubs abroad archive. Whereas onIrish government will give €250,000 to deand the Irish communities in which they are line resources such as velop the site. The GAA has also received based. I also welcome and appreciate the Comhaltas provide €45,000 in funding under the Emigrant Supstrong support this initiative received at free access to Irish port Programme for the Global Games Decommunity and city levels in New York.” sheet music, no other velopment Fund which supports GAA Sean Price, Chairman of Shannon Gaels, site offers the visual projects abroad. A total of 22 projects agreed, saying, “The young people of and historical scope of around the world from Montreal to Myanmar Shannon Gaels club, as well as children of the Ward archive. This were supported durIrish heritage all over resource possesses ing 2014 under the New York, will benevalue and relevance far program. fit enormously from beyond its scope, beDeenihan said he this grant in the comcause in addition to was “delighted to ing years. Today’s anbeing an invaluable announce a contrinouncement is a source for Irish music, bution towards the huge vote of confithe site sets a precedent redevelopment of dence in Shannon for online archive dethe facilities for the Gaels GAA Club, its sign and functionality.” Shannon Gaels, members and their – I.A. Members of the Shannon Gaels which is one of the dreams.” – P.H. GAA Club playing Gaelic football. fastest growing GAA
Shannon Gaels: Field of Dreams
FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015 IRISH AMERICA 23
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hibernia | news from irish america
The Abbey: 110 Years, 110 Moments
n a fitting public tribute to Lady Gregory’s call for the Abbey Theatre “to bring upon the stage the deeper thoughts and emotions of Ireland,” the theater spent all of 2014 collecting memories from its own archives and audience members alike. The Abbey Theatre officially celebrated its 110th anniversary December 27th, the same date that 110 years prior saw the first performance on Ireland’s national stage.
energy of theatre as an art-form. We also invited our audiences to share their experiences and we were overwhelmed by their warm response.” In addition to the 110 moments curated by the Abbey and displayed on a timeline inside the theater (photo at left) over 150 moments have been collected online and in person by the public on hand-written cards. The curated timeline can also be seen online at abbeytheatre.ie.
John McDermott Golf Hall of Famer
ohn McDermott is finally getting his due over a hundred years after he became the first American to win the U.S. Open national golf championship. Winning at the age of 19, he also remains the youngest golfer to do so. After winning the 1910 Philadelphia Open, the 1911 U.S. Open, the 1911 Philadelphia Open, the 1912 U.S. Open, the 1913 Philadelphia Open, the 1913 Western Open, the 1913 Shawnee invitational, “Our anniversary was and being the first American a perfect opportunity to to place among the leadexplore the Abbey Theers of the British Open, atre Archive and revisit McDermott (right) was key moments in our histhe best American tory,” Abbey archivist golfer, on his way to Mairéad Delaney said. being the best in the “In setting out on the world. 110 Moments camBut after these triumphs, paign, we sought to capMcDermott had an undiagnosed – Adam Farley ture the spirit and nervous breakdown and didn’t play in a tournament after 1914, though he continued to play quietly until his clubs were stolen. In and out of asylums for the rest of his life, he attended the 1971 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania just weeks before his death. When Hollywood put The Greatest Game on the silver screen, McDermott is wrongfully and rudely portrayed as a stereotypical Mick There are still spots left to share – a tall, gangly red-haired buffoon with a your own Abbey moments on mustache. And that’s how it seemed he the public board in the theater. would be remembered until Pete Trenham, PHOTOS: MONIKA CHMIELARZ / ABBEY THEATRE John Burnes, and Jeff Gold stepped up to the tee and took some swings for him. On the 100th anniversary of his tremendous feats on October 9 last year, McDermott was posthumously inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall he British broadcaster Channel 4 University, reflected on the legacy of the of Fame, an honor that was accepted plans to create a sitcom based on a Famine and its relevance in today’s by Jim Faser, whose family owned the script by Irish writer Hugh Travers. global world, writing, “Hunger and Atlantic City Country Club where McHunger centers on the Irish Famine and famine exist in many parts of the world Dermott was the pro. Pete Trenham has become a lightening rod of controtoday. Viewing them helped dedicate the plaque. versy. While the proposed production is through a prism of Travers – Bill Kelly still in its infancy and no one has yet to comedy is not only kellysgolfhistory.blogspot.com see a finished product, many prominent insulting, it is disin-
Hunger: Tragedy, Comedy, or Both? T historians, politicians, and social media talking heads have attacked the sitcom unconscionable for making light of a catastrophic event in Irish history, an event that still reverberates in Irish today. In The Irish Times, Tim Pat Coogan, author of The Famine Plot, likened it to a comedy about the Holocaust during WWII, saying his reaction was one of “dismay.” Christine Kinealy, director of the Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac 24 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
genuous and ideologically dangerous.” A petition is making the rounds at Change.org to protest the sitcom and currently has over 30,000 signatures. But the show has its supporters too. Travers stands behind his work, telling the Times, “I don't want to do anything that denies the suffering that people went
through, but Ireland has always been good at black humor.” Irish comedian Dave Savage stands behind it too, telling the BBC, “The idea of not being able to talk about the Famine through comedy is bonkers...Comedy is tragedy plus time. The famine was a tragedy but enough time has passed.”
– Matthew Skwiat
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history & art | hibernia
Glucksman Ireland House NYU’s Annual Gala
ward-winning writer Peter Quinn and McGraw Hill financial executive Ted Smyth will receive the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts & Letters and the Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leadership, respectively, at Glucksman Ireland House NYU’s annual gala dinner on February 24th. Gala co-chairs Loretta Brennan Glucksman and Mary Shanahan will present the awards at NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life. Renowned historian and journalist Peter Quinn Terry Golway will act as Master of Ceremonies at the Gala, which promises to welcome many highly celebrated New Yorkers. Peter Quinn is an acclaimed New York journalist, novelist, essayist, editor, and script writer. His novel Banished Children of Eve won a 1995 American Book Award. He cowrote the script for the documentary “McSorley’s New York,” which earned an Emmy. Colum McCann has called his trilogy of historical detective novels Hour of the Cat, The Man Who Never Returned, and Dry Bones “generous and agile and profound.” Ted Smyth is global head of Marketing, Communications, and Government Affairs at McGraw Hill Financial, whose brands include Standard & Poor’s. He was Chief Administrative Officer of H.J. Heinz and previously an Irish diplomat, serving in the United States, Britain, Geneva, and Portugal. He served on
the New Ireland Forum, which established nationalist consensus for the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The Seamus Heaney Award for Arts & Letters is awarded in memory of the late Nobel Laureate who was the honored guest at Glucksman Ireland House NYU’s Gala in 2013 and a great champion of its dynamic programs. The Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leadership is awarded in memory of the co-founder of Glucksman Ireland House NYU, whose legacy lives on through the teaching, learning, and research at Glucksman Ireland House NYU. – I.A. For further information on the gala, please contact Miriam Nyhan, Glucksman Ireland House NYU, (212) 998-3953 and firstname.lastname@example.org
The Things They Carried
hat more fascinatingly intimate look into the lives of soldiers of WWI than a glimpse into the tokens they brought with them to battle from home? Housed at the Imperial War Museum in London, the First World War Galleries are an extensively curated look at one of the darkest times in human history. Paul Cornish’s book, named for the galleries, dives into the treasures and at times the painful realities of WWI and the soldiers who fought it. The luck charms carried by some soldiers have made their way to the Imperial War Museum. Many items featured in Cornish’s book were made of materials specific to a soldier’s homeland, a true piece of home. This perhaps was most true of the Irish soldiers, many of whom carried charms made from Irish materials such as small hearts carved from Connemara marble or figurines made of Irish bog-oak. Other trinkets like the four-leaf clover pictured below suggest an Irish heritage as well, though its owner is unknown. The charms were collected during and after the war by British folklorist Edward Lovett, who had an affinity for charms, investigating their uses to cure illness or attract good or even bad luck. He was most interested in tracking how and to what extent country folklore had carried into working-class areas of his hometown of London. Working in a bank by day, Lovett gathered the would-be artifacts in his spare time. In addition to the amulets carried durFROM TOP: Connemara mar- ing the war, the First ble boot charm, World War Galleries carried by an Irish soldier (Catalogue at the Imperial War #EPH 4892). Lucky pig Museum house a charm carved out of Irish wealth of archives, inbog-oak (EPH 3473). Marble four-leaf clover cluding film footage, lucky charm belonging to oral histories, photoan unknown soldier (EPH 3464). A small graphs, and personal heart-shaped Connemara documents and corremarble charm carried by spondence. an Irish soldier – Tara Dougherty (EPH 4895). All Images © IWM.
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hibernia | By Sarah Buscher
Project Children Draws to a Close
TOP: Denis Mulcahy (center) with Padraig O’Hara, of Newton Abbey, and his host brother Matthew Savage Aibel. CENTER: William Crawley. ABOVE: Patricia MacBride.
roject Children’s 40th anniversary celebration in Washington D.C. in September brought to a close an important chapter in Northern Ireland’s struggle for peace. For decades, this all-volunteer organization has been bringing children from both sides of the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland to spend the summer with a family in the United States as a respite from violence of the Troubles, but last summer was the final program. The organization was founded in 1975 by Denis Mulcahy, a member of the New York Police Department Bomb Squad. After watching too many news accounts of violence, the Cork native reasoned that if Protestant and Catholic children could spend time together in an environment that was not toxic with war, they would be less likely as adults to hurl bombs at each other, and Project Children was born. That first summer, he and his wife Miriam brought six children, three Protestant and three Catholic, to spend the summer with them in their home in New York State. Since then, the program has brought 22,000 children from Northern Ireland to spend the summer with 1,500 host families in the United States. William Crawley, now an award-winning journalist and broadcaster for the BBC, spent the summer of 1979 with a Catholic family in New York. “It was more than a summer of peace for me, it was a lifetime change,” he recalled. “I was right in the middle of the killing zones in North Belfast during the Troubles. I would cycle past bombs going off. I had an alcoholic father. I had a mother who worked three jobs as a cleaner. I had never been out of Belfast. “The first night I got to the home I was staying in, I shared a room with a little boy who was the same age as me. These were the first Catholics I had ever met in my life. That night, the father, Frank came in, and before he turned the light out, he put the mark of the cross on his son’s forehead and then put it on mine. I couldn’t ever remember being touched by my father. The mother was a primary school teacher and she taught me the importance of education. I was the first kid in my family ever to go to university. I went to Princeton and eventually got a Ph.D. I worked for the BBC. I became a philosophy professor. I don’t think any of that could have happened without the intervention that I got that summer. It enabled me to see that there was a possibility beyond what I had.” Patricia MacBride spent the summers of 1985 and 1986 in New Jersey. “It was a very difficult time for my family,” she recalled. “Just before Christmas, before that summer of 1985, I had lost
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my brother in very violent circumstances. He was the eldest. My dad had died when I was three years old. He had also been shot. So my mother was struggling. She had just lost her eldest son and she had five other children at home.” MacBride described the prospect of leaving home for six weeks as “daunting,” but recalled that she was embraced by Joe and Pat Barry and their children immediately. “Joe was a councilman, he was a union organizer. This was a family that was very engaged in their community and it was a family where social responsibility and activism were seen as a moral duty. Their involvement in Project Children was just an extension of what they thought was their mission to be socially responsible, to be activists, to be agents for change,” she said. “What Project Children did, and I think this was the success and the magic that Denis and Miriam and everyone who was involved created, was that they didn’t force anything. There was no sitting down in little circles and talking about where you were from or what your background was. It was just very gently creating opportunities for everyone to be in the same space. It was gently encouraging people to do things that they mightn’t have done otherwise “I’m absolutely a different person because of the encouragement,” MacBride asserted. “I wouldn’t have seen activism as something that I could pursue, as something that I could do in my own community, because I didn’t have that level of encouragement at home.” MacBride became an expert in governance and change management, working with charities and NGOs throughout Ireland to develop rights-based strategies for positive change. While the summer children’s project draws to an end, the organization’s internship program, where mature students are brought to the U.S. during the summer to work and live, will continue. Now running for almost 20 years, over 600 students have taken part in the program. It has grown from the initial 10 students per summer, to over 45 students per summer. The organization uses its large network of coordinators and host families to provide valuable work experience in many fields ranging from law and politics, to medicine and engineering. And it’s all thanks to one man, Denis Mulcahy, who decided to see if he could make a difference. IA To learn more about Project Children, as well as how you can get involved, visit www.projectchildreninterns.com
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“Kerr is a writer of great scope, whose published novels range from the social mores of Victorian England, to the horrors of trench warfare in Flanders in the First World War, and espionage in the Bahamas in the Second. But he is at his best in bringing to life the complex history of World War II in Cardigan Bay.” Cardigan Bay
By John Kerr
Publisher: Robert Hale, Ltd, London 224 pages / Available through Kennys.ie, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.
s a work-a-day archival historian, I am generally allergic to historical fiction. But occasionally I discover a novel that reaches into the minds of contemporaries in a way that historians themselves cannot match because they are usually tied to written evidence. Sometimes there is a psychological dimension to historical insight that comes across in the art of the novel, for example in Paul Scott's Raj Quartet. I am proud to have played a minor part in the mid-1970s in helping to make the historical significance of his work more widely known, though I did not go as far as Max Beloff in saying that one could learn more about the British of India simply by reading Paul Scott than by bothering to read the historians of the Raj. More recently I have read with great enjoyment and intellectual benefit Shirley Hazzard on Hiroshima and Dan Jacobsen on the family of Leopold II, King of the Belgians...both works of historical fiction have made an immense contribution to our understanding of historical events and personalities. John Kerr's Cardigan Bay (new edition now available) depicts similar epic themes. It is about a love affair of a British officer and an American woman living in Ireland during the Second World War. At the beginning of the war the British conducted secret talks in Dublin that would have created a united Ireland in return for Irish support for the Allied cause and the use of Irish ports. But the Irish Prime Minister Eamon de Valera refused to enter the war. Mutual mistrust endured, as did the mixed views of the Irish themselves toward Nazi gunrunning to the IRA. Such is the background to Cardigan Bay's intricate plot. At the risk of reveal-
ing too much, let me merely say that one of the key figures is an anti-IRA, anti-Nazi German, a man of ethical principle, who participates in the abortive attempt to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. The theme of courage mingled with ambivalent attitudes toward the war is unforgettable. Through the triangulation of two parts of the war with a distant third, Kerr gives the reader a new understanding of Irish neutrality, the thuggery of the IRA, the run up to the Normandy landings, and the moral resistance of a few officers of the Wehrmacht to the Nazi regime. Kerr is a writer of great scope, whose published novels range from the social mores of Victorian England, the horrors of trench warfare in Flanders in the First World War, and espionage in the Bahamas in the Second. But he is at his best in bringing to life the complex history of World War II in Cardigan Bay. – William Roger Louis, CBE
William Roger Louis, CBE is a Fellow of St. Antony College at Oxford University and the Editor-inChief of The Oxford History of the British Empire. Professor Louis was awarded the 2013 Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature in recognition of his enormous contribution to English literature. He is also the past President of the American Historical Association and Chair of British Studies at the University of Texas.
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hibernia | business 100
LEFT TO RIGHT: Top row: Shannon Deegan receives House of Waterford Crystal Kings Bowl award. Honoree Bill Flynn of Mutual of America and Consul General Barbara Jones. Honoree Bonnie Brennan of Christie's. 2nd row: Kate Durling and honoree David McCormack of Westwood Partners. Judy Collins Shannon's parents Katie and Brendan Deegan. Honorees William Duggan of Maersk and Jack Haren of Mohawk Paper. Honoree James Delaney of Vin-Go. 3rd row: Honoree Shaun Kelly of KPMG. Honoree Tom Finn of P&G and wife Deborah Finn. Mutual of America's Paul O'Hara and Ed Kenney with Sheila Lynott, and John Mahon. 4th row: Honoree Eileen McDonnell of Penn Mutual and guests. Honoree Ted Sullivan of IBM. Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Kieran McLoughlin and Ambassador Anne Anderson. 28 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
he 29th Annual Irish America Business 100 was celebrated in December at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, with honorees coming from across the country to the afternoon luncheon. Shannon Deegan, Googleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s charming director of Global Security Operations, gave a particularly poignant keynote speech, comparing new business practices with traditional models of employee schedules and time management. He also compared his Irish-Canadian upbringing in Montreal to Googleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work ethos.
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s All Stars
“In Canada,” he said, “we hold to the idea of a mosaic, in which each culture retains a distinct identity and is still conscious of the nation as a whole. It helps foster a sense of unity and belonging and allows us to better understand previous generations and the history of where we come from.” At Google, the same sense of neighborhood community holds, he says. “All our office space is designed with this goal of ensuring employees can and should innovate. Because innovation is the reason for our success and is key to our continued survival.” PHOTOS BY NUALA PURCELL
LEFT TO RIGHT: Top row: Honoree Aisling McDonagh of Hearst Digital with aunt Brenda Anderson and mother Miriam McDonagh. Honoree Kevin Dwyer of SupplyLogic. Honoree Mark Gallagher of Silicon Valley Bank. Honorees Janet Haire of Haire Business Solutions and Maggie Cahill of Wells Fargo. 2nd row: Stacey Fitzgerald, honoree Dave Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald + Co, Noel Cottrell and Coleman Fitzgerald. Emma Giles, Senior Brand Manager Guinness (center), and the DIAGEO team. 3rd row: Honoree Marty Daly of CBS Television (left) and guests. Honoree Kevin Leary. 4th row: Lumay Wang and honoree Padden Guy Murphy of Getaround. Honoree Shane Naughton of Inundata. Alison Metcalfe of Tourism Ireland. Lynn Bushnell and Pat Healy of Quinnipiac University. Left: Elgin Loane, Publisher of the Irish Post with Patricia Harty. FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015 IRISH AMERICA 29
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hibernia | those we lost Kevin M. Kearney 1953 – 2015
Kevin M. Kearney passed away in early January. He is survived by his wife Mary Beth, his three children, Christine, Elisa, and Sean, his granddaughter Marion, and two brothers, John and James. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012, Kevin decided to fight and put himself forward for an experimental clinical trial, which he believed extended his life, allowing him to continue to work a full-time job, dance at his daughter’s wedding, and celebrate the birth of his first grandchild. Together with family and friends, Kevin organized a 5 K run “Fun Run” in Rockaway on March 29, 2014 to raise funds for Sloan Kettering pancreatic cancer research. Despite the weather, hundreds turned out for the run and partied afterwards at the Irish Circle bar on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Kevin, whose mother’s family is from Mayo and Sligo and whose father’s family is from Longford, graduated from Manhattan College and St. John’s University School of Law. He was a lifelong resident of Rockaway, and served as Honorary Grand Marshall of the 2011 Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade. A partner at Wingate, Kearney and Cullen, Kevin represented the Diocese of Brooklyn for 37 years. He was a member of the National Association of Diocesan Attorneys, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, an active member of Catholic Charities, the Emerald Society, Futures in Education, and the Rockaway Gliders. He was also an active board member of Concern U.S.A. and traveled extensively with the group reviewing projects in Asia, Africa and Central America. He was on the board of Mutual of America, was listed on the Irish Voice Legal 100, and was the recipient of the St. Thomas More Award at Irish Person of the Year at the Great Irish Fair. – P.H.
Following a long illness, Former Fianna Fáil TD for South Kerry Jackie Healy-Rae died early December. He was 83. Acknowledging Healy-Rae’s deep involvement with and appreciation for the people he represented in Kerry, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern called him “a great man who was very loyal. He never forgot his constituents and fought tooth and nail for them.” Healy-Rae was born in Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry on March 9, 1931, the oldest of six children. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1953, but returned to Ireland not long after, joining the hurling and football leagues and winning county hurling titles in 1956 and ’58. He was also a noted saxophonist and popular publican, founding a local Kilgarvan pub in 1969 which thrives to this day under his son’s management. He was involved in politics from the 1960s on, first as an election campaigner and then as director of elections. He broke with Fianna Fáil in 1997 after they refused to nominate him as a candidate, and ran successfully as an independent. He later made up with Fianna Fáil in the 2007 election. “I knew Jackie very well and was always very fond of him,” said Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin. “Jackie always had a great sense of humor and very dry wit and he never forgot where he came from.” – M.S.
1947 – 2014
1951 – 2014
FROM TOP: Kevin Kearney, Aodhan Madden, Jackie Healy-Rae, and J.J. Sheridan
He was greeted with success both on stage and on the radio, putting on a number of productions for RTÉ, including Obituaries in 1992. Madden was a also a successful short story and screenplay writer, penning Night Train (1998) which was directed by John Lynch and featured the award winning John Hurt. He is survived by many brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. – M.S.
Aodhan Madden, the award-winning Irish playwright, memoirist, and member of Aosdana passed away at age 67. Madden hit his stride in the 1980s and early ’90s writing a string of successful plays that were produced in the Abbey and Peacock theatres in Dublin. Among the standouts were Midnight Door, Sea Urchins, and Candlemas Night. He twice won the prestigious Oz Whitehead Award for Drama in 1984 and ’85 for Remember Mauritania and Death of a Queen respectively. Madden was born in Dublin in 1947 and started out in journalism in the 1970s, working for The Irish Press newspaper. He sheds a comic light on this period in his memoir Fear and Loathing in Dublin (2009), saying of his ragtag co-workers, “they were mostly middle-aged men in varying stages of mental and physical disrepair. Some had stopped talking to others years before.” From there, Madden published a book of poems, Demons in 1978 and then began work as a playwright.
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Jackie Healy-Rae 1931 – 2014
James (J.J.) Sheridan, one of the leading Irish concert pianists and 2011 Irish America Top 100 honoree died on New Year’s Eve in New York City. He was 63. Throughout his extensive career Sheridan released critically acclaimed classical Irish music, including an eight-disc Complete Works of Turlough O’Carolan and interpretations of other bards of the 18th and 19th centuries like Edward Bunting, George Petrie and Patrick Weston Joyce. James Sheridan was born in Borris-in-Ossory, Co. Laois in 1951. He graduated from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin where he studied under the late John O’Sullivan. In 1988 he founded Trigon Recordings where he released major collections of Irish composers. Sheridan relocated to Atlanta, Georgia where he put on a number of popular concerts and music events. Very connected to his Catholic faith, Sheridan also played for a number of churches and charities as well as the Boston Symphony Hall and on Adrian Flannelly’s popular radio show. – M.S.
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hibernia | quote unquote
LEFT: Charb, who was killed along with seven other members of the Charlie Hebdo staff Jan. 7 in Paris. TOP: Marchers carrying “Je Suis Charlie” signs. “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) has become the rallying slogan of supporters of Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression and free press. FAR LEFT: Enda Kenny (left) stands beside Jean-Pierre Thébault (right) Ambassador of France to Ireland, after signing the book of condolence at the Embassy of France in Dublin for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Ireland, it should be noted, still has blasphemy on its legal statutes.
IMAGE: IRISH INDEPENDENT.
“Voltaire wrote that ‘tolerance is the consequence of our humanity.’ And today we march here
in his city to defend that tolerance and humanity against the hatred and extremism that would dismantle and destroy them...Together, as Europeans, may we nourish our democracy, protect our liberty, cherish our way of life. And in the face of terror may our humanity sustain us and renew us. May it be as shattering as our sadness and our silence on this January day.” – Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a statement released January 11, the same day he and 39 other international leaders joined nearly 2 million marchers in Paris in the largest public march in France’s history. The march was a demonstration of solidarity with the victims of the January 7th terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, one of France’s most famous satirical magazines. The magazine was targeted for what the attackers perceived as blasphemous caricatures of Muhammad. Twelve people were killed, including cartoonist and editor-inchief Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier.
IMAGE: Q MAGAZINE.
“Governments do not care about your Facebookassembled opinion. Incompetent politicians don’t read your tweets; there are reasons for them being out of touch. Change does not come about for ‘likes’ on a page, though the ideas for it may start there. I do think online forums will continue to be invaluable platforms for the sharing of ideas and questioning hegemony, but no post or comment is as powerful as feet on the street. No Facebook status is as worrying as a vote and no tweet is as noticeable as an angry cry from a crowd outside a government building.”
– The Irish musician Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known simply as Hozier, in a guest column on the politics of social media and selfidentity for Q magazine, December 16.
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“In village after village there were depressingly sad rows of derelict buildings that in times past housed shops, banks, post offices, Garda stations…The disproportionate value of tourism for rural communities continually struck me forcibly and reinforced my belief that tourism is the key to regenerating the Irish countryside.”
– John G. O’Dwyer. December 24, The Irish Times. O’Dwyer has been writing about his walks in the Irish countryside for almost seven years. This quote is from his 100th published walking piece, “An Irishman’s Diary on the pleasure and perils of walking.”
“I may be Irish, but I’m not stupid.”
– Vice President Joe Biden joking with South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham during a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony in the Senate chambers. January 3, C-SPAN.
“We are veterans. We’re veterans who happen to be gay. But we’re veterans who served this country and we deserve the dignity and the respect. We’re not trying to make a statement here. All we want to do is honor veterans – and that’s what their parade does.”
– Bryan Bishop, head of OUTVET, a support group for LGBT veterans, after the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council voted 5 - 4 to approve the group’s petition to march in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. December 16, CBS Boston.
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Authentic Irish Foods
Enjoy a Taste of Ireland
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CunninghamPurchia, her boyfriend Tim Gannon, his sister Clare, and her husband Jano Cabrera, all Washington, D.C. transplants, planned a November escape to trace their roots and follow the music. This is their account of six nights in Ireland.
e’ve never heard any of our relatives say “You have to visit Ireland in November.” Nor would our practice of booking evening accommodations in a foreign country just a day in advance win us any gold stars for planning. But on our recent trip, it was exactly the way to do Ireland. We felt we had the country to ourselves, and ultimate flexibility. Asking hotel employees, shop keepers, waitresses, and the odd bartender along our route “What should we do between here and there?” got us better driving routes, superior accommodations, well known and hidden-gem restaurants, and the location(s) most likely to have an evening session of traditional music in each town. The trip had first been proposed as a chance to see a favorite band play a few shows on an Ireland tour – which ultimately did not come to pass. But we ran with the idea (thanks anyway, Reckless Kelly!) and
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had a grand time, from touching down in Dublin all the way through a drive out to the West Coast. Ancestral roots were discussed. Futures were cemented. And while the sights, sounds, tastes, and history of the places we stopped all remain with us (thank you, Instagram!), the people are the unforgettable experience. We arrived in Dublin on the Tuesday the U.S. Men’s National Team played Ireland in a soccer friendly. While the final score left us disappointed, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity College, stopping by the General Post Office, and touring the Old Jameson Distillery. But it was on our first stop after checking in to the hotel where we discovered the secret to maneuvering Ireland during the low season – ask the locals. We stayed at the Brooks Hotel, just down the street from Ragland (part café, part clothing store) where the barista gave us a short list of restaurants for our next stop: Galway. We arrived in the early afternoon, dropped our bags at the charming House Hotel, and immediately went
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to Ard Bia for lunch. The barista at Ragland steered us well. Two servings of beef stew, a smoked salmon salad, a squash soup, and one slice of carrot cake too large for the four of us to eat later, and we were already looking forward to eating at her next recommendation – Kai Café, which uses all local produce. The House Hotel, located on Merchants Road Lower, afforded easy walking to shopping and the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas. We saw the JFK mosaic in the Cathedral and did some shopping at Designs of Ireland, where many sweaters were tried on. Several were purchased. It left us hungry to try Kai, but here we ran into the one and only time where we needed to plan ahead. Not having a reservation, we landed at Oscar’s Bistro, where the food was delicious, Siobhan took great care of us and sent us off to several pubs likely to have a trad session. We settled on Tig Cóilí, situated on Mainguard Street at the end of Shop Street. This cozy pub was filled with locals of all ages enjoying the music with people jumping in to dance if the mood struck them. It really felt like the whole community gathered around to hear friends play. This is a family run pub, whose members, musicians in their own right, join in the ses-
sion when they are not needed behind the bar. We left around midnight, but the music kept going. The next morning, Thursday, we departed Galway in a dense fog headed for the Cliffs of Moher. We stopped for a cup of coffee at the Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna where the owner, Peter Curtin, got us sorted. Not only on the Cliffs of Moher, which he assured us would be clear of the fog, but also on our route to Tralee where we would stay overnight. He sent us across the River Shannon on the ferry, avoiding Limerick, saying, “the only thing to see there are four lane highways, and you’ve probably seen enough of those in the States.” When we got to the cliffs the fog had indeed lifted, the parking lot was nearly empty, and only a handful of other people climbed around in the sun with us. That night in Tralee we had dinner with Tim and Clare’s cousins Maureen Scannell, Jim Gannon, and his wife Bernie. Maureen had attended a Gannon reunion in Iowa in the 1980s and her home has since been a stopping point for family traveling through the Old Sod. Despite a difference in age, and the fact that neither Tim nor Clare had had any contact with Maureen in nearly 20 years, stories about relatives were swapped, family trees were sketched out, and Jim and
OPPOSITE PAGE: A view of the Dingle Peninsula from the top of Cruach Mhárthain. CENTER: The trad session at Tig Cóilí in Galway, where the music continues long after midnight. ABOVE: Sheep at Inch Beach in Co. Kerry. While many were encountered on the road, these were safely behind a fence.
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Maureen provided a few clues on where in County Kilkenny the Gannons began their journey to the United States. Friday saw an easy drive from Tralee to Dingle allowing for several stops to photograph breathtaking hillside fields full of sheep and the waves at Inch Beach. We checked in to the Greenmount House, where Gary Curran, the manager/son of owners, made up a list of restaurants, pubs, and shops, and promised a list of hikes for Saturday after breakfast. Some shops and restaurants were closed in November, but we had no problem getting a table for four at Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant. Claire McDonnell expertly talked us through the menu, and her suggestions of the seafood chowder, mussels, and the braised lamb shank all hit the spot. She then sent us around the corner to O’Sullivan’s Court House Pub for some Friday night trad music. After a delicious breakfast Saturday morning at the Greenmount, Gary outlined several places where we could “go out walking,” which in American would be called hiking up a mountain. We drove out of Dingle on the Slea Head Loop stopping to gasp at the rough beauty, and at several places where the sheep were out on the road, and then finally where Gary suggested we stop to “walk.” He said, “You drive over to where you see the radio tower and park there. Then you’ll have to climb over the fence and from there you can walk to the top of the mountain. When you get to the top, you’ll be able to see all around the peninsula.” Cruach Mhárthain is the name of the mountain, and the views are breathtaking. And while the trip had been planned in order to see a favorite band play a few shows, it was not the only reason Tim had in mind. Walking single file, and breathing hard, Jano, Clare, Liz, and then Tim reached the peak of Cruach Mhárthain about 11:00 a.m. local time. No sooner had Tim reached the top than he pulled out a diamond ring and asked Liz to marry him. She said yes, sparing 36 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
everyone an awkward hike down the mountain, and allowing for a stunning backdrop for Clare and Jano to use while snapping photos of the happy couple. While it could be said that everything was downhill from that point, our last two days in Ireland flew by with stops in Killarney and Kilkenny. In both towns we were upgraded to larger hotel rooms (thanks again, low tourist season!) and again the locals steered us toward superior spots for live music – the Killarney Grand Hotel – and food – Zuni Restaurant in Kilkenny. Sunday night before turning in for the last time in Ireland, we went for one last pint at Bridie’s Bar and General Store, and because the bartender, Hughie Morris was such a delight to talk to about our trip, his years in the States, and whether Pat Gannon of Pat Gannon Auctioneers would be in the office before we had to drive to the airport the next day. Then one turned into two. In today’s Ireland, free Wifi is about as ubiquitous as rain and sheep in green pastures. From-out-of-the way pubs to a hotspot in our rental car, unplugging completely wasn’t in the cards. But whether it was the pace of the off-season, the scenery that confirmed the Ireland in our minds, or the easy grace of the many locals who helped us, four people who live and work in Washington forgot the world for a while. If that’s not proof of the magic on that island, then you’ve never been to Washington, D.C. And if you still hold any doubt in your heart, if you don’t believe a country roughly the size of Indiana could possibly hold so many treasures, well, then you’ve never been to Ireland. IA
TOP: From left: Jano Cabrera, Clare Gannon, Liz Cunningham-Purchia, and Tim Gannon at Gaelic Park in Dublin for the U.S./Ireland Men’s soccer friendly. Despite their World Cup performance, the U.S. lost. ABOVE: Tim and Liz after the proposal on the top of Cruach Mhárthain on the Dingle Peninsula.
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By Megan Smolenyak
t was a damp morning in late February 2008 when the phone rang. Harvard scholar and PBS host Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. was calling with one of his random genealogical requests. He was going to be on The Colbert Report later that day. Did I, by any chance, know anything about Stephen Colbert’s roots? Luckily for him, I had two hundred years of family history at the ready. Unnaturally obsessed with the ancestry of my fellow Irish Americans, I had already snooped into Stephen Tyrone Colbert’s past and discovered that he was about as Hibernian as they come. Fifteen of his 16 great-great-grandparents were either born in Ireland or of Irish heritage, and rather remarkably, their descendants continued to marry only with other Irish Americans for three generations until Stephen himself slightly disrupted the
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flow when he wed Evelyn “Evie” McGee. In his own words, “I have broken the pattern, and am in a mixed-race marriage. I’m Irish, and my wife is Scots-Irish. Somehow we make it work.” Several weeks after Gates’s call, my nosiness was rewarded when I woke up to the best St. Patrick’s Day gift possible – an email from Stephen thanking me and remarking that he was “thrilled to hear we are pretty much pure Irish.” Fortunately for all of us, this should-be poster child for Irish Americans has recently been anointed as David Letterman’s heir apparent and will take over The Late Show in September. Though many will mourn the loss of Colbert, we will now be able to mellow out each evening with the man himself, rather than the character he has portrayed since 2005. And as anyone who’s ever met Colbert will attest, the real man is brilliant, quick-witted, multi-talented, family-oriented, devout, and kind.
An Ancestral Tour
So what sort of family tree produces a Stephen Colbert? Geographically concentrated in New York and Illinois upon arrival in America (in some instances, after a brief interval in Canada), the opposite is true in Ireland where all four provinces can lay claim to a piece of Stephen’s past. So dense and deep is his Irishness that I have little choice but to share it in digest form in order to give a short, yet fairly comprehensive tour of his ancestral map. To that end, I’ll focus on the immigrant generation, who mostly emigrated between the 1820s and 1860s, and provide a brief sketch of each pair of his great-great-grandparents. As you peruse these eight clusters, don’t be surprised if you notice some family patterns.
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Since we usually have the greatest interest in the surname we start out with, it’s a Murphy’s Law corollary that Colbert is the most mysterious branch in Stephen’s pedigree. It’s also a geographic exception with a third great-grandfather named Anthony, born in the 1790s, who settled in Shepherdstown in what was then Virginia. His descendants would swiftly scatter to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and California with Stephen’s line opting for the Land of Lincoln. Though stories have floated down through the generations of a possible French origin for the Colbert name, the few paper trail indications that exist all point to Ireland, including the marriage record of Stephen’s future great-grandfather, George William Colbert, that notes his race as Irish. Family lore also holds that George converted to Catholicism in order to marry Angeline Garin, an event which is said to have provoked a cross-burning in their yard. The tale relates that George calmed his new bride saying, “Let it burn. It sheds a lovely light.” While it’s not been possible to verify the incident, the dual-religion aspect rings true as George’s parents were married in the Lutheran church – perhaps because of his mother, Susan Ann Fletcher, who introduced the only non-Irish ancestry into the mix, a combination of German and English.
George Colbert’s bride, Angeline Garin, was born in Carrollton, Illinois to immigrants Michael Garin and Bridget Caffery. Given that both Michael and Bridget, along with some of their parents and siblings, had crossed the Atlantic in the 1850s, the Famine was undoubtedly a driving factor in their decision to emigrate. The couple married around 1868 and settled amidst a cluster of family members in the Illinois counties of Greene and Macoupin. The Garin name was a simplified version of one that was spelled variously as Gearon and Guerin in earlier days, and a search of available church
registries revealed that Michael’s parents, Michael Gearon and Johanna Nicholson, had married on January 29, 1834 in Limerick. Regrettably, the picture is hazier for Michael’s wife, Bridget Caffery, as documents pertaining to her family contradict themselves and mention both Dublin and Belfast.
Yet another pair of great-great-grandparents who decided to keep their secrets to themselves is John Tormey and Honora Manning. In fact, the few traces they left make it unclear whether they were born in Ireland or New York. All that is reasonably certain is that they had a son, Henry John Tormey, born between 1862 and 1866 in Staten Island. A couple that may be them appears in Castleton, New York in the 1860 census, but then the trail fades. It might have helped if their son had stayed put, but working as a railroad conductor, he bounced around from Staten Island to Port Jervis to Jersey City and finally to the Bronx. It’s lucky for Stephen that Henry was a wanderer, though, because it was in Port Jervis that he met his future wife, Maggie McCrory.
Family resemblance? (from left to right): Stephen T. Colbert, father James W. Colbert, uncle Andrew E. Tuck, grandfather Andrew E. Tuck, great-grandfather John C. Fee, and greatgreat-grandfather Patrick Connolly
Margaret Ann McCrory was the daughter of Henry McCrory and Margaret McCreash, and it’s the McCrory branch that indirectly contributed Stephen’s middle name of Tyrone. According to Colbert, “The McCrorys were O’Neills way back, and the story was that one of the O’Neills had been the Earl of Tyrone, and so they named me Tyrone after him.” While there is a Tyrone connection way back in the mists of time (see p. 62), the more immediate link is to Belfast where Henry “McRory” and Margaret “McReesh” were considerate enough to leave a critical clue for future generations by marrying in the Catholic Parish of St. Patrick, which has sacramental registers dating back to 1798. The McCrory-McCreash nuptials took place on October 8, 1842.
Shifting gears from Stephen’s paternal ancestry to his mother’s side, more is known about the Tuck portion of his family tree than any other thanks to memoirs left by his great-grandfather Andrew Tuck (1833-1917). Andrew wrote at length about the challenging start to his parents’ North American experience. John Tuck and Judith (aka Julia) Dunn married in 1817 in what was then Queen’s County and is
Bottom Left: Marriage license recording George W. Colbert’s race as Irish. Bottom Right: Baptism (in Latin) of daughter of John and Margaret Tormey that shows her parents’ birth places of Staten Island and Hibernia.
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Above: 1842 marriage of Henry McCrory and Margaret McCreash (kindly provided by Fr. Michael Sheehan of The Parish of St. Patrick, Belfast, saintpatricksbelfast.org)
The remarkable women of Stephen Colbert’s family tree (left to right): wife Evelyn McGee-Colbert, mother Lorna (Tuck) Colbert, grandmothers Marie (Fee) Tuck and Mary (Tormey) Colbert, great-grandmother Carolina (Connolly) Fee, and great-great-grandmother Elizabeth (Maloy) Connolly.
now County Laois. More specifically, John was from Ballyhorahan and Judith from nearby Camross. In the 1820s, John journeyed to Canada while Judith stayed behind with several children. The intention was for him to save money and return to Ireland to bring his wife and children back with him, but he made the mistake of turning over his earnings to his employer for safe-keeping. When the employer got into financial difficulties, John was left empty-handed and separated from his family. After a number of years apart, Judith took matters into her own hands and traveled to Canada with their, by-then, only surviving child, John Jr., and surprised her husband by showing up at the quarry where he worked one day in 1832. Shortly thereafter, the reunited family moved across the border to Lisbon, New York, where Andrew was born, as he put it, “about the 9th of November, 1833 – I had no exact date of my birth – but the consensus of those who ought to be good authority is that it was about the 9th of November.” Andrew Tuck’s memoirs go on to share details about walking to school (seven fences to cross if you took the short-cut and snow that caked up under your heels, crowding your feet out of your shoes), his family (including the birth of each child and the loss of a son to typhoid fever), his land purchases and building endeavors over the years (transaction by transaction, and decisions as minute as opting for a railing on a back stairway), his politics (“I was something of a political curiosity – an Irishman, a Republican”), his views on slavery and pride in voting for Lincoln (“It required courage, confidence and firmness”), and just about everything a curious descendant might hope for.
Andrew Tuck was fortunate enough to marry a woman he greatly admired named Maria Lynch. Maria was one of at least seven children of Thomas Lynch and Bridget Rowan, and like the Tuck-Dunns, her family had back-doored into upstate New York through Canada. From Smiths Falls, Ontario, they had moved to Ogdensburg and later Lisbon, New York. The family made steady appearances in local records from the 1850s into the 1880s, but with the exception of a sister of Maria’s named Julia, vanished.
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Julia became a Grey Nun, assuming the name Sister Scholastica, a fitting choice as she would spend decades teaching. Her 1943 obituary offered a little insight into her personality and standards, commenting that, “It would have been difficult for a pupil to appear before her after shirking his duty.” Extensive digging eventually turned up an article in a local newspaper that provided a vital clue in the disappearance of Maria’s parents. On April 23, 1886, their house burned down. Wasting no words, the piece stated, “Nothing was saved. No insurance.” It was this event that led the now-elderly Lynch immigrants to make one last move to Illinois where they would spend their twilight years with several of their children who were living in the Chicago area. And it was the death certificate of one of their sons that would furnish the only hint of their origins in Ireland – a frustratingly vague designation of Connaught.
The Fee line is another one that left a generous paper trail, mainly because of their business interests. Owen Fee, who would marry Margaret McMahon in the late-1830s, was originally from County Monaghan, where tithe applotment books include a man of his name in the townland of Drumaconvern about a decade earlier. His bride is believed to have been from Cootehill in the neighboring county of Cavan. Owen emigrated in March 1835 and filed his intent to become a citizen in Rochester, New York in 1837. He worked as a butcher there, but passed away unexpectedly in 1855, leaving his widow Margaret with five children, the youngest of whom was only four. Margaret continued to run the family business as a grocery until her oldest son converted it to a saloon and deli in the early 1860s. Assessment lists from 1863 show Margaret being taxed as a “retail liquor dealer,” but it was that same year that her sons formally launched Fee Brothers which is still operating – and owned by cousins of Stephen’s – today. The company evolved over time, adapting to circumstances as necessary. During Prohibition, for instance, it became a supplier of sacramental, “standard altar” wines, which seems appropriate since two of the founding brothers, including Stephen’s greatgrandfather John C. Fee, were among the first altar boys when St. Bridget’s Church was established in Rochester in 1854. Today Fee Brothers offers a variety of cocktail mixes, bitters and cordial syrups, and sports a logo which portrays the four brothers along with the slogan, “Don’t squeeze, use Fee’s.”
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Rounding out Stephen’s eight pairs of great-greatgrandparents are Patrick Connolly and Elizabeth Maloy. When Patrick made his way as a teenager from Knockaturly in County Monaghan to Rochester, New York in 1834, he was taking the first step toward building a new life as a successful merchant – initially in candles with his brother, James, and later specializing in “lace and fancy goods.” About the same year he crossed the ocean, his future wife was born in Rochester to Charles and Margaret Maloy who had emigrated from Kings County (now County Offaly) in the 1820s. Patrick and Margaret had one son and eight daughters. Two daughters died young and two dedicated themselves to the Sisters of Charity, serving in hospitals and orphanages. Their third child, Carolina, would eventually marry John C. Fee, joining two prosperous, Rochester families. It says something of the Connollys that when Patrick passed away, school books were among the first possessions specified in his estate papers to be held in reserve for his family.
Cherish the Ladies
All of this sprawling heritage was funneled to Stephen by way of his mostly second-generation great-grandparents, striving grandparents, and overachieving parents. His father, in particular, was a man of singular accomplishment. Having acquired his medical training and skills at Columbia and Yale, James William Colbert, Jr., M.D., served with the U.S. Army’s Medical Corps and as Assistant Dean of the Yale University School of Medicine, before becoming, at 32, the youngest person to hold the deanship of a medical school (at St. Louis). He later moved to the National Institute of Health, and then to the Medical University of South Carolina. Along the way, he still found time to serve on a number of health and medical boards, and as co-chairman of Doctors for Kennedy during the 1960 Presidential campaign. And then there’s his mother, Lorna Elizabeth (Tuck) Colbert, who bore and raised 11 children, the youngest of whom was Stephen. Tragically losing her only brother in the immediate aftermath of World War II and then her husband and two sons, Paul and Peter, in a plane crash in 1974, Lorna was able to do far more than persevere. As Stephen explained at the time of her passing, “Her love for her family and her faith in God somehow gave her the strength not only to go on, but to love life without bitterness, and to instill in all of us a gratitude for every day we have together.” Giving us a sense of her spirit and joie de vivre, he continued, “I know that it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long, but the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish. It only magnifies the enormity of the room whose door has now quietly shut.” Listening to these words again after having just steeped myself in Stephen’s family history, I realized that they carried some echoes from the past. As we’ve already seen, Stephen’s extended family features nuns who ran schools, hospitals and orphanages. His greatgreat-grandmother, Judith (Dunn) Tuck, had ventured
to North America in 1832 to reunite the long-separated pieces of her family. Another second greatgrandmother, Margaret (McMahon) Fee, had taken over her husband’s business when he died and mortgaged her home to enable her oldest son to establish Fee Brothers in 1863. When his great-grandmother Maria (Lynch) Tuck passed, her obituary noted that she “was of a splendid type of unostentatious Christian womanhood, a sacrificing helpmate and a devoted mother.” And in his last letter home before his death in a vehicle accident in Austria, Stephen’s uncle had written home, “Mother, how can a man be better while in a shower of your love and understanding?” Ruminating on the topic of marriage, Andrew Tuck, the ancestor who left such thoughtful memoirs, reminisced that his future wife first made an impression on him with the way she acquitted herself when called on in geography class. He recalled a minister who preached “when a man married, he raised or lowered himself a step,” and referred to this sentiment as “an absolute truth.” Clearly regarding himself as having come out ahead in the bargain, he went on to say of his own marriage, “Ours was the case of the unknown wife of the fairly well known husband, and when the latter left home, he often left more brains at home than he took with him, where often most needed, and with better results.” Andrew was spelling out what had gradually dawned on me. The secret recipe of Stephen Colbert’s family tree is one of amazing women and the men who were smart enough to find and marry them. He might jokingly claim that he broke the family pattern by entering into a “mixed marriage” with a Scots-Irish woman, but with his wise choice of Evie McGee, he’s keeping alive the tradition that matters most. IA
Above: John F. Kennedy and James W. Colbert, Jr., M.D. in 1960. Below: Young Stephen (in jumper) with his parents and ten older siblings, 1968.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premiers September 8th.
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t h g i r l A e r a s l Gir PHOTOS: YUE WU/THE WASHINGTON POST
By Ellen McCarthy
Five years after the tragic loss of their mother and sister, the five Murray daughters and their father, Sean, continue to thrive.
ie-dyed sheets line the back of a Chevy Chase classroom where a group of preteen girls sit discussing some of the weightier topics of adolescent life: Why do we feel the need to conform? Is it harder to stick up for ourselves or for someone else? What does it really mean to be beautiful? “I said that it means if you have a good personality,” volunteers Maeve Murray, a freckle-faced 11year-old with auburn hair. “It’s not about what you look like or how you dress.” The event, called GirlsUp, is Maeve’s mother’s doing. Kelly Murray got a PhD in psychology, joined the Navy, became a professor and then had six daughters. Six. By the time the oldest was in junior high, Kelly had become very interested in the way society tells girls who they should be. How to look and act.
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And how these expectations sap their confidence just when they need it most. Kelly wanted to get there first – to help girls figure out who they are before the world does it for them. So six summers ago, she set up camp, gathering her two oldest daughters and a half-dozen of their friends to talk about such things as self-image and self-reliance. But Kelly didn’t know then what the program would mean to her daughters today, when it would carry a message that she could no long deliver herself. Homework assignment: To whom do you compare yourself, and why? “I compare myself to my dad,” Maeve says. “Because he works really hard at his job – and he takes care of all us girls alone.”
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ean Murray was at his law office downtown on the evening of June 26, 2009. He noticed the sky suddenly darken and unleash a furious storm, but he thought almost nothing of it. Then his cellphone rang. “Get to Children’s National Medical Center,” a friend told him. Kelly, 40, and the five youngest girls – Meghan, 11; Sloane, 7; Maeve, 6; Quinn, 2; and Kieran, 9 months – had been at the Chevy Chase Recreation Association for a swim team pot luck. When the rain started, the girls and two of Meghan’s friends piled into Kelly’s minivan. She was driving down Connecticut Avenue, less than a half-mile from their house, when a massive oak branch crashed down onto the van. Sean arrived at the hospital just as his family emerged from a train of ambulances. He began counting heads. “You’re just, ‘Whoa – what’s the deal? Where’s Sloane? Where’s Mom?’” he recalls. Then a social worker escorted him to a private room and told him that his wife of 13 years and their effervescent 7-yearold were dead. In that moment one thought enveloped him – This existence is over – and was immediately swallowed by another – This existence is more precious than ever before. Because there were five other children out there, “and I’m now the be-all and end-all of their life.” Meghan lay in the hospital with minor injuries and someone had put the babies to bed when Sean sat down with Jillian and Maeve. “It was just something that you never think or want to do in your life – to tell your kid that their mom passed away,” says Sean, now 45. A friend who is a grief counselor gave him the words that he’d start to say on repeat. “I’m going to take care of you. I’m not going anywhere. I love you
and your life is going to be good.” He would say that even when he wasn’t sure about the last part. The night before the funeral, Sean kept vigil over the bodies of his wife and daughter at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Northwest Washington. “You could just say things and be with her,” he remembers of those hollow hours before dawn. Sean met Kelly during Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. He was the New Jersey-bred son of Irish immigrants. She’d grown up in Hawaii, Kenya and California. She was smart and beautiful, but Sean was more impressed by her vibrancy and sense of adventure. “She was always sort of excited about stuff,” he says. Two years later they were married, and Jillian was born less than a year after that. Sean always thought that four kids seemed like a good number, but then they just kept going. “Once you have more than four, you almost don’t even notice the difference,” he says. He and Kelly loved being parents. They threw themselves into the world of kids’ activities, coaching teams and volunteering at school. Kelly became a professor at Loyola University Maryland’s graduate center in Columbia and Sean went to law school at night. Kelly was the kind of mom, Sean says, who “made everything fun.” Birthday parties had themes, such as “Fear Factor,” and she was a confidant not just to her own daughters, but also to her daughters’ friends. “Kelly is one of these women who just embraced herself so fully, flaws and all, that she did the same for you,” remembers Debra Soltis, one of her best friends. Sloane, outgoing like her mom, hated wearing shoes and made a new best friend everywhere she went. “She was kind of like the town mayor,” Sean remembers. “She was a very free-spirited, lively, just sort of happy kid.” “I know you will keep Mommy company as you watch over us,” Sean said to her in his eulogy. “And that gives me more comfort than you will ever know.” Kelly and Sloane were buried in the same coffin, the little girl’s head resting on her mother’s chest. Outside the doorway of the Murrays’ brick colonial
OPPOSITE PAGE: Meghan Murray with photos of her mother, Kelly, and her younger sister, Sloane. Meghan and sister Jillian still talk to their mother before drifting off to sleep at night, and both have developed the habit of writing her notes. ABOVE LEFT: GirlsUp Teen Board member Liza Johnston, front, and Maeve Murray play during the break at GirlsUp summer camp in July. The camp has continued since Kelly Murray’s death and now runs for three sessions each summer, hosting 80 to 100 girls a year. ABOVE RIGHT: The Murray family at dinner: From left, Quinn, Sean, Maeve, Meghan and Coco. Sean strives to keep a routine going and insists that the girls eat two vegetables at dinner every night.
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hangs a white flag painted with two rainbows. In their grief following the funeral, Kelly’s family went to the Eastern Shore. There, after another sudden summer storm, a breathtaking double rainbow appeared. They were sure it was Kelly and Sloane. For a while, life was all questions and confusion. “How am I going to get through my teenage years?” Meghan remembers thinking. “How am I going to get through life without a mom?” As a lawyer and a military man, Sean was used to going “to the book.” But there was no guide for this, for how a father should raise five daughters by himself. Yet there was a certain way in which he felt prepared. “Kelly was such a fantastic mom, and I literally felt like, ‘I’ve been trained for this,’ ” he says. So he did what they’d always done. He kept the girls on their soccer teams. He insisted that they eat two vegetables every night at dinner. He cut their hair short in the summer and let it grow long in the winter. He expected them to pick up after themselves, to always try their best and to live up to their potential. The first year was a fog, and the second was worse. After Kelly died, a former nanny agreed to stay with the family for a year. She was an anchor of familiarity and continuity. But she left. In the 12 months that followed, as shock wore off and sadness rushed in, six new nannies came and went before the Murrays found a fit. Jillian was in middle school then. “Everything changed so fast that I really couldn’t keep up,” she says. “I was just kind of lost for the first couple of years.” But every night, school uniforms were washed. 44 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
Days were rehashed and arguments about who stole whose shirt were tamped down. Quinn and Kieran, who goes by Coco, became walking, talking human beings who joined the fray and added a new level of buoyancy. It makes Jillian and Meghan sad, but the truth is, the little girls don’t really know what they are missing. They were too young to remember. “At least I got my mom,” says Meghan, now 16. “But they’re growing up completely without her.” “Meg, what are you having for breakfast?” “Megs, what are you going to eat?” “Meghan. Breakfast?” Sean will ask two more times before his sleepyeyed teenager accepts a bowl of cereal. It’s just after 8 a.m. Quinn, now 7, is transfixed by the Disney Channel. Coco, 5, is playing the piano, on which sit framed photos of Kelly and Sloane. Middle child Maeve is at the kitchen table, beneath a “Family Creed” she made in the third grade. She wrote it on a rainbow. “We believe in loving and serving others.” “We believe in being responsible and honest to develop our talents.” “We believe in the power of love and laughter.” There is camp today, so soon it’s time to go. Quinn and Coco line up for a hug and a kiss from Sean. Maeve and Meghan already have piled into Sean’s Jeep. Jillian, on the verge of her senior year, is in Texas, competing at the Junior Olympics Track and Field Championship. And at North Chevy Chase Elementary School, a couple of dozen girls are waiting to meet, and perhaps learn something about themselves. The second session of GirlsUp was scheduled to
A photo of the six Murray girls and the family creed graced the back of the program for funeral services for the girls’ mother and sister, who died in a 2009 storm when a huge tree branch fell on their minivan. The girls are, from left, Quinn; Jillian; Maeve; Meghan, holding Kieran; and Sloane, who was killed.
PHOTO: KATHERINE FREY/THE WASHINGTON POST
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take place two weeks after the accident. Debra Soltis had spent so many hours talking with Kelly about the program that she knew it had to continue. She studied Kelly’s notes, developed a curriculum and taught the program to that year’s participants – including Jillian and Meghan. “Their presence in the room made the entire experience poignant and particularly inspiring,” she says. The program now hosts 80 to 100 girls a year and holds three sessions each summer, including one at a youth center in Southeast Washington. Jillian and Meghan are on a teen advisory board that helps run the camp. For them it’s about the mission, and also about their mom. “That’s when I feel closest to her,” Meghan says. “When I’m doing all the work.” Today’s theme is self-expression, so the campers will talk about how to make their voices heard. They’ll meditate, improvise ways to navigate tough social situations, and take pictures of themselves. And through it all, Soltis says, Kelly will be there. “It’s great that her own daughters get to continue to hear the wisdom and the guidance from her,” she says. “And it’s wonderful that many other girls get to hear it as well.” At the end of each session, the campers decorate mirrors with words and expressions that describe their true essence. Maeve, who wears a rubber band bearing the names Kelly and Sloane around her ankle, spells out “happy,” “confident,” “friendly,” and “stronger.” The Murray sisters were born almost in pairs. Today Maeve, who was just a year younger than Sloane, is the only one with a room of her own – the top bunk above her bed lies empty. Each GirlsUp camper has chosen a personal mantra. Maeve paints hers in blue: “Just Keep Swimming.” “It’s from Finding Nemo, ” she explains. “It means just keep going – even if, like, something bad happens.” “I could say anything to her,” Jillian remembers of her mom. “That’s one of the hardest parts for me. If I have something going on at school or with friends, or if I’m just having a rough day, all I want to do is be able to talk to her.” There’s a consensus among the girls that Sean is doing a good job. He’s naturally a hard-driving military man. “If I ask to do something and he says no, you don’t change his mind,” Meghan says. But, she adds, “he tries to be that soft side, too.” Sean tries to talk about Kelly and Sloane – to mention their favorite movies or foods, to recall stories of things they said or did. But the girls, especially the older ones, find it more difficult. “I can’t really do her justice,” Jillian says. She wants her sisters to know who their mother was, “but I feel like it’s hard for them to imagine her just through words.” So she has found a different way: “I want to be there for them,” she says. “Like she was for me.” And Jillian and Meghan still turn to their mom for support. They both silently talk to her at night before
drifting off to sleep and – though they’d never mentioned it to each other – both have developed a habit of writing her notes. Sean leaves discussion of matters such as bras and menstruation to aunts and grandmothers. As for boys, his philosophy is: “Idleness tempts the devil.” If the girls are occupied with other pursuits, he hopes, there won’t be time to get into trouble. It has worked so far. The girls are on the honor roll and involved in almost every imaginable extracurricular activity. And they’re happy and chatty and outgoing, with magic tricks to demonstrate, bedrooms to show off and a pet turtle named Roxy who likes to make an occasional appearance in the kitchen. “They haven’t just survived the tragedy,” Soltis says. “They’ve thrived.” “Megs, what are you doing?” Sean yells, watching Meghan walk the last 50 yards of a warm-up lap at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. It’s the final night of a club track program that Sean started four years ago. Meghan shrugs, smiles and jogs a few more paces to appease her dad. Along with two dozen other athletes, the girls stretch, do jumping jacks and then take their places on the starting line for a mile-long run. This is how Sean prefers things – busy and together. A year from now, Jillian will go off to college. During a 90minute interview, it’s this thought, more than any other, that provokes an emotional silence. “It’s just going to be sort of an upsetting of the apple cart,” he says. As the runners prepare for a relay, the western horizon grows dark. Soon PHOTO: YUE WU/THE WASHINGTON POST there’s a slow rumble of thunder and a flash of lightFrom left, Maeve, Coco and Meghan warm up ning. The Murray sisters look at each other. Coco’s before a one-mile run eyes well with tears and she points to the sky. at Bethesda-Chevy “I know, Coco,” Sean says. “It’s okay. We’re not Chase High School. The girls are involved in a going to put you in danger, okay, Coco?” host of extracurricular He will have to say it again and again as they pass activities. out celebratory popsicles, clap for their coaches and hustle to the Jeep. But the Murrays will make it back before the first drops of rain begin to fall. They’ll file into the brick house, where there will be dinner and showers and bedtime kisses. And where a flag with two rainbows always hangs, ready to welcome them home. IA Editor’s Note: Some of the best journalists today are Irish American, including Ellen McCarthy, the author of this story on the Murrays, which ran in The Washington Post last August. In upcoming issues we plan to run such stories, by Irish Americans, of Irish Americans, as we find them.
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Middleweight champion John Duddy on hanging up his gloves. By Thomas Hauser
n 2011, John Duddy retired from boxing. Living in New York, the popular Derry native had compiled a 29-and-2 record with 18 knockouts. He’d experienced the thrill of fighting before cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden and also in his beloved Ireland. Now, at age 35, Duddy is pursuing a new career. He wants to be an actor. There is a long tradition of boxers trying their hand at acting. In the 1880s, John L. Sullivan realized
ABOVE: John Duddy. RIGHT: Duddy in a scene from the 2011 production of Kid Shamrock.
that, as heavyweight champion, he could make large amounts of money by appearing on stage in vaudeville and legitimate theatrical productions. James Corbett defeated Sullivan in 1892 and immediately embarked upon a theatrical career that was noteworthy for its longevity and success. Corbett began in vaudeville, made numerous forays into legitimate theater, and worked hard to develop his craft. Late in life, he appeared in feature films. In the 1920s, Jack Dempsey signed a contract to star in ten Hollywood films for a million dollars. Muhammad Ali starred on Broadway in Buck White, appeared in a television mini-series called Freedom Road, and played himself in the feature film The 46 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
Greatest. Mike Tyson has landed several small film roles and starred in a one-man show on Broadway. When Duddy was boxing, he was approached from time to time by entertainment types who suggested that he try his hand at acting. His response was always the same: “Right now, I’m a fighter.” That changed in January 2001. John had been offered a six-figure deal to fight Andy Lee on HBO. Rather than accept the offer, he retired. “I no longer have the enthusiasm and willingness to make the sacrifices that are necessary to honor the craft of prizefighting,” Duddy said at the time. “I used to love going to the gym. Now it’s a chore. I wish I still had the hunger, but I don’t. The fire has burned out. And I know myself well enough to know that it won’t return. It would be unfair to my fans, my trainer and manager, and everyone else involved in the promotion of my fights for me to continue boxing when I know that my heart isn’t in it. I’ve always given one hundred percent in the gym and in my fights. I have too much respect for boxing and the people around me to continue fighting when I know that I can’t do that anymore. “Barry McGuigan was one of my childhood heroes,” Duddy continued. “His photograph was one of the first things that visitors saw when entering our home in Derry. He had great influence on me when I was a boy. Barry McGuigan once said, ‘Fighters are the first people to know when they should retire and the last to admit it.’ I know that it’s time for me to retire from boxing, and I’m admitting it. I give you my word; I will not come back.” Since then, Duddy has taken acting classes and participated in several workshops. His good looks and boyish charm are appealing. He had a scene in a Jon Bon Jovi music video, and was cast in the role of a young fighter in the play Kid Shamrock. While acting, he has worked for The Padded Wagon, a moving company in New York, to help make ends meet. Now he’s on the verge of moving into more rarefied terrain. Thirty-five years ago, Robert DeNiro played Jake LaMotta in the Academy-Award-winning film, Raging Bull. In 2013, DeNiro returned to the ring – this time, opposite Sylvester Stallone – in Grudge Match. He needed a trainer to prepare for the fight scenes, and Duddy got the nod.
PHOTO BY NUALA PURCELL
John Duddy: Actor
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PHOTO BY NUALA PURCELL
The Wit and Wisdom of John Duddy
“I was surprised by how fit DeNiro was,” John says. “We hit if off, and I got to know Robert Sale, who was responsible for choreographing the fight scenes. Sale told me what he wanted to have happen in the ring, and I did my best to get DeNiro ready to do it. The training lasted three-and-a-half weeks. When it was over, DeNiro said I could stay around, so I watched them work until they left New York to film in New Orleans.”
Then opportunity struck.
In September 2013, Sale telephoned Duddy and told him, “You’re going to get a call on your cell phone from a number you don’t recognize. Answer it.” “I got the call,” John recalls. “I answered it. And it was DeNiro. He was starring in a film called Hands of Stone, and the actor who was supposed to play Ken Buchanan had just pulled out. Did I want the role?” Hands of Stone chronicles the career of the legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, known to the world as “Manos de Piedra.” DeNiro is cast as Ray Arcel, Duran’s trainer. Edgar Ramirez plays Duran. Buchanan is the Scotsman whose two-year reign as lightweight champion ended in 1972, when he was dethroned by Duran at Madison Square Garden. “Filming Hands of Stone was an incredible experience,” Duddy says. “A lot of it, including the fight scenes that were supposed to be at Madison Square Garden, were filmed in Panama. Obviously, it was important in terms of my career. But one of the things that meant the most to me was, I never saw Muhammad Ali train or fight, I never saw Sugar Ray Robinson train or fight, but now I’ve watched Robert DeNiro prepare for a role and then perform that role in front of the camera. That was very special for me.” Hands of Stone will be released in late 2015. It’s anyone’s guess where Duddy’s acting career will go from there.
“I enjoy acting,” John says. “Being onstage is a bit like boxing. You rehearse; you prepare. You go over your lines again and again until they’re ingrained in your memory. At times, it’s monotonous the same way that training for a fight and doing the same things in the gym again and again is monotonous. And when you’re onstage in a play, like with boxing, there’s an element of fear. There’s no safety net. You’re living in the moment. If something goes wrong, you have to fix it in a hurry. Films don’t have the same element of danger, but I like films too.”
Does Duddy miss boxing?
“No,” John answers. “I’m glad I did it, and I’ll never do it again. My goal when I started boxing was to become a world champion. That was my biggest motivation all those years. One of the reasons I retired was that I saw so many ex-champions who aren’t doing well. Physically, mentally, they’re having problems. I was getting into my thirties. I always got hit more than I should have as a fighter. And I realized that being a world champion wouldn’t necessarily make me happy in the long run. Damage is a strong word. But in boxing, every time you fight, you lose a piece of yourself that you can never get back again. I didn’t want to go on longer than I should. One of the things I love about acting is that, with each role, instead of being damaged, I’m adding to who I am. Even when I’m in a play and have the same role night after night, it’s new every time. That’s part of the fun.” So, in Duddy’s fantasies, would he rather win an Academy-Award for best actor or be the undisputed middleweight champion of the world? “That’s a damn hard question,” John answers. “One would have been nice before. The other would be nice now. I hope I have a future in acting. But for the moment, I’m taking things one step at a time. I’d like to get a good agent. I’d like to be a working actor. But whatever happens, I’ve done some pretty cool things so far.” IA Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at email@example.com. His most recent book – The Final Recollections of Charles Dickens – was published in November by Counterpoint.
When asked in 2010 about his career:
• “I get hit in the head for a living. I hope that everybody enjoys it.” When asked in 2011 why he was retiring from boxing:
• “Have you seen my fights?”
On the physical safety of acting in films as opposed to the risks inherent in boxing and his tendency to bleed in fights:
• “It doesn’t bother me now when someone looks at me and says ‘cut.’”
TOP LEFT: John Duddy holding the IBA middleweight championship belt after his victory over Yori Boy Campas.
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A community of healers gathers for a retreat on the role of spirituality in healing. By Rosari Kingston ere Island is a small island a mile off the southwest coast of West Cork. Twice as long as it is wide and covering an area of about 20 square miles, it has a population of slightly over 200 people. You can travel to Bere Island by one of two ferries and this in itself is an experience, as the cars have to be reversed onto the ferry and driven off at the other side. Reversing down a narrow slipway with the water lapping the side is not for the fainthearted, but it does emphasize the move from the solid ground of Castletownbere to an island – apart and away from everyday existence This going apart from everyday existence is exactly what I and 20 other health care professionals did some weeks ago as we gathered for a retreat on “The Power of the Small” which was being held on the island. This retreat was led by Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB, and the questions posed were designed to elicit reflection and discussion on the role of spirituality in health care. Those trying to tease out the answers were a disparate group of doctors, psychologists, counsellors, nurses, and therapists.
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This group brought a wide range of experience as they had come from as far afield as Brazil, Canada, U.S., Scotland, England and Ireland. The physical apartness of the island as well as its incredible beauty helped to reinforce our sense of being secluded and the value of the questions being raised. It is this sense of “being apart” that is our first experience of being ill. A pounding headache will drive us under the bedclothes, enveloped in pain and isolation. This is no different for the patient in hospital recovering from surgery. Both situations involve a diminishment of normal everyday activities and a transitory state of being set apart. It is the small gesture, such as a cup of tea, a smile, or eye contact that breathes the intangible and the indefinable into us in these situations and lessens the pain and aloneness. It makes us want to live again. Despite all the technological advances of modern medicine, it must still rest on a bed of compassion and sympathy proffered by medical personnel. The wellbeing (in the full sense of the word) of the nurse, doctor, attendants, therapists, is therefore key to the patient regaining his sense of wholeness and health. The importance of the small gesture was reinforced for me not only by the title and theme of the retreat – The Power of the Small – but also by a small gesture by Edel, from Beara Lodge, on my second day on the island. I was staying alone in a friend’s house and there were no coffee filters to make fresh coffee. I love my coffee, so eschewing the asceticism of the Skellig Michael monks of the distant past, I went to purchase coffee filters at the only shop on the island, which is in the village of
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The Ardnakinna Lighthouse on Bere Island’s western shoreline. The Bere Island ferry. Monks’ accommodation on Skellig Michael in the first millennium. The Ardagh Martello watch tower, one of two Martello towers remaining on the island.
Rerrin. It had no coffee filters but the lady suggested I step into a café behind the shop as the lady there might have some. The lady in question was Edel, and when she heard of my predicament she suggested a cafeteria as an alternative and promptly presented me with the loan of one for the duration of my stay. I was never asked where I was staying, who I was, or what was I doing on this small island at the mouth of Bantry Bay. Such is the significance and appreciation of the small, be it in sickness or health. Unlike most retreats, where the participants stay together in a monastery, we also ‘stayed apart’ in local B&Bs. In this way we mirrored the very old monastic settlements, where the monks used to live in separate huts, such as those on Skellig Michael and who only gathered together for community celebrations. Thankfully, ours were nowhere near as harsh as those occupied by Irish ascetics of old, and Beara Lodge as well as the other hostelries achieved full
marks for food, chat and conviviality. The main talks, meditation and discussion then took place in the Heritage centre with the beauty of the island being our teacher each afternoon. Just as nature inspires us to contemplate the mystery of life when in health, our environment also helps us recover our health when we are ill. If our surroundings are not conducive to rest and restoration, we will be left in a state of ill health longer. The Irish Liaig (Physician) of the 10th century was well aware of the importance of the environment for his patients. Two documents dating from that time tell us that a patient must not be asked to reside in a dwelling which he finds revolting, or in a place where he feels his injury will be increased. The place must not be too bright, and there must be no glare from sea, waterfall, or cliff. Needless to say, barking dogs and grunting pigs were also banished from the environs. The key issues here are beauty, safety and quiet. In our modern technologically driven healthcare system this can mean pleasing décor, much less noise, and confidence in the ability of the medical personnel. The beauty of Bere Island was definitely balm for all of us and we could feel the stress and strains of the everyday melt into the calm waters and beautiful sky-scapes that greeted us daily. Ill health may not return to good health and the transitory nature of all things was also reinforced on Bere Island with both its megalithic and military monuments. Positioned right in the middle of the island is an amazing standing stone, and the question of who determined the calculations of its exact position, and what was its purpose, were riddles to us as we appreciated its magnificence. These megalithic sites of southwest Ireland are intriguing in their beauty, alignments and structure, but they also frusFEBRUARY / MARCH 2015 IRISH AMERICA 49
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trate us with the realization that their knowledge has passed away, leaving us only with questions and no answers. Other monuments include the Lonehart battery and the Martello and watch towers. These are the remains of Britain’s military presence on the island as it sought to turn Bere into another Gibraltar, an impregnable fortress on its western flank. Now they rust and fall into ruins, testimony to the passing of time and diminished imperial might. The transient nature of life is therefore to be seen all around us and needs then to be incorporated into our understanding of health, if we are to achieve spiritual and emotional wholeness in the face of an illness that will not return us to strength and vigor. Medical technology needs to rest on the cushion of mortality, as the lovely Irish expression of condolence captures – “The young may die but the old must.” It is this acceptance of death as the natural end to life that allows the spiritual dimension of life to be incorporated into health care. This is because healing is more than curing, it is about becoming whole, and this wholeness is the true reality of being human. Suffering affects us mentally and emotionally as well as physically and if we do not use the fourth aspect of our being, namely the spiritual, to integrate that suffering, we do not initiate the great healing process that illness can engender in us. The first step in integrating the suffering associated with ill health is to accept its presence. Acceptance of reality is stressed in all major spiritual traditions, and it is the hallmark of harmony between all aspects of our being. The one reality that needs to be accepted when ill is the illness itself and all that accompanies it. This is not a passive act but a clear choice to accept the situation in the here and now and work from there. The one major consequence of this is peace of mind and soul, but this acceptance is usually a step-after-step process rather than a single decision. The next choice is the acceptance that a return to health may take time, and it is only when we have recovered that we realize that illness and its attendant suffering has changed us. It makes us more patient, more keenly aware of the transience of life, and grateful for the expertise and care of those who 50 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
look after us when we are sick. It makes us absorb stillness like a sponge and revel in its timelessness. But the quietness and accompanying silence that envelop us when lying ill in hospital or at home can be overwhelming. It can even be frightening and isolating. This silence is, however, an opportunity to listen to the intangible, the imperceptible, the indefinable. It is in this silence that the mystery of the universe unfolds, and like a flower it needs warmth and time. By the time of our departure from Bere Island we were keenly aware of the need to explore the role of spirituality in suffering and how as medical personnel it behooved us to be well grounded in our own spiritual tradition so as to deliver the best possible care to those under our charge. It is beneficial to know that those present on this beautiful island in West Cork will be returning to hospitals and clinics imbued with the knowledge that spirituality is part of healing, and integration of spirituality to medical care is not antagonistic to best practice. IA Rosari Kingston is a Medical Herbalist in the Irish Tradition, and Director of the Irish College of Traditional & Integrative Medicine. Her area of research is the Irish Healing Tradition and she lectures frequently on this topic.
TOP LEFT: The Bere Island Lodge. TOP RIGHT: The sunset over Bantry Bay. ABOVE: The Gallán Standing Stone stands almost ten feet tall and is clearly visible from Berehaven. It stands at the exact centre point of the island
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what are you like | By Cliodhna Joyce-Daly
Mary Pat Kelly
uthor Mary Pat Kelly weaves historical characters such as Maud Gonne, William Butler Yeats, Countess Markievicz, Michael Collins, and Eamon de Valera, as well as Gabrielle Chanel, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Nora Barnacle, into her new novel Of Irish Blood, a vivid and compelling story inspired by the life of her great-aunt, and the sequel to her best-selling and critically praised novel Galway Bay. As an author and filmmaker, Mary Pat Kelly has told various stories connected to Ireland. Her awardwinning PBS documentaries and accompanying books include To Live for Ireland, a portrait of Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume and the political party he led; Home Away from Home: The Yanks in Ireland, a history of U.S. forces in Northern Ireland during World War II; and Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS Mason, a portrayal of the only African-American sailors to take a World War II
warship into combat, whose first foreign port was Belfast. She wrote and directed the dramatic feature film Proud, starring Ossie Davis and Stephen Rea, based on the USS Mason story. She’s also written such books as Martin Scorsese: The First Decade and Martin Scorsese: A Journey; Good to Go: The Rescue of Scott O’Grady from Bosnia; and a novel, Special Intentions. She is a frequent contributor to Irish America magazine. Mary Pat Kelly worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter for Paramount and Columbia Pictures and in New York City as an associate producer with Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live, and wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Abby’s Song. She received her Ph.D. from the City University of New York. Born and raised in Chicago, she lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her husband, app developer Martin Sheerin from County Tyrone.
What is your current state of mind?
Optimistic – happy my new book Of Irish Blood is out, which means I’m really finished writing it.
Do you have one extravagance?
I love to have fresh flowers in my house. A fellow named Herbie used to sell the leftovers from the flower market on the street very cheap on Fridays. It became my way of celebrating the weekend.
Who are your heroes?
The women of 1916. Not only the famous ones, like Maud Gonne MacBride and Constance Markievicz, but the Sheehy sisters, Helena Moloney and the poets, like Alice Milligan and Ethna Carbery.
What’s on your bedside table? The Liar’s Wife by Mary Gordon. 52 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
What is your earliest memory?
My mother bringing my sister Randy home from the hospital a few days after she was born. Three sisters and a brother followed.
Best advice ever received?
“Hold on, Mary, just hold on,” from my husband, Martin Sheerin
Do you have a hidden talent?
I know the lyrics of hundreds of show tunes. Only wish I could sing them. A good voice is a great gift.
Quality you seek in friends? Kindness.
Quality you deplore in others? Judging. Criticism kills.
I had the chance to teach in Zambia when I was 24, but it was a two-year commitment and I was afraid of being homesick. Now, two years go by in a flash.
Your idea of a perfect day?
Up before dawn, a cup of french roast decaf coffee, actually doing some writing to the sound of classical music and then a walk by the river, lunch with a family member or friend, dinner with my husband Martin and a good book.
Your favorite part of Ireland?
I can’t pick one. I love Galway, especially Bearna and Carna, but I also need to go to Derry and Donegal. I have always had a great time at Shannon Airport duty free, especially now that it has been refurbished.
Your favorite place outside of Ireland? I love NY and my own W 86 St., but a part of my heart will always be in Chicago. And in the summer, I still visit my childhood place – Three Lakes, Wisconsin.
Your most treasured possession?
My father’s tweed hat, which we bought in Millars of Clifden in 1979. They don’t make them anymore. When I put it on I feel my father’s spirit.
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Mary Pat Kelly wearing her father’s tweed hat.
Favorite opening piece of music, book or play?
The opening lines of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes.
What or who was your grand passion?
My husband, Martin. I was 40 when I met him and didn’t expect to marry anyone and here we are almost 30 years later.
First play or film that you saw?
Finian’s Rainbow at Cardinal Stepinac High School in Chicago. Interestingly, Alan Alda and Jon Voight, were both in the play.
Favorite character you’ve written?
Honora Keeley Kelly, my great-great-grandmother, the heroine of Galway Bay.
A movie that you will watch again and again The Quiet Man.
Your favorite sound?
The whispering pines that surround Medicine Lake in Three Lakes, Wisconsin.
Favorite smell? A turf fire.
Wild salmon, mashed potatoes and green beans.
Your proudest moment?
When I was the guest of honor at the U.S. Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Stuttgart, Germany in
2004. I was chosen because I’d renewed the link between the Marines and Derry established when 500 of them served there during WWII. I did a documentary called Home Away from Home: The Yanks in Ireland for PBS about that period. During recent years I worked to bring serving Marines to Ireland from their base in Germany so they could learn more about this history. They stayed at Beech Hill House Hotel, site of the WWII camp, and always had a wonderful time. In return they invited me to become what they said was the first non-military woman to be the guest of honor at a Marine Corps Birthday Ball. They did not count Eleanor Roosevelt, because she was the wife of Commander and Chief. It was humbling and thrilling.
What question do you wish someone would ask you? Aren’t you glad you have your mother’s genes? She’s 94 and she is a marvel.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who loved Ireland and Irish America and tried to tell stories of both.
As you look back on life, is there a moment that stands out that you return to often?
I guess the moment I stood on the shores of Galway Bay and knew that after 40 years of searching I’d found my particular piece of Ireland, the place my great-great-grandmother was born – Bearna, Freeport, Co.Galway. IA
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music | new release
The Irish musician, singer-son gwriter, and composer Gem ma Hayes talks to Katy Harrington abou t making music her way.
’ve never done an interview with a baby before,” says an apologetic Gemma Hayes who has just run off to comfort her crying son. One-year-old Max hasn’t take kindly to being left with the nanny while his mum sits down to talk about her new album. “Oh yeah, the album,” she begins again… Written and recorded over two years, Bones + Longing is Hayes’s fifth release. Most was recorded pre “little man;” the second part after Max was born. But don’t expect songs about motherhood. “There is nothing on there about having a baby...the next one will probably have loads,” she jokes. Being a mum has changed Hayes without a doubt. “I have so much more understanding and compassion for human beings,” she says laughing at herself. “All of a sudden, a baby comes along and it rips your heart open. You feel so much love and then you realize everyone was once a little baby and you feel so much warmth for human beings. I really liked that change in me, it softened me.” Becoming a mother isn’t the only thing that’s changed since we last heard from Hayes. The new album has all the Hayes hallmarks – dreamy lyrics, haunting voice, beautiful melodies – but it’s rawer, less “perfect” than before. “I try to leave the songs alone,” she explains. “In the studio there’s a tendency to perfect everything; if the vocal isn’t perfect…you can make it sound brighter. What I wanted to do with this album is leave it as raw as possible.” An example of this new approach is evident on “To Be Your Honey.” Hayes wrote the song and recorded it on her iPhone. In the studio, when she played it back for long-time producer David Odlum (“the only person I’ll listen to”), he told Hayes she wouldn’t be able to reproduce a vocal that emotive, that raw again. Despite her attempts in the studio, Odlum was right, and a cleaned up version of the iPhone take made the album. For Hayes, the goal now is to mean every song she sings. Signed to the very hip Source Records at 21, her debut album Night On My Side came out in 2002, wowing critics and earning her a Mercury nomination. It was a dream start but when Hayes re54 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
located to L.A. to make her second album and Source became part of Virgin Records, things turned sour. Heavyweight A&R men wanted shorter songs, choruses to come in quicker, glossier, easier to listen to, “more accessible” music. Making an album with A&R men breathing down her neck wasn’t easy. “I knew the sound I was going for but I found I had to explain myself to these A&R men. I had to fight for every decision.” The product was the epitome of the “difficult second album.” Critics saw The Roads Don’t Love You as a move away from Hayes’s folksy roots towards the mainstream. One BBC reviewer wrote that some tracks on the more polished album were “clichéd and stodgy,” while others failed to make any impression at all. The album was deleted after three weeks on sale. The record company strife, the bad reviews and lukewarm reception for the album left its scars. Hayes was “traumatized” and stopped writing music for a while altogether. “People poke holes in you and when you are young and sensitive and you are kinda like ‘holy shit.’” Looking back, she says while the experience was amazing in some ways she was scared – scared of the praise, scared of the criticism. L.A. wasn’t all bad though. “I fell in love with it…it’s a wonderful crazy place.” Hayes stayed for four years, dated Irish film director Mark Carney (of Once fame), recorded an album with My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, and after a friend suggested that she should use her music for TV and film she signed a lucrative sync deal with Secret Road. Since then Hayes has become a soughtafter composer of scores for both TV shows and movies (her music was featured on both rival supermarket chains’ Aldi and Lidl’s Christmas ad campaigns in Ireland last year). At 37, Hayes describes L.A. as a “gorgeous looking adolescent”. Being there suited her “single, young state of mind,” but like a teenage romance, she fell out of love just as quickly. Looking back, maybe it was all too easy. It was a case of “Ooh I want to be a songwriter, here’s a record deal,” she says. “Fantastic, but part of me didn’t appreciate it at the time.”
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“Sometimes if you are a woman and you know your own mind you’re seen as difficult”
Having come from the old school method of making music with a major label deal, things are much different for Hayes as an independent artist today. She no longer has “the machine” to help get her music out there. Instead, Hayes has turned to crowd sourcing. Working with Pledge Music, along with the likes of Little Boots, Culture Club, and The Ting Tings, she works directly with people who listen to her and buy her records. As well pre-ordering albums, fans are offered upgrades and VIP tickets to gigs. For £250, fans were offered a spot singing or playing on Bones + Longing (depending on their musical ability they could contribute anything from handclaps to playing percussion to singing backing vocals, but regardless their name appears on the credits). For two grand, you can book Hayes to play an acoustic set in your front room. The process has been liberating but also “kinda terrifying.” She might not have not have pressure from record bosses, but she does have a responsibility to her backers. For Hayes, the best thing is that the resulting album “doesn’t sound exhausted, it hasn’t been flattened till all the edge is lost.” In person, Hayes is sincere, soft spoken, intense and jaw-dropingly beautiful. Looking at her, it’s hard not to believe her when she says she is happier then she’s ever been. “I prefer where I am now,” she says, admitting in the same breath that she misses the huge tour support and the big budgets but still, she wouldn’t trade. “I know what it is that I want and what I like.” While touring the new album with a small child will be challenging, she says singing live is still part of her. “I’m not a troubadour with a guitar on my back that’ll get up and sing whenever I’m asked but I love gigging. I get scared and nervous, but then I get into it and the adrenaline, the connection with the people… it’s a cliché but it’s true, there’s nothing else in my life that gives me that rush.” She plans to gig at weekends, bringing “hubby” to hold the baby when she’s on stage. Hayes married Irish businessman and millionaire Stuart Musgrave in August. She is “over and back” to Ireland This feature first appeared in The Irish Post.
but London has been her home for a year now and she loves it. Born in Ballyporeen, Co. Tipperary, Hayes is the youngest of eight children. Despite her family’s musical leanings (her father, a garda, played in an Irish country and western band, her sister plays fiddle in a trad band and her brother plays bass guitar) she was the only one “mad enough to make it a career.” As a kid, she remembers feeling awkward and shy, but says childhood photos of her “singing, dancing, doing anything to get attention” provide evidence to the contrary. Primary school she found “depressing,” in a small town in Ireland where teachers were still hitting their pupils. “We were slapped all the time. It was very aggressive.” In secondary school she got her first taste of popularity. “I was probably around 15. There was a day where everyone had to show a talent.” Hayes learned a Juliana Hatfield song. After singing it, suddenly “all the cool guys with band names Tipp-Exed on their bags were interested in talking to me because I could play guitar. I remember that moment thinking ‘They can see me now.’ I was invisible before then.” Hayes moved to Dublin to study Arts but found herself less interested in academia and more invested in writing songs and going to open mic nights. Those early songs were innocent, pure and unfiltered, but once the record deal came, she felt she had some-
thing to prove. “I was so caught up with being taken seriously. I was angry about the world and how the world treats women. Now I realize that shouting and stamping my feet and getting into a strop isn’t the way to move forward.” Shouting and foot stamping sound like diva behavior but Hayes doesn’t strike me as the type to throw tantrums. “Sometimes if you are a woman and you know your own mind you’re seen as difficult.” Would she have been under the same pressure had she been a 21year-old man with a guitar in hand back in that studio? “I felt back then if you had a guy with a guitar and a girl with a guitar, before either one played a note one would assume the guy was talented until he proved himself not to be. Whereas they would assume the girl wouldn’t be able to play properly until she proved her talent. I always found that difference.” Looking back, what would she tell her 21-year-old self to do differently? “Protect yourself but stay open. Don’t ever get hard or bitter.” Before, she says, she wanted everything to be perfect, now she’s happily embracing flaws, seeing the character in imperfection. While reading bad news and alarmist headlines keeps her awake at night, Hayes is unapologetically happy where she is. “It’s a mixture of everything; I can’t really separate music and my life. So I am older and wiser and a little bit more relaxed. Now I know what’s bullshit and what’s important, and before I wasn’t sure.” IA Bones + Longing is out now.
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His Irish Growing up, Cathal that a man’s place Story by Kara Rota
Cathal Armstrong, owner and chef at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia.
56 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
rom an early age, Cathal Armstrong understood the importance of time spent together at the dinner table, as well as the effort required to get food on the plate. A professional tour operator, Cathal’s father traveled and brought unusual foods from places like Spain, Greece, and Algeria back home to Dublin, where he integrated the ingredients into his enthusiastic cooking. “In addition to cooking, Dad also was a hobby gardener,” recalls Cathal, now an acclaimed chef and restaurateur at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as the author of My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant. Armstrong is eager to continue to introduce America to the potential of Irish cuisine. But it took time to get Restaurant Eve to where it is today. “It really wasn’t until six or eight months after we opened the restaurant that I started to gradually add in some of these Irish ingredients and Irish things from home,” he says. “We had already established a reputation for quality at that point, and Irish cuisine and quality weren’t necessarily synonymous. You wouldn’t think of fine dining when you’d say ‘Irish.’ “Still, to this day, I talk to people about it and they say, ‘What’s good Irish food?’ You know, other than what we jokingly say, ‘boil the bejayzus out of it’ – the Irish cooking technique,” he jokes. “But Ireland is a small island and it has a moderate, temperate climate, it has green grass so we can graze cattle and sheep outdoors year-round and we can grow crops year-round,” he explains.
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Table “They’ve always had the raw materials to have an elegant cuisine, but just because of the history of hundreds of years under British rule, they never really had the opportunity for a cuisine to develop. With the Celtic Tiger and the changing economic climate in Ireland, in the ’90s chefs started returning to Ireland and using the indigenous ingredients there to create a cuisine that was much more elegant and representative of what Ireland can be.” Today, Restaurant Eve’s menu includes Irish staples like Irish bacon, egg, and cheese listed alongside dishes like pan-fried monkfish tail with roasted cauliflower, stayman apple and habanerored onion relish. Along with creating food that draws from Irish and international inspirations, Armstrong is also passionate about helping to impact food policy in the U.S. He participated in a push for the USDA to approve Irish beef for import into the U.S., and is passionate about campaigns that seek to get people eating more healthfully. “The problems in the food chain are so many at the moment that very often I meet people who say, ‘it’s just so big and so bad, there’s no way that we can fix it.’ But we have to take steps and take responsibility to make change,” he says. “I’ve always said that we have to have a positive attitude about it and not a bury-your-head-inthe-sand attitude. I’ve lobbied on Capitol Hill for GMO [genetically modified organism] labeling on food, with Food Network and a bunch of other chefs from around the country.” “The resources Irish chefs have at their disposal are abundant...Grass-fed beef and lamb are superlative. Irish butter ranks among the finest butters of the world, as do artisanal cheeses such as Cashel Blue and Dalhallow. As an Island country, Ireland is also rich in fish and seafood, such as plaice, mussels, oysters, and Dublin Bay Prawns, some of the most delectable shellfish you’d ever want to eat.” – From My Irish Table (Ten Speed Press)
PHOTOS: SCOTT SUCHMAN
Armstrong learned was in the kitchen.
ABOVE: Putting the finishing touches on the Shepherd’s Pie at Restaurant Eve. LEFT: The meat platter at Restaurant Eve.
ABOVE: Leg of pork, for now. The menu changes seasonally, and sometimes more.
He is also a founder of Chefs as Parents, a nonprofit organization partnered with the Obama administration focused on improving school lunch systems. “A small group of chefs in D.C. were asked by the White House early in the Obama administration to look at school lunch and give our opinion on it. We went to a couple of elementary schools in Washington, D.C., and were appalled by what we saw there,” he says. Another campaign called Chefs Move!, which asks chefs across the country to get involved in their local schools, was launched soon afterwards. “It’s such a big issue and such an important issue to me. I’m a parent, and I’ve seen what children are being fed in schools, and it’s horrifying…[Chefs] are in a position where we can participate in a conversation about how we can improve our food system, not just in school lunch, but in many areas where there are issues. Farm subsidies need to be changed and GMO labeling. We’re innovators in our communities, we’re business owners and leaders with a loud voice, so I’m happy to use it wherever I can.” After undergoing a more personal transformation in which he lost about 70 pounds, Armstrong is now working on a health and fitness-focused cookbook. He says it will be characterized by “the kind of food I’ve become renowned for, natural, healthy, local, in-season eating, and how to stay fit and eat well at the same time.” IA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015 IRISH AMERICA 57
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Caroline Evans, “Áine.” Watercolor and Ink.
Love With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Edythe Preet gives us the story of Áine goddess of love, and the star-crossed lovers the warrior Diarmuid Ua and Gráinne, daughter of the High King Cormac mac Airt.
ove. It makes the world go round, conquers all and warps the mind. We are star-crossed by it, swept away by it, fall into it, and become fools for it. It can’t be bought, but some have paid dearly for it. All’s fair in it. Wars have been fought for it, and kingdoms renounced for it. It’s better than wine, sweeter than candy and more glorious than a summer’s day. And anyone will tell you it’s better to have known it and lost than never to have known it at all. Like hunger and thirst, love is a basic human need. It must be satisfied. We are consumed by our longing for it, and search unceasingly until we find the one true bond that fills the void. So basic is love to existence that even the earliest civilizations recognized its link with mating and procreation. Since time immemorial, supplicants have prayed to the divinities of love for the blessing of fertility. Our ancestors’ lives followed the revolving seasonal wheel. The agricultural cycle of planting and harvest lies at the heart of all the earliest religions. And since it was the female who gave birth to the young, so too was the magic of sprouting grain ascribed to a divine feminine principle. Even in the
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midst of our technological age, She survives. We know her as Mother Nature and think of her as a nurturing woman in her prime years. But when humanity was young, the Goddess had a very different personality. In Ireland, the goddess of love is Áine, a passionate beauty whose fiery hair is crowned with a circlet of silver stars. The daughter of Egobail, a member of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, her titles include Lady of the Lake, Queen of the Faeries, Goddess of Luck, and the Patroness of Crops and Cattle who gave the people of Ireland the Gift of Grain. Her name is found in the family trees of multiple Irish clans, and she is closely associated with County Limerick where, on the hill of Knockainy (Cnoc Áine), fire rituals held in her honor blessed the land. Her worshippers prayed that she would shower them with prosperity, fertility, sexuality and abundance. Even though Áine was also a goddess of healing, making her angry could have dire consequences. A few hapless mortal men who lusted for her suffered full measures of her wrath. In one early narrative Áine was taken against her will by the King of Munster, Ailil Aulum. In retaliation the goddess bit off one of Ailil’s ears, depriving him of his kingdom since only a “perfect” man could rule and leaving him to be forever known as “Aulum,” which means “oneeared.” In another tale, Áine was ravished by Gearoid Iarla, Gerald, Earl of Desmond. For his crime, Áine turned Gearoid into a goose, then killed and ate him. One of Ireland’s great fables concerns the starcrossed lovers Diarmuid Ua Duibhne (Diarmid O’Dyna), an adept swordsman who saved Fionn mac Cumhaill and his Fianna warriors by single-handedly slaying 3,400 enemies, and Gráinne, daughter of the High King Cormac mac Airt. Though pledged to marry Fionn, when Gráinne met Diarmuid it was love at first sight. On realizing Fionn was an old man, she drugged his guards and eloped with Diarmuid. With Fionn and his men in hot pursuit, the lovers ran and hid across the length and breadth of the island, until Gráinne became pregnant and their pace slowed. One day they encountered a wild boar. To protect Gráinne and their unborn child, Diarmuid slew the boar but
The Rathanny Ring Fort (Fairy Fort) in Co. Limerick, couple of miles away from Knock Áine, may be conncted to the mythical deite Aine.
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sláinte | recipes was gored by its tusks, and when Fionn found them Diarmuid was dying. Gráinne begged Fionn to save her beloved with water from his magic hands. Sadly, before she could convince the Fianna leader to do so, Diarmuid died in Gráinne’s arms. Scattered across all of Ireland, huge slabs of stone known as Gráinne’s Beds are said to mark the places where the tragic lovers lay together. Another famous Irish love story has a happier ending. It is no coincidence that James Joyce chose June 16th, 1904 as the day for Leopold Bloom’s pensive perambulation through Dublin in his masterwork Ulysses. For that was the very date of Joyce’s first romantic liaison with Nora Barnacle, his lifelong love and inspiration. Nora and James had vastly different personalities and interests, but they loved each other passionately. Though Nora often complained that James’ writings lacked sense and she wished he had been a musician, their love never wavered. When Ulysses was denounced as vulgar for its sexual content and banned from distribution, Nora stood steadfastly by her man and fled to Europe with him. Exiled for decades, Nora and James married in 1931 and stayed together until James’ death in 1941. Now Ulysses is hailed as the seminal modernist novel and one of the greatest contributions to world literature. Ulysses records the events of an average day in the lives of three Dubliners: Leopold Bloom, a frustrated advertisement canvasser; his wife Molly, a lusty amateur opera singer; and Stephen Daedalus, a moody poet and part-time teacher. It is the saga of a man exiled by loneliness whose search for social, political and ethical fulfillment is thwarted by the situations of his very environment. In the novel’s final pages, Molly Bloom’s famous soliloquy, one long uninterrupted sentence recounting her answer when Leopold asked her to marry him, ends with the word “Yes” – Joyce’s affirmation of life and the power of love. One of Ireland’s most famous icons is the Claddagh Ring. Its design, which originated in the County Galway fishing village of Claddagh, shows two hands joined in friendship around a heart of love surmounted by a crown of loyalty. For more than 300 years, the Claddagh Ring has signified the sentiment “This is my heart that I give to you crowned with my love” or the wish “Let love and friendship reign.” As paramount symbols of unwavering love, Claddagh Rings will be found on the fingers of many couples who flock to the annual Blessing of the Rings ceremony on February 14th at Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church. For that is where the holy relics of Saint Valentine were relocated in 1836 by Pope Gregory XVI as a gesture of gratitude for Irish Carmelite John Sprat’s dedicated work with the destitute of Dublin. Amazing but true. Sláinte! IA
Fried Oysters (personal recipe)
RECIPES Many couples celebrate Valentine’s Day with a romantic dinner, some hoping the meal will also stoke the flames of passion. If that’s the intention, at least one dish should feature oysters. Not only are they an Irish culinary delight, they’re also a bona fide aphrodisiac as well!
Live oysters are best as fresh as possible and should be purchased from a store with good turnover. Reject those that do not have tightly closed shells or that don’t snap shut when tapped. The smaller the oyster is (for its species), the younger and more tender it will be. Fresh shucked oysters are also available and should be plump, uniform in size, have good color, smell fresh and be packaged in clear, not cloudy, oyster liquor. Live oysters should be covered with a damp towel and refrigerated with the larger shell down for a maximum of three days. The sooner they’re used, the better they’ll taste. When serving oysters on the half-shell, accompany with fresh lemon wedges. Twelve oysters will serve two people.
12 shucked oysters 1 egg, beaten 1 ⁄4 cup milk salt & pepper 1 cup fine bread crumbs oil for cooking 2 French rolls
Place the oysters in a pot of boiling water and cook for three minutes. Remove, drain and dry the oysters. Beat the egg with the milk and season with salt and pepper. Dip each oyster into the egg mixture and roll in the bread crumbs. Heat fat in a skillet. Fry each oyster for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve on split and toasted crusty rolls. Makes 2 servings.
Oyster Stew (personal recipe)
3 cups whole milk 10 shucked oysters soft butter
Warm milk in a medium saucepan until it begins to sizzle – DON’T BOIL. Slip the oysters with their nectar into the milk and heat them until their edges curl. Ladle oysters and milk into warmed bowls. Top each serving with a hefty tablespoon of soft butter. Serve when golden droplets of melted butter cover the surface. Makes 2 servings.
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review of books | recently published books Nora Webster
By Colm Tóibín
olm Tóibín’s latest novel Nora Webster finds the gifted Irish author writing one of his most personal novels since Brooklyn. Throughout Nora Webster, Tóibín taps into his early childhood growing up in Wexford, the death of his father, and the perseverance of his mother. His penchant for character-driven plot and psychological insight is front and center. Nora Webster brims with a subtlety and detachment that brings to mind other authors like James Joyce and of course Henry James. Much like James’s Portrait of a Lady, Tóibín renders the thoughts and actions of his main character Nora with a skill that allows the reader to connect to the character, but achieves enough distance to take in her world as well. Nora is a forty-something widow living in Wexford in the 1960s where she raises her four children. Tóibín provides the ice pick and gloves to hack away at the cold center of Nora’s heart as she comes to terms with the death of her husband and struggles to start again. It is these poignant moments that Tóibín presents so vividly the reader is at once drawn to her. But we are also kept at bay. Nora is herself a force to be reckoned with who is “surprised” at “the hardness of her resolve.” While Tóibín captures the complexity of mourning and detachment in Nora, he is also successful in recreating small-town life, complete with minuscule gossip and petty workplace drama. In some ways, Nora Webster has more in common with Henry James than Tóibín’s previous works, as an air of the supernatural creeps into the story. Characters and ghosts possess an otherworldly hold on Nora’s life, and though at times compelling, Tóibín dips a bit too heavily into the fantastic, particularly with the character of Sister Thomas. Tóibín’s tale also tackles the Troubles and the changing political and social landscape of Ireland, but his re-creation feels detached. It is clear he is trying to weave the stories of Nora and Ireland together, but the seams show too often. Nora feels removed from the history unfolding in her country, preferring to reference what she thinks her husband would have thought or asking herself questions like what her interests were, only to conclude “she was interested in nothing at all.” These are the weakest sections of the book, but eventually Tóibín redirects his attention on Nora. What we are finally left with is a personal and loving portrait of resilience. – Matthew Skwiat (Simon & Schuster / 384 pages / $27)
60 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
By Richard Flanagan
ichard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North recently won the 2014 Man Booker prize. It is only the second time an Australian novelist has
won the prestigious British award, but it’s easy to see why this one did. Narrow Road achingly and at times almost unbearably reconstructs the lives of a group of men forced to endure the near impossible during WWII, and how they experience the scars of war and the shadowed memories they leave behind. Flanagan tells the little-known story of a group of Australian POW’s in Thailand forced to construct a bridge, often termed
Other Interesting Reads
“The Death Railway,” connecting Burma and Thailand, a story dramatized on the silver screen by The Bridge on the River Kwai. But that film gives a tepid portrayal of the real-life events in comparison to Narrow Road, which is viscerally poignant and eschews romanticized notions of war in favor of harsh moral ambiguities. “The suffering, the sorrow, the abject, pathetic pointlessness of such immense suffering by so many; maybe it all exists only within these pages and the pages of a few other books,” Flanagan writes. “Horror can be contained within a book, given form and meaning. But in life horror has no more form than it does meaning. Horror just is.” One of the reasons Narrow Road works so well is the personal story it grew out of. Flanagan’s family history approaches the epic; his ancestors were Irish convicts sent to Australia during the Famine in the 1840s, and Flanagan’s father, who recently passed away at 98, was a prisoner of war in Burma.
His stories played a big role in the conception of the novel. Flanagan dedicates his book to “prisoner san byaku san ju go (335),” his father’s POW number. At the heart of the story is Dorrigo Evans, an enigmatic surgeon who goes through his own epic odyssey of war and peace, adding another layer of emotional resonance to the tale. Evans is modeled on Sir Ernest Edward Dunlop, an Australian POW hero. Flanagan’s prose is direct and unsparing, but bursting with thunderstorms of tenderness that bring to mind other classic war writers like Tolstoy, Hemingway, and Mailer. Embedded throughout the narrative are allusions to some of Flanagan’s own influences like Tennyson and Kipling and the title is from a haiku written by the Japanese poet Basho. Flanagan’s book – instead of presenting a one-sided polemic, forces us to look at war and survival in all of its unsettling and ferocious power and influence.
The Liar’s Wife
The Making of a Capital City By David Dickerson
Dublin’s 1,400-year history condensed to an exceptionally exciting read.
(Belknap / Harvard)
– Matthew Skwiat (Alfred A. Knopf / 352 pages / $26.95)
By Mary Gordon
Four transatlantic stories fraught with ethical ambiguity, and challenging the traditional dichotomy of travel vs exile.
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The Ellis Island Trilogy:
Ellis Island, City of Hope, Land of Dreams
By Michael Longley
elfast poet Michael Longley’s tenth collection is a study in dualities: music and silence, age and youth, mythology and ordinariness, local and remote, history and present, war and peace. But the foremost, which undergirds the entire collection, is nothing less than life and the afterlife, signaled by a direct and personal opening line: “I have been thinking about the music for my funeral.” Much focus is given to World War I and the death of Longley’s twin brother. Ancestry and inheritance become key themes in the collection, so it seems almost natural that the immortality of Greek gods and Homer’s Iliad should take up so much space as well. Hardly a poem does not contain a classical allusion, with many directly comparing the contemporary with the mythological, elevating the present to the status of mythic importance. The compulsion towards myth making is reminiscent of Patrick Kavanagh’s much anthologized poem “Epic,” in which the “local row” of family fighting in Ireland is compared to the inspiration for Homer’s Iliad. But where Kavanagh’s poem suggests that historical significance may be arbitrarily determined, Longley’s continued use of classical characters and allusions is a personal elevation and catharsis. For Longley, who studied classics at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Trinity College Dublin, the classical serves as an extension of the self, both aiding his ability to come to terms with the death of his brother and allotting him a greater canvas with which to understand current and historical events. For those less familiar with ancient Greek mythology, Longley’s verse is no less potent and enjoyable (though the curious may want an encyclopedia handy) because he brings to it a contemporary relevance and personal force so universally emotional that even if you (like I) can’t pronounce some of the names, you still interOf Irish Blood nalize their characters. – Adam Farley (Wake Forest / 80 pages / $14.95)
By Alan Gillis
The fourth collection from one of Northern Ireland’s most daring and uncompromising young poets.
Centennial Edition By James Joyce
The same classic stories with a new cover, and a touching introduction by Colum McCann.
By Mary Pat Kelly
hile Mary Pat Kelly’s second novel, Of Irish Blood, begins in 1903, the tribulations of heroine Nora Kelly remain entirely relevant today. At twenty-four, Nora finds herself unable to settle for a practical marriage and life at home. Instead, she pushes the boundaries
By Kate Kerrigan
ate Kerrigan has a talent for writing compelling women’s voices. The Ellis Island trilogy, set in the 1920s through the early 1940s, centers on Eileen Hogan, Ellie, who immigrates to New York after her husband John is injured in the Irish War for Independence. She intends to work, send money home, and eventually return, but is deeply affected by, and conflicted about, the glamour of the Jazz Age. She loves her husband, but values independence; misses Ireland, but enjoys the freedoms of New York. She can be selfish, sentimental, eloquent, and sharp, all of which makes her a convincing character. Taking as settings the Roaring 20s, the Depression, and Hollywood’s golden years in each installment respectively, Ellie navigates the changing American landscape with a sense of growing liberalism and feminism. Some of the trilogy’s best scenes involve her interactions with a masculine landscape that seeks to silence a woman with as strong views as hers. Kerrigan handles these scenes with skill and writes towards a progressive ideal far ahead of its time. In one of the trilogy’s most memorable scenes, Ellie confronts officers at Manzanar, where a bi-racial friend has been interned. To always be on the right side of history at times makes Ellie seem more of an ideal than a real historical character, but Kerrigan’s writing is moving and the pursuit of happiness can sometimes itself feel less than realistic. So, why not indulge?
– Adam Farley (Harper Collins / Each book printed separately)
of her prescribed woman’s role both at work, where her tendency to question authority lands her the beginnings of a career as a fashion designer, and in love. Nora begins an illicit affair with a charming rake who encourages her to “take her pleasure like a man,” an arrangement that lasts for years until he turns on Nora violently when she tries to seek her freedom. Facing physical threats and shameful social consequences, Nora flees to Paris, where she finds her
quick tongue and designer’s eye are appreciated by a cast of historical characters from Chanel to Matisse, skillfully brought to life in Kelly’s delightful prose. The adventure that follows in Of Irish Blood is nothing less than an epic, weaving the story of a brave young woman who discovers that her opinions about love, art, politics, and war are as valuable as any man’s.
– Kara Rota (Forge / 512 pages / $25.99)
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roots | the macs
By Adam Farley
McCreash / McCrory / McMahon his issue’s Roots column is slightly different from the traditional format. Instead of looking at a single surname, or different but etymologically related surnames, I examine three unique but phonetically and geographically related family names. This is in part practical – the names are relatively uncommon compared to our usual surnames, so information on them is scarcer – but it is also to demonstrate just how many names are lost in this generation through marriage and the continuation of the patrilineal name. For those who read Megan Smolenyak’s excellent genealogical research into the family history of Stephen Colbert (b. 1964) in this issue (p. 34), the three names will be familiar. The one other thing they all have in common is the mac prefix, “son of.” This also shows just how removed today’s generalized anglicized surnames are from their lexical roots, since, at least in Colbert’s case, each of these masculine family names was eventually borne by a woman, and lost. (The “daughter of” prefix is ní, now almost exclusively used only in the Irish language.) In addition to the issue of privileging the masculine prefix as the default mode of anglicization, the first name I will address, and the least common of nterestingly, Eochaidh the three, shows just how far removed a transliterCobha also leads to ated surname can morph from its origin, especially the McCrorys. given regional Irish dialects. Eoichaidh Cobha and his descendants were members of a branch of ccording to The Irish the Clann Rudhraighe, Times, there were exactly anglicized as Rory, and four land-owning McCreash whose descendants, households in 19th century when they used the surIreland, three in Co.Tyrone name (which was, acand one in Co. Armagh. The Times does show 37 cording to Edward instances of “McCreesh,” mostly in Armagh, but MacLysaght’s Irish this is still a comparatively small number, perhaps Surnames, surprisingly because the name is more commonly found in a rare), became Mac different anglicized form: McGuinness (for which Rudhraighe, McRory, 8,291 land-owning households were surveyed in or more commonly in the 19th century). Naturally, this figure ignores Tyrone (where the sept the non-land-owning population, which was was based) and Derry, largely Catholic, but it still gives an idea of how McCrory. And this is common these respective anglicizations were and how Stephen their phonetic variations. The name derives from Tyrone Colbert attained Mac Raois, which is itself an Ulster Irish corruphis middle name. tion of Mac Aonghusa or Mac Aonghuis, “son of Colbert himself: “The Angus.” It has also been anglicized variably as: McCrorys were Guinness, MacGuinnessy, MacNeice, Minnis, O’Neills way back, and and maybe most strangely, Kennish. the story was that one The original Irish Mac Aonghusa dates back to of the O’Neills had the time of St. Patrick. By the 12th century, the been the Earl of Tyfamily became the principal territorial lords of rone, and so they Iveagh, Co. Down under the leadership of named me Tyrone after Eochaidh Cobha, a descendant of whom is indeed him.” the same Arthur Guinness (1725 – 1803) who In the south, the took out a 9,000-year lease of the little brewery at name traditionally beSt. James Gate in Dublin. came Rogers.
The coat of arms above are those of the Clare (left) and Ulster (right) McMahons. 62 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
f these three names, McMahon is arguably the best known, and not least because of Johnny Carson’s singular sidekick, Ed McMahon (1923 – 2009) – though he probably did more for the name’s contemporary notoriety than any of the distinguished medieval lords, Armagh bishops, and military commanders who also bore the name. The name derives from two geographically distinct septs, one in Clare and one in Monaghan, but both originating from the Irish Mac Mathghamhna, which in turn is said to be derived from the early Irish word for “bear.” As with the other two names, there are geographic variations in its anglicization. The Ulster clan generally retains McMahon, while the Connacht clan, which is in fact related to the famed Brian Boru through Mahon, son of Murtagh Mór O’Brien, king of Ireland (d. 1119), varies between MacMahon and Mohan. Farther south in Musnter, the clan became Vaughan. As may be expected given the Ulster tendency of this list, the northernmost McMahons were the most historically powerful. From the 13th century through the Cromwellian years in the 17th, they ruled much of the Oriel region in Monaghan, until the last chief of the family, Hugh McMahon (d. 1644), was betrayed by an O’Connelly in a 1641 attempt to seize Dublin CasTOP: Ed McMahon. tle and was eventually ABOVE: Patrice de beheaded. The Clare MacMahon, presiMcMahons have fared bet- dent of France. ter in recent times though, with the most famous, Patrice de MacMahon, Duke of Magenta (1808 – 1893), serving as President and Marshal of the Third Republic of France from 1873–1875. IA
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IA.Crossword_IA Template 1/16/15 5:58 PM Page 64
By Darina Molloy
1 Vocalizes (5) 7 Moving from one thing to another effortlessly and without interruption (8) 11 Mountain range in Co. Louth (6) 12 _____ Murphy: playwright who authored The Walworth Farce, which stars 24 across (4) 14 ___ vey (2) 15 (& 21 down) Dorchester-born writer who wrote 2006 hit movie The Departed (7) 17 See 42 across (5) 18 Glen of ______, Co. Tipperary (7) 2 0 (& 26 down) This Scotland-born Irish republican was executed in 1916 (5) 22 Fruit of the ____: US clothing company that used to have a factory in Donegal (4) 24 Members of this famous Dublin acting family took to the Dublin stage together in February (7) 25 (& 23 down) Young actor, with roots in Kerry, who stars in Unbroken (4) 28 Dayglo (4) 29 (& 35 across) Former Fine Gael TD who started a new Irish political party (7) 30 See 45 down (6) 32 Stephen King novel featuring the creepy Pennywise the Dancing Clown (2) 33 Bryan Cranston’s character in Malcolm in the Middle (3) 34 United Nations, in short (2) 35 See 29 across (9) 36 A café recently opened in Belfast selling only sandwiches with this unusual filler (6) 40 (& 18 down, & 40 down) Ireland’s longest defined coastal touring route (4) 42 (& 17 across) The largest Victorian Walled Garden in Ireland can be found in this Co. Galway spot (8) 43 (& 57 down) This NY-born neuroscientist, with roots in Cork and Mayo, won a Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 2014 (4) 44 Señor Guevara (3) 47 See 39 down (6) 49 This Antrim-born James stars in TV drama The Missing (7) 52 Let he who is without ___ cast the first stone (3) 53 Comes in all sizes – for an ocean or an eye (5) 54 He was in Roseanne for many years, but this medical drama proved to be the making of George Clooney (1, 1) 55 This Mr. Farrell will star in the second series of True Detective (5) 56 See 16 down (1, 4) 57 See 43 across (1, 5)
2 Frozen water (3) 3 Once upon a time, this was the late Rev. Ian Paisley’s fautorite word! (2) 4 This search engine is a big help with modern crosswords! (6) 5 Cunning or crafty (3) 6 When Irish ____ are smiling (4) 7 Slightly anglicized spelling of the Irish word for mountain: sliabh (6) 8 Birthplace of director John Ford (5) 9 An Irish “he” (2) 10 Someone who thinks of himself as a higher being than others (4) 13 (& 37 down) This Parks & Recreation star has Irish roots (3) 16 (& 56 across) This grand dame of acting was
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awarded an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Win a subscription Achievement in November (7) to Irish America 18 See 40 across (8) 19 Top name for baby boys born in Ireland last year (4) magazine 21 See 15 across (7) Please send your com23 See 25 across (1, 7) pleted crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth 24 When this medical condition affects the big toe, it’s Avenue, Suite 201, New known as podagra (4) York, NY 10001, to arrive 26 See 20 across (8) no later than March 15, 27 Irish surname which means foreigner or, literally, 2015. A winner will be Welshman (5) drawn from among all correct entries. If there 29 Heaven for book lovers (7) are no correct solutions, 30 Sly innuendos (4) the prize will be awarded 31 A habit or pattern that is unproductive but hard to for the completed puzzle change (3) which comes closest in 37 See 13 down (7) the opinion of our staff. Winner’s name will be 38 Top baby girl name in Ireland last year (5) published along with the 39 (& 47 across) This NY collector became Ireland’s solution in our next issue. first honorary citizen and a library named for him Xerox copies are acceptis one of Dublin’s top attractions (7) able.Winner of the 40 See 40 across (3) Dec./Jan. Crossword: Kelly Vaughn, Bend, OR 41 Man’s best friend, supposedly (3) 45 (& 30 across) Belfast actor who’s all about December / January Solution shades of grey (5) 46 Offaly home of a well-known castle (4) 47 Shortened brothers (4) 48 Remain or stay somewhere (4) 49 _____ Campbell starred in Party of Five (4) 50 Fan name for the popular Dublin football club, the oldest League of Ireland club in continuous existence (4) 51. Nickname given to former Republic of Ireland soccer manager Giovanni Trapattoni (4)
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photo album | family pictures
John Harrington y great-great-grandfather John Harrington’s family had probably been in the Beara peninsula of southwest Ireland for many generations before he emigrated in 1848, during the Great Hunger. In Irish, the ancestral name was probably Ó hIongardail (anglicized to Harrington for ease of entry into tenant logs after the land seizures of the 17th century), a name associated with an ancient Cork tribe. John and his wife Julia (a Sullivan who also had deep Beara roots) lived in Ballydonegan, a community of copper miners described in an 1841 Parliamentary report on mine conditions in the British kingdom as being in such a state of poverty that the people “barely exist[ed].” Most likely evicted just a few years after that, when there was a mine closure caused by the inability of the laborers to work due to hunger, John and
Julia took their two surviving children to Boston, where the family worked in the glass industry in East Cambridge. The picture at right was probably taken shortly after his arrival in America. By the late 1860s, they had saved enough money to buy a house in the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York, and the family remained in that neighborhood for nearly a century, wholly existing as businesspeople, municipal employees, lawyers and teachers. The last Harrington to be raised there before the family scattered throughout the United States was my father, Joseph, who will celebrate his 93rd birthday this coming May.
– Jane Harrington Rockbridge County, Virginia
TOP: The Mine of Allihies, Beara, Co. Cork, a drawing by Lady Chatterton published in 1838, just a decade before the Harringtons emigrated. ABOVE: John Harrington.
Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description, to Adam Farley at Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. You can also e-mail the picture to firstname.lastname@example.org. 66 IRISH AMERICA FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
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