Irish America April / May 2016

Page 1

Cover 3.18.16l.nobarcoce_Layout 1 3/21/16 10:41 AM Page 1

PRESIDENT W.J. CLINTON Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Peace in N.I.

APRIL / MAY 2016

CANADA $4.95 U.S. $3.95


HALL FAME Eileen Collins Martin Dempsey Pete Hamill Edward Kenney





Untitled-7 1

3/18/16 7:44 PM

Untitled-8 1

3/18/16 7:55 PM

IA.Contents.rev_IA Template 3/19/16 9:21 AM Page 4

contents | april / may 2016 32 46

Highlights Irish Eye on Hollywood

The latest Irish news in film and television.


p. 16

Tattoo You

32 Silent Testimony

The portraits of Colin Davidson speak for victims of the Troubles.

60 Dear Julia,

Letters to Julia Fraher, an Irish girl living in Boston, showcase the period after the Rising. By Dermot McEvoy

64 The Rebel Path

Irish revolutionary Ernie O’Malley’s recollections of the Rising.

68 The Immortal Irishman






An excerpt from Timothy Egan’s new book on Thomas Meagher, plus a Q&A.

72 Digging Up the Past

Robert Schmuhl on his research process and his new book on Irish Americans.

AWARD: William Jefferson Clinton


Colonel Eileen Collins

Samuel O’Reilly, the Irishman who invented the tattoo machine.

p. 22

The Bonds of a Nation

Is an 1866 Fenian bond sold in America still legally redeemable?

p. 59

Western Ways

A new book showcases Ernie O’Malley’s previously unpublished photos of 1930s Mayo.

p. 66

Roots: Dempsey The history of the “proud” Dempsey clan of Laois and Offaly. p. 82

Book Notes

General Martin Dempsey

Literary news from the U.S. and Ireland.

Pete Hamill

p. 90

Edward J.T. Kenney

40 64

Untitled-4 Untitled-3 Untitled-6 1 1

11/24/15 3/18/16 10:41 4:23 3:03 PM 9/25/15 AM

IA.Contents.rev_IA Template 3/19/16 9:21 AM Page 6

contents | april / may 2016

Vol.31 No.3 • April / May 2016


Edna O’Brien

Her first novel in a decade is reviewed by Rosemary Rogers.

p. 98

Shane O’Neill

Brian Mallon’s new dramatic work on the life of the would-be Irish King is reviewed by Fionnula Flanagan. p. 99

74 74 1991–2016: Period of Change

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams reflects on 25 years of progress in the North.


76 Who is Annie Moore?

Megan Smolenyak tracks down the first Ellis Island immigrant’s Irish ancestors.

Pride In Our Heritage

Founding Publisher: Niall O’Dowd Co-Founder/ Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Harty Vice President of Marketing: Kate Overbeck Deputy Editor: Adam Farley Art Director: Marian Fairweather Advertising & Editorial Assistant: Aine Mc Manamon Copy Editor: Bríd Long

84 What Are You Like?

Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan

86 Murphys, California

Editorial Assistants: Julia Brodsky R. Bryan Willits

John Concannon is director of Ireland’s centenary program. By Patricia Harty “The Queen of the Sierras” is a major Irish attraction. By Michelle Harty

88 Ireland’s Poet-Patriots

Composer Richard B. Evans’s 1916 concert comes to the U.S. By Chris Ryan

92 Sláinte! Revolutionary Heroes Who were the Irish in America’s War of Independence? By Edythe Preet

96 The Long and Winding Road

Kevin Barry talks Beatlebone, his prizewinning John Lennon novel. By Julia Brodsky


Departments 8 10 12

First Word Readers Forum News & Hibernia

80 Crossword 100 Books 104 Those We Lost 106 Photo Album LAST

Is Irelan WORD: anthem d’s national ou By Christdated? tin Kinealy e

p. 102


875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 201, New York NY 10001 TEL: 212-725-2993 FAX: 212-244-3344 Subscriptions: 1-800-582-6642 E-MAIL:

Irish America Magazine ISSN 0884-4240) © by Irish America Inc. Published bi-monthly. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. Editorial office: 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Telephone: 212-7252993. Fax: 212-244-3344 E-mail: Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders: 1-800-582-6642. Subscription queries:1-800-582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 150. Periodicals postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Postmaster please send address changes to Irish America Magazine, P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. IRISH AMERICA IS PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

Untitled-9 1

3/18/16 8:02 PM

FINAL EDIT final4_IA6 3/19/16 10:12 AM Page 8

{the first word}

By Patricia Harty

Does this sound familiar? “I’m of Irish descent and in America, 100 years ago, we were refugees, my family. Irish were treated terribly in America for a period of time and not accepted, and America learned to accept all of these ideas. It’s what our country is, a country of immigrants. We have not recently done a very good job of remembering who we are.”

George Clooney, speaking to a group of Syrian refugee families in Berlin.

This is our annual Hall of Fame issue and there is much to enjoy in the following pages as we celebrate our honorees, who this year, are particularly illustrative of the proud tradition of the Irish across the most influential service sectors in the United States. General Martin Dempsey, who served as the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the U.S., and Eileen Collins, the retired NASA astronaut and Air Force colonel, demonstrate the great military service to that the Irish have given to the America. In honoring Ed Kenney, we remember all those Irish in public service. After a career as an agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ed went to work for Mutual of America and was introduced to the Northern Ireland peace process through the involvement of the company’s chairman Bill Flynn, and CEO Tom Moran. Another aspect to Ed’s story is his work with the Irish humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide U.S., and here too, we are reminded that the Irish give more money per capita than any other people for world hunger relief – as well we should given our own history of starvation. Honoree Pete Hamill, meanwhile, speaks to the Irish literary tradition. As a distinguished journalist, novelist, essayist, and editor Pete is particularily well-versed in the history of New York and the Irish immigrant story. Many of you will know his writing from his contributions to this magazine over the years, writings that tell of the influences of his Belfast-born parents. Pete reminds us, too, that from the earliest days in the U.S. the Irish had their own newspapers, including the New York Gaelic American edited by the Fenian John Devoy, of whom you will have learned something from reading our special 1916 issue, published in February. As that edition generated so much interest, we are continuing with more coverage of that period in this issue. In our “Personal Reflections” section you will find letters from Nora Connolly, daughter of James Connolly, and others who were involved the Rising, and also the recollections of Ernie O’Malley, the Irish Republican Army officer who was a commander in the Irish War of Independence. In a piece entitled, “The Bonds of a Nation,” Pat Doherty, an avid collector of Irish artifacts, talks about his collection of Fenian bonds dating from 1866 when such bonds were widely sold to the Irish American community to raise money for the cause of Ireland. (Éamon de Valera would also use this method to raise money for the fledging Irish state in 1919.) Continuing the Fenian theme, we bring you an excerpt from Timothy Egan’s new book on Thomas Meagher. One of the 8 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

most colorful figures of the 19th century, Meagher lived through the Great Hunger, was transported to Tasmania for his part in the Young Ireland Uprising of 1848, escaped to America and went on to become the one of the great Civil War heroes as the leader of the Irish Brigade. Egan’s book captures it all. (I hear that Michael Fassbender wants to play Meagher in the movie!) In the section that we have reprinted, we find Meagher in New York, meeting up with other Fenians of the day who always had the cause of Irish freedom on their minds. There is much hoopla, here and in Ireland, around the centenary of the Rising, but in 1991 the 75th anniversary was a muted affair. The unfinished business in the North and the violence that was ongoing, made it so. In this issue, Gerry Adams writes about what it was like back then, and the changes that the past 25 years have brought to the province. They are mostly positive, and he gives thanks to Irish America for its part in bringing those changes about. Niall O’Dowd, who himself played no small part in the process, writes about President Clinton’s peacemaking role in the North, a role that ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and a power-sharing government. “All changed, changed utterly,” as the poet W.B. Yeats wrote in his poem Easter 1916. (General Dempsey did his thesis on the Irish Literary Revival and, in addition to his military prowess, he is an expert on Yeats). But if you need a reminder of the pain the Troubles caused, take a look at the portraits in this issue of the people who lost family members during that time. The artist Colin Davidson captures the anguish in their eyes – you can see the pain they have suffered and are suffering still. It’s the kind of pain that you will see if you look at the faces of Syrian refugees on your television screen. As George Clooney reminded us recently, we Irish were once refugees. In this issue, in which we honor our high achiever, let us remember Annie Moore, the first passenger processed through the now world-famous immigration station at Ellis Island on January 1, 1892. Annie went on to have a tough life and eke out a hardscrabble existence, says Megan Smolenyak, who after a 10-year quest has finally has tracked down Annie’s Irish relatives, so that’s something to celebrate. Our Hall of Fame motto is “Cuimhnígí ar na daoine a tháinig romhaibh,” which translates as “'Remember those who came before you.” Surely there is no better way to honor the past than to give a helping hand to the Annies of this world today. Mórtas cine.

Untitled-4 1

3/18/16 4:34 PM

IA.Letters_IA Template 3/19/16 8:07 AM Page 10

letters | readers forum

The Poets’ Revolution

Dr. Christine Kinealy’s “The Poets Revolution,” was one of Poet Dora the most comprehensive articles Sigerson I have read anywhere on the poetic elements of 1916. Thanks and well done.

Noel Shine, submitted online

Feminism, Equality, and the Rising

Great to see the [Waking the Feminists] movement cross the Atlantic. The women of 1916 like Constance Markievicz, Helena Maloney and Grace Gifford would be well pleased to see a new generation of female playwrights, directors, actresses and stage designers fight for the right for their voices to be heard. The commemoration of the centenary of the 1916 Rising is sparking a feminist rebellion of its own.

Robert Emmet: A Symbol for Independence

A very nice tribute to Robert Emmet and Jerome Connor. Consequent to further discussions with the National Park Service and Smithsonian, the re-dedication will be held on April 27, 2016.

Peter Kissel, Irish American Unity Conference

Michael Flatley releases Charity Single, “The Rising”

Beautiful and haunting. Love it. Just sad it had to be.

Pauline B. Anderson, submitted online

Marita Conlon McKenna, submitted online

I was very happy to read Mary Pat Kelly’s “Women of the Rising” article in the 1916 issue of Irish America. It’s easy to forget how significantly women were written out of official histories on the development of the Irish state, and I am glad to see they are being reinstated here. It is telling that several of the key figures mentioned were new to me. One small query: Do you know where one might find a copy of the original photograph of Pearse’s surrender that includes Elizabeth O’Farrell, before she was literally airbrushed out of the record?

Sarah Cochran-Gonzalez, submitted online

Editor’s Note: We haven’t been able to find the original, but we’ll keep trying.

Eoin MacNeill

The Man Who Cried Halt!

What could have been! Maureen Murphy’s article on Eoin MacNeill was superb. I often wonder what the result of the Rising would have been if the original strategy had gone to plan. Shame MacNeill gets the blame though, as it was Casement who couldn’t get the guns to the Volunteers.

Pete Swift, Wilmington, DE


Robert Emmet statue in Washington, D.C.

Dear Editor-in-Chief,

In the most recent issue of Irish America you wrote that “This special issue is a launch pad for our readers to begin their own investigations into the 1916 Rising.” I have done that. My mother Nora O’Leary Crean was born and raised on a small island in Tralee Bay, County Kerry. In 1916, her brother Murt O’Leary, a member of the Irish Volunteers, was asked by Tadhg Brosnan, the leader of the local Volunteers, to pilot the arms vessel The Aud into Fenit Harbor on Easter Sunday night. Like his father, Murt was a ship’s pilot for Fenit. I recorded his factual account and recollections of the days after Easter

Sunday including the visit of the RIC to the island on Easter and the arrival of the British soldiers on the following Tuesday. While I lived in Ireland, I taped Murt, my mother and many people who talked, not only about 1916 but about life on the island, and the Dingle Peninsula. I listened to stories of long go from people whose lives were entwined with the land and the rhythm of the sea. Their voices are silent but their words live on in my novel, And They Belonged to the Island, which is narrated from the points of view of 22 year-old Murt and his 17 year-old sister, Nora.

Joan Crean O’Leary, St. Charles, IL.

Visit us online at to leave your comments, or write to us: E-mail (, send a fax (212-244-

3344), or write to Letters, Irish America, 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.

Untitled-11 1

3/18/16 8:13 PM

IA.NEWS-Hib.rev_IA Template 3/19/16 8:01 AM Page 12

hibernia | news from ireland Irish Government in Turmoil

he March 10th election of the Irish T Parliament’s, called the Dáil, failed to decide on a new Taoiseach, despite

Dublin City Center Proposes Major Pedestrian Overhaul


ublin City Council recently unveiled a plan that, if accepted, will radically change traffic patterns in front of Trinity College and allow for easier flow of pedestrians. Under the proposed changes, College Green, the major thoroughfare that flows directly to the college’s gates, will be transformed into a large pedestrian plaza. A new, wider pedestrian crossing will connect the entrance to Trinity with the College Green walkway. The College Green plaza would block all vehicular traffic from crossing from the Green to Dame Street. Cars, buses, and taxis will run north and south along the Luas line (currently under construction, which will connect the city’s north and south lines) in front of the Trinity gates.

A rendering of what the new pedestrian plaza would look like.

The plan is still in early discussion stages, as the plaza would dramatically change many city bus routes. “There are difficulties with whether we can cater for buses,” council chief executive Owen Keegan told The Irish Times. “Those issues are not resolved.” College Green is bordered by Trinity’s gates and the Bank of Ireland (in a building that housed the Irish parliament until 1800) and it features statues of Henry Grattan, a member of the Irish House of Commons who campaigned for parliamentary freedom in the 18th century, and of Thomas Davis, the main organizer of the Young Ireland movement. According to the plans, these memorial statues on the Green will remain in place once the plaza is fully pedestrianized. – J.B.

Last Descendent of Rising Leader Awarded Freedom of the City of Dublin 102-year old Jesuit priest in Hong A Kong, who is also the last living son of executed Rising leader Michael

Mallin, was awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin. Mallin, was presented with the award at a ceremony in Hong Kong in March. Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaig stated that Fr. Mallen isn’t just receiving this award due to fact that he is the only remaining living child of one of the 1916 rising executed leaders, but also for his devout work in Hong Kong since he was positioned there in 1948. Michael Mallin was second in command of the Irish Citizen Army under 12 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

James Connolly and was positioned at St Stephen’s Green during the Rising. Mallin’s final letter to his wife had a message for his son. “Joseph, my little man, be a priest if you can,” and it was from this request that Joseph, who was only two when his father was executed, joined the Jesuits. “My father, I think, was rather quiet but very thoughtful about the political things and the state Ireland was in. He was determined to do something about it for the good of the people – the good of the country,” Mallin told An Phoblacht. “He would follow what he thought was right and just, no matter what the consequences were.” – A.M.M.

four candidates facing the vote: Enda Kenny, Fine Gael, the majority, center-left party leader and current Prime Minister; Fianna Fáil, the majority center-right party, leader Míchaél Martin; Sinn Féin, the Irish Republican party, president, Gerry Adams; and Richard Boyd Barrett, from the Anti-Austerity Alliance – People Before Profit Party. Not one of the four TDs managed to earn a majority vote from the 158-seat parliament to secure leadership. The leftist Labour Party, Fine Gael’s former minority partner in the last administration, has gone from 33 to seven seats in the Dáil, meaning the party no longer plays a significant role the formation of the next government. Though Kenny has officially tendered his resignation, he and his ministers will remain in office custodially until a new government forms. Deputy Prime Minister Joan Burton and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, among others, have urged Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to put aside their differences and form an alliance, which may be the only action that could prevent economic stagnation, the like of which was seen in Spain, when a similar political stalemate caused the unemployment rate to skyrocket. The two parties trace their enmity to the Irish Civil War, when Fianna Fáil, founded by Éamon de Valera, rejected the Anglo-Irish treaty, and Fine Gael supported it. As of press time, unless Fianna Fail and Fine Gael reach an agreement, another election is likely to be scheduled for May. – J.B.

IA.NEWS-Hib.rev_IA Template 3/19/16 8:02 AM Page 13

hibernia | news from ireland ICON Joins Groundbreaking Genome Initiative

CON plc was recently selected by ItheirGenomics England to support “100,000 Genomes” project, the world’s largest genome sequencing project for cancer and rare diseases, which could revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of various cancers and rare diseases.

Announced by British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012, the project will compile 100,000 whole genomes from 70,000 individual National Health Service (N.H.S.) patients and their families. This data, once sequenced and deidentified, will become available to approved researchers who will assist in developing tools for diagnosis and treatment based on individual patients’ genetic characteristics. It is currently the largest project of its kind worldwide. ICON, a company that offers drug development solutions to the medical industries, is headquartered in Dublin and will use its substantial data management capabilities to

support and organize the clinical data collected from the 70,000 patients and their families. “Our partnership with Genomics England demonstrates our commitment to partnering with industry and government organizations in new and innovative ways to improve patient care by accelerating the development of targeted and personalized medicines that tackle complex diseases,” said Professor Brendan Buckley, ICON’s Chief Medical Officer (left). Managing Director for the 100,000 Genomes project, James Peach, was equally enthusiastic about the partnership. “We are delighted to be partnering with ICON,” he said. “Their renowned expertise in data management will be fundamental in driving scientific research and accelerating the return of results for N.H.S. patients.” – J.B.

Queen’s Prize to Queens University Belfast


n February, the Centre for Secure Information Technology (C.S.I.T.) at Queen’s University Belfast received a royal award for its work in strengthening cyber security. Chancellor Tom Moran, Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston, and Head of Cyber Security, Professor John McCanny accepted the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, bestowed at Buckingham Palace by the Prince of Wales. Professor Johnston remarked, “The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is one of the most prestigious honours in higher education and recognition of C.S.I.T. has put Northern Ireland firmly on the map as a lead player for cyber security.” With the majority of companies now doing their business online, Johnston emphasized the need for evolving and adapting cyber security. C.S.I.T. offers a Master’s degree in Cyber Security and has a doctoral training center, as well, in order to meet the growing demands for innovative solutions to combat cyber attacks on private information. The centre also works with global companies like I.B.M., Intel, and Allstate, which helps spread the centre’s innovations worldwide, as well as offering cyber security support to start-up companies. In addition to bringing cyber security to the fore, C.S.I.T. has created roughly 1,200 new jobs in Northern Ireland, adding £40 million annually to the economy. – J.B.

Ireland’s First All-Catholic Radio Station Launches reland’s first-ever Catholic radio Ilaunched station, Radio Maria Ireland, in February. It will offer 24-

hour, 365-day programming without advertisements that will cover three main areas: prayer, religious instruction, and social development. The station is supported entirely by its listeners and friends, and it joins the World Family of Radio Maria, whose main headquarters are in Rome and whose international Catholic broadcasting service now

includes 75 channels. Father Michael Ross is Radio Maria Ireland’s Priest Director, and Mark McDermott and Joyson Joy are the station’s volunteer president and general manager, respectively. Broadcasting will incorporate both satellite and cable services, making it available to listeners in Dublin and Cork and the cities’ surrounding areas. “Radio Maria Ireland’s mission is to help communicate God’s divine love

and mercy for all mankind through the teaching and sacraments of the Catholic Church,” the station’s mission statement reads. “Being a School of Prayer, our aim is to help people find the meaning of life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through the intercession of Our Lady.” Overseas listeners can easily tune in via the station’s website, or the “Radio Maria World Family” app. – J.B. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 13

IA.NEWS-Hib.rev_IA Template 3/19/16 8:02 AM Page 14


hibernia | news from ireland Fáilte Ireland and Google Partner to Map Ireland’s Historic Beauty


rish tourist board Fáilte Ireland is partnering with Google to bring images of some of Ireland’s most beautiful and historic places to Google Street View for the first time. Using Google’s new “Trekker Loan” program, Fáilte Ireland will focus on ‘Ireland’s Ancient East,’ capturing images of medieval towns, the grounds of stately homes, and places like Newgrange. Trekker has also already been to Clonmacnoise, Wicklow’s Historic Gaol, The Hill of Tara, The Rock of Cashel, and Glendalough Visitor Centre. “Trekker Loan” allows nonprofits, universities, research organizations, and tourism boards like Fáilte Ireland to join the program in order to gather images of places heretofore not captured for Google Street View due to their remoteness or inaccessibility. Speaking about the Trekker program, Daragh Anglim, of Fáilte Ireland said, “Six out of ten visitors to Ireland last year cited the internet as an influence when choosing the country as a destination. Three quarters of visitors told us that they use the internet to plan their itinerary here before arriving. The use of Google Trekker is therefore a welcome addition to Fáilte Ireland’s significant engagement with digital and social media to promote Ireland.” Laurian Clemence, Communications Manager with Google is excited about the partnership too, and noted, “We are delighted to be partnering with Fáilte Ireland in order to bring Street View imagery to an area of the world that is rich in heritage and known for its outstanding natural beauty.” – R.B.W.

John Devoy Stands Again in Kildare

ast October, a statue of John Devoy was L unveiled in Naas, Co. Kildare, the New York Fenian’s home county, aided primarily by the

Kildare Association of New York, which raised the funds for the monument. Though Devoy was highly instrumental in organizing the 1916 Easter Rising, his name is often forgotten, as he lived in forced exile from Ireland after his 1866 arrest for participation in planning an Irish uprising. Before his arrest, Devoy had been a leader in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and once he settled in New York, became active in Clan na Gael, eventually aligning the two organizations. He published the Gaelic American, a weekly newspaper, and worked tirelessly in support of Irish freedom, and helped to raise American funds to arm the Irish Volunteer. Pádraig Pearse, who visited Devoy in 1914, called him, “the greatest Fenian of them all.” In 2008, Kildare man Seamus Curran founded the John Devoy Memorial Committee with the hope of raising funds to erect a statue of Devoy in Kildare. During the recession, the County Kildare Association of New York stepped in and helped raise the $45,000 necessary to erect the bronze statue of Devoy that now stands across the street from Our Lady and St. David’s Catholic Church, the very church where he was condemned from the pulpit for his political activities in the name of Irish freedom. Though the project took several years to get off the ground, the unveiling came at just the right time, only months before Ireland’s centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising that Devoy worked so hard to realize. – J.B.

Tralee Celebrates 800 Years of History

ralee, the capital of County Kerry, has T reached the ripe old age of 800. Founded in 1216 by John FitzThomas Fitzgerald, the

town will kick-off the celebration with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade as the first of the “Tralee 800” events that will run throughout the year. The town commissioned Abbey Cummings of Kerry County Council’s Tourism Unit to design a special logo for the celebrations; the logo prominently displays a representation of the River Lee, for which the town is named (“trá” means “strand” or “beach” in Irish). Activities for the commemorations will cover a wide range; the Kerry County 14 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

FROM LEFT: Garrett Doyle, Kildare Association of New York; Peter Carey, Chief Executive, Kildare County Council; Mayor of Kildare, Councillor Brendan Weld; Kevin O’Malley, Ambassador of the United States of America; Mike Flood, Kildare Association of New York; and Marian Higgins, County Librarian of Kildare attend the unveiling of the Naas statue last year.

Museum and Library will offer programming to highlight how the town has evolved between the 13th and 21st centuries. In June, the town will host the Tralee 800 Festival, which will include a medieval reenactment, a The mayor of Kerry Pat McCarthy (center left with chain) and the mayor Tralee Tom McEllistrim (center right with chain) with members of the screening of Ireland’s of county council at the launch of Tralee 800 this year. Euro 2016 football match against Belgium, and live music. Kerry County Council and of the Tralee “Tralee has a long and proud history 800 group said. from the very foundation of the town in “We are looking forward to sharing and the 13th century to the present day,” Coun- celebrating the town’s history and tradicillor Pat McCarthy, Chairman of the tions with locals and visitors alike.”– J.B.

84 years of travel experience | Choice of over 45 tours Guaranteed departures & prices | No optional extras sold on tour NEW FOR 2016!




Escorted Tour

Escorted Tour

Explore Ireland tracing the history of the 1916 Easter Rising as well as the 1798 Rebellion and the 1922 Civil War, while visiting all the popular scenic regions around the coast. Departs Fridays, April to October 12 days, from $2,084 – $2,595

A popular tour of the highlights of Ireland with tours of Dublin, Galway, and Derry, and visits to Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, Giant’s Causeway, and Titanic Belfast. 2 departures per week, February to December 8 or 9 days, from $1,098 – $1,898

NEW FOR 2016!




Escorted Tour

Escorted Tour

This special itinerary focuses on the fight for Irish Independence, especially the 1916 Rising as well as earlier and later movements. Enjoy Ireland’s majestic scenery, good food and fun. Departs Wednesdays, April to October 9 days, from $1,678 – $2,070

Discover Ireland with a tour of Dublin, Merry Ploughboy Pub Dinner/Show, Blarney Castle, Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet, and more. 3 departures per week, February to December 5, 6, or 7 days, from $698 – $1,424

Unique Value & Savings with CIE Tours in 2016 • Lower Prices – 5% to 15% lower escorted tour prices on average than most of our competitors for peak season travel. • Seasonal Savings – Save between 15% and 35% for travel in Spring or Fall 2016 over peak season prices. • Fully Inclusive Tours – Our vacations are fully inclusive of all sightseeing and most meals. You will need no optional extra budget so you can save money and enjoy the travel experience even more.

Choose CIE Tours — You Deserve the Best!

Visit for special limited time offers. Contact your travel agent, call

800.243.8687 or visit

Dunguaire Castle, Co. Galway

Untitled-3 1

3/18/16 4:12 PM

IA.IEOH_IA Template 3/19/16 7:53 AM Page 16

hibernia | irish eye on hollywood

By Tom Deignan

A Colorful Career for Saoirse

iven the raves she earned with her searing performance in Brooklyn, we can expect many breakthrough performances from Saoirse Ronan in the years to come. But one of her next projects is a breakthrough film of an entirely different nature. Ronan and several other Irish actors will appear in what is being called the first painted animated film in the history of cinema. The movie is entitled Loving Vincent, and it explores the final months of artist Vincent van Gogh’s life. In order to tell this story in a unique way, the film’s writer/directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman decided to first shoot live-action scenes with Ronan, as well as Irish co-stars Chris O’Dowd and Clondalkin native Aidan Turner. Then a team of nearly 80 artists were charged with creating an oil painting on canvas (van Gogh’s preferred technique) for each frame of the film. By one count Loving Vincent will be made up of over 60,000 oil paintings. Look for Loving Vincent in theaters later this year or early next. Meanwhile, Saoirse Ronan remains busy. She is also in the process of shooting a new version of Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull, written by playwright Stephen Karam, whose haunting Broadway play The Humans has earned rave reviews. The play explores an Irish American family not unlike Karam’s own. (He grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania.)


Oil paintings used in the movie Loving Vincent

Once More for John Carney

lso in April, Irish director John Carney, tries “once” again to capture the magic of his hit movie Once, which won an Academy Award (for Best Original song) and has since become a successful Broadway musical. Carney’s newest film – which opened the Audi Dublin Film Festival back in February – is called Sing Street and is set in mid-1980s Dublin. Newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo stars as a schoolboy named Conor who, after spending time in a rough school, finds an outlet by playing in a rock-n-roll band. Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor and Aiden Gillen are among the big-name Irish stars joining Carney’s otherwise young, up-and-coming cast.



Hector Medina in Viva

Viva la Paddy

In April, Irish director Paddy Breathnach teams up with an Irish screenwriter to explore the world of drag performers in Havana. This unlikely story was dubbed “one of the audience favorites at this year’s [Telluride Film] festival,” according the The Hollywood Reporter, which went on to describe this “Irish-Cuban movie” as a “genuine crowd-pleaser likely to find an appreciative American audience.” The film is entitled Viva and the script was written by Clare native Mark O’Halloran, best known for the Irish film Adam & Paul (directed by celebrated Room director Lenny Abrahamson). Viva revolves around a make-up artist who works with Havana’s drag performers but dreams of hitting the stage himself. He has more immediate problems, however, when he runs into his father – a former boxer – who hasn’t seen him in 15 years. Viva stars Hector Medina and Luis Alberto Garcia, and is slated to hit theaters April 29.

“The audience reaction could scarcely have been more positive with a torrent of hysterical tweets emerging from the auditorium,” the Irish Times wrote of the Sign Street screening at the recent prestigious Sundance Film Festival. The film is slated to hit U.S. theaters on April 15. Speaking of Maria Doyle Kennedy, she continues to appear as Siobhan Sadler in the BBC America hit Orphan Black, which begins its fourth season in April. Orphan Black is a high-concept clone thriller featuring Tatiana Masley in multiple roles. Kennedy is also slated to appear in The Conjuring 2, a horror sequel to the 2013 flick which featured Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson.

IA.IEOH_IA Template 3/19/16 7:53 AM Page 17

Irish Rule on American TV

n other Irish TV news, Tipperary native Kerry Condon is back as a troubled single Mom on the new season of AMC’s Better Call Saul. And Irish American author Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books again serve as the inspiration for the Amazon TV series Bosch, starring Titus Welliver. The 10-episode second season began airing in March. The FX network has announced that it will produce Trust, a new series from Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle, the acclaimed director of Slumdog Millionaire and Steve Jobs, whose parents were born in Ireland. The show tells the story of John Paul Getty III’s kidnapping Finally, the Real O’Neals on ABC has spurred some controversy for its depiction of a religious Irish American family dealing with divorce, a gay son and other taboo issues.


Summer Is for Fassbender and Blockbusters

nother big book coming to the big screen (but not until 2017) is Jo Nesbo’s thriller The Snowman. Irish Academy Award winner Michael Fassbender is slated to star as sleuth Harry Hole in this Norwegian thriller. Rebecca Ferguson and Charlotte Gainsbourg will also appear in The Snowman. Fassbender also has as many as five films slated for release this year, including a number that have been slow in the shooting and production process. These include Weightless, from the infamously slow-working director Terrence Malick, as well as Trespass Against Us, a British crime drama also starring Brendan Gleeson. Fassbender movies that should be right on track in terms of timing – because they are gigantic popcorn blockbusters – are X-Men: Apocalypse (slated for release right before Memorial Day in May) and Assassin’s Creed (a Christmas 2016 movie).


Colin Farrell Is a Magical Beast

olin Farrell is


among the big stars who will appear in The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Slated to be released this November, the film is based on the JK Rowling book of the same title. The story is a sort of prequel to the Harry Potter olm Meaney, Fred Willard and Kevin Farley series. The book fol(Chris’ brother) are among the stars of writerlows the life of writer director Sean Lackey’s film The Yank, an Newt Scamander Irish/American culture clash comedy. Lackey also (played by Academy stars in the film as Tom Murphy, an Irish American Award winner Eddie from Cleveland who has never been to Ireland. Redmayne) and is set He gets a chance to visit his ancestral homeland in a community of when a pal gets married in Ireland – where wizards who live Murphy falls in love. The girl, however, is Greek, secretly in New York. rather than Irish, which doesn’t sit well with The Fantastic Beasts Murphy’s parents. Shot in Cleveland, as well as and Where to Find Dublin and Clare, The Yank, which won Best Them also stars Comedy at the Manhattan Film Festival, is just Samantha Morton, out on DVD as well as Video on Jon Voight and Ron Demand. Perlman. JK Rowling wrote the screenplay for the film, which will be direct by David Yates, who directed several of the Harry Potter bigscreen adaptations. Colm Meaney

The Yank Wins Best Comedy


and Sean Lacky in The Yank

John Duddy Boxes to the Big Screen

irst it was the Irish wrestler Sheamus appearing in the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. And now another world-class Irish athlete – boxer John Duddy – is making the leap to the big-screen. The Derry native will appear in the upcoming Robert De Niro movie Hands of Stone. The film tells the tumultuous life story of boxer Roberto Duran, with De Niro playing his trainer Ray Arcel. Arcel was active in the fight game for six decades and is said to have trained nearly 20 world champs. The film also stars Edgar Ramirez (as Duran) as well as John Turturro. Duddy will appear in the film as Scottish boxer Ken Buchanan.


Documentaries to Watch

peaking of Derry, filmmakers from there debuted a documentary about Northern Ireland at the recent Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington D.C. Together in Pieces, a film by David Dryden and Eileen Walsh, looks closely at the North’s famed graffiti and murals as a symbol of the region’s difficult past and potentially hopeful future. The film’s title refers to slang for a masterpiece. Another unique documentary to keep an eye out for is Rednecks + Culchies. Mayo native Tony Monaghan explores the unlikely connections between Irish immigrants and the mid-western white working class he knows so well after living in St. Louis for many years. Rednecks + Culchies is making the rounds at festivals and other venues and will be available on DVD in April.



IA.Hib Names_IA Template 3/19/16 3:55 AM Page 18

hibernia | entertainment

Irish Name Pronunciation Actors and Actresses

Siobhán McKenna

Saoirse Ronan

Shiv · AWN

SEAR · sha / SER · sha

(Doctor Zhivago, King of Kings, Saint Joan)

(Brooklyn, The Host, Atonement)

Domhnall Gleeson

(Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina, Unbroken)

DOUGH · nall

Ciarán Hinds

(Game of Thrones, Hitman: Agent 47, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)

KEAR · awn

Colm Meany Cillian Murphy

(Hell on Wheels, The Damned United, Star Trek: The Next Generation)

KOLL · um

(Peaky Blinders, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Batman Begins)

KILL · ee · an


Brían F. O’Byrne

(Jimmy’s Hall, Love / Hate, Million Dollar Baby)

Sinéad Cusack

(The Sea, V for Vendetta)

Shin · AID

BREE · an

Eoin Macken

(The Forest, The Night Shift, Merlin)

O · win

Pádraic Pearse PAW · rick / PAWD · rick

Seán Mac Diarmada SHAWN Mac DEAR · ma · da

Micheál Ó hAnnrachain MEE · hall Oh HAN · ra · han


n January, actress Saoirse Ronan stopped by the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She was there to promote her movie Brooklyn, but the conversation moved into Ronan teaching Colbert (whose ancestry is 15/16 Irish) both how to speak with an Irish accent and how to pronounce traditional Irish names – something that has no doubt been a problem since at least the eighth century, when Irish adopted the Latin alphabet. More recently though, Irish stage and screen actress Siobhán McKenna is credited with making the name Siobhán popular again in the 20th century, heralding a new era of internationally acclaimed Irish actors with traditional Irish names that are nearly impossible for the uninitiated to sound out. In that vein, here are the names of some of the most popular Irish actors, actresses, and revolutionaries referenced in these pages, along with phonetic pronunciations. – A.F.

Tourism Ireland Capitalizes on Skellig Michael’s Star Wars Cameo


long time ago, on an island six miles off the Irish coast, a Christian monastery was built on a place called Skellig Michael sometime between the 6th and 8th century. Now, the island and the interest it captures has been given a boost in popularity thanks to its cameo appearance in the most recent installment of Star Wars. J.J. Abrams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, commended the Irish Film board’s support for the project on the now uninhabited island whose famous monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and said, “the Irish film board were behind us %1000 [sic]. They’d worked countless hours to help pull off what we needed to do on Skellig.” “I can’t believe they let us shoot there,” Abrams reflected, “I mean, it was so beautiful.” Other members of the crew were in awe of Skellig Michael’s natural beauty too. “I remember when we all flew in,” said Tommy Harper, the film’s executive producer, “It 18 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

was special and we knew it.” Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht was enthusiastic about the island’s place in the film and stated, “It’s just amazing. The scenery is amazing, the heritage is amazing, and the wildlife is amazing. People are going to see the beauty of this area.” To the chagrin of those who want to experience the beauty of the Skellig islands first hand, the Office of Public Works said it has no plans to extend the short visiting season for the island, which will go from May to October this year and only allows 180 visitors per day. But the undaunted fans of the film series have nonetheless accounted for an unprecedented surge of interest in visiting the surrounding region. While critics say the interest in the site is superficially driven by the film, local guesthouse owner Gerard Kennedy says, “When they come, all they talk about is Star Wars. When they come back, all they are talking about is Skellig and the monastery. ” – R. B. W.

IA.Hib Pats Day-_IA Template 3/19/16 7:47 AM Page 19

A Lavender and Green Parade for NYC


he New York City St. Patrick’s Day his boycott. After starting out in the paParade this year added two first- rade with members of the New York’s time marchers to the roster: The uniformed services, he later joined in with Lavender and Green Alliance, a group of The Lavender and Green Alliance. LGBT Irish, and New York Mayor Bill de At an event in the Irish Consulate, the Blasio, who had boycotted the parade Mayor said, “For the last two decades since he first took office until it became there’s been a blemish on this city…it was inclusive for gay and lesbian groups. a long, long road, but it’s something we Brendan Fay, who founded this Irish can now put behind us because unity has LGBT organization in 1994, made an been achieved.” He also thanked Cardinal announcement in September of last year Dolan and Pope Francis for their support. on their Facebook page stating, “We cel- In relation to Pope Francis, de Blasio conebrate the welcome! March 17 2016 will tinued by saying, “People have felt his be a day for hospitality and inclusion.” message and that is one of the reasons we Since 2000, the Alliance has organized a are here today,” as the Pope is known for separate parade in Queens called St. Pat’s asking who is he to judge gay people. for All, as an inclusive alternative to the Also at the Consulate, Daniel Manhattan march, which will still con- Drumm, a city councilman, accompatinue. nied the speakers and while describing In 2015, Out@NBCUniversal was the the struggle of the LGBT community first LGBT organization that marched on over the years, he briefly choked up. St. Patrick’s Day. While this was progress, “There were many times when we the group is not of Irish descent and some wanted to give up and we wondered if accused the parade of making a corporate we would ever see this day,” he said. deal with NBC, the parade’s broadcaster. Frank McGreal spoke on behalf of the Because the Lavender and Green Alliance New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade was still barred from the paCommittee and gave Mr. rade, de Blasio boycotted ABOVE: Gracie Mansion Fay a very warm welcome: the “Exiles of Erin” for the second year in a row. and “To Brendan Fay and the broadside. With their inclusion this BELOW: De Blasio Lavender and Green year, Mayor de Blasio wel- (center) and his wife Alliance, I say, ‘Céad míle comed the change in pa- Chirlane McCray (front fáilte! One hundred thouleft center) with the rade policy to allow all LGA, in the 2016 NYC sand welcomes.’” LGBT groups and ended St. Patrick’s Day Parade. – A.M.M.

Surprising Irish Links in NYC’s Mayoral Mansion


uilt between 1799 and 1809 by Ezra Weeks, Gracie Mansion is the mayoral residence in New York, and it’s likely that Irish builders, artisans, and tradespeople were numerous among the construction team, and the ballroom’s chandelier is Irish crystal, donated to the house by the descendents of William Russell Grace, the city’s first Catholic mayor, who was born in 1832 in County Laois. More recently, when de Blasio and his family moved in, they sought to curate the house’s art collection, and created an exhibit that told the stories of the people who helped build New York, and to give a sense of the immigrant fabric of the city around the time of the house’s construction, including the Irish. “Representation matters,” First Lady and Mayor’s Fund Board Chair Chirlane McCray told Irish America, “and so many stories of the people who helped build it, and helped build the city, were not being told.” “The porcelain statuette called ‘Stitch, Stitch, Stitch’ [1877] highlights the poverty and working conditions of Irish textile workers, and the ‘Exiles of Erin,’ [1809] broadside, is a call to action for Irish immigrants to rise up against oppression,” she said. “We hope that every visitor will leave Gracie with a better understanding of the challenges faced by Irish New Yorkers and how their struggles paved the way for the New York City that we know today.” Tours of Gracie Mansion are free to the public and held weekly. – A.F.



Untitled-18 1

3/19/16 1:03 AM

Untitled-4 1

3/18/16 4:38 PM

IA.Hib Tatoos REV9_IA Template 3/19/16 7:44 AM Page 22

hibernia | o’reilly’s tattoo machine

Fine Art for the Masses


ore than 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo. The vast lot of them got inked by way of an electric tattoo machine. And chances are they have no idea who invented the electric tattoo machine: Samuel O’Reilly. His rambunctious, enigmatic life began in May 1854 in Waterbury, Connecticut. Both his parents were Irish immigrants, and he was the oldest of five children. At an early age, he – like so many other Waterbury residents of that era – began working in the brass industry (Waterbury is nicknamed “The Brass City”). As a young adult, he sought to make money in other ways. According to Carmen Nyssen’s biographical essay on the website, O’Reilly and two other Irish Americans were busted for burglary of a general store in 1873. For this incident, he served two years of hard labor in the state penitentiary. Soon following his release, O’Reilly joined the Marine Corps, which he deserted after four months. For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem that he ever suffered any consequences for his desertion, but there would be consequences for other acts. In April 1877, O’Reilly – along with his mother, father, and two of his four siblings – robbed a store. In the wake of this family outing, O’Reilly, knowing that there were warrants for his arrest, skipped town and headed for Detroit. The wanted man knocked around Detroit without much of a purpose other than eluding authorities. Evidently, he grew sick of life on the run. The October 25, 1878 issue of the Detroit Free Press tells how O’Reilly, who was having “no luck” in Detroit, turned himself in to a beat officer whom he had befriended. Suspicion was expressed that the fugitive turned himself in to authorities so he could obtain a free ride back to Connecticut. O’Reilly received his ride and then received five years in state prison. He was now in his midtwenties, and it seemed that prison would become his way of life. But as it turned out, Samuel O’Reilly had much more to offer this world than common criminality. It is unknown where O’Reilly ventured right after his second state prison stint. He resurfaces as a tattoo artist in mid-1880s New York City, where he was billing himself as “Professor O’Reilly.” He launched a tattoo studio at 11 Chatham Square, in the Chinatown section of Manhattan’s Bowery. At that time, his tattooing instrument consisted of a set of needles affixed to a wooden handle. He 22 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

eventually figured there had to be a better way. Knowing that the inventor-extraordinaire Thomas Edison had been tinkering around with pens connected to motors, O’Reilly applied this concept to tattooing, and his patent (No. 464,801) for an electric rotary tattoo machine was issued on December 8, 1891. The tattoo industry was “revolutionized overnight,” according to Steve Gilbert’s “Tattoo History: A Source Book,” which adds that, “O’Reilly was swamped with orders and made a small fortune within a few years.” His electric machine was capable of making many more punctures per minute, and its puncturing was more precise – resulting in more accurate tattoos and less bleeding for the recipient. Not only was he an innovative craftsman, but Prof. O’Reilly also would become the leading tattoo artist of his era. Perhaps the ultimate confirmation of his talents was that even circus tattoo-freaks sought out his services so they could revivify their illustrated bodies. But as tattoos became more popular, these circus tattoo-freaks were losing business, as their ink-laden bodies were no longer that rare. O’Reilly’s steadiest source of clientele was the U.S. Navy. In his view, an American sailor without a tattoo was “not seaworthy,” according to Albert Parry’s Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art. The inventor’s studio often was packed with young men looking to be “seaworthy.” A shrewd marketer, O’Reilly circulated a pamphlet about tattooed U.S. military members fighting in the Spanish-American War. Part of this pamphlet reads: “Brave fellows! Little fear had they of shot and shell amid the smoke of battle, and after the scrub down they gloried in their tattoos.” He also tapped into the Irish-American market with his illustrations of Irish and American flags intertwined, frequently accompanied by “Erin Go Bragh.” As the 20th century approached, at least one tat-

ABOVE: Shamrock tattoos. BELOW LEFT: “The Tattooing Fad Has Reached New York Via London,” reads a cartoon from an 1897 edition of the New York Herald.

IA.Hib Tatoos REV9_IA Template 3/19/16 7:44 AM Page 23

Irish Genealogy Just Got a Lot Easier


ast July, the National Library of Ireland went live with a digitized collection of Irish Catholic parish records from the 1670 – 1900 time frame, a huge boon for those of Irish heritage. Just one catch. No index. Well, there was a variety of partial indexes scattered here and there on other sites, but no comprehensive one. In an article published in the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of Irish America magazine, I wrote, “Be patient and wait for the almost inevitable search tools that will appear on other websites. More than likely, one or more genealogy companies such as, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage began transcribing the records the day they went live.” Sure enough, both Ancestry

and Findmypast released their indexes today. The timing was fairly predictable as today is the beginning of IrishAmerican Heritage Month. The actual records themselves are patchy – some parishes have none, some have records for certain clusters of years (most commonly, a chunk of the 1800s), and so forth. That said, this is a really big deal for those with Irish heritage because – for many – this will go a long way to removing the considerable impediment of having to know exactly where your ancestors came from in Ireland before diving into parish records. In fact, many will now learn where their ancestors came from in Ireland from this tremendous collection. As an added bonus, both companies are offering spe-

too studio could be found in every major U.S. city. Not everyone was pleased with this phenomenon. Ward McAllister, a selfstyled spokesman for New York high society, declared of tattooing: “It is certainly the most vulgar and barbarous habit the eccentric mind of fashion ever invented. It may do for an illiterate seaman, but hardly for an aristocrat.” However, even the ‘aristocrats’ were getting inked. In fact, a sensationalistic August 1897 report in the New York World said that “three-quarters of the society women in America were tattooed.” This statistic likely was much exaggerated, but people of high society were getting inked. Prof. O’Reilly made house calls (and even was commissioned to travel to other cities) to these patrician types who would not condescend to set foot in his plebianfrequented Bowery studio. At the beginning of the 20th century, O’Reilly was no longer as prolific as he had been, and much of his energies were

cial access to celebrate their launches, and FindMyPast has committed to keeping them free forever! So what are you waiting for? Start digging for those Irish roots! – Megan Smolenyak

ABOVE: Among the celebrity ancestors to be found in the NLI archives are Jimmy Fallon, Joe Biden, Bruce Springsteen, and Stephen Colbert.

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.

devoted to lawsuits against tattoo machine manufacturers who he felt were committing trademark infringement on his patent. In April 1909, O’Reilly, age 54, was painting his house at 1831 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. Suddenly the scaffolding on which he was working gave way, and the ensuing fall fractured his skull. He was brought to Kings County Hospital, where he succumbed to a brain hemorrhage. His eternal resting place is in Holy Cross Cemetery in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. He left images on so many people, yet we have no certain image of him, as no O’Reilly photographs are known to exist. One indication of his appearance is a slightly flippant Brooklyn Daily Eagle obituary, which describes O’Reilly, a.k.a. “Tattoo Man,” as “one mass of tattoo marks from head to foot.” It seems that, upon coming to New York, he treated others as he wished to be treated. – Ray Cavanaugh

O’Reilly’s 1891 patent.


IA.Hib -Quinnipac_IA Template 3/19/16 7:36 AM Page 24

hibernia |

Quinnipiac Donates $400K to North Haven


uinnipiac University, home to services department are located on the Ireland’s Great Hunger Mu- North Haven Campus. We truly appreseum (Músaem An Ghorta ciate how the leadership of the town of Mhóir) which houses of one of the North Haven has supported Quinnipworld’s largest collections of iac as the University has inart concerning the Great vested more than $300 Irish Famine, has donated million in constructing $400,000 to the town of the North Haven CamNorth Haven. pus.” “This voluntary payNorth Haven First ment represents an afSelectman Michael J. firmation of the UniFreda responded to the versity’s ongoing supdonation in saying, port and appreciation “The University’s confor all that North Haven tributions to the town of does for Quinnipiac,” said North Haven, together Quinnipiac University Preswith its contributions to the Quinnipiac Presiident John L. Lahey. economy, truly make Quindent John Lahey. “The University’s presence nipiac an important and enin North Haven has grown consider- gaged partner within our local ably since 2007, when we purchased community. the former Anthem Blue Cross & Blue “Quinnipiac continues to demonShield campus,” he said. strate an interest in the concerns and “Today, five (Medicine, Law, Health welfare of our community through its Sciences, Nursing, and Education) of concerted and ongoing efforts to give our eight schools and our information back to the town.” – R.B.W.

Potato Photo Sells for Over $1 Mil.


elebrity photographer Kevin Abosch scooped an impressive $1 million from his portrait of an organic Irish potato, “Potato #345 (2010)” (below), making it the 15th most expensive photo ever sold. A European businessman who saw it on display in Abosch’s residence purchased the portrait. It was sold at the non-negotiable price of $1 million, as potatoes have a special meaning to Abosch. “I see commonalities between humans and potatoes that speak to our relationship as individuals within a collective species.” he tells the Inquisitr. This Irish photographer, who splits his time between Ireland, Boston, and Paris, has photographed many well-known names such as Johnny Depp, Bob Geldolf, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Yoko Ono, Scarlett Johannson, Angelina Jolie, along with top Silicon Valley figures. One of Abosch’s most widely viewed projects, known as The Faces of Ireland exhibition, was displayed at Dublin Airport’s Terminal Two. “I think when people look into an honest face, a demasked face, where the haze of reputation is removed, there is something very comforting,” he told The Journal. “Just in knowing that you are sharing the human experience.” – A.M.M. 24 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

Astronaut Scott Kelly Returns to Earth


rish American astronaut Scott Kelly returned from a year in space after taking part in a NASA study, analyzing the impacts longterm space travel can have on the human body. The mission was aimed at paving the way for an eventual mission to Mars. While Scott was in space, his twin brother Mark, also an astronaut and, like Scott, a former United States Navy Captain, remained on Earth and was closely monitored during this time as part of NASA’s research. Comparing the brothers will allow scientists to study the effects of space travel on the human body – for example possible visual impairments, brittle bones and weak muscles, effects on the heart, and the impact of being exposed to space radiation. Already, this study has shown that Scott arrived back two inches taller than his brother, as his spinal disks expanded due to the lack of gravity. Over the next year, NASA will closely study the Kelly twins to determine the impact this trip had on Scott’s health, and he will then have yearly checkups to additionally analyze the long-term impacts. Their father Richard Kelly recalled in a 2006 interview with Irish America that when the identical twins were eight, three years after man landed on the moon, they told their grandmother, “Grandma, we’re going up in space someday.” While on his mission, Kelly took hundreds of photos, regularly documenting his view of Earth. During his last press conference on board the I.S.S. he stated, ”I’ve definitely taken some good ones and some memorable ones.” The Irish American also made history by growing the first ever flower in space, after previously becoming the first person to grow a head of lettuce on the I.S.S., part of research to find new ways of eating in outer space. – A.M.M.

Untitled-12 1

3/18/16 8:16 PM

IA.HibAwardsCulture.v4_IA Template 3/19/16 7:32 AM Page 26

hibernia | awards John Greed to Succeed Tom Moran as Mutual Head


ohn Greed, president of Mutual of America, was named CEO in March, succeeding Tom Moran, who is retiring after 21 years in the position. Mr. Moran, who will stay on as chairman of the board of directors, spent the past four decades with Mutual of America, having joined the company in 1975, one year after graduating from Manhattan College in New York City. Over the years, he held key positions throughout the company before succeeding his predecessor and mentor, William J. Flynn, as CEO and President in 1994. – A.F.

Cork County Association Honors


Danny McDonald and Colum McCann Honored at NYU Gala


he annual County Cork Association, which was founded in New York in 1884, held its annual dinner at Antun’s in Queens, New York on March 5, 2016. Ed Shevlin, a lifelong resident of Rockaway whose mother was born in Cork City, was honored. Since retiring from the Dept. of Sanitation, Ed is pursuing an M.A. in Irish and Irish American Studies at NYU. Tim Murphy, whose father hailed from Rockchapel, Co. Cork, was also honored. A recently retired FDNY lieutenant, Tim worked on the rescue and recovery operation at Ground Zero after 9/11. Noreen English Cosgrove, a corporate real estate attorney whose father was born in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, was lauded for her probono legal service to the non profit community, and Patricia Young O’Connor received recognition as the longest serving member of the association. A native of Dunmanway, Patricia joined the Cork Ladies Auxiliary in 1950 and held many offices including President. She grew up in a great GAA sporting family. Her father, the late Jack Young would proudly boast that he had “seven sons, L to R: Gary Power, Dinner Chair, with Edward seven daughters, and seven Shevlin, Patricia Young O’Connor, Noreen English All Ireland Medals.” – I.A. Cosgrove, Timothy Murphy, and Deirdre O’Hea, President of the County Cork Association.

lucksman Ireland House hosted its annual gala in February, honoring acclaimed writer Colum McCann and restaurant proprietor Danny McDonald with the Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leadership and the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters, respectively. In 1995, McDonald opened Swift Hibernian Lounge and began to revolutionize the Irish bar in New York, where there are no TVs, no kitschy Irish knickknacks. Swift, unlike so many so-called “Irish pubs,” does not pretend Irishness, but simply is Irish, master of ceremonies and New York Times writer Dan Barry said. Introducing McCann, Barry recounted how the prize-winning author had been assaulted while breaking up a domestic dispute on a trip to New Haven, and how his written statement became itself a piece of literature. “He transforms violence into art,” Barry said – an assessment that applies to McCann’s oeuvre as a whole. McCann, whose latest collection of short stories, Thirteen Ways of Looking, was released in 2015, has earned scores of accolades, including being the first Irish author to receive the National Book Award for his 2009 novel, Let the Great World Spin. – J.B.

Jack Haire Named CEO of Concern Worldwide U.S.


ack Haire, former Irish America Business 100 Honoree, will succeed Joseph Cahalan as the new CEO for the Irish humanitarian non-profit Concern Worldwide U.S. Cahalan and Haire have worked together for the last eight years on the organization’s board. 26 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

“Jack brings a wealth of experience to his new role,” Cahalan said. “He is passionate about our work, and is a role model of our values.” Before becoming the CEO of Parade Media Group in 2009, Haire previously spent 28 years at Time Warner Inc., where he was Executive Vice President of Time

Inc. and President of the Fortune/ Money Group. “I am honored to join Concern Worldwide U.S. as CEO. The work that Concern does is so meaningful and epitomizes what I want to do at this stage of my life,” Haire, whose great-grandparents came to New York from Cork and Donegal during the Famine, said. – A.M.M.

Untitled-13 1

3/18/16 8:18 PM

IA.HibAwardsCulture.v4_IA Template 3/19/16 7:32 AM Page 28

hibernia | culture New Irish Historical Exhibit is not just Run-of-the-Mill

Irish Music Channel Debuts


he Irish Club of Willmantic and the Windham Textile and History Museum in Willmantic, CT, have co-sponsored a new exhibit that examines Irish immigrant workers and their descendants. “Irish Eyes: The Irish Experience in a The exhibit, “Irish Eyes: The Irish Experience Connecticut Mill Town” is on view through in a Connecticut Mill Town,” uses interactive October 9. installments, including machine and hand cut turf, an immigration game, and musical instruments visitors will be able to play, in order to tell the story of the work and culture of the Irish in Connecticut who often “took back-breaking, dirty, low-paying jobs,” Anne Marie Charland, the exhibit’s curator told Irish America. “Through multiple generations we begin to see upward mobility both socially and economically,” she said, “Irish and Irish Americans become management, own businesses, and hold public office.” “Irish Eyes” is the third installment in a series that looks at various ethnic groups that settled in the area, and together, they highlight the often-overlooked influence of Connecticut’s diversity on its economic development, Jamie H. Eves, the museum’s executive director, says. “And they have demonstrated that the experiences of the various groups have been more similar than different.” Many of the Irish families are still here, and community involvement was key from the outset, says William Pearson, president of the Irish Club of Willmantic. “At the opening it was wonderful to see people looking at artifacts that were part of their personal heritage, the pictures and heirlooms that were brought here by their families and now are on display,” he said. – R.B.W.

Michael Flatley’s “Rising” Flute


nown to many for his dance and choreography skills, Michael Flatley has recently released a single, “The Rising,” commemorating the heroes of 1916. This unique and haunting piece was written and composed by Irish songwriter Brian Flanagan. With Flatley and Flanagan on vocals, musician Finbar Furey accompanying them on Uileann pipes and whistles, and Michael himself playing a wooden flute during the chorus as his dance steps create a percussion crescendo for the song’s finale, the overall effect is beautiful.

Currently in the U.S. on his farewell World Tour with Lord of the Dance, Michael said, “The story of the Easter Rising, and the bravery of those that lost their lives fighting for a free Irish republic, has always moved me deeply and inspired me.”He is “especially proud of the poignant and beautiful tribute that we, as artists together, have created.” This poignant single will be used on the soundtrack to the star-studded movie The Rising due to be released next year, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Fiona Shaw, Micheal Neeson, Brendan Coyle, Colin Morgan and David O’Hara. Produced by Billy Farrell, “The Rising” is available for download on iTunes. All proceeds from sales are going to various charities. – A.M.M.


n advance of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, webcaster AccuRadio added a specially curated “St. Paddy’s Party” channel for the celebrations. Emmy-nominated Irish singersongwriter, Michael Londra, currently touring the U.S. with Celtic Fire, curated the Celtic channels on this site. AccuRadio was the fastest growing webcaster in 2015, even faster than Pandora. They offer over 975 music channels and unlimited skips. There are more than 50 different genres of music to choose from, including fourteen Irish and Celtic themed channels. “Even people with no connection to Irish, Gaelic, or Scottish cultures are still likely to find these channels easy on the ears,” explains AccuRadio Executive Vice President for Programming Paul Maloney. “Much of American modern music has roots in Irish music,” he notes. “Since Irish people immigrated in great numbers not that long ago, the people and their music have an outsized influence on contemporary American culture.” “As widely diverse as our listeners are, we try to meet as wide a range of expectation with our Celtic music as we can. For the St. Patrick’s Day partier, we have some rowdy and fun music for the one-day a year they want to feel Irish. But I think our programming really shines when we craft channels for those who genuinely want to explore this music year-round,” says Maloney. The deep knowledge and broad range of curated channels explains why over a million unique listeners use AccuRadio for free. Tune into AccuRadio via its website ( and its top-rated mobile apps. – A.M.M.

THE contemporary



A New Dawn in Living Luxurious residences on the grounds of the renowned Park Hotel Kenmare ■ The Deluxe Destination Spa

SÁMAS voted in the Worlds Top 25 Spas by Condé Nast Traveller ■ 25mt Lap Pool, Gym,

Daily Lifestyle Classes,Tennis ■ Full Five Star Hotel Services ■ Within walking distance of 10

Michelin Listed Restaurants ■ Forbes Top 10 Retirement

Destinations ■ Ireland’s Tidy Town Winner ■ 18 Hole Golf Course

Living as it should be -

for you To receive further information or arrange a private presentation on THE RETREATS contact John Brennan

telephone +353 (0) 64 41494 or +353 (0) 64 41200 email

Untitled-3 1

3/18/16 4:14 PM

IA.Hib. Anne Anderson_IA Template 3/19/16 7:28 AM Page 30

hibernia | women

Ambassador Anne Anderson Becomes First Female Member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick


rish Ambassador Anne Anderson became the first women to be inducted into the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, an organization that has had an exclusively

Ambassador Anne Anderson in the green jacket of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick after she became the first woman admitted to the organization in its history.

male membership since it was founded in Philadelphia in 1771. Twenty other women were also admitted as members at the Friendly Son’s 245th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Gala on Saturday, March 12. Anderson’s inclusion is also special since the only other individual to be an “adopted” member of the society in its 245year existence was George Washington. The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick is one of the oldest Irish societies in the U.S. Founded as a charitable organization to help new immigrants, the Friendly sons admitted both Catholic and Protestant members, but until this month had remained a male-only society. Anderson has been critical of the tradition of maleonly societies in the U.S. since assuming her diplomatic role in 2013, so it is fitting that she become the first to break the gender barrier. The movement to open the society to women also had its supporters within the Friendly Sons, namely from President Joseph Heenan, who had been vocal about the change since taking on his role in 2015. The fact that the inclusion of women should come during the 1916 Rising centenary year was also an important one for Anderson, who delivPHOTO: TOM KEENAN



LEFT TOP: Anne Anderson with Friendly Sons of St Patrick president Joseph Heenan. RIGHT: Anne Anderson pictured here with the McDade Cara Dancers at the event. 30 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

ered the keynote address at the March gala, and used the occasion to discuss the legacy of the gender inclusiveness of the Proclamation. “There could not be a more fitting year for your Society to take this step forward,” she said. “This is a year to reclaim the spirit and intent of the 1916 Proclamation. And that spirit and intent, remarkably for its time, was deliberately inclusive. “The Proclamation addresses both Irishmen and Irishwomen. Its second paragraph calls on ‘our exiled children in America.’ We might linger a moment on that language: not ‘our exiled sons’ as would have been in no way unusual at the time, but ‘our exiled children,’ to include both daughters and sons.” Anderson also spoke of a national year of examining “the balance sheet of the past 100 years.” “We look back with deep and genuine pride on all the many achievements, but we acknowledge also where we have fallen short,” she said. “The feminist Ireland that many of the protagonists of 1916 envisaged was lost to sight over subsequent decades. “Our history in this regard is in no way unique. What happened to women in Ireland in the aftermath of 1916 is part of a larger pattern – a global pattern – that continues in our day.” She concluded in praise 2016 as a year of inclusivity for the Friendly sons and for the Irish in America more generally: “It is heartening, and moving, that Irish America should be marking this centenary year with new steps toward inclusivity. Five days hence, we will cheer a very different St Patrick’s Day parade as it proudly marches down Fifth Avenue – a parade that for the first time includes Irish LGBT groups. Tonight the Friendly Sons have broken down barriers of 245 years; on 17 March in New York, we will see another barrier of very long standing dismantled. “In both instances, Irish America is making a statement: there are no second class citizens; no children of a lesser God. “Two hundred and forty five years ago, in choosing to become a non-sectarian organization, the Friendly Sons grasped something essential: that inclusivity enriches us all. It is not just a gift bestowed or a right recognized. It is something which carries its own reward: binding us together, making our communities stronger and more resilient,” she said. “In this hallowed city, in this centenary year, your Society has shown true leadership, decisively embracing renewal and modernity. As so often before, history is being written in Philadelphia. It is a privilege and a joy to be part of it.” – R.B.W.

IA.Quotes_IA Template 3/19/16 7:10 AM Page 31

quote unquote | hibernia

“Today is a day of reconciliation and healing for us. And that’s why it’s so emotional for all of us.”

New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D – Queens) reacting to the news that LGBT groups would be allowed to march in the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York. New York Post, March 4.

“Many new parents in America don’t have the opportunity to stay home for an extended time with their newborns. We are one of the only countries in the world without a paid family leave policy, and very few companies offer paid family leave to their employees… Joe is back at work now – and he goes back to Congress with an even greater resolve to make sure all working women and men have the ability to take time to welcome a new baby into the world or to care for a loved one.”

Lauren Kennedy, wife of Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D – MA), addressing the issue of parental leave following the birth of the couple’s first daughter late December

“I’m of Irish descent and in America, 100 years ago, we were refugees, my family. Irish were treated terribly in America for a period of time and not accepted, and America learned to accept all of these ideas. It’s what our country is, a country of immigrants. We have not recently done a very good job of remembering who we are.”

George Clooney, speaking to a group of Syrian refugee families in Berlin. International Rescue Committee / YouTube, March 15.

–“A good portion of women in America are size 14 and higher. I just try to make clothing that’ll make all women feel really good….When I feel good about my clothes, I’m more patient with my kids. I don’t beep at the guy in his car texting in front of me. I look at the world a little differently. The small happy moments add up. A little bit of joy goes a long way.”

“After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless meetings in the White House with successive U.S. Presidents, this is an unacceptable development. It is obvious that there remain some within the U.S .administration who seek to treat Sinn Féin differently.” Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, reacting to his denied entry to the White House St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. According to officials, Adams was refused entry over “security” concerns, though he had received an official invitation. March 16.

Melissa McCarthy, whose grandparents came from Cork and Kerry, discussing her new clothing line, which has removed the word “plus” from all of its sizing. Redbook, March 8.

“Hillary Clinton’s support for marriage equality may be a political calculation. And you know what? We worked hard to change the math so that those political calculations would start adding up in our favor. So sincere change of heart or political calculation – either way – I will take it.” Dan Savage, columnist, LGBT advocate, and executive producer of ABC’s The Real O’Neals. The Stranger, February 22.


Silent Testimony

IA.Portraits 9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:55 AM Page 32


IA.Portraits 9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:55 AM Page 33


Jean Caldwell (left)

Jean Caldwell’s husband Cecil, 37, was killed on January 17, 1992, when a land mine was detonated at Teebane Crossroads on the main Omagh to Cookstown Road. He and seven other colleagues died, and many others were injured, when the bomb destroyed their work van as they traveled home for the weekend. Cecil and Jean have two girls.

Damien McNally (above left)

Damien McNally’s father, Paul, 26, was shot on June 5, 1976, in the Ardoyne district of Belfast. Paul and a friend were crossing Brompton Road after leaving a bookmakers in the early afternoon when two gunmen approached them. Paul died in hospital two days after the attack, knowing his injuries would be fatal. Damien was four months old and his sister, Karen, was four years of age.

Mary Finnis (above)

Mary Finnis’s son Rory, 21, was shot dead in June 1991. Rory’s body, displaying evidence of torture, was found barefoot and hooded behind shops in the Creggan Estate in Derry. He had last been seen with a close friend in a city-center pub five days before his body was found on June 6, 1991. Mary still lives surrounded by photographs and mementos of her son. Rory’s son was just 18 months old at the time of his death.

Portraits by Colin Davidson Information on upcoming U.S. exhibitions of “Silent Testimony” will be posted on Davidson’s website as it becomes available. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 33

IA.Portraits 9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:55 AM Page 34

Silent Testimony

Anna Cachart

Anna Cachart’s father, Patrick, 36, was shot dead on April 1, 1975, at his home in Carrickfergus. Patrick, who was born in India, had married a woman from Belfast and had three children. He was killed at home in front of his wife while his young children were asleep upstairs.

Walter Simon

Walter Simon’s son Eugene, 26, disappeared on January 1, 1981. Eugene was a father of three children and had recently remarried following the death of his first wife. He was due to become a father again. Eugene’s body was recovered in May 1984 when a bog in County Louth was drained. His remains were identified by the rose gold Celtic cross, worn round his neck, that had belonged to his first wife.

The Artist

Colin Davidson, 48, is known for his striking large-scale portraits of celebrities such as Brad Pitt (which hangs in the Smithsonian), Liam Neeson, and other well-known figures, including Irish writers Brian Friel and Seamus Heaney. More recently, his portrait of German leader Angela Merkel (Davidson is pictured on left with the portrait), was commissioned by TIME and ran on the magazine’s Person of the Year cover in December 2015. But it is the artist’s new work, which explores the difficult topic of our past, that has people talking. Titled “Silent Testimony,” the exhibition, currently on display at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, features large-scale portraits of 18 people who are connected by their individual experiences of loss and suffering caused by the Troubles, that 30-year period of Irish history in which 3,600 people were

IA.Portraits 9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:55 AM Page 35

Flo O’Riordan

Flo O’Riordan’s son Sean was killed on March 23, 1972, on Cawnpore Street in West Belfast. Sean received a gunshot wound to the back of the head and died a short time later in hospital. He was thirteen years old and was the second eldest of six children. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 35

IA.Portraits 9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:55 AM Page 36

Silent Testimony

Emma Anthony

Emma Anthony’s father Frederick, 38, was killed on May 13, 1994, in his hometown of Lurgan by an under car booby trap bomb. His family was with him in the car. Emma, then three years of age, sustained serious injuries, as she was seated behind her father and was not expected to live. She still lives with the impact of her injuries.

Thomas O’Brien

Thomas O’Brien was bereaved on Mary 17, 1974. His brother John, 23, sister-in-law Anna, 22, and two nieces, Jacqueline, 17 months, and Anne Marie, 5 months, were killed when a nowarning car bomb exploded as the young family were walking along Parnell Street in Dublin. A total of 33 people lost their lives that day in separate bombings in Dublin and Monaghan. killed and many more were injured. The exhibition showed at the Ulster Museum over several months through January 17, 2016, before moving to Paris. It drew people from across the country in Ireland, who were moved by the emotion Davidson captured in his series. Born in Belfast in 1968, at the very start of the conflict, Davidson began working on the portraits over a three-year period. “It never started as a theme,” he said in a recent interview, but he recalled thinking, when he first heard of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, “what about all those who suffered losses during the conflict?” He wanted to do something for “the people who hadn’t had a voice for the story they had to tell. Who had no escape from the grief – or no potential for justice.” Davidson, who graduated from the University of Ulster in 1991 with a first class honors degree in design, chose to document the stories of his subjects, whom he met through Wave Trauma Centre, a support group for people traumatized as a result of the Troubles, without commenting on their religion. “It’s human loss. It’s not Protestant loss or Catholic loss. It’s bereavement, full stop,” he said. Prior to painting their portraits, none of the victims were known to the artists. The first time he met with them was on the day of the sitting. He described how he wanted that first meeting to be “raw.” “Everything I learned about the person I took back to the studio, and my release was to paint and express the horror that their stories brought forth,” he said. “Often it is the silences – the moments between the words, that are the most affecting.” He added: “They are people who have suffered loss, and who are, in a sense, IA paying for our peace.” 36 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

Maureen Reid

Maureen Reid’s husband, and father of their ten children, James, 44, was killed on January 17, 1976, when a bomb was thrown into the Sheridan Bar in the New Lodge district of Belfast. Maureen never remarried and raised her family on a widow’s pension. Throughout the years, Maureen referred to James as “Daddy.” She passed away on March 25, 2015, with her family by her side.

Northern Ireland Bureau -­‐ the diplomatic mission representing the Northern Ireland Executive in North America

Invest Northern Ireland & Northern Ireland Bureau Congratulates

President Bill Clinton on receiving the Irish America Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of his extraordinary role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. And all of the distinguished 2016 Hall of Fame inductees Astronaut Eileen Collins, NASA’s first female space shuttle commander; former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey; novelist, essayist, and journalist Pete Hamill; and Edward J.T. Kenney, special consultant at Mutual of America.

Untitled-3 1

3/18/16 4:04 PM

IA.Clinton9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:46 AM Page 38


The Peacemaker In recognition of his extraordinary role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland, Irish America honors former President Bill Clinton on March 30th. By Niall O’Dowd


little over twenty years ago, Bill Clinton broke an ironclad rule of American diplomacy with a move that would lead to peace in Northern Ireland.

That rule, in existence for well over 200 years, was that America never interfered in the internal affairs of Great Britain and Ireland. For Irish Americans over the centuries no matter their power, that rule had stood. Despite contributing blood and sacrifice in the U.S. Civil War, despite the strength of the Irish vote in the early part of the last century, despite the new Irish Republic in 1921, no president ever gave them a hearing. Until Bill Clinton. Here now on a bright late autumn day in 1995, President Clinton and wife Hillary were descending down the steps from Air Force One at Belfast International Airport. I vividly remember that moment. Irish America had finally found its voice and there was nothing surer in my mind but that peace would follow. Later that day I stood among the 200,000 people crammed into the center of Belfast waiting for President Bill Clinton to appear for the city’s Christmas tree lighting. While we waited, Van Morrison warmed us up on a cold and frosty afternoon with the song “There Will Be Days Like This.” With perfect hindsight I can say Van was wrong. There will never be another day like that one. On the chairs beside me sat Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, and Joe Cahill, the leadership of the Irish Republican movement. Not far from me sat David Ervine, Gary McMichael, and Gusty Spence, heads of the Loyalist movement. Adams and the Loyalists had met the American president, an unheard of occurrence. It was clear Clinton was all in. Once the organizations they headed had been trying to kill each other. Now they were seated feet from each other, making moves for peace, thanks in large part to the work of the Irish American president.


Up until that day the notion of an American president in Belfast was fanciful in the extreme, yet here Clinton was. I’ll always remember Martin McGuinness especially, and the disbelief and joy in his eyes, that this day had finally dawned. If there is ever a day that will stand out in history, this was it. Indeed, it was the greatest day of my journalism career. It all seems long ago and far away now, but life for many Irish reached a zenith that December day in Belfast in 1995. America had at last stepped into the Irish/British conflict, and peace for the first time had a chance. When we look at ethnic conflicts all over the world today and the inability to stop them the, Clinton intervention in Ireland stands as a beacon of hope.

In the recent release of his oral histories the late Senator Ted Kennedy, a champion of the peace process, gives massive recognition to the role of Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, who galvanized community groups and women’s groups on both sides. I’m just glad to have had the chance to witness history in the making. Bill and Hillary cut a triumphant swathe from Belfast to Derry, back to Belfast and then on to Dublin where they received a rapturous reception. By the end of the visit, a deep and irrevocable bond had been forged, one that began when candidate Clinton spoke at an Irish American forum in New York in April 1992 and, most importantly, promised a visa to the U.S. for

IA.Clinton9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:46 AM Page 39

LEFT: Former President Bill Clinton is inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in March, 2011. TOP: March, 1996 cover of Irish America. ABOVE: Clinton sheds tears on visiting Omagh, Co. Tyrone after the car bombing (on August 15, 1998) that killed 31 people and injured 220 others.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, then an international pariah. Most observers shrugged at the time. Campaigning was different from governing, such a promise would never be fulfilled, they thought. A visa for Gerry Adams was a pipedream. Later that year, in September, Irish American legend, Mayo-born Paul O’Dwyer and I met Clinton at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, and we both came out of the meeting glowing. O’Dwyer, a former New York City Council president, had been meeting with American politicians about Ireland since the 1930s. He’d never met one like this. “He will turn the Irish issue upside down,” he predicted. He never spoke a truer word.

Once in power, President Clinton overturned 200 years of British oversight on American policy towards Ireland. Urged on by a group of Irish American leaders who were intermediaries with Sinn Féin, Clinton jumped on board the Irish bandwagon. The State Department spluttered. Tom Foley, the Anglophile Speaker of the House, objected strongly. But Clinton, the consummate politician, saw something. In January 1994, after a titanic struggle between pro-British and pro-Irish forces, the decision on whether to give Gerry Adams a visa landed on Clinton’s desk. On the night he had to make the decision he was sandwiched at a dinner between Speaker Foley and Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Both men pounded him on reasons why Adams should not be given a visa. Clinton, however, was not for turning. Despite the advice of the F.B.I., C.I.A., State Department and the British, on January 31, 1994 he gave a visa to Gerry Adams. In the end the key counterweight was Senator Edward Kennedy, who, having listened to his sister Jean, then the American Ambassador to Ireland, had decided the Sinn Féin peace outreach was for real. Clinton’s campaign promise had been fulfilled, and all hell broke loose. British Prime Minister John Major refused to take his calls and the British media lambasted Clinton, calling [the Adams visa] the greatest insult ever offered a British government. In America, of the major newspapers only The New York Times approved. Adams arrived amid a welter of excitement. He spoke at the Waldorf Astoria at an event hosted by Irish American business leader William Flynn and he went on CNN’s Larry King Live, forcing British authorities to ban the show in Britain. The Adams move was one of three key triggers that brought about the historic August 1994 I.R.A. ceasefire. The American president’s unorthodox, outside-the-box maneuver played a massive role in bringing an end to the violence in Northern Ireland. Clinton had proven that the soft power of an American president when used so brilliantly could solve a problem so difficult some people even admired its enigmatic nature and pronounced it unsolvable. IA Happily, Bill Clinton was not one of those. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 39

IA.Collins_IA Template 3/19/16 6:42 AM Page 40



HALL FAME Eileen Collins By Adam Farley

Eileen Collins, center, with her husband Pat Youngs, left, and Patricia Harty at the 2000 Irish America Top 100 Awards.


n the 1950s and ’60s, as the industries that had helped populate and sustain upstate New York like railroading and manufacturing were leaving, the Harris Hill Gliderport in the lagging town of Elmira offered Eileen Collins a different kind of opportunity. She remembers her father taking her and her siblings to the airstrip just west of town to sit on the hood of their car with A&W root beers and watch the lightweight gliders take off and soar over the steep declivity on the north end of the strip. “I’d watch the gliders and I would say, ‘Well, maybe someday I’ll get to do that,’” she told Irish America in a 2000 cover interview with Patricia Harty. To date, Collins has done so and more. One of NASA’s most highly regarded astronauts, she has flown on four missions to space – in 1995, she was the first female space shuttle pilot and in 1999, she became the first female commander of a space shuttle mission. She is also a retired Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and flew as both a test pilot and in combat zones, a decade before it was legal for women to serve in combat zones. (She piloted a transport plane in Grenada during the 1983 U.S. invasion.) She doesn’t shy away from these “first woman” titles, though she’s much more eager to talk about her work and what it means for women in the field today rather than her own experiences. “Sure, there were a couple of jokes,” she told Harty, and, “There were challenges,” she’s slyly told the women’s history website Makers. But for her, the joy of her status in that regard is helping others. “I think I’ve matured beyond the point of [thinking] ‘It’s about me.’ Because it’s not about me,” she told Makers. “I was at Kennedy Space Center walking through some of the work areas and I met a group of women. And one of them said to me, ‘Thanks for what you’re doing. Because of what you are doing as a shuttle commander, we get more respect from the guys.’ And


I never thought of it that way,” she said. If Collins’s trajectory towards her status began with A&W root beer on the hood of a car, it calcified in the grade-school library and classroom. Born the second of four children to Rose Marie O’Hara and James Collins in 1956 in Elmira, Collins grew up in a government housing project. Her parents separated when she was nine and her mother was forced to subsidize her shopping with food stamps until she got a job at the local correctional facility. But her parents remained on good terms, and while her father didn’t make much as a postal worker, he financed the children’s private Catholic school education. There, she excelled at math and science and spent her spare time reading everything she could about aviation. “I really started to love flying when I started reading about pilots – women pilots, military pilots,” she told Harty. “I read about Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman [the first African American pilot] and about the military pilots who took part in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Those military pilots became role models for me.” When she was in forth grade, she read a Junior Scholastic cover story on the Gemini program. She remembers reading it at her desk and thinking how much she wanted to be one of them and began to actively and obsessively learn about their lives. She told Harty, “I really adored them and I wanted to learn about their families – what their wives were like, and what they did before they became astronauts. How did they get selected?” She says the fact that they were all men didn’t really affect her until she got to high school and started questioning why women couldn’t do it. (Still, she admits she was a young pragmatist, and is fond of making jokes about how she decided if she couldn’t be a pilot, she’d marry one of them.) It wasn’t until Collins was 19 that she got her first actual flight experience, on a commercial flight with her mother. The following summer, in 1976, she enrolled in flying lessons after saving over $1,000 from part-time work. She also graduated with an associate’s degree from the local community college that year and received an Air Force R.O.T.C. scholarship to attend Syracuse University, the first year that women were allowed to enlist on equal footing as the male airmen. She graduated in 1978 with her B.A. in math and economics, and the following year graduated from Air Force pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma. The following decade, Collins served as both an

IA.Collins_IA Template 3/19/16 6:42 AM Page 41

plates, hopefully preventing another disaster like Columbia. She also spoke again to Irish America in advance of the flight about the dangers of space travel, where she compared the notion of taking risks and moving on to the risks ABOVE : Collins at the immigrants took in coming to America. Air Force Test pilot instructor and an active duty pilot at various Air Force school at Edwards Air “The whole history of the space program is part of institutions, including the U.S. Air Force Academy in Force Base, CA, 1989. moving on and making life better for people on Earth. Colorado, and Travis Air Force Base in California, TOP RIGHT: On the To me, it is very important for humans to get off the Space where she met her husband Pat Youngs while flying International planet. I think that yes, there is risk in space travel, Station during her final C-141 cargo planes. He is retired from the Air Force command mission with but I think that it’s safe enough that I’m willing to take now and works as a commercial pilot for Delta. They Discovery in 2005. the risk,” she said. married in 1987 and now have two children, Bridget ABOVE RIGHT: Collins “I think it’s much, much safer than what our ancesat the National Soaring (20) and Luke (15). tors did in traveling across the Atlantic Ocean in an Museum’s Aerospace The whole time though, Collins had her sights on Summer Camp. old ship. Frankly, I think they were crazy doing that, NASA. She applied to the shuttle pilot training probut they wanted to do that, and we need to carry on gram in 1990 and was accepted. Five years later she made history the human exploration of the universe that we live in.” as the first woman shuttle pilot when she helmed the Discovery As for Collins’s ancestors, they came from Clare on her mother’s to a rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir. She returned side and Cork on her father’s. According to her father, who also to space in 1997 and in 1999, when she became NASA’s first spoke to Harty in 2000, they were blue collar – “railroad workers woman shuttle commander, with a mission on Columbia to deploy on both sides of the family.” In the ’90s, she and Youngs went to the famed Chandra X-ray observatory. Ireland for a golf tournament and decided to go to Cork to “look up She remembers feeling a lot of pressure on that mission specifi- all the Collinses in the phone book,” she told Harty in 2000. “But cally, because she would have to land the shuttle herself on national there were so many Collinses in the book that we gave up!” television. It was around this time too that Collins met one of her heroes, as“The commander always lands the shuttle – it’s never been done tronaut Michael Collins, whose book Carrying the Fire was one of on autopilot. The whole world is watching and you’ve only got one the first space books she read, she told Irish America. They also shot and you don’t want to mess it up,” she told one interviewer. tried to find a common ancestor, as both of their Collins sides came And of course, there’s the added pressure of being the first woman from Cork, but “as there are many Collinses from Cork,” Eileen to do it, too. says, they weren’t able to. “My friends who are women pilots, they were like, ‘Eileen! You “It was such an honor to meet him,” Collins said. “As nervous as got to do it for us! Do it for the women pilots!’” she said. I was, he was very professional and gracious to me, he is such a In 2005, Collins commanded the “Return to Flight” mission to class act.” the International Space Station, the first mission since the 2003 Today, Collins and her husband live far away from the post-inColumbia explosion and for which she specifically put her retire- dustrial Elmira, but her legacy is still there. In the late 1960s, the ment on hold. There, she pioneered a safety maneuver that became National Soaring Museum was established next to Harris Hill Glidstandard practice in all subsequent missions whereby the com- erstrip, and, just as Collins began learning to fly in the summer heat, mander inverts the shuttle so the astronauts on I.S.S. can take high- the Eileen Collins Aerospace Camp is held each July and August at IA resolution images of the ships heat shield to look for damaged the museum. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 41

IA.Dempsey_IA Template 3/19/16 2:00 AM Page 42



HALL FAME Martin Dempsey By Adam Farley

ABOVE: Dempsey and his wife Deanie (top right) at home with their family. CENTER: Dempsey renders honors at Notre Dame Stadium before a football game, 2014. ABOVE RIGHT: Dempsey with his mother, Sarah, at his West Point graduation, 1974. BELOW RIGHT: Obama and Dempsey at his official retirement ceremony, 2015.


hen General Martin E. Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, received the telegram announcing his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he was far from certain about accepting. But his resolve fermented quickly, he says, by what he ultimately determined was the “most important” factor: his first-generation Irish American mother. “My mother cried when I told her I really didn’t want to go to West Point,” he told Irish America in an email. “So I went.” This is typical of Dempsey, who frequently defers self-aggrandizement, learned the importance of honoring his Irish elders early, and has never in his career been shy about the pride he takes in his heritage.

Born in 1952 in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dempsey grew up in nearby Bayonne the eldest of five siblings and the eldest grandson of four Irish immigrants, including his widowed grandmother, who lived upstairs in their small house, which he says “was simply a blessing.” “All of our Irish relatives gathered every holiday and on many Sundays. There was great joy in the house even in the face of financial challenges,” he says. The values they taught him have carried through all aspects of his life, and he freely credits them with his successes, including his proclivity for turning to Irish songs at public events. (Among the numerous videos available, the most memorable may


be his retirement ceremony, where he parted with a rendition of, naturally, “The Parting Glass.”) His parents and grandparents taught him to bloom where he was planted, he says. “I worked hard at whatever task I was a given, and embraced leadership opportunities whether as a crossing guard, an altar boy, or a General.” Naturally, this Irish ethic would influence his decision to heed the clear desire of his mother and accept at West Point. It has served him well, not least because Dempsey’s 41-year career with the military, and especially the time since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has been defined by both unexpected and, by military standards, unconventional promotions since his first post in a small German village at the front lines of the Cold War in West Germany in 1974. In 1991, Dempsey was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Desert Storm and served with the 3rd Armored Division as its executive officer, and spearheaded the “left hook” maneuver that cut off a retreat path for the Iraqi Republican Guards and led to the swift completion of the war in a matter of weeks. From 2001 to 2003, he served in Saudi Arabia, training and advising the Saudi National Guard, experience he would later build upon while training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad from 2005 to 2007. In 2003, as a brigadier general, he was sent to Baghdad in command of the 1st Army Division, usually an assignment given to two-star major generals. Dempsey excelled in the face of the 2004 Shiite rebellion, organizing a strategy that combined agile attacks, political negotiations, and swift infusions of reconstruction funds to Shiite neighborhoods to counter the influence of the rebels. He was subsequently promoted to major general. In 2007, he was named second in command at U.S. Central Command (covering the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia) in Florida, being promoted to a three-star lieutenant general. Less than a year later, he was promoted to acting commander when the four-star commander Admiral William Fallon was forced to retire in 2008 after criticizing the Bush administration in Esquire magazine. That same year he was nominated and approved for a fourth star. In February 2011, then-defense secretary Robert M. Gates tapped him out of Central Command to become chief of staff for the U.S. Army. His career is also one that has seen drastic changes to military strategy and technology such that he and members of his military generation have had to recalibrate their understandings of success and victory.

IA.Dempsey_IA Template 3/19/16 2:00 AM Page 43

In this endeavor, too, he has been uniquely skilled. In a 2015 interview with Politico, he singled out April 2004 as a turning point. “Here we were, an Army that prided itself on being on the absolute leading edge of technology, of being able to see first, understand first, and if necessary shoot first; and suddenly we were facing these simultaneous uprisings,” he said. “We all had this moment like, ‘Wow, I just didn’t see that coming!’ That suggested that relying too heavily on technology in this era was dangerous.” This forced him to realize that military might “was less important than understanding anthropology and sociology and what was on the minds of Iraqis on the street,” he said. And indeed, it is one reason that led to his final promotion to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2011, the highest ranking military officer in the U.S. The appointment was unexpected in part because he was nominated in favor of then vice-chairman General James E. Cartwright, whom Obama had initially courted for the position, but also because the announcement came just four months after he had been named Army chief of staff. And yet, the appointment should not have been a surprise. Dempsey was universally respected by senior commanders like Gates, General David Petraeus, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs, for his pragmatism, restraint, and combination of combat and diplomatic experience. In fact, he was so highly regarded that at the time Thom Shanker observed for the New York Times that, “General Dempsey carries no visible political baggage and has no vocal critics across the armed forces. The only sour notes sounded at word of his nomination came from those who regret his departure from the post of Army chief.” Once in command, Dempsey became known both for his candor, his caution, and his penchant for informality and discernable lack of ego. Throughout his career, he preferred “Marty” to Martin, including with President Obama. In a speech at Dempsey’s retirement ceremony, Obama remarked on the reasons Dempsey was initially selected as chairman. “I chose Marty for these leadership roles because of his moral fiber and his deep commitment to American strength and values. I chose him because of his vision for our military as a more versatile and responsive force. I chose him because he had the steady hand we needed in this moment of transition — as we tackle emerging

threats and support so many of our troops as they transition to civilian life,” he said. “And I’ve seen Marty manage each of these challenges with integrity and foresight and care. But perhaps most of all, I chose Marty because he’s a leader you can trust.” During his unusual, though not unprecedented, two-term tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, his accomplishments were significant, Obama continued, praising Dempsey’s leadership. “Over these last four years, Marty’s wisdom, his vision, and his character have helped lead the greatest fighting force the world has ever known,” he said. “We ended our combat mission in Afghanistan and brought America’s longest war to a responsible end. We’ve forged new partnerships from South Asia to the Sahel to meet terrorist threats. We’ve built a coalition that is combatting ISIL in Iraq and Syria. We have bolstered our cyber defenses. We helped halt the spread of Ebola in West Africa.” Dempsey also used his time as chairman of the Joint Chiefs to advocate for a number of issues relating to civilian-military relations (both domestic and foreign) and internal military practices. His first year on the job, in 2012, he ordered all military schools to conduct internal reviews to ensure they were not teaching antiIslamic themes in response to reports that some instructors at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia had claimed that Islam is at war with the U.S. In the order, he wrote that the instructors were “advocating ideas, beliefs and actions that are contrary to our national policy, inconsistent with the values of our profession and disrespectful of the Islamic religion.” The order earned him sharp criticism from some, but the call for tolerance and understanding would remain a strong theme throughout his service. That same year, he was instrumental in unveiling the Transition Assistance Program Goals, Planning, and Success program to aid in the transition from military to civilian life. In 2013, he spearheaded the military’s lifting of the ban on women from artillery, infantry, and other combat roles. In 2014, he became the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs to visit Vietnam since 1971. “It was an opportunity to establish a relationship with a nation strategically located and fearful of Chinese assertiveness. I felt then as I do now that Vietnam can be a stabilizing influence in Southeast Asia,” he told Irish America. “It was a remarkable experience given the fact that we were still at war when I entered West Point.” He has also been cautious about advocating military force in the war against ISIS and in American involvement in the Syrian civil war without a long-term strategy in place for what would follow. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 43

IA.Dempsey_IA Template 3/19/16 2:00 AM Page 44



HALL FAME In his last NATO conference as chairman last September, Dempsey was frank about what he believes it will take to defeat ISIS, as well as his ideas of the use of force alone. “A strategic success will require that [Sunnis in the region] ultimately reject ISIS’ PHOTO: MYLES CULLEN / U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ideology and feel inclusive Dempsey on a UH-60 governance. Otherwise two years from now we’ll be Blackhawk helicopter talking about another group with a similarly extremist while flying over ideology,” he said. Kabul, Afghanistan, “My belief is that when the military is used as the February 9, 2012. sole instrument of power, that never has a good outcome. If there’s no one to take ownership and develop that failed state, human suffering can be even worse than that created by the conflict itself.” His caution is in part borne out physically by a wooden box he keeps on his desk that reads “Make it Matter.” In that box, “are 132 laminated cards, each bearing the image of a soldier lost under my command in 2003-2004 in Iraq,” he told Irish America. Every day during his command, he says, he would take a number of those cards and carry them in his pocket as a constant reminder of what is at stake “as we consider the use of force across the globe.” Everything Dempsey does is considered, and personal experience factors strongly. But if his advocacy for tolerance paired with his restraint and caution in using military force has been criticized, it may be because his detractors didn’t come of age as a commander in America’s wars in the Middle East and the subsequent breakdown of


What values did your parents and grandparents pass on to you? Faith, humility, respect, and the value of hard work. Was St. Patrick’s Day celebrated in your house? Frequently. We were Irish. We celebrated life, our roots, and our faith. Did it make you feel special that your birthday was right around that time? My parents and grandparents always made me feel special.

What is your favorite Irish song? It’s hard to select one from the litany of possibilities. My favorite group is “The High Kings.” I enjoy their versions of the traditional ballads. What is the hardest part about being a military leader in time of war? The casualties. We must always work to make their sacrifices matter. What can we do to better serve our veterans? Give them a handshake, not a handout.


They just need a chance and will make any organization they join better for their presence. Any comments on the ceasefire in Syria or the refugee crisis in Europe? The issues that have torn the Middle East apart will take decades to resolve. We need to work with allies in Europe and partners in the Middle East using all of the tools (economic, diplomatic, military) in our arsenal and recognize that it will be a twenty-year endeavor.

presumed knowledge about what victory looks like following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It may also be because they haven’t studied the Irish literary tradition, particularly the work of W.B. Yeats, like he has. Dempsey, whose grandparents emigrated from Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon, and Mayo, spent his childhood summers in the latter beginning at age nine when he first met his Mayo great-grandfather, an experience he calls “magical.” There, he went to school with his cousins and learned a little Irish, though he doesn’t admit to recalling any of it. Importantly, the experience imbued him with a sense of his roots, and spurred him to get a master’s in English literature at Duke University after his first command duty was complete in the 1980s. There, he wrote his master’s thesis on the Irish literary revival. “I studied all of the Irish literary giants of the period between 1890 and 1922. I also studied the influence of Irish writing in America during the same period. I was and am most intrigued by William Butler Yeats who said, ‘talent perceives differences, genius unity.’ Words that clearly resonate today,” he told Irish America. In a 2012 lecture at Duke, he highlighted the explicit link between this study and his Army command. “What I learned about Yeats that I didn’t know going in, is he was probably one of those poets unique in that he changed; he allowed himself to change and to reflect about that change as he moved through his life… he was always a man who could understand his time and himself, and he understood in that regard the context in which he was living,” Dempsey said. “Strategy is, at some level, the ability to predict what’s going to happen, but it’s also about understanding the context in which it is being formulated. And then you have to be open-minded to the fact that you’re not going to get it right at the very beginning. You have a certain set of contexts in which you operate. You then apply yourself against that context, which changes the environment and introduces another set of complex challenges.” Now that Dempsey is retired from military service, he will no doubt take this same philosophy with him into civilian life, where he currently serves as chairman of the newly formed Junior NBA Leadership Council and as a special advisor to NBA commissioner Adam Silver. He and his wife Deanie, his high school sweetheart to whom he has been married since 1977, have three children, Chris, Megan, and Caitlin, and nine grandchildren. When Irish America asked him what he loved most about military life, he said it was “the fact that my wife of 39 years shared my passion for it, and we were blessed by so many friendships.” Their children have all served in the U.S. Army, continuing Dempsey’s legacy there, and Chris remains on active duty. “They each made their own decision,” Dempsey IA insists.

Untitled-14 1

3/18/16 8:42 PM

IA.HamillREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:40 AM Page 46



HALL FAME Pete Hamill By Adam Farley

Pete Hamill with his wife, the Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki.


f asked for a single word that accurately and completely sums up Pete Hamill’s career, there is only one answer – writer. His genre? Just about everything – novels, short stories, history, biography, memoir, magazine features, newspaper columns, television pilots, adapted film scripts, Bob Dylan liner notes. At his core though, he is a newsman, and it is this journalistic foundation that has influenced his lifetime of work and thinking. “Writing is so entwined with my being that I can’t imagine a life without it,” he says in the 1996 introduction to Piecework, a collection of his journalism after 1970. He had already published a collection of his journalism from 1960 to 1970, his first decade in the trade, 25 years earlier. “Usually, I work every day, seven days a week,” he says. “When I go three days without writing, my body aches with anxiety, my mood is irritable, my night dreams grow wild with unconscious invention.” At the time, Piecework was his 13th published book. To date, he has published now 20 distinct works, including 11 novels, two short story collections, two memoirs, a biography, and four works of collected journalism. This does not include those books on which he is credited as a co-author. But if the work of writing allowed Hamill to remain employed these past 56 years, it’s his medium and wide-ranging subject matter that has allowed him to ascend to a position of influence and high regard across broad demographics. He has written about topics that range from wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland to rock and roll and the underclass of New York City. As reviewer Patrick Butler wrote in 2012, he’s “the only guy who can effectively write about racetracks and social justice.” He has been prolific indeed, but so have many writers less acclaimed. It’s Hamill’s combination of personal history and subjectivity with on-the-ground reporting that makes him unique. He helped pioneer New Journalism in the 60s and 70s, adding literary techniques to the dry language of newsprint that reinvigorated both local tabloid dailies as well as nation-


ally syndicated papers of record and glossy magazines. Later, he would flip that formula to employ the sparse language of journalism to help popularize the memoir, lend a sense of authority to his novels (many of which were based on historical events), and elevate the integrity of the tabloid columnist by offering insightful, nuanced, and accessible cultural commentary in his own. There’s hardly a national magazine Hamill hasn’t published in, his byline appearing in the likes of the The New Yorker, Esquire, New York, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and, just this past November, National Geographic. He is also an inveterate New York City writer, having been on staff of most of the still-extant New York daily tabloids, including both the New York Post and the Daily News (he is also the only person to serve as editor-in-chief of both these papers), as well as the Village Voice, but also folded city papers like Newsday and the Herald Tribune. This should be no surprise for a native of the five boroughs who didn’t learn to drive until the age of 36. This last fact, if any, should consummate his credentials as a New York City son. If there is another biographical fact required to shore up his authenticity as a “native New Yorker,” it must be the fact that he is the son of immigrants, taught through the Ulster Catholic eyes of his mother that New York is a place where children can ascend beyond the caste of their parents. It is this mentality that has informed most of his writing and made him such an enduring American author. Born William Peter Hamill in 1935 in Brooklyn to Belfast immigrants Billy and Anne (née Devlin) Hamill, Pete was the eldest of seven children and raised in the primarily Irish neighborhood of Park Slope. His father came to New York in 1924 and had one leg amputated three years later following an injury sustained playing semi-pro soccer in Brooklyn. His mother’s first day in New York was Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed. They married in 1934. In a 2003 interview with Patricia Harty in this magazine, Hamill described his father as “an Ulster man in his inability to express certain emotions.” Billy worked various jobs, including at a grocery store, in a war plant, and at a lighting fixture factory, and was very much of the opinion that his children would remain working class like him. “He thought that once I got that job in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a civil service job, I should stay there for life,” Hamill told Harty. Instead, it was Hamill’s mother whom he calls one of the keys to his success.

IA.HamillREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:40 AM Page 47

Correspondent – the sort of trench coat guys.” In 1959 or 1960, he thinks, he wrote a few letters to the editor of the New York Post that were published and was called into a meeting with the editor-in-chief. By June 1960, he was on the staff as a night reporter. “There were some amazingly good craftsmen on a very small staff, so that I was able to do two or three stories at night,” he recalls. “And I loved it more than anything I’d ever done.” By 1968, he had published his first novel, A Killing for Christ, about a conspiracy to assassinate the Pope on Easter Sunday. In 1971 he published his first collection of journalism. He won a Grammy in 1975 for his liner notes on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. During this time, he lived variously in Mexico City, Barcelona, Dublin, Puerto Rico, Rome, Los Angeles, and Santa Fe, but kept returning to New York and became known as a muscular yet sentimental writer and local raconteur who dated both Shirley Maclaine and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis before marrying his current wife, Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki, in the late 1980s. He and Fukiko currently live in Manhattan and Hamill has two daughters from a previous marriage. In 1994, Hamill published what is arguably his best-known work, A Drinking Life, a memoir about his childhood and early years reporting, focusing on his embrace of drinking and eventual decision to abstain. His other books include, Forever, a novel about the history of New York; Snow in August, which follows the unlikely friendship between an 11-year-old Irish Catholic “My mother was better educated – she’d finished ABOVE LEFT: Hamill in a boy and an elderly Jewish rabbi in 1940s Brooklyn; by his photojournalist high school, which was a triumph for any woman in photo and Why Sinatra Matters, which was recently reisdaughter, Deirdre Hamill. those days, but for a Catholic woman in Belfast it was sued with a new introduction by Hamill in honor amazing. And because her father had gone to sea, she CENTER: Hamill (right) with of Sinatra’s 100th birthday. understood that there was a wider world out there, brother Tommy and sister But if it was his mother’s ambition that allowed Kathleen on an Easter Sunwhich is why she loved New York when she got here,” day in Brooklyn's Prospect Hamill to have his own, it was the working class Hamill said. world of his father he would return to again and Park. “She thought that the whole point of this place was again in his writing, which is why he has endured that you were not a prisoner of what your father or RIGHT: With Floyd Patterson in the national imagination. Neither wholly nostalat a party in Hamill's house your grandfather did.” gic for a bygone city nor purely historical, his writin Park Slope, Brooklyn. Hamill attended Holy Name of Jesus grammar ing is defined by a sense of self-awareness and school and got his first newspaper job at the age of 11, acceptance of urban change that is tinged with indelivering the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. At 14, he was awarded a schol- dividual subjectivity. Working-class immigrant neighborhoods genarship to the prestigious, Jesuit-run Regis High School in Manhat- trify, immigrants from new countries come in, buildings are tan, but dropped out two years later to work at the Brooklyn Navy demolished and others built, typewriters become decorations. The Yard. (He received an honorary diploma in 2010, two days after his constant, however, is newness, and for Hamill, there’s no occupation 75th birthday.) He later joined the Navy, served four years, and went more symbolic of that than a newspaperman. to college to study painting in Mexico City and the School of Visual Asked in 1995 to give advice to a “newspaper dreamer” by the Arts in New York. He joined an advertising agency as a graphic de- New York Times, he explained that “If you’re going into it in order signer, but still had notions of being a newspaperman. to have a pension plan, don’t do it.” “I loved reading newspapers,” he told Harty. “It was a lot more fun when the field was full of bohemian anar“I started when I was ten or eleven on the comic strips, and I chists who stuck around for a while, threw a typewriter out the winfound my way to the rest of the paper – and I loved it. I also had dow and moved on. When I broke in, there were seven functioning these notions about being a newspaperman that was shaped by the newspapers, so at least you could go down the block if some butcher movies – Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, on the copy desk destroyed your masterpiece that morning,” he said. IA mixed in with An American in Paris and Joel McCrea in Foreign “But it’s the most honorable work I can think of doing.” APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 47

IA.Kenney_IA Template 3/19/16 1:57 AM Page 48




Ed Kenney By Ed Kenney, Jr.

Ed Kenney with wife Brigid and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel at the Concern Worldwide U.S. Seeds of Hope Dinner, 2007.


raveling to Belfast post-Good Friday Agreement with Ed Kenney and Mutual of America CEO Tom Moran in the late 90s and early 2000s almost always meant engaging in quiet diplomacy – shuttling between the Sinn Féin head office on the Falls Road and Stormont, spending equal time with Gerry Adams and David Trimble, and many other players. The pair offered moral support, advice, friendship, and a helping hand to those in need or in trouble, regardless of which side they were on. It was a powerful example of soft power at work. Observing Ed’s role in those proceedings would reveal all the hallmarks of his life and career: unswerving loyalty to great visionary leaders, in this case Tom Moran; a commitment to making a positive change in the world; a belief in justice for all people; and an interpersonal style based in listening, gentility, humility, and a seemingly infinite capacity for making friends and allies wherever life takes him. Throughout his time in Belfast and his entire career, he remained in the background, content to play the role of supporter, facilitator, organizer, friend, and foil, which is why he insists that any record of his own accomplishments include the key figures he worked with and for along the way. PHOTO: LIAM BURKE The genesis of the Northern Ireland peace process corresponded with Ed’s retirement from the FBI after nearly 25 years of service and hiring by Mutual of America as Vice President of External Affairs. It was one of many crossroads moments in his life, points at which he almost always made the right choice, influenced by his faith, family, and the truly remarkable people he has met along the way. Each turn led to a series of experiences and accomplishments which add up to a distinctly Irish American life well lived. Participating in the U.S. private sector’s crucial support of the peace process grew out of Ed’s budding relationship with Tom Moran and Tom’s predecessor at Mutual of America, Bill Flynn. Flynn was an architect of the pivotal multilateral meetings in New York beginning in 1994, and a member of the influential Americans for a New Irish Agenda


(ANIA), a group that included fellow business leader Chuck Feeney, former congressman Bruce Morrison, and publisher Niall O’Dowd. Over time, Ed’s relationships on all sides grew into valued friendships and alliances, which fostered lasting impact. Lorraine Turner, Head of Northern Ireland Bureau in New York remarked, “Ed Kenney’s role in U.S. support for Northern Ireland has gone unsung for too long. I have been privileged enough to see at first hand the contribution this dedicated and thoughtful friend to Northern Ireland has made over many years.” The confidence and courage Ed has brought to his participation in momentous world events are a product of another crossroads moment that occurred in the late 1960s, when he met Brigid Gorman, a daughter of the South Bronx, as well as a Leitrim seamstress and Cavan subway clerk, and had the backbone to show for it. She had fought off numerous serious childhood illnesses and willed herself through Marymount Manhattan College, combining scholarships with waitressing income. She was tough, but gentle, with a burning compassion for the poor and downtrodden, which led her to work as a probation officer, and eventually a social worker and advocate for teen mothers and the mentally ill. Her more hardscrabble upbringing among the immigrant working class balanced his more comfortable suburban life and more distant roots in Tipperary and Roscommon. He acknowledges that she is not only his rock but also his partner and often his conscience, inspiring and influencing much of his service to the poor. They have five children and nine grandchildren. Their meeting, and marriage soon after in 1969, came shortly after Ed’s service in the U.S. Army and an earlier decision to take a turn away from the path toward Catholic priesthood – he had been a seminarian since the age of 14, first at Cathedral Prep in Manhattan, then at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. Though he stepped away from the priesthood, he had developed a strong network of close friends, many of whom now serve at the highest levels of church leadership. The next major turn came when he was accepted into the FBI Academy in 1970. It launched a distinguished career, most of which was spent in the Soviet unit of the Foreign Counterintelligence Division. His efforts to root out spies, cultivate sources, and safeguard national security established him as an effective cold warrior, but one whose fairness, humility, and humor made allies of his supervisors, colleagues, subordinates, and even defectors. Many exploits along the way were serious victories that also might have been the stuff of spy thrillers, but he hesitates

IA.Kenney_IA Template 3/19/16 1:57 AM Page 49

direction of both of their lives. Aengus was a larger than life personality but also a kindred spirit – humble, humorous, a loyal friend, and a visionary leader. Siobhan was his much younger partner, but just as much a force of nature. Concern’s mission is to work with the world’s poorest people to achieve major, lasting change in their lives. Immediately upon meeting Aengus and Siobhan, it became Tom and Ed’s mission too. They joined the organization’s board and Tom would soon become Chairman, a position he holds to this day. Over two decades, their combined fundraising efforts have produced tens of millions of dollars that have enabled Concern to save and change countless lives. They have also traveled to over a dozen countries as ambassadors to the communities where Concern works. Ed’s quiet personal efforts also include funding the construction of a school in one of the poorest and most remote communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Siobhan Walsh, now an independent consultant, said, “I am proud and honored to know this man. He has given over 19 years of phenomenal service to Concern Worldwide US. He has been and still is a pillar of strength and support. He was also a key member of the TEA team (Tom, Ed, Aengus), that built the great network of friends and supporters of Concern today. I will be eternally grateful for his kindness, for being a teacher, an extraordinary friend and a selfless advocate for the poorest in our world. He’s the quiet ABOVE LEFT: Kenney to take credit or even talk much about them. one, helping and doing for others behind the scenes His most significant friend, ally, and mentor in the on a field visit with and never seeks the limelight.” Concern Worldwide FBI was the Assistant Director in charge of the New U.S. in Chipopopo, Current Concern Worldwide CEO Dominic MacYork office, James M. Fox. Fox, who oversaw the Mozambique. Sorley added, “The thing about Ed is, you never just successful investigations of the first World Trade Cenget Ed. You get his family. You get his friends. You ter bombing and pursuit of John Gotti, was one of the ABOVE RIGHT: Kenney get former and current colleagues. The planet is popand son Brendan with most decorated and respected agents of his generation, President George W. ulated by people who know and have absolute respect but possessed the same kind of humility, humor, and Bush on the occasion for Ed Kenney and his extraordinary life and are not of Brendan’s induction proclivity for making friends. just willing, but anxious to respond to a call to action. One of Fox’s favorite maxims, which Ed adopted, into the FBI. Working with Tom Moran, he became an unstoppable was “Find a job you love, and you’ll never have to force for good. Concern, on behalf of the millions of work a day in your life.” Ed rose through the ranks of the New York people he helped – the world’s poorest – is thrilled that he is being office and became a close advisor and confidante to Fox. They re- inducted into the Hall of Fame. It is a richly deserved accolade.” tired the same year, 1994, both leaving a job they deeply loved and Ed’s charitable work centers on Concern, but it extends to many bound for another. other causes including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, St. Fox’s next post was as executive vice president at Mutual of Patrick’s Home, his hometown Ossining Food Bank, the Viscardi America, and he introduced Ed to then-CEO Flynn and his soon- Center, the Health Care Chaplaincy, and many others. He is semito-be successor, Moran. His diplomatic demeanor and vast network retired from Mutual of America, but still has an office there, and of friends and contacts immediately made him an invaluable asset much important work left to do. He is delighted to spend more time to the company’s philanthropic and corporate citizenship work in with family, but works for his causes with the same energy he alNew York and behind-the-scenes support of the Northern Ireland ways has. peace process. When Tom Moran ascended to CEO in 1995, he inTom Moran sums it up: “Whether it is the success of Mutual of creased Ed’s responsibilities on both fronts, and the two began a America, the peace process, or Concern Worldwide, Ed Kenney has powerful partnership that continues to this day. been and continues to be a driving force. He never seeks recognition Their introduction to Siobhan Walsh and Aengus Finucane, who for himself but is most deserving of this recognition. His favorite were working around-the-clock to open a U.S. affiliate for the Irish quote is, ‘It’s nice to be important but more important to be humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide, would change the nice!’ No one is nicer! Ed Kenney is a role model for all of us.” IA PHOTO COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR



Untitled-16 1

3/18/16 9:47 PM

Untitled-14 1

3/18/16 8:48 PM

Untitled-15 1

3/18/16 9:16 PM

Untitled-15 1

3/18/16 9:17 PM

Untitled-15 1

3/18/16 9:19 PM

Untitled-15 1

3/18/16 9:20 PM

Untitled-15 1

3/18/16 9:21 PM

Untitled-15 1

3/18/16 9:25 PM

Untitled-15 1

3/18/16 9:26 PM

IA.FenianBond_IA Template 3/19/16 1:16 AM Page 59

The Bonds of a Nation,


ith the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising upon us, a curious piece of memorabilia printed 150 years ago reminds us that the Rising was not the only bid for Irish independence. In the possession of Patrick Doherty, a director in the state comptroller’s office for New York, is a Fenian bond dating from 1866. Doherty is an avid collector of Irish artifacts and a well informed interpreter of their meaning and past. This bond, which he recently showed to Irish America, is only one of several such bonds in Doherty’s collection. It tells the story of the Fenian progenitors of 1916. The tale begins following the calamities that befell Ireland as a result of the Great Famine, when multitudes of Irish immigrants came to the U.S. This migration coincided with the outbreak of the American Civil War, and many of these immigrants quickly enlisted in both the Union and Confederate Armies. Some signed on simply to make a living, others did so to gain military expertise. The latter were men associated with an Irish revolutionary organization known as the Fenian Brotherhood, founded in the U.S. by John O’Mahony in 1848. The Fenians, also had a sister organization in Ireland called the Irish Revolutionary (later ‘Republican’) Brotherhood or IRB, a forbear of the IRA whose members were instrumental in staging the Easter Rising of 1916. Following the conclusion of the Civil War, the Fenian veterans decided to move against the British through an invasion of Canada, which at that time was still a colony of the British empire. But that operation needed to be financed, and so the Fenians started selling bonds. “The bonds were printed by the continental bank note company in New York, which was a major producer of U.S. government currency,” explains Doherty, who acquired the aforementioned 1866 Fenian bond in the 1990s at a coin and currency show at the World Trade Center. “The Fenians were smart enough to make a point of going to one of the top bank note companies. In other words, it was very professional. It really looks like a government bond. And that’s what you had to do. You were trying to persuade people to part with their money for just a little piece of paper. You had to impress them that this was something real,” he says. “The bond had a six percent compounded interest per-annum from 1866. In fact, they were copying the confederates who issued all of their paper money saying ‘payable six months after the signing of the treaty of peace between the confederate states and the United States of America.” So the Fenians figured, ‘that’s a good idea. We’ll do that.’ “The bonds were widely disseminated and sold to the Irish American community. Most of the people

who bought them were actually Irish immigrants. There were references made in the American magazines in New York at the time that ‘you’ll find your maids and your cooks and your butlers are spending the money you give them on these bonds.’” The bonds also feature some very iconic imagery, which Doherty was also able to decode. “You can see up at the top, the vignette shows Mother Ireland with the hound and the harp – the national symbol. There is a soldier at her feet. He is an Irish veteran of the Civil War. So she is pointing down to the sword, and she is bidding him to pick up the sword again – and then she is pointing across the sea to Ireland. You can see a round tower – that’s Ireland. So she is saying pick up the sword again and fight.” But the Fenian dream did not end as expected, ultimately rendering the bond useless as Doherty discovered when he attempted to cash it in several years ago. Doherty was in Dublin with a New York City delegation and arranged to meet the man in charge of the Irish treasury, Minister of Finance Brian Cowan (who would later serve as Taoiseach from 2008 to 2011). “So I went in with that bond and with our delegation and I presented it to him for redemption! I said OK – it’s six percent compounded per-annum from 1866 – I estimated it was worth $22,000,” he says. “[Cowan] ended up saying, ‘Is this the only one left? Are there others?’ I said, ‘there are others out there’ – and he said, ‘Well, I don’t know about that.’” Needless to say, Doherty didn’t end up cashing in on his $22,000 that day. But he’s optimistic. He took it back from Cowan and pointed out that it reads “redeemable six months after the acknowledgement of the independence of the Irish nation.” “One could say that the independence of the Irish nation as envisioned by the Fenians has yet to be achieved,” Doherty acknowledges. Since the Fenians envisioned an island free from British rule, there is the possible technicality that only a united Ireland would qualify. “So I think I’ll hold on to this for a while, and see IA about redeeming it a little later.”

By R. Bryan Willits

Doherty’s 1866 Fenian Bond. The $10 bond (about $270 in 2016, adjusted for inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) is signed by Fenian founder John O’Mahony, as “Agent of the Irish Republic.”


IA.FenianLettersREV3_IA Template 3/19/16 6:31 AM Page 60

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS: 1916 and its aftermath

A grandmother’s letters, passed down through two generations, offer a fascinating, and at times intimate, glimpse into the period following the 1916 Rising. DERMOT MCEVOY TALKS TO ROSEMARY MAHONEY

“My maternal grandmother,

Julia Frances Rohan (née Fraher), and her five sisters who emigrated to Boston from Ballylanders, County Limerick, were fervid Sinn Féiners. My grandmother Julia was perhaps the most fervid of all,” recalls the writer Rosemary Mahoney (For the Benefit of Those Who See and Whoredom in Kimmage). “My grandmother’s family was already highly politicized by the time of the Easter Rising. She was a member of Cumann na mBan, donated money to the Irish National Volunteers to help them buy arms, and campaigned at all the Boston meetings for an independent Ireland. She knew everybody in Boston who was fighting for the cause. Many who were involved in the Easter Rising, in one way or another, stayed at the Fraher house in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Julia was in her mid-twenties at this time and not married yet.” The list of those who stayed at Julia’s house reads like a “Who’s Who” of Irish revolutionaries. Diarmuid Lynch a Sinn Féin member of the First Dáil who helped plan the Rising, and Liam Mellows, also a Republican and a Sinn Féin politician, were house guests, as was MM (Min) Ryan, who hailed from a strongly nationalist family, and was the girlfriend of Seán MacDiarmada who was executed for his part in the Rising. Ryan later married Richard Mulcahy, former Chief-of-Staff of the IRA and the man who replaced Michael Collins as head of the National Army in 1922. Nora Connolly the daughter of James Connolly, the labor leader who was shot for his part in the Easter Rising of 1916, and her friend Margaret Skinnider, one of the few women who fought in combat on Easter Monday, were also visitors and friends of Julia’s. Nora wrote to Julia in July 1917 from her apart60 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

TOP: Julia Frances Rohan (née Fraher), far right in the hat, pictured with her family outside her home in Boston. ABOVE: Julia as a young woman, circa 1916.

ment on Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn and her homesickness for Ireland is obvious from her letter: “It was just a year ago that I left Mama and got away. It seems years now.” Maybe her homesickness had something to do with her opinion of New York: “New York is an ugly horrible place. Anyone who prefers New York to Boston must be mad.” Connolly goes on to mention Éamon de Valera’s victory in the Clare by election: “Margaret [Skinnider] and I were at the Irish World office yesterday and were told that de Valera had won the elections 3 to 1. The figures were 5000 odd to 2000 odd.” Nora goes on to dig into John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party who had urged Irishmen to fight for Britain in the Great War in the hopes of strengthening the case for Home Rule. Redmond’s brother Willie had been killed on the Western Front prior to the election, but as Nora points out, that sad fact did not win any votes over to Redmond. “[de Valera’s victory] shows how much Clare is grieving for Willie Redmond,” she writes. She then pivots to mention a mutual friend and fellow Sinn Féiner: “I saw Liam Mellows on Monday. He is looking well but horribly Yankeefied,” she comments. In August Nora wrote again, voicing a common summer lament from Irish immigrants: “I cannot write to you now as much as I would wish because I am simply dying with the heat.” On a more serious note she laments the death of Muriel MacDonagh, wife of 1916 patriot Thomas, who was drowned in a swimming accident: “Wasn’t that dreadful news about Mrs. MacDonagh? Just think of the two little ones left without father or mother.” In June 1918, Nora was heading for home to Ireland and was obviously worried about German U-boats: “Dear folks won’t

IA.FenianLettersREV3_IA Template 3/19/16 6:31 AM Page 61

you pray that we reach home safely,” she writes and she adds a bit of Fenian gossip also: “Mrs. [Hanna Sheehy-] Skeffington is sailing on the same boat.” Nora Connolly returned to Ireland where she was active in Cumann na mBan activities. She went against the Treaty, which brought the Irish War of Independence to an uneasy end in 1921 and ultimately led to the partition of Ireland into present day Northern Ireland and the 26-county Republic. During the Irish Civil War between pro (led by Michael Collins) and antiTreaty sides (led by Éamon de Valera), Nora was active in socialist and union activities and in 1957 was appointed to the Irish Senate by De Valera where she served for 12 years. She died in 1981 at the age of 88.

M M Ryan’s letter, mailed in Boston and dated February 1, 1919, shows the cracks in the American Fenian movement:

Dear Miss Fraher, I came on here yesterday and hope to see you before I go back to New York. I am recovering from an attack of “flu” and have just been on my feet but a few days. Yesterday I received a special delivery letter informing me of the illness of my sister Katherine [Mary Kate, known as “Kit”] so I came on. She is suffering from a nervous break-

down but is better than I expected to find her. I am anxious to know how your brother is. Are you going to the convention? [The Irish Race Convention, held in Philadelphia on February 2223, 1919] Yours truly has not received an invitation from the patriotic National Secretary [believed to be Diarmuid Lynch who was the National Secretary of the Friends of Irish Freedom, the people who ran the Race Convention]. We don’t like each other. I feel about him as Nora Connolly did. He is a narrow minded fellow—a good tool in the hands of The Judge [believed to be prominent Judge Daniel Cohalan, an associate of Lynch]. A fine henchman. But Liam [Mellows] is every inch a man! They can’t use him and the men and women who went home know it and carried the news home. Mrs. S. S. [Sheehy-Skeffington], Nora, and Margaret [Skinnider] had the “ladding” [this word is unclear] lights here all measured and they won’t be able to “put it over” the men at home. I hate [word hate is double underlined] the Judge and when everything is all over I’m going to attack him publicly. Liam Mellows wrote to Julia in April 1918, and is delighted about the news from Ireland: “Everything at home looks well. It’s laughable to see the hierarchy advocating strikes & John Dillon embracing Sinn Féin.” He celebrated a special anniversary: “Do you know that today is the anniversary of the beginning of that week in 1916? I see by a paper from home that Galway was ablaze with bonfires on Easter Saturday night. That’s grand.” In June, Mellows (who signed his letters in the Irish: “O’Maeliosa”) offers his condolences to Julia on the death of her mother, but the discussion soon turns to brutal politics: “Well, God rest her soul. Who knows but that it is all for the best. She would

465 Vanderbilt Ave Brooklyn, New York July 12th [1917] Dear Julia, I hate writing letters to anyone I like: I feel so far away when I do. I have not yet started to hunt for a job yet. The Colums on whom I was depending to take me around are out of town, also my friend at the Review of Reviews. But I will write to Frank Harris and see what he has to offer. He told me to call on him when I came to New York. I’m so homesick Julia for you all. I really & truly felt as if I were leaving home again. It was just a year ago that I left Mama and got away. It seems years now. And now I feel almost as much alone at leaving you as I did when leaving her. New York is an ugly horrible place. Anyone who prefers New York to Boston must be mad. I had a letter from the Public Library in Boston asking me to return the books. Did Sean [John O’Donnell] not have a chance to return them yet? There will probably be some money due on them now. Margaret and I were at the Irish World office yesterday and were told that De Valera had won the elections 3 to 1. The figures were 5000 odd to 2000 odd. That shows how much Clare is grieving for Willie Redmond [Irish politician.] I think that everything is coming as we would like it to. I was speaking to a man who arrived last week from home. He was on the ship with all the prisoners when they were returning to Dublin [1916 rebels who had been imprisoned in England.] He said they were amazed and delighted at the change of public opinion. I had a letter from Mama this week. She said she was in great excitement waiting the return of her boys. Julia I’ve lost my Tara brooch again. Amn’t I unfortunate? I saw Liam Mellows on Monday. He is looking well but horribly Yankeefied. I really have not a thing to write to you about. But please goodness I won’t always be so. Best love to Mrs. Fraher, Lizzie, Sean & yourself. Remembrances to the “right sort.” [Michael Rohan, my grandfather, who was courting Julia then.] Very sincerely yours, Nora Connolly


IA.FenianLettersREV3_IA Template 3/19/16 6:31 AM Page 62

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS: 1916 and its aftermath

feel so bad if she lived long enough to witness the trying—indeed terrible times—that are coming. God help us all & give us the courage & faith to endure & the people at home the strength to suffer, for we are on the verge of impending & terrible events. But we can win. That I do not doubt. To doubt it is to lose & we cannot lose for the hand of God is with us & He can triumph over the poor efforts of mortal men.” By August there is a familiar Irish lament in Mellows’ letter: “It must be the heat, and sure that is enough to drive anyone—like the cows in summer with the gadflys—mad.” But the talk soon turns to politics and the dreaded threat of conscription: “The people at home are sticking [or striking] out well, but they expect Conscription the end of October, then—God help us all.” By January 1919 Mellows was living on West 96th Street in Manhattan and worried about influenza and pneumonia that was striking family and friends on both sides of the Atlantic. But politics was always in the forefront of his mind as he mentions being elected in absentia as a TD to the first Dáil: “Everything goes well in Ireland—the spirit is wonderful, as the results of the election has shown…You will see by it that your humble servant has been elected to two seats [Galway East and North Meath]. The whole thing came as a surprise to me; unsought and unwanted. God give us all the strength, wisdom, & principle to do what is right.” He writes of his adventures at the White House: “Diarmuid [Lynch] and myself paid a visit to Washington six weeks or so go and called at the White House to see the President [Woodrow Wilson] to present a demand from the people of Ireland for representation at the ‘Peace’ Conference. His Lordship was not home, but we left the ‘scrap of paper’ and bowed ourselves out of the august presence of his secretary’s secretary. Some style, eh!” His spirits remain high: “As the Yanks in New York say—‘Safety foist.’ ” In August 1919, Mellows was living at 220 East 31st Street in Manhattan and was congratulating Julia on her marriage to Michael Rohan: “I hope you are happy in your new home and that Michael is as kind and loving a husband he was before the great event in Boston.” But the letter quickly turned 62 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

political: “The President [Éamon de Valera] will speak in Baltimore but I don’t know exactly when as his tour is not yet mapped out completely. He returned from California yesterday delighted with the result of his trip.” Mellows led men in the west during the Rising and escaped to New York where, for a time, he was jailed for his support of Germany during WWI. In April 1918, with the conclusion of the war, Mellows returned to Ireland and became the Director of Supplies for the IRA during the War of Independence. He went against the Treaty and was captured when the Four Courts in Dublin fell to Pro-Treaty forces. Jailed, he was executed in December 1922 by the Free State government in retaliation for the murder of TD Seán IA Hales, which he played no part in.

Liam Mellows who led the men in the West of Ireland during the Rising and became the director of supplies for the IRA during the War of Independence.

Untitled-5 1

3/18/16 6:39 PM

IA.O'MalleyREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:23 AM Page 64

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS: 1916 and its aftermath

Ernie O’Malley was a renowned figure in Ireland’s fight for independence. Here are his memories of 1916 as compiled by his son Cormac O’Malley.



orn in 1897 in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ernie O’Malley’s (Malley) family moved to Dublin in 1906 where he went on to study medicine. During the Easter Rising O’Malley came to share the vision of the rebels, and left his medical studies in 1916 to join the Irish Volunteers, training units throughout the country. He was involved in many exploits, and following capture made a daring escape from Kilmainham Gaol. In the following letter from Kilmainham dated November 25, 1923, to Mrs. Molly (Erskine) Childers, he explains that the Rising had an immediate impact on him and how the initial negative public opinion in Dublin changed quickly. And about ten years later, while in America, O’Malley wrote a memoir, On Another Man’s Wound, about his Irish War of Independence experience, including his memories of Easter week, 1916.

Letter from Kilmainham

Then came like a thunderclap the 1916 Rising… I was down town that [Easter Monday] morning and passing Trinity [College] was asked by a man I knew if I would go in and I would get a rifle. I agreed and was going in the gate when a boy who lived near my place who had accompanied me and who felt strongly nationally (but has never ‘done’ anything) told me not to be a fool, but to tell them I would consider and come back later. On the way home he pointed out to me the disgraceful fact that I was about to take up a rifle to shoot down my own countrymen. Previous to this I had heard little of the Irish Volunteers, but at home we always laughed at them as toy soldiers. Before the [Easter] Week was finished I had changed. When I heard of the executions I was furious.

On Another Man’s Wound

Easter Monday, a holiday, was warm… I walked across the city over the Liffey to the south side….I passed Trinity College, the heavy oaken doors were closed. In O’Connell Street large groups of people


were gathered together. From the flagstaff on top the General Post Office, the GPO, floated a new flag, a tricoloured one of green, white and orange, the colours running out from the mast. “What’s it all about?” I asked. “Those boyhoes, the Volunteers, have seized the post office. They want nothing less than a Republic,’ he laughed scornfully.

I walked up the street. Behind Nelson’s Pillar lay dead horses…. On the base of the Pillar was a white poster. Gathered around were groups of men and women… I began to read it with a smile, but my smile ceased as I read [the Proclamation]: The Provisional Government of the Irish Republic to the People if Ireland ….We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible…”

was walking home when I met three boys from Trinity College … …arrogantly pro-British. “We are collecting our people, as we want to defend Trinity. It may be attacked. Will you come along?” “I’m going home now, but I will be back to see you later,” I said. As I continued my way I met another boy whom I knew. He was jubilant…So he was in favour of the rebels. “Well, I am going back to Trinity in the evening. I was offered a rifle,” and I chuckled. “Why? What is Trinity to you? … “It’s not your university. Remember you’ll have to shoot down Irishmen, your own countrymen. You bear them no hatred. If you go in there you cannot leave; and mark my words, you’ll be sorry ever afterwards. Think it over.”


ll through the evening rumours piled on rumours. I had thought over what the art student had said; and somehow I did not go to Trinity. I found little changed on O’Connell Street the


IA.O'MalleyREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:23 AM Page 65

next day. The GPO had been more thoroughly barricaded; other shops had been looted. I walked around in a detached manner. I had no feeling for or against, save irritation at those fellows for doing the unexpected, seizing the Post Office and the other buildings. .. That night the military proclaimed martial law in Dublin.

felt faint stirrings of sympathy as I wrote in my diary. I did not feel indifferent now to the men holding Dublin. The shelling and noise continued. The people seemed a little cowed. Distant sounds of firing had new sounds that echoed in my head. They meant something personal; they made me angry. The men down there were right, that I felt sure of. They had a purpose which I did not share. But no one had a right to Ireland except the Irish. In the city Irishmen were fighting British troops against long odds. I was going to help them in some way. I met a boy who had been to school with me… We were of the same mind trying to aid the men in Dublin. He had …never joined the Volunteers. “I know where there’s a [Mauser] rifle … There’s ammunition also in clips.” I arranged to meet him that night and went shooting from bank top and bridges. The note of resentment softened a little among the people. . I heard expressions of sympathy for “those poor devils”…. “Damn it, anyhow. .. they’re Irish” – “they’re our own.” I felt the same but I did not know how to help.


ater in the day came news of the surrender of the men in the GPO. For another day the firing continued, then it died away. … The GPO was a shell, from which the tricolour still floated. The stout walls were blackened but they held. The prisoners were transferred to the different Dublin barracks; raids and arrests took place and prisoners came to Dublin from all over Ireland. The bitterness of the people against the Volunteers was tinged with a little admiration. They had fought well against regular troops. Many hoped they would all be hanged or shot.


our days after the surrender a brief announcement: three men had been shot at dawn – Pádraig Pearse, Tom Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh. Next day four were executed and the following day one, Major John MacBride… I had felt resentment at the death of the others; now a strange rage replaced it… I wandered around all day wondering what I could do to help, cursing under my breath, meeting few I could feel any sympathy with, for my friends were all hostile to the spirit of the Rising. Some of the people resented the executions … Something strange stirred in the people, some feeling long since buried, a sense of communion with the fighting dead generations, for the dead walked around again.


ricolour badges were worn on coats, caps and hats; songs were whistled and sung. “The Soldier’s Song” began to be known; soon one could hear it in the streets. The surge of a rebirth of feeling, of a national spring in the air. The fierce exultance of song expressing a buried national feeling. Photographs of the executed leaders were in every small shop. Names of men who had been practically unknown two weeks before were now on the lips and in the hearts of many. P H Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, and Joseph Mary Plunkett were poets. … I reconstructed their work and their ideals. I bought and read everything that breathed their spirit. There was much distress amongst the people. Over 3,000 had been killed or wounded. The arrests, numbering over 3,000, meant a further drain on resources. … Rebellion disaffection, as it was called, was going to be stamped out. The executions had caused bitter feelings and the arrests and the strict enforcement of martial law helped to intensify it. The people as a whole had not changed; but the new spirit was working slowly, half afraid, yet determined. The leaders had been shot, the fighting men arrested and the allied organisations had been disrupted. Without guidance or direction, moving as if to clarify itself, nebulous, re-forming, the strange rebirth took shape. It was manifest in flags, badges, songs, speech, all seemingly superficial signs. It was as if the inarticulate attempted to express themselves in any way or by any method; later would come organisation and cool-headed reason. Now as the lyrical stage, blood sang and pulsed, a strange love was born that for some was never to die till they lay stiff on the hillside or in quicklime near a barrack wall… The university was changed now for me – new associations, new affiliations… We were hammered red-hot in the furnace of the spirit and a spark was bound to fly and disclose us to each other, with a IA word, a look, a chance remark.


The Irish revolutionary Ernie O’Malley, whose memoir On Another Man’s Wound, became the classic account of the years 1916-21.

On Another Man’s Wound, take its title from an old Ulster proverb, “It's easy to sleep on another man’s wound.” First published in 1936 it was republished by Mercier press in 2014.


IA.O'Malley.3rdpg_IA Template 3/19/16 3:13 AM Page 66



By Aine Mc Manamon

County Mayo is largely a rural, wild, untouched landscape on the west coast of Ireland, but it has changed drastically over the years. The images in Cormac O’Malley and Juliet Christy Barron’s new photographic collection Western Ways capture an unrecognizable Mayo through the lens of Irish Republican Ernie O’Malley and Helen Hooker, Cormac’s parents.


n 1938, Ernie O’Malley returned to Mayo with his American wife Helen Hooker and developed a small farm at Burrishoole Lodge, on the northern shore of Clew Bay. They captured many images of the rugged landscape surrounding them. “These images open the door to understanding the rural world of Ireland in the late 1930s and early 1940s,” Cormac O’Malley, Ernie’s son, and his coauthor, Juliet Christy Barron write in the introduction to this wonderful book titled, Western Ways. “To those of us who lived on the land – even for a short period of time – these images generate nostalgia for that period. It is our hope that sharing these visual stories will help future generations to appreciate the west of Ireland.” Cormac discovered this unique collection of photographs after his mother’s death in 1993 and soon began identifying the locations, people, and events his parents had recorded. Collected here for the first time, the descriptions O’Malley and Barron provide are thorough, and often augmented with his father’s writings to aid our understanding of the time and place in which they were captured. Ernie O’Malley wrote three books, On Another Man’s Wound, The Singing Flame, and Raids and Rallies, giving accounts of his early life, his role in the War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War. Excerpts from these books, along with Broken Landscapes: Selected Letters of Ernie O’Malley 1924-1957, are used in Western Ways to introduce each chapter of photographs, to great effect.


LEFT: Burrishoole, Co. Mayo. The raised circular embankment in the corner of this meadow is one of more than 1,800 Iron Age ring forts in Co. Mayo. TOP: Sheep fair on Main Street in Newport, Co. Mayo. Many of the buildings can still be identified today. ABOVE: Thatched public house. Tall chimneys and low gables, along with the absence of súgán ropes, indicate that this is an inland location.

“To us the island meant stories of Grainne Ni Mhaille, who had refused a title from Elizabeth,” Ernie O’Malley wrote of Clare Island in On Another Man’s Wound, in a passage now reprinted here as an epigraph to a chapter on the Pirate Queen’s legacy in Clew Bay. “In the minds of the people her name, Grainne Uaile, had become a symbol for Ireland.” It is this combination of history, images, and personal connection to the landscape that makes the book a success, because it details how contemporary the past still feels in many parts of Ireland. But it also creates a sense of the possibility of lost knowledge, something O’Malley and Barron are keenly aware of. “This collection of photographs not only represents the past it represents the future,” they write. “These images perpetuate the legacy of a past that has given life to the present – a knowledge that must continually be made known if it is to survive.” While Ernie was known for the most part as a writer and a Republican, we now get to see his work as a photographer and learn more about his marriage to Helen Hooker the American sculptor and portrait painter. Western Ways highlight their common interest and love for rural Mayo, and offers a rare glimpse of the people, scenery, and architecture of a bygone era. IA (Mercier Press / 128 pages / €19.99)

Untitled-14 1

3/18/16 8:37 PM

IA.Meagher_IA Template 3/19/16 6:17 AM Page 68

The Immortal


In the following excerpt from Timothy Egan’s new book on Thomas Meagher, the legendary Irishman arrives in New York City having escaped from the Tasmanian prison colony where he had been banished for his part in the failed 1848 rebellion.


e had seen half the world from a ship’s deck, and yet nothing prepared him for how many of the earth’s uprooted strivers had stuffed themselves into New York City in 1852. Carriages dashed and shifted, horses clopped and whinnied, stevedores grunted and cursed, all in waves – not the music of commerce, but the off-key chorus of chaos. Boatmen, ferrymen, porters, carters, stage drivers, washerwomen, predators of immigrants, domestics walking other people’s children, and teenage girls in face paint handing out fliers for the afternoon melodrama on the Bowery. Was that the Teutonic tongue coming from Kleindeutschland, the third-largest German-speaking community in the world? And Yiddish rising from the cluster of rag merchants a few blocks in the other direction? What hybrid of the Queen’s English was this dialect of free blacks working dockside? Surely, a hint of County Kildare clattered from that street-cleaning crew, and his own Munster brogue rolled out of a basement shebeen. All of this in the kinetic claustrophobia of the Lower East Side, nursery of a nation whose people were looking less like those of the mother country by the day. Around one turn, the smells were unpleasant in the late-spring humidity, sweat twined with horseshit, dogshit and pigshit, the piles to be swept into the river by day’s end – 6,000 cartloads a night. A few blocks on, he was hit with a waft from the fresh-cooked offerings of barefoot girls, who enticed customers with this chant: “Hot corn! Here’s your nice hot corn! Smoking hot, smoking hot, just from the pot!” The island of Manhattan was smaller than the prison district where Thomas Meagher had been condemned to spend the rest of his life. But it held a world of fellow exiles – from Russia’s pogrom-swept villages, from the Rhine’s ruined farms, from Africa’s plundered hamlets and from ashen-blighted fields abandoned by those strong enough to walk away from the Great Hunger. On May 27, the day Meagher stepped ashore, this New York was home to just under 20,000 Jews, 12,000 African Americans, 60,000 Germans, at least 160,000 Irish. It was the densest concentration of Irish anywhere: more than one in four New Yorkers in a city of nearly


600,000 had been born in Meagher’s homeland. He walked by City Hall, where men not long from Limerick or Kilkenny held actual power, up Broadway past the booksellers and portrait studios. Onward, toward Canal Street, then right in the direction of the Bowery. On alternate days, bare-knuckle boxing shared space with Shakespeare plays. A scattering of Irish soon became a thicket. They looked worn down and dirty-faced. Their tenements were awful – wooden gaols that could combust in a poof from an untended cigar. Here, flop joints, groggeries and a row of slouch-roofed boardinghouses anchored a city block. The Bowery itself, once a footpath for the native Lenape, had the distinction of being the only major thoroughfare in New York City never to have a single church built on it. Nearby, a former brewery, converted from making beer to warehousing immigrants, was home to a thousand people, some living in stairwells and doorways. For 37 cents a week, you could sleep in a windowless room on a floor with straw; for 18 cents, just the bare floor, with a bucket for the latrine. Then, south to the center of this stew of start-over people – Five Points. He knew this neighborhood, five blocks in the heart of the Sixth Ward, by reputation. Charles Dickens had come through a few years earlier, notebook in hand, two cops by his side. The novelist was stunned to see the mix of races, Irish and blacks drinking together, dancing in the saloons, a born-in-America toe-andheel tap that was a blend of Gaelic jig and West African step dance. In darkened corners, mixed-race couples kissed and groped. Where Anthony, Orange and Cross Streets came together, Dickens saw a place “loathsome, drooping and decayed.” No part of London could match the wretchedness of the neighborhood. It was without grass or trees, without a sliver of green. Thereafter, tourists paid armed men to guide them through an evening of slumming among the poor Irish – for a chance to be appalled at “shanties in which the pigs and the Patricks lie down together,” as the New York Times informed a readership accustomed to bedding in clean linen. The curious didn’t come to see the shoemakers and tailors, the fruit sellers and bricklayers. They came for what the great writer called “a world of vice and misery.”

he Irish did not know it yet, on this last Thursday in May, that one of the most prominent of their political refugees walked among them – an escapee from Tasmania by way of South America. But he was expected. The Boston Pilot had reported


IA.Meagher_IA Template 3/19/16 6:18 AM Page 69

Irishman in its May 15 edition that the Young Tribune was free. After changing ships in Brazil, from the Elizabeth Thompson to the American-flagged Acorn, he was due to arrive in the city any day, having been at sea for five months. The paper put the stamp of destiny on Meagher before he even saw New York Harbor. “In him, the Irish will find a chief to unite and guide them.” Ignorant of his future burden, Meagher thumbed through Doggett’s Directory in search of familiar names. For one day more, he was a stranger in a new land. Dublin’s loss, following the uprising of 1848, was New York’s gain. Young Ireland’s prominent plotters did not dwell in Five Points. They lived well, as barristers, publishers, journalists and politicians – power brokers many of them, still in their twenties. They joined the company of other Irish who had prospered in the city. Archbishop John Hughes, the son of poor farmers in County Tyrone, was the most influential cleric in the country, signing his letters to the editor, his church edicts and personal notes with his signature cross, which looked like a dagger. And so he was known as Dagger John. Another Tyrone man, Charles P. Daly, would soon be chief justice of the city’s common courts. The district attorney – the law in New York City – was John McKeon. “What he is,” a profile in the weekly Irish American exulted, “any of us might be.” In the Old World, the police were enforcers of a brutal system that kept the natives in their place. In the New World, they were heroic, and many spoke Gaelic. Half the cops in the Sixth Ward were Irish. Meagher’s destination on this day was 39 William Street, in a hive of silk-vested prosperity a few steps from Wall Street. Here were the law offices of Richard O’Gorman and John Blake Dillon – two great friends of Meagher’s, and two men who might have been hanged, drawn and quartered had they not fled. Dillon, a cofounder of the Nation, had been with Meagher in the shadows during the last days of the uprising. After the Empire put a bounty on his head, he escaped to France and New York. A family friend and schoolboy chum from Clongowes Wood, O’Gorman had joined Meagher in Paris in 1848 for the ill-fated mission to enlist the help of a new French government. After the failure of the revolt, O’Gorman hid out in the wilds of County Clare for a month, the subject of a manhunt aided by a huge reward for his capture. Four years after the debacle in a Tipperary cabbage patch, both rebels were well-compensated, well-connected elites in the fastest-growing city in the world. When the partners greeted the man who walked into their office, they did a double take. The guest was stout, no

Formal Portrait of General Thomas Francis Meagher in Uniform 1864

Note: Following the First Battle of Bull Run, Meagher formed the Irish Brigade in New York and went on to become one of the Civil War’s most renowned generals. After the war he was appointed acting governor of the Montana Territory. He died in 1867 having fallen from a steamboat into the Missouri River. Some believe Meagher was murdered by his political enemies in Montana Territory.

longer boyish, his face the color of stained walnut. But when Meagher opened his mouth, all doubt dissipated – he was the same sparkler of a man they had known in Dublin, his declarative sentences delivered with customary snap and punch. They embraced and pinched each other’s cheeks as if they were ghosts brought to full-fleshed form. Many other Young Ireland coconspirators were building new lives in New York, Meagher’s mates informed him. Michael Corcoran was living above a tavern at 42 Prince Street. Corcoran had Ireland’s struggles in his blood: his great-great-great-great-grandfather was Patrick Sarsfield, defender of Galway and Limerick against William of Orange in the late seventeenth century. Born to a modest family in County Sligo, Corcoran joined the Royal Irish Constabulary at nineteen, but didn’t last long as an enforcer of the Empire. The famine radicalized him. He became a double agent, working for the Crown by day, undermining it by night. At last he took off his badge and took up with Young Ireland. Corcoran, O’Gorman, Dillon and Meagher – all outlaws in Ireland. Here, free men. IA And get this – we have the run of the city! Excerpted from The Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan. Copyright © 2016 by Timothy Egan. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


IA.Meagher_IA Template 3/19/16 6:18 AM Page 70

Timothy Egan Timothy Egan (born November 8, 1954 in Seattle, Washington) has written eight books including the newly released Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero, about Thomas Francis Meagher. His book, The Worst Hard Time, about people who lived through the Great Depression’s Dust Bowl, won the Tell me about your Irish heritage. I’m descended from Egans and Lynches. On National Book my mother’s side we can definitively trace to Award for County Waterford, and then to Butte, Montana, Nonfiction. A where my great-grandfather settled and probably had something to do with the movement to erect a Pulitzer Prizestatue of Thomas F. Meagher in 1905. My father winning reporter lost his dad when he was two years old and was as well as an raised by a single mom in Chicago, living above a author, Egan is bar. We haven’t been able to trace those Egans. But from both parents, I got a sense of storya New York Times telling, and love of the underdog, and finding joy Contributing in the margins. I’m one of seven children. Op-Ed Writer, covering the When did you become interested in Meagher? environment, the I became interested in Meagher after the American West Montana governor, Brian Schweitzer, showed me and politics. the statue outside the capitol at Helena, Montana.

I said, “Who the hell’s that guy?” And he said, “You call yourself an Irish-American and you don’t know who Thomas Francis Meagher is?” In fact, I didn’t, but neither do most Irish Americans. To think they had a convict, wanted by the British Empire, as their territorial governor, the Irish General of the Civil War, the Young Ireland rebel – it all defies credulity.

Did you know a lot about Irish history before you started researching? I knew a fair amount about Irish history because I studied at the University of Washington in Seattle, under the late Dr. Giovanni Costigan, one of the most passionate scholars of our story. His classes were always packed. I was somewhat of a lapsed Irishmen until I took his classes. Your writing on the Famine era is especially evocative – did researching this period in Irish history leave a lasting impression on you? The Famine period is something everyone 70 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

should know. I thank Dr. Christine Kinealy at Quinnipiac for her scholarship on this. But I was stunned at the things I learned, and the fact that a million Irish died during a time of plenty, when there was, in fact, plenty of food on the island.

How long did the book take your to write – from beginning the research to finished manuscript? It took me about four years to write the book, while doing other topics as well. Once I get the material, I’m a fairly fast writer. Here, it was the research – from Kilmainham Gaol, to the Civil War battlefields, to Fort Benton, Montana – that was so stirring. That where I looked for textural details to make the story come alive. Did your research take you to Ireland? Three trips on this book, and I loved sitting in the National Library of Ireland reading all the notes, letters and speeches of the Young Ireland rebels. I went to Meagher’s home in Waterford – now the Granville Hotel, on the River Suir, and you see how proud they are of him for giving Ireland its national flag. Much of your writing is concerned with environmental issues, where does that interest stem from? I’ve always loved the outdoors. Meagher was rhapsodic about the land, once he came to Montana, and the National Park Service credits him with being one of the first people to suggest that Yellowstone could be a park – one of many amazing things about a man who lived twelve lives in one, who shaped events on three continents. IA



New fr om t he Nat io na l B o ok Awa r d wi n ne r THE

Discover the epic story of one of the most fascinating and colorful Irishmen in nineteenth-century America,

THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER “ Without a shadow of a doubt this is one of the finest Irish American books ever written . . . Egan’s take on Irish American history gives this book a breadth and significance that would be very hard to match.” — NIALL O’DOWD “ This is marvelous stuff. Thomas F. Meagher strides onto Egan’s beautifully wrought pages just as he lived — powerfully larger than life. A fascinating account of an extraordinary life.” — DANIEL JAMES BROWN


Untitled-3 1

3/18/16 5:19 PM

IA.DiggingREV9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:12 AM Page 72

Digging Up the

PAST Robert Schmuhl takes us behind the scenes on a decade-long research project that culminated in his book Ireland’s Exiled Children: America and the Easter Rising.



acts are stubborn things,” John Adams famously remarked. Less known, though, is a clause he added to complete the thought – “and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Mulish facts and elusive evidence have become (metaphorically speaking) my constant companions the past decade. Beginning in 2006, I started doing initial spadework for a research project about the 1916 Easter Rising, probing its American relationships and connections. Now – and just in time for the commemoration – the book has entered the world. Writing a book, any book, becomes an education. For this one, it meant not only coming to terms with people and events a century ago, but also with the ways those people and events were interpreted during recent decades. A principal lesson I learned early on was the wisdom of Adams in emphasizing the stubbornness, yet supremacy, of facts. They provide the necessary evidence and foundation without which an historical account might be inaccurate, even rickety. A general statement about what scholarly lingo calls factuality is a toddler step toward understanding the actual process of arriving in the vicinity of truth. In many cases, though, what might appear at first as easily retrievable information can involve a forced march through briars and thickets of documents that, alas, don’t prove the point you’re trying to make. Consider a key figure in my book: John Devoy. Exiled to the U.S. in 1871 after being convicted for treason in Ireland, he provided much of the financial support to launch the Rising. Though Devoy worked in the shadows as a leader of Clan na Gael (the Irish Republican Brotherhood’s American counterpart), he also founded and edited The Gaelic American, a weekly newspaper that promoted physical-force republicanism.


Gag Order

The July 8, 1916 edition of Devoy’s paper published a boxed list – putatively prepared by the British press censor in Dublin – warning editors of Irish publications “to give careful consideration” before printing specific types of information. In the post-Rising environment, the censor’s office (established on June 1) wanted strong control over journalism in Ireland. The box carried an opinionated headline – “How the Irish Press is Gagged” – and, for my purposes, an intriguing third item: “Extracts from American newspapers, or private letters sent you from individuals received from America.” Were U.S. papers and people reporting news to promote the rebel cause? Given that The Gaelic American reflected Devoy’s anti-British viewpoint on every page, actual proof that the censor’s document existed and was faithfully reprinted seemed essential if I were going to quote it. But where to turn? Some rudimentary research in the National Library of Ireland in Dublin went nowhere, so I strolled over to the National Archives and inquired there. A staff member suggested that the “Press Censorship Records, 1916 – 1919” might substantiate the directive’s existence. Three large boxes comprise this set of official papers, and the files are organized somewhat haphazardly. By “somewhat” I mean that individual folders contain related information – but there is neither rhyme nor reason, let alone chronology, to the ordering of the folders. It’s as though documents were dumped in one box until it became full, and then the two others were treated with the same random system of stacking. What to do? Well, for a full day and a half, I sat there methodically working through each folder, losing hope and good cheer by the hour. Finally, during the afternoon of the second day – in box 3 and folder 128 to be exact – Eureka!

IA.DiggingREV9_IA Template 3/19/16 6:12 AM Page 73

FROM LEFT: Original and corrected birth certificates of Éamon de Valera (images courtesy of New York City Department of Records). A copy of the censorship directive. Pádraig Pearse’s signature.

The National Archives isn’t an appropriate place to scream or yell, so I just sat there in restrained jubilation, comparing what Devoy ran in his newspaper to the censor’s formal statement. Word-for-word the two matched, ending that particular evidential odyssey.

Name Calling

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare wondered in Romeo and Juliet, and the same question might be asked about P.H. Pearse, the “President of the Provisional Government” who read the Proclamation of the Republic on the steps of Dublin’s General Post Office at the start of the Rising. The “P” and “H” of Pearse’s name – he used the initials when he signed documents – refer to “Patrick” and “Henry.” For an American, mention of “Patrick Henry” prompts memories of grade-school history, and a much-quoted line of oratory the revolutionary hero from Virginia thundered in 1775. “I know not what course others may take,” he said, “but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Several books published in the U.S. praise Pearse’s parents for their transatlantic clairvoyance. “His English father,” one author states, “was sufficiently anti-imperialist to name his son Patrick Henry,” while another is even more explicit: “In a prescient gesture, Pádraig – the second of four children – was named not after the patron saint, but after the American patriot Patrick Henry.” Inspiring as it sounds, it’s not true. In an autobiographical reminiscence about his boyhood, Pearse explains that he was named for a great uncle (Patrick) and his father’s youngest brother (Henry). And just how “anti-imperialist” was Pearse’s father? According to John J. Horgan, the nationalist politician and writer in his book, Parnell to Pearse (1948), a “friend of mine . . . used to tell how once, having occasion to call on the older Pearse, he found him in his yard practicing with a revolver so that he might be able to defend himself from the Fenians, the Irish revolutionaries of that period, whom he naturally considered a threat to his freedom, but whose example later inspired his son to rebel.”

De Valera’s Escape

Wrestling with sources that provide conflicting information is just one occupational hazard for the writer of any historical narrative. But what do you do with inconsistent accounts from the same source?

In the Dictionary of Irish Biography (2009), Ronan Fanning, professor of modern history at University College Dublin for many years, provides this telling insight about Éamon de Valera: “. . . what he did in the rising mattered little when set against the iconic stature he acquired in its aftermath as the only surviving commandant, when his sentence of death on 8 May by a military court was commuted to life imprisonment.” Fanning goes on to say de Valera’s “escape owed more to luck” than other factors. That seems definite enough. But in Fatal Path (2013), a study of British government policy vis-à-vis Ireland from 1910 to 1922, Fanning writes: “Fifteen executions were carried out between 3 and 12 May: all seven signatories of the proclamation and all the Volunteer commandants except one were shot. Éamon de Valera escaped death because of his American birth.” Confused? Then in Fanning’s new biography Éamon de Valera: A Will to Power (2015), he says, “the mere fact of his [de Valera’s] American birth fuelled a myth that endured.” Now we’re operating in the realm of myth rather than fact about the reprieve. The historian then seems to return to his judgment in the DIB, saying: “The truth is simpler: de Valera owed his survival more to luck than to [British prime minister Henry] Asquith or America.” However, one paragraph later, we read these words: “. . . Éamon de Valera survived in 1916 because he was unknown.” Well, what exactly saved de Valera? I suppose if you stretch your thinking you might say being lucky and being unknown can be interpreted in vaguely similar ways. Yet, however you look at these quotations, basic facts seem in dispute – and they’re presented by the same respected source. One of Seamus Heaney’s most memorable poems, “Digging,” juxtaposes the spade wielded by his father and grandfather – as they cut the sod in search of “the good turf” – with the poet’s “squat pen.” Finding that “good turf” of accurate historical information requires a different kind of digging from Heaney’s literary art – but (in his phrase) “going down and down” will take another kind of wordsmith closer to the truth of all those stubborn facts and IA also help explain how they dance together. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 73

IA.AdamsREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:08 AM Page 74


In 1991, Irish America magazine published one of the first interviews with Gerry Adams. (As far as we can tell, Playboy was the only other American magazine to interview Adams before that.) In March, of that year, as the 75th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising loomed and violence continued on both sides in Northern Ireland, Patricia Harty traveled to West Belfast to interview the Sinn Féin leader. In that interview with Harty, Adams talked about the need for all-party talks and called for Irish American help in ending the conflict. Twenty-five years on, Adams reflects on the legacy of Irish America, the Rising, the monumental changes that have since taken place in Northern Ireland, and the work that still need to be done.

At the beginning of 1916, James Connolly said: “…opportunities are for those who seize them.” Twenty-five years ago, in 1991, there did not appear to be too many opportunities to be grasped for peace.On February 7th IRA mortars landed in the back garden of 10 Downing Street. Some years later Martin McGuinness and I were to stand in that same garden looking at the still visible signs of the shrapnel damage on the walls. We were discussing with Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern how we were going to overcome another crisis in the peace process. 1991 was also the year the Birmingham Six were released after decades of campaigning; IRA attacks against British forces continued; as did loyalist attacks against Catholics, many of them involving direct collusion with British state forces. Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Eddie Fullerton was shot dead, as was Councillor Bernard O’Hagan in south Derry. And over the summer 1,000 additional British troops were sent into South Armagh where they reinforced, rebuilt or constructed new hilltop forts. A report by the British government’s Fair Employment Commission again showed that Catholics in the north were still two-and-a-half times more likely to be unemployed than Protestants. Talks involving all of the parties – excluding Sinn Féin – and the two governments, started and ended with no progress. Kadar Asmal, was the Chairperson of the AntiApartheid Movement in Ireland, and a lecturer in law in Dublin. He subsequently became a Minister in the post-apartheid South African government. In a report published that year into British Shoot-to-kill operations in which hundreds died he concluded that “the whole administration of justice is perverted and 74 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

the vocabulary of dissent itself is prostituted. The use of special courts … the lethal use of firearms to remove people who are embarrassments to the policies of the administration … the United Kingdom is behaving and has behaved in the north in the same way that colonial powers exerted their sovereignty in the old-fashioned empires.” In July 1991, a year after the back channel between republicans and the British government were secretly reopened, a new British government representative met with the Derry group who were acting as facilitators. I also wrote to the two governments, to other party leaders, church leaders and others seeking open ended discussions on the conflict in the north and arguing for the development of a peace process. But very few, at least publicly, were prepared to stick their necks out to discuss these matters with us. The two governments were talking to us secretly so we shrugged our shoulders each time we heard a Minister from either government attack Sinn Féin and reject discussions with us. Toward the end of the year John Hume, with my approval, privately brought a draft of a joint declaration to be made by the two governments to the Haughey government. 1991 also saw Sinn Féin draw up a peace proposal “Towards a lasting Peace in Ireland” – that was launched at our Árd Fheis (annual party conference) early in 1992. Twenty-five years ago the war was raging as it had for the previous two decades but under the surface Sinn Féin’s efforts to create the conditions for a peace process were taking shape. The Sinn Féin leadership was now exploring positions secretly with the British, talking privately to John Hume and also dealing indirectly but separately with the Irish government through the Sagart – Fr. Reid. We had also begun to explore tentatively with supporters and others in the USA what contribution if any could come from that country. For over 100 years Irish America had played a key part in the struggle for freedom and justice in Ireland. From the foundation of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and Clann na Gael in the nineteenth century; through the financial support provided for the 1916 Rising and the Black and Tan War, and up to recent decades Irish America was intimately involved in the Irish struggle for freedom The 1916 Proclamation explicitly praises the role of the Irish in America; “and, supported by her exiled children in America.” In the 1970’s Irish America supported oppressed communities in the north. Many children were

IA.AdamsREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:08 AM Page 75

TOP: Gerry Adams with First Lady Hillary, and President Bill Clinton at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, in December, 2000. ABOVE: The April 1991 issue of Irish America that carried the Gerry Adams interview.

portant and constructive impact on the peace process. The rest as they say is history. But it is a history which has a direct bearing on decisions still being taken and ongoing efforts to ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. In the years since then Irish America has remained a constant source of support and encouragement for the peace process. It has consistently contributed to the efforts to overcome each of the crises that have bedevilled the process, kept the White House and U.S. political system engaged with the process and AP PHOTO/ RON EDMONDS has never given up on the democratic brought to the USA on holidays designed to imperative of Irish reunification. provide relief from the reality of conflict and And that is the key. One hundred years after the British military occupation. In the 1980’s Rising the partition of Ireland and the continued inIrish America was in the frontline of the efvolvement of the British in a part of our island is the forts to end structured political and religious unfinished business of 1916. discrimination in employment through the One hundred years after the Rising many Irish MacBride Principles Campaign. Americans who continue to be involved in the onIrish America also successfully raised going efforts to ensure the full implementation of justice issues like the Birmingham Six and the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreethe Guildford Four (who were wrongly acments, will be travelling to Ireland to take part in cused of pub bombings in Birmingham the centenary celebrations. and Gilford), plastic bullets and internIt is an exciting time in Ireland. It is a time for ment, and the conditions in the H Blocks. fundamental change. A time when the Irish repubBut it was with the development of the lican goals of unity and equality and peace can take peace process that Irish America and others in the a giant step forward. Irish diaspora around the globe really played a key Twenty-five years ago the north was a byword for part. In the years immediately after 1991 the decision conflict and sectarianism; for violence and division. by President Bill Clinton to become involved in the Today it is a beacon of light in a world riven with search for peace was down to the valiant efforts of Irish war. An example of what is possible if leaders are Americans like Niall O’Dowd and Bill Flynn, Bruce prepared to take risks for peace. Morrison, Joe Jameson, Chuck Feeney and groups like Life on the ground has been transformed. Young Noraid and Clann na Gael and many others. people today have hope. No one born in 1991 will Lobbying by Irish America saw Bill Clinton comhave a memory of British soldiers on our streets or mit to playing a more active role in working house raids or bombs or fear. to “achieve a just and lasting settlement of the conOf course, there is still much work to be done. The flict” in Ireland if he was elected. At an event organpeace process cannot – must not – be taken for granted. ized by John Dearie he committed his Presidency to Crucial parts of the Good Friday and other agreements the appointment of a special U.S. envoy to the north have still not been implemented. The British governbecause he believed that such a move “could be a catment refuses to face up to the legacy issues that scar alyst in the effort to secure a lasting peace.” those who survived the conflict. There are some – a The day after Bill Clinton’s inauguration a British tiny unrepresentative minority – who would like to government spokesperson in London told the media turn the clock back. They must be opposed. that its priority would be to have the idea of the 1916 was a transformative moment in Irish hisenvoy scrapped. But Irish America persevered and tory. Those who took part in the Rising gave their President Clinton kept his commitments. The follives and liberty, to deliver the republic enshrined lowing January, I was given a 48 hour visa for in the proclamation; a republic built on the princiNew York to attend a conference organized by the ples of equality and sovereignty, of human rights National Committee on Foreign Policy, which was and civil liberties, and of unity and nationhood. then chaired by Bill Flynn. Principles that remain a challenge to successive The subsequent appointment by President Clinton governments in the Irish state. 2016 can also be a of George Mitchell and the succeeding U.S. special transformative moment in Irish history. Join us in IA envoys, all of whom played a positive role, had an imthis great historic endeavor. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 75

IA.AnnieREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:02 AM Page 76

Long Lost Irish Cousins Megan Smolenyak writes about a decade-long search that finally turned up the Irish cousins of Annie Moore of Ellis Island fame. Thanks to improved access to a variety of resources, Irish genealogy is gradually becoming easier, but challenges remain, and one of the most daunting is finding living relatives.

Could Julia’s mother have been a Cronin by birth and by marriage?


hen Annie Moore, the Irish teenager who was the first immigrant to ever arrive at Ellis Island tripped down the gangplank, she walked into the pages of history. Forgotten during her lifetime, she would undoubtedly be stunned to learn that she has become a poster child for immigration in a nation of immigrants and of the diaspora in a country known for its emigrants scattered to all corners of the globe, and that there are statues of her in both New York and Cork. Like so many immigrants of her time, Annie lived a hard scrabble, tenement-based life in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Half of her children would die by the age of three for reasons attributable to poverty, and she would join them in an unmarked grave at 50. But those who survived flourished, and her descendants today are a living testimony to Annie's courage and sacrifices. Back in 2006, I tracked down Annie Moore. In what amounted to a historical case of identity theft, experts had latched on to another young woman of the same name, but four years of sleuthing led me to the correct one. Within days of discovering the true Annie, I located most of her living American relatives, so then set my sights on finding her Irish kin. That’s when things came to a screeching halt. Over the ensuing years, I’ve been sporadically inspired to have another go at ferreting out her elusive Irish cousins, but never had any luck. January 1, 2017 will mark the 125th anniversary of Annie’s arrival, so this past New Year’s, I resolved to smoke out her family before that milestone. It took ten weeks, considerable digging, and a dash of good fortune, but this decade-long search has finally met with success, and her new-found relatives are delighted. Meeting cousins in Ireland tends to be high on the wish list of Irish Americans interested in their roots, so I thought I’d share a digest version of my research trail in the hope of providing guidance for others’ quests. The example I’ll walk through pertains to the maternal side of Annie’s family tree.


Cork and New York

I had the advantage of knowing that Annie’s family came from County Cork, which should have given me a running start, but this was counterbalanced by the prevalence of her parents’ surnames. Moore is widespread on both sides of the Atlantic (ranked 9th in the U.S. and 20th in Ireland), but her mother’s maiden name of Cronin which sounds somewhat distinctive turned out to be wildly common in Cork. Genealogists dread such names because they mean extra work sifting through contenders, so I wasn’t thrilled to learn how rampant it was. To help cope, I enlisted the aid of a Cork-based friend, Tim McCoy, to round up baptism records for Annie and her siblings. Since baptismal sponsors are often aunts or uncles, any Cronin godparents might be siblings of their mother, Julia. Two emerged – Mary and Anne. I would have preferred Priscilla and Genevieve, but at least I had a pair of names to vet any Cronin families I might investigate. It bears mentioning that this research would be much easier to do now with the freshly released Catholic parish index (on and, but they’re not comprehensive. In this case, old-fashioned gumshoeing turned up one more baptism than the online collection. Also, slogging through digital parish images, as I did, without an index can be time-consuming, but sometimes produces more accurate results. For instance, within days of the index becoming available, I tripped across a John from Annie’s family transcribed instead as Julia, so there’s still occasional benefit to doing things the hard way. While Tim dug around Cork, I focused on New York. Annie’s mother’s death certificate indicated that her father’s name was Constantine. Since Annie had a brother named Cornelius who went by “Con,” I surmised that this was more likely. Fortunately, another U.S.-generated document gave Julia’s parents’ names as Cornelius Cronin and Anne Cronin. I initially thought that the mother’s full identity was masked by her married name, but then considered the possibility that two Cronins had married each other. As a Smolenyak who married another Smolenyak, I regard such cou-

IA.AnnieREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:02 AM Page 77

ples warmly. Plus, a CroninCronin couple would stand out. Equipped with names for Julia’s parents and two probable siblings, I plunged into both civil registration (government) and church records to try to unearth a family that fit this profile. Imagine how pleased I was to spy a Cronin-Cronin couple with daughters named Mary and Anna. I finally had traction. Continuing to ping-pong between the two record sets, I steadily assembled a more complete list of Julia’s siblings.

Annie’s Uncle Tim

Julia’s brother Timothy caught my eye. Men are easier to follow since they retain their birth names, but more importantly, Timothy married in the same church as Julia just a year later. Tracing his family forward, I noticed that some of his children were born in the same neighborhood as Annie’s big brother. This seemed promising, so I ordered his civil registration marriage, and as anticipated, it gave his father’s name as Cornelius. I continued to piece together a family for Timothy through birth and baptism records, which proved more difficult than expected because he married a woman with the annoyingly common name of Mary Murphy. Worse yet, there were two Timothy Cronin-Mary Murphy couples in the area. Ah, the joys of Irish genealogy. This unhappy coincidence made it necessary for me to do my best to assign a number of youngsters in the records to the correct pair of Tim-Mary par-

ents. I did this by fast-forwarding to the 1901 census ( to get a list of some of the children (along with their approximate birth years) for each couple. Due to the timing, some would have moved out or died, but this gave me most and showed that, say, couple A had a son named John around 1881, while couple B had a son of that name around 1886. Differences like this helped me sort the majority of Cronin offspring, and while I couldn’t be certain about every single child, I caught a break with a particular son. The Tim-Mary couple I was pursuing had a son named Richard in the 1901 census, and there was only one suitable Richard in the birth records.

ABOVE: Richard, a blacksmith, appeared in the 1911 census with his family in Cork. TOP: Annie Moore and her brothers Anthony (l) and Philip (r) at Ellis Island (colorized).

Annie’s Cousin Richard

Richard was a slightly more unusual name than the ubiquitous Patrick and Michael, but I became more intrigued when I realized that he was with his parents in 1901, but not in the 1911 census. He could have died or emigrated, but I suspected that he had married, so looked for him in 1911 and one fellow stood APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 77

IA.AnnieREV_IA Template 3/19/16 6:02 AM Page 78


Several generations of Annie Moore’s Irish relatives gather at her statue at the Cobh Heritage Centre to celebrate their famous cousin.

out. Wed around 1905, he was working in Cork as a blacksmith – the same occupation as the Richard who had attracted my attention. Since so many were listed as “laborer,” this blacksmith designation was a bit of a tell. Wanting confirmation, I ordered his marriage certificate. His place of origin, occupation, and father’s name all fit. This was the right man. Now I had Richard and Lizzie Cronin with children named Timothy, Norah and Mary as of 1911, but how to traverse the last century? Once more, I turned to government indexes – this time for deaths. Seeking Richard Cronins who died between 1911 and 1964 (the most recent year available) revealed 28 men. I narrowed the field by location and age at death, and homed in on a fellow who died in 1954.


In Ireland as elsewhere, privacy restrictions kick in around the 100-year mark, so I had reached the cross-your-fingers stage. Turning to online newspapers is an iffy prospect. If your family was prominent, you can find yourself fire-hosed with material, but for others, it’s a type-and-pray situation. Luckily, my prayers were answered and I found what I was looking for in Irish Newspaper Archives ( an obituary. It was brief, but I was optimistic because this Richard was a blacksmith. I mentally thanked him for his occupational choice, but sought more proof. Survivors’ names were not given, but his address was, and entering it in the search field surfaced obituaries for Elizabeth and Norah, his wife and daughter. This jibed with the 1911 census, so I was sure that this was the correct Richard. Still, I wasn’t done yet. Norah had died in 1988. How was I to bridge this gap of the last 28 years? Two churches in northern Cork were mentioned in 78 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

the obituaries, so I asked Tim to visit. I was hoping for long memories. Tim met with Pat O’Leary, the sacristan at Our Lady Crowned, who kindly agreed to ask around and browse through their records. Days passed. Just as one year in a dog’s life is the equivalent of seven human years, one day to an expectant genealogist feels more like a month. I tried to sit tight, but the church’s Facebook page was too tempting. After a week, I could no longer resist the urge to repeat the inquiry by posting there. The double nudge produced a reply three days later. Mr. O’Leary provided fresh details, including the revelation that one of Richard’s grandsons, Tom Long, still lived in the area. After all this time, I was so close! Mr. O’Leary had prudently passed my email to Tom to allow him to reach out to me, but this time, I only lasted a day before caving to the impulse to use phone directories to find Tom’s contact information which I shared with Tim. The next day, Tim was in his living room explaining that he was the first cousin twice removed of Ellis Island’s Annie Moore – a connection previously unknown, but enthusiastically welcomed.

Reunion Time

It only took a decade, but Annie’s American and Irish relatives have finally been found, so all that’s left now is an international family reunion. What perfect timing that it should happen just in time for them to jointly celebrate the 125th anniversary of her crossing to Ellis Island. Perhaps that’s the way it was meant to be. Even so, should you embark upon your own cousin hunt, here’s wishing you a far shorter reunion IA journey than Annie’s!

Untitled-14 1

3/18/16 8:45 PM

IA.Crossword_IA Template 3/18/16 10:55 PM Page 80

crossword | by Darina Molloy ACROSS

1 (& 23 across) Irish actor and comedian, most famous for Fr. Ted, who died in 1998 (6) 3 (& 19 down) The new musical movie from Once director John Carney (4) 4 Honest ______ (3) 8 See 16 down (7) 10 Oscar-nominated movie featuring dynamic Boston journalists who took on the might of the Catholic Church ... and won (9) 11 Not off (2) 13 Dried grape (6) 14 (& 20 down) Director of 3 across (8) 15 What is the second-longest river in Ireland? (6) 17 (& 6 down, & 36 down, & 32 across) Actor Johnny Murphy died in February; he was best known for this iconic role in The Commitments (4) 21 Not odd (4) 22 How many counties are there in Leinster? (6) 23 See 1 across (6) 26 (& 25 down) She was married to Irish Volunteer Thomas MacDonagh (6)

28 Boston’s professional ice hockey team (6) 29 Professional name of entertainer Adele King (5) 32 See 17 across (5) 33 (& 18 down) The former First Lady who passed away in March (5) 35 This powerful voice sold out two nights in Dublin’s Three Arena in March (5) 37 Accomplice of a con artist (5) 38 Type of Irish dance (4) 39 (& 31 down) Fr. Ted’s cranky Fr. Jack, who died in February, 18 years to the day after his co-star 1 across (5) 40 I see his blood upon the ____ (4) 41 ____ aerobics: exercise which uses an elevated platform (4) 42 Contradict or repudiate (4)


2 See 7 down (2, 8) 3 Short film from Ireland that won this year’s Academy Award (9) 5 A timely blessing or benefit (4) 6 See 17 across (3)

7 (& 2 down) Irish actress with quite the pivotal role in the newest season of House of Cards (9) 9 Location of Donald Trump’s Irish hotel and golf course (7) 10 Board game for word fans (8) 12 (& 24 down) Brooklyn actress who lost out on Academy Award this year (6) 16 (& 8 across) Mr. Jerry Hall (6) 18 See 33 across (6) 19 See 3 across (6) 20 See 14 across (6) 24 See 12 down (5) 25 See 26 across (7)

Win a subscription to Irish America magazine Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than January 15, 2016. A winner will be drawn from among all correct entries. If there are no correct solutions, the prize will be awarded for the completed puzzle which comes closest in the opinion of our staff. Winner’s name will be published along with the solution in our next issue. Xerox copies are acceptable. Winner of the Dec./Jan. crossword: Mary Weiss, Tucson, AZ


26 Black and white bird might prove lucky or unlucky, according to the superstition (6) 27 Fledgling Irish political party wiped out in most recent election (5)

30 Le - as Gaeilge (4) 31 See 39 across (5) 34 Combination of mashed potato, scallions and butter (5) 36 See 17 across (4) 37 To slide to a halt (4)

December / January Solution

IA.Linden Ad.REV_IA Template 3/18/16 10:58 AM Page 65

Linden Est. 1923



AN IRISH GEORGE II MAHOGANY SIDE TABLE Circa 1755. Price available upon request.


Linden Fine Art has an unrivalled reputation for sourcing outstanding pieces of fine and decorative art throughout the world art market. We offer professional guidance, ensuring our clients have value and transparency. We have handled the sales of many exceptional pieces of 18th century Irish furniture, paintings and

sculpture, including notable pieces by Richard Cranfield, William Moore, Jack B. Yeats, Sir John Lavery, William Orpen, George Barret and John Henry Foley. We are happy to assist with any potential pieces of both fine and decorative art you may be considering.

Limepark House, Windgap, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland | | +353 (0)86 273 6164 |

Untitled-2 1

3/18/16 5:11 PM

IA.RootsREV9_IA Template 3/19/16 2:27 AM Page 82

roots |

by Adam Farley


The Proud Dempseys Sir Miles Dempsey

Jack Dempsey

Clint Dempsey

Patrick Dempsey

hough never particularly numerous (as of the last count in 1996 by the Irish Times, the surname ranks as the underwhelming 164th most common surname in Ireland), the Dempsey clan was a powerful sept in its time. Originating in the Kingdom of Uí Failghe, anglicized today as Offaly and roughly covering the same territory as the contemporary county, the clan derives its name from Ó Diomasaigh, a descendant of “Diummasach,” an 11th century prince of the Clan Máel Ugra. The name itself comes from the Irish adjective díomasach, meaning “proud.” The clan ruled the Máel Ugra (anglicized as Clanmalier) territory within the Uí Failghe kingdom. Centered at Ballybrittas in northeast County Laois, Máel Ugra extended into modern-day Offaly near Philipstown. They remained a powerful family until the Williamite War in the 17th century scattered the clan. Beginning in the 12th century, they vehemently and successfully defended their rule of Clanmalier. When Henry II established his court in Dublin in 1171, he summoned the Leinster chiefs to pledge allegiance. The leader of the Dempsey clan, known as “The O’Dempsey,” refused, leading Strongbow to march his Norman army south in an unsuccessful attempt to take the land by force. The Dempseys became one of very few native Irish clans to defeat Strongbow. The result was more than 300 years of independent Irish rule in the territory. By the 16th century however, the O’Dempsey allegiance had shifted to Queen Elizabeth I, and they were involved in the massacre of the O’Lalors in Laois, an opportunist move that consolidated their power in the area. Their English loyalty also led to the official recognition of their power by Charles I, who granted the title of Viscount Clanmalier and Baron Philipstown to Terence O’Dempsey in 1631. But their loyalty to the English monarch was shortlived, because in 1641 Terence’s grandson Lewis joined the Gaelic rebellion and he, along with several other O’Dempseys, were high-ranking members of the Catholic Confederations of Kilkenny, which ruled Ireland from the rebellion until the Cromwellian invasion in 1649. The Dempsey’s, severely reduced in power, eventually sided with the ill-fated Catholic James II in the Williamite Wars. Lawrence Dempsey (d. 1690), was one of the most notable members of the clan, and was a highly successful commander in the Portuguese, French, and Irish Armies. He served James II, but was fatally wounded during the run-up to the Battle of the Boyne,


and his death was viewed as a contributing factor to the Jacobites’ ultimate loss there. After the war, the Dempseys’ titles and land were forfeited, leading Terence O’Dempsey, Lewis’s grandson, to flee to England and the remaining Dempseys to scatter. One of Terrence’s direct descendants, however, would be General Sir Miles Dempsey (1896 – 1969). A distinguished British Army officer during WWI and WWII, he commanded the British Second Army landings on D-Day. There are more than direct descendents of the Dempsey gentry who are of note as well. Back in Ireland, George Dempsey (d. 1924), was a teacher at Belvedere College in Dublin and counted among his pupils Austin Clarke and James Joyce. The character of Mr. Tate in Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is thought to be based on him. Jeremiah “Jerry” Dempsey (b. 1906) is a significant figure in modern Ireland. He, along with Michael Dargan, pioneered Ireland’s national airline Aer Lingus. Dempsey joined the company in 1936, and as General Manager guided it through its massive expansion projects until his retirement in 1967. Today, Damian Dempsey (b. 1975) is an Irish singer and songwriter known for mixing traditional folk music with contemporary lyrics in a socially contentious musical style. In the U.S., too, there are famous Dempseys. Jack Dempsey (1895 – 1983), born William Harrison Dempsey in Manassa, CO, was one of the most popular in American boxing history and a cultural icon of the 1920s. Known as the “Manassa Mauler,” he held the World Heavyweight Championship from 1916 to 1926. More recently, soccer midfielder Clint Dempsey (b. 1983) captained the U.S. Men’s National team in the 2014 World Cup. Another cultural icon, albeit behind the scenes, was Donald Dempsey, Sr. (c. 1932 – 2005), an American recording executive responsible for bands like Ozzy Osbourne, the Clash, the Isley Brothers, and the aggressive marketing campaign for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which sold over 40 million copies. Of course, there’s also Patrick Dempsey (b. 1966), an actor best known for his role as the IrishAmerican doctor Derek Shepherd, a.k.a. “McDreamy,” on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. Finally, a list of Dempseys that hinges on their Irish military history would be incomplete without a mention of Martin Dempsey (b. 1952), who served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2011 to 2015 and is one of this year’s Irish America Hall IA of Fame inductees.

With over 50 years experience, you can trust our family to look after yours. USA tollfree: 1800 331 9301

Untitled-4 1

We’ve got the island of Ireland covered. 3/18/16 4:35 PM

IA.WAUL_IA Template 3/19/16 5:52 AM Page 84

John Concannon what are you like? | By Patricia Harty


Director of “Ireland 2016”

ohn Concannon is the Director of “Ireland 2016,” the state centenary program to commemorate 1916, reflect on the Republic 100 years on, and re-imagine Ireland’s future. Prior to Ireland 2016, John was director of Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority. He was selected as Irish “Marketer of the Year” in 2011 for his work marketing Ireland, and was nominated again in 2013 as the Creator of “The Gathering Ireland 2013.” He is the chairman of Gaisce – the President’s Award, is a Co-Creator of Ashoka Ireland’s ChangeNation, and is a Director of social enterprise. He is Chairman of COPE, a Galway charity for homelessness, domestic violence, and support of the elderly. John is a graduate of the National University of Ireland, Galway and holds a Bachelor of Commerce, a Masters in Business Studies, and a Higher Diploma in Marketing Practice. John lives in Galway with his wife Mary, and three daughters, aged 12, 10, and nine.

How do you think the goal for the commemorations differs between Ireland and America?

It’s a huge privilege to have been asked to coordinate the Ireland 2016 Centenary program. 2016 is a big year for Ireland and I am very proud to have been asked to play a role in the program. My initial thoughts centered on the sheer scale of the creative challenge, but this was also very energizing, as the breadth and scope of the program is unprecedented.

The Ireland 2016 Commemoration program has been put together with input from citizens and diaspora around the world. Likewise, the program in the U.S.A. has also been developed following wide consultation with diaspora across the country. The result is a very considered, creative, inclusive, and ambitious program with events and initiatives all across America. It is very encouraging to see the strong leadership of the Irish Embassy and the Consulates all over the U.S. in the development of a very comprehensive Ireland 2016 Centenary program. The goal in both Ireland and the U.S. is essentially the same: to reflect on our rich history and heritage in a way that is appropriate to each individual. On a recent trip to New York for the launch of the North American Ireland 2016 Centenary program, I was really struck by the huge passion of our American diaspora to commemorate and play an active, involved role in this special year.

What effect do you hope the centenary year will have on the country?

Will you be spending a lot of time in the U.S.?

What were your first thoughts when you were asked to lead the 1916 centenary commemorations?

This is a pivotal year for Ireland. We will look back and remember a hugely significant time in our history, reflect on our journey as a country over the last 100 years as we built a Republic, and also take the opportunity to re-imagine Ireland’s future 100 years from now. I hope that Irish people and our diaspora will look back on 2016 with a sense of pride.

I’m just back from a promotional trip for the Centenary in the U.S. In the U.S. alone there is a very ambitious program for Ireland 2016, with over 450 events all across the country. I look forward to returning again during the year to attend some of the great events in the program.

Did you ever think of emigrating?

The Salthill Promenade, Co. Galway

Yes. Myself and my wife Mary considered moving to Rome or London after we got married, but after much consideration we chose to move to the west of Ireland and set up home in Galway instead. We love living in Galway, and 13 years later, we are still here (but now with the addition of three small girls!).

What do you say to criticism of the lack of Irish language on the official Ireland 2016 website?

The Irish language is absolutely central to the Ireland 2016 centenary program. One of the program strands is called “An Teanga Bheo”, which translates as “The Living Language” and is made up of a rich and diverse range of initiatives celebrating the Irish language. All of the material produced for the Ireland 2016 centenary is bi-lingual. Any criticisms would have related to a very early version 84 IRISH AMERICA AprIl / MAy 2016

IA.WAUL_IA Template 3/19/16 5:52 AM Page 85

Your top five places in Ireland? The Salthill Prom, Galway Croagh Patrick, Mayo Inisboffin Island, Galway InisOirr Island, Galway Lisadell beach, Sligo

Your favorite meal?

Fresh shellfish – particularly freshly caught lobster, crab, and prawns off the west.

of the web site, we have ensured the Irish language is very prominent in all of our work, and the official centenary website,, is fully bilingual.

One of your favorite Twitter hashtags is #PositiveIreland. Why?

I love Ireland and am a proud Irishman. Ireland is a truly special place. Irish people have great imagination and creativity. Ireland is a great place to live, to bring up a family, or to visit. We have a unique, rich culture, a very strong democracy (one of only four that survived in Europe over the last 100 years), and we are a peaceful people – we have the longest unbroken U.N. Peacekeeping record of any country in the world. Lots to be positive about!

Why did you leave a successful career in the private sector to work with Fáilte Ireland?

A favorite piece of music that lifts you up?

I’m a huge music fan and love listening to a wide range of music – U2, Stone Roses, Edith Piaf, to Ed Sheeran. A very hard call to make to pick just one piece, but I will pick “Bad” (the live version) by U2.

What’s on your night stand?

My Kindle and a selection of beautiful cards my children made.

What is a movie that you will watch again and again?

La Vie en Rose. Beautiful music by Edith Piaf and beautiful acting by Marion Cotillard.

Where do you go to think?

I really enjoyed my time working in business and the decision was one I did not take lightly. But I was, and continue to be, really excited by the concept of “public service” and the inherent promise, challenge, and opportunity to make a positive impact on our country.

I go for a run on the prom in Salthill, Galway and look out over Galway Bay and the mountains of the Burren. Breathing in the fresh air off the Atlantic, and the epic vista, is magical no matter what the weather.

Tell me about your work with COPE.

If you were to sum up the Irish experience in a couple of sentences?

I am chairman of the Galway charity, COPE Galway. We provide a shelter for victims of domestic violence, hostels for people experiencing homelessness, and support for senior citizens in the community including a “meals on wheels” service. Any society should be judged by how it looks after its most vulnerable, and that’s where COPE focuses its energy. We are working hard on the development of a major new facility for victims of domestic violence and their children, for which we have 75 percent of the fundraising complete, and plan to start the building this year.

What was your favorite part of the job in promoting the West?

Working with the multiplicity of small businesses across the west of Ireland like activity providers, accommodation, and attractions was a fantastic experience. It’s an amazing part of the world full of very genuine people and great characters.

G.A.A. or Rugby?

Both, but as we are now in the middle of Rugby season, I am more focused on Rugby. I was really lucky to be at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff when Ireland beat France in the World Cup, which turned out to be Paul O’Connell’s last game for Ireland. The atmosphere in the stadium was epic!

What is your favorite pastime?

Spending time with my wife and children, relaxing around Galway.

In Ireland we love to talk, to chat, to discuss things, no matter what the topic – politics, sport, books, movies, theater, national affairs, international affairs – everyone has an opinion. Irish people have a natural curiosity, and a very welcoming nature. People are welcome to join conversations, and visitors are welcome to visit our country.

What is your hidden talent?

Playing the guitar (badly) and singing (when nobody is listening!).

If you weren’t doing what you are doing, what would you do?

In a parallel universe, I would love to be a travel book writer.

What is your most prized possession?

That’s a tough question, and nothing really comes to mind other than our house in Galway. We live in the city, in a great neighborhood, halfway between IA the beach and the town. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 85

IA.MurphysREV9_IA Template 3/19/16 2:31 AM Page 86

corner of ireland | murphys, california


The Queen of the Sierras Settled in 1848 by brothers John and Daniel Murphy from County Wexford, Murphys, California, once a mining town, is today a major tourist destination. By Michelle Harty

idden in the Sierra foothills of California, in the vast and quiet Calaveras County, northwest of Yosemite, lies Murphys, a small town with a big personality. Made up of about 2,300 residents spread out over 10 square miles, Murphys has a downtown that is small enough to see from one end of it to the other, yet it is far from quiet. Main Street bustles with chatty visitors, tipsy from tastings of locally grown vino, which are offered at each of the chic tasting rooms along Main Street, and excited about all of the eye candy that the town has to offer. Between the novelty shops, the boutiques, and the picturesque remnants from the 1800s, there is much to take in. Quaint historic houses contrast and complement their über-hip new neighbors, like the darling gourmet cupcake shop, Lila & Sage. Likewise, the longtime locals of Murphys stand out amongst the newbies. While visitors skip along admiring whimsical art and sampling homemade mustards and corn nuts, residents can be spotted along the sidelines. They’ve seen it all before – it is only one street, after all – and now they find more entertainment in watching the latest group of breezethroughs than the commodities. A chef with a tall white hat and a big belly rounding out his apron is sitting on a wooden bench watching the people go by. Down the road at the town hall, leaning on the railing of the white wooden porch, is a middle-aged gentleman in a trenchcoat with a perfectly slicked handlebar mustache who looks like he has walked straight out of the Wild Wild West – or shall I say Murphys – 150 years ago. The town is named after its founders Daniel and

John Murphy, originally of County Wexford, Ireland, who were living in Missouri with their father Martin and large extended family when they first got wind of gold in California. It was the early 1840s and Missouri was plagued with illness that had been fatal to many, including their mother, Mary (née Foley). Martin Murphy was not a man who stuck around for unfavorable circumstances. He had sailed his large family from Ireland to Quebec and from Quebec to Missouri seeking a better life, and this time was no different. The Murphys joined forces with the Stephens and Townshends, traded their assets for oxen and covered wagons – twenty-six in all – and set out across the plains and the Sierras, pioneering trails that included the summit where the Donner Party would run into trouble a few years later. California was full of opportunity and some members of the party went on to settle in southern California, and in Santa Clara, where they helped to found Santa Clara University. It was August of 1848 that Daniel and John first arrived at the area near Sutter’s Fort that later came to be known as Murphys. There they found something that made them want to stay a while – gold. Roughly $20 million in gold was discovered in Murphys and the surrounding area that includes Angels Camp, and according to reports, John left town in 1849 having amassed a fortune of $2 million in one year. The years that followed were full of excitement as the settlers pulled their fortunes out of the creeks, supplying the local Native Americans with comfort items like blankets in exchange for their help while more than two thousand other gold-seekers flocked to the area. The abundance of new wealth in a new, and not-yet-very structured, community led to all sorts of scandal like robberies, conspiracies, and murder – the Wild West we now know. But over time, the community came together and soon tents were replaced with little houses, a post office, a school, a thriving store and a hotel. Today, Murphys is a popular tourist resort, and wedding destination. The nearby giant sequoia trees in what is now Calaveras Big Trees State Park are a major draw, and the area’s dry hot summers make it a perfect venue for outdoor celebrations. The Old Timers’ Museum offers a picture window into the town’s mining past, and the local wineries offer some spectacular products grown from local grapes.

Murphys Hotel

In operation since 1856, Murphys Hotel, located on Main Street, has had a long list of historic guests, including Mark Twain, Horatio Algiers, Jr., John Jacob

IA.MurphysREV9_IA Template 3/19/16 2:31 AM Page 87

LEFT: Murphys Hotel, when it was still known as the Mitchler Hotel. OPPOSITE PAGE: Hotel owners Kevin Clerico, Joel Lacitignola, and Brian Goss. BELOW: The wedding of Daire O’Rourke and Stephen Harty. (Murphys is a popular wedding destination.)

Astor, Thomas J. Lipton, J.P. Morgan, and former President Ulysses S. Grant. Today it’s a popular spot for out-of-town wedding parties and all sorts of local community occasions. The hotel is now owned by Brian Gross and his partners Joel Lacitignola (the “best chef”) and Kevin Clerico (the “best bartender”), who bought the hotel in 2012 from the previous owners for whom Brian had worked as manager for 11 years. “It’s a great community Kevin and I are part of the rotary club and the Murphy Business Association and the Park Association – the businesses work together to support the community, care for everyone, make everyone feel welcome from the onset,” says Brian who says that the community and business owners want to make sure that “everyone leaves here with a smile on their face and a good experience.” “Murphys’ hidden gems are its wineries,” Brian says. The area is known for its beautiful vineyards but what makes them really special is that they are owner operated. “Most of the owners are still in the wineries pouring, there every day making sure that everything is running smoothly.” And if you want to stay put, there are over 20 tasting rooms on Main Street alone. Murphys is a popular wedding destination and has plenty of different venue options, from vineyards to farm houses, depending on what you are looking for. The hotel itself caters about 12 weddings a year and a ton of rehearsal dinners, something that should appease the resident hotel ghost, Eleanor, a chambermaid who fell in love with a gold miner who went off to seek fame and fortune to support his new wife but never returned. Eleanor walked the halls, waiting for him, until she died 30 years later. Apparently, according to numerous guests, she is still walking.

Irish Day

The whole town comes out to celebrate Irish Day in honor of Murphys’ Irish heritage, complete with a parade on the Saturday prior to St. Patrick’s Day. The festivities can draw a crowd of up to 12,000. Rooms at the hotel are booked a year in advance. “There’s music and vendors who bring as much Celtic stuff as they can find,” says Brian. There’s the bagpiper who marches through the hotel, and of course, plenty of drink. Murphys’ specialty is the “Car Bomb” which is made of Irish cream liqueur, Irish whiskey, and Irish stout. “The last two years we had nice weather – when you have that many people roaming the street, that’s a plus,” says Brian. Irish Day is a fun day but any day in Murphys is a great day. Murphys is a place for Brian to bring up his children that still has the small town feel it had when he was a kid there and a tight community of people who look out for each other. “My family lived a block apart all their life – around 40 years. If I’m going to stay put and raise a family, Murphys’ the best spot. It’s been around for 150 years and it’s not going anyIA where anytime soon.”

TOP LEFT: What’s an Irish Day Parade without a leprechaun? TOP RIGHT: Irish bagpipers march in the 1915 Irish Day Parade. ABOVE: Murphys is approximately 140 miles from San Francisco.


IA.Poets REV_IA Template 3/19/16 2:39 AM Page 88


IRELAND’S POET-PATRIOTS Richard B. Evans, an American-born composer and musician, has been immersed in Irish music and culture for decades, and his exploration of the events leading to 1916 is about to come to American audiences in a live, fulllength musical production commemorating the Centennial. By Chris Ryan

reland’s Poet-Patriots is a full evening’s concert marking the centennial of the Easter Rising and illuminating 113 years of turbulent Irish history through the words of Ireland’s own poets and patriots. The music marries original crossover classical music with Irish traditional music. The poignant poems, speeches, eulogies, essays, and lyrics of those poets and patriots express “art as politics,” dissent through humor, outrage through irony, and mystical poetry as reconciliation between and among people and their history. It features a variety of musical forces: a concert orchestra, mixed choir, and “classical” vocal soloists, as well as Irish “trad” singers and an ensemble of uilleann pipes, pennywhistles, fiddle, and bodhrán. The musical styles range widely – contemporary, folk, liturgical, pub songs, art songs, and operatic arias – yet they’re a cohesive expression of historic events and the struggle of the Irish nation for its independence. I talked to the composer about what he describes as “my attempt to grasp the historic context of 1916 through the poetic impulse that is so profoundly rooted in the Irish soul.”

What inspired you, as an American, to write a musical tribute to the Irish centenary?

I started traveling to Ireland in the 1960s, in my mid-20s, well before I knew about any Irish heritage of mine. I immediately connected with the place, the people, and the culture, and it became a love affair with Ireland that has never wavered. Then I started studying the poems of Yeats, which led me to Maud Gonne, the English-born Irish revolutionary, a most fascinating character. And we can’t talk about Maud Gonne without talking about her politics, which led me to her amazing article addressing Queen Victoria as “the Famine Queen.” From there I got some huge books of Irish poetry and discovered there were several impressive poets who all died in 1916 – and that led me to the incredible history of the Easter Rising. I was inspired by the fact that 1916 wasn’t a military coup; quite the contrary, it was led by artists and poets whose personal sacrifices for their cause spoke to me, as an artist myself.

You’ve said that the goal of the concert is to illuminate history, not to re-fight it. What are you hoping people will take from it?

I think it’s important that Americans, not just IrishAmericans, know that 1916 wasn’t an anomaly, that it was the culmination of many events of the previous century. From Robert Emmet [who led a failed rebel88 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2016

lion in 1803] to the Great Hunger (not a Famine, since there was plenty of food in Ireland), and then the Gaelic Revival (the Irish literary renaissance), Queen Victoria’s visit, and so on. Each of the 16 sections of the concert represents a movement or event in Irish history that leads cumulatively to 1916. So I find that pulling that thread through those 113 years puts 1916 in a context that I rarely hear about. This is the history of a people who suffered long and struggled hard to gain their independence from tyranny. For Americans who too often think the 17th of March is about green beer and silly hats, that’s certainly worth knowing. So much of Ireland’s culture, politics, and arts are woven into the fabric of the U.S. that we rarely think of what’s “Irish” about America. For example, we certainly can’t talk of popular American music without a deep nod to Ireland. Irish roots are so thoroughly integrated into American music that we rarely notice it, yet when you turn on the radio, there’s Irish culture. I also think about the Irish people having brought to America such a standard of hard work and devotion to public service – firemen, policemen, nurses, politicians. That’s born of their history and thus it’s been integral to ours from our earliest days. It’s important to know that the American Revolution was an inspiration for 1916 and that 1916 resonates deeply in America’s history as well. Both grew from the same human need for justice and selfdetermination.

IA.Poets REV_IA Template 3/19/16 2:40 AM Page 89

Tell me about this interesting marriage of musical styles.

European classical music depends on the composers’ written scores, while Irish “trad” music is aural, transmitted from player to player by ear. A trad musician would say, “Read the notes? What do you mean, ‘read the notes?’ I want a tune!” A friend of mine who plays trad was asked, “Do you read music?” And he famously answered, “Not enough to get in my way.” Irish culture contains both streams of music – European classical and Irish traditional – sometimes they conflict and sometimes they complement. My musical hero, Seán Ó’Riada, took on this challenge. He was part of the huge revival of Irish trad music, but he was also trained in Euro styles and he brought them together in his music. In Ireland’s Poet-Patriots, I’ve made a conscious decision to bring together the classical – an orchestra, choir, and three classically trained vocal soloists – along with an Irish trad ensemble and two sean-nós [old-style] singers. So weaving together both streams of music in this production really reflects the culture of Irish music more broadly and works together to tell this inspiring story.

Who are some of the poets you chose to feature in the performance?

The ten poets/writers I’ve chosen include some of the obvious ones, like W.B. Yeats, James Connolly, and Maud Gonne, but two in particular would be less known in America. One of these is Ella Young, who was a member of the women’s auxiliary to the Irish Volunteers, the Cumann na mBan – women who actually took up guns in 1916 – that was pretty unusual. The poem of hers I include isn’t directly about Irish nationalism, but relates to it. Written in 1906, it’s called “A Voyage” – interestingly, she took her own voyage in 1925, when she immigrated to the United States, settling near San Francisco. Another poet much less known in America is George William Russell, who signed his poems “Æ.” His poem “Immortality,” written in 1913, performed here by the chorus and the entire ensemble as the closing number, is perfect to reflect upon 1916 in a

healing sort of way. The ending of the concert isn’t triumphalism and it’s not tragedy. Æ’s moving poem “Immortality” reflects upon the larger picture of life and will act as a benediction to the evening’s experience.

What performances do you have lined up?

We’re lining up performances in Washington, D.C. and hopefully Chicago, too, in the fall. What we’re excited about right now is our upcoming world premiere in San Francisco on April 22nd. In partnership with the Consulate General of Ireland for the West Coast, it will be presented in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, a beautiful, gothic space with wonderful murals and teeming with history. The concert will benefit the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center, and will be performed the same weekend as the actual 100th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic! It’s so exciting to see these concerts coming together for this most important centenary. I’m reminded of the opening line of that George Russell poem, “Immortality.” It reads, “We must pass IA like smoke, or live within the spirit’s fire.”

TOP LEFT: Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, a musician and singer from Co. Kerry, who will be taking part in the concert. TOP RIGHT: Concert poster. ABOVE: The composer, Richard B. Evans. FAR LEFT: Maud Gonne, Irish revolutionary, writer, and W.B. Yeats’ muse.

More information on the concert is available at and by contacting Tickets can be purchased at APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 89

IA.BookNotes_IA Template 3/19/16 2:46 AM Page 90

book notes |



eter Quinn, noted novelist, historian,and speechwriter has been awarded the Annie Moore Award from the Irish American Cultural Institute. The Annie Moore Award is named for the first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island, 15-year old Annie Moore, who arrived from County Cork in 1882. The Award is presented to a deserving individual who has made a significant contribution to the Irish American community in the areas of arts & letters or community service. “I have the greatest respect for the Irish American Cultural Institute and their long history of bringing Irish history and culture to the forefront,” said Quinn, who was delighted to accept the award.

I Our Father’s Values Founder of the W.B. Yeats Foundation James Flannery (pictured above) read “Easter 1916” at the start of the Atlanta commemorations for the Easter Rising Centenary. Flannery, who is the Winship professor emeritus of the arts and humanities at Emory University in Atlanta, changed the topic this year for the annual Georgia high school essay contest of St. Patrick’s Day Foundation from a focus on the life of St. Patrick to the global implications of the 1916 rebellion.

Top: Terry Golway presents Peter Quinn with the Annie Moore Award.

n March, the Irish American Writers and Artists Association was named Organization of the Year by the Irish American Heritage and Culture Committee of the New York City Department of Education. Citing “their work to provide opportunities for aspiring actors, authors, and performers to meet Irish professionals in these areas,” through their monthly literary and performance salons, the establishment of the Frank McCourt Literary Prize for high school students, and the annual awarding of the Eugene



elebrating the legacy of famed writer and short story master Frank O’Conner (top right), University College Cork put on a symposium that coincided with the 50th anniversary of his death. A group of distinguished Irish and American writers gathered to mark the event, including Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Danielle McLaughlin, Mary Morrissy, and Brendan Matthews. According Dr Hilary Lennon, School of English, UCC, the symposium “built on and contributed to the growing research field of Frank O’Connor Studies, while importantly assessing his impact and legacy at national and international levels.” – R.B.W.


O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award, the IAHCC called IAW&A “truly an organization preserving and sharing our Irish heritage and culture.”


oet Tom French, pictured above, received the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry from the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies, St. Paul, Minnesota. French, 49, was born in Kilkenny and raised in Tipperary and currently resides in Meath with his wife and children. The author of three collections, his poem “West” was awarded the Dermot Healy International Poetry Prize in 2015. He lives in County Meath with his wife and family. The $5,000 Award honors Irish poets and is named for Lawrence O’Shaughnessy, who taught English at St. Thomas from 194850, served on the university’s Board of Trustees, and is the retired head of the Ignatius Aloysius O’Shaughnessy Foundation. – R.B.W. Left, John Kearns, treasurer and salon producer for IAW&A, is pictured with the award.



t a special event this February, the National Library of Ireland (N.L.I.) celebrated the official arrival of a first draft manuscript of Sean O’Casey’s play Juno and the Paycock. The manuscript, bought at auction, differs greatly from the published version of the play and contains handwritten drafts of Acts I and II, a list of characters, notes, and a plot synopsis by the author (pictured below). The play, first produced in 1924 at the Abbey Theatre, is the second of O’Casey’s “Dublin trilogy” (the other two are The Shadow of a Gunman and The Plough and the Stars) and depicts the trials of the Boyles, a downtrodden urban family during Ireland’s Civil War. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys said: “The National Library plays such a fundamental role in preserving our country’s story and memory. . . .I’m delighted that this Seán O'Casey manuscript will now be added to its collection.– J.B.

Untitled-14 1

3/18/16 8:46 PM

IA.SlainteREV2_Layout 1 3/19/16 5:37 AM Page 92

Heroes of the Revolution As St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world, Edythe Preet looks to March 17, 1776, and the role the Irish played in America’s bid for freedom.


ABOVE: Artistic Interpretation of First Naval Battle of American Revolution – H.M.S. Margaretta portside, Transport Unity starboard. Jeremiah O’Brien and his four brothers seized the British warship.

op quiz: what color ink is used to sign legislative bills into law? If you answered black, you’d be right with one exception. On March 12, 1941, Massachusetts Governor Leverett Saltonstall used green ink to sign a bill authorized by the state’s Senate and House of Representatives making March 17th a legal holiday in Suffolk County, the region most well known for including Boston. If you think the day’s status is due to the fact that Boston has a large Irish American population and stages one of the United States’ most famous St. Patrick’s Day Parades, you’d be wrong. The date, known as Evacuation Day, commemorates an event that occurred early in the American Revolutionary War. On March 17, 1776, the Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, forced more than 10,000 British troops and Loyalists to evacuate Boston, ending an 11-month siege of the city that until then had been an English stronghold in Colonial America. The evacuation was Washington’s first victory in the war, and for it he was awarded the first medal commissioned by the Continental Congress. The triumph was even more significant as it occurred in the city where the Revolution had begun at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The coincidence of the date targeted to drive the


British from Boston and the fact that Irish Catholics had, for centuries, celebrated March 17th as Saint Patrick’s Day did not go unnoticed by Washington. The General Orders he issued for March 17th, 1776 named John Sullivan as Officer of the Day and set “Boston” as the password and ‘Saint Patrick’ as the countersign for safe passage into the city. But Washington’s recognition of the reverence for Saint Patrick held by Colonial America’s Irish population didn’t end in March 1776. During the 17th and 18th centuries nearly 250,000 Irish immigrants had settled in America and almost one-third of the Revolutionary forces (including 1,500 officers, among them 22 generals and more than a dozen sea captains) claimed Irish ancestry. In addition, Mother Ireland was engaged in a political struggle with Britain, which mirrored the American colonies’ quest for liberty and diminished the attention and resources England could focus on the rebellion occurring across the Atlantic. On December 1, 1779, the American forces made camp in Morristown, New Jersey, a location Washington had chosen for its proximity to British-held New York. But frigid temperatures and 28 snowfalls, proved the winter of 17791780 to be the bleakest on record and the

IA.SlainteREV2_Layout 1 3/19/16 5:37 AM Page 93

sláinte | good cheer Continental Army fell on dire straits. Provisions were minimal, a lack of horses hampered artillery movement, and the Congressional treasury was so depleted that the troops were poorly clothed and unpaid. With a threat of mutiny hovering and hoping to raise morale, Washington announced a holiday for his troops (the only respite from active duty they had all winter) with this order penned on March 16, 1780: “The general congratulates the army on the very interesting proceedings of the parliament of Ireland and the inhabitants of that country which have been lately communicated; not only as they appear calculated to remove those heavy and tyrannical oppressions on their trade but to restore to a brave and generous people their ancient rights and freedom and by their operations to promote the cause of America. Desirous of impressing upon the minds of the army, transactions so important in their nature, the general directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for tomorrow the seventeenth, a day held in particular regard by the people of the nation.” After the conclusion of the war, on April 2, 1784, Lord Mountjoy told the English Parliament: “America was lost by Irish emigrants … I am assured from the best authority, the major part of the American Army was composed of Irish and that the Irish language was as commonly spoken in the American ranks as English. I am also informed it was their valor that determined the contest.” Sláinte! IA

New England Boiled Dinner (personal recipe)

Note: This one-pot traditional New England meal stems from the Irish custom of preparing boiled bacon and cabbage as a special dinner for Saint Patrick’s Day, which always occurs during Lent, the 40 days prior to Easter during which time Irish Catholics did not consume meat. In America, corned beef is substituted for Irish bacon, a brined pork cut including the loin and a bit of pork belly, plus assorted vegetables in addition to cabbage. 4 12 2 2 2 3 1

pounds corned beef, trimmed of fat pearl onions, skins removed turnips, peeled and cut in 1” chunks carrots, peeled and cut in 1” chunks parsnips, peeled and cut in 1” chunks russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1” chunks medium head green cabbage, cut in 6-8 wedges, core removed

Put corned beef in a large soup pot and cover with water. Allow water to come to a slow, rolling boil for 2 hours. Check every 30 minutes, adding water if necessary. Remove meat, wrap in foil, and keep warm. Skim any fat off stock. Place onions, turnips, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, and potatoes in pot of stock and cook on low heat until tender (check potatoes to make sure they don’t fall apart). Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice corned beef, against the grain, into 1⁄4-inch slices and place over cabbage wedges. Arrange onions, turnips, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes on the side. Accompany with horseradish and/or mustard. Makes 6 servings.

Famous Irish of the American Revolution

John Barry


Driven from their ancestral home by the British, the Barry family relocated to the American colonies, where John Barry became a prosperous transatlantic trading captain. In December 1775, he was given command of the U.S.S. Lexington, the first commission issued by the Continental Congress, and three months later became the first U.S. Navy captain to seize a British ship (H.M.S. Edward). Once offered 100,000 British pounds and command of any frigate in the British Navy if he would desert the

American Navy, an outraged Barry replied that not all the money in the British treasury or command of its entire fleet could tempt him to desert his adopted country. While commanding the U.S.S. Alliance in March 1783, Barry and crew won the final naval battle of the American Revolution off the coast of Cape Canaveral. In 1797, Barry, who is known as The Father of the American Navy, was issued Commodore Commission Number One in the U.S. Navy by President George Washington.

Gustavus Conyngham COUNTY DONEGAL

From March 1, 1777 to February 21, 1779, Conyngham terrorized British shipping, capturing or sinking more than 80 ships. England’s King George III is reported to have said he would be pleased to personally witness Conyngham’s hanging, if only the British Navy could catch him. Commissioned overseas by Benjamin Franklin as a Navy Captain, the paperwork was lost and the Continental Congress refused to recognize Conyngham’s appointment despite APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 93

IA.SlainteREV2_Layout 1 3/19/16 5:37 AM Page 94

sláinte | good cheer his contribution to the war effort. He never allowed his quarrels with politicians to curb his commitment to his country.

The U.S.S. O’Brien, launched in 1914, is one of several ships named for Jeremiah O’Brien.

Henry Knox


Boston bookstore owner Knox abandoned his business to join the local Patriot militia. In December 1775, he masterminded transporting 60 tons of cannon captured at British Fort Ticonderoga across frozen terrain and rivers to fortify Washington’s siege of Boston. His success, called ‘one of the most stupendous engineering feats of the war’, was key in forcing the Boston Evacuation. Rising to the rank of Major General, Knox was appointed the first Secretary of War under the U.S. Constitution in Washington’s first Cabinet (1789).

Richard Montgomery SWORDS, COUNTY DUBLIN

His father, Thomas, was a baronet and member of the Irish Parliament. He joined the British Army in Canada in 1756, moved to NY in 1772 and married into the prominent Livingston family. Appointed Brigadier General by the Continental Congress in 1775, and second in command in the successful Montreal Expedition, he was killed leading an assault on Quebec City.

Stephen Moylan COUNTY CORK

Son of a wealthy Cork shipping family, Moylan immigrated to Philadelphia and opened his own shipping firm. When the Revolutionary War broke


out, he spent considerable amounts of his own fortune outfitting the first ships of the Continental Navy, and subsequently earned several Continental Army posts, including first Muster-Master General, Secretary and Aide to General George Washington, 2nd Quartermaster General, Commander of the Fourth Continental Light Dragoons, and Commander of the Cavalry of the Continental Army.

Hercules Mulligan COUNTY DERRY

When the British took control of New York, Mulligan remained in the city as an espionage agent, posing as a Loyalist and gathering vital intelligence from British soldiers during their meetings in his clothing store. Mulligan’s vital communiqués included the British plan to invade Pennsylvania and a warning that British agents intended to kidnap George Washington.

Timothy Murphy


Murphy was a member of Col. Daniel Morgan’s Rifle Corps, a fierce group of sharpshooters with deadly accurate aim. While Murphy neither rose to great heights in the Continental Army nor sought political status after the war, his participation in the colonies’ fight for independence was, like thousands of other Irish Americans, vital to the Revolution’s success.

Jeremiah O’Brien KITTERY, MAINE

Five days before the Battle of Bunker Hill, O’Brien and his four brothers raided and seized the British warship H.M.S. Margaretta in Machias, Maine. The event was the first naval battle of the Revolution. Jeremiah and his brother John were commissioned as privateers and authorized to seize enemy ships.

John Stark


Stark served as an officer in the British Army during the French and Indian war, and at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, joined the New Hampshire Militia. Enlisted by the Continental Army for his knowledge of the frontier, he was promoted to Brigadier General for defeating the British at the Battle of Saratoga, a turning point in the war. Toward the end of his life, he wrote to his comrades: ‘Live free or die’, which became the New Hampshire state motto.

John Sullivan


A lawyer by profession, Sullivan attended the Second Continental Congress and argued that war had been started by the British attacks on Lexington and Concord. Serving as a Major General during the war, he led the forces that defeated an Iroquois-Loyalist alliance in New York. After the war, Sullivan served as Attorney General and Governor of New Hampshire, and the first federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. IA

Untitled-2 1

3/18/16 5:14 PM

IA.Barry_IA Template 3/19/16 2:55 AM Page 96

An Interview with Kevin Barry Kevin Barry talks to Julia Brodsky about his prizewinning novel Beatlebone, set in “the haunted, sea-obsessed world” of Ireland’s Atlantic coast, and the “terrifying” prospect of writing a book about one of the 20th century’s greatest pop culture icons.

Beatlebone. (Doubleday / 320 pages / $24.95)


he University of London established the Goldsmiths Prize in 2013 to acknowledge fiction that pushed the boundaries of the novel form. Kevin Barry’s second novel, Beatlebone, which imagines John Lennon returning to Dorinish, the Mayo island he purchased years earlier, certainly remakes and expands the mold of what makes a novel, making it a worthy recipient of last year’s prize. Barry’s Lennon offers glimpses of the musician’s real life while giving readers an entirely new, Irish version of the Beatle we all knew, and the novel itself moves between prose and play, blending monologue and dialogue. 200 pages in, though, comes the most audacious move of all: Barry himself enters the text with a personal essay that chronicles his own physical and emotional journey to Dorinish. Born in Limerick and raised globally, Barry makes his home in an old police station in County Sligo, and writes with wickedly inventive language, creating his own brand of dark humor that frequently flirts with the disturbing. He won the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his first novel, City of Bohane.

You’ve said it’s impossible to hide in fiction, and a lot easier to hide in an essay – were you hiding at all in Beatlebone’s essay? I don’t hide in it at all, because I think that if you’re writing a personal essay you have to give something away about yourself. And I found myself talking about my mother’s early death in that. I totally wasn’t expecting this material to show up in my John Lennon novel, but it struck me as absolutely right for the material; this is one of my ways into the character because he has a similar circumstance. Is that how the project started? It kind of came about in a funny accidental way. I thought this project was going to take six months – mad burst of wonderful, trippy prose and I’d be done, but four years later, I emerged, crawling, with the manuscript, from my shed. About a year in, I realized I had loads of different notes for it everywhere: on the backs of envelopes, on the backs of beer mats, on my phone. I thought, “I’m going to buy a lovely new notebook, and gather all my notes together in the same place.” And as I was transcribing them, I found that these really nice para-


graphs were starting to form. I thought, “I’m gonna plunk this down right in the middle and see if I can walk out the door of my novel for 8,000 words and then walk back in again.”

The details from your journey mimic earlier parts of John’s, too. I think a lot of writers now are a little impatient with fictionality – you always feel at some point that you kind of have to make explicit the fact: “I know it’s a novel. It’s made up. It’s a story.” And this was very blatantly showing the workings. It seemed right for this project because it’s a story about trying to make something – trying to make a record, a novel, or a book. The trick of the book is if the reader goes with the essay, they’ll go with the whole lot. It was also the part of the book that wrote itself most naturally and took very few drafts, compared to the rest of it, which took loads of drafts for those dialogues. I’ve discovered it’s kind of like a radio play, an oldfashioned play for voices. The dialogues with John and Cornelius really are the engine of the book. On the surface the characters are very different, but similarities emerge, and Cornelius becomes John’s spirit guide. Yeah, and he’s tricky. You never quite know what he’s up to. The book started to come alive for me when Cornelius started to move towards the forefront and it became a double act, essentially, and when John had someone to play off. I realized then that it was a very kind of old-fashioned novel. It’s Don Quixote – tilting at windmills and then you’ve got your sidekick and you’re trying to answer all of life’s questions. Saul Bellow used to always say he loved to have a character in his novels whom he would call the “reality instructor.” This is the guy or the girl who turns up and goes, “Now, this is how you do it. This is how you get through.” So Cornelius is the reality instructor, but it’s a very strange reality Cornelius is dealing with. One of my favorite scenes is when John’s imagining the love story between his parents and the line, “Dead love stories are what make us.” Yeah, the dead love stories that we kind of always have from our parents’ time, but we can’t help but get sucked back. I think we are all trapped in that time that comes just before our births – we get drawn back

IA.Barry_IA Template 3/19/16 2:55 AM Page 97

was a black lizard crawling across the pages. So I immediately wrote a lizard into the text somewhere.

to it and try to imagine the world around then. I was actually born in June ’69, at the time of the Beatles’ last number one, which was “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” So that was in the atmosphere all around then.

John doesn’t mention Yoko’s name at all in the book. No, she’s referred to, but I was trying to keep reality away from it to an extent and just have him on this madcap solo mission to the west of Ireland. Early on when I was starting to get a voice, I thought, “Okay, I could very easily do the standard ‘biopic’ here.” But I thought, “God, no.” I can’t imagine anything worse than writing a sane novel about John Lennon – it has to be fuckin’ nutty – surreal, wild, and crazy. I think in that way, I wanted it to be true to his spirit as the artist he was. Have you been to Dorinish island? I think I claim in the essay to have spent a day and a half there – I didn’t, really. I made it an hour and a half. But it’s beautiful. The terns nest on it and they lay these enormous, surreal-looking eggs around the rocks. And they don’t like humans to be on the island – they kind of dive-bomb you and it’s really loud – the last place on earth you’d want to build a meditative retreat. In all of the things I write, the underlying thing is they always come from a place and the feelings that get trapped in different places. And I’ve always had this very kind of haunted feeling out around Clew Bay. There’s a kind of an eerie atmosphere to it. The Atlantic comes into nearly everything I write, and it is a big presence when you live in the west of Ireland. It is a big thing, and it affects the mood, and it brings all the weather in, and yeah, I haven’t exactly figured out what it’s doing to us, but it certainly affects the mental atmosphere of the west of Ireland. John Moriarty used to talk about this thing he used to call “happy feels” and “sad feels.” And you walk through one place and you feel something, because of human feeling that settles down and lingers. I completely believe that. I believe every street corner in New York has its own feeling. I think as a writer, an artist, or a musician, you’re trying to tune into those feelings that are just below the level of what we call “reality.” You’re also looking for little bits of serendipity or magic to happen around a project to tell you, “You’re on the right track.” And I had a lovely one with Beatlebone, quite late on, actually. Nearly finished the penultimate draft, and I had all the pages laid out around my shed, and I made coffee and went back out, and there

The lizard isn’t the only animal to pop up in your work. Where does that comes from? I don’t know. So much of it comes from the back of your mind, your subconscious – I think you’re dealing with the same region of the brain when you’re writing fiction as you are when you’re dreaming – it all comes from ‘back there.’ And I try and tune into that as directly as I can, which is why I like to write first thing in the morning, before I’m properly awake. What I’m trying to do is not so much maintain control on the page, but lose control a bit, and just see where it goes, where I can bring myself, and, hopefully, bring a reader. There are a lot of Beckettian and Joycean moments throughout the novel. Do you find yourself including those consciously? Very often they’ll come in without your quite knowing it. Irish writing has this wonderful reputation, and so much of it is built on the work of three writers: Beckett and Joyce and Flann O’Brien in the first half of the 20th century. There are two traditions in Irish writing, and it sounds a bit pat, but there’s Catholic writing and Protestant writing. It’s Beckett and Joyce. One is stained glass windows – ornate, ostentatious, and fuckin’ beautiful. And the other is take everything out – austere and beautiful in that way. I think for a lot of the second half of the 20th century, Irish writers were really caught about which direction to go. I do always admire that kind of third way – Flann O’Brien – taking the piss out of it all. Did you listen to a fair amount of the Beatles and the Plastic Ono Band, as you were writing? I’m kind of always listening to the White Album – it’s one of my favorite records – kind of a glorious mess. I did listen to some of his earlier solo records from around the time when he was very involved with Primal Scream therapy, and the Plastic Ono Band album is fantastic. I don’t listen to music all the time when I’m writing, but sometimes it seems to help. I tend to listen to stuff that doesn’t have any lyrics, kind of electronica, dub reggae and things like that, just for kind of mood in the background. When I was writing City of Bohane, it was all dub reggae, and that sort of crept into the book. I’m going to write a second Bohane novel in the new year, so the dub reggae records will come back out. Are you working on that now? I’m going to start in the new year. I set all these weird kind of mystical dates. I’m going to start it on the winter solstice, and return on the summer solstice, six months later, with the tablets of stone. That’s the plan. I wrote the first one very quickly, actually. And I have that language. I have the city, I have the real estate. And I’m IA going to fucking use it. APRIL / MAY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 97

IA.Edna rev_IA Template 3/19/16 12:40 AM Page 98

books | novel

Edna O’Brien’s acclaimed new novel, her first in a decade, is reviewed by Rosemary Rogers.

The Little Red Chairs. (Little, Brown & Co. / 320 pages / $27)


elts have always believed in an invisible spirit world running parallel to our visible world, a mystical universe that has given Irish storytellers a rich folklore of the supernatural. From this tradition comes the ofttold story (undoubtedly a cautionary tale for impressionable girls) of a handsome stranger who arrives at a small village and soon enchants all the women. But at a céilidh a local biddy spots his dancing feet – cloven hooves! – the devil has come to town. Only Edna O’Brien, a most profound Celt and one of literature’s greatest writers, could transpose this fable to the horror of 20th century genocide. Only she could be so ambitious, interweaving literary allusions, prayer, war, fairy tales, pop culture, and Irish mysticism into a study of evil. Her prodigious body of work spans six decades, yet her genius has never been more evident, or more relevant, than in the The Little Red Chairs, her first novel in ten years and a masterpiece. One winter night (yes, a dark and stormy one), a mysterious stranger walks into a pub in Cloonoila, a gossipy backwater in Sligo and presents himself as a New Age shaman, herbalist, healer, and sex therapist. To the rapt crowd, he’s both exotic and monkish, a Christlike figure, albeit one with a man bun. He explains his presence by saying he’s from the Balkans, “blood brothers to the Celts,” and, playing to myths encoded in their DNA, reveals he was summoned there by a vision of a tearful woman saying, “I am of Ireland.” The crowd realizes that the foreigner had been summoned by the woman of the Sidhe, who will bring spring and the abundance of nature. The shaman’s claim that the Balkans and the Irish are “blood brothers” may be hyperbolic but the regions have a similar history: both are severed by borders – fault lines of blood, imposed by conquerors – that have fomented centuries of tribalism and religious conflicts. O’Brien had earlier explored her country’s Troubles, particularly in the book, The House of Splendid Isolation and short story, “Black Flower.” Now, after years of research in Eastern Europe, she brings the Balkan struggle home to Ireland. While his name, Vlad Dragan (alternately, Vuk, meaning “Wolf”) almost reeks of sulfur, the townsfolk of Cloonoila begin to revere him as a latter-day Druid. Vuk, the most alpha of wolves, leads his gullible pack on nature walks, meditation classes, and herbal lectures. His admirers include even Father Damien (after Vuk dropped “sex therapist” from his


card), Sister “Bonny” Bonaventure who found his stone massages strangely enervating, and the local garda, “Plodder Pat.” He seduces almost everybody saving some skeptics who dismiss him as a phony, a gobshite. Then there’s the foreign dishwasher who erupts in hysterics upon seeing him. Je znam ko si ti, he says – “I know who you are!” It’s a frightening and violent scene that presages the rest of book. The villagers – the bickering book club, country boys in dreadlocks, and Widow Mona, devoted to “Padre Pio, in whom she had unswerving faith…and romance novels of which she could not get enough” – all provide comic relief. The humor is essential since, midway through the narrative, The Little Red Chairs becomes a horror story. The most besotted of Vuk’s followers is the town beauty, Fidelma McBride. At 40, Fidelma is trapped in a loveless marriage and, desperate for a child, enlists him to help with her infertility. She’s soon in love, but to say more would be to spoil a great read. No one writes better about women, their inner thoughts, yearning, and sexuality than Edna O’Brien. And, always, she brings the passions of her own tumultuous life to her female characters. Fidelma, like O’Brien, scandalized her village, shamed her family, and left for London, to be forever an exile. Both women are “of Ireland,” adoring its dreamy beauty while deploring its priest-ridden legacy. Both are favored with physical beauty – the book’s character lovely in the Irish tradition of black hair and blue eyes, and the author, ageless at 84, illuminated by a halo of red-gold hair, looks like no one else. It’s easy to see why she was at the center of London’s Swinging Sixties, hosting legendary parties and courted by everyone from Beckett to Brando. But who, exactly, is Vuk? In addition to his other endowments, Vuk fancies himself a poet. He plans an expedition for the locals to visit Yeats’s grave where he will recite his own poetry. His followers crowd into a tour bus where a senile (and sentient) woman points at him, flatly asking, “Is he the devil?” To find the answer requires an odyssey through the underworld to arrive at the too-real world of The Little Red Chairs. It’s a tale of love, tragedy, and redemption, a great gift brought to us by a master. IA


The Little Red Chairs

IA.ShaneREV_IA Template 3/19/16 3:06 AM Page 99

The Grand Disturber of Elizabethan Ireland

books | history

Brian Mallon’s epic novel chronicling the life of Shane O’Neill, the 16th century Irish chieftain, is reviewed by Fionnula Flanagan.


ere is the great dark cloak of Irish Elizabethan history spread out before us. Its threads are spun from loyalty, intrigue, betrayal, lust, terror, thievery, and extraordinary courage, ferocity in battle, savagery in revenge, and passion in love. The jewels that adorn it are the great clans of Ireland of the time, those who retained their Gaelic heritage and customs and those who had intermarried with the Normans and, over time, were titled in exchange for their fealty to the British crown. The warp and weft of their connection to each other is by blood, marriage, or fosterage (the ancient Irish custom whereby children were sent to a neighboring clan to be reared, thereby ensuring peace and interdependence between the families), and sometimes by all three. Most dazzling of the jewels is Shane O’Neill – fearless warrior; brilliant war strategist; a charming wit in Irish, English, and Latin; and a would-be King of Ireland. We meet him at the height of his powers when he has just taken to his bed Katherine, Scots wife of his arch rival, whom he throws into a dungeon for an indefinite period, thereby threatening the support of the Gaelic Scots families. But their love prevails and Katherine, besides bearing him some half a dozen children, proves a canny politician and gobetween for Shane in his dealings with the Scots, and particularly with the court of Mary Stuart, Catholic Queen of Scotland and sworn enemy of Elizabeth I of England. And so we have Elizabeth, a diamond, hard and cold, unwinking in its brilliance, cutting, laser-like across the Irish Sea to penetrate the dark warp and weft of her Irish cloak. She is desperate for funds and food to support her army in her wars with France and Spain. Driven by this desperation, she is relentless in her determination to bring the savage Irish to heel. To this end, she employs the methods used worldwide by countless tyrant colonizers that followed her. First, undermine and destroy the authority of the Irish chieftains and their religious leaders; stamp out their native language and customs; coerce, disenfranchise, imprison, and murder those who resist. In this way, can she, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII, aided by leaders of the Protestant Reform Church (of which she is the head), and members of her ambitious and ruthless cabinet, clear the way to freely appropriate Irish lands and launch a colonization the evidence of which lives on to this day in the bloody war – euphemistically called The Troubles – and its aftermath, in the North of Ireland.

It is Shane O’Neill who leads the resistance to Elizabeth’s scheming. We journey with him to her London court, where, being assured safe passage to and from, he is denied permission to leave London and realizes that he has been seduced by his own vanity and lured into a trap to prevent him leading armed resistance to the forces of the British Crown in Ireland. Restored finally to his lands, Shane attempts various measures – not always above board, and often betrayed by spies – to placate Elizabeth and stave off a complete invasion. Dubbed The Grand Disturber and relishing the title, he appeals to the Pope, to the Catholic monarchies of France and Spain for armed help, but his appeals are met with denials or silence, or worse still, betrayal. The Irish and Scottish clans, bribed, threatened, and coerced by Elizabeth’s representatives in Dublin Castle, abandon him one by one. Finally, he is left to fight the ultimate battle supported by a pitifully small force of his own clansmen. This is a brilliantly woven novel, painstakingly researched by its author, Brian Mallon, from archives in Ireland, London, Rome, and other sources throughout Europe. The detail of the mise-en-scène is amazing, vivid, colorful, and historically true in all its complexity. Because Brian Mallon is also a poet, he gives proper place and importance to poetry and history and the authority of the Bard in Irish society in the person of Farleigh, a kind of mystical Merlin who sings of that which has gone before and a warning for that which he foresees. Shane often mocks him, but in truth respects his gifts and wisdom. Finally, in becoming aware of Elizabeth’s destruction of Bardic Ireland, Shane realizes her true intent. By turn we admire, fear, envy, fall in love with and hate Shane O’Neill and his nemesis, Elizabeth. And we cannot but feel the betrayal perpetrated against Ireland as a nation, not solely by her invaders but, more bitterly, by her own leaders, religious and secular, the very ones trusted to protect and defend her. Yet at their hands and by their deeds, shame becomes the worm in her legacy. There is a poem in Irish called Mise Eire (I am Ireland) the last stanza of which goes: Mise Eire (I am Ireland ) Mór no náire (Great is my shame) Mo chlann féin do dhíol a máthair (Twas my own family that sold out their mother)


The author Brian Mallon.

Shane O'Neill: ‘The Grand Disturber’ of Elizabethan Ireland. (RedBranch Press / 778 pages / $23.78)

Fionnula Flanagan is a multi-award winning Irish actress based in Hollywood.


IA.Books_IA Template 3/19/16 10:28 AM Page 100

review of books | recently published books The BBC’s ‘Irish Troubles’: Television, Conflict and Northern Ireland By Robert J. Savage


ob Savage, professor of history at Boston College, has done extensive academic research on 20th century Irish politics and media, especially film and television. His newest book, The BBC’s ‘Irish Troubles,’ combines his expertise in these areas with a nuanced, detailed examination of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s role in reporting on Northern Ireland from 1968 through 1988. As with many accounts of Northern Ireland, the story is replete with the dreary, heavy-handed bullying, favoritism, ineptitude and deceit practiced by British and Northern Ireland officials during this period. “Refusing to inform viewers fully of what was taking place in Northern Ireland,” the BBC coverage became dictated by “Government-imposed censorship, together with self-censorship practiced by anxious broadcasters.” The result was often a fabricated, self-serving narrative that did little to solve the legitimate social unrest. The heroes in the saga were a handful of intrepid reporters and news editors who tried to resist BBC censorship, as well as ordinary citizens who continued to press for change. The final chapter, “Margaret Thatcher, the IRA and the Oxygen of Publicity” offers disturbing examples of how politicians willingly sabotage the free press for short-term political positioning. Relying on primary source material, Professor Savage’s The BBC’s ‘Irish Troubles’ is an accomplished work of historical scholarship that contributes enormously to literature of Northern Ireland. On another level, it is a cautionary tale about the complicated dynamic between government and a free press in democratic societies. – Michael Quinlin (University of Manchester Press / 288 pages / $95)

Ireland’s Exiled Children: America and the Easter Rising


By Robert Schmuhl

s a raft of new scholarship emerges coincident with the centenary of the Easter Rising, Robert Schmuhl’s engaging new work astutely probes the contribution of Ireland’s “exiled children” – a title given to Irish America in the 1916 Proclamation, from which Schmuhl’s work derives its title. Schmuhl details the contributions and circles of influence of four key individuals (John Devoy, Joyce Kilmer, Woodrow Wilson, and Éamon de Valera) in order to tell his story, as well as offers invaluable insights into the importance of Clan na Gael in the Rising, President Wilson’s role, and de Velara’s American connections. On top of his credentials as a historian, Schmuhl is also a leading scholar in the field of journalism. It is this latter fact that makes his analysis of the American press coverage of the Rising so rewarding. The trenchant arguments throughout establish this work as an important contribution to Irish and American historiography, while its pithy prose makes for a pleasurable read for both scholars and those with only a cursory understanding of the subject.


– R. Bryan Willits (Oxford UP / 232 pages / $29.95)

By Belinda McKeon


elinda McKeon’s second novel tells the story of inseparable friends, obsession, and loss in early Celtic Tiger Dublin. Catherine is freshman at Trinity with a sheltered Co. Longford world view until she meets James, a brash and flamboyant young artist unlike any boy she’s met. He influences Catherine to open herself socially and romantically, and as she grows more deeply entwined with him, the Dublin they inhabit becomes globalized and modern. By the time James confesses he is gay, it is already too late; what initially made him undateable – his loudness, his “wrong” Doc Martens, his freckles – has made him so deeply a part of Catherine that she is unable to let him go. The text frequently skips over Catherine’s other relationships to keep a tight focus on her and James, her jealousy at his friendships, and her growing desperation during their brief, inevitably doomed, affair. McKeon’s prose is clean and heartfelt, making Catherine’s thoughts frighteningly recognizable as her feelings for James grow from infatuation to obsession. Tender is a refreshingly intimate take on the consequences of fixation, particularly during economic boom.

– Julia Brodsky (Little, Brown & Co. / 405 pages / $27)


IA.Books_IA Template 3/19/16 10:28 AM Page 101

The Bad Times By Christine Kinealy and John Walsh


he Irish Famine is often understood in large numbers – death counts, years of blight, declining Irish language speakers, and immigration statistics. The Bad Times, a new graphic novel by historian Christine Kinealy and artist John Walsh, counters these abstraction by putting the Famine in human terms, and telling a narrative of three teenagers and their dog Cú during the hardest years of the blight from 1846 to 1850. Perhaps most importantly, The Bad Times touches on the profound effects of the class system in how families dealt with the Famine, and reminds

that the biggest factor in survival was opportunity and occupation. The decision to tell the story in the graphic novel form makes the Famine all the more visceral, and the illustrations give a sense of intimacy to the characters that is powerfully emotive. The Bad Times is a worthwhile contribu-

tion to Famine literature, and an especially affecting introduction to the individual suffering that can often be overshadowed by the largest figures.

– Adam Farley (Quinnipiac UP / 118 pages / $15.25)

IA.NationalAnthemREV_IA Template 3/19/16 5:16 AM Page 102

Amhrán na bhFiann Time to say goodbye? Historian Christine Kinealy wonders if the Irish national anthem is still relevant today.

Peadar Kearney (1910).

Soldiers are we, whose lives are pledged to Ireland, Some have come from a land beyond the wave, Sworn to be free …

inety years ago, as the newly created Free State was coming to terms with ten years of turmoil, which included war, civil war and partition, it simultaneously was trying to create an identity as an independent state. Challengingly, however, it was a 26 (not 32) county state, which had been coerced into accepting dominion status within the British Empire. Coins, banknotes, stamps, passports, postboxes were all to be rebranded to reflect this new status, while, on a macro level, issues of the national flag and national anthem were yet to be decided on. In the midst of this period of readjustment and renewal, a national anthem was selected. In the same way as the partition of the country had been, its hasty selection was regarded as a temporary solution to an Irish problem. The history of the anthem reflects the troubled times in which it was born. The lyrics were written by Peadar Kearney (1883 – 1942), a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, probably in 1907, with the melody provided by his friend Patrick Heaney (1881 – 1911). The original lyrics, which were in English, were first published by Bulmer Hobson in 1912 in Irish Freedom, although Kearney was not mentioned as the author. The words and music were not published together until December 1916, some months after they had been sung by the insurgents in the General Post Office. The song was popular with the Irish Volunteers, formed in 1913. It gained even more favor during and following the 1916 Rising; the idea of being soldiers, rather than rebels, resonated with the participants. Following the creation of the Free State, the song was increasingly associated with the army, although it was also sung at some sporting events. Regardless of its popularity and republican associations, it was not until 1923 that an Irish translation was first published in the Freeman’s Journal and, a few months later, in the Irish Army’s publication, An t-Óglác. The translator, Liam Ó Rinn (1886 – 1943), had fought in the 1916 Rising, been imprisoned in Frongoch (an internment camp in north Wales), and later worked in the translation department of the Free State’s Oireachtas. In the article in the Freeman’s



Journal, Ó Rinn (using his pen-name, Coinneach) rendered the chorus of “Amhrán na bhFiann” as: Sinn Fein Fáil atá fé gheall ag Erinn; buíon dár slua thar tuínn do raínig chughainn; Fé mhóid veh [bheith] saor – seanntír ár sínsear feasta ní fagfár fén [faoin] tíorán ná fén tráill Anocht a theum sa bhearna bhaeil Pé olc maih é, le grá do Ghaeil. Le gunna-scréach, fé l mhach na bpléar Seo liv! [libh] canaídh amhrán na bhFiann.

Although other translations were made, Ó Rinn’s, with some amendments, became the accepted Irish language version, quickly overtaking the Englishlanguage original in terms of popularity. Despite the popularity of “The Soldier’s Song,” officially the Free State remained without a national anthem. At formal events, both in Ireland and overseas, the vacuum was filled with a variety of patriotic songs, the most popular being Thomas Moore’s “Let Erin Remember,” T.D. Sullivan’s “God Save Ireland,” and Thomas Davis’s “A Nation Once Again.”’ Some newspapers hoped that the 1924 Olympics in Paris would be a catalyst for a decision, but no anthem was announced, although the Free State’s official song for the occasion was “Let Erin Remember.” The uncertainty was evident two years later at the TT Races (popular road races) in the Isle of Man, when Irish riders were greeted with random extracts from “St. Patrick’s Day,” “The Minstrel Boy,” or “Come Back to Erin.” The GAA, meanwhile, was increasingly adopting Ó Rinn’s version of “The Soldier’s Song.” Clearly, there was no consensus on a national anthem. In contrast, Unionists in the Free State and elsewhere, continued to sing “God Save the King” at public events. In the face of government inertia, an Irish newspaper intervened. In 1924, the Dublin Evening Mail hosted a “A National Hymn to the Glory of Ireland” competition. A prize of 50 guineas was offered and a panel of judges, which included the Nobel prize-winning poet, W. B. Yeats, was convened. Embarrassingly, none of the submissions were deemed to be worthy and, perhaps even more damningly, the paper reported that “Most of the verses submitted to us were imitations of ‘God Save the King.’” The competition was reopened in March 1925. A winner was an-

IA.NationalAnthemREV_IA Template 3/19/16 5:17 AM Page 103

at 90

nounced, but she and her song (the uncharismatic, “God of Our Ireland”) immediately disappeared from view. What the Mail’s intervention had done, however, was to keep the issue in the public eye, while demonstrating that finding a new national anthem was not going to be easy. The matter was brought to a head in July 1926 when the Minister of Defense, Peter Hughes, was questioned in the Dáil by a backbencher, Sir Osmond Esmonde, about the status of the national anthem. Esmonde had first directed the question at the President, W. T. Cosgrave, but had been told that this was inappropriate. Hughes – amidst much laughter – responded that the Irish national anthem was “The Soldier’s Song.” However, he qualified his statement by adding, “at present.” Hughes’ unilateral pronouncement was not without demur. An editorial in the Irish Examiner admitted their “surprise” at the minister’s statement, adding: “‘The Soldier’s Song’ has a bold air, and it is associated with some stirring episodes in the latter-day history. Something more is wanted … The nation itself will make a choice sooner or later, and it is too soon to say that the decision has been made by the Free State.” Nonetheless, endorsement for this choice came from the newly established Radio Éireann, which used the anthem at its close of broadcasting each day. The song also had the backing of the Free State Army and the GAA. In 1929, the government authorized German-born Colonel Fritz Brasé, founding director of the Irish Army School of Music, to write a suitable arrangement for “The Soldier’s Song,” but for the chorus only. Interestingly, only the chorus (not the three stanzas) was regarded as the national anthem. Even more strangely, perhaps, the state argued that the title and the music alone – but not the words – constituted the Irish national anthem. This argument was made public in 1933 when Peadar Kearney threatened to sue Radio Éireann and others over their failure to give him royalties – at this stage, Kearney was making a modest living as a house painter. Heaney had died in poverty at 29 and had been buried in a pauper’s grave in Drumcondra Cemetery. The state responded to this challenge by acquiring copyright from the estates of Kearney and Heaney for £1,000. Due to a change in law, copyright had to be purchased again in 1965, this time for £2,500. The copyright officially expired on December 31, 2012, 70 years after Kearney’s death. Interestingly though, only the English language version – and never the Irish one – was ever copyrighted. In 1937, 30 years after Kearney had first penned “The Soldier’s Song,” the Free State government adopted a new constitution. Its conservative pronouncements – particularly on the status of women – was an anathema to some of the foot soldiers of the Irish Revolution. While it confirmed Irish as the national language, endorsed the name of the state as Éire, and ratified “the tricolour of green, white and orange” as the national flag, no reference was

last word | made in the document to a national anthem. Despite being ignored, in the decades that followed, the chorus of “Amhrán na bhFiann” became more firmly embedded in the social, sporting, and cultural life of the nation. In the decades since the passing of the 1937 constitution, Ireland has undergone many changes, including the Free State becoming a Republic in 1949, thus formally ending its long and tortuous relationship with the British Empire. Throughout these political and constitutional transformations, “Amhrán na bhFiann” has continued as the anthem. The early history of “The Soldier’s Song” and its adoption as the national anthem was partly a microcosm of other tensions and conflicts taking place in Ireland in the early 20th century. After 1922, the fledgling 26-county Free State sought to create a distinct identity while healing some of the wounds of centuries of conflict with Britain, and, even more painfully, the wounds and fissures of a recent war that had pitted comrade against comrade and brother against brother. “The Soldier’s Song,” with Kearney’s defiant lyrics, and the rousing chorus, suggested that the sacrifices had not been in vain, because the Gael had triumphed over “Saxon foe.” For others though, the song’s overt militarism and factionalism are anachronistic and increasingly out of place in a progressive democracy that is committed to neutrality and, since 1998, been a model for peace processes in the world. These apprehensions had been articulated during the early stages of the peace process. A 1995 report from the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, when acknowledging the fears of the Unionist community and obstacles to reconciliation, suggested that the Republic should choose a new national anthem that was not “excessively militaristic.” Within the Republic also, there have been periodic calls for a new national anthem. In the 2011 Presidential election, two of the seven candidates admitted that they would be willing to change the anthem. Michael D. Higgins, the eventual winner, when asked if the national anthem was still fit for purpose, responded that if it was written today, it would be different.Nonetheless, in 2016, “Amhrán na bhFiann” remains in place. Both the English and Irish versions appear on the Taoiseach’s official website and, when the President arrives at an official engagement, the first four bars of the anthem are played, immediately followed by the last five. The adoption of “The Soldiers’ Song” as the national anthem took place almost by accident, with no public debate, no consensus, and not without some controversy. As the decade of commemorations unfolds and we reflect of the legacy of Easter 1916, perhaps it is time to reflect on Ireland’s 90-year old national anthem and ask IA how appropriate is it in 2016? Is it time to say goodbye? Professor Christine Kinealy is director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University. Her most recent publication is The Bad Times / An Drochshaol (with John Walsh), a graphic novel about the Great Hunger set in Co.Clare.


IA.TWL_IA Template 3/19/16 5:09 AM Page 104

those we lost | passages Barney Devlin C.

1919 – 2016


arney Devlin, the Bellaghy, Co. Derry blacksmith whose workshop Seamus Heaney popularized in verse, passed away in February at the age of 96. Heaney first wrote about Devlin in 1969’s Door into the Dark, with the poem “The Forge,” whose opening line, “All I know is a door into the dark,” gave the collection its title. Heaney returned to Devlin’s forge at Hillhead in 2006, with “Midnight Anvil,” in the poet’s final collection, District and Circle. Devlin’s forge became a regular stopping point on the Seamus Heaney tourist trail and remained well-preserved even after the blacksmith’s retirement. Devlin didn’t mind the fame and the stream of tourists: “Taking visitors from across the world through the dark door is like a second pension to me in my old age,” he told the BBC following Heaney’s death in 2013. Yvonne Watterson, a Derry-born writer and old friend of Devlin’s wrote for the Times, “Barney lived for almost century, with heart and craft and good humour, bringing into his tiny forge thousands of visitors from all over the world. He loved the craic.” She recalls thumbing through the visitors’ book at the forge and seeing a note from Heaney himself that serves, belatedly, as a fitting obituary: “For Barney, old friend and good example of how to do good work and stay true. I’ll maybe write a poem.” Devlin was laid to rest alongside his late wife, Margaret, and is survived by eight of his children, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. – J.B.

Thomas Francis Kelly 1925 – 2016

T Top to Bottom: Barney Devlin, Thomas Kelly, and Michael Kennedy

ommy Kelly, star of the 1938 film adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, died in January of congestive heart failure at his home in Greensboro, North Carolina at age 90. Kelly was born in the Bronx on April 6, 1925 to Michael and Nora Kelly with all four of his grandparents coming from Ireland. By age 12, Kelly had no aspirations of becoming an actor. But on an a fateful day in 1937, was plucked out of his classroom at St. Redmond’s parochial school in the Bronx during a nationwide talent search that eventually gave him the starring role in Tom Sawyer. Though Tommy maintained an acting career until


the 1950s, his life was marked with distinction in many other fields, particularly in education. Tommy earned a bachelor’s in English from Loyola University of Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount University), a master’s in educational administration from the University of Southern California, and a doctorate in education from Michigan State University. Tommy worked as a teacher and administrator in California, served in the Army in the European theater during WWII, and worked for the Peace Corps in the 1960s. He directed schools in Liberia and Venezuela, and oversaw educational programs for the United States Department of Agriculture. Tommy is survived by his wife, Susie, whom he married in 1948; four sons, Kevin, Matt, Mark and Paul; two daughters, Eileen and Ann; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. – R.B.W.

Michael Kennedy 1937 – 2016


ichael Kennedy, defender of radicals, outsiders, mobsters, and millionaires, died at the age of 78 in Manhattan due to complications while undergoing cancer treatment. According to his friend and colleague, Michael Dowd, Kennedy was “a man who had his heart and soul invested in Irish freedom.” Soon after entering the legal profession, Kennedy underwent a radical conversion after being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War and became an avid proponent of marxist-leninist philosophy and took on many cases (usually pro bono) for anti-establishment types. One of the high points of his career was when he lead the defense of a number of Brooklyn-based IRA gunrunners in 1982. The lawyers who worked on the case thereafter came together every year on the date of the acquittal and even went on a trip to Ireland together. According to Dowd, he was later “delighted with the peace process,” Sinn Féin’s rise to power, and the “end to violence.” As a defender of radials and outsiders, Kennedy defended notable figures like Huey P. Newton of the Black Panthers; Cesar Chavez and his migrant farm workers’ union; Bernardine Dohrn, a leader of the Weather Underground; American Indian protesters at Wounded Knee; members of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, which claimed LSD and drug icon Timothy Leary as a member; John Gotti Sr., the mob boss, and represented Ivana Trump when she divorced Donald in 1991. He is survived by a daughter with Eleanora, Anna Safir; and two children from his first marriage, Lisa Kennedy and Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and five grandchildren. – R.B.W.

TM_Irish america_mag_ad:Layout 1 3/5/13 10:44 AM Page 1

Authentic Irish Foods

Enjoy a Taste of Ireland Untitled-4 Untitled-3 Untitled-1 1 1

11/24/15 3/18/16 3:02 PM 3/15/13 4:26 5:56 PM

IA.PhotoAlbumREV_IA Template 3/19/16 5:06 AM Page 106

photo album | John Joseph Moriarty

May The Devil ” Take My Soul

Monsignor Moriarty with his parishioners in Duran, Ecuador.

Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description, to Patricia Harty at Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. If photos are irreplaceable, then please send a good quality reproduction or e-mail the picture at 300 dpi resolution to We will pay $65 for each submission that we select.


onsignor John Joseph Moriarty, my uncle, had a curious saying for a priest: “M’anam an diabhal” – “May the Devil take my soul.” He’d say it several times a day, laughing, when something struck him as funny or ironic. Uncle John Joe could have enjoyed a very comfortable ministry in DuPage County, the well-off Western suburbs of Chicago where he started as a priest in the ’60s at Sts. Peter & Paul parish in Naperville. But he preferred the rough life in the shantytowns of Ecuador, fighting bureaucrats to be able to build schools, hospitals, and churches. His five-year sabbatical with the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle lasted 40 years, interrupted by a six-year stint as head of the order in Boston. “He stood out like a sore thumb – he’s this Irish-American Chicago boy, 6 feet, 250 or 300 pounds, and [the Ecuadorians he aided] tend to be tiny,” Monsignor Raul Trevizo of Tucson, Arizona, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Trevizo worked alongside Moriarty in Ecuador in 1979. “He had adopted their language. He had adopted their customs. He loved their food. He understood the nuances of their Spanish language, so they let him in.” As big as he was, John Joe had a gentle demeanor, a jovial nature, and an engaging laugh that would put people at ease. He was a skilled diplomat. He held a master’s from the Fletcher School of International Affairs at Tufts University. Part of a missionary’s skill is an ability to cut through developing world red tape. Speaking of his mission in Duran, the sprawling slum across the River Guayas from Ecuador’s main city Guayaquil, John Joe told the Joliet Catholic Explorer in 1986, “When you first go, you’re concerned that you might not make it – you might not adapt, you might not learn the language, you might not fit the culture. It is such an opportunity to enter deeply into people’s lives and to affect them. You’re called upon to minister in ways that would be impossible here in the States. It’s the simple things that you know wouldn’t happen if you weren’t there, things


such as the literacy program for example, the credit union, the basic medical care.” Founded by Boston’s Cardinal Cushing in 1958, the Society of St. James borrows parish priests from the United States, Ireland and England and sends them to South America for five- to seven-year stints. “John Moriarty was the heart and soul of the society and to this day at any gathering or meeting his name comes up,” Rev. Patrick Universal, assistant director of the Society of St. James, said. John Joe was the third of 10 children born to laborer Tim and Kate (O’Connor) Moriarty, who both came to Chicago’s South Side from the Co. Kerry Gaeltacht, the Irish language speaking region west of Dingle. Above the dinner table in his rustic rectory in Duran was an ornate plaque with a Celtic-lettered “Póg Mo Thóin.” (“Kiss my arse.”) The summer I spent on my uncle’s mission in Duran made a powerful impression on me – the high regard in which his parishioners held him; the tenacity with which he would not be dissuaded from bringing projects as big as a hospital or as small as electricity into the poor areas. I remember the looks of outrage on some house guests when the Monsignor’s impertinent 11-year-old nephew would refer to this revered figure as “John Joe,” which sounds a little too close to the Spanish “choncho” for “pig.” “M’anam an diabhal!” my uncle would react with a laugh. We had fierce arguments about my having to go every day for Spanish lessons to one of the teachers at the grade school he had built in Duran. “I don’t speak Spanish and she doesn’t speak English – I’m not learning anything!” I protested. But, of course, I was. And that Spanish would come in very handy 10 years later when United Press International sent me to Nicaragua to cover The Sandinistas’ 1990 electoral defeat. It was about that time John Joe had convinced Fidel Castro to allow the Society to send priests into Cuba. Then Castro changed his mind and the visas were yanked before it could begin. John Joe died of a heart attack Jan. 29 at the family home in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood. He was 81. He is survived by his brother Tom; his sisters, Sr. Kate Moriarty, R.S.M., Mary Pallasch, Barbara and Irene; and dozens of nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews including Liam Moriarty, another former Irish America contributor. When I studied Irish and theology at the national seminary of Ireland in Maynooth, John Joe was amused to learn that none of my Irish teachers were familiar with his expression “M’anam an diabhal.” Given his life’s work, I’m hopeful the good Lord will take his soul. – Abdon Moriarty Pallasch Abdon Moriarty Pallasch is director of public affairs, Cook County Sheriff’s Department, and prior to that he was as award-winning Chicago Sun-Times reporter. He is a longtime contributor to Irish America.

Untitled-3 Untitled-2 Untitled-2 111

3/18/16 3:56 PM 1/20/16 1/20/16 2:01 2:01PM PM

Untitled-4 1

3/18/16 4:36 PM

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.