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APRIL / MAY 2017

CANADA $4.95 / U.S. $3.95


INDUCTEES • William Campbell • Michael Dowling • Tesa Fitzgerald • Terry O’Sullivan • Kevin White

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contents | april / may 2017 70

2017 Hall of Fame 40 Nobel Laureate



Irish Eye on Hollywood

Stephen King, Evanna Lynch, Colin Farrell, John Duddy, and more. p. 16


36 America’s Grand Marshals

Who’s leading St. Patrick’s Day parades across the United States.

Opening Day

How an Irish American baseball player began one of the most cherished traditions in the sport. p. 18

60 John Wolfe Ambrose

The Irishman who turned New York Harbor into a world port. By Marian Betancourt

66 Wild Irish Women

Labor leader Mother Jones was once “the most dangerous woman in America.” By Rosemary Rogers


70 The Battering Ram

Photos from the Sean Sexton Collection show the pain of rural Ireland’s 19th century evictions. By Dr. Christine Kinealy


There’s more than meets the eye on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island. By John Kernaghan


78 After John Ford

84 What Are You Like?

Novelist Sebastian Barry takes our questionnaire. By Tom Deignan

90 Sláinte! The Irish & Horses

Irish horses are much more than the stuff of legend. By Edythe Preet The history of pipe and drum bands in the U.S. wouldn’t be the same without the McGonigal family. By Kristin McGowan

96 Photo Album: Happy Birthday

Rosamond Mary Moore Carew, who turns 106 in March, may be the oldest living Irish American. By Kathleen McLauchlen


The American division of the humanitarian non-profit gets new leadership. p. 28



92 Forward the Music of the Gael

Michael D. Higgins and Irish academics travel to Havana.

p. 20

76 Fairy Lands

John Ford was a true pioneer of film, whose work spanned American history. By Martin Scorsese

Bienvenidos a Cuba


8 10 12 30 86 88

First Word Readers Forum Hibernia Those We Lost Crossword Books


How be D: celebrat st to e 100th b JFK’s ir By Tom thday? Deignan

p. 98


44 48 52 56

Dr. William C. Campbell Northwell CEO Michael Dowling Sister Tesa Fitzgerald LIUNA President Terry O’Sullivan Athletic Director Dr. Kevin White

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contributors | Marian Betancourt,

who writes on John Wolfe Ambrose, who modernized New York Harbor and improved the city’s sanitation department, is a freelance writer living in New York. She has published many books and articles and previously wrote about the McAllister Tug Boats for Irish America.

Professor Christine Kinealy

is director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University. Her publications include the edited collection Woman and the Great Hunger in Ireland (Quinnipiac and Cork University Presses, 2016) and An Droch Shaol (Coiscéim, 2016). In this issue, she writes about Irish evictions in the latter half of the 19th century and the accompanying photos from the Sean Sexton Collection.

Olivia O’Mahony, who profiles Hour Children founder Sister Tesa Fitzgerald in this issue, is Irish America’s editorial assistant and copyeditor. Born in New York and raised in Lucan, County Dublin, she holds an international degree in English literature and anthropology from Maynooth University. She currently lives in Manhattan.

who provided the images of Irish evictions from his private collection for this issue, is also an avid camera collector. He is pictured here with an antique Meagher, c. 1860.

Sean Sexton,

Vol.32 No.3 • April / May 2017


writes columns about movies and history for Irish America, and is a weekly columnist for The Irish Voice and regular columnist and book reviewer for the Newark Star-Ledger. In this issue he interviews novelist Sebastian Barry and reflects on the significance of JFK’s 100th birthday.

Kristin McGowan, who talks to

renowned piper Joe McGonigal for this issue, is a former Irish America intern and current freelance writer living in Glen Rock, New Jersey with her husband and three young daughters.

Dave Lewis,

who interviewed Duke University athletic director Kevin White for this issue, is from Rahway, New Jersey and is a graduate of Kean University’s honors history program, where he also established the Kean Hurling Club. He currently is the operations coordinator at Turlough McConnell Communications.

Rosemary Rogers co-authored,

with Sean Kelly, the best-selling humor/ reference book, Saints Preserve Us! (Random House), currently in its 18th international printing. The duo collaborated on four other books for Random House and calendars for Barnes & Noble. Rogers co-wrote two info/entertainment books for St. Martin’s Press. She is currently co-writing a book on empires for City Light Publishing. In this issue, she writes on the Cork-born American labor leader Mother Jones.

Mórtas Cine

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: Áine Mc Manamon Copy Editor: Olivia O’Mahony Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan Editorial Assistant: Dave Lewis

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. 217. Periodicals postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Postmaster please send address changes to Irish America Magazine, P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. IRISH AMERICA IS PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

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the first word | by Patricia Harty

“It’s Not What You Look at. It’s What You See.” “We’re the nation that just had six of our scientists and researchers win Nobel Prizes – and every one of them was an immigrant."


– @POTUS 3:40 PM • Oct. 13, 2016. President Obama on Twitter when the 2016 Nobel Prizes were announced.

elcome to our eighth annual Hall of Fame issue. Our inductees represent the many arenas in which the Irish have impacted the United States. They’ve received numerous awards and accolades for their work in other places, but, being Irish, their much deserved recognition wouldn’t be complete without an award from Irish America. William Campbell’s work, for which he received the Nobel Prize in 2015, has transformed the lives of millions of people around the globe. He immigrated from Donegal to the U.S. in the 1950s and was recruited out of the University of Madison Wisconsin to work at the American pharmaceutical giant, Merck. He spent his career there, producing life-saving treatments for diseases in humans and animals. Campbell is responsible for the medicine that can kill the parasites that cause River Blindness, saving the sight of millions of people around the globe. (In these days of anti-immigrant sentiment, it’s worth noting that of the 360 Nobels awarded to Americans in the history of the Nobel Prize, over 100 went to immigrants.) Another immigrant and honoree, Michael Dowling, is also in the field of healthcare. As CEO of Northwell Health, he oversees 21 hospitals, and served in New York State government for 12 years, including seven years as state director of Health, Education and Human Services. A Limerick native, he will serve as this year’s Grand Marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade – at 256, the oldest and most famous in the country. (See our feature on parades around the U.S. in this issue.) At 17, he arrived in New York and worked 120-hour weeks on the docks cleaning boat engines to put himself through college and help out his family back in Limerick. Like Dowling, the Irish of earlier generations often entered the workforce as laborers, and these immigrants helped form the first unions. As General President of the Laborers International Union, honoree Terry O’Sullivan has a deep commitment to providing his members with a pathway to a middle-class life. It was the local Laborer’s union in San Francisco that helped his grandmother get by when her husband, an Irish immigrant from Kerry, died at age 37, leaving her with a young son, Terry’s father, and another baby on the way. Today, many of Terry’s workers are immigrants from around the globe, and he looks after them as if they too, were family. Honoree Kevin White, the athletic director of Duke University, whose ancestors are from Donegal, represents sports and education, two areas that have provided a path to upward social mobility for many Irish. An award-winning coach, Kevin makes sure that his student/athletes perform as well in the classroom as they do on the playing field. Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, the daughter of immigrants from Kerry and Donegal, embodies all that is good about the Irish. She has the 8 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

empathy of Mother Jones (born in Cork in 1837, Jones immigrated just after the Famine, and went on to be a fearless fighter for workers rights. Read Mother’s story in this issue). Sister Tesa, with her big and generous heart, cares for countless children whose own mothers are interned. And then helps those mothers get back up on their feet when they leave prison, overcoming the poverty and abuse and lack of education that put them there in the first place. We are proud to have Sister Tesa as an honoree. In the story of John Wolfe Ambrose, we see again the impact of immigrants on American life. Like Mother Jones, Ambrose, also survived the Famine. He immigrated in 1851 as a 13-year old boy to join his father who was already in New York. From very poor beginnings, he grew up to be a brilliant engineer and developer and turned New York Harbor into the world port it is today. No photographs exist from the Famine, more properly known as the Great Starvation, the event that forced a million and a half Irish to cross the ocean, and head out into the unknown, but look closely at the photographs of Irish evictions in the 1880s in this issue. Perhaps you will see despair of those Irish homeless etched into the faces of those uprooted refugees of today. Michael Dowling, speaking at the magazine’s annual Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 Awards, said it best. “We also have to remind ourselves – and we should remind ourselves of this continuously – that we are all immigrants, or descendants of immigrants. So as you watch TV, and you listen to the stories, and we sit and we take vows about some of the things that we try to accomplish, let us not forget the history, and those that did extraordinary things that probably we, as good as we think we are, would probably never have the courage to do back in those days 100 years ago. “And that same courage is being personified today by people from all over the world by people searching for what so many others also searched for – opportunity. And who knows, maybe in some future time some of the kids of those people will stand at podiums like this to talk about the major contributions they have just made to the societies they just entered. “So let’s be proud, proud of our noble profession, proud of our achievements, but always keep in perspective. “As David Thoreau said, ‘It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.’” Mórtas Cine

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letters | readers forum

Petition for U.S.S. Patrick Gallagher Gains Steam

To all the heroes, may Patrick Gallagher get what he deserves – to sail freely after giving his life for another man’s country’s fight.

Margaret Molloy: Wearing Irish

Susannagh Grogan, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

Great job, Margaret – wonderful to see Irish products being worn in the U.S.A. and a smart way to promote the Irish this month.

Patrick Williams, submitted online

What a fantastic idea to wear Irish or buy a piece of Irish design in March, and what a great article. As an Irish milliner/ stylist, I cater to clients designing bespoke hats and headpieces for special occasions. My American clients visit when on holiday here or online. I designed a hat for the First Lady Michelle Obama in 2014, which was gifted to her for St Patrick’s Day, and as an Irish person I value the relationship between the U.S.A. and Ireland.

Suzie Mahony, Galway, Ireland

The Sean Sexton Collection

I just stumbled across your organization looking for additional photographs of the Vandeleur Estate evictions in July-August 1888. What got my attention is a photograph I had never before seen of a particular eviction. It is one of many eviction photos from Sean Sexton’s collection. My attention was seized. I have been a researcher of these evictions since I discovered that my great grandparents were among the American witnesses.

Ed O’Shaughnessy, submitted online

Martin Rogan, submitted online

Editor’s Note: Irish America first published a selection of Sean Sexton’s collection of photos in 2010. In the last issue, we followed up with a more extensive look at his photos from the Irish War of Independence. This issue, we bring you images from the period of forced evictions in the late 19th century. See page 70.

The Diaspora Commemorates 1916: United States

Very disappointing that you left Pittsburgh out of your story [on 1916 commemorations]. We had a moving tribute. “Easter 1916: Pittsburgh Remembers,” held over three days in April, featured educational, cultural, entertainment, social and interactive events. Alan Stanford, the artistic and Tim Pat Coogan flanked by event coexecutive director of the chairs Sarah McAuliffe and Jim Green. Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, and a select group of performers took attendees on a musical and poetic journey to Ireland at the turn of the 20th century. The Pittsburgh Gaelic Athletic Association hosted a special exhibition of Irish football and hurling at Cupples Stadium. The Pittsburgh Céili featured traditional Irish music by local seisún musicians, ballads from Jim Lamb, and a performance by the Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance at the Teamsters Temple in Lawrenceville. On the last day of the program, Irish historian Tim Pat Coogan was the featured guest in a program that explored the history of the Rising and how it led to the establishment of what is known as the Republic of Ireland.

James J. Lamb, Pittsburgh, PA



Great idea for March. Love seeing what Margaret Molloy will wear next! Delighted to see her supporting Irish designers and wearing my printed silk scarves, too!

I think that #ConnectIrish is a great initiative. I’m living in Ireland but I have family in the U.S. – one sister is married to a secondgeneration Irishman and very immersed in the Irish community and the other emigrated with her husband over 20 years ago. Both have different experiences of being Irish in the U.S. Best of luck and I hope you get a great response!

Noreen Maher, submitted online

#ConnectIrish is Irish America’s new hashtag campaign aimed at reconnecting the Irish diaspora. We encourage everyone to use it when participating in Irish events, meeting Irish people, or using Irish media!

Visit us online at to leave your comments, or write to us:

Send a fax (212-244-3344), e-mail ( or write to Letters, Irish America Magazine, 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Letters should include the writer’s name, address, and phone number and may be edited for clarity and length. 10 IRISH AMERICA

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hibernia | news


hilanthropist, businessman, and Irish America Hall of Fame member Brian Burns was officially announced as President Donald Trump’s appointment for ambassador to Ireland in January. He was tapped for the position in November, well before Trump’s inauguration on January 17 and must still undergo a lengthy approval process. Eighty-year-old Massachusetts-native Burns is the chairman of BF Enterprises, Inc., a publiclyowned real estate holding and development company, and is currently based in Florida. He is the grandson of Irish immigrants originally from Co. Kerry, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013, alongside former vice-president Joe Biden, for extensive work in aiding Irish causes over the course of his career. In 1963, he became the first, and to-date youngest ever, president of the American Ireland Fund, a position for which he was appointed by John F. Kennedy. He is the owner of the largest Irish art collection in the United States, works from which have circulated throughout Ireland and the U.S. He is also the principal benefactor of the John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College, opened in 1986 and named for his father, and established the Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies program at the college. In a Boston Globe interview, Burns recalled the moment the then-president-elect made his Irish ambassadorial choice clear, approaching Burns and his wife, Eileen, at a weekday dinner at his exclusive Palm Beach club. “[The president] gave Eileen a hug and then said, ‘Brian, are you ready to go to Ireland?’” he said. “It’s the fulfilment of a dream that I never thought would happen.” Burns is excited about the possibility of moving into the American ambassadorial residence in Phoenix Park, Dublin, and hopes to invite the president to visit Ireland, perhaps to meet at his luxury golf course in Doonbeg, County Clare. – O.O. BELOW: Seen at the Ireland-U.S. Council’s 2017 Winter Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida were (from left) Shane Stephens, Consul General for Ireland for the Southeast United States; Michael J. Gibbons, Chairman of the 2017 Winter Meeting; Brian W. Stack, President of the Ireland-U.S. Council; Guest Speaker Brian Burns, the next United States Ambassador to Ireland.

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill (right) is congratulated by party leader Gerry Adams and party members Mary Lou McDonald (left), and Órlaithí Flynn, in Belfast March 3, after Sinn Féin’s victories had become clear.


Northern Ireland Undergoes Historic Election Shift

or the first time in history of Northern Ireland there will be a nationalist majority in the national assembly at Stormont. A short 10 months after the previous Northern Ireland Assembly election, the citizens went to the polls again in March. Sinn Féin, the second-largest party in the North had triggered the election in protest over a scandal involving Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. Dissatisfaction with the DUP’s position in favor of Brexit is also blamed for the decrease in unionist turnout. Meanwhile nationalists voted in greater numbers than in previous years. Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic Labor Party, the smaller nationalist party, together now outnumber the DUP and Ulster Unionist Party, the smaller unionist party, in parliament. Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin’s president, speaking to the Guardian about the election results said, “the notion of a perpetual unionist majority has been demolished” in Northern Ireland. Foster will continue to serve as first minister despite her party losing 10 seats and the scandal, related to budgetary aspects of a renewable heat incentive she established as enterprise minister. With just 28 seats, the DUP is now two votes short of the number required to veto any legislative action, meaning that a gay marriage bill, which the DUP were against, is more likely to be passed.

“We need to learn the lesson and understand what people were saying in this election,” Jeffrey Donaldson, one of the leading members of the DUP, also told the Guardian. “We have been given the responsibility as the main party to take the lead at Stormont and that is what we intend to do.” Co. Tyrone native Michelle O’Neill, who replaced the ailing Martin McGuinness as Sinn Fein’s leader in the North, will soon commence talks for the restoration of power-sharing. “The task is not easy, but it is achievable if people come at it with the right attitude,” she told the BBC. The election saw 228 candidates competing for 90 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, cut from 108 after a 2016 cost-benefit reduction. Of the 18 fewer seats, unionists lost a combined 16, while Sinn Féin lost one, and the SDLP retained their 12. Many have posited that the unionist losses constituted a referendum on those parties’ support of Brexit, which Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly against. “With the political ground in flux, it is more important than ever that we seek stability and security in strong North/South institutions which can harmonize our efforts to minimize the impact of Brexit,” SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who represents Foyle, County Derry, told Derry Now. “Northern Ireland must have a strong voice and a strong government to guide us through the turbulence that is about to come.” – O.O.


Brian Burns Named New Irish Ambassador

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Emerald Heritage Bids to Save Irish Woodlands


Over 100,000 U.K. Companies Registered in Ireland After Brexit


Glenariff, County Antrim, one of the Glens of Antrim.

rish organization Emerald Heritage is reaching out to Irish citizens and Irish diaspora alike with a new “Go Green” souvenir plot scheme that aims to restore and preserve the natural beauty of Irish woodlands. The initiative encourages families to purchase a plot of land in Glen Wood, an extension of Craigagh Wood within the famous Nine Lyn Glens of Antrim, dedicating the space to the country’s history Nelson. and heritage and protecting it from further deforestation. The erosion of the Irish landscape has led to just one percent of the country’s native woodland remaining untouched, making it the least forested country in Europe. The “Go Green” project seeks to rectify that. “We refuse to rely on government grants or donations, preferring instead to involve the community at large. It is in our blood and our culture – if we Irish see something that needs to be done, we just do it! Now is the time for the Irish community to stand together,” Emerald Heritage founder and director Lyn Nelson says. The “Go Green” project, which will launch on St. Patrick’s Day, will invest all sponsorship into obtaining more land to continue the restoration of Ireland’s native trees such as pine, oak, and birch in order to provide adequate habitats for local birds, mammals, and insects. Also included in this goal is the reinforcement of native woodland flower populations, such as those of the bluebell, bramble, and blackthorn species. – O.O.

Gen. Martin Dempsey Receives Joyce Award



eneral Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was presented with the James Joyce Award in Dublin recently. Also known as the Honorary Fellowship of the Society, the award is given by the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin for those who have achieved outstanding success in their given field. Recipients have ranged from respected academics, lauded political figures, skilled actors, and, like Joyce himself, writers. Notable former recipients include scholar Noam Chomsky, novelist J.K. Rowling, U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The award is the highest honor that the society can bestow. Before he ever became know as a writer, Joyce was known for his fine tenor voice. General Dempsey is an English major who is as comfortable singing Irish ballads as he is commanding an army. In fact, it was a video of General Dempsey singing at Irish America’s Hall of Fame Awards last March that prompted the society to reach out to him, Donal Naylor, the society’s auditor, confirmed. Speaking to Irish America about the award, General Dempsey quoted the man for whom the award is named: “Joyce said, ‘in the particular is contained the universal.’ Across generations and nationalities, the fact that we have so much in common was reinforced in discussion with students at University College Dublin during the James Joyce Award ceremony.” – P.H.

espite the fact that the deadline for the completion of the U.K. withdrawal from the European Union is two years away, U.K. companies are already registering in Ireland to shore up contingency plans to remain part of the E.U. market. According to statements made by Northern Irish member of parliament Stephen Kelly (below, top) to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in the House of Commons in February, more than 100,000 companies have already registered, with more expected to follow. “Manufacturers need time to plan, they need time to ensure they put in place whatever measures they need to ensure their sustainability in the long term,” Kelly told the committee, according to the International Business Times. “We know companies will be making decision within the next 12 months, not within the next 24 months, in order to give themselves time to put in place whatever new arrangements they have to satisfy their own internal business needs.” The news comes after a January announcement by U.K. prime minister Theresa May that British companies would not be guaranteed to keep access to the European markets. Ireland, which will share the only E.U. land border with the U.K., has become the primary focus of relocation initiatives, primarily taken on by Northern Irish manufacturing companies. One of Northern Ireland’s largest employers, pharmaceutical firm Almac, which employs about 2,600 people in the north, has already set a groundwork for moving across the border to Dundalk, County Louth. “We have no desire that [Almac products] would not be manufactured in Northern Ireland,” Almac executive director Colin Hayburn (above, bottom) told the committee, reported the Irish Times. “It would not be ideal in any way, but if there isn’t clarity and there is nervousness there in relation to what the future is, we might be forced into having a greater manufacturing presence in the South because of our need for E.U. operations.” – A.F. APRIL / MAY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 13

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hibernia | news Dairy State Bans Kerrygold Butter

here was statewide outcry in Wisconsin when much-loved Irish butter brand Kerrygold was outlawed at the end of February, due to a 1970 law that dictates all butter sold there must be subject to scrutiny by a panel of experts, who ruled that the grass-fed dairy cows used by the brand were noncompliant with their regulations. The ban, which shopkeepers will face a $1000 fine and six months jail time for flouting, means that many Wisconsin residents must now cross state borders in order to stock up on their favorite kitchen staple. The conundrum even inspired one Milwaukee woman, Sharon O’Neill, to




create an online petition, “Repeal the butter law, Wisconsin!” which calls on legislators to loosen the Kerrygold restrictions. “This is butter, for Pete’s sake,” she told the Chicago Tribune, and revealed that she and others have begun hoarding the product when they can find it. “I have a friend with eight pounds in her freezer. I just bought six.” The law, which was put into place to protect Wisconsin’s nationally renowned dairy industry, does not target any particular brand, assured administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food and Recreational Safety Steve Ingham. “We’re not trying to keep [Kerrygold] out,” he said. “There’s plenty of room in the food world. We’re not a butter hit squad.” A spokesman for Kerrygold retailer Ornua Foods North America has released a statement confirming they are “currently working with the Wisconsin authorities on a solution.” – O.O. 14 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

Knock Visionary to Be Reinterred at St. Patrick’s Cathedral


he remains of John Curry, the youngest visionary to have claimed to see the alleged 1879 apparition of the Virgin Mary at Knock, County Mayo, are to be Curry, center, with Patrick Hill, another of the reinterred at St. Patrick’s Cathedral John Knock visionaries, right, and a friend in New York. in New York this May. The plan was conceived during Cardinal during the formal investigation. At that Timothy Dolan’s 2015 trip to Ireland, in time, Curry had been living in the United which he met with Father Richard Gibbons, States for decades, having emigrated due the parish priest of Knock. Father Gibbons to economic circumstances in Mayo. He mentioned to Cardinal Dolan that he had never married, according to Maud Murphy, visited Curry’s grave, an unmarked plot in his cousin thrice-removed, and spent the a Long Island cemetery. last 11 years of his life with the Little Sis“He was a little worried. He said it was ters of the Poor at the Sacred Heart Home obvious that the grave was old and that on East 70th Street in New York and died people had not been visiting it. I said we in 1943. His current grave is only discovshould move him to St Patrick’s,” Dolan erable due to records kept by the Sisters, told the Irish Independent at the time. who own the plot from which Curry is to Curry was five at the time of the appari- be exhumed and, Murphy says, “took tion, and one of 15 people to reportedly charge of the burial arrangements as he see it. Nearly 60 years later, in 1937, he had no close relatives in New York.” gave his testimony before church officials – A.F.

Irish American Musician Advocates for Syria


ylan Connor is an Irish American singer/songwriter who, inspired by his Syrian wife, Reem Alhariri Connor, has become a celebrated activist for Syria and its refugees. Connor, who is the first cousin of Robert Downey, Jr., has heightened awareness of the Syrian crisis through four solo albums including the 2014 charity album, Blood like Fire (Songs for Syria), all proceeds going to educating displaced Syrian children. “In recent years, Connor’s voice has emerged as one of the clearest reminders of the pain that grips Syria under the control of President Bashar al-Assad,” critic Jackson Connor wrote of the album in Fairfield Magazine. He became involved with the Syrian refugee crisis after his wife’s family fled Damascus during the civil war and began living with them in Connecticut. In March, he performed a special show at the Syrian American Medical Society “Making a Difference” gala in Lombard, Illinois. Drawing on the themes explored in Blood Like Fire, Connor’s new album, Spirit Glue, extends the political and humanitarian themes using a rich variation of organic sounds, synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and more. It is available on vinyl ( and also can be purchased on iTunes or Amazon. – Rosemary Rogers Connor (center) with his wife, Reem, and their two children, Jude and Fayrouz (right), and Reem’s mother Raghda (far left), a retired public school teacher who was detained by the Assad regime for attempting to protest in Damascus in 2011, and father Taha (second left), whose family’s homes have been destroyed by shelling.

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hibernia | irish eye on hollywood

By Tom Deignan

Stephen King Partners with Irish Heavyweights

alk about scary talents. Brendan Gleeson is teaming up with Irish American TV legend David E. Kelley and horror god Stephen King for an upcoming mini-series. Evanna The Dublin-born Gleeson, as well as English up-and-comer Harry Lynch and Treadway, will star in Mr. Mercedes, a dark 10-episode drama George Webster in My Name that follows the murderous title character, who sends letters is Emily. to a retired police detective bragging of his crimes and forcing the detective to return to solving crimes. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, “Gleeson will play Detective Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is driven out of retirement after an old nemesis reappears.” Treadway will portray a mentally unstable ice David E. cream truck driver and information technology Kelley (above) and worker, a role that originally went to Anton Yelchin, Stephen imon Fitzmaurice has already lived a life who died tragically in an accident last June. King. more incredible than any movie. David E. Kelley (Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, The Back in 2008, Fitzmaurice, from Wicklow, Practice) will serve as writer and executive producer on was a promising filmmaker who’d had a short Mr. Mercedes, which is set to air in 2018. film screened at the Sundance Film Festival. In a sign of just how radically the entertainment busiBut soon after he was diagnosed with what is ness is changing, Mr. Mercedes, with all of its big-name known as A.L.S., or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The talent, will not air on a prestige cable or TV network, but illness progressed to the point that Fitzmaurice instead on the Audience Network, a joint venture of AT&T lost all mobility and speech. Yet that did not and DirecTV. stop him – with the assistance of technology allowing him to communicate using eye motion – from completing a feature film, which hit U.S. theaters in February and is now available through video on demand. The film is called My Name is Emily. Set in Ireland, My Name is Emily stars Louth native Evanna Lynch, best known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films. Lynch plays a foster child who hits the road with a friend to see, and perhaps free, her DeNiro father in a mental hospital. and Pacino in My Name is Emily debuted at the Galway 2008’s Righteous Film Fleadh in 2015, where it won best Kill. cinematography. In a recent interview with the New York peaking of how radically the entertainment business is changing, Times, Fitzmaurice dubbed himself a “bit of a anticipation has been building for the Martin Scorsese-Robert stubborn bastard,” and added (as the Times put DeNiro-Al Pacino gangster flick The Irishman. The film will tell the story it) that he was “determined to leave his wife, of Frank Sheeran, a hitman known as “The Irishman” who claims to Ruth, and their two young sons – with a third finally have the answer to the endless question – who killed notorious Teamon the way – a legacy other than sters boss Jimmy Hoffa? (Hint: he’s the title character of this movie.) The self-pity.” Irishman will re-team Scorsese with DeNiro, who have been making movies Communicating by email, together for nearly 50 years. DeNiro even played an Irish hood, Henry Hill, in Fitzmaurice himself added: Scorsese’s classic Goodfellas. But what big-time movie studio is releasing “I am not trying to prove this A-list flick? In a bid to reach the heights of the movie biz, Netflix has anything.” But then he purchased the rights to the Scorsese flick. That does not mean the movie will added: “Actually, I am merely be streamed. But business insiders do say this is the clearest sign yet trying to prove something. that Netflix is looking to challenge traditional movie studios and the way they I remember thinking, ‘I must release films. Wherever you see it, The Irishman should be a return to form do this to show my children to for Scorsese, whose Jesuits-in-Japan film Silence, with Liam Neeson, fell flat never give up.’” at the box office.


Simon Fitzmaurice, Director with ALS, Makes U.S. Feature Film Debut


Netflix Buys The Irishman



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Colin Farrell in The Beguiled.

Play Ball: The Duke of Tralee

ust in time for the start of another baseball season, one of Irish America’s first great athletic stars is set to be the subject of a major film, with one of his descendants even producing the film. The Duke of Tralee is based on the life of Roger Bresnahan, a slugger from an Irish immigrant family who dominated baseball in the early 20th century. Sandlot director David Mickey Evans is in talks to shoot the film, which is being produced Dave


Colin Farrell Leads Civil War Drama n June, look for Colin Farrell to lead a strong cast in the U.S. Civil War drama The Beguiled, based on a novel by Irish American writer Thomas P. Cullinan. The Beguiled tells the story of a wounded Union soldier named Simon McBurney (Farrell) who stumbles upon an isolated school for girls and ends up exposing them to more of the outside world than they are perhaps prepared to see.


Streaming Irish

The Beguiled also stars Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning and will be directed by Oscar-winner Sofia Coppola. It hits theaters in late June. Kidman and Farrell will also team up later this year for the film The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which will be directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the Greek director who teamed up with Farrell in the odd (but celebrated) recent movie The Lobster.

Boxer-Actor John Duddy’s Festival Raves

umerous streaming services have begun to offer up expanded Irish aking the rounds and earning raves at entertainment. Acorn TV now offers Striking Out, film festivals is Irish boxer John Duddy’s acting debut Emerald City. The film, an Irish legal drama. Striking Out was written by Northern Irish native Colin Broderhailed as “a roaring success” by the ick and produced by Irish Downton Abbey star Irish Independent after its first season Brendan Coyle, looks at more recent Irish and production on the second season is immigrant laborers in New York City. already underway. In the show, a As the Derry Journal newspaper noted: successful Dublin lawyer (Dubliner The “The identity of the Irish worker in New York Amy Huberman) discovers that her “Duke finds itself at an historical crossroads in fiancé (fellow Dubliner Rory of Tralee,” Roger Broderick’s first feature film. A crew of Irish Keenan) is having an affair. She Bresnahan. construction workers, aged in their late thirties cancels the wedding, quits her job, / early forties, still trying to work hard and and starts a new private legal practice. party hard, are starting to discover the reality The cast also features Irish actor Neil Bresnahan, Roger’s distant cousin. of a life spent dodging adult responsibility. Morrisey and Brahm Gallagher. Bresnahan was just 16 when he These likeable, but no longer fresh-faced, Meanwhile, streaming on Netflix is Hostage to the Devil, a documentary began playing pro baseball, though rogues, who left Ireland in an era of closeted about an Irish priest dedicated to his factory-working Irish immigrant oppression and sectarian violence, have spent battling the devil. father discouraged this. The film their adult lives self-medicating in a foreign Directed by Marty Stalker and will focus on Bresnahan’s efforts to city. It’s time for a change and someone in the produced by the executive behind both please his father and pursue his crew might have just the right idea.” Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish dream of playing baseball. Aside from Duddy, Emerald City features Village, Hostage to the Devil is about Bresnahan played many different Irish actors John Keating and Eden Brolin. the controversial practice of exorcism. positions for different teams in the Writer and producer Rachel Lysaght 1900s and 1910s. He also revoluhas said that the “central question [in tionized the game, popularizing Hostage to the Devil] sets out to interroprotective equipment for catchers gate is one that has occupied minds for and helmets for batters. He also centuries; does the Devil exist? The film managed several teams and was examines this question through the life elected to the National Baseball Hall of one man – Malachi Martin, an of Fame in Cooperstown in 1945. John Duddy (right) Irish priest (a Kerryman), who dedFilming for The Duke of Tralee is with the Emerald icated his life to battling this ancurrently slated take place in Utah, City cast and cient evil. But was he a warrior for Ohio, and Ireland this summer. crew at the world Christ, or a charismatic charlatan?” premier in



London last December.


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Jimmy McAleer The Irish American baseball legend who introduced the concept of the opening day pitch by the President of the United States. By Cathal Coyle

ABOVE: Jimmy McAleer, from a 1909 Ramly tobacco baseball card. TOP: President Taft receiving baseball from Clark Griffith, who played with the Washington Senators, after throwing out first pitch in 1912.


ames Robert, “Jimmy,” McAleer, the youngest of eight children, was born in Ohio on July 10, 1864. He gained fame and notoriety for being a player, manager, and stockholder in Major League Baseball who assisted in establishing the American League. Apart from his career highlight of leading the Boston Red Sox to the 1912 World Series, McAleer is most often remembered for initiating the customary request that the president of the United States throw out the first ball of the season. Though Jimmy McAleer was born in Youngstown, close to the border of western Pennsylvania. He came from a strong Irish background. It is believed that his father, Owen McAleer, and English mother, Mary (née Miller), immigrated to Canada from Ireland in the early 1850s, before moving to Youngstown not long before Jimmy’s birth. His father was a boilermaker and all of Jimmy’s siblings found employment as factory laborers as soon as they were old enough to work. Jimmy’s older brother, Owen, Jr., later moved to California, founded an iron and steel company there, became a wealthy industrialist, and, from 1904 to 1906, served as mayor of Los Angeles. Jimmy McAleer’s first foray into baseball was in 1882, when he became involved with a minor league club in Youngstown, playing for two years as a center fielder. His talent shone through, and he played for teams in South Carolina and Tennessee before finally breaking into the major leagues with the now-defunct Cleveland Spiders in 1889, where he adopted the nickname “Loafer” for his casual but effective style. He had an eventful playing career with the Spiders and became noted as an outstanding outfielder who was “blessed with excellent speed,” according to contemporary newspaper accounts. While his only major triumph as a player arrived in the post-season Temple Cup tournament, his team finished runners-up in the National League on several occasions. McAleer’s subsequent career as a major league manager (1901 to 1911) overlapped with his playing career. He played his last major league game in July 1907, having initially taken over the reins of the fledgling Cleveland Blues team at the beginning of that


decade and switched to the St. Louis Browns in 1903. Aside from baseball, McAleer also had connections in entertainment. Early in his career he became part owner of the DeHaven Comedy Company, a theatrical road troupe that was organized in Youngstown. In later years, it was acknowledged he enjoyed strong friendships with well-known musicians and performers like George M. Cohan. A brief spell in charge of the Washington Senators led McAleer to initiate what became a famous baseball tradition. On April 14, 1910, he asked the visiting president William Taft to throw out the first ball of a season opener. President Taft, an ardent baseball fan, readily agreed, and an integral American tradition was created thanks to McAleer’s quick thinking. Jimmy McAleer resigned as manager of the Senators towards the end of the 1911 season, and the following season became a major stockholder in the Boston Red Sox, a team with a huge Irish American support. McAleer enjoyed a major success with the Red Sox, who defeated New York Giants in 1912 at the legendary Fenway Park to clinch the World Series by four games to three. That was the zenith of McAleer’s success in Massachusetts, however. Following a major dispute between himself and Red Sox manager Jake Stahl, two factions formed within the club. Shortly after McAleer fired Stahl and appointed Irish American Bill Carrigan, other Red Sox executives grouped together to dismiss McAleer. With McAleer forced to sell his shares in the club to the other executives, he found himself out of the baseball scene. He never returned to the game again following the pain and distress of the Red Sox episode during his final year at Fenway Park. According to David Fleitz, whose 2009 book The Irish in Baseball: An Early History chronicles notable players and managers of Irish descent, Jimmy lived in his native Youngstown until he became ill with cancer in the early 1930s. On April 28th, 1931, just four months after his second wife passed away, it is believed Jimmy tragically shot himself and died the following day at 66. His important contribution to baseball continues to be celebrated at the beginning of each new season, and it is anticipated that President Trump will mainIA tain the tradition this opening day, April 2.


hibernia | opening day

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hibernia | report from havana

Irish Latin American Conference




he annual conference of the Society for Irish Latin American Studies (SILAS), “Island Relations: Ireland, Cuba and the Latin World,” was held in Havana over four days in February. The conference coincided with the first Irish presidential visit to Cuba and the launch of novelist Joseph O’Connor’s book Star of Sea at the Havana International Book Fair. O’Connor’s book is the first work of Irish literature translated into Spanish in Cuba since James Joyce’s Ulysses 50 years ago. President Michael D. Higgins, speaking at the University College of San Gerónimo in Havana, reflected on the strong bonds between the two islands, saying, “Our two peoples – el pueblo irlandés, muintir na hÉireann, in our ancient Celtic language, y el pueblo cubano, muintir Chúba – have enjoyed deep bonds of friendship and solidarity over the centuries, a friendship and a solidarity which, I hope, my visit to Cuba will contribute to rekindle and strengthen.” He referenced the faded plaque on Calle O’Reilly, written in Irish and Spanish, as evidence of the countries’ joined history. “There is so much that unites Ireland and Cuba. Tenemos tanto en común. Irish and Cuban people have in common a proud sense of their national identity, a passion for freedom, as well as remarkable achievements in the boxing ring! In the past, both of our people have shared an experience of living in the shadow of a powerful neighbor. We are two island nations who have been marked by colonization and that have had to wrestle their freedom from the grip of empires,” he PHOTO: MAXWELLS said. (Higgins had come under criticism at home for ignoring human rights issues in a statement he issued on President Castro’s passing at the end of November in which he said, “Fidel Castro will be remembered as a giant among global leaders whose view was not only one of freedom for his people but for all of the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet.”) During his visit, the Irish president also inaugurated the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs international touring exhibition, curated by SILAS

TOP: SILAS president Dr. Margaret Brehony. CENTER: President Higgins meeting with Aleida Guevara March, daughter of Che Guevara, in Havana on February 18. (Che Guevara’s grandmother was from Galway). BOTTOM: Plaque on Calle O’Reilly.


president Margaret Brehony, on the Irish in Latin America. Brehony, whose conference paper dealt with Irish migrant families who came to Cuba in the early 1800s as part of a white colonization strategy in the context of expanding plantation slavery, was one of many academics who lectured on Latin American countries where the Irish left their imprints. Academics from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Columbia, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the United States, along with Joseph O’Connor and writer Colm Tóibín, gave presentations. Professor Nuala Finnegan of University College Cork interviewed Pura López Colomé, a Mexican poet and translator of Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, about her relationship with Heaney and Ireland. Rafael Moya, a Cuban ex-diplomat, spoke about prominent families of Irish descent and their legacy in the social, economic, and literary spheres in Cuba. Historically, many of the Irish who came to Cuba were involved in the construction of the railway in 1902, but there were also much earlier influences, including one family involved in the notoriously lucrative slave trade. Julio David Rojas Rodriguez of the University of Havana presented new evidence about the clandestine slave trading expeditions by members of the wealthy O’Farrill family in Cuba. Originally from Longford, the O’Farrills were owners of sugar plantations, sugar mills, tobacco plantations, cattle ranches, and hundreds of slaves. Today, two splendid mansions in the Old Havana area of the country’s capital, Hotel O’Farrill and the present home of the Archbishop of Havana, survive the family. The conference took place at Palacio de Segundo Cabo on Calle O’Reilly. One of the oldest streets in Old Havana, it was named for General Alejandro O’Reilly, originally from Baltrasna, County Meath, but raised in Spain. Alejandro restructured all of the military defenses in Havana and throughout Cuba. One of the many Irish serving in the Spanish Army, O’Reilly arrived in Cuba on July 3, 1763 when Spain regained the city of Havana from the English in exchange for Florida. Calle O’Reilly ends where Old Havana began at the Plaza de Armas and Palacio Segundo Cabo. A stroll along the Havana River towards the ocean gives an excellent view of the two fortresses protecting the city, La Punta on one side and El Morro on the other. A lighthouse peers into the sky next to El Morro. It was once known as O’Donnell’s Lighthouse, after Leopoldo O’Donnell, a former governor of Cuba and long lost relative of Red Hugh O’Donnell, who oversaw construction of the lightIA house in 1844. – Harry Dunleavy

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hibernia | happenings The Forgotten Irish Remembered at U.S. National Archives


rish archeologist Damian Shiels, who specializes in what he calls “conflict archeology,” will launch his new book on the Irish immigrant experience during the Civil War at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. in March. Shiels’s book, The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America, uses the archives’ widow and dependent pension files of Irish Civil War soldiers to tell the story of 35 Irish families affected by the war. At the beginning of the Civil War, 1.6 million

Enda O’Gorman, Damian Shiels, and John Treacy.

Irish-born immigrants lived in the United States, primarily in the North. By the end of the war, roughly 200,000 Irishmen had fought in the country’s bloodiest war. For those who endured the Great Hunger in Ireland, Shiels writes on his blog, “the American Civil War represented the second great trauma of their lives. Although the Irish experience of the conflict receives significant attention in the United States, in Ireland it receives little. “There are few books published on the topic in Ireland, and the 150th anniversary passed with relatively little recognition. This is symptomatic of a wider issue regarding how the history of the Irish diaspora is dealt with – little time is devoted to the story of Irish people once they leave these shores.” The event, held at the William G. McGowan Theater, will be moderated by National Archives archivist and historian Michael Hussey and David T. Gleeson, professor of American History at Northumbria University and author of The Green and the Gray: The Irish in the Confederate States of America. The event is free and tickets are available at – A.F. 22 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017


Mick Mulvaney speaking at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

Spotlight on Mulvaney at U.S.Ireland Business Summit


n March, the Ireland-U.S. Economic Business Relations Summit will host one of the top Irish American members of the new presidential administration team in New York. Former congressman Mick Mulvaney (R – South Carolina), who was appointed director of the Office of Management and Budget in February, is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the conference. The summit, co-sponsored by the Ireland-U.S. Council and Ibec (formerly called the Irish Business and Employers Confederation), Ireland’s leading business network, will bring together corporate executives and policy leaders to discuss the future

of financial relations between the U.S. and Ireland. Other speakers include Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Michael Martin, head of Fianna Fáil in Ireland. Mulvaney, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2011, has long been a vocal supporter of Irish causes on Capitol Hill, and has the support of the Irish immigrant lobby. “Congressman Mulvaney has been a great friend of ours since he arrived on Capitol Hill in 2011. We look forward to working with him,” Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform chairman Ciaran Staunton told IrishCentral. – A.F.

McGregor v. Mayweather in the Cards?


egendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach has predicted that a boxing match between undefeated former five division world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather and reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion Conor McGregor is on the cards for the future. While an MMA fighter has never before crossed the boundary to take on a professional boxer in the ring, the match has been much speculated upon in recent months. “We’re in a different era now,” Roach said, appearing on The MMA Hour in February. “It looks like it’s gonna happen. I think Conor will have his hands full with a boxer like Floyd, but he’s sellable. He’s making some noise.” Many experts believe the odds in such a fight are stacked against Dublin-born McGregor, who has experience only in amateur boxing, whereas Mayweather, of Michigan, boasts a 49-0 professional winning streak. Roach, however, refuses to hedge his bets. “I think it would take a long time for Conor to get ready for a pure boxing match,” he said, “but one punch can change everything. It’s the sport we’re in. I wouldn’t count anyone out. LEFT: Floyd [McGregor] throws, he throws hard, Mayweather. and he’s not afraid to throw.” – O.O. RIGHT: Conor McGregor.

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hibernia | events

Sir James Galway.

Glucksman Ireland House Honors Niall O’Dowd and James Galway

It Takes a Village


n February, 110 Irish men and women from Kildangan, County Tipperary converged on the New York midtown pub Slattery’s to help raise money for a new half-million euro community center, complete with a sports hall, gym, meeting rooms, kitchen, and changing rooms. The trip was organized as a joint venture between the Kildangan GAA club and Slattery’s, and led by Puckanenative Darragh Egan. Born in 1986, Egan is the primary school principal of Puckane’s Kildangan National School and was part of the victorious Tipperary all-Ireland senior hurling team in 2010 and also captained the North Tipperary champion Kildangan senior hurling team. Sightseeing tours, Madison Square Garden tickets, museum


Patricia Harty have done for us all these years, giving us a voice, letting us know that people share our moderation and our passion.” Sir James Galway, an internationally renowned flute soloist whose career spans some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world, including the Royal Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic, and who was the first wind player to be made a Knight Bachelor of the British Empire, received the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters. Born in east Belfast, Galway is also a supporter of the Music Generation project in Ireland, which offers young people access to music tuition. The Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters is awarded in memory of the late Nobel Laureate who was the honored guest at Glucksman Ireland House NYU’s Gala in 2013 and a great champion of its dynamic programs. The Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leadership is awarded in memory of the cofounder of Glucksman Ireland House NYU, whose legacy lives on through the teaching, learning, and research at Glucksman Ireland House NYU. – A.F.

passes, good food, a couple of pints, Broadway shows, and a trip to Ellis Island were on offer. Speaking to Irish America from back in Puckane, Egan says: “The three-hour trip to Ellis Island opened my eyes to how far we have come as a people. The history, hardship, new beginnings, examinations, tiresome journeys of our ancestors, and here we were, all 110 of us stepping off an extremely comfortable six-hour direct flight from Dublin to Newark to embark on a five-day social trip. I am an unbelievably proud member of Kildangan GAA club. This was our third trip since 2004 to the Big Apple to socialize and explore in the company of our diaspora.


ABOVE: Niall O’Dowd with Loretta Brennan Glucksman.

BOTTOM LEFT: The group from Tipperary. BELOW: Egan, far right, at Slattery’s Midtown Pub with members of the Kildangan GAA team that attended the February fundraiser. PHOTOS: COURTESY KILDANGAN GAA


lucksman Ireland House at New York University honored Irish America founding publisher Niall O’Dowd at their 24th annual gala dinner in February, along with renowned flautist Sir James Galway. O’Dowd, who founded Irish America in 1985 with editor-in-chief Patricia Harty and later founded the Irish Voice newspaper, IrishCentral, and the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, received the Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leadership in recognition of his news career and as one of the major driving forces in America for the peace process in Northern Ireland. President Bill Clinton has credited O’Dowd with being the first person to get him involved in the process in the early 1990s. “Niall gave Irish America our voice. And it was not a contentious voice; it was not a ‘Whose side are you on?’” Ireland House co-founder and co-chair Loretta Brennan Glucksman said. “Niall always presented the even way. And if it weren’t for Niall O’Dowd, I am convinced that [while] there would have been an agreement with the North, I think it would have taken a lot longer. Niall put the right players together, very quietly, got the job done and never stood for acclamation.” “I think that the stability that Niall and the intrepid

“At present we have 370 pupils between two primary schools in our parish and no community center to serve our needs. (On wet days, for example, there is nowhere for the kids to practice inside.) This center will serve varying sports and activities such as hurling, football, handball, soccer, badminton, music, dance, and drama. “Over 200 people gathered in Slattery’s Midtown Pub for a wonderful night of craic, chat, and information. Some of our Irish New Yorkers met old classmates and teammates, and parishioners were more than willing to tell the story of modern day Kildangan. Thankfully, we have turned the sod in Puckane and a new dawn is about to commence. It will be our Ellis island, an isle of hope and dreams!” – I.A.

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hibernia | events The 31st Annual Business 100 Awards

n Wednesday, December 7, Irish America magazine celebrated the 31st annual Irish America Business 100 Awards with a luncheon at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan. John Saunders, president and chief executive officer of the public relations firm FleishmanHillard, delivered the keynote address, relating his experience with the Irish in the U.S. and citing the impact Irish Americans had on his sense of self and his career from the very first time he visited the U.S. in the summer of 1978. “That first day, the first 24 hours, to feel for the very first time that not only was it okay to be Irish, it was actually good to be Irish. It felt so good. And it gave me a confidence that, frankly, I did not have,” he said. “And ever since then back in 1978, you, Irish America, have been taking me up when I was down and making me feel good about myself, as you have done for so many of our people who have moved over here down through the years and continue to move here.” – A.F.





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1 Irish America founding publisher Niall O'Dowd, John Saunders, and Irish America co-founder and editor-in-chief Patricia Harty with House of Waterford Crystal Colleen Vase keynote award. 2 Performer Melissa Errico. 3 American sportscaster Don Criqui. 4 Consul General Barbara Jones and Mary Davis of the Special Olympics. 5 Andrew and James Morrissey, James Roth, Ed Kenney, and Will Conway. 6 Honoree Tom Higgins and wife Fiona. 7 Andrea Haughian of Invest Northern Ireland and Alison Metcalfe of Tourism Ireland. 8 Kevin Kent, Pat and Marilyn O'Brien, and Sean Gaffey. 9 Patricia Harty, prize winners Ray O'Connor and Tom Higgins, and Kate Overbeck. Ray received a Ballymoresponsored trip for two to Ireland and Tom a crystallized Irish America Business 100 magnum of champagne gifted by Jim Clerkin of MÜet Hennessy. 10 Patricia Harty presents honoree John Greed with the House of Waterford Crystal honoree award. 11 Stephen Duggan and John Saunders holding House of Waterford Crystal award. 12 Charlie McCabe. 13 Honoree Jim McCann. 14 John and Jean Saunders with House of Waterford Crystal keynote award. 15 John Saunders and daughter Caroline. 16 Patricia Harty. 17 The Irish Media Group team. 18 Honoree Margaret Molloy. 19 Niall O’Dowd. 20 Dan LeSaffre and Ed Kenney with Jack Haire of Concern. 21 Diarmaid Cunningham of ICON, Kate Overbeck, and Enda Kelleher. 22 Honoree Sean Costello, Lorraine Turner, and honoree Pat O'Brien. 23 Pat Tully of the American Ireland Fund and James Morrissey. 24 John Graham and Joe Browne.

Photos by Nuala Purcell APRIL / MAY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 27

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hibernia | concern

New Leadership for Concern Worldwide U.S.



ABOVE: Colleen Kelly and Jack Haire. BELOW: Tom Moran at a feeding center in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

wo Irish America Business 100 honorees have been unanimously elected chair of the board of directors and chief executive officer of the nonprofit international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide U.S., an independent affiliate of the Dublin-based Concern Worldwide, as part of a planned leadership succession plan. Joanna Geraghty, who currently serves as JetBlue’s executive vice president of customer experience, will take over from Tom Moran of Mutual of America as chair, while Colleen Kelly, most recently managing director of STET Creative, will succeed CEO Jack Haire. Both Moran and Haire will remain on the board of directors. Announcing Geraghty’s new election as chair of the board, Haire said, “Joanna has quietly and steadfastly been supporting Concern for nearly a decade through her personal generosity and building the Concern-JetBlue partnership. Since her appointment to the board two years ago, she has expanded that partnership and been an important voice in the board room and beyond.” “It has been incredibly rewarding to serve on the board of directors of this great organization, so it is an honor to be appointed as chair,” Geraghty said in a statement. “I recently traveled to the Mokuru slum in Nairobi where Concern is transforming lives through building access to better quality education and health care. I left changed, awed by the realization that it is just one of hundreds of communities that Concern is reaching across the world. My commitment is not only personal – it also goes hand in hand with JetBlue’s mission of inspiring humanity. I couldn’t imagine a better fit, and I am proud


Joanna Geraghty (right) on a Concern visit to Nairobi, Kenya in February.

to represent the entire JetBlue team in this important work.” Geraghty, a third-generation Irish American, leads over 12,000 employees across 100 airports at JetBlue, which she joined in 2005 as the airlines vice president and associate general counsel and director of litigation and regulatory affairs. Her election as chair comes after one of the most successful growth periods in Concern’s 50-year history under Moran’s chairmanship, which he held since 2001. In the past 16 years, annual income at Concern Worldwide U.S. increased from $5 million to $40 million and the staff has grown from “a handful of people working day and night in a cramped mid-town office,” according to Haire, to a 50-strong team. Last year, Concern’s international operations reached 7.6 million people in 29 countries. Colleen Kelly, a native of Pinehurst, North Carolina and whose Irish roots are in counties Tyrone, Cork, and Carlow, brings more than 30 years of branding, marketing, and advertising experience to Concern. At SET, she firmly established the Portlandbased company in New York City, and previously served as managing director of Triptent, at which she drove over 200 percent growth in two years. “I am as excited as I am grateful to join this remarkable team,” Kelly said. “I look forward to listening, learning, and ultimately leveraging my experience as a communicator to help bring Concern’s story, and most importantly the stories of the millions of people we work with, to engaged and compassionate Americans to forge greater awareness, support, and impact. I also look forward to adding to our efforts on program innovation, as most of my career has been about pushing traditional boundaries, and, like Concern, driving results through positive disruptions.” Kelly is also a member of the Kelly Gang, a charity comprised of prominent entertainment, political, media, business, and sports figures who share the surname Kelly, and a driving force behind this year’s Kelly Gang St. Patrick’s Day Benefit partnership with Concern Worldwide U.S. The event will be held March 15, with all the proceeds going to Concern. Haire, who was appointed CEO last year and has served on the board for 18 years, said “I could not be more confident in a successor than I am in Colleen. These are two singularly talented leaders, but more importantly they share with our team of 50 people in the U.S. and 3,000 around the world the humanitarian spirit and character that have come to define Concern Worldwide.” – A.F.

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those we lost | by Olivia O’Mahony Desmond Connell


1926 – 2017 ormer archbishop of Dublin Cardinal Desmond Connell, who stepped down from the position during the 2004 furor over the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse cases perpetrated by members of the clergy, died in February at the age of 90. Ordained at Clonliffe College, Dublin in 1951, Connell served as dean of the philosophy faculty at University College Dublin before being appointed archbishop in 1998. In 2001 he became the first archbishop in over 120 years to be elevated to a cardinal. Despite being one of the earliest Irish prelates to speak out on behalf of refugee rights, he was also a staunch defender of church doctrines regarding homosexuality, contraception, and divorce. In late 1998, it emerged that Connell had lent archdiocesan money to an abusive priest in order to silence a survivor. Connell was brought under public scrutiny, but, in 2004, still mounted a Dublin High Court challenge to block access to files on 5,500 priests and abuse allegations dating back to 1975. This led to national outrage and in 2009 judge Yvonne Murphy concluded that the Dublin Archdiocese had failed to protect children and abuse victims due to self-preservation and avoidance of scandal. Connell then arranged for compensation payments to be made from a “stewardship trust” that was kept secret from the archdiocese’s parishioners until 2003. One survivor, Marie Collins, told RTÉ that Connell’s death had brought back painful memories. “He was a man without any pastoral background,” she said, arguing that his academic background was no substitution for experience with parishioners’ everyday lives.

Frank Delaney

F FROM TOP: Desmond Connell, Frank Delaney, and Ronan Fanning.

1942 – 2017 rank Delaney, one of the foremost experts on James Joyce’s Ulysses and once dubbed “the most eloquent man in the world” by NPR, died in February at the age of 74. Delaney, also an author and broadcaster, was born in County Tipperary, though was based in Connecticut with his wife, New York advertising executive Diane Meier, by whom he is survived, since 2002. He had three sons from a previous marriage. Delaney discovered his first copy of Ulysses abandoned on a Dublin bus seat by an American tourist. After his first perusal of Leopold Bloom’s famously dense Odyssean sojourn through Dublin, however, he dismissed it as unreadable. It wasn’t until 1980 when, working as a BBC arts broadcaster in London, he happened across it again. “I began to read it aloud, and it started to make sense,” he said later, “because it’s not a novel, it’s a prose poem.” This was the genesis of Delaney’s passion to open Ulysses up for the average reader.


His first novel, James Joyce’s Odyssey (1981), was a bestseller in Ireland and the U.K. He also created BBC Radio programs Bookshelf and Word of Mouth, as well as The Book Show for Sky News. “Infectious enthusiasm was the rare, special quality that Frank Delaney brought to the work of James Joyce,” said a spokesperson of the James Joyce Center, Dublin. An innovative user of digital media, Delaney began the weekly podcast Re:Joyce on Bloomsday 2010, a page-by-page analysis of allusions and historical context in Ulysses, which by the time of his death comprised 368 episodes reaching over 2.5 million listeners.

Ronan Fanning


1941 – 2017 elebrated historian and professor emeritus of modern history at University College Dublin Ronan Fanning died in January after a battle with cancer at the age of 75. The author behind many noteworthy books such as Will to Power, a biography of Eamon de Valera, and Fatal Path, a comprehensive study of Anglo-Irish relations in the 20th century, Fanning was described in an official tribute by President Michael D. Higgins as “an admired and respected historian whose extensive research and writings delivered a rich legacy to Irish scholarship.” Between 1977 and 1976, Fanning served as Fulbright professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. There, he developed a keen sense of the effect of Irish American nationalism on Irish politics in the 20th century, as shown in chapter seven of Fatal Path, “Blood in Their Eyes: The American Dimension,” a reference by the British ambassador to the U.S. regarding Irish American attitudes to the U.K. A respected journalist, too, Fanning wrote weekly on current affairs for the Sunday Independent. Last June, he discussed Brexit in the Irish Times, calling it “Ireland’s biggest policy test since the Second World War.” “Professor Fanning was a brilliant teacher, researcher and writer,” RTÉ broadcaster and historian David McCullough told the Irish Times. “His lectures in UCD were always accessible, illuminating, and entertaining.” Born to an Irish doctor and English preschool teacher, Fanning received his undergraduate degree from University College Dublin and his doctorate from Cambridge University. He is predeceased by his wife, Virginia, and survived by their three children.

Dermot Gallagher

1944 – 2017 Former secretary general at Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Dermot Gallagher died in January at the age of 72. Said by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to have left “an indelible mark on the diplomatic and public service landscape,” Gallagher was an instrumental figure in the peace process.

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those we lost | Appointed to the Department of External Affairs as Northern tensions peaked in 1969, Gallagher was approached on weekend duty by nationalist MPs from the North, who demanded to meet Taoiseach Jack Lynch to obtain arms for the Catholic presence on Falls Road in Belfast. Gallagher promised to convey their request. He obtained a post at the San Francisco Irish consulate in 1971, and in 1985, acting as Irish ambassador in Lagos, Nigeria, said he learned “a great deal about what matters in life.” He returned to Dublin soon after to take charge of Northern Irish policy in the Anglo-Irish division. Working under Taoiseach Charles Haughey in 1987, Gallagher assured the Anglo-Irish Agreement was implemented to its utmost potential. In 1991, he was appointed as Irish ambassador to the U.S. and quickly befriended Arkansas governor Bill Clinton, who later helped secure a travel visa for Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in aid of the peace process. Returning from the U.S. in 1997, Gallagher amassed a team of officials for negotiations at Stormont, and after the success of the Good Friday Agreement, became secretary general for the Department of the Taoiseach, later moving on to secretary general for the Department for Foreign Affairs, a position he held until his death. Born in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Limerick, Gallagher is survived by his wife, Maeve, and three children.

FROM TOP: Dermot Gallagher, Mary Tyler Moore, and Maggie Roche.

Mary Tyler Moore

1936 – 2017 Comedy icon of the 1960s and ’70s Mary Tyler Moore, famous for her starring roles in The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died in January. She was 80 years old. Credited by many as the mother of the female-driven television comedy, Moore helped define a new vision of womanhood in the entertainment industry. Making her debut as The Dick Van Dyke Show’s


Laura Petrie in 1961, Moore destabilized the dichotomy of the television housewife – Laura was neither impossibly perfect nor a bumbling caricature, but her husband’s equal in an otherwise patriarchal sitcom world. Further walls were demolished when, in 1970, Moore became the star of her own half-hour special, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which centered around the unmarried, work-centered life of Mary Richards, a character whose iconic spunk inspired a generation of American women to seek out a career. By show’s end in 1977, it had won 29 Emmy awards. Moore continued to act on both screen and stage, wrote two memoirs, and advocated for diabetes research since her own diagnosis in 1969. “I think a lot of young women got a lot of inspiration from her,” said her former co-star, Dick Van Dyke. “She was way ahead of her time.” A native of Brooklyn, New York, Moore was part Irish on her father’s side, with her great-great grandmother, Margaret Cline Clooney, hailing from County Westmeath. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Robert Levine.

Maggie Roche

1951 – 2017 Irish American singer Maggie Roche, the elder sister of Terre and Suzzy Roche, with whom she formed folk-rock trio The Roches in 1973, died of cancer in February. Roche grew up in Park Ridge, New Jersey, in an Irish Catholic family. Her father, John Roche, was an actor and also wrote political jingles for local candidates, which Maggie and Terre would sing. Maggie, who wrote songs on the guitar she received for her 13th birthday, made her first big break when she and Terre were signed as backup singers on Paul Simon’s 1973 album, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. Two years later, they released an album of their own, Maggie and Terre Roche. Shortly after, Suzzy completed the trio and the group frequented Greenwich Village’s folk venues, becoming known for their complex harmonization of Maggie’s contralto with Terre’s soprano while Suzzy filled in the mid-range. In 1979, they released the first of their 12 albums recorded over 28 years as trio, The Roches, which included “The Married Men,” later recorded by The Phoebe Show. In “We,” the first song on The Roches, they established the offbeat charm that would become their calling-card: “We are Maggie and Terre and Suzzy / Maggie and Terre and Suzzy Roche / We don’t give out our ages, and we don’t give out our phone numbers / Sometimes our voices give out. But not our ages and our phone numbers / And as a point of interest, we spell our name R-O-C-H-E.” “[Maggie was] authentic – not a false bone in her body,” Suzzy said in a statement, adding that her sister was “a brilliant songwriter, with a distinct, unique perspective, all heart and soul.” In addition to her sisters, Maggie is survived by a brother, David, her partner Michael, and son Ed. IA

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hibernia | quote unquote

McGuinness, right, with President Obama and former Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson at the White House in 2009.

“I’m not retiring. I’ll be a republican til the day I die. I will work for Sinn Féin til the day I die. I’ll always be very proud to be from the Bogside. I’ve ended up in many famous places throughout the world ... with prime ministers and presidents all over the place. But my heart lies in the Bogside and with the people of Derry.”


“No shamrocks please for the immigrant-hating Mr. Trump. No tri-color flag pins for White supremacists with Irish surnames such as Stephen Bannon…. We are not a deportation nation that breaks up immigrant families and separates parents from their children. As John F. Kennedy said, ‘We are a nation of immigrants.’ Our diversity is our greatest strength.”

– Former deputy first minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness, speaking in front of massive crowds in his native Derry, announcing he would not stand for reelection in the March contest. Belfast Telegraph, January 20.

“There are two sides to my name. My dad’s side of the family is Catholic, and my mom’s side is Jewish, so I got the privilege of experiencing two religions growing up.”

– Irish American New York Mets outfielder Tyler Patrick “Ty” Kelly, pictured with his mother in Jerusalem, explaining how he joined the Israeli national baseball team for the World Baseball Classic in March. Jewish Baseball News, February 17.

“A lot of people are afraid to say they’re Donald Trump supporters. They’re terrified.”

– Irish actress Sarah Mulligan on Irish Trump supporters’ reluctance to vocalize their support, and why she’s starting a new media website called Irish Who Love President Trump. IrishCentral, March 2.

– Martin O’Malley, “#NoShamrocks: Petition to Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Irish American Members of Congress” urging a boycott of St. Patrick’s Day activities at the White House. March 1.

“I grew up on Planxty and The Chieftains, and I really like Irish music. I don’t think enough people use it in pop music. For some reason it’s considered twee and old, but it’s such exciting, youthful music, it should be at the forefront of pop culture. Hopefully if these songs are successful, more people will do a bit more like it.”

– Ed Sheeran, whose new album ÷ (“Divide”) features two trad-influenced numbers, “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan,” about his Wexford-based grandparents’ mixed marriage – his grandfather is a northern Protestant and his grandmother is a southern Catholic. Irish Times, March 3. APRIL / MAY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 33

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ST. PATRICK’S DAY Some of the biggest and best celebrations of Ireland’s patron saint actually take place in America. New York may have the largest parade in the country, but it’s followed closely by Savannah, Georgia. And while the Boston parade has a long history, the Holyoke, Massachusetts parade rivals it for sheer color and gaiety. Here’s a sampling of parades across the U.S.


The Boston Irish have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for generations – some say the first parade BOSTON occurred on March 17, 1737, when members of the newly formed Charitable Irish Society walked up Tremont Street from King’s Chapel to Old Granary Burying Ground to honor Ireland’s patron saint. But the largescale Irish parades began after the 1850s, when the influx of Irish immigrants transformed Boston. A Boston Pilot notice on March 9, 1862 reported that “Irish Societies of Boston & Vicinity” would “celebrate the day by a public procession.” The parade started at Boston ComMagoon mon, wound its way around downtown, over the bridge to Charlestown and Cambridge, back to Boston, then over the South Boston. In March 1901, the St. Patrick’s Day parade moved from downtown Boston to South Boston, where it was combined with another important holiday, Evacuation Day, which celebrates the evacuation of British troops from Boston in March 1776. The selection of Southie native Dan Magoon as Chief Marshal is especially relevant to the neighborhood itself, since South Boston has such a proud tradition of sending their sons and daughters into military service, going back to the Spanish American War and the American Civil War, and continuing through today. A paratrooper in the U.S. Army 36 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

in The U.S.

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from 2003 to 2007, Sergeant Magoon completed three combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. As we go to press, however, we were met with the news that Dan Magoon may not march, because Allied War Veterans Council – the group that organizes the parade – voted to deny the LGBTQ veteran group entry into the parade. – Michael Quinlin.




Known around the world as the day the Chicago River is dyed green, the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade started 60 years ago when Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Plumbers Union moved the parade downtown from the city’s South Side to the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. Not to be outdone, thousands more revelers rise on Sunday morning to watch the South Side Irish parade through Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood. Grand Marshal Martin J. Healy will lead the St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown. An attorney, Healy led the fundraising effort to start the library at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago and served as president of the Irish Fellowship Club and the Celtic Legal Society. – Abdon Moriarty Pallasch


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (top, center left, waiving) marches in the 2016 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Above, the Chicago River is dyed green each St. Patrick’s Day.


This year marks 175 years of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Cleveland, Ohio. The very first parade was organized in 1842 by the city’s Rev. Peter McLaughlin, a proponent of abstinence from alcohol. His St. Patrick’s Day celebration began with mass at St. Mary’s on the Flats (the only Catholic Church in Cleveland’s city limits at that time), continued with a parade of the Catholic Temperance Society, and concluded with a banquet attended by friends and family members. Throughout its history, various organizations have sponsored and participated in the parade. In 1958, the United Irish Societies of Greater Cleveland, Inc., took responsibility for all aspects of the parade. This year’s Grand Marshal, Roger Weist, is a fixture in Cleveland’s Irish community who has spent the bulk of his life involved in the Hibernians, the Cleveland Feis, the Gaelic Society, the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, the Comhaltas, and Irish Northern Aid. – Shannon Corcoran APRIL / MAY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 37

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In 1959, the United Irish Societies sponDunleavy sored the first St. Patrick’s Parade in Dearborn, Michigan. The parade route follows along Michigan Avenue through the area known as Corktown. The neighborhood is Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood. Brian Dunleavy will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 2017 parade, 27 years after his own father, Martin Thomas Dunleavy, walked Michigan Avenue in the same capacity. Brian and his brother Tom opened Dunleavy’s Downriver in Allen Park in 1989 and 28 A bagpipe band years later, Dunleavy’s remains one of Michigan’s marches in the 2013 Detroit St. last standing truly Irish-owned pubs. He is the presPatrick’s Day ident of the Fraternal Order of United Irishmen, past Parade on president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Michigan Avenue. Dunleavy Division, and a host of other Irish organizations.



The city of Holyoke, Massachusetts welcomes up to 400,000 people for the spectacular parade that includes international bands as well as the famed and elaborately costumed Philadelphia Mummers string bands. The parade’s 66th Grand Marshal is Sister of St. Joseph Jane F. Morrissey, an educator, social justice activist, and humanitarian who has worked among the poor all over the world. One of the many highlights of the Holyoke parade kick-off, is the Ambassador’s Award Breakfast, held on the morning the parade. Turlough McConnell, contributing director of special features for this magazine, is this year’s recipient. Recent subjects he has covered for Irish America include the John J. Burns Library at Boston College and Titanic Belfast. For Quinnipiac University, he co-published the book, Celebrating 250 Years of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

New York

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City is the oldest in the country. The first parade was on March 17, 1762 and was made up of Irish soldiers serving with the British Army. It was 14 years before the Declaration of Independence. The tradition of marching past St. Patrick’s Cathedral has remained unchanged with the exception of the address. In the early years, the parade would march past the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral (now Basilica) located at the corner of Mott and Prince Streets in SoHo. Today, the parade marches up Fifth Avenue and is reviewed from the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral by His Eminence, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. 38 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

Sister Morrissey


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Grand Marshal Michael Dowling, the worldrenowned healthcare professional (and Hall of Fame inductee) will lead the way this year. “Michael Dowling is the true embodiment of the values we celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day, a leader in a noble healing profession, an educator, a public servant, an Irish American who has made enormous contributions to his adopted country and who has made us all proud to be Irish,” said John Lahey, chair of the parade’s board of directors.


The first documented St. Patrick’s Day celebration parade in Philadelphia was held in 1771, five years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, marking over 245 continuous years of celebrations. The current parade, which is hosted by the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1952. Barney Boyce will serve as this year’s Grand Marshal. Born and raised in Mallymore, Milford, County Donegal, Barney arrived in the U.S. in 1957. He was drafted into the U.S. army where he served in Germany for two years. Upon his return, he met and married Carmel from Trentagh, Letterkenny, County Donegal, in 1965. They settled in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia, where they raised their six children and Barney operated his own roofing company until retirement in 2007. Barney has served over 30 terms on boards or in positions of leadership for many organizations in the Philadelphia Irish community, including the Donegal Association, the Commodore Barry Club, the Irish Center and the Danny Browne Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 80.

Above, a pipe and drum band marches in the Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Right is Michael Dowling, New York City’s 2017 parade Grand Marshal.



Grand Marshal Ba

rney Boyce

Grand Marshal Jan Griffith




Former Vice President Joe Biden in Pittsburgh.

The large Irish population of Pittsburgh have been holding a parade since March 17, 1869, and boast one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world, featuring over 23,000 participants, including marching bands, politicians, a host of Irish-heritage groups, and 200,000-plus spectators all “Irish for the day.” Jan Griffith is the 2017 parade Grand Marshal. She has been a member of the parade committee since 1992, and has served in many capacities prior to her current role as organizer. “I started out addressing envelopes for the float committee, moved to promotions where I baked scones and made up baskets to take to radio stations,” Jan said. “In 2000, our chief marshal at the time, Jim Green, asked me to type up the lineup and announcer’s notes. The next year, we decided there was a better way and created a computer database, which I took over at that point.” Jan, whose maiden name is Allen, traces her ancestral Driscoll family roots to County Cork. Continued on page 95

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HALL FAME Nobel Laureate

Dr. William C. Campbell By Patricia Harty

William Campbell works with Drew undergraduate student Emmanuel (Manny) Gabriel. He was, Campbell says, “a truly exceptional student. After graduation he did a joint M.D.-Ph.D. program and became a surgeon. He is now engaged in advanced cancer surgery.”


or centuries, onchocerciasis, commonly known as river blindness, had plagued remote communities in Africa, Latin America, and Yemen. Lifelines for villagers, the rivers are breeding grounds for black flies that, when infected with a parasitic worm, transmit the disease through repeated biting. In return, those infected transfer the disease to uninfected flies who bite them, resulting in a plague characterized by extreme itching and eventual blindness. That the simple chore of getting water in these communities is no longer as much of a danger as it had been for generations is due to William “Bill” Campbell, an Irish-born scientist who, with his colleagues at Merck Research Laboratories, discovered a novel therapy for treating the disease. In 2015, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing it with Satoshi Ōmura of Japan. It was in the late 1970s when, working with a batch of microbe strains that Ōmura sent over for evaluation, Campbell developed the drug Ivermectin (later named Mectizan) and suggested it would work for river blindness in humans. Not only did the drug work, it also proved effective against the parasite that causes elephantiasis, which co-exists with river blindness in many places. More than 25 years later, since Merck made the drug free in those countries most affected, treating 250 million annually, the results speak for themselves. Several countries in Africa are making significant progress towards eliminating both diseases. In Latin America, three countries – Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico – have effectively eliminated river blindness. The discovery, Campbell says, “Was a long process of finding a drug that worked against some worms, and then testing it against other worms, and following up with more testing, and more experiments. That involved a lot of hard work and a lot of


persistence. Knowing enough about worms to draw analogies between the different types, and where they live and what they do, was a key factor.” In terms of Merck making the drug available for free in poor countries, Campbell defers credit to the executives of the company after successful human trials done in collaboration with French tropical medicine experts in Africa. “It worked just wonderfully well and the question then was what to do with it. As a pharmaceutical company, it would have been nice to sell it at a profit, but those most affected lived in poor countries, so there was no way people were going to get it unless it was donated,” he says. “This decision was decided by the chairman and CEO of the company in conversation with a handful of three or four top associates, and I was not one of them. To my mind, they are the ones, and the only ones, who deserve credit for that donation.” I met with Campbell at his cottage in Cape Cod last summer. At 86, I found him to be fit and trim with twinkling eyes, a keen mind, and self-effacing wit, as well as decidedly modest about his Nobel Prize. “I think of it as an award in which I’m the representative of the Merck company’s research teams,” he said. The Nobel experience itself was “just out of this world,” he allows. “And then to meet President Obama was a great honor. I think the main positive [of being awarded the prize] is being contacted by people you haven’t been in touch with for many, many years and to know that people still remember you. In fact, the most positive thing is that people actually enjoy hearing about it. They actually get pleasure out of talking to someone who had [the Nobel] experience.” At the time we met, Campbell was dealing with all the attention that being a Nobel laureate brings. “There is no way you can stop it from changing your life because there is just a constant barrage of invitations and letters and emails and requests. And while they are all wonderful to have, there are just so many of them and I am now very ancient and have no secretary or manpower or secretarial skills, it is stressful for me. Whether I say yes or no, it is just a constant preoccupation, especially if the invitation is from

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someone I know, and I have a lot of speeches to give and lectures to write.” Since we spoke last summer, Campbell has traveled Ireland. He spoke at the Institute of Technology Sligo, then headed to Donegal for a homecoming reception in Ramelton, and following a few days break to visit with family, he traveled on to his alma mater, Trinity College Dublin, where a new fellowship, “The William C. Campbell Lectureship in Parasite Biology,” has been created. We keep in touch by email, and he tells me that our Hall of Fame event is one of the last he will do. He’s looking forward to a return to a quieter life with his wife and family in North Andover, Massachusetts. He and Mary Mastin Campbell met at a church function in Elizabeth, New Jersey over 50 years ago, and she’s been at his side ever since. They have two grown daughters and a son, and family and grandchildren are an important part of their lives. Campbell keeps fit playing doubles ping pong games, several times a week, enjoys solitary kayak trips in early morning, and the occasional hike up nearby half-mile hill. He spends much of his time painting and writing poetry, which reflects his passion for roundworms and other kinds of parasitic worms. “I consider them beautiful,” he said. “They are just doing their own thing and not meaning to be destructive. And I have said in some recent papers that the objective is not to get rid of parasitic worms, the objective is to get rid of parasitic diseases.” The American Society of Parasitologists has been a staple in Campbell’s life since he moved to Wisconsin in the 1950s. The society’s annual auction raises

money to bring students to the meetings, and Campbell’s donated art, sees bidding wars that drive the prices skyward. He also helped create an award to recognize student achievement in parasitology. Campbell has worked with both human and veterinary medicine because parasites are so integral to both. Among the other diseases he has helped eradicate is trichinosis, a disease that comes primarily from eating under-cooked pork. “I gave a talk at George Washington University, in D.C., and at the end of the lecture, a young fellow put up his hand and said, ‘I heard that you once gave Scotch whiskey to pigs. Can you confirm that?’ And I said, ‘I never in my entire life gave Scotch whiskey to pigs. I gave them Irish whiskey!’ I fed the pigs seven-yearold John Jameson whiskey because of reports that alcoholic beverages would prevent trichi-



TOP LEFT: William Campbell pictured at his cottage in Cape Cod. He always carries a pencil in his pocket to jot down any ideas that may occur as he moves through his day. TOP RIGHT: “Parasite Window,” 1992, featured in Campbell’s book, Poem, Paint and Pathogen. As well as being a renowned parasitologist, Campbell is a talented artist and poet. His work usually features parasitic worms which he considers “very beautiful.” ABOVE: Campbell and his wife, Mary, pictured with their daughter, Besty, her husband, Adam Learner, and their children, Jackson, Keira, and Maya. APRIL / MAY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 41

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nosis, and published a paper on it.” (It worked, he says, but “you would have to drink an awful lot of it. It would be a very expensive and hazardous cure.”) Today, there is a big focus on using one’s own autoimmune system to target disease – some of the treatments use worms. “There is a connection between early childhood worm infections and a stronger immunity,” he says. “There is evidence that you can cure some diseases with worms. In some countries you can pay to become infected with worms as a cure for irritable bowel syndrome. It hasn’t caught on here because people are put off by the idea of worms. Most of the research, with a notable few exceptions, is being done on the fringe. Established researchers won’t touch it.” He told Adam Smith, the chief scientific officer of Nobel Media, “There is a certain amount of hubris in humans thinking that they can create molecules as well as nature can create molecules in terms of the diversity of molecules, because nature consistently produces molecules that have not been thought of by humans.” Campbell’s appreciation of nature is rooted in his childhood. He grew up in Ramelton, a small farming town in County Donegal, with two older brothers and a younger sister. Situated on mouth of the River Lennon, it is one of the most beautiful and remote spots in Ireland. His parents, Sarah Jane Campbell (née Patterson) of Dunfanaghy, and R.J. Campbell of Fanad, ran a general store supplying farmers. His father was a man ahead of his time, alway looking for ways to make improvements. “One thing that sort of typified my father was that he brought electricity to the Ramelton. He hired people to set up the poles and the wires to bring electricity to the whole town,” he recalls. His mother he describes as saintly. “I don’t use ‘saintly’ in a religious or liturgical sense, though she was devout, but rather to convey a sense of her profound goodness. She was very caring. I never heard her say a bad thing about anyone.” In addition to running the store, Campbell’s father also farmed, raising shorthorn dairy cattle that won prizes at agricultural shows. It was at an agricultural show that 14-year-old Campbell picked up a leaflet on fluke worms in sheep that, in hindsight, may have influenced his interest in becoming a scientist. But then Campbell could just as easily have become a writer, an artist or a historian. His teacher during his formative years, Miss Martin, “instilled a love of learning, not in the sense of a chore to be mastered, but getting the satisfaction of knowing something, and remembering something. She had a tremendous influence on me,” he said. Campbell’s path to becoming a parasitologist began in college, with Desmond Smyth, the renowned science professor at Trinity College, Dublin. “He changed my life by developing my interest in parasitic worms,” he told me. And Smyth was there again to make sure that his student took it to the next level. “As I was nearing graduation, a professor at the University of Wisconsin wrote to Smyth in Dublin. They knew each other’s work, and as a result of this contact, I applied to do research and graduate studies at Wisconsin,” he says of the decision to move to the U.S. “When I got there, my professor had a project on liver fluke that he and his department were working on. This was the giant liver fluke that is very pathogenic in deer and sheep, so it turned out to be the perfect spot for me.” Recruited by Merck out of school, Campbell stayed with the company for over 30 years, developing many significant drugs for 42 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

LEFT: William Campbell receiving his Nobel Prize from H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at the Stockholm Concert Hall, December 10, 2015. BELOW: The picturesque town of Ramelton, County Donegal, where William Campbell grew up. The town had a homecoming reception for Dr. Campbell last September.

humans and animals. But it is his hope that the future of science in medicine will be one free of chemicals. “We need to look at the immunological response and other biological approaches rather than chemical contrivances. We need to continue to work on other ways of interrupting life cycles and disrupting transmission of disease. One would hope that eventually [chemicals] would be replaced but certainly we are not anywhere near that yet, except in certain cases such as virus diseases,” he said. After his retirement from Merck, Campbell taught undergraduate biology and graduate history at Drew University until 2012. Former Drew student Manny Gabriel (see opening page photo), who just finished a fellowship at Roswell and will soon be working at the Mayo Clinic Florida, wrote to me of Campbell’s influence. “Dr. Campbell was integral to my decision to becoming a physician scientist. It is amazing to me that my first publication was with him, but truth be told our initial submission was rejected. He told me not to worry and that this was simply part of the scientific process. A few short months later, he was right and our paper was accepted. Since then, I’ve had my share of rejected projects and papers, but each time I recall Dr. Campbell’s humble and practical words of encouragement. My two and a half years in the lab with him built up my perseverance and resilience, which is essential in this profession. I’m happy to say that his training has guided productivity and success in my academic pursuits. I am truly fortunate to have spent this time with Dr. Campbell, and am a better scientist and person because of it.” As a teacher, Campbell often began his lectures by showing a picture of his father’s cows. “Of course it has absolutely nothing to do with the lecture, but I like to tell people where I’m from because it is such a part of me,” he said. When I remark that he still has a hint of an Irish accent after all this time in America, he laughs. “After about three days in Donegal, Mary says it comes back.” “His lovely mother used to put together such wonderful picnics for us on Marble Hill beach,” Mary, who was an attentive host throughout my visit, adds. Campbell agrees. “I was very lucky to have had a great mother and a great father.” He pauses. “That’s one of those things about the Prize – you wish they were around.” IA

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HALL FAME Northwell Health CEO

Michael Dowling

By Olivia O’Mahony and Patricia Harty

Michael Dowling, held by his mother Meg in front of their thatched cottage home in Knockaderry, County Limerick, 1950.


n 1995, Limerick-native Michael Dowling was offered the position of senior vice president of hospital services at Northwell Health, formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System, which was then a collection of several hospitals on Long Island. In 1997, he advanced to the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer, and a short five years later was named president and CEO of the organization. It was a quick ascendancy, though no surprise. Under Dowling’s leadership, growth has been explosive at Northwell. Its service potential has expanded to include 21 hospitals and more than 550 ambulatory care facilities, and it is one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems and New York State’s largest integrated healthcare network. It is also the base of operations for the Center of Learning and Innovation (the largest corporate university in healthcare) as well as the Patient Safety Institute, the most prominent patient simulation center in the country. And, with 62,000 employees, Northwell Health is the largest private employer in the state. This year, Dowling was also named the grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He, as well as a delegation from Northwell, have marched in the parade for the past several years, but this recognition came as a surprise to him, he said, speaking over the phone with Irish America’s editor Patricia Harty in early March. “But I’ve got a lot of recognitions over the years and I would say that this is probably the pinnacle, especially by the Irish community, so I couldn’t be more grateful.” The road that led to Dowling’s current position was by no means a short or straight one. Over the course of his illustrious professional life, he has held numerous diverse jobs that give him a unique understanding of the hurdles faced by people in all walks of life. It is this mindful, empathetic approach that makes him one of the most thoughtful and considered business executives in the healthcare industry. Born just outside the town of Knockaderry, County Limerick, Dowling was the brother of four younger siblings and son of two disabled parents – his father suffered from severe arthritis and his mother had a hearing impairment. Their conditions


set the tone for his personal relationship with the healthcare world. The family home had neither electricity, heat, nor running water. Yet never for an instant did his mother allow him to believe that he could do anything less than what he set his mind to. “My mother always had books around, so I read books at a young age,” he says. “I read Shakespeare as a kid – my mother had the works of Shakespeare around. I never knew where she got the books. There was an American author I loved named Zane Grey who wrote about the American Midwest. I was always fascinated by how he could write in such a way that, when you read the pages, you could picture what he was writing about. So I could visualize the west part of the United States – Montana, the Dakotas, et cetera – from his writing. I was always fascinated by that.” America, it turned out, was indeed on the cards for Dowling’s future. While many took a narrow-minded view of his prospects (one local milk farmer went as far as to tell him to his face that he would never go to college), he defied their predictions by being the first member of his family to progress to third-level education, which he began at University College Cork in the fall of 1967. Beginning at age 17, he went to New York on a J-1 visa each summer, working every job he could juggle at once to fund the entirety of his four-year undergraduate degree. He compiled experience loading cargo on the docks, working in the engine rooms of tour boats, plumbing, cleaning, and on construction sites, often working 120-hour weeks not only in order to pay his tuition, but to continue to support the family he missed across the sea, even paying for his siblings to attend college. “I arrived in 1968 and, to be honest, almost everything that has happened to me I couldn’t have imagined,” he says. “When I came here, I basically wanted to figure out how to make some money so I could hopefully go to college and help out at home.” When he got here, he was awestruck. “I was almost 18. And you know, every kid dreams about doing stuff, but it was also about what a wonderful country the United States is and the opportunities that exist. So when I came here I was fascinated, first of all,

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with the diversity that existed. I remember walking on the streets, thinking of all the people from all different parts of the world who were just passing me by – it was just an unbelievable education. And of course, the buildings! I remember looking up the tall buildings, wondering why they didn’t fall down – the highest thing I have ever been on was the roof of our thatched cottage, you know?” That first summer, he worked on New York City’s docks cleaning boat engines on the Circle Line. “To me, it was absolutely phenomenal. I was happy. I couldn’t have been happier! People ask me if it was hard work, but none of that stuff was hard because everything is relative,” he says. “There were no jobs back in Ireland, so I was over here, and it did not matter what kind of the job it was. I worked in construction and I worked as a plumber;, I worked cleaning out schools at nighttime and I cleaned out bars in the morning; it was all great. “I never expected to stay in New York – to me it was [just to be] able to pay for college, but of course when you are here and you see the opportunities; I eventually decided to stay.” Dowling firmly believes that these arduous summer months were a necessary learning period, showing him that privilege wasn’t needed if one was willing to work hard in order to achieve their goals. “There’s an old saying,” he once told Adam Bryant of the New York Times: “‘The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg.’ It’s what you’re made of; it’s not your circumstance. People like to play victim too much. And obviously circumstances influence you, but they should never hold you back from succeeding.”

His dauntless energy saw him through to the completion of his undergraduate degree, moving onward to permanent residence in New York and enrollment in a master’s program in social policy at Fordham University. It was here where he met his wife, Kathy Butler, with whom he eventually had two children – Elizabeth, a registered nurse specializing in oncology, and Brian, the imaging supervisor at Northwell Health’s Long Island facilities. In 1979, Dowling became a faculty member at Fordham as director of the campus in Tarrytown, New York. He later served as a professor of social policy and the assistant dean of the Graduate School of Social Services. His commitment to the pursuit of social justice and improvement was recognized when Mario Cuomo, upon his election as Governor of New York in 1983, invited Dowling to venture into government service. “When Mario Cuomo got elected, I did not know him. His appointments’ office reached out to me to tell me that my name had come up on a list of people and that they would be interested in talking to me about joining the administration,” Dowling explains. “I was, to put it mildly, a little surprised, but I met with the people from the governor's office and I initially wasn’t inclined because I had my job at Fordham, I did not know Albany at all.” He took the offer to the head of the department at the time, Rev. John McCarthy, S.J., who convinced Dowling to try

TOP LEFT: Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health. TOP RIGHT: Dowling and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. ABOVE: The Limerick Championship Hurling Team, 1971. Dowling is pictured front row, third from left.


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Michael Dowling is the 2017 New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal.

it out. “I went to Father McCarthy and he said, ‘Why don’t you do it for a year? If for whatever reason it doesn’t work and you don’t like it, or they don’t like you, you can come back to Fordham.’” It was a good fit. Cuomo, himself the son of immigrants, matched in opinion with his new hire on many major issues. Dowling was eventually made the deputy secretary and director of Health, Education, and Human Services, and for 12 years in Albany advised the governor on a host of social topics including homelessness, Medicare, and the cocaine epidemic washing over New York at the time. Integral to Dowling’s success is his ability to challenge pre-existing structures within the world of medical care and beyond – the balance of multiple modes and objectives, after all, is his area of expertise. In 2013, he established Northwell as a licensed commercial health insurance provider in order to better accommodate the needs of patients. “We want to be in the business of providing health as well as treating illness,” he explained to Irish America at the time, when he served as the Business 100 Awards keynote speaker. “It allows us to properly align incentives so we can better coordinate care, enhance quality and get better results.” Dowling carries this personal approach with him in his weekly schedule, meeting with Northwell’s 150 new employees each Monday morning to explain his philosophy and vision for the company. “There are usually a lot of young people in the room,” he said in that same interview, “and one of the messages is to encourage them that no matter where they are at the moment, no matter what their current situation is, they can end up doing what I’m doing. I am always happy when a portion of our new hires are immigrants – they work hard, they strive, they see opportunity where others see barriers. There is no substitute for hard work, commitment, and personal achievement – and no greater satisfaction.” When Dowling started at the company, there were three hospitals; today there are 21, and Northwell’s annual revenue is $11 billion. The company brings in 20 students from Ireland for work experience annually, with speech and hearing, nursing, and business students among their numbers. Northwell also offers compensation to help people return to school, whether for bachelor’s, master’s, or sometimes doctorate degrees. They also maintain the salary of military personnel while they are deployed so that they don’t loose any income; when they come back, their job is waiting. Northwell is con-


tinuing to expand rapidly under Dowling – they’ve moved into Connecticut, Westchester County, and upstate New York, and they are in discussions with potential partners to open locations in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area. “Everything is about teamwork,” says Dowling. It’s something that he learned early in life, as a champion hurler with the Limerick county team. “The criteria that I look for in employees is their ability to work together, because nobody succeeds by himself at anything,” he says. He’s confident that his team will adjust to any upcoming reforms to the U.S. healthcare system that the Trump administration may make. “You can have a strategy but you have to be able to adjust, as you would on the playing field. In a game of hurling, I might have a plan about how I am going to score when my opposition player hits me and knocks me on my butt, right? That doesn’t mean I am not getting up and scoring. I adjust!” he says. “You have to have a level of confidence about the ability of your team – in this case the whole management team and everybody else, to be able to succeed despite some outside influences.” Despite the current political climate, Dowling believes that the American Dream is alive and well. “The United States is not this dark and forlorn place that some people would like us to believe. To me, it is still a positive, upbeat place with lots and lots of opportunities for those people who want to be proactive and take the advantage. Like everything else in life, no organization or society is perfect, but I don’t think you are going to find much better than the United States.” Dowling is also adamant that the Irish American experience is a tool to be used for the good of others beyond the healthcare spheres. In 2015, Dowling served as the keynote speaker for the Irish America Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 Awards, where he made a careful point of reminding the audience of the tragic image of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who made international headlines when discovered, drowned, on a Turkish beach after his family’s bid for safety from political conflict. “History repeats itself,” Dowling said. “And we as Irish people have a special perspective with regard to that issue, and, I believe, as people who are currently quite fortunate, to have an obligation to bring some element of sanity, humanism, civility, and understanding into the debates that are currently going on politically in this country and abroad regarding people who want to move in search of opportunity.” From dock-hand to teacher, from government worker to businessman, Dowling’s experience allows him to think from a multitude of positions and see the world through the eyes of those from all walks of life. He understands that the drive to succeed exists in everyone, and that adversity and 120-hour working weeks are obstacles that, with the right attitude, need never be feared in the pursuit of a IA better future.

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Tesa Fitzgerald By Olivia O’Mahony


ister Teresa “Tesa” Fitzgerald, a nun of the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the founder of non-profit organization Hour Children, is a long-time believer in the power of routine. “If you can embrace it,” she says, “you can run with it.” Stepping through the doors of Hour Children’s central facility, it’s easy to see why she holds this view so firmly – the place, abuzz with activity, runs like clockwork. The staff, gregarious and efficient, are busy preparing cans for an upcoming food drive and quick to greet visitors with a smile. Even Sr. Tesa’s much-loved cats fit seamlessly into the center’s rhythm, affectionate and constantly in motion. The walls are hidden beneath countless framed photographs and decorative pieces; hanging near the entrance, one brightly-colored sign draws the eye. It reads, “A mother holds her child’s hand for a while and their heart forever.” Based out of Long Island City, Queens, Hour Children takes its name from the critical hours that govern the relationship between an incarcerated mother and her child – the hour of incarceration, visitation hours during the prison term, and the hopeful, often intimidating, hour of the woman’s release and reunification with her family. Sr. Tesa founded the organization in 1986, when it initially brought care to the children of women in Bedford Hills and Taconic Correctional Facilities on Long Island. Now, the organization’s services are composed of both prison and community-based support programs like case management and therapeutic services, adult mentoring, vocational training, and child day care and teen group facilities, as well internship opportunities at the organization’s community food Sister Tesa pantry, three thrift shops, and Fitzgerald, founder of employment office. ApartHour Children. ment housing is currently

available up to 75 families at a time, with expansion not far off the horizon. In 2014, Sr. Tesa received the prestigious Opus Prize, a $1 million award for those who inspire and promote humanitarian and social work, which she pledged to invest in additional housing for Hour Children. With a U.S. prison population composed overwhelmingly of male offenders, incarcerated women are frequently reduced to a shadowed demographic. Of the 58 prisons in New York State alone, a mere three are used for the detainment of females. Working first with non-profit group Providence House in the 1980s, Sr. Tesa paid visits to New York’s women’s prisons, listening to the stories as the inmates were prepared to tell them. During this time, she became aware of the outcast status of formerly-incarcerated women, their pain, and the very real possibility of homelessness that awaited them upon being freed. “There is a need to specialize,” she says. “When you specialize in something, you become a little more savvy about it. You can advocate for people. You learn. You can become the spokesperson for a population that doesn’t have a voice.” Translating the cries of the silent, Sr. Tesa soon realized the need to help keep the mother-child bond strong during this time of divide. In order to do so, she wasted no time in becoming a licensed foster mother. “You have one woman’s jail, Rose M. Singer [on Riker’s Island],” she says. “There are 600 to 700 women there. When I go into a woman’s prison, it’s like an oasis. They’re so filled with grief and regret and remorse, but there’s also a sense of hope there. They’re so open and honest and willing to talk, much more than I would have been, to talk about their life stories and where they went wrong. They own their mistakes. How many of us own our mistakes?” To say that Hour Children offers these women a second chance would be inaccurate, says Sr. Tesa, who is lightning-quick to explain that many exoffenders never had a first chance to begin with. “The women I’ve met over the last 30 years in doing this, they didn’t have a family network of support. As a result, their early lives were in chaos. They lived in poverty, whether it was physical, emotional, or spir-

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itual, and as a result, they sought life in negative ways. Drugs looked good, drinking looked good, men looked good. The streets drew them. When they come to us, whether they come with a child or as a single woman, we provide a community.” The recidivism rate for women who become involved with Hour Children is just 3.5 percent. The model Hour Children supplies is as diverse as it is welcoming, encompassing both mothers and childless women, the young and the old, first-time offenders and those who have served multiple sentences, people of all races and religions willing to work towards future fulfilment for themselves and their loved ones. Sr. Tesa’s appreciation for life’s stable dependabilities are shared by many of the women Hour Children strives to help establish a life – if not at first, then often after some exposure to her philosophies. “People can grow into a sense of sharing –

it’s expected that you’re going to contribute your time, your talent, and your resources to our community in the house. You’re going to help cook, you’re going to help clean, and, at night, you’re going to come together in the kitchen – the hearth, which is so Irish, when you get down to it. You sit around with a cup of tea after the kids go to bed, and you talk. You share your experiences of the day, and you look for advice; and if you don’t look for it, you’re going to get it!” The internalization of such routine, she believes, is essential for personal growth. “I know that if I have to get up early in the morning, I have to go to bed at a certain time. I have to have things ready. That’s learning. Structure becomes an ally rather than an enemy.” In a 1950s Irish Catholic cul-de-sac of the Hewlett hamlet in Nassau County, New York, the Fitzgerald family were certainly no strangers to the importance of structure. It gave pattern to their otherwise simple lives. Tesa’s father John was a gardener from Lative, County Kerry, and her mother Catherine was a maid from County Donegal. Young Tesa and her three siblings slept in a fold-out bed on the porch of their tiny bungalow. Her parents made clear what was really important. “My father, he would get up and go to 6:30 mass every Sunday morning,” Sr. Tesa recalls. “He had just one suit, and it was always the same shirt. He’d go by himself to the 6:30, come home, and get us all up. He had a truck, an old black truck, and he would clean it out on Saturday night, get all the machinery out of the back of it, and then put these two boards in the back. That’s where we’d sit while he’d drive us to church. He’d drop us off, and we’d walk home, but that was his way of getting us there.”

TOP LEFT and RIGHT: Sister Tesa with children at the Hour Summer Camp and Afterschool Program in Long Island City. LEFT: Sister Tesa, second from left, with (l-r) her brother John, mother Catherine, father John, Sr., and brother Frank, on her day of entrance into the Sisters of St Joseph, in Brentwood, New York. Maureen, Sister Tesa’s sister, is not pictured.


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Sister Tesa with New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Sr. Tesa’s Long Island City district.

Like so many other Irish migrants, John and Catherine, who met in the U.S., put every cent they earned into broadening their children’s future horizons, giving them a Catholic education, and supporting those still living across the ocean. To receive a transatlantic letter, she explains, was the closest thing they had to real interaction with those back in Ireland. “A letter would come, my mother would read the letter, and then call my aunt and read her the letter. By the time it was all over, the thing was just worn. It was something from home.” However, there was no letter long enough that could substitute a real presence, as Tesa learned the night they received word of her grandmother’s death in Donegal. “A phone call came in from my aunt,” she says. “My mother cried. Later on in life, I kept thinking, to get that call and not be present for that… It was awful.” Despite contending with the difficulties laid upon all diaspora Irish, Catherine worked tirelessly to provide her children with the resources they would need for an auspicious future. Sr. Tesa remembers she often saw her in a black dress and white apron, knowing nothing of it being a housemaid’s uniform, thinking only that her mother looked beautiful. With the unshakeable love of a mother-child connection inspiring the constant forward momentum


of Hour Children’s work, success stories are bountiful. An experience particularly close to Sr. Tesa’s heart is that which she shared with Julia, the daughter of a teenage girl wrongly incarcerated during the New York drug raids in the 1980s. After the death of her maternal grandparents, Julia became one of Sr. Tesa’s first foster children. She would leap at any chance to attend visitation hours, “sitting in the back seat and talking to her imaginary friends about what the visit was going to be like, what her mother would be wearing, what color lipstick she would have on,” she says. “Then, to watch them in the visiting room, it was like… oh my God, everything just faded away but the two of them. Julia was the center of this woman’s life. We helped advocate for clemency for her mother, and when Julia was nine, her mother was freed. We were outside. They went off to live together, and Julia went to college. Her mother did well, working in real estate.” Little Julia, Sr. Tesa says, was her earliest teacher in this 30-year study of the importance of maintaining the closeness of mother and child through all stages of incarceration. Through her, she learned that it really is the small things that count the most. “All the little ways they did it… she would get something ready in her room, and say, ‘My mother needs to see this, can you take a picture?’ So I took pictures of everything. It’s important, because it’s the little things in life that are meaningful. When things get tough, you need something of substance to hold on to.” The effects of Hour Children upon the lives of the families it reaches are manifold – loving relationships are not only saved, strengthened, mended, and recreated, but every day, new ones are forged in ways even Sr. Tesa cannot predict. “When Christmas came this year, it was amazing in my house,” she says. “Typically, we provide gifts, Santa comes, all of that. But this particular group of people bought for each other. They bought for me. They bought for the other sister who lives with us. It was just such a wonderful, real experience. And it wasn’t about the stuff, it was about the experience.” The fact that Sr. Tesa has made her own home in the Astoria Hour Children housing facility should come as no surprise. For her, Hour Children is no mere project, but a way of life and a calling to represent a population so often left out in the cold. Embedding herself in the daily rituals of it all has allowed Sr. Tesa to transform Hour Children into that which it strives to inspire – a close-knit family. “I never thought I’d say this 30 years ago, but there’s a sense of pride for [the families] in being part of this. When you say that you’re with Hour Children, you immediately make it so that people know where you’ve come from, but it doesn’t matter any more. They’ve crossed that bridge. They’re owning their history; no one denies it. But it’s in the past. And here they are, building their futures.” IA

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HALL FAME LIUNA General President


or more than 150 years, the American labor movement has been a conduit for Irish American economic growth and, just as importantly, between the Irish in America and their families still in Ireland as well as republican organizations on both sides of the Atlantic. Irish laborers in America sent an estimated $260 million across the Atlantic between 1850 and 1900, and Irish and Irish American labor leaders were seminal in the power-building of unions in the early 20th century – people like Jim Larkin, James Connolly, Constance Markievicz, Terence Powderly, Mother Jones, and John Devoy. The long and deep connection between the Irish and the American labor movements is alive and well in Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers International Union of North America. O’Sullivan’s top priority for LIUNA is for it to enable every one of its members to live a middle-class way of life. His dream for Ireland is for it to be united and independent. He is a powerful orator, unafraid to speak his mind, and passionately committed to achieving these two goals. “We’re proud that through collective bargaining, LIUNA has provided generations of our members a pathway to the middle class,” O’Sullivan says. “That work is part of a broader struggle for justice, and we will never back up, never back down, never retreat, and never surrender in the never-ending battle for workers’ rights, for immigrant rights, for civil rights, and for human rights.” At the union’s 2006 convention, under O’Sullivan’s leadership, delegates passed a historic resolution to devote 25 cents per hour worked by a Laborer to the union’s organizing efforts. That move has raised $80 million per PHOTO: ED REHFELD / LIUNA year, enabling the union to weather the Great Recession, and swelling the union’s ranks to half a LUNA general president Terry O’Sullivan million members throughout North America. speaks at a 1916 O’Sullivan is hopeful about the future of LIUNA commemoration in and the building trades. “Work is booming for us, Dublin, March 24, 2016. quite honestly,” he says. “Canadian construction

By Patricia Harty and Adam Farley


industry is booming. In the United States, our construction work is booming in a whole host of cities across the country, and overall it is really strong.... Our membership is up, our work hours for our members are up, so we see a strong and vibrant construction economy for at least the next five years in the U.S. and Canada.” Moreover, he’s not afraid to hold controversial meetings or ideas in service of creating jobs. Unions, long a bastion of the left in the U.S., came out overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, O’Sullivan and LIUNA not excluded. So while some found it surprising that O’Sullivan has long been a fierce supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, challenging the environmental wing of the progressive movement, anyone with a cursory knowledge of O’Sullivan’s commitments to jobs shouldn’t have been. More than 1,100 of the workers on the DAPL were LIUNA members, and O’Sullivan takes the fact that they were forced to halt work personally. Three days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, O’Sullivan and other labor leaders met with him and other senior officials in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. “It was a very thorough and excellent conversation about how do we keep and create more middleclass jobs. I would say that that was the central theme of the meeting. And the President told us what he was going to do, and less than 24 hours after that meeting, you saw the five executive orders all of which we were supportive of, that he had told us he was going to do.” Those executive actions – advancing DAPL and Keystone XL, expediting environmental reviews on infrastructure projects, promoting U.S.-made pipelines, and reviewing domestic manufacturing regulation – serve American workers, will create jobs, and allow the building trades to continue to thrive, according to O’Sullivan. He isn’t much concerned with which side of the aisle an infrastructure bill comes from. His primary goal is, for whichever plan is adopted, that “there will be more than enough work for most every contractor in this country, if they are successful and find


Terry O’Sullivan


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the funding for it. That is where the rubber meets the road.” As for how immigration ties in with this mission, he says, “We are for a comprehensive immigration reform – there is no doubt about that – done the right way, not just a punitive approach, but a comprehensive approach that treats everybody fairly, and has a process.” “In our business, in the construction industry, not unlike other sectors, anytime that the employer can use your immigration status to not pay you, to keep holding you down, that is not only horrific for the individual, but it depresses wages.” There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the U.S., many of whom work in the building trades, and, legal status aside, they continue a long history of the Irish in the American labor force that O’Sullivan knows well and he is as passionate about Ireland as he is about the Labor Movement. O’Sullivan is a proud supporter of Sinn Féin and

a united Ireland. He serves as president of New York Friends of Ireland and chairman of the Washington, D.C. Friends of Ireland, has spoken three times at Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis, the party’s national conference in Ireland (most recently last year), and is good friends with many of the party’s leadership, including Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin’s deputy president, and Rita O’Hare, Sinn Féin’s representative to the United States. “My father was a Sinn Féin supporter, as was his father,” he says. “So it was natural for me to keep up the work, and keep up the fight for a free and united Ireland.” At the 2012 Ard Fheis in Kerry, O’Sullivan even got to meet his great aunt, who was 92 at the time. “It is emotional every time you go over there because you think about your family history and what people went through.” With respect to the current political climate in Northern Ireland and America’s involvement, he

TOP: O’Sullivan speaks to LIUNA leaders at the union’s 2013 Leadership Conference. LEFT: Commemorating 1916 and the participation of labor in the Irish struggle. Belfast, March 27, 2016. RIGHT: Pictured with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in Dublin last March.



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TOP: Speaking at a Mansion House reception with the mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, March 26, 2016. ABOVE: O’Sullivan (center) tours the Second Avenue subway tunnel work site in New York City with Laborers’ Local 147, “The Sandhogs,” November 2013

says to give the new administration time, noting that President Clinton “obviously had a personal interest in the Good Friday Agreement.” But he also suggests that the importance of a united Ireland has waned as an American priority. “I would say that this is the generalization – certainly not my view, because I am going to be involved in as long as I am alive and until we get a free, united Ireland – but I think that with everything that is going on in our country, I don’t think that it is as front and center as I would like it to be. Maybe that is the best way to phrase it.” O’Sullivan, who turns 62 this June, was born in San Francisco, and moved to Virginia in his early teens when his father, Terrence J. O’Sullivan, was elected LIUNA general secretary-treasurer. He still has family in the Bay Area and goes back all the


time, too. “I always make it known that I am a proud San Franciscan, I am a proud Irishman, I am a proud Laborer and I am a proud Californian.” O’Sullivan’s mother’s family emigrated from Galway and his father’s family from Kerry, a place that is like a second home for him, he says. “While I deeply love the country of my birth, and am proud to be an American, I have always also considered myself a Kerryman, because my grandfather came from there,” he wrote in Irish America’s 1916 centenary issue, in an article on the role the trade union movement in America played in Ireland’s struggle for freedom. (He even recently acquired his Irish passport.) And it’s his father’s parents to whom he owes his affiliation with unions. After moving between New York and Boston, his grandparents eventually settled in San Francisco in the early 20th century. But when his father was seven, and his uncle was still in the womb, his grandfather died at the age of 37. Less than a decade later, it was the San Francisco local of the Laborers that helped the family get by. It was during his father’s teenage years, O’Sullivan says, that “the Laborers’ Local in San Francisco let him go to work and didn’t even charge him dues because they knew that he was bringing the money home to his mom and his younger brother.” “So I knew about the trade union movement from obviously the first day I was born, so to speak, because of what – not the movement in particular – our union had done and provided for my father and our family.” He joined Laborers’ Local 456 in 1974, while working on construction of the Washington Metro, and eventually moved to West Virginia and joined Laborer’s Local 1353 to become an instructor at the West Virginia Laborers Training Fund. In 1989, O’Sullivan became the Training Fund’s administrator, then assistant director of the LIUNA construction department in 1993; he later served as chief of staff, then as vice president, mid-Atlantic regional manager, and eventually as assistant to the general president. On January 1, 2000, he was elected general president. When he spoke to Irish America, O’Sullivan was about to commence on several weeks of travel, which he acknowledges can get tiring at times, but also revitalizes him and his faith in his work. “There is no better calling, as far as I am concerned, and having the opportunity, the honor, the privilege to represent people and trying to make a difference in peoples’ lives is what motivates me because this union made that difference that I felt in the lives of my father and my family,” he says. O’Sullivan enjoys spending time with his family: his wife, Yvette; his two children, Brendan and IA Caitlin; and his stepdaughter, Giovanna.

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HALL FAME Athletic Director

Dr. Kevin White By Dave Lewis

ABOVE: A painting of Kevin White’s ancestral Irish homestead in Dungloe, Co. Donegal. TOP RIGHT: Kevin and Jane White (center) with their family. FAR RIGHT: White in his role as athletics director at Duke University in North Carolina.


evin White believes that his success and impact on collegiate sports is because of his Irish ancestry. “I am who I am, the diminutive pluses combined with the avalanche of minuses, because of my ancestral roots. To that end, I take great pride in being a teacher, a mentor, and a leader, which are all profoundly found within my Celtic DNA,” he told Irish America in February. White, the vice president, director of athletics, and an adjunct professor of business administration at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, was raised in Amityville, New York to parents who had roots in Dungloe, County Donegal. Both his paternal and maternal grandparents belonged to the Boyle and O’Donnell clans. If you already made the connection with the famous singer Daniel O’Donnell, yes, there is a claim that they might be cousins. Growing up, White remembers his house being filled with the distinct Donegal brogue. His maternal grandparents would stay with the family from time to time and tell him and his three siblings stories of home, where his grandmother, Mariah, was a dancer and his grandfather, Patrick, was a horse trainer who, at the time of his arrival in Ellis Island in 1902, only spoke Irish. “Of course, there weren't an abundance of horse training jobs in Brooklyn for an Irish-speaking man, so, off to Pittsburgh they went, where Patrick joined a myriad of other ethnic Irish and worked on the railroad there until a strike put him out of work,” White says. From there, Patrick and Mariah moved to Wilkes-Barre and “joined the ranks of many family members and friends via Donegal in the utter despair of the Celtic coal mining fraternity.” White’s father, Emerson, wrote a syndicated sports column that was published in most of the local Long Island newspapers, as well as in and around New York City, but he credits his mother, Rita, as being the premier athlete of the family, due


to her training and career as a dancer. “I would suggest, to this day, that my mother was unequivocally the very best athlete in our family,” he says. His mother, who had been sent from WilkesBarre to the Bronx to receive a Catholic education, took her Irish step dancing background and auditioned for the Rockettes at 15, joining their ranks in 1940. She danced with them through the war before moving on to work as an accompanying singer and dancer for well-known voices such as Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and the Tommy Tucker Orchestra. She was a widely known starlet of that time, performing in big time New York venues and USO shows all over the country. As a result of his parents’ moderate notoriety, White says, “Our upbringing was prideful, and a bit structured, but I wouldn’t portray it as strict. We were a classic American family that was moderately aspirational within our respective means.” They lived a firmly middle-class life. “As for future ambition, I really never thought about a career in college athletics. As the first family member to attend college, I was incapable of even entertaining that prospect.” During his high school days, White was a track and field runner, and later, as he pursued a degree in business administration at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, he would again participate in track and field. It was at St. Joseph’s that he would meet his future wife, Jane Gartland, who also ran track and field, and also had Irish heritage – from Dublin and Mayo. Shortly after Kevin and Jane married in the early 1970s, they relocated to Florida because White’s father had become terminally ill. In New Port Richey, the couple was hired as teachers and track and field coaches at Gulf High School, which eventually led to his introduction into the world of collegiate athletics. “I always loved coaching, and still do,” White explains. “However, once our family began to mature, and as I began to take a deeper dive into academic credentialing, the next logistical step appeared to be athletics administration.” Since taking that step, White’s athletic programs and educational initiatives have enabled him to become one of the best, if not the best, athletic directors at the collegiate level. It’s unsurprising then that his first success came in his very first job, in 1982, at the collegiate level, at Loras College in

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Dubuque, Iowa, where he established the National Catholic Basketball Tournament. While at Loras, White saw there was a gap between the college and the community and figured a basketball tournament would bring the two together. “It was a need to reconnect the local community with the college and specifically with athletics,” he says. His vision led to a men’s and women’s basketball tournament between 32 Catholic colleges that would rival the NCAA tournament throughout the 1980s. White went on to lead athletic departments at University of Maine, Tulane University, Arizona State University, and, most recently, the University of Notre Dame, where he also served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, and president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association. His tenure there qualifies as the most successful across-the-board years in the history of athletics at the home of the Fighting Irish. Teams thrived under White’s tenure – men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s fencing, and women’s basketball in particular, as they went on to win a total of four NCAA championships. In 2006, White was named as the General Sports Turf System Division I-A Central Region Athletic Director of the Year as his student athletes performed well in the classroom and on the field – the school boasted 44 All-Americans, 14 Academic All-Americans, and five of the combination of the two. These academic records set the bar for how White’s student-athletes would perform at Duke University. He joined the Blue Devils in 2008 and, as he had with Notre Dame, he developed an environment in which student athletes lead both on and off the field. The Blue Devils have gone on to win a total of

seven NCAA championships in men’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, and women’s golf; 480 of these student-athletes made the latest All-Atlantic Coast Conference Honor Roll during White’s nine-year tenure so far. Last year, 25 out of 26 Duke teams earned grade point averages of 3.0 or better, and a combined total of 187 student athletes made the dean’s list, 97 in the fall and 90 in the spring season. Duke had a 98 percent graduation success rate. White also makes sure that these student athletes serve the immediate city of Durham as well as the surrounding community. Under White, over 500 student athletes have participated in community outreach, learning, and service projects and have a combined effort of 2,000 community service hours during the 2015-2016 academic year alone. One such project is a civic engagement program called the RubensteinBing Student Athlete Civic Engagement Program, otherwise known as ACE. This program enables studentathletes from both Duke and Stanford universities to travel to countries like South Africa, China, India, and Vietnam in order to work together in communities that do not have enough resources for things like health services, education, social enterprise, envi-

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ABOVE: Kevin’s mother Rita, pictured at a side door of the Roxy Theater, where she was a dancer. TOP LEFT: Kevin’s maternal grandparents from Dungloe. Seated are Mariah and Patrick. TOP RIGHT: White’s grandfather Patrick’s family at their home in Dungloe.

ronmental sustainability, conservation, or coaching. White’s student athletes weren’t the only ones who have succeeded under his administration; those who have worked under White’s tutelage have also gone on to succeed and some even to run their own athletic programs. White has taught over 20 athletic directors the tools of the trade in his 35-year career, some of the most notable at schools like Tulane University, Ohio University, Florida State University, Stanford University, and Duke’s own nemesis, the University of North Carolina. As well as assisting student athletes and future administrators, White has been a major proponent of diversity and inclusion in his thirty-five-year long career. This makes sense for a man who wrote his doctoral dissertation (he holds a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University) on Title IX after comparing the inequality of his wife’s salary to his own, “wherein she was appreciably more successful as a high school and college coach,” he says. White is also a major advocate for diversity at the schools he serves. At all five of the Division I schools’ athletic programs where White has been at the helm, he hired the first ethnic minority head coach. At Duke specifically, the athletic department went from having one female member and no ethnic minorities on the senior and executive staff in 2007 to having eight women and four ethnic minorities in those roles under White. White was recently honored by the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee last September as a “Champion of Diversity and Inclusion” for this change in Duke’s administration and his Open Door Initiative, a plan that allows for ethnic minorities to have an opportunity to intern in White’s athletic administration every summer, giving them a chance to cross the threshold into a world of athletic administration in the future. “Kevin is the very first person who comes to mind when considering those who are advocates of underrepresented populations,” China Jude, chair of the subcommittee that selects Champions of Diversity and Inclusion and the assistant vice president and athletics director at Queens College, New York, said at the time. “His long history of positioning ethnic minorities and women for the


athletics director chair speaks volumes of his commitment long before others were willing to address it.” Sandy Barbour, the Pennsylvania State University athletics director, called White “an incredible visionary, passionate advocate for students and unparalleled mentor.” White downplays the praise. “Each and every institution that I or my family have served has been, in its own particular way, just a magical experience,” he says. “At the end of the day, having had the opportunity to combine education and entertainment within the context of sport has been terribly gratifying.” If he’s a good teacher, he says, it’s an outgrowth of his ancestral background. Historically, his family were cited as highly accomplished Irish teachers. And if his nine years at Duke have been some the some of the best in his career, it’s partly because he was made to feel at home. “The greater Blue Devil family truly embraced our family,” he says. White’s children, following along in the footsteps of their parents, have embarked almost exclusively on careers in education and college athletics. His first son, Mike, is the head basketball coach at the University of Florida; his second son, Danny, is the athletic director at University of Central Florida; and his third son, Brian, is an associate athletic director for Development at Army. Meanwhile, White’s first daughter, Maureen, is an English teacher in Arizona and Mariah, the youngest, recently graduated from Tulane Law School. Irish heritage is important to Kevin and his family. He and Jane hosted alumni trips to Ireland while at Notre Dame, and have continued to host trips from Duke. As a family, they have been back to Ireland and Dungloe over a dozen times since 1993. White, who is a dual citizen, is thankful, not only for the opportunities that America has given him, but for the opportunities his parents and grandparents were given in this country. “I deeply love our country,” he says. “America is an amazing place that has been greatly enhanced by its eclectic migration, and evolution. With that said, one of my all-time favorite days was when I was granted dual citizenship. Being formally connected to my Irish legacy, in particular my family heritage in Dungloe, was a powerful moment for me.” He is grateful to those ancestors who came over from Ireland and paved the way for his family to enjoy the success they have today. “Our ancestral story isn’t unique; however, our journey is indeed very personal, and will be forever celebrated,” he says. “With that said, thank God in those respective days, there was no ‘Wall,’ for America was immeasurably impacted by immigrants from all quarters of the world, including the Irish, whose legacy I endeavor to uphold, as a very IA proud Irish American.”

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The Irishman Who

Built New York Harbor


John Wolfe Ambrose emigrated from County Limerick as a boy and went on to leave an indelible mark on New York City. He cleaned the streets and turned New York Harbor into a world port.



John Wolfe Ambrose was born January 10, 1838 at New Castle, County Limerick. He was 12 or 14 when he came to New York with his parents and possibly other family members, including two sisters, but little is known about his early life or parents. A cousin, Daniel Ambrose, came to New York in 1865 and became a prominent physician in Brooklyn Heights. Another physician cousin, J.K. Ambrose became the Staten Island coroner. According to Arthur Ambrose, a descendant of Daniel speaking in 2003, the earliest Ambrose ancestors were farmers, but there were many doctors and ministers in the family in Ireland. Ambrose himself had planned to become a Presbyterian minister and worked to attend the Princeton Theological School (now Princeton University), founded by primarily Scotch Irish Presbyterians. He left after a year to attend the University of the City of New York (now New York University), where he found a mentor and lifetime friend in Dr. Howard Crosby, a Greek scholar with whom Ambrose enjoyed reading the classics – in Greek – for many years. In addition, his curriculum included algebra, geometry, trigonometry, surveying, calculus, and analytical geometry, which helped him establish a career in civil engineering. In 1862, after his studies, Ambrose, who was focused on public service, took a newspaper job with the official organ of the Citizens Association, one of the first civic organizations devoted to municipal reform and the forerunner of the city’s Board of Health. Here he worked with Dr. Stephen Smith, who would become a lifelong friend and personal physician. Smith recognized that outbreaks of typhus and cholera were related to the dreadful environmental conditions in the city, where the average life span was 41 years. City streets at that time were rank with horse manure, dead animals, and all manner of “rubbish” left for scavengers. Waste collection and street cleaning were handled by the Metropolitan Board of


ike a true Renaissance man, John Ambrose had many interests and talents. His son-in-law, George F. Shrady, Jr., said his “giant intellect, coupled with his remarkable executive ability and constructive genius, conceived plans for public improvements so vast and comprehensive that he occupied a unique position among men in that he was far ahead of his time. He was one of our most public spirited citizens, to whom New York owes an eternal debt of gratitude.” Shrady further described Ambrose as “a man of commanding presence,” who possessed “a keen sense of humor, and was by nature genial and kindly.” Ambrose did indeed accomplish a great deal for the city in his lifetime. He built the Second Avenue elevated train, installed 90 miles of gas mains, designed the city’s street cleaning program, developed the South Brooklyn waterfront for shipping, operated a ferry company between there and lower Manhattan, and created an amusement park that saw the likes of Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. But his tireless efforts to get a recalcitrant Congress to appropriate PHOTO: MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK funds to build the deep shipping channel that kept New York Harbor a world port by the beginning of the 20th century is his most lasting gift.

By Marian Betancourt

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FAR LEFT: John Wolfe Ambrose, who immigrated to the U.S. as a boy and grew up to be a brilliant engineer and developer. Because of his efforts, New York Harbor was deepened to handle the largest transatlantic ships, allowing New York’s commercial economy to boom. He also laid 90 miles of gas pipes, built the Second Avenue elevated line, and cleaned up the city’s streets. LEFT: A view of the New York docks in the 1880s.

Police until the Department of Street Cleaning was created in 1881. A street cleaning program designed by Ambrose and using white-uniformed workers with carts and brooms was put into use. After his studies, Ambrose married Katharine “Kate” Weeden Jacobs, daughter of George Washington Jacobs, from a prominent family in Hingham, Massachusetts, and Nancy Weeden Jacobs, whose ancestors were settlers in colonial Manhattan. They eventually lived in a townhouse at 575 Lexington Avenue, at 51st Street. In the tradition of Kate’s family, and a popular custom of the time, their sons were named for famous Americans: John Fremont Ambrose and Thomas Jefferson Ambrose. They also had three daughters, Katharine, Ida Virginia, and Mary.


As his family grew, Ambrose established a contracting business, J.W. Ambrose and Company, to develop more ways to improve the city, especially its harbor. While the Brooklyn waterfront along the East River opposite Manhattan had been developed, the shore line nearer to the Narrows, from Red Hook to Bay Ridge (the broad part of the lower harbor leading to the Atlantic Ocean) was largely undeveloped. Ambrose saw opportunity here for piers to accommodate increased shipping with easy access from the Narrows into the ocean. He founded the New York and South Brooklyn Ferry and Steam Transportation Company in 1886 with plans to build and lease fast APRIL / MAY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 61

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ABOVE: The Second Avenue El at 34th Street, December 1937. The Metropolitan Elevated Railway Company (formerly the Gilbert Elevated Railway Company) began to construct the Second Avenue line, the work actually being undertaken by Mills and Ambrose, the foundation contractors. Work began at the corner of Allen and Division streets on February 24, 1879. The first test train ran over the line from South Ferry to Second Avenue and 65th Street on January 15, 1880. RIGHT: Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick, where Ambrose was born in 1838.

double-decked iron boats. To inspire people to travel to South Brooklyn, Ambrose Park was created near the ferry terminal, at 37th Street and Third Avenue, which was leased out for entertainment, such as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Previously, no space in New York was big enough to handle the crowds as large as 16,000 persons these shows attracted. As steam was replacing sail, ships were getting larger and more numerous, Ambrose saw the need for a deep water channel from the ocean into the harbor to accommodate steamships and protect the city’s progress as a great port. This lack was already drawing maritime commerce to other ports.


Shortly after their 33rd wedding anniversary, Ambrose’s wife Kate died at home, surrounded by her family. She was 55 and had suffered from heart disease for several years and was cared for by the family’s long-time friend, Dr. Stephen Smith. However, on the Fourth of July, 1893, Kate succumbed to a blockage of the heart valve and edema of the lungs. After a private funeral at home, she was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where the rest of her family would eventually join her. By this time, the Ambrose children were establishing their careers in public service and the arts. Thomas Fremont Ambrose, widely known in musical circles, would be a director with the Oratorio Society, organized in 1873 by Leopold Damrosch and still in existence today. His sister Mary also sang with the society, as well as St. Paul’s Chapel Choir and the St. Cecilia Singing Society at Trinity Church, where she was active in social causes. Only two of the five children – Katharine and John – would marry, and both married into the family of Dr. George Shrady, the well-loved physician who


cared for Ulysses Grant during his final illness in 1885. Katharine, who married George Shrady, Jr. in 1887, founded and was president of the Federation of Associations for Cripples, the forerunner to organizations helping people with disabilities. John Fremont, who married Minnie E.M. Shrady in 1888, founded the East Side Improvement Association, responsible for the development of Park Avenue.


For the next five years, Ambrose continued his harbors efforts, despite the reluctance of Congress to give money to New York. The Rivers and Harbors Committee in the House of Representatives complained that New York already got $4.50 of every $5 dollars for river and harbor improvement. Ambrose set out to prove them wrong. He completed a 50-page document in 1898 called the “Congressional Appro-

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LEFT: New York City streets were rank with horse manure, dead animals, and all manner of “rubbish” left for scavengers. Waste collection and street cleaning were handled by the Metropolitan Board of Police until the Department of Street Cleaning was created in 1881. A street cleaning program designed by John Ambrose and using white-uniformed workers with carts and brooms, was put into use. BELOW: Ambrose’s street cleaning crew with a job advertisement poster.


priations Acts and the New York Harbor” showing that 56 percent of total commerce of the country passed through the port of New York and 69 percent of total revenues were furnished by New York, yet only one dollar out of every hundred dollars expended for river and harbor improvement in the five years ending in 1896 had been allotted to New York. Ambrose organized a delegation of prominent and representative citizens from the Chamber of Commerce, the produce and maritime exchanges, the Board of Marine Underwriters, and the Merchants Association. On December 22, 1898, they appeared before the River and Harbor Committee advocating for a channel 2,000 feet wide and 40 feet deep. Ambrose made the principle address. It fell on deaf ears. The committee absolutely denied his plea, but not for a minute did Ambrose consider relinquishing a project so dear to his heart. He went alone to the Senate Committee on Commerce and met with its chairman William P. Frye of Maine, a leading force in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. “And by his masterly presentation of the subject, secured the appropriation that gave New York a suitable approach to its magnificent harbor,” Shrady later wrote.


The shipping and commercial interests of New York organized a public banquet to honor their colleague at the elegant new (original) Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

on Fifth Avenue and 33rd and 34th streets. Ostensibly to honor Senator Frye, the gala was obviously for Ambrose. Senator Frye accepted the honor of the dinner, but said that it belonged to “the persistency and the intelligent advocacy of one of your fellow citizens, Mr. John W. Ambrose, supplemented by the influence of our senators.” Introducing Ambrose, Theodore Roosevelt, New York’s newly elected governor, called him “a man whose crowning achievement was that he had procured for the port of New York an entrance channel 2,000 feet wide and 40 feet deep from the Narrows to the ocean!” Everyone cheered loudly when Ambrose rose to speak, but with characteristic modesty, he played down his own role, explaining how APRIL / MAY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 63

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Senator Frye had finally taken hold of the legislature and pushed it through. Newspapers all over the world reported on this event.


Ambrose did not live to see his dream a reality when, in 1917, the Lusitania would become the first ship to enter the Narrows through the new channel. On May 17, three weeks after the banquet, Ambrose died of typhoid malaria. He was 61. According to the New York Times, “he was sick about 10 days, his illness having been caused, it is believed, by the escape of poisonous gases from a neglected ruin near his office on Pier 2 East River.” Ironically, the city’s sanitation was not yet up to the standards he had helped create. “In the death of John W. Ambrose this city has lost one of its most public-spirited and useful citizens,” wrote the New York Daily Tribune. John Ambrose’s funeral was held at the Methodist Episcopal Church on Madison Avenue at 60th Street. He was buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery next to his wife Kate. In its 1901-2 session, Congress passed a bill to name the channel for Ambrose. In 1908, a lightship was christened Ambrose and stationed at the entrance to the channel that bears his name. This floating lighthouse guided ships safely from the Atlantic Ocean into the broad mouth of lower New York Bay. Sixty years later, in 1968, after a permanent light station resembling an oil rig had been erected, the U.S. Coast Guard gave the lightship to the South Street Seaport Museum, where it has been restored and is open to visitors. It is a National Historic Landmark. Shortly after Ambrose died, his colleagues presented to his family a life size bronze bust of Ambrose created by sculptor Andrew O’Connor. Katharine, who would outlive her siblings and her husband, decided to present the bronze to the city in 1936. Thus, 37 years after the death of John Ambrose, the Department of Parks unveiled the bronze bust set on a plain granite plinth with a low relief carving of the waves and map of the harbor placed on the wall of


TOP: The lightship Ambrose at South Street Seaport Museum is now a National Landmark. LEFT: To inspire people to travel to south Brooklyn, Ambrose Park was created near the ferry terminal at 37th Street and Third Avenue, which was leased out for entertainment, such as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.

Castle Clinton at the Battery, which by this time had become home to the New York Aquarium. However, the monument was stolen in 1990 and never found. Now, 27 years after the theft, the New York City Department of Parks will install a replica of the bronze bust at the east side of the Battery, IA near State Street.

This article is adapted from Marian Betancourt’s latest book, Heroes of New York Harbor: Tales from the City’s Port (Globe Pequot, 2016). Many of the heroes are Irish Americans.

“John Wolfe Ambrose’s achievement was that he had procured for the port of New York an entrance channel 2,000 -feet wide and 40 feet deep from the Narrows to the ocean.” – Then-New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt at a dinner honoring John Wolfe Ambrose in April 1899.


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by Rosemary Rogers

Mother Jones

The Most Dangerous Woman in America ”She was a badass who fought for the underdog, battled child labor, and was sometimes referred to as ‘the most dangerous woman in America.’”

TOP RIGHT Mary Harris “Mother” Jones with children and adults beginning their “Children’s Crusade” to walk from Philadelphia to Oyster Bay, New York, to publicize the conditions of children working in textile mills.


he editors of the socially-conscious magazine Mother Jones, explaining the woman Mother Jones to their readers, write: “She was a badass who fought for the underdog, battled child labor, and was sometimes referred to as ‘the most dangerous woman in America.’” She was also a fiery and brilliant Irish immigrant who was one of the founders of the American labor movement, a champion of workers who spoke truth – and gave some attitude – to power, including presidents, Congress and captains of industry. “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living!” became her rousing battle cry. Few remember (or ever knew) that she once built a fearsome army of women armed only with mops and brooms. Or that she inspired the great folk anthem, “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” Then there was that time she was in a West Virginia jail, accused of attempting to murder the governor, when she occupied herself by tossing beer bottles at sewer rats – she was 84 at the time. Mary Harris Jones was born in Cork in 1830, into a family of tenant farmers and rebels (her grandfather was hanged as a “traitor to the crown”). She wrote of her ancestors, “For generations they had fought for Ireland’s freedom. Many of my folks died in that struggle.” But it was the Great Hunger, not British tyranny or landlords, that sent the Harris family into exile. They settled first in Toronto, but Mary’s restless spirit took her from Canada to Michigan to Chicago to Memphis, never staying in any one place for long. “My address,” she once said, “is like my shoes: it travels with me.” She worked as a dressmaker in Memphis where, in 1861, she married George E. Jones, a labor organizer in the Iron Molders’ Union. George, Mary observed, worked in hell – for fourteen hours a day he huddled on a dark workbench, sweltering as he sat next to a blazing fire. Outside, another kind of hell was going on – the Civil War. Still, the young couple were happy and decidedly fertile; four children arrived in six years. Then, yellow fever came to town. Within two months, Mary Harris Jones buried her husband and


all four of her children.The only way to cope with her grief, she decided, was to tend to other victims and their families. As soon as the epidemic passed, she left Memphis, now a place of unspeakable memories. She returned to Chicago, a dressmaker again, and opened a store downtown to design and fit dresses for the great ladies of Lake Shore Drive. To her clients, she was the invisible woman, unseen as she tugged at and pinned up elaborate gowns. They may not have seen her, but Mary saw them, their self-absorption and indifference to the “poor, starving wretches, the mothers on the other side of my store window, begging for food.” For her, this image threw into relief the vast chasm between rich and poor. Mary Harris Jones had endured famine, war, and plague, but now her tragedies were beginning to take on biblical proportions. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed her business, home, and all her possessions. She lived outdoors on the shore of Lake Michigan, penniless, and, in echo of her childhood in Ireland, starving. One night, taking shelter in the basement of a church, Mary happened upon a secret meeting of an organization of skilled and unskilled workers, the Knights of Labor. It was her road-to-Damascus moment: the woman who had lost everything had now found something, her life’s work – raising hell. She became a powerful union organizer, lighting the flame of protest in coalmines, steel mills, factories, railroads. She eagerly recruited women and African Americans, a bold initiative at the time. Tirelessly and yes, loudly, she advocated and agitated for 14-hour work days and pay raises; she fought against unsafe working conditions, high mortality rates, and child labor. Sometime around 1897, Mary Harris Jones just, disappeared. She later emerged with a new name, and a new persona – older (she had added seven years to her age), dressing only in black (including a black bonnet), tying up all her possessions in a black shawl (“I travel light,” she explained) and gave her address as “wherever there is a fight.” But once she opened her mouth, the old biddy was trans-


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formed into a masterful orator: her powerful voice, still with traces of Cork, carried great distances. Mother Jones was born. In her autobiography, she wrote of burying her children in 1867, “One by one, my four little children sickened and died. I washed their little bodies and got them ready for burial.” Now, as Mother Jones, she was a mother again, a mother to workers, with all the passion of a mother for her children. She showered them with her love, was willing to be clubbed and jailed for them. Workers returned the passion, “She crooks her finger – twenty thousand men lay down.” One striking miner said to another as she passed by, “That’s Jesus Christ come down on earth again, and playing he’s an old woman.’’ To many laborers, she was known simply as “Mother.” Famed labor activist Bill Haywood invited her to be one of founders of the Industrial Workers of the World or “Wobblies,” a coalition of miners and trade unionists. Her inclusion in this group solidified her as one of the chief labor leaders in America. And across the Atlantic, she had gathered the attention and admiration of Irish freedom fighters, particularly James Connolly. Here was a woman of the Irish diaspora, seemingly sent from heaven to raise hell, fighting the government and skewering corporate fat cats on behalf of workers’ rights and freedoms. In 1899 she orchestrated a strike in Pennsylvania and when management brought in scabs, she goaded the now-fearful strikers, “I have been in jail more than once and I expect to go again. If you are too cowardly to fight, I will fight.” She even enlisted their wives, ordering them to charge at the strike breakers

with mops pointed. “All of you hammer and howl and be ready to chase the scabs aiming your mops and brooms at them.” If this sounds like ancient Gaelic faction fighting or a replay of the 1798 Uprising where pikes were used as weapons, it was. In 1903, she held a rally in Philadelphia to open her famous March of the Mill Children, a crusade to end child labor. The march included girls and boys with crushed hands and fingers, victims of factory accidents. Jones shouted to the crowd, “Philadelphia’s mansions were built on the broken bones, the quivering hearts and drooping heads of children.” She led her tiny platoon from Philadelphia through New York City and ended in Theodore Roosevelt’s home in Oyster Bay. In West Virginia she was at Paint Creek and Cabin Creek mines when the owners refused to let miners unionize; instead, they called in the infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency. Jones led the strikers as they were evicted, then forced into a “tent colony,” and she stayed as the situation devolved into guerilla war and bloodshed. Two hundred strikers were arrested and Mother Jones was charged with “conspiracy to commit murder,” specifically

ABOVE: Mother Jones at the White House, September 26, 1924.


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wild irish women |


Mother Jones with President Calvin Coolidge (left), his wife Grace, and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., 1924.


TOP LEFT: Mother Jones marches in Trinidad, Colorado with supporters during the 1913-1914 coal miners’ strike. ABOVE: Men, high in the ranks of labor circles, take part in the last rites for Mother Jones. At right, William N. Doak, newly appointed Secretary of Labor. The casket is being borne from St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., where services were held, after which the body was sent to Mount Olivet, Illinois, to be buried beside five of her “boys" slain in one of the many labor wars in which she participated, December 3, 1930.

the murder of the governor. The evidence? She had asked him for a meeting. The district attorney, with the improbable name of Reese Blizzard, famously called her the “most dangerous woman in America,” a charge that succeeded in actually making her the most famous woman in America. Mother Jones refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the court, refused a lawyer and refused to enter a plea. Nonetheless, she was tried, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in the state penitentiary. From her cell, she wrote to the U.S. Senate, asking them to investigate the conditions of the mines. Surprisingly they did just that and Jones was set free. Set free to raise more hell. In 1913, a coal strike was raging in Colorado. When Jones heard that Colorado’s governor planned to bar her from the state, she got the next train to Denver. With hired detectives on her trail, she went straight to the mines owned by John D. Rockefeller or, as Jones preferred, “Oily John.” He insisted his miners were happy (notwithstanding the 90 percent who were on strike) and, ordered to negotiate by the Secretary of Labor, Rockefeller refused. Instead, he


evicted the strikers forcing them into tent camps. As tensions escalated, Rockefeller called in the National Guard. On Easter Sunday, 1914, the Guard fired on strike leaders and their families; 20 people, mostly women and children, were killed. Among those arrested was Mother Jones, who was thrown into a damp cell under the courthouse. The Ludlow Massacre was an eerie foreshadowing of another avoidable tragedy. When John D.’s grandson, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, was faced with a prison rebellion in 1971, he refused to negotiate with a joint committee of lawyers and prisoners. Instead he sent in the National Guard and state troopers resulting in 43 deaths at the Attica Correctional Facility. Feminists have taken issue with Jones’s stand on women’s rights. She was indifferent to suffrage and opposed women having careers as raising children was their “most beautiful task.” Perhaps this attitude had something to do with losing all of her own children, but who knows? After she had returned from the Ludlow Massacre, she addressed a group of women, “No matter what your fight don’t be ladylike! God Almighty made women and the Rockefeller’s gang of thieves made the ladies. I have just fought sixteen months of bitter warfare in Colorado, up against armed mercenaries […] with nothing but a hatpin!” Mother Jones, the eponymous magazine aside, is no longer famous, her great contributions to the working class all but forgotten. But, in 2015, the Guardian included her in “The 10 Best Revolutionaries,” a list that included Che Guevara, Mahatma Gandhi, and Leon Trotsky. She would have loved being part of that group, and definitely would have IA loved being called a “badass” even more.

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windows on the past | evictions


The Battering Ram Sean Sexton’s photographic archive, considered the finest privately-held collection of Irish photographs in the world, provide a poignant photo-history of evictions in the final decades of the 19th century. These images created a wave of sympathy for Irish tenants and embarrassed the British government into making legislative changes. By Christine Kinealy

n 1900, Queen Victoria visited Ireland for the fourth and final time. She was an octogenarian, almost blind, and wheelchair-ridden. She came not to say farewell to her Irish subjects, but to raise more soldiers for yet another imperial war – this time against the Boers in South Africa. Her visit was met with protests from militant nationalists, including the dazzling Maud Gonne, who was prompted to write a newspaper article, which was instantly banned by the Irish authorities. The title of the article was “The Famine Queen,” a name that has persisted. Gonne wrote: “And in truth, for Victoria, in the decrepitude of her eighty-one years, to have decided after an absence of half-a-century to revisit the country she hates and whose inhabitants are the victims of the criminal policy of her reign, the survivors of sixty years of organized famine, the political necessity must have been terribly strong; for after all she is a woman, and however vile and selfish and pitiless her soul may be, she must sometimes tremble as death approaches when she thinks of the countless Irish mothers who, sheltering under the cloudy Irish sky, watching their starving little ones, have cursed her before they died. “Every eviction during sixty-three years has been carried out in Victoria’s name.” Should Queen Victoria be judged by the policies carried out by her government ministers during her long reign (1837-1901)? Is she culpable for the hunger and famines that occurred throughout the British Empire while she was monarch? The most famous Victorian-era famine took place at the heart of the empire, in Ireland, in the 1840s – a famine that within only five years claimed over one million lives and forced an even greater number to leave the country of their birth. Death did not wait long to claim them, as the average survival rate of an emigrant who made it to North America was only six years. The question remains – how could such a lethal famine have occurred at the heart of the richest empire in the world? One of the cruelest aspects of the treatment of the Irish poor was the mass evictions that accompanied the mass hunger. Records were not officially maintained until 1848, so precise numbers are not known, but it is estimated that as many as 400,000 individuals were driven out of their dwellings in the late 1840s. As evictions were the result of human agency,


they could have been prevented or regulated. The failure to do so meant that, as the Great Hunger unfolded, homelessness joined hunger as a major source of disease, dislocation, and death. Nor was it simply nationalists who feared the consequences of such cruelty. At the end of 1848, Lord Clarendon, the Viceroy in Ireland, privately lamented that the British government’s failure to help the Irish poor meant that they had “coldly persisted in a policy of extermination.” In contrast, Charles Trevelyan, the dogmatic secretary of Her Majesty’s Treasury, defended both the mass evictions and mass emigration on the grounds that, “We must not complain of what we really want to obtain. If small farmers go, and then landlords are induced to sell portions of their estates to persons who will invest capital, we shall at last arrive at something like a satisfactory settlement of the country.” For Trevelyan, the human dimension – dislocation, dispersal and possible death – was not a factor. Although not on the scale of the tragedy of the late 1840s, crop failures persisted in the late 19th century. In 1860-62, 1879-82, 1895, and 1898 there were localized famines in Ireland, each resulting in an increase in eviction, emigration, and mortality. Moreover, in the wake of the Great Hunger, the commercial agricultural sector moved from corn to pasture. In the post-Famine decades, therefore, sheep replaced people in many rural areas. The years 1879 to 1882 are referred to by some historians as “the forgotten famine.” This subsistence crisis was mostly confined to the west of Ireland, particularly counties Mayo and Galway. While there was an increase in mortality, subsidized emigration and private relief provided a safety valve for the poor, lessening the impact of the shortages. However, as in the earlier crisis, the agricultural distress was accompanied by widespread evictions. Unlike in the 1840s, some of the most dramatic of these evictions were captured on camera. At the time of the Great Hunger, photography was in its infancy. By the 1880s, it was still a slow and expensive process, which was largely the preserve of

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the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy. However, new developments in journalism and the print media meant that photographs were used increasingly in newspaper reports on both sides of the Atlantic. Sean Sexton’s photographic archive, considered the finest private collection of Irish photographs in the world, provide a poignant photo history of evictions in the final decades of the 19th century. Some of these images are familiar, but they still have the power to shock. What is particularly striking is the juxtaposition between the use of armed police and

eviction gangs, equipped with massive battering rams and observed by magistrates and other well-dressed local dignitaries, evicting poor families who were defending their homes with barricades made of shrubbery and cow dung, their only weapons boiling water or urine. Sexton’s photographs remind us of the quiet dignity of a people thus dispossessed, juxtaposed against the military might of those evicting them. There were a number of differences between the evictions that took place in the 1840s and those in

TOP: Eviction from the Vandeleur Estate in Kilrush, Co. Clare, c. 1888. ABOVE: A family at the ruins of their house in Killarney, Co. Kerry, June 1897. LEFT: Slide car with straw-harnessed mountain pony, Glendun, Co. Antrim, c. 1895.


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windows on the past | evictions

TOP: Uniformed British police perform an eviction on the Vandeleur Estate, c. 1888. ABOVE: Rose McGinley (9) and Grace McGee (12), who were arrested for giving bread to a 75-year-old evicted man, c. 1988.

the 1880s. In the earlier decades, the process was completed using a crowbar; by the 1880s, the use of a battering ram was more prevalent. More importantly, while in the late 1840s, no organized resistance had been in place to defend those evicted from their homes; by the 1880s, many evicted tenants did not give up their homes quietly. A new wave of nationalists, ably supported by emigrants in North America and alarmed by the spectre of another major famine in Ireland, mobilized under the leadership of the newly formed Land League. The type of resistance favored by the Land League was peaceful, summed up by the use of the appropriated word, “boycott.” Ironically, the president of the Land Leagues was Charles Stewart Parnell, himself an Anglo-Irish landowner in County Wicklow. In contrast, Michael Davitt, the honorary secretary (and the real moving force), had first-hand knowledge of eviction and of the Great Hunger. In 1850, his family had been evicted from their small-holding in Straide, County Mayo.


The Davitts were amongst the minority of poor emigrants who travelled no further than Britain. There, the young Davitt worked in a cotton mill in Lancashire, where his arm got trapped in machinery and had to be amputated. He was aged only 11. His experiences shaped his subsequent politics, summed up by his slogan, “The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland.” Davitt realized that in the struggle for tenant rights, photographs were a powerful tool in the propaganda war against both landlordism and British rule. A further significant development was the prominent role played by women. While women had been part of earlier nationalist movements, they had largely been invisible. Fearing that the male leadership of the Land League was about to be imprisoned, Michael Davitt determined that a Ladies’ Land League should be created in North America. Fanny Parnell (Charles’s sister who resided in Bordentown, New Jersey) agreed to carry on the work of resistance and to provide support for evicted families. Within weeks, she had established almost 100 women’s leagues in North America. Her organization provided a model for the creation of an Irish Ladies’ Land League, managed by Anna Parnell, Charles’s other sister. The two women’s organizations were efficient and effective, but short-lived. Charles, who had never supported the idea of women’s involvement, abruptly dissolved them as part of a larger get-out-of jail package. Anna never

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TOP: The ruins of a house following an eviction, c. 1888. ABOVE: Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan, assistant secretary to H.M. Treasury from 1840 to 1859 and responsible for administering famine relief in Ireland. LEFT: Men stand in front of a shoe and leather merchant store with boarded up windows. Writing on the right window reads “T.M.Ryan Roscrea Evicted.” Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, c. 1888.


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windows on the past | evictions spoke to him again; Fanny had prematurely died, aged 34. Regardless of the early successes of the Land Leagues, large-scale evictions continued throughout the 1880s, with some, such as the 1887 Bodyke evictions in County Clare, attracting international press coverage and notoriety. Embarrassed, the British government asked that further evictions be limited while media interest continued. On this and other occasions, there is no doubt that the photographs, and other images, created a wave of sympathy for Irish tenants. Reluctantly, the British government did pass piece-meal legislation to reform the system of land-holding in Ireland, notably in 1870, 1881, 1903, and 1909. Collectively, these laws

Michael Davitt, founder of the Irish National Land League.

changed the structure of land ownership in Ireland, which constituted a social revolution in the countryside. However, for hundreds of thousands of people who since the Great Hunger had been ruthlessly evicted from their homes and forced to shelter in hedges, or be humiliated in the workhouses, or seek a new life in a land across the seas, this intervention was too little, too late. When Queen Victoria made her final visit to Ireland in 1900, Michael Davitt’s wife, Mary Yore, made a banner simply saying “E-Victoria.” For republican nationalists, Victoria had become a symbol of British misgovernment of Ireland, while evictions, emigration and famines were part of the price that the Irish peoIA ple had paid for decades of misrule.

“The Eviction: A Scene from Life in Ireland,” an 1871 Library of Congress presentation plate published by J.T. Foley after a painting by W.H. Powel. The scene shows clusters of tenants with their belongings after being forcibly evicted from their homes on land largely owned by British absentee landlords. The text at the bottom is an original poem commissioned for the plate by Mary Jane O’Donovan-Rossa.


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travel | by John Kernaghan

The Land of Fairies SALT SPRING ISLAND:

British Columbia’s oldest working farm, founded by Irishman Henry Ruckle in 1872, has turned into something of a fairy land.


etween a visionary immigrant farmer and an unknown planter of “fairy doors,” Salt Spring Island has liberal lashings of Irish magic, and that’s not counting a coastline that would put you in mind of Ireland’s rugged west. Henry Ruckle, who left Ireland to try his luck in the east and California before lighting here in 1872, set down roots that continue in British Columbia’s oldest working farm and a scenic provincial park his descendants granted to B.C. as a celebration of the farm’s centenary in 1972. In the meantime, the legacy of fairy doors continues across the island, the largest of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands in the Salish Sea and accessible by ferry from the city of Vancouver and Vancouver Island, carried on by Roger Brunt. He picked up the whimsical ways of an anonymous island resident who placed the doors at the base of trees and arranged toys in them for children to discover. Brunt, entirely inspired by the “little people,” he insists, has become to middleman between the fairies and visitors, who have left notes in the little post-boxes he fits into the fairy doors that he locates strategically around the island. “‘Fairy door man’ is a position I take every seriously,” says Brunt. “To fail to honor the little people would be a very serious breach.” But long before Brunt arrived to breathe some levity into residents’ and


ABOVE: Here is an example of the fairy doors on Salt Spring Island. RIGHT: Ruckle Provincial Park. 76 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

tourists’ lives, Irishman Ruckle was doing the heavy lifting to create, for his time, one of the largest farms on Canada’s west coast. The legacy of the 1,300-acre park split off from the farm features 3.3 miles of gorgeous coast and pastoral camping settings and is one reason the New York Times named Salt Spring one of the 52 places to visit in 2016. Ruckle had tried his hand in Ontario and California before setting eyes on Salt Spring, where he married Ella Christensen and hired Japanese laborers to clear the land, eventually getting more than 1,000 acres into production. His granddaughter Helen, 91, still lives on Ruckle Heritage Farm, which is run by Mike and Marjorie Lane and looks much as it would have in its early years. “It’s a labour of love, really,” says Mike, who has operated the farm since 1990. “I don’t make any money, Marjorie works and my fishing charter business, Silverspoon Charters, helps.” The farm’s heritage look is largely thanks to Mike’s industry in taking down the wire fencing and replacing it with split-rail fencing. So looking down from a rise to the shallow bowl of land many of the farm fields occupy, you see Highland cattle, sheep and turkeys ambling about in a setting that could be 1900. The Lanes get some help through Farmshare, which offers farm stays in exchange for labour. “We get about 100 applications a year and select six to eight people,”explains Mike. “Some people seem to think it’s a cheap vacation, but it is real farm work. We get a lot of people from Germany and Japan or New Zealand and Australia. They live with us in the farmhouse.” One young woman from Japan toiled for eight months and ended up marrying the Lane’s son. Visitors can get a view of the farm from the road leading to the provincial park but are asked to not get in the way of activity on the working farm. But they can sample the produce, since the Lanes maintain a roadside stall offering fresh products.

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OPPOSITE: A turkey roams the Ruckle farm today. LEFT: The original Ruckle homestead house in Ruckle Provincial Park. BELOW LEFT: Henry Ruckle with his wife and children, c. 1878.


ABOVE: A Ruckle family gathering with friends at the Ruckle homestead, c. 1900. Henry Ruckle is seated left of the post, his wife, Ella Anna, seated to the right. LEFT: The Fulford Harbor ferry on Salt Spring Island. PHOTO: RUCKLE FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION / SALT SPRING ARCHIVES

A recent visit revealed a fairy door while waiting for a ferry at Vesuvius, one of several lovely villages on the island. The door opened to reveal small toys and, if we had looked harder, a little post-box where letters to the fairies can be left. Bryant, who offers doors for sale through his website, says more than 7,000 cards in reply have gone out across the world over the past four years. “Cards have gone to Jamaica, Korea, Denmark, and New Zealand. People want to know what the little people eat, what their life is like. I’m just the


middleman in this.” The cards are handwritten, he implies, by the fairies. Bryant arrived on Salt Spring 20 years ago, saw the mysterious doors, and was enchanted. “I thought this must be where the elves live.” And so a charming island tradition continues. Beyond the Irish elements, Salt Spring is a fulltime home to retired hippies, making coffee shops and bars look like reunions from Woodstock almost IA 50 years later.


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John Ford:

A True Film Pioneer Film director Martin Scorsese was honored with the John Ford Award at the annual Irish Film and Television Awards presentation in Dublin on February 25. Scorsese was a huge fan of Ford as he explains in the following presentation given to the American Irish Historical Society.


By Martin Scorsese

ohn Ford was a true film pioneer. He began directing in his mid-teens. His first picture, Straight Shooting was released in 1917. He made one picture a week – a reel a week. That’s a one-reeler or a Western every week. It wasn’t simply a matter of just going out and shooting a Western. For instance, you have to think, if horses are galloping out of the frame, left, where do they come in when you cut? Do they come in the same side? It will look as if they are going against each other. And the only way they worked this out was through trial and error, trial and error. These methods were constantly being created there on the set at that time. These are like subliminal images delivered to a mass audience that’s like one synthesized mind. Ford is a director who means a great deal to me personally. I studied his films quite a bit. And also I watched them without studying them. I saw them on television, and I didn’t know who did them, but I knew they were good. I knew there was some sort of poetry going on there. I didn’t know what kind. But the images were so beautiful and the emotions were so strong. And over the years, I find that watching these pictures I learn more and more from them. The pictures are the same; I’m the one who is doing the changing. I have no idea how that happens, but I learn more when I see The Searchers, I learn more when I see The Long Grey Line, which at first I loved, and then, when I was a film student, I thought too sentimental. I saw it recently this year and it’s not sentimental, it’s sentiment. It’s true sentiment. His films grow each passing year. As an Italian American, my family and I and my friends strongly related to the tribal nature of the

cultures, and of the family in the Ford films as the unit, the foundation of identity and existence. The Irish and Italians, through the movies, were able to understand our common experience as immigrants and as the children of immigrants.


o there was a great deal of fellow feeling among Italian Americans when we saw these pictures of Ford’s. He was quite deservedly one of the most respected American directors of that Golden Age of Hollywood, the supposed Golden Age, the studio system. He was treated as a poet during a time when most directors weren’t getting that kind of respect. And one of the things that made his work so distinctive was that he filmed only what he had to film – nothing more, nothing less. Now you have to understand that is not the way most pictures are made. Most directors don’t know exactly what they are going to shoot. They go ahead and they shoot what’s called coverage. They take a shot of you, a shot of you, a shot of you, up to me talking. Then, when they run into trouble with me, they go to you watching, to you watching, to my daughter watching. Then they cut back to me and change all my lines. This is the way you build a scene. But Ford didn’t do that. He knew exactly what he wanted. The late director Robert Parrish was an editor for Ford, and he died in 1995. He worked as an editor on The Grapes of Wrath, and he told a story about John Ford walking into his editing room smoking a cigar. This already is a problem. It’s already a problem because in 1939 you’re still using nitrate, and nitrate is flammable. A nitrate fire is very bad. You saw in Cinema Paradiso where the

“To me and to so many directors, John Ford is a towering figure and continues to be a profound inspiration. His films deftly convey his unique and acute sense of humanity, his deep understanding of people. When I first started watching his films, Ford’s force behind the camera was palpable. He was a visionary in the truest form and his films are enriched with artistic energy. I see his films often, studying them and each time I learn something new. – Martin Scorsese speaking about receiving the Academy’s John Ford Award. 78 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

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nitrate film burns. Also, Nanook of the North, the first documentary, directed by Robert Flaherty – there’s another Irishman – the father of documentary. Apparently, he was smoking in the editing room and he blew up all the film. He had to go back and recreate everything. At any rate, that’s how the story goes. So obviously Mr. Parrish was quite nervous. Ford was standing there with a cigar. On the lot in those days, the editing rooms were really hot and claustrophobic. And the film is nitrate. Anything could happen. Now, when you cut a movie, each piece of film is identified with what they call a slate. So Parrish told Ford, “I’m having a hard time cutting a scene on The Grapes of Wrath.” And Ford said, “Why? All you have to do is go to the end of tile shot, cut off the slate, take the beginning of the next shot, cut off the slate, and put the two together:” One of the reasons for doing this kind of thing with the studio, especially working in the studios where the producer was the king, was practicality. There was no way for studio heads to play around with Ford’s pictures because they could be assembled in only one way. They couldn’t be assembled in any other way. Actually, Ford didn’t take kindly to studio interference of any kind. He was shooting a Shirley Temple film he made with Victor McLaglen about the Black Watch called Wee Willie Winkie, at Fox again. Someone from the studio carne up and told him, “Look you’re five days behind.” So Ford ripped out twenty pages of the script and said, “OK, now we’re back on schedule,” meaning “Keep Away!” I’m sure that story’s been told many times. One other beautiful story. I don’t know which film it was, but there is a story of John Ford watching John Wayne move in the distance. A stagecoach or a horse goes by and dust covers him, and this fig-

ure just stands there and Ford says, ‘Beautiful, this is beautiful. I’d love to take a close-up but some son-of-a-bitch would want to use it.” That was the end of that. This annoyance with tampering relates back to what I was saying about these early directors learning how to tell stories with moving pictures. They learned through trial and error, and they knew exactly how to communicate the story. So they didn’t want anybody who just came on the set or on the lot telling them what to do. They were there at the beginning. Ford was much more than just an iconoclast, although he certainly was that. He was something of a political conservative, I think. I can’t quite tell. For instance, he stood up to Cecil B. De Mille when De Mille tried to have Joe Mankiewicz removed as president of the Directors Guild of America because of his alleged leftist leanings. And De Mille, a director that I do like also – not that I think he’s as accomplished an artist as Ford – was redbaiting at that time. I read this in Kazan’s book. He began reading off the names of the leftist directors with a Jewish accent, Wyler, Zinneman, Mankiewicz. And I know Delmer Daves got up and spoke very emotionally. Wyler, too, got angry and wanted to hit somebody. William Wellman got very annoyed. And finally, at the climax of the meeting, which took seven hours – this was during the blacklisting period or right at the beginning of it – Ford stood up to challenge DeMille by announcing, “My name’s John Ford. I make Westerns.”And he made a speech and

TOP: John Ford on set. ABOVE: Movie poster for Ford’s My Darling Clementine, 1946.


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actually turned the tide with his natural sense of authority. He was there from before the beginning. What are you going to do? He made that speech from a sense of authority and his innate decency. The way I look at Ford is as a poet. To me he is a poet of elegy. Even when he was boisterous and trying to be funny, even when he does innumerable scenes with Victor McLaglen drunk and getting into all sorts of hijinks in the cavalry trilogy Westerns, there is always a feeling of elegy, of a past moment that’s been captured. The sense of aching beauty that you find in “The Dead,” the short story, of the past haunting the present. This is John Ford.

John Ford and Maureen O’Hara in Ireland during the filming of The Quiet Man.

In his film The Last Hurrah, which is about Irish politicians in Boston during the 1930s, there is this extraordinary sense of farewell, of the passing of an era. And done very simply: no fancy camera tricks, just the passing of time, done with beautiful reserve. It has to do with the way people carry themselves in the frame. The way they moved in the frame, Spencer Tracy and all the character actors, John Carradine, all these people. Even Jeffrey Hunter, who played Tracy’s nephew; Jimmy Galisa; all these great character actors. The movement is ritualized and the actors are respectful of one another in a way that’s subtle but very striking at the same time. Ford also had an extraordinary eye for composition. Spielberg actually got to meet him. He went to a building in Hollywood one time – he had just come out of film school – and he saw, in the office across



The History of America THROUGH JOHN FORD FILMS

am going to list a lot of John Ford’s films in the order of the periods of American history that they cover. The first one is Drums Along the Mohawk his first color film, 1939, with Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert. It was about the pre-Revolutionary days. Then, you move up a little further in his canon of work and you get Young Mr. Lincoln. That’s the early nineteenth century. Then, The Horse Soldiers set in Mississippi during the American Civil War. In How the West Was Won he did a segment on the Civil War. Then, you move further into time, The Prisoner of Shark Island, which takes place just after the Civil War and is the story of Doctor Mudd. Then, Judge Priest, 1934 and its remake The Sun Shines Bright, which is about Reconstruction. Then The Searchers, about the West; Stagecoach about the West; My Darling Clementine, about the West. The cavalry trilogy – Fort Apache, Rio Grande, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon – are all about the development of the West. The Iron Horse, which Ford made as a silent film in 1925, is about the building of the railroads, leading into The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which is about the end of the West and the beginning of industrialization. There is Cheyenne Autumn, which is about the horrible experience of Native Americans. Into The Long Grey Line, which deals with Martin Mallar, caretaker of West Point, and that’s throughout the early twentieth century. Pilgrimage, and What Price Glory, about World War I. The Wings of Eagles, World War I through the 1930s. The Grapes of Wrath and Tobacco Road, both about the Depression. The Battle of Midway and They Were Expendable, World War II. And finally The Last Hurrah, which takes place in the thirties, and which is about Irish politicians in Boston, with Spencer Tracy – a beautiful film. It’s extraordinary when you think about it; Ford has covered virtually every part of popular American history. You can trace the history of the country through these pictures. And you can’t help but think that at the end of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when Jimmy Stewart and Vera Miles take that train that they are running on the same rails that were laid in The Iron Horse. – M.S.

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ABOVE: A still from The Searchers, 1956 BELOW: President Michael D. Higgins presents Martin Scorsese with the John Ford Award.

The above piece is adapted from Martin Scorsese talk on four Irish American directors; John Ford, Raoul Walsh, John Huston and Leo McCarey, that the director gave at the American Irish Historical Society in New York. Printed with permission from the AIHC. To read the complete piece, visit

the way, John Ford working on a film. He was in there chewing his handkerchief, and Spielberg said, “Do you mind if I come in?” He walked in and said, “I’m a great fan of yours, I’m an admirer and I want to make movies.” “You want to make movies, huh?” Ford said. “Study Remington.” Frederic Remington. And he said, also, “Watch where you put the horizon line. Don’t put it in the middle – always on the top or at the bottom. Never in the middle.” But study the composition. This is a key thing in Ford’s work. And as can be seen in a bar scene from My Darling Clementine, his storytelling was very clear, very visual, and his images had a real weight, a density. My Darling Clementine and The Searchers, IRISH ACADEMY (IFTA) by the way, are the two great Westerns, arguably. Everybody knows Stagecoach, but My Darling Clementine has a special quality. I just saw it again a few weeks ago. But in this scene, you can see all of these aspects of Ford as well as his beautiful sense of chivalry. Now, Ford and Henry Fonda’s vision of Wyatt Earp is a little cleaned up. It’s idealized, but it’s valid because of it’s humanity. See, it didn’t matter if the real Wyatt Earp was in charge of a saloon which had call girls in there. It’s the way Fonda’s positioned in the frame and it’s his innate sense of being a human being that Ford brings out so beautifully. In this scene, Wyatt Earp accompanies Clementine, who is Doc Holliday’s girlfriend, played by Kathy Downs. He accompanies her to a dance at a church being built in the town. And you can see just


in the building of the church that civilization is coming to this town, and Doc Holliday and Earp and all the brothers and Ike Clanton, they’re all on their way out. Also, you can see what’s so beautiful about Wyatt Earp’s awkwardness with Clementine. She’s his friend’s girl. She’s very proper; he’s very rough, and he’s trying to be chivalrous. And you’ll see that the way Ford frames it, and the dignity of the way these two people behave with one another, that these two things are inseparable, and they are inseparable from the scene’s visual composition and beauty. That will give you an idea. But there’s so much more to be said about Ford than has been. There are a lot of good books on him, too, on his work, on his life. IA

Irish Film & Television Awards

resident Michael D. Higgins presented Martin Scorsese with the John Ford Award on February 25. The ceremony took place at a special Irish Film and Television Academy event in Dublin immediately after the renowned filmmaker delivered a key master class on Ford to IFTA members and filmmakers. Those in attendance received a first-hand insight into the work, technique, influences and career of the renowned filmmaker – with film clips specially selected by Scorsese himself. Speaking at the event, Áine Moriarty, CEO of the IFTA, said Scorsese “has transcended the very meaning of film with his explorations of humanity, conscience, and the collective human spirit.” Accepting the award, the clearly delighted Scorsese, said, “To be honored by the Irish Film and Television Academy and to receive an award created in celebration of John Ford’s artistry and prestige, has great personal significance for me.”


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Sebastian Barry what are you like? | by Tom Deignan

Days Without End “is magnificent, searing, thrilling book, brutal, terrifying yet with moments of light and beauty.” – The judges for the Costa Award on Sebastian Barry’s new book


ebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955 and has become one of Ireland’s most celebrated authors, writing plays as well as novels that chart the course of Irish and Irish American history through a single, extended family. Barry’s latest novel, Days Without End, has already earned worldwide praise and in January won the prestigious Costa Book of the Year Award. Meanwhile, a movie based on Barry’s 2008 novel The Secret Scripture – directed by Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan and starring Vanessa Redgrave and Rooney Mara, as well as Irish actors Aidan Turner and Jack Reynor – is coming out in the U.K. and Ireland in March. The film should make its way to U.S. theaters soon afterwards. The Easter Rising centennial last year and this year’s 100th anniversary of American entrance into World War I also make Barry’s 2005 novel A Long Long Way worth another look as it explores the issue of patriotism for those Irish who served in the British Army. In the book – whose title comes from the famous marching song “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” – Dubliner Willie Dunne joins up to fight the Germans in Europe, but ends up back in Dublin when the Easter Rising breaks out, testing his bravery as well as his loyalty. Barry’s new novel, Days Without End, narrated by Famine immigrant Thomas McNulty – the latest member of the extended Dunne-McNulty clan to appear in a Barry novel – is set in America. “All that was left in Ireland was the potato for eating and when the potato was lost there was nothing left in old Ireland. She starved in her stocking feet. And she had no stocking.  Rags,” Thomas explains as his reason for immigrating. He joins the Union Army, doing battle in both the Civil War and later in the West against Native Americans. Thomas also creates an unlikely family with a friend who becomes his lover, John Cole, as well as a Native American girl named Winona. (Barry dedicated the book to his son Toby, who came out as gay around the same time Ireland debated – and eventually approved – LGBT marriage rights). In exploring generations of an extended family over the course of multiple celebrated novels, Barry is entering territory occupied by ambitious literary giants such as William Faulkner, African American playwright August Wilson, and Irish American novelist William Kennedy. “It’s like strong whiskey to read American history,” said Barry, who lives in Wicklow with his wife Alison, and has three children. Ultimately, Days Without End captures the paradox of the American experience. It has served as a place of escape for the Irish and other 19th century refugees. And yet it was a place of genocide and oppression, something Irish immigrants sometimes were victims of, and sometimes contributed to. Asked what he considers to be distinctly Irish about Thomas McNulty, Barry says: “He’s both carrying his traumatic history with him and trying to divest himself of it,” said Barry. Towards the end of Days Without End, Thomas ponders a question that seems just as relevant now as it was at the time of the Famine: “Am I American? I don’t know.”

84 IRISH AMERICA April / MAy 2017

What is currently on your bedside table? Falling Awake by Alice Oswald.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Dublin city, between the canals, in 1955.

Where did you spend your youth?

Stephen’s Green, Wicklow, London, Dalkey, Monkstown.

What was it like growing up like that? How did it shape you?

Being moved around is not entirely good for a sense of security, but the child tries hard to make each place home, so that’s good for the future writer.

What do you believe your parents gave to you? As a writer? As a person?

The consequences as a writer are obvious. As a person? Still trying to work that out. My mother was a great and unstoppable story teller. She was an actress in the Abbey Theatre. She relished family secrets and delighted in uncovering them. My father was a poet in his youth, published by Dolmen Press. My mother was also a published poet in the Sligo Champion. Lennox Robinson called her up to Dublin when he read one of her plays. He was astonished to find she was a 17 year-old girl who had traveled up with her mother.

What were you like as a child? Did you read a lot?

I was probably quite odd, or the nicer word is quaint. I couldn’t read until I was eight. When we came back from London I was presented with the Catechism of the Catholic Church at Dalkey National School. I learned to read off that. Once I did get the hang of reading, I was off in a long sprint. I used to buy a book every Saturday with my pocket money. The 1960s were simpler days for children’s imaginations.

Brothers? Sisters?

I have a brother, Guy, and two sisters, Siuban and Jane.

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Famine-era Ireland. I always wonder, “Why are there no photographs?”

Best advice you ever received? Never despair.

Favorite place in Ireland? America?

Wicklow Hills, and Bridgehampton, New York.

Most important/profound change you’ve seen in Ireland?

The recent marriage equality referendum. Inner city Ireland carried that. Magnificent.

What do you find to be unique or special about America?

What writers inspired you in your formative years?

Beatrix Potter – great writer. Robert Louis Stevenson. Joseph Conrad. Thomas Hardy.

What American writers do you believe Irish people should read? John Stephen. Jeffrey Eugenides.

What writers (dead or alive) would you invite to a dinner party?

Hisham Matar, Mark Twain, Colm Tóibín, Billy Roche. The latter two for their wonderful singing. Though I’ve never heard Hisham singing, he might be a wow.

What would you say is the difference between writing for the theater and writing novels?

Two separate worlds. One is serving actors, the other stranger gods. Plays are extremely public creatures, the novel is always written for one reader at a time.

Do you have any favored television programs, what with this being considered TV’s golden age? The Crown. Wallander. Spiral (French). Montalbano.

A perfect day?

Talking with my wife Ali, a bit of writing slavery, see a film, supper with any of the children (now grown), walk somewhere... anywhere, more talking with my wife. Bliss.

Favorite meal?

Baked ham and cabbage. Steak frites.

Favorite musicians?

Bob Dylan, Ralph Stanley, Toby Barry (my son).

Prized possession(s)?

An old rectory in Wicklow and a cottage in Mayo.

If you could time-travel, what historical era would you most like to see first-hand?

Its beginnings are so recent really and observable. It is the country of the imagination much more than, say, Irish mythology. It’s the Ancient Rome of present days.

Your hidden talent? Land clearance.

Favorite extravagance?

Horribly expensive red wine. (Thankfully rare.)

Favorite John Ford movie? Western?

The Searchers. The Assassination of Jesse James.

Favorite actor? Actress? Director? Movie? Casey Affleck. Glenda Jackson. Tom Ford. Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Feelings about social media? A plus or minus for writers?

Plus, but I don’t have a website and don’t have a Twitter account. Or anything else.

What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self? Please don’t worry so much.

What is a piece of advice you would give to an aspiring novelist/playwright?

Give up, if you can – but if you can’t, keep going.

It’s been said the literary life and family life are incompatible, yet you’ve managed quite well. How have you managed?

Yeats said perfection of the life or of the art. One of his very few damaging statements. All my work comes out of my love of family. And who said perfection was a good goal? Not knowing and the mess of things in general are much more useful. IA


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crossword | by Darina Molloy ACROSS

1 (& 10 across) Garda whistleblower at centre of latest political mess in Ireland (7) 3 See 32 across (5) 5 Often a nickname for John (4) 8 (& 35 down) See 18 down (7) 9 Island off the coast of Cork (4) 10 See 1 across (2, 4) 13 See 33 down (5) 14 Song on Leonard Cohen's final album: “On the ______” (5) 16 (& 25 down) Suspect in Cork murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier to be tried in France (3) 17 (& 21 down) She replaced Martin McGuinness as leader of Sinn Féin (8) 19 Someone who uses (4) 20 This Niall is in One Direction (5) 23 Summer footwear (6) 24 River in Galway (6) 26 To josh or rib (5) 27 (& 43 across) Irish writer won his second Costa Award for 18 down (9) 29 (& 15 down) Potentially in running for Fine Gael leadership (3) 30 Big Little ____:


33 34 36 40 41

43 44

New drama miniseries on HBO based on Liane Moriarty novel (4) (& 3 across) Anti-homelessness group occupied this Dublin building before Christmas (6) See 41 across (4) Bestselling Emma Donoghue book, and later movie (4) (& 24 down) Creator of La La Land (6) See 7 down (6) (& 33 across) Acclaimed Irish author who announced he was going back to civil service day job to make ends meet (5) See 27 across (5) The movie, based on real events, which stars 33 across (6)


2 Patrick Kavanagh wrote of this road on a July evening (8) 4 Home of IKEA (6) 5 Irish jelly (3) 6 See 31 down (7) 7 (& 40 across) Brooklyn author of A Drinking Life (4) 11 Coastal Gaeltacht town on a Mayo peninsula (9) 12 The ____ Healer: Brian Friel play (5)

Win a subscription to Irish America magazine

14 ______ House: Sligo residence with W.B. Yeats connection (9) 15 See 29 across (8) 18 (with 8 across & 35 down) Awardwinning Irish novel partly set during American Civil War (4) 21 See 17 across (1, 5) 22 Early Irish law (6) 24 See 36 across (8) 25 See 16 across (6) 28 Rory McIlroy's home county (4) 31 (&6 down) Cork native who may be in line for next Taoiseach of Ireland (5)

Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than May 15, 2017. 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 accepted. Winner of the December / January crossword: Allan Goldberg, Brooklyn, NY. 86 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

32 Actor Mr. Quinn (5) 33 (& 13 across) Irish-Ethiopian actress in hit Hollywood film (4) 34 Opposite of fake (4) 35 See 18 down (3) 37 An Irish bag (4)

38 “Not any” or “never a” in 18th c. parlance (4) 39 In the U.S. they get the check after a meal, in Ireland they ask for this instead (4) 42 Might be a blood group or a stomach muscle (2)

December / January Solution

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review of books | recently published books Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth By Mark Williams


n the midst of the Celtic Revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, W.B. Yeats implored his Irish literary compatriots to “go where Homer went.” It was an audacious urging, to formalize a relationship between Ireland’s mythological pantheon and the classical gods of ancient continental Europe, to write into existence as rich a cultural and literary heritage as the Greco-Roman deities held in the popular canonic imagination. The task, taken on by Yeats, as well as writers like George Russell, Austin Clarke, and Lady Gregory, was somewhat complicated by the fact that until the century prior, the mere intellectual concept of a native pantheon of Irish gods was unavailable to Irish writers, having largely been abandoned by the late middle ages. Moreover, writes Mark Williams in his excellent new book on the subject of Irish gods, they are notorious shape shifters. “At times they resemble the Olympian divinities as a family of immortals ruled by a father-god, but at others we find them branching into a teeming race of supernatural nobility, an augmented humanity freed from ageing and artistic limit,” Williams, a lecturer in medieval Irish, Welsh, and English literature at Lincoln College, University of Oxford, writes in the preface. “They are simultaneously a pantheon and a people.” Beginning on pre-literary archeology, and then drawing on 1,500 years of writing, in Irish and English, Williams attempts to definitively chart the written and popular history of the Túatha Dé Danann, the Peoples of the goddess Danu. Some names may be familiar to those familiar with the legends – Lug, an adolescent warrior linked to skill, craft, and the arts; Morrígan, a war goddess; Manannán, the sea god; Oengus Óg, god of love; or Brigit, goddess of fire and healing – but this is less a book about telling the myths than getting to the root of who these deities were for the medieval Irish, and how they evolved in the Irish cultural tradition, right up to contemporary children’s literature and pop music. Ireland’s Immortals, published by Princeton University Press, is unmistakably a scholarly work undertaken by a professional literary critic – it will make you work for your learning. Yet the writing, which is at once compelling, discursive, and personable, makes it a book that can be enjoyed by people of all interest levels in Ireland’s mythology.

– Adam Farley (Princeton / 608 pp. / $39.50)


The House of Memory: Reflections on Youth and War By John Freely


t’s still possible to be related, in living memory, to Irish people who never owned shoes until they came to America. So it is with the elegant memoirist John Freely, born in 1926, whose mother, Peg, and father, John, spent the early part of the 20th century growing up in a nation as lost to time now as the mythical Tír Na nÓg, the Land of the Young. In The House of Memory, he recalls how as a girl his mother was walking home from school barefoot next to her more prosperous shoe clad friend when the local priest, Father Mulcahey, paused next to them in his passing horse and carriage. Peg recalls how he offered a lift to her well-shod classmate but not to Peg, who had to walk home alone though three miles of freezing rain, filled with an anger that welled up every time she thought of him for the rest of her life. It contributed, no doubt, to her ardent and lifelong atheism. Freely’s memoir is filled with these kinds of vivid incidents and characters, and now, at the age of 90, he’s become a living embodiment of the American century, having made the kind of journeys that in many ways exemplify the Irish immigrant journeys of the last century. Traveling to Ireland to winter out the worst years of the Depression as a child, the experience of trans-Atlantic travel set his young imagination ablaze and later in life filled him with the unquenchable desire to see the world. In 1944, at 17, he joined the U.S. Navy and was sent into the Pacific theater of World War II, helping to bring supplies and ammunition to the U.S. Allied Forces before he had even turned 20. After the war he married, graduated from Iona College, earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from New York University and did post-doctoral work at All Soul’s College in Oxford. Then he taught for 50 happy years at Bosphorus University in Istanbul, where a building is now named after him. In this marvelous book, with its echoes of Angela’s Ashes and Brooklyn, Freely paint an unforgettable portrait of a richly-lived Irish American life. What’s remarkable is how youthful his outlook has remained, and his humor and gratitude now seem to belong to a vanished gentility, and his memoir reminds us that the immigrant’s tale is also the quintessential American one.

– Cahir O’Doherty (Knopf / 272 pp. / $26.95)

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Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel


By John Stubbs

t is no small undertaking to chronicle the life and times of someone whose notoriety arose from a legacy of artifice. To understand the specific distinctions between fact and fiction, meat and mask, one must read between the lines of history. As such, English biographer John Stubbs’s Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel is as much a study of the 17th century satirist, poet and priest’s psychological profile as it is of the wider political and literary impact he had at the time. Stubbs notes early in the biography that Swift, the mind behind the classic traveler’s tale satire Gulliver’s Travels and Juvenalian essay “A Modest Proposal” (which mocked British attitudes towards Irish food shortages and quality of life by detailing a plan to turn children into an edible resource), was, “to his regret, an Irishman.” Despite the presence of something akin to sympathy for the people of Ireland evinced by his work, Swift, born in Dublin in 1667, would spend his career insisting his “rightful home” to be England, a sentiment that, due to the British presence in Ireland at the time, was commonly accepted by his peers. Stubbs provides thoughtful evidence that this duality was a recurring theme in Swift’s highly-eventful 77 years – Swift was a stickler for cleanliness, yet strove to address the decay inherent to human nature through poetry; he spent years as a Whig pamphleteer, seeking the supremacy of parliament in Britain, but later as a conservative Tory, protecting the stability of the Crown’s interests. In discussing such a double-sided existence, Stubbs is never partisan, refusing to ever cast aside one part of a story in favor of a reductionist outlook or cast moral aspersions on the man who did so for a living. “It is difficult merely imagining Swift, the Doctor and Dean, the terror of ministers and magnates, as a baby,” Stubbs writes. “Picturing it means endowing him with a vulnerability he cancelled altogether from his adult personality. But then, what should we expect?” In The Reluctant Rebel, questions such as this are in no short supply, begging no answer, but instead proposing (at varying levels of modesty) a long, contemplative look at the hand that held the pen.

The Stolen Child By Lisa Carey


he fairy folk of Irish myth refuse to coalesce with those of Grimm brothers fame. Fairies, in Irish tradition, are not sweet, earthly sprites, but rather the “Good People,” called as much only by their insistence, for to offend them would be a grievous mistake. In Lisa Carey’s The Stolen Child, this depiction holds true. All that the fairies give, they can also take away. In 1959, the inhabitants of fictional St. Brigid’s Island stand on the cusp of mass evacuation to a suburb on the Irish mainland when an Irish American arrives on their shore. The tenacious ex-midwife, herself named Brigid, comes seeking a miraculous well that she hopes will grant her a child of her own. Instead she is met with stories of the Good People, rumored to work their mischief on the islanders when guards are low, “stories of women and children who fell under the world and refused to return, leaving a fairy changeling in their place.” She meets the caustic Emer, a local pariah, and her beloved six-year-old child Niall, for whom these are not just superstitions, but guidelines to avoid an otherworldly fate which looms ever-closer: Emer believes fairy magic will spirit Niall away on his seventh birthday, just as they tried to take her as a girl, instead leaving her tainted with a strange power that turns others away. Brigid and Emer, it turns out, have much strangeness in common, and, as their involvement moves from a platonic belligerence to furtive romance, it becomes clear that the Good Folk are not the only population of St. Brigid’s Island they have reason to fear. The Stolen Child is a book of the magical realism genre in the vein of others before it, such as Joanne Harris’s Chocolat, Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, and Téa Obrecht’s The Tiger’s Wife. Carey’s luminous prose rearranges the lines between historical reality and old wive’s tale, and in doing so makes this story of motherhood, love, and loss inviolable to both.

– Olivia O’Mahony (Harper Perennial / 400 pp. / $15.99)

– Olivia O’Mahony (W.W. Norton & Co. / 752 pp. / $39.95)


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The Irish and Their Horses I


Irish horses are much more than the stuff of legend, writes Edythe Preet

TOP: Horses on the island of Inismore.

t is spring. The foals are being born. In their gawky, long-legged honor, I give you the saga of the Irish and their horses. It is a history that stretches across centuries. It is a tale of friendships and working partners. It is a romance born of the land, nurtured by necessity and fastened by ancient bonds. It is one of the oldest love stories on earth. Horses arrived in Ireland long before it became an island. At the end of the last ice age, a land bridge connected Derry to Scotland and another joined England with France. From the Asian steppes where the horse originated, herds migrated west across Europe and into Ireland. Remains found at Lough Gur, County Limerick, and Newgrange, County Meath, indicate that the Irish had domesticated horses before 2000 B.C. In the Táin Bó Cúailnge (literally “The Cattle Raid of Cooley,” found in the Book of Leinster), the great warrior Cú Chulainn rode a chariot pulled by two horses that were equal in size, beauty, and speed. The right-hand horse was grey, broad in the haunches, fleet, and wild. The other was jet black, his head firmly knit, his feet broad-hoofed and slender. The swiftness of these steeds was so superior that even the best Ulster horses could not catch them. In another tale from the same source, a man named Crunnchu bragged that his wife could run faster than King Conchobar’s horses. Rather than executing Crunnchu for his boasting, the king offered to let the woman race his steeds even though she was pregnant. At the king’s court Crunnchu’s wife was greeted with jeers. When the race began, the woman ran like the wind and crossed the finish line before the royal horses reached the halfway mark. Then as calmly and quickly as she had run, she gave birth to a set of twins. It was a sucker’s bet. The woman was none other than Macha, the Celtic horse goddess. A story about the Celtic goddess Rhiannon also concerns horses. One day, while she was out riding her magical white steed, a prince tried to capture her. Every time he drew near, she sped off and left him in her dust. Finally, it occurred to the prince that maybe he should just ask her to please wait. The polite request was exactly what Rhiannon had been wanting to hear. When he trotted up beside her, she chuckled, “It would have been far better for your horse had you asked long before this.” Among the multitude of Irish fairy beings there is


a creature known as a Pooka. It can appear in many guises, but the most common is a large white horse. The spirit’s main purpose is to carry people away on a wild ride. In 1992, the Pooka was the subject of Into The West, a wonderful feature film in which a mysterious white stallion carries two gypsy children on a journey of self-discovery that begins in Dublin and ends at the shore of the wild western sea. But Irish horses are much more than the stuff of legend. Like tourism and whiskey, bloodstock breeding is one of Ireland’s most important industries. This vital economic resource centers on three breeds: the Connemara pony, the Irish draught, and the thoroughbred. The Connemara is the oldest pure Irish breed. Small native ponies called “breakers” were crossed with two imports, Welsh mountain ponies, which arrived with traders in the seventh century A.D., and Spanish Andalusians brought in a thousand years later. The Connemara’s size and sure-footed agility made them ideally suited for harvesting and hauling turf from the bogs of west Galway. In recognition of their historical importance, the Irish government provides a £500 grant for every pure Connemara foal born. The Normans came to Ireland with large-boned horses which had been bred to carry armored knights. These huge mounts resembled massive Clydesdales and were bred with another small native horse, the Hobby. The cross-breeding produced an entirely new breed: the Irish draught. This hefty workhorse is tough, agile, intelligent, and well-mannered. It was ideally suited to farm labor, and, until tanks replaced cavalry, it was the preferred steed of Europe’s military units. Today, the Irish draught is prized as one of the world’s finest show jumpers. The Connemara and the Irish draught have both left deep hoof-prints in Irish history, but it is the thoroughbred race horse which has become a multimillion dollar business. Part of the reason is environmental – the limestone rocks that pepper every Irish field leach calcium into the soil. Year-round rainfall produces lush grass. Horses raised in the calcium rich pastures develop exceptionally strong, healthy bones. The other half of the equation is simple. The Irish love a good horse race.

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sláinte | good cheer



The Bookmaker Sandwich

With dozens of racetracks scattered about the island, there is a horse race somewhere in Ireland nearly every day of the year. The most famous track of all is the Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare. In the earliest manuscripts, the Plains of the Curragh (Old Irish: An Corragh) are named as a place of sport for Celtic kings and their people. After the Norman conquest, it was made a royal common, and in the 13th century its very surface was protected by law from destructive grazing. In the 17th century, the Curragh became a sporting resort for Ireland’s chief governors and administrators. The vast majority of King’s Plates races were contested there, and it became the social center of Irish racing. By the end of the 18th century, the Curragh was fringed by the lodges and stables of Ireland’s most prominent owners, breeders and trainers. The most famous was Colonel William Hall-Walker, the talented jockey son of a Scots brewing family. In 1900, Walker purchased a farm at Tully, where he began breeding race horses. Some have called “Willie” Walker’s methods eccentric; others laud his genius. Believing that the stars dictated the destiny of all living creatures, he incorporated skylights above every stall so that the moon and stars could exert maximum influence on the horses. The astrology of each foal was recorded at birth. Those with unfavorable horoscopes were sold, regardless of lineage. After fifteen years of extraordinary success, the colonel gave his farm to the British Crown for the purpose of founding a national stud. In 1943, it was purchased by the Irish government. Today, the Irish National Stud Company promotes the Irish bloodstock industry by providing the services of its stallions to horse breeders from all over the world. In the early days of the United States, millions of Irish emigrated to America and many families settled in the South. They built great plantations (think Tara, Scarlett O’Hara, and Gone With The Wind), and they bred horses for sport, pleasure, and prestige. With the Civil War, the South’s plantation empire crumbled, but its horses lived on. Two of the world’s most famous Thoroughbred races are scheduled in May and June: the Irish Derby at the Curragh (June) and America’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs (May). Both races date from the 19th century, both have million-dollar purses, both feature the best of Irish bloodstock, and both have strong food traditions. Everyone knows that the Kentucky Derby’s official drink is the mint julep. A lesser known racetrack treat is Ireland’s bookmaker sandwich. May I suggest that you consider pairing them? Like horses and the Irish, IA they go together supremely well. Sláinte!

Note: Before the days of computers, the Internet, and cell phones, an Irish bookmaker was so busy taking bets on the races that he couldn’t stop long enough for a leisurely meal. 1 long crusty loaf of bread, Vienna style 1-2 tablespoons butter 1 pound sirloin steak mustard salt and pepper

Slice the loaf in half lengthways and butter it well. Cut the steak lengthwise in two, rub with butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the steak under hight heat but do not overcook. Put the meat strips straight away onto the buttered half loaves. Season with salt and pepper and spread with mustard. Put the two halves of the sandwich together. Place on foil, wrap tightly and put a light weight on top. When cool cut into fairly thick slices, put back together and wrap again. The steak juices absorb into the bread and will keep it moist. Serves 3-4. (Irish Traditional Food / Theodora Fitzgibbon)


The Mint Julep

1 cup water 1 cup sugar 1 large bunch fresh mint Kentucky bourbon crushed ice spring water extra mint sprigs for decoration sipping straws

Fill a large jar loosely with mint sprigs. Set aside. Combine sugar with water in a stainless steel saucepan and make a simple syrup by boiling together for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let syrup cool. While syrup is still warm (but not so hot it will crack the glass) pour over mint to cover. Let cool completely, then cap and refrigerate 24 hours. Discard mint. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Pre-chill 8 oz. glasses at least one hour before they will be needed. When you are ready to serve, fill glasses with crushed ice. Into each glass pour: one tablespoon mint syrup, one tablespoon spring water, and two ounces Kentucky bourbon. Stir gently until glass is frosted. Garnish with extra mint springs and a sipping straw. Serve at once. Makes 8-10 juleps. (Personal recipe)


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music | the pipes are calling


There’s more to piping than meets the ear. Kristin McGowan talks to Joe McGonigal, the highly sought after musician and teacher, about his upcoming plans and the influence of his grandfather on the growth of pipe bands in the United States.


nce the St. Patrick’s Day parade season is over, some pipe bands take a break for the next round of summer parades, while others gear up for a marathon of competitions that can stretch into the fall. Joseph P. “Joe” McGonigal’s exceptional skill level and passion for the music, combined with an effortless ability to educate others with patience, clarity, and a gut-busting sense of humor, has made him a sought-after teacher of well over 10 pipe bands and hundreds of individuals over the years in the New York area. “It’s glorious and noble music with a hell of a history, and it needs to be heard,” says Joe, a thirdgeneration member of a bagpiping legacy spanning over 85 years. Joe is at the helm of the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band, based in Kearny, New Jersey, and he currently has two contest bands – the flagship band St. Columcille, and a brand new Columcille School of Piping and Drumming in Grade 5 (bands compete in ascending skill levels, starting at Grade 5 up to Grade 1.) “We’re working toward bringing the band back to the North American championships, and in 2018, back to the world competitions in either Ireland or Scotland,” he told me when I sat down with him recently in his New Jersey home. The McGonigal family’s path in piping began with his grandfather, Sean, in 1920s Scotland. The family emigrated from Donegal, into Gorbals, a tough neighborhood on the south side of Glasgow, where Sean’s cousin, Joe Egan, played with the St. Francis Pipe Band. “If you were asked what school you went to and it started with ‘Saint,’ you were classified as a Catholic/Papist/Fenian,” but my grandfather was one of the first Catholics to graduate from the Scottish Master Painters Academy in Glasgow after a Protestant neighbor took him under his wing and got him into the school. That’s where he learned sign writing and painting, and he brought those skills with him to America.” Sean, his older brother Joe, and his cousin Joe Egan arrived in Kearny, New Jersey, in 1929. It was here that Joe Egan encouraged Sean to trade his tin


whistle for a bagpipe chanter and taught him to play. Together they were charter members of the Brian Boru Irish War Pipe Band of Newark in 1933, and a cultural and educational era began. Wanting to learn new music and compete, Sean broke away from the group in 1949 to form the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band. During a time when pipe bands were either totally Scottish or Irish, in name, membership, and music, Sean decided to mix it up. “He hated English government policies on Ireland and Scotland, and the divisiveness that between the Scottish and Irish working classes that he experienced growing up. He always felt that the Scots and Irish had a whole lot more to offer each other. He believed the pipe band world shouldn’t be strictly Scottish or Irish, but rather should be celebrating the great Celtic music together.” Sean named the band after St. Columcille because he shared the priest’s mission of uniting the Gaelic cultures. Their first public outing was the Holy Name Society Parade in Newark, New Jersey, in October of 1949. Joe’s father, Patrick, was a senior in high school at the time and was part of the first generation of American boys to start learning the pipes. The band’s motto was, and still is, Ar Aghaidh le Ceol na nGael – “Forward the Music of the Gael.” Many of the pipers in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s were Scottish or Irish immigrants, but Sean accepted anyone who was interested in learning and being a part of the piping culture and community. Through the years, St. Columcille has welcomed Jewish, Indian, and African American members, keeping it clear the band had but “one race, one religion, and that was good piping and drumming.” “He would love what’s going on today with the great piping in Brittany and northern Spain where there’s a lot of cross-border influence happening. And he would love how the pipe band movement has grown in America.” Grown in large part due to Sean’s efforts and innovations. Intent on spreading the music of the Gael, Sean had quite a knack for publicity. The band played on the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. Cousin Joe Egan, Sean, and son

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Patrick played on Broadway in the original production of Brigadoon. Finbar Devine, famed first Drum Major of the NYPD’s Emerald Society Pipe Band, received his first mace and feather bonnet from none other than Sean McGonigal. In the late 1950s, Sean formed a college of piping in New York City, which was later featured in Parade magazine. Sean also teamed up with Cook Laboratories in Connecticut to record the band. Cook wanted the rare outdoor recording of moving music to test the company’s high-fidelity equipment. The result was one of the first albums of pipe music in America – Kilts on Parade (1950). “It’s dreadful,” laughs Joe. “St. Columcille was a band at that time of mostly young boys – students! Attacks are horrible, the drones sound like swirling bees, and the old rope-tension drums sound like something from the 1700s. But it’s got its place in history and it was an example of my grandfather’s out-of-the-box thinking.” The band members matured and a juvenile teaching band was formed under the St. Columcille um-

brella. Sean wrote to and received permission from Jackie and Bobby Kennedy to use the Kennedy tartan for the newly formed John F. Kennedy Memorial Pipe Band in 1963. This was the band in which Joe McGonigal, his brother Michael, and cousin James, first marched. It was during the 1965 Memorial Day Parade up Kearny Avenue that Sean McGonigal, leading the JFK Memorial Pipe Band, died of a heart attack at 55 years of age, two blocks from the parade finish. The boys of the JFK band grew up and into the next generation of St. Columcille. They brought piping into the Kearny Public School System in 1972 with the Brigadoon Pipe Band, under the direction of piper and longtime family friend Fran Raftery. Joe, having been taught the pipes from his grandfather and father, also learned the snare drum from his uncle Steve Malley. From 1982 to 2001, Joe taught the Governor Livingston High School Pipe Band, started by Duncan McCaskill Sr. in the late 1960s. Within the piping community, family connections

TOP LEFT: Sean McGonigal. TOP RIGHT: St. Francis Pipe Band, mid-1920s. LEFT: Joe McGonigal with daughters Kate and Lorna. RIGHT: The St. Collumcille School of Piping and Drumming band.


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music | the pipes are calling 1998 and 1999, bringing both St. Columcille and Sean McGonigal Memorial.” In 2004, Joe and his brother Sean were approached by Donald Lyndsay to play with Oran Mor, one of the top-flight bands in the country. They talked it over with Columcille and made it work – Oran Mor getting the phenomenal skills of Joe and Sean and St. Columcille benefitting from Lyndsay’s weekend workshops. Joe would go back to the world stage an impressive 12 years in a row, playing every world championship in Scotland from 2004 to 2015, first with the Grade 2, then Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band for 10 years, three as pipe sergeant, and then with the Grade 1 Stuart Highlanders of Greater Boston after they merged with Oran Mor for 2014. Outside of competition, Joe has performed with groups such as the Chieftains, Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem, and the Wolfe Tones. He’s played in concert with Rod Stewart, recorded with Mike Byrne, the Bergen Police Pipe Band, on a 9/11 Tribute CD, and on the NFL’s 75 Seasons: 1920 – 1995

“At one time, piping was banned by the English government

– you couldn’t wear the kilt, couldn’t speak the Gaelic language and you couldn’t play the pipes – now it’s thriving, all pipes.”

ABOVE: Sean, Joe, Kevin, and Mike McGonigal.

are common, but not to the extent of St. Columcille, which has always been a generational band. Joe, his brothers Michael, Kevin, and Sean (his grandfather’s namesake) are all pipers and drummers; sister Maura was a drummer and Highland dancer, and sisters Patricia and Deirdre were Irish step dancers. The fourth generation is also active – Joe’s daughters Lorna and Kate are tenor drummers and nephews Eamonn McGonigal, Rob Smillie, and Chase Hamilton are pipers. So mighty is the McGonigal Clan that several tunes have been written in their honor, including “Pride of Kearny,” a jig by Bruce Gandy published in his fourth book, Mr. & Mrs. McGonigal, and “Tartan Man & the McGoo,” a hornpipe by Duncan Bell celebrating the lifelong friendship between him and Joe. Joe has led St. Columcille through several successful seasons as both pipe major and lead drummer. The band grew into three contest bands – St. Columcille, the Sean McGonigal Memorial Pipe Band, and the Columcille School of Piping and Drumming. “It had always been a goal of my grandfather to bring the band to the world-class competitions in Ireland and Scotland. We finally did it in


film soundtrack. You’ll also find him in a Bay City Rollers video of “Living Thru the Radio,” from the early 1980s. He is on the Metro Cup committee and is a two-term President and Life-Member of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. Joe continues to teach not only drumming and piping, but also the basics of taking care of the bagpipe and its history in America. He’s spoken at school assemblies, civic groups, conferences, and colleges. He also continues to clear up a common misconception of the bagpipe as “just noise.” “Most people have a fleeting introduction to pipe music – two minutes of a march at a parade or wedding. They think there’s nothing musical about it. It takes time to learn not just the notes and embellishments, but how to tune the pipe, take proper care of the reeds, and perfect the clarity of tone. “When I play an event, it’s my turn to help get rid of these misconceptions. At one time, piping was banned by the English government – you couldn’t wear the kilt, couldn’t speak the Gaelic language and you couldn’t play the pipes – now it’s thriving, all pipes.” Ar aghaidh le ceol na nGael – forward the music IA of the Gael.

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Continued from page 39

San Francisco

The west coast’s largest Irish event celebrating Irish history and culture, the 166th Annual San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, attracts some 100,000 revelers every year and is one of the city’s most popular events, according to FunCheapSF. Grand Marshal Diarmuid Philpott, former San Francisco Police Department deputy chief, and an immigrant from Newmarket, County Cork, will lead the parade. After a stint in the army, he entered the police department in 1964 and rose through the ranks to deputy chief in 1994. All three of Diarmuid and his wife Mary Ann Leahy’s children, as well as their sonin-law, work for the San Francisco Police Department. Michael and Brian are lieutenants, Teresa a crime analyst, and Ivan is a police officer.




St. Louis

Leading the 48th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in St. Louis will be parade founder and St. Louis Irish consul Joseph McGlynn, Jr.; parade committee chairperson Joe Milligan; honorary parade marshal John Saunders, president and chief executive officer FleishmanHillard (Irish America’s 2016 Business 100 Keynote Speaker); St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay; parade director Karen Lee; and other dignitaries. The parade, also known as St. Louis’s “Rite of Spring,” will feature over 130 units, including floats, bands, marching units, large helium-filled balloons, and over 5,000 marchers. A Marine color guard from the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, based in St. Louis, will lead the parade. In the past more than 350,000 spectators have gathered along Market Street to watch the elaborate floats, marching bands, marching units, dance groups, animal units, novelty units, and motorized units. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Run will precede the parade that morning. Over 8,000 runners, walkers and wheelchair racers of all ages participated in the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day run.

ST. LOUIS Above and far right, scenes from the 2016 St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day parade. Right, John Saunders.


The Savannah St. Patrick’s parade is the second oldest parade in the country after New York City’s, coming in at 192 years. For the Savannah Irish, this great parade represents a culmination of weeks of festivities and Irish heritage functions, beginning with the greening of the fountain in historic Forsyth Park. This year’s Grand Marshal, Michael Foran, has been a member of the St. Patrick’s Day Committee for 40 years. After Foran was invested, the St. Vincent’s Academy Chorale sang a selection of Irish songs. Foran’s daughters, Madeline and Lizzie, stepped forward from the choir to sing their father’s favorite song, traditional Irish ballad, “Danny Boy.” His sons Michael A. Foran Jr. and William Joseph IA Foran will serve as grand marshal aides.



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photo album | happy birthday mema


Rosamond Mary Moore Carew at 106

osamond Mary Moore Carew, my mother, known to her family as “Mema,” may just be the oldest living Irish American. She was born in Brooklyn, New York to John Francis “Frank” Moore and Anna Regina Brady on March 15, 1911. Both of Rosamond’s parents were proud of their Irish heritage. Her paternal grandparents, William Moore (born in 1834), and Alicia McGough Moore (born in 1841 to John McGough and Anna McKenna) were immigrants from Drogheda, County Louth. Rosamond’s father Frank, my grandfather, was actually born in Drogheda, too, on April 23, 1869, when his parents where home from the United States for a visit. The couple had already become American citizens and returned to New York soon after the birth of their son. Frank would complete his studies at St. Lawrence’s School in New York in 1883 and began working for the wholesale firm of Arnold Constable afterwards. In 1902, John Francis Moore and Anna Regina Brady married in Our Lady of Mercy Church in the Bronx. Rosamond’s mother, my grandmother, Anna, was born in 1882 and has the distinction of being the first woman in New York City to get a driver’s license. Anna’s father was a judge, John J. Brady (born in 1853), the only son of Anne McGuire and John McGovern Brady, who had come over from Butlersridge, County Cavan. Justice Brady, a graduate of Fordham University, was both the first commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and first judge from the Bronx to sit on New York State’s Supreme Court. Until recently, his portrait hung in the Bronx County Courthouse. Anna’s mother was Eleanor Keeler, whose father, Michael Keeler, was an Irish immigrant. The Moores moved to New Rochelle, New York, where the family home, “Beechmont,” proudly had “Céad Míle Fáilte” engraved on the mantel of their very large fireplace. (Beechmont is now the Jesuit residence for Iona College.) Anna and Frank had 11 children, though a son, Phillip, died at three months. Rosamond, the fifth child, was very close to her father. When Anna was pregnant with her last child, Frank suddenly became ill and very quickly passed 96 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2017

away from a rare form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Rosamond was only 15. My grandmother Anna, now a young widow, soldiered through both the depression and World War II, managing to keep the family home and put her children through school. But there were good times too – at one point my mother and her sister threw a party serving bathtub gin. Things were just getting

BELOW LEFT: Portrait of Rosamond as a young woman. BELOW RIGHT: Rosamond and her mother Anna. BOTTOM: Rosamond and her husband James F. Carew at the beach.

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warmed up when an aspiring actor and comic, Archibald Leach, showed up. Leach would later change his name to Cary Grant. After Rosamond graduated from high school, she attended the Scudder School of Business in Manhattan. There, she met my father, James F. Carew, a second-generation Irishman and Fordham graduate who worked as an attorney in Manhattan. Rosamond’s future father-in-law, Judge John F. Carew, was a congressman from New York who achieved a degree of notoriety as the judge in the Gloria Vanderbilt custody case – he gave “Little Gloria” over to her Aunt Gertrude. Rosamond and James married in April 1938 at the Holy Family Church in New Rochelle. Allegedly, after the ceremony, my grandfather (Judge Carew) announced to my grandmother (Anna Moore), “Your daughter is the luckiest woman in the world marrying my son.” Anna was furious. “You, Judge,” she snapped, “have it backwards.” My parents lived in Manhattan and Queens until they finally settled in Rockville Centre, Long Island, where they raised their four children – Peter, Rosamond (Bonnie), myself, and James Jr. After her children were grown, Rosamond went back to County Federal Savings Bank in Rockville Centre until her retirement in 1976 when she and my father moved to East Quogue. He died in 1981. Rosamond has five grandchildren, Collette Perodin, Donald and Caroline Weir, and my children, Jennifer and Jim McLauchlen; and four great-grandchildren, Hayden and Bradley Weir and Lachlan and Ava Rosamond DeSane. Rosamond and I took many trips together including a few to Ireland. But, at the age of 86, she and my daughter Jennifer took a grand tour together, living it up in Rome and Paris. They spent days in museums, restaurants, cafés, and shops, and Rosamond, who never tired, wore elegant suits and jewelry the entire time. She walked miles in high heels – cobblestones be damned! During her 40 years on the East End, Rosamond has lived in East Quogue, Water Mill, and Southampton, where she’s known to one and all as “Mema.” In 2005, she sold her home and moved to a cottage in Water Mill to be closer to her family. She lived on her own until 2011, when she turned 100 and my

LEFT: Rosamond with her daughter, Kathleen “Kathie” McLauchlen, February 2017.

daughter Jennifer invited Rosamond to live with her and her children, Rosamond’s great-grandchildren, Lachlan and Ava Rosamond, in Southampton. “I am very blessed to have always been so close to Mema,” Jennifer says. “Not only is she my grandmother, but she’s one of the best friends and closest allies in my life.” At 106, Rosamond can still look at precious family photo albums from the 1880s, remember who everyone is, and provide endless details, such as the fact that her father, John Francis, was a good friend of Ireland’s president Éamon de Valera, and that her brother, Peter (Carroll G. Moore) visited de Valera in Ireland in 1968. She is always in a good mood, enjoys chocolates, a short highball, and Turner Classic Movies. – Submitted by Kathleen McLauchlen

ABOVE LEFT: Rosamond on a scooter in New York City, c. 1915. ABOVE RIGHT: John and Anna Moore with Rosamond, May 3, 1914.

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 email the picture at 300 dpi resolution to We will pay $65 for each submission that we select. APRIL / MAY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 97

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JFK at 100

last word |

by Tom Deignan

How to Properly Mark His Birth?


n May 29, a series of events across the country will mark what would have been John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s 100th birthday. Already, the United States Postal Service has released a commemorative stamp. And in the Kennedy family’s historic hometown of Boston, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum will open an exhibit called “JFK at 100: Milestones and Mementos.” In Washington, meanwhile, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will offer a wide range of programs and initiatives “inspired by a handful of enduring ideals [Kennedy] championed – courage, freedom, justice, service, and gratitude.” On perhaps a more relaxing note, the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum will present “JFK at 100: Life and Legacy,” exploring the Kennedy family’s down time at Cape Cod.

though it is widely acknowledged that Kennedy provided the theme and supervised its production by speechwriter Ted Sorensen. By 1960, of course, Kennedy had won a hard-fought campaign against Richard Nixon; A Nation of Immigrants was easily forgotten. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. The following year – having watched brutal events unfold in the South – he gave a nationally-televised speech prodding Congress to take up the cause of civil rights. Immigration, though, was also an issue that had to be dealt with. Kennedy believed that an updated and expanded version of A Nation of Immigrants should be released to coincide with a broader debate about America’s immigration policy. In August of 1963, just two months after Kennedy’s famous visit to Ireland, the New York Times Magazine published excerpts from A Nation of Immigrants. By November, Kennedy was dead. Following the trauma – national as well as familial – of his assassination in Dallas, Kennedy’s brother Robert decided it would be a fitting legacy to make sure the new version of A Nation of Immigrants was published. “I know of no cause which President Kennedy championed more warmly than the improvement of our immigration policies,” he wrote in LEFT TO RIGHT: John Fitzgerald Kennedy as the introduction. “Our attitude toward the immigrant has a baby, at age seven, gradually matured to a full appreciation of the contribution and at 46, on his Irish he can make and had made to American life.” trip in June 1963. Kennedy’s book reminds us that even quaint-seeming “As we mark the centennial of my grandfather’s birth, we renew immigrant groups – Germans, Scandinavians – stirred intense conhis call for service, courage, innovation, and inclusion and help a troversy, but also made America a stronger nation. new generation use his example to embrace the challenges of our Kennedy, of course, had important things to say about the Irish. time,” Jack Schlossberg, Kennedy’s grandson, told “The Irish eased the way for other immigrant groups and speeded Added Steven Rothstein, executive director of the JFK Library their assimilation in several ways,” writes Kennedy. “They firmly Foundation: “He inspired a generation to think about ways to make established the Catholic Church, originally French on this continent, society better, and we need that now more than ever.” as an English-speaking institution. The schools they founded offered That’s all well and good, but I’m doing something a little more educational opportunities to children of later immigrants of other intimate to mark the 100th birthday of America’s first and only Irish tongues.” Catholic president: re-reading his slim but powerful book, A Nation Perhaps more importantly, at a time of renewed debate over of Immigrants. immigration and what it means to be an American, Kennedy’s book The story of the book in and of itself is interesting, even before reminds us that without immigrants, there may not even be a nation you open the covers and get to the first page. known as America. Kennedy wrote the book as something closer to a pamphlet for As the youngest Kennedy brother, Ted wrote, in an updated the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish advocacy group, which introduction for a 2008 edition of A Nation of Immigrants, “From was founded just four years before his birth. Jamestown to the Pilgrims to the Irish to today’s workers, people In 1958, when Kennedy was the junior senator from Massachu- have come to this country in search of opportunity. They have setts, the Anti-Defamation League asked him to highlight some of sought nothing more than the chance to work hard and bring a better the amazing things that immigrants had contributed to American life to themselves and their families. They come to our country with culture. Before entering politics, don’t forget, Kennedy had worked their hearts and minds full of hope.” as a journalist and authored several books, including Why England In the end, Kennedy’s book might even make readers think Slept and the 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage, that immigrants are what made America great in the first place. IA


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Irish America April / May 2017  

Irish America’s annual Hall of Fame issue featuring Nobel Laureate Dr. William C. Campbell, Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling, Sister Tes...

Irish America April / May 2017  

Irish America’s annual Hall of Fame issue featuring Nobel Laureate Dr. William C. Campbell, Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling, Sister Tes...