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APRIL / MAY 2018 CANADA $4.95 / U.S. $3.95
NOTRE DAME: 50 Years Ago, The Fighting Irish Battled the Irish in Rugby GEORGE P. HEALEY: The Portrait Painter of U.S. Presidents
“I hang on to the reasons why life is beautiful. It helps to have a history to think about, to remember those who came before you.”
HALL FAME – Kelli O’Hara
BECKETT UNPLUGGED: Celebrating the Enduring Legacy of Samuel Beckett BRIAN GERAGHTY: Has a New Role in The Alienist TEXAS GUINAN: A Genuine Irish American Wild Woman PLUS General Martin Dempsey on the Leadership Lessons he learned from his Irish Grandmother
BRENNAN Governor Jerry
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contents | Vol. 33 No. 3 April / May 2018 36 40 44 48
Governor Jerry Brown Broadway Star Kelli O’Hara Fmr. CIA Director John O. Brennan Business Insider Dennis P. Long
52 Irish Fighting Irish
Fifty years ago this April, the University of Notre Dame rugby club became the first team to represent the school in Ireland. By Tom Condon
56 G.P.A. Healy: The Irish Painter of American Presidents In the 19th century, there was only one painter to whom presidents turned. By Geoffrey Cobb
60 Samuel Beckett Unplugged
Beckett dramatists Conor Lovett and Judy Hegarty Lovett and photographer John Minihan talk to Rosemary Rogers.
PHOTO: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Irish Eye on Hollywood
64 Wild Irish Women: Hello, Suckers! Singer, showgirl, and queen of the speakeasy, Texas Guinan was larger (and louder) than life. By Rosemary Rogers
The Alienist actor Brian Geraghty on his New Jersey Irish roots. By Tom Deignan
76 Roots: The O’Haras
The history and personalities of the O’Hara clan are explored. By Mary Gallagher
Best of Ireland
Actor Aidan Quinn on how reading taught him to be a performer. p. 72
78 Sláinte! April Fools!
The origin of April Fools’ Day, complete with Irish mythology’s most famous tricksters. By Edythe Preet
General Martin Dempsey on the leadership lessons he learned from his Mayo-born grandmother.
Marketer Margaret Molloy is broadening the reach of Irish fashion and design.
The World Is Just A Book Away
70 What Are You Like?
82 Last Word: Grandma Bridget
The Children’s Medical Research Foundation’s annual gala. p. 28
68 The Life of Brian
2018 New York City St. Patrick’s Day Grand Marshal Loretta Brennan Glucksman takes our questionnaire. By Adam Farley
Fiona Shaw, Pierce Brosnan, Domhnall Gleeson, Steve McQueen, and more. p. 16
Irish America Magazine ISSN 0884-4240) © by Irish America Inc. Published bi-monthly. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-527. Editorial office: 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Telephone: 212-725-2993. Fax: 212-244-3344. E-mail:email@example.com. Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders:1-800-582-6642.Subscription queries:1-800-582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 150. Periodicals postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Postmaster please send address changes to Irish America Magazine, P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. Irish America is printed in the U.S.A.
8 10 12 30 34 74 80
First Word Readers Forum Hibernia Those We Lost Quote/Unquote Books Crossword
Cover Photo: Jimmy Ryan
PHOTO: JOHN MINIHAN
2018 Hall of Fame
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contributors | Geoffrey Cobb
has been a history teacher in the New York City Public School system for more than two decades. He is also a Brooklyn historian with a strong interest in Irish American history and the author of two books about his north Brooklyn neighborhood: Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past (CreateSpace, 2015) and The King of Greenpoint (CreateSpace, 2016). His latest book is The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King: A History of Williamsburg, Brooklyn 1844-1909 (CreateSpace, 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. Most recently, he co-wrote, with the late Tom Hayden, an essay on Thomas Addis Emmet that appears in the new book, Nine Irish Lives (Algonquin, 2018).
Vol. 33 No. 3 • April / May 2018
Tom Condon is a longtime Connecticut journalist and retired columnist and chief editorial writer for the Hartford Courant. He now writes for the Connecticut Mirror at ctmirror.org.
Mary Pat Kelly is the author of
numerous books, including the bestselling novel Galway Bay (Grand Central, 2009), an epic family saga set in 19th-century Ireland and Chicago, and Of Irish Blood (Forge, 2015).
is Irish America’s deputy editor. He holds a Master of Arts in Irish and Irish American studies from NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House, and a bachelor’s in creative writing from the University of Washington. He lives in Brooklyn.
Edythe Preet has
served as culinary historian for Irish America since 1994. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, and Condé Nast Traveler, among others. She is also the owner and founder of The Heritage Kitchen, a specialty food business producing sweets and savories based on historical recipes. 6 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
IRISH AMERICA 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 Events & Advertising Coordinator: Áine Mc Manamon
Dave Lewis is from Rahway, New
Jersey, and is a graduate of the honors history program at Kean University, 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! Everything You Need to Know About Every Saint You’ll Ever Need (Random House, 1993), 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 cowriting a book on empires for City Light Publishing.
Events & Advertising Assistant: Olivia O’Mahony Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan Editorial Assistants: Mary Gallagher Dave Lewis
875 Avenue of the Americas Suite 201 New York, NY 10001 TELEPHONE: 212-725-2993 FAX: 212-244-3344 E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions: 1-800-582-6642
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the first word | by Patricia Harty
The Ship of Hope
“The real members of the Hall of Fame are the parents and grandparents and great-grandparents who had the courage to come here.” Donald Keough, the former president of Coca-Cola, and our first inductee into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2010
t’s been a few years now but, the memory doesn’t go away. I climbed down the ladder into the hold of the ship – into steerage. My reaction was so visceral that I get goose bumps now just thinking about it. The interior is tight and dark – there are no portholes. No portholes and no privacy. The bunks, six feet by six feet, are two up. Whole families traveled on those bunks – 18 inches of sleeping space for a grown adult and 9 inches for a child – that was the was standard allotted space. There was no separation of men and women, single or married. The rations were mostly flat brown bread, hard-baked to resist mold. Two small “first class” cabins to the front of the ship shared a rudimentary toilet. The steerage passengers used a bucket. If the weather was stormy, they were locked in the hold. If the weather was good, they were allowed on deck once a day for 30 minutes. The journey lasted up to six weeks. The name of the ship is the Dunbrody and it was built to hold 187 passengers. But it often carried more than that as refugees lined the quayside in New Ross, looking to escape the starvation of the 1840s when the potato crop failed. From the same quay, and other ports around the country, ships laden with grain and cattle left for England. There was plenty of food in Ireland, but the Irish didn’t have access to it. They starved in plain sight of food. We know from the Dunbrody’s records that the ship en route to Canada in July 1847 carried 317 passengers – 130 more than it was built to hold. The overcrowding must have been unbearable. Some died onboard and others are buried in a mass grave on the quarantine island of Grosse Ile in the St. Lawrence River. It was on a blustery July day in 2011 when I made my visit to the ship on the quay in New Ross, Wexford. I should say it is not the original, but an exact replica of a ship of the same name that carried thousands to the New World. It was 164 years, or two 82-year life spans, since that July in 1847 when ships from Ireland, including the Dunbrody, lined the St. Lawrence River, waiting for endless days to disembark at the quarantine station already overwhelmed with Irish who were sick and dying of ship’s fever. I was in New Ross to open the Irish America Hall of Fame, which is part of the Dunbrody Famine Ship and Emigrant Experience. We could not have picked a better spot. The juxtaposition of the ship and the Hall of Fame is not lost on the visitor. It works in such a way that it brings the narrative of the Irish American story full circle. The Dunbrody is a place of pilgrimage, especially for the American Irish whose ancestors left in hard times. It reminds us that the seeds of Irish success in America were sown by brave, desperate people who were propelled forward by the 8 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
slim hope that life would be better on the other side. Joseph Browne was one of those who dared to hope. When he left Tipperary in 1849, he was not leaving a peaceful place. There were more evictions in Tipperary in 1847 than in any other county. (It had good land, you see – better value in cattle grazing than in tenants.) Joseph met his future wife, Bridget Burke, herself an Irish immigrant, in Boston, and they made their way to California where they laid the foundation for a political dynasty that includes our Hall of Fame honoree Governor Jerry Brown. Dennis Long’s four-times great grandfather from Kerry, got off the ship in New Orleans and took a boat up the Mississippi to St. Louis – where he stayed. Dennis would, at just 41, become the head of the largest brewery in the world, and give back to Ireland in immensurable ways. He saved this magazine from going under with sponsorship that saw a Budweiser ad on our back cover for years, a tradition that was carried on by his successor, Mike Roarty. In Roscommon, where the population dropped by 31 percent, through immigration and death during the Great Hunger, John Brennan’s family managed to hang on. It would be another 80 years before John Brennan’s father, Owen, would immigrate and marry a first generation Irish American who would ensure that their son received the best education possible. The proud Fordham graduate went on to reach the top of his profession in the CIA. We are delighted to induct him into the Hall of Fame. Kelli O’Hara’s family came to the U.S. from Ireland sometime around 1850. They lived in Iowa, Missouri, and Colorado. Her grandfather, Pete, moved to Mangum, Oklahoma in 1909, where her dad was born in 1915. In 1921, Pete moved to Elk City to the farm, taking his mother Bridgette with him. “Six generations have now lived in that land,” Kelli says. The pioneering spirit of Kelli’s ancestors is not lost. It was that spark that gave Kelli the courage to leave Oklahoma for New York at the age of 19 to pursue her dream of being a singer on Broadway. And she reminds us that wherever the Irish went, they might not have had much by way of material things, but they brought their music with them. It is only when we look at the historical trajectory that we see who we are as a people. And knowing our history, and knowing that we are descended from brave, resourceful people, helps us choose hope over despair in times of trouble. As the late Donald Keough, our first Hall of Fame inductee whose ancestor, Michael Keough, left from the port of New Ross, said, “The real members of the Hall of Fame are the parents and grandparents and great-grandparents who had the courage to come here.” Mórtas Cine.
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letters | readers forum
Wild Irish Women:
The title of this article, “Saint Brigid: The Mary of the Gaels,” suggests that St. Brigid is known as Mary of the Gaels, Mary being the Blessed Mother. The apparition of the Blessed Mother at Knock in the 1870s is well known. However, few Irish people seem to have heard of the Weeping Irish Madonna of Gyor Cathedral, Hungary. This Irish icon was taken to the continent by Bishop Lynch before Cromwell’s invasion. During early morning mass at that cathedral on March 17, 1697, soon after the Treaty of Limerick was broken by the English, the Irish Madonna shed tears of blood for about two hours. When the tears started, word quickly spread throughout the city, and a Calvinist minister, a Lutheran minister, and a Jewish rabbi witnessed the event. As an interesting side note, Sweden also has a saint named Bridget (1303-1373). This noble holy woman married in her early teens and had six children before her husband died.
Photo Album: Dad and JFK
What a great story – and completely unknown until now! Thank you for sharing. My dad was in the Navy on a crash boat in the Solomon Islands. In 1960, Dad said, “I probably saw PT-109!”
Ann, Submitted online
Sean Curtain, Submitted online
Roots: The Kennedy Clan
Mr. Ryan’s article on the Kennedys discusses the Irish history of the Kennedy name and highlights the Kennedy families in the United States. The article notes “Patrick J., The Black Castle, a former Kennedy stronghold in son of Senator Ted Kennedy,” Lisquillibeen, Co. Tipperary. but it doesn’t include Congressman Ted Kennedy, Jr., from the great state of Connecticut. Perhaps Mr. Ryan could update his profile in the next issue.
Robert Dahill, Branford, CT
My great-great-grandfather was Dennis Kennedy and his father William Kennedy. Dennis had sons named William, Stephen, and Isaac. I find the names surprisingly English, unless they’ve been Anglicized. When JFK went to Ireland in the early ’60s, my family was invited to the gathering. How they were traced to Wales I don’t know, and I don’t know if they were invited because they were from the same clan or just because they were Kennedys. Dennis was born in Borrisokane, County Tipperary, but other than that I have no information and I would love to find out more. I’m visiting Tipperary over Easter and it would be nice to know which places to visit that would have particular significance.
Annwyn Lewis, Submitted online
Sláinte! Flipping Over Pancake Tuesday
Since I first saw a copy of Irish America in 2015 I have enjoyed every issue. The February / March 2018 issue was terrific. Of note for me was learning about Pancake Tuesday. I’ve lived six decades and this tradition eluded me. Funny coincidence was the San Francisco Chronicle had an article by Nik Sharma about Pancake Tuesday tradition from his Catholic family in India, where there were more spices included in the pancakes, such as coconut and ginger. It always amazes me the connections that are found among the cultures.
Lori Cassels, Alameda, CA
Send a fax (212-244-3344), e-mail (email@example.com) 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 APRIL / MAY 2018
This article is a touching recount of a great singer and a great couple!
Sheila Donohue, Submitted online
John F. Kennedy aboard PT-109.
Visit us online at Irishamerica.com to leave your comments, or write to us:
Limerick Girls: In Memory of Dolores O’Riordan
I love it. Who knew we were in the presence of pure genius in Cill Rialaig there a few months ago. Write on girl.
Clare Horgan, Submitted online
Joe Kennedy III: Why the Dream Will Never Die
Love his compassion and empathy. He will make a great president one day. I feel there is hope for our future.
Aisling Kane, Submitted via Facebook
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PHOTOS: TEAM IRELAND / TWITTER
hibernia | olympics Ireland’s Winter Olympians: No Medals, but Plenty of Spirit
he 2018 Winter Olympics, held this year in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from February 9 to 25, saw Ireland represented by five singular athletes who competed in a host of skiing and snowboarding events. Seamus O’Connor, who was born in California with a first-generation Irish American father, acted as the Irish flag bearer during the Olympics opening ceremony and ultimately finished 18th of 29 in the men’s halfpipe snowboarding qualification. O’Connor grew up in San Diego, but began snowboarding in Colorado at the age of four. Of Russian and Irish descent, O’Connor competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 for Ireland, becoming the country’s first Olympic snowboarder in history. “My dad got this idea that I was to ride for Ireland in my mom’s homeland as an American-born athlete, and it came together perfectly,” he told Reuters at the time. The first Irish skier in action at the 2018 Olympics was Patrick McMillan, in his Olympic debut. A County Clare native, he began skiing at age seven in Austria, (where he is currently based) while on family vacations. The second Irishman (and first in 20 years) to compete in alpine skiing, McMillan came 52nd of 85 in the men’s downhill, and hopes to continue to develop his competitive skiing skills, despite a late start at age 21. Also skiing for Ireland was Utahn Brendan “Bubba” Newby, who before his event excitedly yelled, “It’s dinna time!” Dubbed by Irish viewers as “The Corker from Cork” (he was born there while his
ABOVE: McMillan competes in the men’s downhill. LEFT: Newby during a practice run. BELOW: O’Connor, Arbez, and Westgård.
father was a guest professor at UCC), Newby was the first Irish half-piper in Winter Olympic history. He finished 22nd of 27 in his competition. As Ireland’s only female competitor in Pyeongchang, Tess Arbez participated in the ladies’ slalom (ranking 46th of 78) and the ladies’ giant slalom (where she came in 50th of 78). With a mother from Dublin, Tess grew up in Vetraz Monthoux, France, where she began skiing on crosscountry slopes before she was yet two years old. Her older brother, Maxime, has also skied for Team Ireland at the 2015 FIS Ski World Championships. Tess proudly attributes her personal philosophy to the Samuel Beckett quote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Finally, representing Ireland in cross-country skiing this year was Norwegian Thomas Maloney Westgård, whose mother hails from County Galway. He competed in the men’s 15km free (ranking 63rd of 119), the men’s 15km skiathlon (placing 60th of 68), and the men’s sprint classic (where he came in 62nd of 80). “I have always had the dream of representing Ireland, ever since I was a child,” he told Reuters. “I have always had this dream of putting a small winter sports nation like Ireland on the map.” – O.O.
USA Women’s Hockey Team Wins Gold with a Rooney at the Goal he USA Women’s National Hockey Team came away with their first gold medal since the sport was introduced to the games in 1998, beating Canada in the final round on February 22 in a 3-2 nail-bighting shootout. Chief among those responsible for the team’s historic win is none other than Irish American Maddie Rooney (right), Team USA’s 20-year-old goalie. She made 29 saves through overtime in the game, so many, in fact, that her position on Wikipedia was briefly updated to “United States Secretary of Defense.” Born and raised in Andover, Minnesota, Rooney began playing at age 9. By the time she was a senior in high school, she was playing for the boys’ team and had racked up a .910 save percentage. She was added to the national team roster last March and currently plays for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. “I just took each player one at a time,” Rooney told ESPN. “When it came down to one shooter to win it, I just said, ‘It's one more save, and then it's a gold medal.’” – A.F.
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PHOTO: BDZ SPORTS / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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hibernia | news Cillian Murphy Speaks at UNESCO’s Youth Empathy Day
ctor Cillian Murphy attended and spoke at the UNESCO-sponsored event Youth Empathy Day at the National University of Ireland at Galway in February. The event marked the launch of Activating Social Learning, a new educational program planned to be introduced in various nations across the globe, including the U.S. With a professed mission to curb the current trend of bullying and discrimination in schools, the program focuses on the perspectives of the young people who make up its target audience. As patron of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, Murphy discussed his understanding of empathy as an actor with more than 200 students. Cillian “You can’t really be an actor Murphy without employing empathy as a speaks with NUIG Youth very important tool in your arsenal. Researchers. If I can help young people to see PHOTO: AENGUS MCMAHON that everyone has a different story and everyone’s story is valuable, hopefully that will help them in the future,” Murphy said at the event. “It seems to me that if we’re going to help or encourage young people to behave in a certain way, then they should be at the forefront of it, and they should be telling us how they feel and telling us what they need.” – M.G.
NLI to Digitize Pre-Republic History of Ireland
he National Library of Ireland rolled out plans in January for a new digital archive of modern Irish history. The archive, called Towards a Republic, will document the tumultuous series of events between 1918 and 1923, beginning with the Irish Republican Army’s brutal struggle for independence from Britain and ending with the Irish Civil War. It is one product of a €2 million investment in Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys and historical preservation by the Irish NLI director Dr. Sandra Collins. Department for Culture, Heritage and PHOTO: NAOISE CULHANE the Gaeltacht. Showcasing the written records of such iconic figures of the time as Arthur Griffith and Countess Constance Markievicz, the collection promises to provide newer, closer insights into the time period, including the progress of the Home Rule movement and the inner workings of the early IRA with the preservation of official government documents and military orders. It will also contain the records of lesser-known individuals, who even without historical renown help to paint a vivid, previously-unseen picture of how life was touched by the rebellion. For example, the letters of Annie O’Farrelly, sent to her family while she was imprisoned by the Irish Free State, are expected to provide an interesting personal perspective on the Civil War. “The next phase of the commemorations will be challenging for Irish people, and having open access to the archival sources will be hugely important to ground and guide the debate and discussion,” NLI director Sandra Collins said in a statement. “The National Library is the keeper of these national and personal memories of a turbulent time in our history, and we look forward to sharing them with everyone.” – M.G.
First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster (center) inspects the recently-opened Northern Ireland Political Collection. PHOTO: ALLAN LEONARD
Divided Society Archives Available
n January the Linen Hall Library in Belfast launched a new digital archive dedicated to the Troubles. Founded in 1968, the institution has amassed over 350,000 primary sources and essays relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland, the largest collection of its kind. The archive, called Divided Society, covers the events from 1990-1998 that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement. The archive is expected to serve as an educational tool, facilitating an in-depth understanding of an essential era of Ireland’s storied past. Library director Julie Andrews told the Irish News that the goal of collecting both primary sources and academic essays is to “give an accurate description” of the atmosphere of the period and what it was like to live through it. Speaking with the BBC at the launch event, Andrews also said that the library chose to focus on the 1990s “because it was a peace and reconciliation period in Northern Ireland. Internationally, students are very interested in that, and for many years people have been coming to the library to study that period anyway.” The materials, she said, are unique in that they “give people completely different viewpoints, and then people can make up their own minds about situations.” The archive contains hundreds of scholarly journals, original posters, and an audio-visual gallery that provides interviews and news reports from the time. Access to the archives is free to residents of Ireland and the U.K.; individuals applying for personal use elsewhere pay an annual fee of £300. Visit dividedsociety.org for more. – M.G. APRIL / MAY 2018 IRISH AMERICA 13
hibernia | news Irish Government Launches Brexit Website
he Tánaiste and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched a new website in February that seeks to keep interested citizens informed of the government’s Brexit negotiations and what the departure of the U.K. will mean for the Republic of Ireland going forward. “This website provides a resource to learn about the work the government is undertaking to protect Irish interests in the Brexit negotiations, and the work being undertaken to address the consequences of Brexit here in Ireland,” Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney says. The website is divided into three sections: “Key Documents,” “Government Engagement,” and “Research and Analysis.” Key Documents provides the Irish government’s reports on its priorities and thoughts on Brexit. Government Engagement provides the latest news on Brexit, the Irish government’s work with civic society, and support for businesses. Research and Analysis gives the reader all of the issues, options and implications Brexit could possibly bring to Ireland. – D.L.
Artist’s rendering of the restored Titanic pier in Cobh, County Cork.
End in Sight for Titanic’s “Heartbreak Pier” Restoration in Cobh
he final phase of renovations of the pier from which the Titanic launched its fateful maiden voyage began in January, with plans for completion in March 2019. This portion of the project is hoped to establish the long-abandoned structure as an attractive tourist destination. With the support of the Cork County Council and Port of Cork, Titanic Experience
hough one of the lesser-known festivals of the ancient Celts, Imbolc was one of the four most important seasonal celebrations in the Celtic calendar, heralding the coming of spring. Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the world, has revived and reimagined the festival for the modern era in its inaugural celebration of Imbolc on the 800-year-old site. The three-day festival, held in early February, offered Participants tie spring concerts, storytelling, poetry, and a special sunrise tour wishes to the Imbolc of the historic lighthouse. Singer Brian Kennedy played tree during the festival. a sold-out show in the lighthouse tower itself, while stoPHOTO: HOOK LIGHTHOUSE ryteller Baya Salmon-Hawk offered the history of Imbolc, as well as of St. Brigid, whose feast day coincided with the festival. The word imbolc means literally “in the belly” in the old Irish Neolithic language. It is symbolic of the beginning of the season and signals the “quickening of the year.” Baya SalmonHawk also performed a Celtic goddess ceremony on the theme of “quickening within you” at the garden cobbled maze at the lighthouse. In the center of the maze, participants tied spring wishes on the Imbolc tree sculpture surrounded by the fire-baskets lighting the garden. – A.F.
tourism trail honoring Ireland’s female patron saint, Saint Brigid, has opened in Kildare. The town and county of Kildare are named after a monastery Saint Brigid established in the fifth century, near an oak grove: the Irish cill dara means “church of the oak.” Launched in conjunction with the Feast of Saint Brigid, which occurs February 1, the newest tourist destination is meant to celebrate Saint Brigid’s legendary accomplishments, Kildare’s profound ecclesiastical significance, and the rich ancient history of the island as a whole. 14 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
Ltd., which devotes itself to the preservation and restoration of sites associated with the “unsinkable ship,” purchased the 150-year-old dock in 2015 and set to work on basic repairs to stabilize the structure and prevent it from crumbling into the ocean. Though the Titanic may be the most famous ship to leave Cobh, the pier has long been known as the “Heartbreak Pier” for its significance as the last glimpse many emigrant Irish would likely have of their homeland, dating in its use back to the mid-19th century. “We are developing a theme of ‘Last Step, First Step,’ which represents emigrants’ emotional last footsteps on Irish land before their exciting first steps in lands new,” Titanic Experience managing director Gillen Joyce said in a statement. The ultimate goal for the site is to preserve as much of the original workmanship as possible, with the addition of a walkway designed to coordinate aesthetically with the pier and optimize visitors’ visibility. – M.G.
Hook Lighthouse Celebrates First Imbolc Festival
St. Brigid’s Tourism Trail Opens in Kildare
PHOTO: COURTESY TITANIC EXPERIENCE LTD.
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“The Saint Brigid’s Trail will interest visitors from both home and abroad who want to learn more about Ireland’s female patron saint,” said Kildare Tourism Development Manager Aine Mangan. “The trail can be completed in approximately two hours, al-
lowing visitors plenty of time to explore everything the town has to offer afterwards.” The trail, spearheaded by the Kildare Tourism Board, leads from north to south through the town of Kildare. The self-guided journey begins at the Kildare Heritage Centre before heading to hagiographic points of interest, including the 185-year-old Saint Brigid’s Church and the ancient site known as Saint Brigid’s Well. – M.G. Kildare mayor Martin Miley, Kildare tourism development manager Aine Mangan, and Sr. Rita from Solas Bhríde, a Christian spirituality center. (Photo: Michael Donnelly / Kildare Tourism Board)
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hibernia | irish eye on hollywood The Trending Trope of the Irish Maid
n the wake of the well-received Netflix show Alias Grace, is the Irish maid who happens to be around when a horrific murder happens turning into a bit of a trend? Released last year, Alias Grace, based on the Margaret Atwood novel, explored the role a 19th century Irish immigrant to Canada may or may not have played in the murder of a prominent local citizen. Now, due out in late spring or early summer, comes Lizzie, a biographical film about the notorious Lizzie Borden, who (as the old song puts it) “took an axe / and gave her mother forty whacks.” And when Lizzie “saw what she had done / she gave her father forty-one.” Borden herself was not Irish, but a central figure in her notorious case (and, naturally, the film) is the family’s Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan. Sevigny In the forthcoming movie, Borden is played by Chloe Sevigny, while Sullivan is portrayed by Twilight saga star Kristen Stewart. Also starring in Lizzie is Irish actress Fiona Shaw and Irish American theater veteran Denis O’Hare. Lizzie premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival back in January and is slated to open in a few months.
The infamous Lizzie Borden
Fiona Shaw’s French Turn in Colette
peaking of Fiona Shaw (the Harry Potter series, The Butcher Boy), she will appear alongside fellow Irish actor Denise Gough in the September film Collette. Like Lizzie, the film is a biographical one, though more literary than lurid. Collette, which also stars Dominic West (The Affair, The Wire), explores the life of the titular French novelist, who lived through an abusive marriage and may well have had an affair with her teenaged step-son. Colette became one of the brightest literary lights of the first half of the 20th century, penning the novel Gigi, which became a famous film and musical. Directed and written by British filmmaker Wash Westmoreland, Colette stars Keira Knightley in the lead and (also like Lizzie) premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
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By Tom Deignan
Ireland’s Great Hunger Revenge Movie Finally Premieres
he long-awaited Irish Great Hunger movie Black 47 premiered in February at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival. The movie is expected to open in Ireland later this year and though there has not yet been any official word on an American release date, it’s a safe bet this all-important film will cross the Atlantic. Though it is the defining experience of Ireland’s history, the Great Hunger has not yet been explored in any great cinematic depth. Black 47, named after the worst year of the potato blight, seeks to change that. The film is a revenge story, revolving around an Irishman named Feeney, played by James Frecheville (pictured above), who leaves Ireland to serve in the British military. When he returns home, he sees firsthand how the blight is devastating his family – and his country. This prompts Feeney, and others, to take up arms. Soon enough, Feeney’s former acquaintances from the British military are sent to Ireland to stop him. Black 47 is directed by Lance Daly (Kisses, Life’s a Breeze), a veteran of Irish cinema. It also stars Oscar nominee Stephen Rea (Michael Collins, The Crying Game), up-and-comer Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) as well as Irish stars Moe Dunford and Sarah Greene.
A Year in the Life of Brosnan
t looks like we’ll see Pierce Brosnan singing and dancing before we see him trying to prevent the escape of three dozen Irish Republican Army soldiers from a Northern Irish prison. This summer, look for Brosnan, as well as Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep, and Cher, in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. It’s been ten years since the gang first got together on a Greek island to belt out classic Abba tunes such as “Dancing Queen” and “Fernando.” Well, they’re back for another round of songs and family drama. Brosnan has numerous other films awaiting release, among them H-Block, one of the more impressive recent gatherings of Irish movie talent. Directed by Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father, The Boxer), the film also features Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan and is based on the notorious escape of over 30 IRA prisoners from Long Kesh prison in 1983. Brosnan plays a prison guard in the film, which had initially been scheduled for release this year, but has since been delayed due to financing problems.
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Gleeson is set to star in a new movie by Lenny Abrahamson
A Hereditary Horror
lso in June, Irish movie veteran Gabriel Byrne teams up with Irish American Ann Dowd, who has become one of the top character actresses in this “golden age” of TV, earning not one but two Emmy nominations last year. The duo will star in a horror movie entitled Hereditary, about a house and family very much haunted by the past. Hereditary also stars Toni Collette and Alex Wolff. A veteran of the small and big screens, Ann Dowd is from Massachusetts and earned Emmy nods in 2017 for roles in The Leftovers and The Handmaid’s Tale. She recently told the Los Angeles Times: “I was raised in a conservative Irish Catholic family. Full of love, but the church was big.... there’s always that voice in your head saying, ‘Watch it, be careful.’”
Domhnall Gleeson Becomes a Little Stranger resh off another turn as General Hux in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Domhnall Gleeson has a busy 2018 ahead of him. In February, he was featured in Peter Rabbit (along with Margot Robbie, Rose Byrne, and James Corden), and he is also among those featured in the large cast of a new Netflix film (see the streaming report below). Meanwhile, this summer, look for Gleeson in The Little Stranger, a supernatural thriller directed by Irishman Lenny Abrahamson, who was nominated for an Oscar for the 2015 hit Room. Based on the novel by Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger also stars Ruth Wilson and Charlotte Rampling.
Gabriel Byrne and Ann Dowd
Irish Shine in Steve McQueen’s New Thriller here’s also lots of Irish-born and Irish American talent in the upcoming thriller Widows, directed by Steve McQueen, who also directed the Northern Ireland film Hunger. Described as a heist flick and due out in November when studios begin releasing their classy Oscar-bait films, Widows stars Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson and was written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Robert Duvall and Viola Davis
TV & Streaming Report
are also featured in Widows. Looking ahead for Farrell, having appeared in one movie about a flying Disney icon (2013’s Saving Mr. Banks, about the making of Mary Poppins), he is also currently slated to appear alongside Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito in a 2019 movie about that famous big-eared flying elephant, Dumbo. Frasier, starring John Mahoney (center), is currently streaming on Netflix
New, recent, and noteworthy Irish shows streaming on various services. The aforementioned Domhnall Gleeson is currently appearing in the Netflix comedy-drama A Futile and Stupid Gesture, about the wild and crazy days of the magazine National Lampoon, which influenced a generation of comics and launched the careers of many Irish American comedy writers, including Doug Kenney, P.J. O’Rourke, Michael O’Donoghue, and Brian McConnachie. Will Forte, Ed Helms, Thomas Lennon, and Joel McHale also appear in A Futile and Stupid Gesture’s very large cast. Domhnall Gleeson’s father, Brendan Gleeson, will soon be appearing in one of the more highly-anticipated Netflix shows. The Coen brothers (The Big Lebowski, Miller’s Crossing) will soon release The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a western anthology series, Ethan and along the lines of The Twilight Zone and Black Joel Cohen Mirror. Gleeson’s fellow Irish thespian Liam
Neeson is also reportedly set to appear in Buster Scruggs, along with James Franco, Zoe Kazan, and Tyne Daly. Finally, the recent passing of John Mahoney – an English emigrant whose family roots are in Cork – in February at the age of 77 provides a good opportunity to look back on this amazing career, via streaming movies or DVD. While Mahoney was best known for his role in TV’s Frasier, there were also many movie roles that may have been small, but were gems. Among the best was his role as the meek Perry in Moonstruck, an Italian American romantic comedy-drama written by Irish American John Patrick Shanley. Mahoney also shines as the grumpy dad in the 1989 comedy Say Anything, alongside Irish American John Cusack. Finally, Mahoney did play Irish, as Mr. Fitzpatrick, in Ed Burns’ 1996 film She’s the One, Burns’s follow-up to his breakout hit The Brothers McMullen.
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hibernia | business Ralph Lauren Appoints Irish Woman as Inaugural Chief Digital Officer
U.S. Navy Partners with Irish Ocean Energy Company for $12 Million Project
Ambassador Dan Mulhall (left) with Ocean Energy CEO John McCarthy.
lice Delahunt, a County Wicklow Ocean Energy, a County Cork-based renewable energy technology company, has partnative and Trinity College graduate, nered with the U.S. Navy and Oregon-based fabrication company Vigor to build the first has been named the inaugural chief full-scale model of a pioneering wave energy conversion device called the OE Buoy. digital officer of Ralph Lauren. “It’s the combination of Irish innovation and American manufacturing expertise and “So incredibly excited by the opportunity that’s always going to produce a world-class result,” Ocean Energy CEO John McCarthy at hand, and humbled to move from one said at the U.S. launch event in February at the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C. “This incredible brand to another,” Delahunt, who internationally significant project will be invaluable to job creation, renewable energy will relocate to New York from California generation, and greenhouse gas reduction. The marine renewables market is rapidly for the position, wrote in an Instagram expanding, with the potential of marine energy meeting a significant percentage of the post announcing the move. She previously global energy demand. The United States has a substantial wave energy resource, which served as global director of digital and could deliver up to 15 percent of its annual electricity demand, which would represent social marketing for Burberry, where she a considerable market in electricity sales alone.” has worked since 2011 and is credited with The $12 million device will be deployed in the waters off the Pearl Harbor naval base honing the brand’s digital aesthetic and her in Hawaii later this summer. – A.F. inclusion of LGBTQ content on their social channels. Delahunt was also recently included in the 2017 OUTstanding list by the Financial Times as one of the Top 50 Future rish distillers of the “water of life” are singing “Whiskey in the Jar” this year after sales Leaders. figures for 2017 have been published. According to the 2012-2018 Export Performance During her tenure, Burberry signed on and Prospects report by Bord Bia, Irish beverage exports rose by 8 percent last year, as a founding partner in a new Condé Nast with a global surge in popularity for Irish whiskey by over 20 percent. The growth conventure, Them, which focuses on LGBTQ tinues a trend – the volume of Irish whiskey has gone up by 131 percent globally in the issues, and recently released a version of its past decade, beating other whiskey competitors like Scotch’s 13 percent rise and bourclassic plaid featuring a rainbow bon’s 56 percent. This growth in popularity can be attributed to whiskey drinkers all pattern in support of around North America, where the U.S. market for Irish whiskey grew by 16 percent LGBTQ rights. to become a nearly $300 million industry last year. Commenting on the While Jameson dominates the international market, selling 6.5 million cases appointment, Ralph in 2017, Rosemary Garth, director of communications at Irish Distillers, told Lauren CEO Patrice the Irish Times that the company is “also encouraged to see strong growth in Louvet said, “We are our prestige whiskey brands like Redbreast, Powers, and the Spot, a range moving urgently to reflecting the growing consumer trend towards premium Irish whiskeys and expand our digital the resurgence of the time-honored single pot still Irish whiskey.” presence all over the This growth in popularity is leading to various drink conglomerates like world and bringing Diageo to establish new specifically Irish whiskey brands like their Roe & in the right senior Delahunt and Michele Co. which is created at St. James Gate, the home to their other, more famous talent to help us Obama at Spredfast in Irish drink, Guinness. – D.L. deliver.” – A.F. Austin, TX, October 2017.
PHOTO: MARTY KATZ / DFA
Irish Whiskey Market Booms Abroad
PHOTO: ALICE DELAHUNT / INSTAGRAM
Irish Physicist to Head American Institute of Physics
he American Institute of Physics has appointed Irish physicist Michael H. Moloney (right) as their new CEO. The unanimous appointment of Moloney, who holds a doctorate in experimental physics from Trinity College Dublin, is expected to bring a focused effort on aeronautics and space technologies. “Science is rapidly changing and becoming more interdisciplinary, and the fields of physical science connect like never before,” Moloney says. “So much of our modern life is dependent on technology. Technology, in turn, is based on the underlying fundamental discoveries of science. Our collective future, therefore, will continue to be linked to progress being made by the scientists 18 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
and engineers who are members of the professional societies that constitute AIP. I look forward to working with the AIP community to ensure we can continue to advance and promote the physical sciences.” Founded in 1931, the AIP’s goal is to promote and serve the physical sciences for the benefit of humanity. Maloney previously served as the director for space and aeronautics at the Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. – D.L.
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hibernia | heritage
merican citizens who check “White” on the U.S. Census will be allowed to expand on their ethnicity for the first time in the upcoming 2020 census. In an effort to establish a more comprehensive understanding of American heritage, the Census Bureau has announced the addition of a write-in box in which citizens can fill out their origins and cultural associations more precisely. The change is being made in response to a nationwide “call for more detailed, disaggregated data for our diverse American experiences as German, Mexican, Korean, Jamaican, and myriad other identities,” according to the bureau’s recent Race and Ethnicity Analysis Report. There will be a similar write-in option for the “Black and African American” category as well. The new, more detailed data on American ethnicity as a whole could potentially reveal a whole host of Americans of Irish descent that were previously unknown as such. The Irish American demographic has declined in recent years, dropping from 2009’s 36.9 million (accounting for over 15 percent of the American population) to 2015’s record low of 32.7 million (just over 10 percent). However, access to options of ethnic diversity in the census questionnaire could possibly provide a less dismal conclusion. Julia Clear, a member of the New York Irish Center in Queens, questioned the 32 million statistic in an interview with NPR. “Is that accurate?” she asked, “Or is there a heck of a lot more of us out there?” We’ll see in 2020. – M.G.
Adopted American Finally Uncovers Irish Birthplace and Family
hio-raised Kathleen Sullivan (right) recently discovered that she was one of thousands of Irish babies sent to welloff American families in the mid-20th century for profit. While Sullivan knew that she was adopted, it was her son Dennis’s insistence on contacting respected Irish adoption researcher Clodagh Malone that led to the eventual revelation that Sullivan was born in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in 1954. She was adopted at 15 months by an American family for $10,000 and brought to live in Youngstown, Ohio. This was not an uncommon practice in Ireland at the time, with many Catholic Church-sponsored homes accepting donations from families in exchange for infants in their care – an arrangement that was technically permissible even after the institution of the Adoption Act in 1952, which barred explicit for-profit adoptions. Exact statistics are unknown because records kept were not regulated prior to that date, but the number of exported babies is estimated to be in the thousands. Further research on Malone’s part has brought to light Sullivan’s true last name (she had been mistakenly documented in the home as “O’Sullivan”), as well as relatives in County Carlow, including a cousin, Maureen Sullivan, with whom Kathleen has been in contact over the phone. She looks forward to meeting her newfound relation in person, telling Dublin Live, “I really hope that I can one day come and see Maureen and find out more about my mother. I would so love to see the country I was born in.” – M.G.
PHOTO: DUBL IN LIVE
New, Expanded Categories in the 2020 Census Questionnaire
Illinois Politician Changes Name to Sound More Irish
he former Phillip Spiwak, a Polish American attorney who unsuccessfully ran for a judicial position in Illinois’s Will County as a Republican in 2010, has a new identity in hopes of boosting his turnout in this year’s race. In addition to a party change – he is now running as a Democrat for a vacancy in Cook County’s 13th judicial subcircuit – the name voters will be presented with on the ballot is also new, and decidedly Irish: Shannon P. O’Malley. O’Malley (right) follows in a long line of Chicago-area predecessors who have legally changed their names in favor of more Irish-sounding monikers in order to gain an electoral advantage. The practice was so widespread in fact, that in 2007 the Illinois state legislature passed a law requiring candidates who have changed their name within the past three years to report both names on the ballot except in
cases of marriage or divorce. O’Malley, however, will not have to disclose his previous name. In a remarkable bit of foresight and preparation, he changed his name in 2012. “It had always been accepted as fact that an Irish name is a big advantage in Cook County, and the election results in the county’s history certainly bear that out,” Cook County elections expert Albert Klumpp told NBC. Klumpp is the author of the 2011 DePaul University study confirming this lore, “Judicial Primary Elections in Cook County, Illinois: Fear the Irish Women!” (which also showed that traditionally female names have an edge over male ones). Even with the name change though, O’Malley’s chances of success this year are low. The Cook County judicial seat has been universally won by the Republican. – A.F. APRIL / MAY 2018 IRISH AMERICA 19
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hibernia | travel
Air Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh
U.S.-Ireland Flights Increase in Number and Affordability
pring of 2018 promises an array of new price and destination options for flights between Ireland and the U.S. In February, Irish national airline Aer Lingus and Norwegian Air both announced plans to increase the number of flights and destination options between the United States and Ireland. Aer Lingus will launch its first ever direct Dublin-Philadelphia service, beginning with four flights a week in March and increasing to daily flights in May, bringing their number of regular U.S. destinations to an even dozen. Norwegian Air, which last summer launched €99 direct flights from Dublin to New York’s Stewart airport, announced they would be doubling the regularity of those flights to twice daily. The moves are part of a recent trend of budget-friendly transatlantic service. In August, Dublin-based WOW Air announced plans for four new €130 routes from Dublin to Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, which will also begin in March. The efforts to widen availability are being made to keep up with the noticeably high trend in travel between Ireland and the U.S.,
Woman with Terminal Cancer Gets Dream Trip to Ireland
n January, single mother and grandmother Kathryn Doyon (below), diagnosed with Stage 4 colon and liver cancer, was surprised with €600 in funds raised to help her finally take her dream trip to Ireland. A follower of the Ireland of a Thousand Welcomes Facebook page, Doyon commented on a post about her long-time wish to visit one day, noting that her illness would now make that impossible. Page administrator Pauline McDermott was touched by her story, and established a GoFundMe account to raise airfare and expenses for Doyon to travel to Ireland.“There was something about her story that just stuck in my head, and I knew I had to help her if I could,” McDermott told the Irish Independent. Doyon, 54, who works as a school bus driver in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was told shortly after her initial diagnosis in December 2016 that her tumors were inoperable and her cancer was terminal. Doyon’s daughter set up a page of her own on GoFundMe to raise money to help pay her mother’s medical bills and support her while she is unable to work. However, Doyon’s awareness of the stark percentages depicting her likelihood of survival through the next few years also made her think about what she wanted to do with the time she has left. “I’ve always wanted to got to Ireland, but I could never afford it with the work I had as a school bus driver,” Doyon told the Independent. She was taken aback by the generosity of McDermott and all of the donors to the fund, commenting, “I’m definitely surprised that people want to help a complete stranger, it’s amazing and I’m so grateful.” – M.G. 20 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
both business and pleasure-based. “The Irish links to Philadelphia are well-known and renowned. And so there is a strong heritage and legacy,” noted Stephen Kavanagh, Aer Lingus’s chief executive. “But there’s also strong business being conducted between Pennsylvania and Dublin.” The introduction of new, increased services is expected to drive the prices for these flights down as the airlines compete for business, as well as generate income for the localities where they are based, Philadelphia city commerce director Harold Epps said. “It’s another way to access Europe for a lower fare. So business and tourists will have options.” – M.G. PHOTO: HOLIDAYEZINE
New Irish Study Abroad Program for U.S. Teens
new three-week pre-college program for U.S. high schoolers is set to begin this summer as part of a collaboration between Drew University in New Jersey and the Donegal-based Institute of Study Abroad Ireland. The program, for which students will receive three college credits, is the first high school program in Ireland that is accredited by an American university. The Institute of Study Abroad Ireland was launched in 1996 by then U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy-Smith and has since partnered with hundreds of U.S. colleges, providing study abroad opportunities for thousands of American college students. “A big emphasis of our trip is not just the history and culture of Ireland, but looking at global themes of civil rights, social justice, peace and conflict resolution, poverty, and emigration through the lens of Irish and Irish American experience,” says ISAI founder and director Dr. Niamh Hamill (below), a Donegal native who was inspired to begin the program after her own experience visiting Boston while in college herself. Today, the ISAI runs comparative civil rights programs between Alabama and Derry, sustainability programs with Hawaii and Michigan, business programs with Wisconsin and North Carolina, among others, she says. “Our proximity to the border of Northern Ireland allows us to discuss the many issues concerning the border counties with authenticity, and it is also of great value to our community to have the sons and daughters of our diaspora return to rural Ireland.” For more information, visit isaireland.com. – A.F.
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hibernia | fashion
Bringing Irish Creativity to the
n March 2016, Irish expat and marketing executive Margaret Molloy (right) began the #WearingIrish campaign, where she took her love of fashion and started a social media initiative, encouraging people to wear items from Irish designers during March. Since then it has exploded into a worldwide movement, with people getting involved by posting photos on social media while wearing Irish designers. Two years after what began as a small pilot project for the month of March, WearingIrish is now bringing Ireland’s most talented designers to New York in May for a showcase event at its main sponsor’s venue, the Bank of Ireland startlab in Manhattan. Ireland, the land of a thousand welcomes, is known for its hospitality and tourism sector, but in the increasingly visual world we live in, it’s not just Irish landscapes that are a great way to showcase the country. In an era where everyone is talking about makers, Molloy, a Harvard Business School graduate, believes that leveraging Ireland’s fashion industry through visual platforms is an appropriate way to showcase the creative aspect of Irish people to the world. By highlighting the creativity of Irish people in the fashion industry, it builds awareness and enthusiasm all over the world of Irish artistry and design, which can create a positive economic knock-on effect. On February 9, Molloy was joined by Minister for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon and Tony Dunne, Bank of Ireland country manager, to launch the WearingIrish NYC 2018 showcase competition. Irish designers have been invited to apply for a chance to showcase their work in front of a U.S. audience. Eight of the lucky winners, chosen by a panel of judges, will be flown to 22 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
New York where “they will spend 48 hours meeting potential customers, networking with guests and forging connections to accelerate growth,” per WearingIrish.com. The successful candidates will be announced during Bank of Ireland’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations on March 16 in New York. Molloy has assembled a growing panel of judges and advisors, including current and former influencers from Bloomingdale’s, Victoria’s Secret, Stella & Dot, Theia, Kate Spade, and more. Program sponsors include Tourism Ireland, CIE Tours, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade via the Consulate General of Ireland in New York, and Enterprise Ireland, all of which are firm advocates of the benefit of showcasing Irish creativity through fashion and design. The packed two-day program from May 15 to 17 will not only showcase Irish fashion and design, but bring together various groups, their guests, and expert panel speakers for unique and exciting conversations surrounding Irish creativity. When Irish America spoke with Margaret Molloy, she said, “WearingIrish is about providing designers, influencers and shoppers access and exposure to each other. In the larger context, it’s about providing a tangible demonstration of Ireland’s creative talent.” – Áine Mc Manamon OUTFIT: Coat: Theo+George. Dress: Niamh O’Neill. Belt: Una Burke. Earrings: Bláithín Ennis Jewellery. Scarf: Susannagh Grogan. Gloves: Paula Rownan.
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Ulster at Play Pays Homage to Northern Irish Theatre
elebrating its 10th anniversary, the Origin 1st Irish Theatre Fest, which ran during the month of January, welcomed all those with a love of the Irish arts scene to attend any of its seven productions and nine special events over its threeweek run. Among the featured productions was playwright and producer Turlough McConnell’s Ulster at Play, a dramatic performance about the very notion of dramatic performance itself that seeks to expose the complex and passionate history of theatre in Northern Ireland. The play was featured in the Irish Fest’s Transformation Through Creativity symposium at the Irish American Historical Society in Manhattan. Spotlighting the work of many key Northern Irish dramatists such as Donegal playwright Frank McGuinness, the mind behind celebrated play Observe the Sons of Ulster, Marching Towards the Somme, Ulster at Play works to reevaluate the role they had – and continue to have – in defining Irishness itself, defying even the most one-dimensional view of Northern Irish conflict with a fond, and uniquely thespian, flair. – O.O.
Martin McDonagh, producer Peter Czernin, actors Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand and producer Graham Broadbent at the 2018 BAFTAs.
The Irish in Film Rule 2018
RIGHT: Aisling Walsh and Sally Hawkins LEFT: Barry Keoghan
artin McDonagh and Saoirse Ronan continue to dominate the 2018 awards season, with McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri claiming the British Academy Film Award for Best Film and Best Original Screenplay and the Irish Film and Television Award for Best International Film. Ronan took home the IFTA for Best Actress thanks to her performance MARTIN J. KRAFT / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS in the much-lauded coming-of-age story Lady Bird, exactly ten years after she was named IFTA’s Rising Star of 2008 for her first major role in Joe Wright’s Atonement. The IFTAs also saw Dubliner Aisling Walsh’s touching love story Maudie pick up three awards, including Best Director for Walsh, and fellow Dubliner Barry Keoghan went home with Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film for his role in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of A Sacred Deer. In the upcoming Academy Awards, both Lady Bird and Three Billboards are nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Ronan and Three Billboards star Frances McDormand are also nominated for Best Actress. McDormand’s co-stars, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, received nominations for Best Supporting Actor. – O.O.
Irish Youth Group Launched in Philadelphia
The Guildhall in Derry, which partly inspired Turlough McConnell’s new work. McConnell grew up 14 miles from Derry in Buncrana, County Donegal, and performed at the Guildhall with his school. Built in 1890 and surviving several bombings, it is the home of Derry and Strabane County District Council and the Feis Foire Colmcille, an event which celebrates Irish culture. 24 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
eading Irish youth development group Foróige launched its first overseas club in Philadelphia in February. The launch took place in the city’s Irish Immigration Center, the new home of Foróige in the U.S. This pilot collaboration between the two organizations is projected to act as a model for Irish American youth and others who would like to engage with their Irish heritage in a fresh and invigorating setting. It will include developmental programs in areas such as leadership and civic engagement. The launch was attended by Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon, international Foróige chairperson Sandra McIntyre, and chairman of the board of the Irish Immigration Center, John O’Malley. Cannon congratulated the new members of Foróige Philadelphia at the launch, and expressed the hope “that this becomes a template for other Irish American communities across the U.S. to consider starting their own Foróige club.” “Much of adolescence is about belonging,” said McIntyre, “and this launch is about celebrating the opportunity that Foróige and the Irish Immigration Centre are giving Irish American young people to belong, not only to a Minister Foróige club, but to Cannon takes Ireland and the global a selfie with the youths. Irish family.” – O.O. PHOTO: COURTESY FORÓIGE
PHOTO: COURTESY TURLOUGH MCCONNELL COMMUNICATIONS
PHOTO: JOEL C RYAN / INVISION
hibernia | events
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hibernia | events British and Irish Consul Generals Host Historic Reception
midst Brexit negotiations and rising uncertainty about the bi-lateral relationship between Ireland and the U.K. across the Atlantic, the New York consuls general of the two countries met for the first time at a formal reception hosted by Mutual of America in Manhattan with hopes of fostering cultural goodwill between the countries’ emigrant populations in the northeast. John Greed, the CEO of Mutual of America who is half-German and half-Irish, spoke of his pride in working for a company that has been so important to the peace process in Ireland as well as the cultural life of Irish Americans in New York. More than 150 people were in attendance. – A.F.
PHOTOS: BEN ASEN
PHOTO: NUALA PURCELL
United Irish Counties Recognize Ireland’s Best
Joseph McManus, UIC President Katie Barrett, Dinner Dance Chairperson Malachy McAllister, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, and Sean Downes.
he United Irish Counties Association of New York held its 114th annual banquet in January at the historic Antun’s in Queens Village, New York, recognizing the contributions of activist and attorney Sean Downes and former Leitrim Society and UIC president Joseph McManus. Downes, who has maternal roots in County Cork, received the 2018 Gael of the Year honor for his extraordinary work on behalf of a united Ireland. In the 1990s, he co-founded Friends of Sinn Féin, which has provided American funds to the Irish political party ever since. He was also instrumental in the legal case of Irish republican Seán Mackin, who was granted a suspension of deportation from the U.S. to Northern Ireland in 1991, allowing him to obtain his American citizenship. “I’m very happy to be honored by an organization representing all 32 counties,” Downes told the Irish Voice. “I’ve always worked for the dream that there can be and there should be a united Ireland.” McManus, a native of Drumshambo, County Leitrim, received the Rose A. Cosgrove Distinguished Service Award “in recognition of his accomplishments as an entrepreneur and one who has realized the potential of the American Dream.” – A.F.
Campbell Returns to Ireland for Dublin Lecture
D TOP: Mutual of America CEO John Greed, Concern Worldwide U.S. CEO Colleen Kelly, and Mutual of America’s Ed Kenney. ABOVE: Consul General of Ireland in New York Ciarán Madden shakes hands with Antony Phillipson, Consul General of the U.K. in New York.
istinguished parasitologist, Nobel prize winner, and 2017 Irish America Hall of Fame inductee Dr. William Campbell delivered an academic discourse at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin in November. Campbell, who was in Ireland to receive the Presidential Distin-
Dr. William C. Campbell, Irish America Hall of Fame inductee, speaks at the Royal Irish Academy in November.
guished Service Award, was born in 1930 in Ramelton, County Donegal, and has held honorary membership of the Royal Irish Academy since March 2017. Campbell spoke on the subject of river blindness, a disease caused by parasites, and its treatment, a route he himself pioneered with the development of the drug ivermectin (later named mectizan), which has been revolutionary in animal and human medicine. The drug was developed in the late 1980s and annually saves the eyesight of over 25 million people today. Campbell conducted his research during his 33-year career at the Merck Institute of Therapeutic Research. The entire process “involved a lot of hard work and a lot of persistence,” he told Irish America in 2017. In his lecture, he posited that such determination applied in other areas could yield great things for the future of medicine. – O.O.
PHOTO: COURTESY ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY
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PHOTO: COURTESY THE SIGNATURE PROJECT
hibernia | events New York’s Annual CraicFest Turns 20
Irish Multimedia Experience Goes Off-Broadway
n late 1980s Ireland, commercial digital scanning was newly available, and when Dublin artist Patrick Dunning decided to scan a piece of his art – a large but simple cosmic landscape – into a one million pixel format, he came to understand his painting not just as color on canvas, but as digital code with a message all its own. Patrick became committed to translating every pixel into a human signature, beautifully expressing both our differences and our sameness. In March, Dunning’s The Signature Project makes its Off-Broadway debut under director Eric Paul Vitale in a presentation that combines Dunning’s narrative, the marriage of art and technology in his 76 by 36 foot mural, and an original score composed by Dunning and his brother, Brian, the flutist of popular 1990s Irish Celtic-jazz music group Nightnoise. Walking the audience through the layers of emotion and history that come together to comprise the project, Dunning reveals surprises at every trick of the light, and explains how after 26 years and 300,000 signatures, the project continues to sustain itself. “Every time a new name is added, a new sense of heart is added, too,” Dunning tells Irish America. “We might be all individuals, but we’re all here, and that’s one thing we’re all part of.” The Signature Project runs March 11 to 25 at the Sheen Center in Manhattan. – O.O.
Irish American Partnership Breakfast
ernie Brennan, president of the Royal Dublin Society, will deliver the keynote address at a business breakfast in New York in April hosted by the Irish American Partnership. The breakfast, to be held April 19, will provide an introduction to the partnership’s work and a networking opportunity for members of the Irish and Irish American community. The Irish American Partnership has a longstanding relationship with the RDS, one of the world’s oldest philanthropic organizations, having sponsored the RDS Primary Science Fairs since their inception. Together, the partnership and RDS expanded the fairs in size and geographic scope, hosting annual 26 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
events in Dublin, Limerick, and Belfast for 7,000 students. The RDS was founded in 1731 to support Ireland to thrive economically and culturally. Funded by the organization’s commercial operations, the RDS continues this mission today through its philanthropic work program that spans across science, the arts, agriculture, business and equestrianism. The Irish American Partnership works to empower the next generation of Irish leaders by supporting educational initiatives and community development programs in Northern Ireland and the Republic through direct grants to primary schools, science teacher training, university access scholar-
Rose of Tralee Jennifer Byrne with students at the RDS Primary Science Fair in Limerick.
ships, and employment learning programs. The partnership has given direct grants to over 400 Irish primary schools, promoting literacy, numeracy, and science on the island. The Irish American Partnership also provides forums for visiting leaders from Ireland to speak in the U.S., connecting Irish Americans with their heritage and promoting economic development through tourism, trade, and mutual exchange. – I.A.
PHOTO: TRUE MEDIA
PHOTOS: COURTESY CRAICFEST
his year marks the 20th year of New York City’s celebrated CraicFest, a music and film festival that takes place each March throughout the city to highlight Irish culture and inspire new generations of Irish and non-Irish Americans to explore the rich history of Ireland. Founded in 1999 by Terence Mulligan, a second-generation Irish American from County Mayo, the festival originally began as a minor film festival, dubbed the New York Film Fleadh. “I was an emcee in the ’90s and working as a doorman at Club Macanudo,” Mulligan tells Irish America. “I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before.” Over the years it grew and eventually expanded beyond film and was re-christened ABOVE: CraicFest, after the Irish word Rivalry for “fun.” This year, the musicCity. LEFT: based portion of the event beTerence gins March 3 at the Mercury Mulligan. Lounge in Manhattan, featuring headliners Natalie Clark, Colin Devlin, and Count Vaseline, with the film festival beginning the following week at the Cinepolis Theatre. Participating films include Rivalry City, a documentary on the intense competition between the NYPD and FDNY hockey teams in the aftermath of 9/11, and Irish director Jim Sheridan’s new documentary Inside Apollo House in its New York City premiere. Sheridan will be in attendance for the screening, which will be followed by a Q&A. “It’s all about the experience it gives New Yorkers, and not just Irish in New York,” Mulligan says. “The chance to experience Irish culture through film or music is a powerful feeling.” – M.G.
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hibernia | awards Best of Ireland Gala Dinner 2018
n partnership with The G-Mac Foundation and the Ireland Funds, the seventh annual Best of Ireland Gala dinner was held at the New York Athletic Club on 31st January. More than $800,000 was pledged on the night to help fund research and innovation programmes that are happening right now for sick children. Research offers hope to patients and parents who face lifelong and sometimes life-threatening illnesses. The success of the night was in no small part due to the incredible input and support of the four honorees on the evening, Bret Baier of FOX News, Adrian Jones of Goldman Sachs, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and UFC fighter Conor McGregor. CMRF aims to save and improve sick children’s lives supporting extraordinary care and vital research at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, and the National Children’s Research Centre based at Crumlin. 1 in 100 children are born with a structural heart defect, 1 in 19 people in Ireland carry the Cystic Fibrosis gene and 120,000 children will visit Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin in a typical year. Speaking at the event honoree Conor McGregor said: “Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin in Ireland is very close to my heart. I was there twice in my life, once when I stood on a nail as an 8-year old kid and again last year. Like I said, I was born and raised in Crumlin and it is amazing what you are achieving from this event.” – I.A.
1. Children’s Medical Research Foundation-USA board members Sean Gaffey, Caroline Sullivan, Alex Barry, Alan Ennis, Stephen Condon, Anne Sansevero, Stephen Kennedy, Dave Evans, and Colin Neill. 2. Honoree Adrian Jones with his wife Christina Jones. 3. Honoree Adrian Jones with Kieran McLaughlin of the Ireland Funds. 4. Conor McGregor and Michael Brewster (center) pose with an eager fan. 5. Conor McGregor and partner Dee Devlin (right) with Carla Capone. 6. Conor McGregor, Stephen Condon, Lizzie Wolfe, and Dee Devlin. 7. Dr. Joe Mulevhill, Patricia Harty, Sean Lane, and Attracta Lyndon.
PHOTOS BY JAMES HIGGINS
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those we lost | passages Brendan Byrne
1924-2018 wo-term New Jersey governor Brendan Byrne died of a lung infection in January at the age of 93. Byrne is remembered as one of the most popular Democratic politicians in the state, as well as for his unimpeachable reputation for honesty. Byrne’s introduction of a state tax to improve funding for public education and efforts to preserve the Pinelands – an expanse of over one million acres – demonstrated his commitment to public service and protecting his home state. “New Jersey loved him,” Byrne’s successor, Thomas Kean, said at the former governor’s memorial service. “New Jersey loved him for his authenticity and honesty.” Byrne was born in 1924 in West Orange, New Jersey, into a Catholic family of Irish descent as one of five children. He had a multi-faceted career, being decorated for his service in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. Byrne used his G.I. bill to attend Princeton University, going on to obtain a law degree from Harvard Law School. He led a successful legal career and moved his way up in politics, eventually serving as a Superior Court judge before winning the gubernatorial election in 1973. Byrne, who often joked about being buried in Hudson County to continue participating in state politics, is predeceased by his first wife, Jeanne, and a daughter who died in 2006. He is survived by wife Ruthie Zinn, six children – including son Tom Byrne, who currently heads New Jersey’s State Investment Council – and nine grandchildren. Speaking at Byrne’s memorial service, his son Tom said, “He’ll remain active in politics as long as people want a role model.” – M.G.
PHOTO COURTESY STARS AND STRIPES
FROM TOP: Brendan Byrne, Maurice Carroll, James H. Clark, and Anna Mae Hays.
1931-2017 espected Irish American journalist and head of the Quinnipiac Poll Maurice Carroll died of colon cancer in December. He was 86. Known as “Mickey” to friends and colleagues, Carroll worked in the field of journalism for over 40 years, reporting for a total of eight newspapers over his career on such critical events as the Civil Rights marches in the south, President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, and the subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, for which he produced a legendary eyewitness account. Born and raised in Rutherford, New Jersey, by Irish American parents Michael and Dorothy, Carroll graduated from the University of Notre Dame and served in the army before embarking on his career as a reporter. He would later branch out to write books on the Kennedy assassination as well as the Iran hostage crisis. Never one to back down from muckraking, he told the New York University Bullpen in 2004, “Do an honest job and, if it causes trouble – which it often will – that’s too bad. One way or an-
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other, truth will win out.” Carroll took a job as a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University in 1995 and turned the university’s poll into the well-regarded resource it is today. “Mickey Carroll was a reporter in the finest tradition of American journalism, a dedicated educator and a knowledgeable commentator on the American political scene,” Quinnipiac University president John Lahey said. Carroll is predeceased by his son, Patrick, and second wife, Beth Fallon. He died in the home of his first wife, Peggy Wade, with whom he maintained a close friendship. He is survived by Wade, his sister Anne, three children, and ten grandchildren. – M.G.
James H. Clark
1932 – 2018 ames H. Clark, a Philadelphia civic leader, Verizon manager, and patron of writers, died of pneumonia in January. Clark, who was born in 1932 to a humble Irish American family in Penn Wynne, Pennsylvania, learned early on in his life the importance of two things: reverence for his Irish ancestry and family comes first. Clark joined the Navy in 1951 and would serve for four years as a radioman aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Lloyd Thomas. Two years later, after starting a job at Bell of Pennsylvania, he met and married Mildred McMonagle, with whom he had four children. In the 1980s, after the government-mandated split of the Bell System, Clark was assigned to Verizon and from 1982 to 1988 helped organize Verizon’s telephone directory. In retirement, he embarked on a family research project, discovering that he was a great-grandson of “Professor” John H. Clark, a famed 19th century Irish American bare-knuckle boxer. His great-grandfather’s love of writing inspired James to begin a writing group, and he founded Writers’ Cramp in 1988. Clark also served as the president of the town’s civic association, coached local sports teams, and wrote about his family history. “I think he was the quintessential gentleman,” his son-in-law, Brian Walsh, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He was soft-spoken, but certainly not a pushover. He was just really a kind soul. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better human being.” Clark is survived by his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a brother. – D.L.
Anna Mae Hays
1920 – 2018 nna Mae Hays, the first woman in the United States to serve as a general in the armed forces, died in January at the age of 97. After enlisting as an army nurse in World War II, Hays established herself as one of the Army Medical Corps’ top leaders over her three decades of service, eventually earning the rank of brigadier general in 1970. Hays had an especially significant role in recasting the treatment
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those we lost | passages
of women in the U.S. military. Her efforts helped raise the standards of education for women being admitted as U.S. army nurses, as well as softening the heavy restrictions regarding their enlistment. In between stints of overseas deployment as farreaching as India and South Korea, Hays served as one of President Eisenhower’s private duty nurses in 1956 and nurtured a very close relationship with the former general in the years afterward. When Hays was promoted to general more than two decades later, Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie, presented her with the president’s own general’s stars from his time in WWII. Hays rejected burial at Arlington National Cemetery in order to be interred along with her family at Grandview Cemetery in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they settled when she was 12. Though born in Buffalo, New York, she regarded Allentown as her true hometown because her parents’ mission for the Salvation Army had previously moved the family to many different places before settling in the Lehigh Valley. Her father, Daniel McCabe, was born in Ballymurphy, County Carlow, and her mother was of Welsh ancestry. “She was an amazing woman who accomplished some great things and lived life on her terms,” Doris Kressly, Hays’s niece, told the Allentown Morning Call. “She lived a magnificent life and I’m glad she got to live it the way she did.” In addition to Kressly, Hays is survived by several more nieces and nephews. Her husband, William A. Hays, died in 1962. – M.G.
FROM TOP: John Mahoney and Dorothy Malone.
1940 – 2018 ctor John Mahoney died in February at the age of 77 of throat cancer in Chicago. A fixture of the Chicago theater community with a sharp sense of humor, Mahoney was best-known for his role as Frasier Crane’s surly ex-cop father in NBC’s Frasier. Born to Irish parents in 1940 in Blackpool, England, Mahoney first visited the United States at age 11 when he came to Chicago to visit his elder sister. He returned with his sister’s sponsorship in 1958 and became a citizen in 1959. Following work as an editor for a medical magazine and later as an English teacher, Mahoney discovered acting, albeit later than most. In 1979, he was invited to join the fledgling Steppenwolf Theatre by Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, both nearly 15 years his junior, because the ensemble of 20-somethings realized they needed an actor who could credibly play older, fatherly roles. Mahoney’s niche was set. “By the time I started my career, most people had given up and started selling insurance,” Mahoney told the Chicago Tribune in 2004. “I didn’t have so
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much competition.” While his success on Frasier made his a household name, following the show’s finale in 2004, Mahoney returned to Steppenwolf full-time, occasionally taking film or TV gigs if he thought them interesting. But his main passion was the stage. He appeared in more than 30 productions for his home theater, including a 2008 production of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, which Tribune critic Chris Jones called “perhaps Mahoney’s most devastating performance, if only for the way it emphasized his inherent frailty.” In 2002, Mahoney appeared in the Chicago Irish Repertory Theatre’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, which he later took to the Galway Arts Festival, beginning a love affair with Galway City that would last the rest of his life. In a 2015 interview with the Galway Advisor, he said, “I’m not just saying this to blow smoke up you, but my two favorite places in the world are Galway and Chicago.” – A.F.
1924 – 2018 cademy Award-winning actress Dorothy Malone died in January at the age of 93. Best known for her role as Constance MacKenzie in the 1960s series Peyton Place, Malone had a long and eventful career in film and television, working with a number of Hollywood legends, including Rock Hudson and Cary Grant. Malone’s biggest critical success came in 1957 when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her seductive portrayal of Texan oil heiress Marylee Hadley in Written on the Wind. Dorothy Eloise Maloney was born in Chicago in 1924 to Robert Ignatius and Esther Maloney, devout Irish Catholics. The family soon relocated to Dallas, where Malone attended the Ursuline Convent before beginning a pageant career and modeling for Neiman-Marcus. She attended Southern Methodist University intent on studying nursing, but eventually found her way to drama. In 1943, she signed a contract with Warner Bros., shortened her name to Malone, and launched a 50-year screen career that ended with her role as Hazel Dobkins in 1992’s Basic Instinct. Malone, who was never shy about her priorities between family and acting, regarded her two daughters, Mimi and Diane, as her primary bosses, and her role as mother paramount to any on-screen jobs she would have. On Peyton Place, she accepted a salary decrease to ensure that she would be home by 6 p.m. during the week and would not have to work weekends. She also paid tribute to the role of mothers in family life throughout her career, telling the Chicago Tribune in 1985, “I never turned down a mother role. I started out as a very young girl in Hollywood doing westerns, portraying a mother with a couple of kids.” In addition to her daughters, Malone is survived by her brother, Robert, and six grandchildren. – M.G.
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hibernia | quote unquote “While your thoughts are appreciated, I beg you to DO SOMETHING. This should not have happened to our niece Cara and it can not happen to other people’s families.”
– Lindsay Fontana, the aunt of Loughran Cara Loughran, who was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14 in Parkland, Florida. Loughran, a 14-year-old Irish American, was a member of the Drake School of Irish Dance, located three miles from the high school. Two other Drake students are said to have been students at Douglas and witnessed the shooting that left 17 dead and 14 wounded. Facebook, February 15.
“It is strange that this onetime cardboard-cutout celebrity popping up at Gotham parties has turned into a psychic dentist drill, boring into Americans’ deepest, most painful schisms on race, gender, and inequality.”
“There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million. The difference between that and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up.”
– White House chief of staff John Kelly, speaking in defense of Donald Trump’s proposal at breaking the impasse on immigration in Congress. The measure was voted down by the Senate February 15. The Guardian, February 6.
“These online hate groups are now more powerful than local churches. [But] I’m at total peace. I really am. An ocean of hate online is really wiped out by just a few tears from an LGBT person.”
– Maureen Dowd, on President Donald Trump’s former proclivity for showing up unannounced at celebrity-studded parties in Manhattan. New York Times, February 3.
“From a historical perspective, it’s always unsettling to see Irish Americans embracing Nativism. John Kelly’s family roots are of immigrants who arrived in Boston and elsewhere in America to encounter virulent prejudice simply because they were Irish and Catholic. Some of his ancestors likely knew full well the reality of No Irish Need Apply.”
– Author, journalist, and columnist Peter F. Stevens. Kelly, a former General in the U.S. Army, grew up on Bigelow Street in a Boston Irish family with strong Catholic beliefs. Boston Irish Reporter, February 1.
– Rev. James Martin, S.J., whose Irish ancestors hail from Castlebridge, County Wexford, responding to the successful critical pressure put on a small New Jersey parish to move a lecture called “Jesus Christ: Fully Human, Fully Divine” he was meant to deliver off church grounds. The anger was sparked by his most recent book, Building a Bridge, which called on Catholics to show more compassion to the LGBT community. New York Times, February 3.
“Working with [Bono] and Bob Geldof on debt relief was one of the greatest things I ever did. It’s up there with ‘We Are the World.’” Bono, Jones, and Geldof 34 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
– Producer Quincy Jones. In 1999, Jones, Bono, and Geldof (who spearheaded 1985’s Live Aid charity concerts), traveled to the Vatican to meet with Pope John Paul II, hoping to gain his support in their effort to reduce third-world debt. Vulture, February 7.
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I R I S H
A M E R I C A
HALL FAME Governor
Jerry Brown By Tom Deignan
ABOVE: Governor Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust. OPPOSITE: Brown speaks at the 88th Annual Chamber Host Breakfast. May 22, 2013.
erry Brown – who has spent more time than anyone else in the California governor’s office – has been well served by his Irish Catholic roots. Brown’s great-grandfather, Joseph, came to the U.S. from County Tipperary during Ireland’s Great Hunger, in 1849. In Massachusetts, he met his future wife, Bridget Burke, herself an Irish immigrant to America. A few years later, Joseph and Bridget made their way to California, where gold
mining was still fueling dreams of wealth and a better life for hopeful immigrants. Joseph and Bridget Brown laid the foundation for one of America’s most enduring political dynasties. Their grandson, Edmund Gerald “Pat” Brown, went to night law school and became a successful lawyer. In 1943 he was elected district attorney of San Francisco, and in 1950 was elected attorney general of California. In 1958 he was elected Governor and served two terms, defeating Richard Nixon in his reelection bid, but losing to Ronald Reagan in his attempt to win a third term.
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Brown’s son Edmund Gerald, Jr. – known as “Jerry” – inherited the family’s political gene and was deeply influenced by the faith his great-grandfather brought from Ireland. “Jerry Brown’s idealism has been shaped and enhanced by a powerful California institution – the Catholic Church,” writes Chuck McFadden, in Trailblazer, his 2013 biography of Brown. From the fifth through the eighth grade, the serious-minded Brown was educated by the Dominican nuns. Then in high school, and for a year at the University of Santa Clara, he was taught and inspired by the Jesuits. Like many Irish Catholics, Brown seriously considered the priesthood, spending several years at the Sacred Heard Novitiate and taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. In 1960, Brown left the seminary and enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, later graduating from Yale Law School. In 1971, at the age of 32, he became California’s secretary of state. At the next election, Brown was elected governor, following the eight storied years of Ronald Reagan. As governor, the New York Times said, “Brown was the face and spirit of a new generation of a state that – politically and culturally – was proudly distinct from the rest of the nation.” In his first term, Brown signed into law the nation’s first Agricultural Labor Relations Act and created the California Conservation Corp, modeled on President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corp. Also notable during his time as governor, was the changing face of the California judiciary, which for the first time included large numbers of women, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Governor Brown was also responsible for the nation’s first building and appliance energy efficiency standards and a 55 percent solar and renewable energy tax credit. In the following decade, California became the nation’s leader in renewable energy, producing over 95 percent of the nation’s wind-generated electricity. In 1976, Brown sought the Democratic nomination for president, managing to best Jimmy Carter in several states, including Maryland and California. It’s been 42 years since his first White House run,
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and Brown, now 79, is looking back at a lifetime spent on the political stage. When Brown delivered his final State of the State address this January, it was not only the end of an era, but “the end of… a very, very long era,” as the Los Angeles Times put it. The Times continued: “Sixty years ago this November, Brown’s father... was elected governor in a landslide election that forever changed California’s political hue.… By the end of 2018, Pat or Jerry Brown will have been governor for 24 of the previous 60 years. That’s an astonishing 40 percent of the time over six decades – a whole lot of power and influence by one family over a state.” Brown, the New York Times noted, “has been such a fixture… that it seems impossible to imagine California without him.” Jerry Brown was born on April 7, 1938, at St. Mary’s Hospital. “The first in a series of institutions that had ‘St.’ or ‘Sacred’ or ‘Santa’ as part of their names and would largely influence his first two decades,” writes McFadden. St. Ignatius High School was another such institution, where Brown took four years of Latin and religion in what was then the pre-Vatican II era under Pope Pius XII. This underscores an important point about Brown: though he would come to be associated with the liberal wing of the Democratic party, he was also influenced by ideas typically associated with more conservative thinkers. For his success in balancing California’s budget, the American Conservative magazine called him “much more of a fiscal conservative” than Republican icon Ronald Reagan.
PHOTO: JUSTIN SHORT
Following an unsuccessful U.S. Senate run in 1982, Brown traveled widely, visiting Japan, China, Russia, Europe and Mexico. For six months he practiced Zen meditation in Kamakura, Japan, and then worked briefly with Mother Teresa in Kolkata, India (formerly Calcutta). But Pat Brown’s son could not stay away from politics. In 1989 he ran for and was elected chairman of the California Democratic Party. Then in 1992 he ran again for the White House, mounting an insurgent campaign, taking no contribution greater than $100. Brown used an 800 number to collect most of his funds and won several states including Connecticut, Colorado, Maine, and Vermont, eventually losing to Bill Clinton. In 1998, he was elected to the first of two terms as mayor of Oakland, where he helped revitalize the downtown area and founded two unique charter schools, the Oakland Military Institute and the Oakland School for the Arts. In 2006 he was elected California attorney general, where he took aggressive legal action to protect the environment and combat growing mortgage fraud. Along the way, he married longtime girlfriend Anne Gust, a top executive at The Gap. They exchanged their vows at St. Agnes Catholic church in San Francisco, where Brown was baptized and where his parents were married.
TOP to BOTTOM: Meeting with Irish President Michael D. Higgins in Sacramento. With his father Pat. With the Dalai Lama. In India, where he worked with Mother Theresa.
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Michael Browne, grandnephew of Joseph Browne, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1849. Governor Pat Brown with his wife, Bernice, and children, Jerry, Kathleen, Barbara, Cynthia, and Lee. Brown signs AB 398, a landmark climate bill to extend California’s cap-and-trade program on Treasure Island. July 25, 2017.
In 2010 Brown won a third term as California governor by defeating billionaire Meg Whitman, who far outspent him with a $173 million campaign. He became the oldest person to hold the California governorship and was re-elected in 2014. Brown’s impressive achievements include: the conversion of a $27 billion deficit into a $13 billion rainy day fund; reforming pensions, workers’ compensation, and California’s bloated prison system; providing health insurance to an additional five million Californians; increasing school spending by tens of billions of dollars and reforming funding formulas to assist low-income and non-English speaking families; enacting a $15 minimum wage; passing a $7 billion water bond; and making California a world leader in the fight against climate change. Jerry Brown has had an unusual, creative and very long career in public service. All in all, a beautiful tribute to his pioneering and courageous IA Irish forebears. PHOTO: CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Brown and his wife, Anne, meet with his Irish cousins, the O’Sullivans, at his ranch in California. Left to right: Robert, Aoife Anne, Jerry, John, Helen, Eoin, and Rosie.
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I R I S H
A M E R I C A
HALL FAME Kelli O’Hara
RIGHT: Kelli O'Hara performs at Lincoln Center.
he glorious The King and I overture reaches a crescendo, filling Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont theater with some of the greatest music ever written for the theater played by world-class musicians. Then, a giant sailing ship moves across the stage into the audience. Gasps. And yet it’s when, in the words of New York Times critic Ben Brantley, “the determined, hopeful, anxious woman in the hoop skirt” runs on deck that applause rocks the place. “Her name is Anna Leonowens and she is played, you lucky theatergoers, by Kelli O’Hara.” Lucky indeed, as most of us there that day know. We are fans of the amazing performances she has given on Broadway since her debut in 2000, as a replacement in Jekyll and Hyde. In 2005 O’Hara was nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Light in the Piazza, with subsequent nominations for The Pajama Game (2006), South Pacific (2008), Nice Work if You Can Get It (2012), and The Bridges of Madison County (2014). Now her Anna will send critics scrambling for superlatives and earn her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. O’Hara gave an all-time great Tony acceptance speech complete with a rendition of a dance called “the worm.” And she looked right at her mother and father as she thanked them. “To my parents who are sitting next to me for the sixth time, you don’t have to pretend. It’s okay this time. Thank you for giving me roots.” She talked to me about those roots. “I’m proud to be Irish,” she said, though she grew up far from the usual Irish American centers. “I was born and raised in Oklahoma. My mom’s side of the family, the Husband family, came during the land run and settled in western Oklahoma.” (The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with 50,000 people dashing for their piece of the two million acres opened for settlement.) The O’Hara side initially came to the U.S. around 1850, living in Iowa, Missouri, and Colorado, where O’Hara’s great-great-grandfather did well with horses and farming. But soon, Ireland called again and he returned. “My great-aunt, who was then in her 90s, told me the story,” O’Hara says. “He went back
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PHOTO: JIMMY RYAN
By Mary Pat Kelly
to Ireland, either to get his family or to live there with his newfound wealth, but he was actually forced to leave. Something happened and he had to take his family and nothing else and escape at night.” Her great-grandfather, Peter, was born during that brief time back, but the family returned to America. As adults, Peter and his brothers, James and Michael, split off to find land. They landed in western Oklahoma in 1909, just two years after statehood, settling first in Mangum, where O’Hara’s grandfather was born, and later in Elk City, near the Texas panhandle, where they acquired a farm. “We still farm the land that they found. My dad’s brother Robert lives on the original farm. My father and brother are both Patrick O’Haras. Our family has a long wonderful history of Irish lineage.” Her father and mother were both born and raised in Elk City, as was Kelli herself, and to date, six generations of O’Haras have lived on the land. “We do have one precious possession that’s been
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FAR LEFT: Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe in The King and I. LEFT: Kelli O’Hara performs in the Lincoln Center production of South Pacific.
PHOTO: CHAD J. MCNEELEY / DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
handed down. It’s an Irish cookbook that we use all the time. On the cover, written in Irish, is Ó hEaghra – O’Hara,” she says. “My father named me Kelli because ‘Kelli O’Hara’ just sounded so Irish. Even growing up in the middle of America, I felt grounded because I had such strong roots. We were living in the town where my grandfather had grown up. There were a lot of O’Haras from those three sons – James and Peter and Michael – many, many cousins.” Kelli captured her family’s early struggles in a song she wrote and performed in special concert at New York’s Sheen Center last October. The lyrics tell the story of her grandfather, George O’Hara: Here now the wind is blowing Red dust and it settles like me Here now no place to be going But the place I’m dying to be. And what sustained her grandfather? His sweetheart Marie of course: I believe in blue skies And the shy Irish eyes Of the girl who is marrying me.
Growing up, Kelli found her sustenance in music. “There was singing in church and at weddings,” she remembers. “We were Catholics in the Baptist Bible Belt. Our church, St. Matthew’s Catholic, was central to our lives. I grew up singing in church and I loved it. I went to Oklahoma City University where my teacher, Florence Birdwell, helped me think outside the box. When I graduated, I could have gone on to grad school or studied more music, but I eventually found myself packing two suitcases with no clue and moving to New York City. I think it scared my parents a lot, but they put me on that plane. I just had a feeling that if I didn’t try I would never forgive myself. Somehow I wasn’t even afraid. But then, look at my greatgreat-grandfather and all the Irish who headed out into the unknown. When I read Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, I thought, ‘I know these people.’ I understand their humor, their endurance, their strength. “When you go to acting school, everyone wants you to say what your big problems are so you can weep. But I’m not going to lie about the fact that I had a good childhood. I had two sets of grandparents in my little tiny town and I walked barefoot down the
ABOVE: (Left to right) A.J. Cook, Gen. Colin Powell, Katherine Jenkins, Lionel Richie, Kelli O'Hara, Joe Mantegna, and Blythe Danner thank the audience for their participation in the National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. May 30, 2010.
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TOP to BOTTOM: Kelli O'Hara and Greg Naughton were married in Vermont on July 28, 2007. O’Hara’s grandparents, George and Marie. O’Hara’s grandfather, for whom she wrote "Here Now," drives a tractor on the family farm. Standing behind in the cotton trailer is Archie Dye, who helped work the land with the O’Haras. RIGHT: O’Hara’s children, Owen and Charlotte Naughton, with her father, Pat, on his farm.
street and everyone knew whose daughter I was. I’m proud of that and I’m using it. I suppose there are a lot of reasons to be jaded or sarcastic or bitter in life. But I hang on to the reasons why life is beautiful. It helps to have a history to think about, to remember those who came before you, to help you be in this place. I feel very fortunate. I don’t feel held down, or that I need to create angst in order to be a good artist. I feel like my artistry comes from the things I do believe in. I’m very happy. I was glad to play Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, this cockeyed optimist person, who was also a professional woman, a nurse, liberated for her time. But liberated doesn’t mean that you don’t fall in love and that you don’t lose control of all sense of anything. It’s something I’ve struggled with before, to find that openness. But once you allow it to happen and you really believe in it, nothing feels better. When you actually allow yourself to just be grateful. I feel that way especially about my husband, Greg Naughton, and our two children. And he’s Irish. I felt like I knew him somewhere before. Maybe somewhere back in Ireland, something aligned. He’s a great person. We’re happy. He’s been very encouraging to me and was instrumental in helping me with my CD Wonder in the World that I did with Harry Connick, Jr.” O’Hara is very aware of connections between her projects and what’s going on in the world. “When we did South Pacific, Barack Obama was running for president, and it was a story focused on race. When we were first doing The King and I, Hillary Clinton was running for president, and we saw a chance to tell a story about feminism.” When Anna gives a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to the King of Siam’s youngest wife, she reads it and rebels, unwilling to remain a slave. Director Bartlett Sher said that his interpretation of The King and I was inspired by the thought that even in our present world, the thing terrorists fear most is a girl with a book. To underscore this point, the Nobel lecture written and delivered by Malala Yousafzai, who as a 15-year old was shot for going to school by the Taliban in Afghanistan, is featured in the The King and I issue of the Lincoln Center Theater Review. The heroines O’Hara chooses to play echo Irish heroines of the past – Queen Maeve, who led armies; Grace O’Malley, the pirate queen of Connacht; and
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perhaps one of O’Hara’s own female ancestors, walking the hills of Clare and singing along the way. I thought of this as I watched Kelli in Brigadoon. It was my birthday and I was lucky to get a last-minute ticket, and once again marvelled at how she can reinvigorate classic American musicals. Maybe the mythical village is Scottish, but Fiona is Irish as she sings about waiting for her dearie, and the dream she is unwilling to compromise. It’s easy to believe that O’Hara could expand a miracle and bring the town of Brigadoon alive again. Next, O’Hara will appear as Despina in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, disproving the premise of a number she does in her concert – “They Don’t Let You in the Opera if You’re a Country Star.” Interestingly, it’s Phelim McDermott, born in Manchester, England, of Irish descent, who set the opera in 1950s Coney Island and will be directing. O’Hara remembers her first glimpse of Ireland. “It was the most surreal experience, because I’ve always wanted to see the countryside of Ireland. I was coming from London and it was winter and there was a storm here in New York City that kept the plane from crossing the Atlantic. We were diverted to Shannon Airport. It was kind of a scary moment – they took us to this hotel in the middle of nowhere. It was dark, late at night. It was about two years ago. I sat with several Irish couples and they told me about Ireland and how they grew up. They were about my own age. I had a pint and went to bed. And when I woke up, I looked out the window and I was in the middle of the Irish countryside. There were rock walls and sheep and rolling green hills. It seemed unreal because it was so what I’ve imagined. You know when you go to a country and imagine what it will be but it’s not, it’s just like New York City? Well, this was as I’d imagined. Then they took us back on a bus and I flew away. It was almost like I’d been magically transported to an essential version of Ireland. Later I found out that I’d been looking out at the hills of County Clare where the O’Haras are from.” So maybe the ancestors were calling Kelli O’Hara back to where her heart has ever been. IA
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I R I S H
A M E R I C A
HALL FAME John O. Brennan By Niall O’Dowd
John Brennan returned to Kilteevan, Co. Roscommon, in November 2017 to see the tree he and his father had planted during their 2013 visit.
ohn Owen Brennan’s 29-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency was spectacular. He was director of the agency from March 2013 to January 2017 and prior to that, his career included stints as intelligence briefer for President Bill Clinton, top deputy to CIA director George Tenet, director of the National Counterterrorism Center during George W. Bush’s presidency, and chief counterterrorism advisor to President Barack Obama. Brennan has also worked as a Near East and South Asia analyst, as station chief in the Middle East, and, outside the CIA, had a brief stint in the private sector as chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance and CEO of The Analysis Corporation. Since his retirement from the CIA, Brennan’s public face is most often that of the solemn commentator – ever skeptical, ever alert, with no penchant or patience for hyperbole. And in today’s climate of acute partisanship, he is resolutely independent, describing himself simply as a “nonpartisan American who is very concerned about our collective future.” The shift within the CIA from a Cold War focus to the Arab world made Brennan, fluent in Arabic and a Middle East specialist, a valued commentator, and there is no doubt that he is one of the foremost political minds of this era. He was recently named a distinguished fellow for global security at the Fordham University School of Law’s Center on National Security, and in February began his post-public service career as senior national security and intelligence analyst at NBC and MSNBC. Outside his on-air time and office hours, John Brennan delights in prioritizing his heritage and faith – his guiding lights. Born in 1955 in Jersey City, New Jersey, Brennan was raised in West New York and North Bergen in an extremely Irish household. His father, Owen, who died in December
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2016, was a native of County Roscommon, and his mother, Dorothy, who died in April of last year on what would have been her husband’s 97th birthday, was firstgeneration Irish American, from Mayo and Galway. They met at an Irish dance and married in 1952. “After 65 years of marriage, I am sure she didn’t want to miss a birthday with her beloved ‘Owenie,’” he told Irish America recently. I visited Brennan at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia at the end of 2016, and learned that Ireland was a constant presence in the Brennan house when he was growing up. “My father’s brother and sisters who were over here – five of nine siblings – would gather in someone’s house every Sunday, and my family loved singing and dancing. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were constantly on the record player in our house. My sister took Irish-dancing classes and we used to go to the feises, so we were all in!” The Irish influence in Brennan’s life is still strong. He can hold down a discussion on Gaelic games, talk about his father’s hero worship for the All-Ireland winning Roscommon teams of 1943 and 1944, and even has a couple of Irish words, pronouncing his name as Gaeilge as Seán Ó Braonáin. One of his prize possessions is a hurling stick used in the ancient game, given to him by his good friend Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Five years ago, he and his brother Tom took their father on the trip of a lifetime back to Roscommon for The Gathering, a government initiative to bring emigrants and the diaspora back to Ireland. Owen Brennan was once a blacksmith, working for the Anglo-Irish McCalmont family in what is now the Mount Juliet Estate, complete with plush hotel and golf course, in County Kilkenny. Back then, Owen slept upstairs from the stables in a loft. Entering the Big House was forbidden, especially for a lowly blacksmith who was expected to know his station. When the Brennan brothers arrived in Ireland, the sons had a surprise for their father. The finest suite
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in Mount Juliet, the house whose door he never darkened, was reserved for him. Owen and his family had come a long way. As a young man, Brennan never took for granted the chance his parents had given him, even if he was a little undecided about what to pursue post-high school. At one point he even had an earring, long hair, and motorcycle, but the Jesuits won out and Brennan went to college at Fordham University, across the Hudson River in the Bronx, to which he had to take a bus, then two subway transfers. He excelled in that to which he applied himself – on the basketball court, he was known as “Jumping Jack” for his prowess – and had high ambitions: “I wanted to be the first American pope.” Instead, he discovered girls and decided to not pursue the priesthood. But the imprint of the examined life instilled in him by the Jesuits is still with him. He credits Fordham with giving him “a strong foundation in morality and ethics and core religious foundations.” “They made you think. They made you wonder about life. They made you think about right and wrong and if there is such a proposition. It was something that was instilled early and it was the religious training exposure from early on and that continued for me into my job and career.” Growing up, Brennan loved to travel and was drawn to distant locales. He spent a semester as an exchange student in Cairo at the American University from August 1975 to January 1976. The Arab world fascinated him. In Cairo, he took courses in Arabic and later went to graduate school at the University of Texas in Middle East studies where he refined his language skills.
It was as an undergraduate when the decisive moment he applied to the CIA came. “I was on the bus going to New York to Fordham and the New York Times had an advertisement for the CIA, and I then sent in my resume.” He was hired in 1980. Then came the long climb to the top. The utter faith that presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama placed in him, his reputation for no nonsense truth-telling, plus a working schedule that makes a workaholic look like a slacker ensured Brennan’s success. Along the way he married Kathy Pokluda, of Czech ancestry. Together they raised one son and two daughters – Kyle, Kelly, and Jaclyn – and together they’ve been for 40 years. Asked to reflect on the question every director actively considers if they are any good – to name the best and worst moments of the job – Brennan’s reply is both surprising and indicative of the man and his ability to see the real live flesh and blood children and adults who suffer. “The worst moments are when a CIA officer falls
PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / GETTY
PHOTO: CAROLYN KASTER / AP
TOP LEFT: John Owen Brennan served as director of the CIA from 2013 to 2017. TOP RIGHT: Brennan speaks in the East Room of the White House after President Obama announced his nomination as CIA director. Obama also announced his choice of former Senator Chuck Hagel (left) to head the Department of Defense. January 7, 2013. ABOVE: Former President George H.W. Bush and Brennan at the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. January 29, 2016.
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Brennan and his father Owen at the Community Center in Kilteevan, Co. Roscommon in 2013. The center once was the church where Owen was baptized and where he received his first holy communion. Brennan pictured at the home where his father was born on April 2, 1920, in Clooneskert, Co. Roscommon, last November. Father and son enjoy a pint on their 2013 visit to Ireland. Brennan’s mother Dorothy (née Dunn). Her grandparents (Dunn, Duffy, Ahearne, and Hingston) were all born in Ireland. Brennan’s grandparents, Anne (née Kelly) and Owen Brennan in front of their Mount Plunkett, Co. Roscommon, home, c. 1965.
in the line of duty,” he says. “I remember when I get the phone calls. I remember when talking to the families, talking to the spouse, talking to the children, and every year we have our memorial ceremony in the lobby, and it’s amazing how families from fallen officers from years ago show up.” If there is a pinnacle of his career, it must be his involvement in the operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. “That was certainly one that I can remember very, very vividly because there were 48 hours and there was a period of time where there wasn’t that much sleep. There was a lot of anxiousness and concern about the individuals who were a part of that raid,” Brennan recalls. “I can remember leaving the White House that night after many, many hours there, and it was lit up outside and Lafayette Park was bright, and people were all around going through the street. You could hear the chants of ‘USA’ and ‘CIA’ It was quite a moment.” Though his term at the CIA expired once Trump was sworn in, Brennan continues to be a powerful voice in the national debate. He warned the FBI shortly before the election that the Russians were per-
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PHOTO: JOE TRAVERS
PHOTO: JOE TRAVERS
verting the process in favor of Trump. He has also been outspoken on what he sees as attempts to undermine the truth about what happened in the 2016 election and has been fearless in speaking out. On a personal level, he is back teaching at his beloved Fordham University, but we may well have not seen the end of him as a national figure yet. His parents have now passed on but what they taught him about decency, respect, and truth-telling has obviously stayed with him. Of his induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame, Brennan tells us, “I am the product of a strong and loving Irish Catholic upbringing, and I owe whatever success and happiness in my life to my two wonderful parents, Owen and Dorothy. And I look forward to accepting the honor of induction in the Irish America Hall of Fame as a lasting tribute IA to them.”
Congratulations Jerry Brown John O. Brennan Dennis P. Long Kelli Oâ€™Hara
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I R I S H
A M E R I C A
HALL FAME Dennis P. Long By Dave Lewis
ABOVE: Dennis Long photographed at the Lakes of Killarney.
hen Irish America first interviewed Dennis Long, in January 1986, he was part of a new generation of Irish American CEOs. “Irish Americans are really only now reaching the top levels of business, law, finance and politics,” he told publisher Niall O’Dowd. “We’re the third generation and we’ve paid our dues. It’s now time to put something back.” He certainly did that. Back then, Long was president and COO of Anheuser Busch, the largest brewing company in the world. His was an extraordinary success story. A poor kid from a working-class neighborhood, he had risen from office boy to president and chief operating officer. At just age 41, he took over the company at a crucial time in its history. Anheuser-Busch was reeling from a 100-day strike that had kept its product off the shelves and there was a growing threat from Miller Brewing, which was looking to take over the market share. “We had never looked at the company in that detail. We realized that we were going to have to develop new strengths to survive,” Long said at the time. As president from 1977 to 1987, Long nearly doubled Anheuser-Busch’s beer sale volume, adding 35 million barrels and giving the company a 33.6 million barrel lead over their nearest competitor. He did that by doubling the marketing staff and greatly expanding the advertising campaign, reaching out to specific groups, and by taking the brand overseas. Much to Ireland’s benefit. In 1985, he initiated, the company’s sponsorship of the Irish Derby held on the rolling plains of the
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Curragh in County Kildare, making what became known as the Budweiser Irish Derby into one of the richest horse races in Europe, and turning the Irish into Budweiser drinkers in the process. He also saw a opportunity to expand the brand in the U.S. by sponsoring sporting events, including soccer – the game he had played growing up in the “Patch,” as the Irish neighborhood of his childhood was called. Dennis “Denny” Long was born in Chicago to third-generation Irish American parents. When he was four, his family moved back to St. Louis. Long’s fourth-great-grandfather immigrated from Ireland in the 1850s, and after disembarking in New Orleans, made his way to St. Louis via the Mississippi River. Speaking to me from his office in Sam’s Steakhouse, the successful St. Louis restaurant that he coowns with his son, Patrick, Long talked about his early life and the tight-knit community of the Patch, where family and parish, St. Columbkille, were allimportant. People were poor, but the community was rich in spirit. “It was a haven,” Long remembers. And there was a plethora of Irishness that fully encompassed his life, from the concert full of Irish songs and music that occurred every Friday night to the Irish plays that would be performed in the Patch. And then there was soccer. “Every Catholic parish in St. Louis sponsored a soccer team. It was part of our education, our growth, our parish activities, more so than any other sport. “I played soccer from the time I was able to walk until now, and I’m almost unable to walk, so from
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ABOVE: All roads lead to Killarney, Co. Kerry from where Dennis Long’s Irish ancestors hailed. ABOVE RIGHT: Dennis Long and his son, Patrick Long, co-owners of Sam’s Steakhouse in St. Louis.
limp to limp. I’m 82, so that’s a long time,” he tells me, saying that as early as he can remember, all he wanted to do was to kick a ball around a manicured field for his parish. For generations, the city of St. Louis would champion the sport of soccer by producing brilliant players that would go on to do great things. At every World Cup the United States has participated in, there has been a St. Louisan playing. It is just a way of life for the people of St. Louis. “Whenever you wanted to know someone, your first question was, ‘What parish do you belong to?’ That told us exactly where they were from. And then, ‘Do you play soccer?’” he says. “Every Sunday afternoon, there would be games in the park and training programs going on where the older players would take the new generation and would teach them their beloved sport. It was truly an active and dynamic part of our community.” This communal game not only sparked a lifelong passion for the game, but taught Long how to lead those within a team setting, something he was able to translate into team-building during his career at Anheuser-Busch.
In the late 1960s, Anheuser-Busch sent him to Ireland to try to acquire Guinness, the famed stout of all Irish stouts. Long came to know Benjamin Guinness himself, then head of the company. Guinness wasn’t prepared to sell. But Long’s hope for Anheuser-Busch’s presence in Ireland was undiminished. Anheuser-Busch, under Long, sponsored the Shamrock Games, which brought the Busch Soccer Club of St. Louis to Ireland for a chance to travel and to learn about a new culture through soccer. On that trip, the team paid a visit to the Curragh racecourse, where a member of the board asked Long straight out if Anheuser-Busch would be interested in sponsoring the Irish Derby. Long spotted an opportunity and (despite not having control over the European business at the time) solidified a deal. Anheuser-Busch would sponsor the race and rehabilitate the facilities for $1 million, as long as the money would go into the stands, where the “real beer drinkers” (who would also ideally drink Budweiser) would be. From 1986 to 2007, Budweiser sponsored the Irish Derby and made it an Irish sporting staple. In the late 1980s, Long’s position as president and COO at Anheuser-Busch allowed him to not only help the soccer-loving people of St. Louis, but the United States as a whole. In the 1980s, Long, with the help of AnheuserBusch and the blue-collar workers of St. Louis, built the Anheuser-Busch Center, now the World Wide Technology Soccer Park, one of the finest public soccer complexes in the U.S. Originally built with four fully-equipped pitches, it has been expanded to six soccer fields – two turf and four grass fields. In 2011, the main field was renamed the Dennis P. Long Field in his honor. APRIL / MAY 2018 IRISH AMERICA 49
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Outside of soccer, Long also served as the president of the United Service Organizations from 1984 to 1987, which helps over 10 million military service members and their families. And for his work, he received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest honor that can be awarded to a civilian by the Department of Defense. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Soccer Federation made a bid to host the World Cup for the first time. Joao Havelange, then president of FIFA, was visiting Anheuser-Busch and was brought to Soccer
PHOTO: DANNY REISE / SOCCERSTL.NET
Park. After seeing their passion made a reality, Havelange said, “If a company the size of AnheuserBusch, the biggest brewery in the world, could spend this kind of money to put up this kind of a park in a community where there is not even a professional league, then surely soccer is alive and worthy of the World Cup.” A couple months later it was announced that the United States would host the 1994 World Cup, a watershed event that led to the creation of Major League Soccer, the United States’ highest professional soccer league, and a soccer revolution that is still enjoying success today. Long’s passion for his work, soccer, and his hometown of St. Louis fully encompasses his life. He has made and continues to make a massive impact on his community, his city, and the game he loves. Above everything is the importance of his heritage, having influenced the way he is with people and how he feels about the people of Ireland and the people of St. Louis. “Anytime I could do something for Ireland, it was always something through soccer or the brewery,” he says. “I stayed in touch with my cousins over there. The people of Killarney are good people. I think that’s the secret to Ireland, its people. That was the secret of St. Columbkille. We were one big Irish family.” IA 50 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
TOP: Bonnie Long Hooper, Michael Smurfit, Dennis Long and his wife, Barbara, and Anthony Smurfit. ABOVE: The extended Long family in Ireland. ABOVE LEFT: (Left to right) St. Louis Stars founder and owner Robert Hermann, U.S.A. Soccer Hall of Famer Bob Kehoe, and Denny Long are recognized during an exhibition game between Chelsea and Manchester City at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. May 24, 2013. LEFT: Dennis Long was president of the USO from 1984 to 1987, for which he received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service on October 1, 1987.
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ate in the morning of April 14, 1968, 15 young men representing the University of Notre Dame jogged onto the rugby pitch in Limerick City. The whistle, the kickoff, and it finally happened: the Fighting Irish had come to Ireland. That morning 50 years ago – Easter Sunday, appropriately enough – marked the first time the American university most associated with Ireland sent an athletic team to play there. As the match against the Limerick Rovers got going, we the visitors urged ourselves on, yelling, “Let’s go Irish,” “C’mon Irish.” This caused the Limerick lads to laugh their heads off. “It sounds like you’re bloody rootin’ for us,” one said. In a way, we were. Most of us were Irish-American – Collins, Kenealy, Carrigan, Murphy, Gibbs, O’Malley, Keenan, Brennan, Joyce, Hennessy, etc. – separated from the Limerick boys by accident of family history.
A college sports team going to Europe today would barely raise an eyebrow; it happens all the time. Not so in 1968. It was still a big deal to go to Europe. Notre Dame then had, I believe, two study abroad programs, in Innsbruck, Austria, and Angers, France. Now it has them in dozens of places, including three in Ireland, and more than half the student body studies overseas. But back then our trip garnered coverage in many Midwest newspapers, including all of Chicago’s. To send a team to Ireland in the 1960s meant finding a sport played in both countries (this being years before it occurred to anyone to fly the Notre Dame and Navy football teams to Ireland). Baseball and hurling were out; rugby would work. A student named Bob Mier started rugby at Notre Dame in 1961, and it became an official club sport two years later. The team quickly became a power in the Midwest, compiling a 109-16-3 record over the next five years. In club sports then, the players had to do all the work – the scheduling, travel, fundraising; it wasn’t
PHOTO: COURTESY MIKE BRENNAN
Fifty years ago this April, the University of Notre Dame rugby club became the first team to represent the university in competition in Ireland. Tom Condon, then a senior on the squad, recalls the momentous five-game tour.
A Different Time
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PHOTO: COURTESY MIKE JOYC E
handled by someone from the athletic department. This was good preparation for life. And so we put the arm on Notre Dame alumni clubs in Indianapolis and Chicago – as well as parents and friends – and held fundraising parties. In April we set off for Shannon. We managed an 8-0 win in the Limerick match. Afterward, one of the local players asked, “Why do they call you the Fighting Irish? Aren’t the Irish well thought of in America?” I’ll get to that.
We then headed south to play University College Cork, one of the best teams in the country. The good news was that our great winger, Bill Kenealy, broke off a 60-yard run to the try line, what one fan called “the best bloody try I’ve ever seen.” The bad news is that we were losing 14-0 when he scored. A drawback of club sports, at least ours, was that we didn’t have a coach. We had a faculty advisor, a British-born architecture professor named Ken Featherstone, but not a day-to-day coach. We taught the game to ourselves and played a punishing but rudimentary version of it. The UCC side played a hard but sophisticated game, with tactical kicking and running plays we had never seen. If that weren’t enough, their fly half, one F. O’Driscoll, according to the Cork Examiner, could dropkick from seemingly anywhere on the field. A dropkick is worth three points in rugby, as it is in American football. It’s almost never done in U.S. football, though, because the pointed ball rarely produces a true bounce. The rounder rugby ball does, in the hands of a skilled practitioner. In my four years on the team we’d made exactly two drop goals. O’Driscoll banged three through the uprights in the first half. Decades later, my son spent his junior year of college at UCC and my wife and I visited, as parents of kids studying in Ireland are wont to do. I walked down to the field and quietly paid homage
EN TESY MIKE BR PHOTO: COUR
to Mr. O’Driscoll. Ireland was just opening up to tourism in the 1960s, and there was a sense of excitement in Cork. The craic in the pub PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR that night was more than delightful. TOP LEFT: The 1968 A fellow asked me if I read any contemporary University of Notre Irish writers or poets. As it happened, I had just been Dame rugby club introduced to the poetry of Thomas Kinsella and pose ahead of their dropped the name. Well, lord, everyone in the pub game in Thurles, County Tipperary. knew Kinsella’s work, and two people knew him personally. TOP CENTER: The Cork This was 1968, the year of riots, anti-war protests, Examiner covered Notre and assassinations (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dame’s loss to University College Cork. Pictured, Robert Kennedy), and the Corkonians were deeply UCC captain Eddie Kiely curious about what was going on in the States. We (right) gives Notre Dame talked about the military draft, causing a girl of 11 or captain Tom Gibbs (left) the Cork pennant prior 12 to ask, “Do you mean they can make you go into to the game. the Army even if you don’t want to?” They could then, kiddo. ABOVE: Tom Condon
After Cork, our next stop was against the Thurles rugby team, in County Tipperary, but I hopped off the bus for a brief detour in Mitchelstown, County Cork, ancestral home of the Condons. My great-grandfather had came over and fought for the Union in the Civil War. We still had a relative who sent us Irish Sweeps tickets every year into my childhood in the 1950s. I went into one of the stores with the Condon name, the pharmacy as I remember, and introduced myself. Well, they closed the store, invited the neighbors, brought out the Guinness, and we had a lovely visit. A pretty, dark-haired young lady who was a dead ringer for my sister Pat walked in. The resemblance was so close I almost asked when she got in. The New York sports columnist Jimmy Cannon once said he didn’t like Boston because everyone looked like him. I liked Mitchelstown for that reason.
(left) and teammate Tom Weyer (right) playing in an alumni game in the mid-1970s. OPPOSITE: Éamon de Valera (center left) gives the Notre Dame rugby club a tour of the Phoenix Park gardens, adjacent to the Irish presidential residence, escorted by Notre Dame’s Mike Brennan (center right).
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PHOTO: NEW YO
RK TIMES / TIM ES MACHINE SC
ABOVE: Members of the Notre Dame rugby club pose with horse and cart in County Cork. RIGHT: In a precursor to the 1968 Ireland trip, on St. Patrick’s Day 1967, the Notre Dame club traveled to New York City to participate in the Fifth Avenue parade and compete against Fordham University in a snowy Central Park. Tom Condon is pictured far right, number 73.
The hospitality everywhere was exquisite. Each team had us over for socials, dinner, singing, and even, in Thurles, golf, courtesy of international Irish rugby star Noel Murphy. We won the match in Thurles, and then lost two close and well-played games to provincial champion Navan and Delvin (of Drogheda), putting us at 2-3 for the trip. Thousands of people came to our matches. It was the last time anyone besides a waiter asked me for my autograph.
The Fair City
Capping our tour was a luncheon at the Irish White House – Áras an Uachtaráin – with President Éamon de Valera. Dev was 85 and losing his sight and hearing, but stood ramrod straight and could not have been more gracious. He showed us the Phoenix Park gardens after lunch (and asked our Mike Brennan to walk next to him, lest poor vision caused him to trip). “It was like meeting George Washington,” said my teammate Tom Weyer, now a retired insurance executive in Chicago. It wasn’t the first time Dev mingled with Notre Dame students. In 1919, after his escape from a British jail, he came to America to build support for an Irish republic. He stopped in South Bend, where he was carried to his hotel on the shoulders of students and other supporters. His visit may have played a role in the university adopting the nickname “Fighting Irish.” The most likely explanation of the nickname’s origin is that it came from a taunt against the immigrant Irish and other Catholic minorities who manned the Notre Dame football teams in the early 20th century. But students began to embrace the name as a symbol of the scrappy underdog, the striving immigrant. De Valera’s arrival – a real fighting Irishman – may have put it over the top. Since the statute of limitations has tolled, I sheepishly admit to one bit of mischief. Looking for a souvenir on our last day abroad, we borrowed the flag from atop the General Post Office, the shrine to the 1916 Easter Rising. A few weeks later, it appeared behind the bar at the old faculty
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club on Notre Dame Avenue. I later felt bad about this, because if we’d been caught we would have besmirched the university’s reputation and cashed in the good will we’d created on the trip. Plus, the people were so nice that if we’d asked the postmaster, he probably would have given it to us. That aside, the trip was, as Weyer said, “Incredible – a life-changer. You could never replicate it.” Writing about the trip for the South Bend Tribune, sports columnist Joe Doyle suspected we were having a good time, ending his piece with a gentle wink: “Classes resume on April 22, lads, so please make it home!” We did, and we seniors soon graduated and scattered. For a few of us, our next trip out of the country was to the former Republic of South Vietnam, from which our stellar forward Bruce Heskett did not return. On a happier note, Tom Gibbs’s son Bill was a member of the Notre Dame football team that defeated Navy in Croke Park in Dublin in 1996, the first time the fabled Fighting Irish football squad played in Ireland. Father and son are lawyers in Chicago. Many of us played club rugby after college; Weyer took it to an extreme, playing regularly into his 50s and his last match at 67, making him, he modestly observes, the Minnie Minoso of rugby.
Notre Dame always had ties to Ireland. About twothirds of the university’s 17 presidents were of Irish birth or ancestry, including Rev. William Corby, C.S.C., who was the chaplain of the Irish Brigade in the Civil War. The connections to Ireland have multiplied since the 1968 adventure, especially with the creation 25 years ago of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies. It is a major center for the study of Irish culture and includes the only Irish language program at an American university. The rugby club now has a coach and a beautiful new field, and in 2016 formed a partnership with the Irish Rugby Football Union, to “promote and develop rugby at Notre Dame and consequently across the United States.” And – this would have been hard to imagine in 1968, when the school was all male – Notre Dame IA has an excellent women’s rugby team.
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G.P.A. Healy The Irish Painter of
here are more portraits of American presidents hanging in the White House by George Peter Alexander Healy than any other artist, yet amazingly he remains a largely unknown figure to many Americans. In his day though, he was one of the most acclaimed American artists, with a number of American presidents posing for him, including John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James Polk, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Chester A. Arthur. He was not only a great painter, but also prolific. Working incessantly, he produced hundreds of portraits of the most famous men and women of his day, including kings, the 19th century’s greatest artistic figures, and Pope Pius IX. Perhaps the only thing more amazing than Healy’s talent is his improbable rise from poverty to artistic greatness. Born in Boston in 1813, Healy was the oldest of five children. His Irish grandfather had been ruined by the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and Healy’s father, Dubliner William Healy, was forced to leave Ireland, becoming a midshipman with the East India Company. He eventually ended up in Boston THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART as the captain of a merchant George Peter Alexander vessel. He married an American Protestant woman, Healy’s “Portrait of the Mary Hicks, a Boston native of English descent. Artist,” 1851. Oil on In his 1894 autobiography, George Healy recalled canvas. 24.5 x 20.5 in. his father in both romantic and realistic terms: “He was a bold-spirited, imprudent man, excellently well fitted for the adventurous life he led,” though he also noted that his father “was not suited for a landsman’s life; he was a sailor and nothing but a sailor, and each of his subsequent ventures proved disastrous.” One of Healy’s biographers noted the romantic Irish influences in his personality he inherited from his father, stating, “The Celtic strain ran bright and lovable through the temperament of the son.”
By Geoffrey Cobb
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A loving son who adored his mother from an early age, Healy was aware of his family’s poverty, doing any odd job he could to bring money to his impoverished, suffering family. No one could have imagined Healy would become an artist, least of all the painter himself, who recalled later, “I should have been surprised had anyone predicted my future career.” He first began painting at sixteen and immediately fell in love with art. When he confessed to his grandmother his desire to paint professionally, she discouraged him, warning him that he would never become a successful artist. But Healy was a determined and persistent man. Boston in 1829 offered little help to aspiring artists. Healy recalled, “In those days there were neither academies, nor drawing classes, nor collections of pictures to be studied.” What he lacked in training, however, he made up for in perseverance, working hard to train himself in the skills of a painter. He opened a studio in Boston and succeeded in getting one of the most prominent Boston society doyens – Sally Foster Otis, the wife of politician and businessman Harrison Gray Otis – to pose for him. Otis, in turn, got him other important commissions. Healy knew that the only place for an aspiring painter was Paris, and in 1834 he sailed for Europe, despite the fact that he neither spoke French nor knew anyone in the French capital. Before he left, he had the chance to meet the inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Morse, who was also a portrait painter. Morse discouraged him, saying, “So you want to be an artist? You won’t make your salt.” Healy coolly replied, “Then sir, I must take my food without salt.” Healy entered the studio of Baron Gros as the only American studying with the great French master. He worked hard and not only mastered French, but became a highly proficient artist. His painting style was essentially French. He became adept at coloring, his management of light and shade was excellent, and he learned to draw well-outlined likenesses. His paintings were rugged and forceful and he developed a style of portraiture that accented his fine draftsmanship, naturalistic coloring, and smooth, finished surfaces. Word of his talent spread. Lewis Cass, the American minister to France, asked Healy to paint a portrait of him and his wife, which later would win the artist his first medal at the Paris salon. On the strength of his growing reputation, Healy traveled
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to paint in London where he met his future wife, Louisa Phipps. The couple returned to Paris where Healy embarked upon the beginning of a long and happy marriage and a thriving career. Cass showed Healy’s portrait to the French king, Louis Philippe I, who was so taken with Healy’s canvas that he asked Cass to arrange for the American to paint him. The king was delighted with Healy’s royal portrait, which deftly portrayed the king in his army uniform as a man of military bearing, clearly fit to rule a country. But more than a great painter, Healy was also affable and genial. Louis Philippe soon took a liking to the talented young American, and with the French king as his patron, Healy’s career soared. The king asked Healy to return to the United States to make a copy of Gilbert Stuart’s iconic painting of George Washington and to paint the most famous Americans of his day. Impressed with his royal patronage, men like Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams sat for the Irish American painter. But in 1848, at the height of Healy’s success, there was a sudden revolution against Louis Philippe. The king abdicated and Healy’s royal patronage instantly disappeared. He returned to Paris and decided to paint a monumental work that would take him two years. His canvas, “Webster’s Reply to Hayne,” was a gigantic 15 by 27 foot painting showing Senator Daniel
Webster addressing a packed Senate in defense of the Constitution. The canvas had 120 identifiable faces, each head on the vast canvas a portrait in its own right. Healy returned to America with the huge painting, but it received less than glowing reviews and eventually he sold it to the city of Boston for half of what he had previously thought the canvas might fetch. Today, the acclaimed canvas occupies the most prominent spot in the great hall of Boston’s Faneuil Hall. Healy, though, was never one to be discouraged. He returned to Paris and completed one of his best paintings. His “Franklin Urging the Claims of the Colonists before Louis XVI” gained him a secondclass gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition of 1855 and is still regarded as one of his masterpieces. He had lived in Europe for more than 20 years, yet never lost the idea of returning to America. In 1855, Healy made the acquaintance of William B. Ogden, who has been called the “father of Chicago.” Ogden befriended the painter and urged Healy to visit him in Chicago. Healy arrived and soon fell in love with the “garden city,” determining to make Chicago his home. He quickly became the city’s most famous painter. In 1860, Chicago businessman and philanthropist Thomas B. Bryan commissioned him to paint the portrait of then president-elect Abraham
Healy’s “The Peacemakers,” 1868, which hangs in the White House. The painting depicts the meeting of (l-r) General William T. Sherman, General Ulysses S. Grant, President Abraham Lincoln, and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter aboard the River Queen on March 27 and 28, 1865. Oil on canvas. 47.1 × 62.6 in.
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TOP: Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office private dining room, where Healy’s painting is displayed. ABOVE: Healy’s portrait of then president-elect Abraham Lincoln, 1860, the last known painting of Lincoln without a beard. Oil on canvas. 30 x 25 in.
Lincoln, an Illinois native son. Healy traveled to Springfield and met Lincoln, who told funny stories all during his sitting. Lincoln read a droll letter to the painter in which a woman complained of the president’s ugliness, while asking him to grow a beard to hide his gruesome features. Lincoln asked Healy if he could paint him with a beard, but Healy refused. The painting, which today hangs in the National Gallery, is a masterpiece and shows the beardless youthful man still unaffected by the stress and burdens of the Civil War. An ardent Unionist, Healy happened to be in Charleston at the beginning of the Civil War and he had to flee in order to escape being tarred and feathered. Deeply appalled by the murder of Lincoln, after the war Healy painted some of the most iconic images of the president. One of his greatest works, which now hangs in the White House, is called “The Peacemakers” and depicts the war’s only three-way meeting of President Lincoln, General Grant, and General Sherman, as well as the U.S. Navy’s Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter. Years later, President George H.W. Bush commented on his admiration for the canvas in a speech: “In it you see the agony and the greatness of a man who nightly fell on his knees to ask the help of God. The painting shows two of his generals and an admiral meeting near the end of a war that pitted brother against brother. And outside at the moment a battle rages. And yet what we see in the distance is a rainbow – a symbol of hope, of the passing of the storm. The painting’s name: ‘The Peacemakers.’ And for me, this is a constant reassurance that the cause of peace will triumph and that ours can be the future that Lincoln gave his life for: a future free of both tyranny and fear.” Ironically, perhaps his most famous painting,
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which now graces the State Floor of the White House, was initially rejected. In 1869, Healy painted a portrait of Lincoln that he sent to the White House to join a growing collection of presidential portraits. President Grant, however, did not like the canvas and selected another Lincoln portrait by William F. Cogswell. However, Robert Todd Lincoln, the wealthy eldest son of President Lincoln, bought the portrait, remarking later in life, “I have never seen a portrait of my father which is to be compared with it in any way.” Seventy years later in 1939, the portrait finally made its way to the White House. When Lincoln’s granddaughter died, she left the portrait to the White House. On January 7, 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt wrote to Frederic N. Towers, an executor of Mary Harlan Lincoln’s will, that it would give him “great pleasure to receive for the White House the Healy portrait.” Prominently displayed above the central mantel in the State Dining Room, millions of White House visitors have seen it. The portrait’s placement in one of the largest rooms on the State Floor and on the same axis as Gilbert Stuart’s well-known portrait of George Washington in the nearby East Room is a testament to Healy’s high rank in American portraiture. In 1871, Chicago’s great fire destroyed Healy’s home, and many of his paintings went up in flames along with the house. Healy, exhausted from years of relentless work and now also homeless, returned to Europe to lead a quieter life. However, the painter came back to his beloved Chicago just before his death in 1894. In 1959, 150 years after Lincoln was born, the United States Post Office commemorated the 16th president with a stamp bearing Healy’s iconic Lincoln painting. Although time has dimmed his fame, Healy’s legacy of hundreds of paintings of America’s great men survives not just in the White House, but also in many of the most famous American galleries. The poor Irish American boy from Boston remains one IA of the greatest American portrait painters.
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Beckett Conor Lovett and Judy Hegarty Lovett, leading Beckett interpreters, and John Minihan, the photographer who captured Beckett on film, talk to Rosemary Rogers.
amuel Beckett created the greatest body of literary work – novels, short stories, poetry, essays, and, most famously, plays for theatre, radio, and TV – in the 20th century. But the Irishman and his artistic output is often judged, unfairly, as too esoteric, too inaccessible. Perhaps it’s best not to analyze his work, instead just to give in to it, listen to the musicality of his language and, for a while, live in his absurd, tragic, and very funny universe. Inmates in prisons around the world – with little or no education – instinctively “get” Beckett. They’ve been staging and performing Waiting for Godot, the most emblematic story of waiting ever, for over 50 years. A few years ago, the Classical Theatre of Harlem performed an outdoor Godot in a section of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina, a residential area with no residents. For the survivors, the play was hardly a “mystery wrapped around an enigma,” it was life. The production was explained by the artist Paul Chen: “There is a terrible symmetry between the reality of New Orleans post-Katrina and the essence of this play, which expresses in stark eloquence the cruel and funny things people do while they wait for help, for food, for tomorrow.” While Beckett deplored his great success – he called his Nobel Prize a “catastrophe” and later gave away the earnings from his works – the earlier Beckett had despaired, convinced no one would ever want to read what he wrote, let alone pay for it. But after World War II and his brave service in the French Resistance, Beckett returned to Paris, a changed man. From 1947-1950, years he called “the siege in the room,” he began a period of his greatest productivity – he was, at last, freed of his demons. And, he now began to write in French. During “the siege” Beckett wrote three novels, Molloy, Malone Meurt, and L’Innommable. Today he is best known for his plays, but Beckett felt his prose fiction was his central work. The novels are complex, each one told by a disembodied voice,
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possibly three of literature’s most unreliable narrators. Beckett foregoes exposition, plot, and character descriptions; he doesn’t really expect the reader to understand what’s going on, but rather to just enter the psyche, “the relentless interior monologue we call the mind” of his odd characters. The narrators are stand-ins for humanity, confused souls who still manage to find humor in their despair.
Leading Beckett interpreters, Conor Lovett and Judy Hegarty Lovett (he acts, she directs), recently dramatized the novels at Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival. The couple, founders of Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland, brought The Beckett Trilogy to the stage in an unforgettable night of theater. Judy condensed, seamlessly, the novels into three excerpts and Conor’s one-man performance transforms Beckett’s voices into corporeal form as he acts each long text without a fumble. The audience soon forgets these scenes weren’t originally written for the stage and, for readers who have struggled with the trilogy, the novels magically come to life. The Hegarty-Lovetts, Cork natives who now, like Beckett, relocated to France, have for the past three years been artists in residence at the Everyman Theatre in Cork. They were kind enough to answer some queries: How was it possible to condense three novels into three dramatic scenes? Judy: There was a great sense of the possible. We just jumped in and did it. The work is not driven by plot and narrative, so it felt easy enough to unravel the relentless interior monologue we call the mind. The texts are so long, so complex, memorizing must have been a hard go. Conor: The memorizing is slow work but it also gives me the opportunity to let the text get into me
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The last book of the trilogy, L’Innommable (The Unnameable) ends with a famous Beckett quote, “You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” Long after the writer had died, his photographer John Minihan was paying respects at Beckett’s grave in Montparnasse when he saw a piece of paper slipped aside the tombstone. It was a tribute from an anonymous fan that read, “Dear Sam, I’ll go on.”
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was an incredibly committed artist. I don’t see him so much as a novelist or a playwright or a poet, but as an artist who happened to use writing and words but also made pictures and performances. What’s next? Conor & Judy: We’re excited to bring our work to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin from April 11 to 14 this year and on tour in Ireland. It’s happening on Beckett’s birthday too, so it’s a great reason to be to Dublin.
somehow. Any actor knows that you can only really make the text sing if you really know it. Your one-man show brought to mind an ancient Irish storyteller, a seanchaí, but that’s an odd word to use for prose written in French. Conor: Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times referred to “the seanchaí unplugged” in reviewing our work. It’s a lovely idea because the seanchaí is already the very simple form of storytelling where a man or woman regales their audience with nothing but words. For me, the “unplugged” seanchaí is closer to Beckett’s world because there is no performance inferred, it’s just the consciousness often in freefall. How were you able to put disembodied voices on stage? Judy: We have always aimed for a non-representational delivery. We are looking for the audience to join the person before you who at times narrates the character, at times becomes the character and at times looks to be improvising the text. It hovers, it does not land. It’s been said that Beckett considers the novels his best work. Thoughts? Judy: The depth of emotion, philosophy, and pure human feeling in the work seems to suggest that he
PHOTO: JOHN MINIHAN
TOP: Samuel Beckett in room 604 of the Hyde Park Hotel, 1980. ABOVE: A street sign for “Samuel Beckett Walk” in Paris’s 14th Arrondissement, where Beckett lived.
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PHOTO: ROS KAVANAGH
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PHOTO: JOHN MINIHAN
PHOTO: JOHN MINIHAN
TOP: Conor Lovett in character. ABOVE: John Minihan self portrait titled “Magic in Mirrors.” Paris, 2016.
The first time Minihan heard Beckett’s name was in 1969 while he was working at London’s Evening Standard. A frantic editor was yelling to the picture desk – it seemed an obscure Irish writer by the name of Samuel Beckett had just won the Nobel Prize – and they had no photos of him. Minihan, a Kildare man, inwardly rejoiced. “It wasn’t the most fash-
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ionable time to be Irish in London, the IRA and all that. Then, out of nowhere, an Irishman wins the Nobel.” Minihan vowed to find him – “As an Irish photographer, it was imperative for me to photograph this Irish writer” – and, in the years to come, would shoot some of the most iconic photographs ever taken of Beckett. It helped, of course, that Beckett had one of the greatest faces ever photographed, especially in black and white. In 1980, Beckett was in London directing Rick Cluchey, the convict-turned-actor, and Minihan learned, via an Irish porter at the Hyde Park Hotel, that Beckett was staying in Room 604. He called, but the switchboard, at the instructions of the publicity-shy writer, wouldn’t put him through. The fast-thinking photographer left a note saying he wanted to show Beckett a series he had taken in his home town of Athy, Kildare, “The Wake of Katie Tyrrel.” The images were stark – the dead body of an old woman, the mourners at her wake, stopped clocks, covered mirrors. How could this not appeal to the man who wrote we are “all born astride the grave”? Minihan also included a grainy shot of two local men “who could have been Vladimir and Estragon” at a bus stop. Minihan knew his series
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TOP CENTER: Samuel Beckett directing his masterpiece, Waiting for Godot, at London Riverside Studio in 1984. TOP RIGHT: The most famous Beckett photo of all. John Minihan’s photograph of the author in a Paris café on Boulevard St. Jacques. December 1985. BELOW: Conor Lovett and Judy Hegarty Lovett.
PHOTO: ROS KAVANAGH
“had Samuel Beckett all over it.” Beckett took the bait and Minihan’s next call – “I heard a gentle voice, a soft Dublin accent, invite me up to Room 604.” The voice also asked him not to bring his camera, a request the photographer pointedly ignored. As Beckett looked over the Katie Tyrrell series, he remarked, “these are important pictures,” high praise from someone so reserved. At the conclusion of their meeting, Beckett motioned to Minihan’s Hasselblad, as if to say, “Get on with it” and posed for a shot. But their story didn’t end there, “Sam probably thought this was the last he was going to see of me, but I don’t operate like that.” Their most important session was in Paris in 1985, a few months before Beckett’s 80th birthday. They had a 3:00 p.m. appointment at a cafe in the garish, touristy Hotel PLM (a place where no one would recognize a Nobel Laureate) on the Rue St. Jacques. Minihan arrived early to pick a table with good light and Beckett, ever prompt, arrived exactly at three. For two hours, they talked, drank, and smoked (Beckett’s) cigarettes, but as daylight faded Minihan began to panic. Finally, close to 5:00 p.m, the writer, in classic Beckett understatement, announced, “You can take a picture now if you
like.” As natural light leaves, artificial lights come on and Beckett seems to fall into a reverie, staring into space. Minihan, in New York City last November to speak at the opening of his exhibition at the Irish Arts Center, said the resulting pictures were a narrative – Beckett in Paris – with the writer as director. “He wanted the picture to say, ‘This is who I am.’” John Calder, Beckett’s publisher, paid Minihan a great compliment: his picture had caught Beckett and “the introspective, infinitely sad gaze of a man IA looking into the abyss of the world’s woes.”
PHOTO: JOHN MINIHAN
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Singer, showgirl, and queen of the speakeasy during Prohibition, Mary Guinan was a genuine Irish American wild woman. Larger (and louder) than life, she had an even bigger heart. By Rosemary Rogers
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
BELOW: Mary “Texas” Guinan about to board the S.S. Paris.
uring the wild and jazzy New York of the 1920s, Texas Guinan was the wildest and jazziest dame in town. Born Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan in 1884, her parents were immigrants from Ireland who settled in Waco, Texas. They sent Mary to the Convent of the Sacred Heart, but even the good sisters couldn’t contain her sass or the boisterous voice that drowned out the rest of the church choir. One can only imagine the anguish these nuns suffered years later when Mary/Texas became, with the exception of some husband-killers, the most notorious woman in New York. By the age of 15, she was already a star in a Wild West show and, too much a powerhouse for a modest name like Mary, became known as “Texas.” By the time she died at 49, she had, thanks to her manic energy, led a life crammed with crazy careers – she was a daredevil in the rodeo circuit, a comic/singer in vaudeville, a chorus girl/actress on Broadway, a writer of shows, film’s first cowgirl, and a spokesperson, despite her slim frame, for “Marvelous New Treatment for Fat Folks.” But her greatest fame, her biggest star turn, was as the Mistress of Ceremonies in nightclubs, or, to put a less hoity-toity spin on it, an emcee in speakeasies, joints she co-owned with gangsters. While Texas was still a reckless and restless rodeo star, she married a newspaper man, a union that left her still reckless and restless, but now, bored. She heard the call of her one true love, New York City – “I would rather have a square inch of New York than all the rest of the world.” Offloading her husband – “it’s the same man around the house all the time ruins matrimony” – Texas, penniless, hoofed it to New York. But success came easily to Texas: her great figure and long gams soon put her in a Broadway chorus, then her wise-cracking persona netted her speaking parts in comedies. Starring in some popular fluff called The Gay Musician, she accidentally shot herself. Texas had already discovered the power of publicity (“exaggerate the world,” she would say). She used that mishap for self-promotion, announcing to newspapers, “Not even a bullet can stop Texas Guinan!” Having established something of a name for herself, she took her act, a curious stew of singing, rope tricks and cornfed patter, on the national vaudeville circuit. It didn’t take long for a Hollywood talent scout to offer her a movie contract, traditionally the
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dream of all young, aspiring actors. But not Texas. Instead of being thrilled, she was dismayed – California was too far from New York. But, loving a challenge (and moolah), she conceded and became a star in Westerns, silent one-reelers. Her first movie was, fittingly, The Wildcat (1917), followed by 36 more (a number she inflated to 300), and in each she was the hero, a rootin’ tootin’ gunslinger, a self-reliant cowgal who did her own stunts and took control of her career too. She started her own production company, controlled casting and supervised distribution. As if being a Hollywood star didn’t have enough pizzazz, Texas, now a seasoned dissembler, again played the press and came up with a line of hooey that deleted her very public movie career. Texas, who had never been on a plane, claimed to have been a fighter pilot in World War I. Her service was so valiant that a French general, a hero at the Battle of Marne, awarded her a big (but nameless) medal. She got away with the tale, fact-checking not being very scrupulous back then since it could ruin a good story. The press and public embraced her as a war hero, managing to forget the movies she had made, in America, throughout the war. In 1920, she announced she’d had it with “kissing horses in a horse opera” and was going home to New York. In that same year, the 18th Amendment, Prohibition, was passed, and dreaded by most Americans as a gloomy sentence to a dry purgatory. But newly prosperous and sophisticated New Yorkers had no intention of giving up alcohol and made illegal drinking and the clandestine underworld of the speakeasy fashionable. A new culture emerged, a heady mix of Broadway, movies, high society, politics, and freewheeling flappers, all who blithely broke the law and socialized with the gangsters who supplied the fuel that kept the party going. It must have been the so-called “Luck of the Irish” that Texas’s return to New York coincided with the new law. Prohibition proved to be her golden opportunity. Texas wasn’t back long when she met creepy bootlegger Larry Fay at a social gathering. Fay watched on as she brought a moribund crowd to life – once she began wisecracking and singing, the funereal atmosphere lifted and an out-of-control party began. Truly this was a girl who just wanted to have fun and wanted the crowd to join along with her. Fay saw a star and kept his eye on her until he offered her a partnership in his establishment, the Club El Fey. Texas re-invented herself yet again. At last she was
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
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able to monetize her gab, vibrant personality, and endless audacity – in one 10-month period, she raked in $700,000 ($6.4 million in today’s dollars). She was rich and extravagant and generous, spreading her good fortune with everyone close to her. She was given to shouting, in the middle of her crowded nightclub, “I love Prohibition!” And really who could blame her? Texas became an icon of the excess and abandon of the Jazz Age, and although she loved watching her customers get soused, she never touched a drop. She would sit on a high stool in front of the band, draped in revealing gowns of velvet, dripping in diamonds and ermine and occasionally blowing a police whistle or foghorn. Texas was the first comic to insult her audience, sparing no one, not even the scary gangsters sitting at ringside. All were greeted with “Hello, suckers!” Out-of-towners were reduced to “butter and egg men” and, as the night wore on, she would taunt, “You may be all the world to your mother, but you’re just a cover charge to me.” She ordered her audience to cheer on her scantily clad dancers, “Give the little ladies a big hand.” It was Texas and only Texas who had the magnetism to bring in the crowds. Her clubs became a rarefied universe, everyone was there to see and be seen – Babe Ruth having a snootful, Eugene O’Neill holding forth, Damon Runyon listening with an ear toward re-using her banter, George Gershwin sitting in with the band, and George Raft, the Charleston King-turned-movie-gangster, taking over the dance floor. Once, during a raid (and there were lots), Texas put an apron on the Prince of Wales and had him pose as a dishwasher. Fat cats from Wall Street, the
Social Register swells, rubes from Indiana, and college kids all paid Texas’s exorbitant cover charge and drank her overpriced drinks. One night, Aimee Semple McPherson, famed Evangelist and faith healer, wafted in and gave a rowdy crown the “What Shall it Profit a Man” sermon. At Texas’s urging, the audience applauded, then the two women indulged in a sisterly embrace. In truth, Texas and Aimee – one earthy, the other ethereal – were alike. Each carefully curated her image, Aimee with her marcel-waves and celestial white gowns; Texas in glitzy dresses, jewels, and a wild head of curls. Both were master manipulators of the press and given to big, fat lies – Aimee faked her own kidnapping and Texas claimed she was a war hero who served only ginger ale at her club. Although she was now, officially, the PHOTOFEST “Queen of the Nightclubs” and making a fortune, it wasn’t enough to continue her partnerTOP LEFT: Texas Guinan. ship in the high life with the low-life Larry Fay. She TOP RIGHT: “Mrs. Ella wanted out and, knowing she was the ballsier of the Boole and Miss Texas two, told Fay to vamoose, she was sick of him and Guinan.” Boole was head his horsey kisser. Not surprisingly, the psychopathic of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. mobster didn’t take well to her dismissal and spat out a series of threats. Texas, usually fearless, now hired ABOVE: Texas as a bodyguards and an armored car, but finally reached blonde Mistress of out to her best defense, her team of even more powCermonies. A natural brunette, she bleached erful psychopathic mobsters: Owney “The Killer” her hair when she Madden, Dutch Schultz, “Big Frenchy” Dement, and returned to New York Hyman “Feets” Edson. Faced with this line-up, Fay after her Hollywood career. backed down and sent Texas flowers.
MIGUEL COVARRUBIAS (VANITY FAIR, JANUARY 1933) / LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
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ABOVE: The title of this Library of Congress photo is “Miss Texas Guinan, Movie Cow Girl, called at the White House today.” Left to right: Harold Vosburgh, George Nagle, Texas Guinan, Arthur Ludwig, Wells Guinan. The driver is unidentified. April 22, 1922. BELOW: Movie poster for The Stampede.
Her biggest success was the 300 Club, and as the nights raged, they were raided almost constantly. Of course, a lot of these raids were for show as she routinely bribed (and entertained) the police. But a new crop of dry agents landed in town, making Texas their number one target. One night in 1927, a battalion of police and federal agents raided the 300 Club. As soon as Texas saw them she ordered the band to play “The Prisoner’s Song” to provide background music during her arrest. A policeman used the opportunity to make a wisecrack of his own, ordering his men, “Give the little lady a big handcuff.” But Texas spent only one night in jail, time she passed by singing “The Prisoner’s Song” as her chorus girls joined in on the chorus. The incident got headlines, the story even making it to the New York Times: “Freed on $1,000 Bail with Nine Employees After Nine Hours of Mirth in Cell.” The raids continued, but as soon as one joint closed another opened, and a list of her establishments, not including the El Fay and 300, includes the Hotsy Totsy, King Cole, Athena, Club Royale, the Miami Del Fey, Melody Club, Abbey, Argonaut, and the Texas Guinan Club. Besides being raided for violation of the Volstead Act, she was once arrested for showing “pornographic” entertainment, a reference to the costumes worn by her 40 fan dancers. The police produced, as evidence, their six by three inch costume. Texas argued
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her own defense, claiming it wasn’t the costumes but the stage that was “too tiny.” As usual, she beat the rap. In between closings and re-openings, Texas would retreat to her Greenwich Village apartment, close the heavy drapes, and sink into her bed that housed many pillows, books, and perfumed dolls. And always, her mother, father, and beloved brother, Tommy, were close by. She also relaxed with her good friend Mae West, and the two blondes were often confused with each other – both were buxom, bawdy feminists who served time in jail for breaking boundaries and the law. Mae and Texas would hold séances together, the most famous being their attempt to speak with the recently departed Rudolph Valentino. Instead, they conjured up Arnold Rothstein, the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. When, much later, the reluctant Rudy arrived, it was only to warn Mae (and, strangely, not Texas) that she had enemies. When Texas put together a review called “The Padlocks of 1927” that same year, it flopped, as did the movie The Queen of the Nightclubs, a 1929 talkie where she played herself. Her ever-rising star was suddenly slipping as she seemed passé, just another showgirl gone to fat. But 1929 produced a bigger flop, the crash heard round the world, and Texas, like everyone else, lost a fortune. Not even the Great Depression got her down. She pulled herself together and took her dancers to Europe where, unfortunately, her racy reputation preceded her. Texas was denied entrance into England and even France, the land that gave the world the Folies Bergère, wouldn’t let her in. The real reason wasn’t her morals (or lack of), it was simply that these countries didn’t want competition from abroad, native performers having a hard enough time getting work. Texas, taking advantage of the publicity her non-existent “tour” generated, twisted the truth to create a show, “Too Hot for Paris,” which she took on the road once back in North America. In the fall of 1933, Texas began suffering severe abdominal pain, but still performed four shows a day. Finally she collapsed, and doctors diagnosed her with a most unglitzy disease, amoebic dysentery. Shortly afterward, the life of the party died. But not before giving instructions to have her body returned to New York – “better a lamppost on Broadway than the brightest star in the sky” – and ordering that her funeral be spectacular. And it was, Depression be damned. Texas was laid out in white chiffon, a rosary in one hand, a giant diamond ring on the other. At her request, the coffin was open “so the suckers could get a good look without a cover charge.” Upwards of 12,000 fans came to see her off. One month to the day after her death, Prohibition also died, as the 21st Amendment nullified the 18th. Years earlier, she had chosen her own epigraph, an excerpt from an Oscar Wilde poem, a verse so unlike Texas and her wild life that it raises the question, “Just who was that blonde dame?” And down the long and silent street, The dawn, with silver sandaled feet, IA Crept like a frightened girl.
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PHOTO: KATA VERMES / TURNER ENTERTAINMENT NETWORKS
Brian The Life of
By Tom Deignan
Known for his roles in the Academy Award-winning film The Hurt Locker and the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, Brian Geraghty stars in TNT’s new drama The Alienist, which premiered on January 22, and credits his success to his dad.
TOP: Brian Geraghty plays New York City police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt in TNT’s The Alienist.
rom an early age, actor Brian Geraghty, who has appeared in two dozen movies, including The Hurt Locker and Jarhead, as well as acclaimed TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and Ray Donovan, knew being Irish was a pretty big deal. “Man, for my dad, I think St. Patrick’s Day was bigger than Christmas,” Geraghty declares with a laugh during a recent phone interview with Irish America. He was speaking from Los Angeles, where the night before he had attended the premiere of his latest project, the TNT TV mini-series The Alienist. Set in 1890s New York City, The Alienist is an atmospheric murder mystery based on Caleb Carr’s best-selling novel of the same name. Geraghty plays Theodore Roosevelt, from his days as the crusading police commissioner of New York before he went on to serve as vice president and president. Shot in Budapest, The Alienist also stars Dakota Fanning, Daniel Brühl, and Luke Evans and has earned strong reviews, with USA Today calling it a “creepy good time.” “As a period drama, this is just done so well, and the historical aspect of this is really interesting,”
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PHOTO: KATA VERMES / TURNER ENTERTAINMENT NETWORKS
says Geraghty. “At the end of the day, we have a really compelling story to tell.” The Alienist is just the latest in a string of strong TV performances for Brian Timothy Geraghty, now 42, who grew up in Toms River, New Jersey. His family not only made annual trips to his town’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, but also crossed the Atlantic in 2004 for a family reunion in Ireland. They started
PHOTO: KATA VERMES / TURNER ENTERTAINMENT NETWORKS
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BELOW: Geraghty, an Irish American from New Jersey, in the Academy Awardwinning movie The Hurt Locker.
in Dublin before visiting Knockcroghery, County Roscommon, from where his family hails and where these Jersey Irish Americans caught up with a bunch of cousins still living there. “They were so welcoming. They were so eager to show us around. Every pub we went into there, someone would point to someone and say ‘He’s your cousin, too,’” he says. “And the scenery is unparalleled.” Another high point, fittingly for this actor, was a theater festival in Galway, where Geraghty was able to catch a performance of J.M. Synge’s Playboy of
PHOTO: VOLTAGE PICTURES
ABOVE: Geraghty and Daniel Brühl in The Alienist.
the Western World. “My dad was always a real big proponent of staying in touch [with your roots],” adds Geraghty, who took an emotional pause to add that his father passed away in 2014. It was also Geraghty’s father who recognized that teenaged Brian was not cut out for a traditional college or career path. “When I was in high school, I was not doing very well. My dad was creative – he was in advertising. And he kind of knew during my senior year in high school that I should be doing something different,” he says. “My dad loved the theater. When I was 17, I started to think, ‘I really like acting.’” Geraghty gave himself a crash course in Hollywood, binging on classics like The Godfather and The Graduate. Suddenly, actors like Ed Harris were jumping off the screen, providing valuable tips and guidance to this budding thespian. “Then you start to develop your own instincts,” says Geraghty. “And my dad really pushed me. He said, ‘You need to do this. If you like it, do it.’” Also instrumental for Geraghty was seeing the Oscar-winning film Dead Man Walking at 19. “Sean Penn blew my mind. And I thought, ‘I wanna do that.’” One of Geraghty’s first serious auditions was for a cable drama that had not yet made it to the air. It was called The Sopranos, and he eventually landed a tiny role on what would become a historic series. But after that? Not much. “There were a couple of tough years,” Geraghty admits. Still, movie roles came, if slowly. He portrayed an Irish American marine, Fergus O’Donnell, in the
gritty 2005 war flick Jarhead. The following year, Geraghty had a role in the Robert Kennedy movie Bobby, which earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. And he was part of another outstanding cast – and Oscarwinning movie – when he appeared in 2008’s Best Picture The Hurt Locker. Meanwhile, as Geraghty was catching on in the movie business, he caught a break with the rise of so-called “peak TV.” Suddenly, high-quality TV shows were being taken as seriously as movies. After appearances in episodes of Law & Order and True Blood, Geraghty turned heads with his fiery 2013 performance in the Atlantic City gangster drama Boardwalk Empire, starring Steve Buscemi as crooked Irish politician “Nucky” Thompson. Geraghty played a crusading cop who goes undercover to expose Thompson and his cronies. “That was life-changing for me,” Geraghty says of Boardwalk Empire. “I wish I could have done that show for five years.” The ensemble cast earned Geraghty another Screen Actors Guild nomination and helped him secure a role on another criticallyacclaimed show with heavy Irish leanings. Geraghty played Detective Jim Halloran on the second season of Showtime’s Ray Donovan, about a family of Boston Irish tough guys who relocate to the West Coast. More recently, he has appeared regularly on NBC shows such as Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire and Chicago Med. Geraghty’s latest TV project, The Alienist, looks at the dark side of street life in late 19th century New York. The show revolves around Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, who uses cutting-edge investigative techniques to try to solve a string of gruesome murders. Geraghty read books such as Richard Zaks’ Island of Vice to research his role as reform-minded police commissioner Roosevelt. “What we didn’t want was the Theodore Roosevelt we know, the guy on Mount Rushmore,” Geraghty says. “We wanted a guy on the way up, which was a little more challenging.” Irish immigrants also play a key role in The Alienist, with Dr. Kreizler and his pals bumping heads with Irish cops and politicians, who have finally achieved positions of power after decades of poverty and discrimination. The Alienist premiered in January and runs through March on TNT. Looking ahead, it’s back to the movies for Geraghty, who appears alongside fellow Irish American Kate Mara in the romantic drama My Days of Mercy, which recently screened at the Toronto Film Festival. Then there’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, in which Geraghty stars alongside former teen heartthrob Zac Efron, who portrays notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. “I’ve been really lucky,” concludes Geraghty, assessing his career at this point. It’s a good thing he was able to make a name for himself in Hollywood he adds with a laugh. “I don’t know what else I IA would have done anyway.” APRIL / MAY 2018 IRISH AMERICA 69
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what are you like? | by Adam Farley
Loretta Brennan Glucksman
hen Loretta Brennan Glucksman’s grandparents immigrated to Pennsylvania coal mining country, the last thing on their minds was making the trek to New York City for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “That was outside the realm of possibility,” she says. Her father’s family, the Brennans, were brewers from County Donegal, and her mother’s family, the McHughs from County Leitrim, worked in the mines. A generation later though, when her father worked for the civil service and the family had modestly improved their means, her parents took young Loretta and her siblings twice. “And those were just beyond highlights.” This year, she will carry on the classic immigrant tradition of generational improvement by serving as Grand Marshal of the Fifth Avenue parade, becoming only the fifth woman in the parade’s 257-year history to wear the sash. A champion of Ireland and education and a member of the Irish America Hall of Fame, Brennan Glucksman has worked tirelessly towards promoting Irish culture and broadening access to education. In 1993, she co-founded Glucksman Ireland House, New York University’s center for Irish studies. From 1995 to 2014, she chaired the American Ireland Fund, where she currently serves as chairman emeritus, and serves or has served on the board of directors for the University of Limerick Foundation, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, and the Royal Irish Academy. She has contributed to the peace process in Northern Ireland by funding two integrated schools for Catholic and Protestant students and was also instrumental in the development of New Jersey’s public access television programming. Born in 1938 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Brennan Glucksman excelled early in school, a fact not unrelated to a club foot that prevented her from participating in much physical activity until late childhood. Instead of playing with her siblings and friends in the street in front of their house, she would sit with her grandfather on their porch listening to him recite Irish poetry and studying the dictionary. Eventually, her parents found a surgeon in Philadelphia who practiced experimental techniques in bone resetting and repaired her foot, but the learning stayed. She earned a teaching degree in Philadelphia, married her college sweetheart, and had three children. The marriage didn’t last and Brennan Glucksman set out on her own across the Delaware River, landing at Trenton State College to study early childhood education at the same time the college was granted a public television license, in 1968. By the time the station launched in 1971, she had begun teaching English and was offered a book program on the network, from which followed an offer to host a weekly news show, which led to work at WNET, where she stayed through the 1970s and ’80s. In 1984, she met Lewis L. Glucksman, then chairman of Lehman Brothers – “when there was a wonderful Lehman Brothers,” she says – who wanted her to travel with him. Her life and relationship with Ireland changed indelibly. Lew, who died in 2006, had been stationed in the North Atlantic during World War II and fell in love with Ireland during his regular two-week furloughs on the island, often making pilgrimages to important sites related to his favorite Irish writers. He first took Brennan Glucksman there the same year they met, followed by a trip with her mother and children. “And that’s how my great Irish adventure began with my Hungarian Jewish husband.” She left television and founded the public relations company Westland Associates with her daughter, Kate, so she could spend more time with Lew. Soon, the travel, which was tied explicitly to her selfless devotion to promoting Irish causes in the U.S. and abroad, took over and she rolled in the company in order to “hang around with my husband,” as she modestly puts it. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made.” 70 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
What does it mean to you to be named Grand Marshal?
It’s still kind of unworldly to me. I can’t quite believe it. It’s such a cohesive part of our community and its longevity is such a source of pride for most Irish Americans, so I’m just so humbled and grateful that they chose me for this amazing honor.
What would your parents and past ancestors think of the honor?
All I can think of is that they would be over the moon, as they would say. Just thrilled.
What is your earliest memory?
I would sit on the front porch of our home and my grandfather, who lived next door with my grandmother, would sit with me while the other kids were on the sidewalk playing and he would teach me Gaelic and read me poetry. He would quote poems to me in Gaelic and then in English, and then I would have to repeat them to him. And he used to read the dictionary to me and then quiz me on it later. So I have those early memories of me sitting on my little rocker and Pop Pop was on his big rocker and just sopping up everything he said to me. He was a wise, wonderful man.
Was there a sense of Irish heritage in your home?
It was very cohesive, though also somewhat dichotomous. I never had a thought that I would go to Ireland. My grandparents were of the “Irish wake” generation – when they left, it was forever. There was no possibility, especially in our economic bracket, that they would be jumping on a plane and going back. So it was quite poignant, and maybe therefore that much more passionate. My grandparents would never allow anyone to speak Gaelic in the house. They were all about assimilation, so my little furtive lessons with Pop Pop on the porch would not have happened in the dining room, because himself and Nana – Nana being the powerhouse in the family – wanted American children. They did not want Gaelic-speaking children. People who did all the horrifyingly hard work to get over here did not want their children being anything but thoroughly American. I’ve always been a little bit reluctant about that, but I was very lucky in that Pop Pop did make sure I got it a lot. A lot of my Gaelic language still comes back to me – you know, like in your lizard brain. I can still somewhat say my prayers and a few poems in Gaelic, so I’m very grateful for that.
What is on your bedside table?
Seamus Heaney, Colum McCann, Dan Barry, Alice McDermott, and John Banville.
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Brennan Glucksman and Seamus Heaney in 2006. PHOTO: COURTESY LORETTA BRENNAN GLUCKSMAN
What movie will you watch again and again?
Anything but The Quiet Man. There are so many other, wonderful movies – 12 Angry Men to name one – from that rich period post-World War II. And really all the way up to about 10 years ago when I think I lost the plot of what movies were about.
You’re hosting a dinner party. Dead or alive, who would you invite?
Loretta Brennan Glucksman is the 2018 Grand Marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
For sure Oliver Sachs would be at the table – a brilliant, loving, wonderful man. Seamus Heaney, of course. And for sure my three children, who of course are all in their late 50s, but are still my children. They are three of the most interesting people I have ever known.
Do you strike up conversations on long flights?
God no. When I get on a plane, I’m usually, first of all, wanting to let down and relax after all the hustle of getting on to the darn plane, especially dealing with airports these days, which are just the ninth circle of hell. So when I get on that plane, I look at it as a tube that makes me just want to curl up and not talk to anyone.
PHOTO: COURTESY LORETTA BRENNAN GLUCKSMAN
Who is your favorite Irish writer?
There are quite a few, but the biggest ones would be Colum McCann – I love Colum’s writing, starting of course with Let the Great World Spin, but way before that, Zoli and Dancer. He’s just a gifted writer. And then Marie Heaney, Seamus’s widow, is a beautiful writer, a beautiful poet, and I love her work. And Peter Fallon, who is also a brilliant poet and a generous publisher as head of the Gallery Press.
Irish American writer?
Pete Hamill, my hero, is not only a gifted writer, but one of the best human beings ever.
Ed Doctorow forever and ever. A wonderful man, wonderful friend, and brilliant writer.
What is the best advice you ever received?
From that saintly doctor, Dr. John Royal Moore, who fixed my leg. It was hard, and when I would be so down, he would say, “You can do this. Never give up.” That filtered through so many aspects of my life. I owe Dr. Moore so many things, and that’s one of the big ones.
What advice would you give to young people?
Be ready to work as hard as you physically and emotionally can. Seek out mentors and be sure that they are realistic and are willing to be generous. And keep a sense of realistic humility – try to know your limits and work against them.
Do you have a hidden talent?
Well, if it hasn’t shown up by now, I really don’t have much hope that there’s something hidden in me.
What is your favorite quality in friends?
I treasure humor. And most especially loyalty and kindness.
Your perfect day?
My perfect day would be one where I have no events scheduled.
Your favorite meal?
I love to cook, and my favorite meal to cook is Thanksgiving dinner. I have to say I don’t love eating turkey so much, but Thanksgiving is such a wonderful celebration of family and togetherness that it makes the meal such a delight to cook. But for more everyday stuff, either meat loaf or Irish stew. And for a treat going out, anything at Otto, which is my local downtown.
Your favorite place in Ireland?
Adare, County Limerick; Cobh, County Cork; and the Merrion Hotel in Dublin. The three pillars of my life in Ireland, where Lew and I spent so many happy years, were those three places.
What do you do to relax and clear your head?
Read. I escape into reading. I cannot go to sleep, or I shall not go to sleep, without reading. I swim, which is great, especially for an aging body because it doesn’t damage your bones the way running or tennis does. And then just being at our place in Rhinebeck. I feel my metabolism ratchet down as soon as I go up that hill. So I’m very lucky to have that. It’s a place that Lew had since 1973 and it’s just a time machine, very peaceful and calming.
What’s next for you?
Getting to March 18. That’s my goal right now. And making sure I do everyIA thing that is commensurate with this huge honor. And have some fun.
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book notes |
The World Is Just A Book Away
Actor Aidan Quinn on how Dostoyevsky changed his life and made him a better performer.
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couldn’t wait to share it with one of my best friends, Bill Roberts, because I knew he would love it as well. We would read passages together out loud and laugh uproariously at the mere mortals (similar to the popular folks in high school) the narrator would skewer. I had never reread a book before and, with the exception of Hamlet, I have never reread a book since. But I clearly remember rereading Notes from Underground. That was my introduction to Dostoyevsky and I started plowing though his books: Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, and others. Then I remember thinking, “Oh no, this one is going to end too,” so I started to parcel out the reading, 25 pages a night to make it last. I really savored those books. About a year after Notes from Underground, I discovered A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce. It had some of the same themes as Notes from Underground, but with the added layers of a world I knew. I had already lived in Dublin, and this was about my tribe. That period of intense reading certainly influenced my choice of professions. I love storytelling, and as an actor, that’s what I’m part of. When I’m lucky enough to be doing a great role that takes an audience on a wonderful journey, I love it. And even though I love acting and I’m in no way belittling it, I sometimes think it’s a poor second to what I dreamed of doing: writing. I always wanted to be the creator of one of those wonderful books, but as a young man, I found that I just didn’t have the discipline for the aloneness of it. So I continue to read while somewhere, in the back of my mind and perhaps with a little bit of denial, I still dream about becoming a writer when IA I grow up. The World Is Just A Book Away is published by USC Libraries Press (November 2017 / 242 pp. / $29.99)
This essay, originally written in 2003, is included in the new anthology The World Is Just A Book Away, a collection of 60 essays from some of the world’s most famous and inspirational figures about how books and reading impacted their lives. Profits from the anthology, edited by James Owens, professor of management communication at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, will go to the international children’s literacy charity he founded of the same name, which promotes literacy by developing libraries, educational programs, and book purchases for students who have none.
PHOTO: ABBY BLOSSOM
y father was an English teacher, and my family moved back and forth between Ireland and the United States. In my house, you couldn’t go anywhere without tripping over books by Beckett, O’Casey, Yeats, and all the other great Irish writers. When I was young, however, I was more focused on sports than books and reading. That changed in my teens. At that time, I literally disappeared into books. My mother even thought there was something wrong with me. She told me that I needed to get out more and socialize, but I was simply lost in the enchanted world of great novels. I couldn’t stop – I just couldn’t stop. That period lasted for almost five years. It was the most intense period of reading in my life: I probably read more in those five years than in the ensuing twenty years combined. And the book that really started it, the one that stuck in my head, the one that literally changed my life, was Notes from Underground, by Dostoyevsky. At the time, I was very much an outsider, aligned with the misfits and poets. I loathed all those popular people and, of course, felt guilty about that, because I knew it was ridiculous and that I had my own demons to deal with. Dostoyevsky’s unnamed and unhappy narrator in Notes from Underground – the ultimate outsider – seemed to speak directly to me. A minor government worker, he has long, rambling, internal dialogues with himself, during which he insults every one of his superiors, the people he works with, and the popular writers he admires. His negative thoughts fill him with guilt and self-loathing. Surprisingly, for such an angry person, he could also be incredibly generous and soulful. His paradoxical schizophrenia seemed familiar to me; it plugged directly into the angst I was feeling as a teenager. Notes from Underground was a seminal book in my life, from one of the great writers of all times. I felt like the narrator understood me. But it was more than that, I felt like he understood outsiders in general, humanity, and the human psyche. I felt validated. I was ecstatic. I was alive and I
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review of books | recently published books Box of Butterflies: Discovering the Unexpected Blessings All Around Us
By Roma Downey
10-year-old Roma Downey, mourning the sudden, unexpected death of her vibrant mother, goes to Maureen O’Reilly Downey’s grave to plant her favorite flower – pansies. “She used to say she thought they looked like butterflies,” Roma writes in her new book. She recalls, “A butterfly flew right in front of us, dancing on the wind. And my dad said, ‘Would you look at that! That wee butterfly could be your mother’s spirit right there.’ As a young girl of ten, the idea that a beautiful butterfly could represent my precious mom gave me great comfort. I’ve always felt that that butterfly was a gift from God, a reminder of his loving presence. Since that day, butterflies have appeared to me throughout my life, bringing with them peace and reassurance. I always see them as a remembrance of my mother and a sign from God that even though we may feel so incredibly alone sometimes, He is always there.” That story, and those words, contain the theme and message from Box of Butterflies, which combines Roma’s memoir with the poems and prayers that have helped sustain the faith that has carried her through a life full of great challenges and remarkable blessings. She grew up in Derry during the Troubles and almost died herself in that same graveyard when she was caught in the crossfire of a gun-battle. Yet she focuses on the love and encouragement she received from family and friends, including her neighbors, John and Pat Hume, who named their youngest daughter Maureen in honor of Roma’s mother. Reading this beautiful book, I was struck by the power that comes from being a truly spiritual person. Roma Downey is the real thing. She sees her years playing Monica on the highly-rated and multiEmmy-nominated series Touched by an Angel, during which she acquired her surrogate mother, Della Reese, as well as the work she did as producer of The Bible, a series seen by over 100 million people, in which she also played Mary, as an opportunity to communicate her certain belief that God is a loving presence, there in sunshine or in shadow. Roma, through her work with Operation Smile, has often matched action with belief, and some of the most affecting parts of the book talk about her work with the founders of Operation Smile, Bill and Kathy Magee, who have been honored by Irish America. Roma’s mother used to sing her to sleep with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Box of Butterflies is really a beautifully designed prayer book that extends her voice: “Walk on, walk on / with hope in your heart / and you’ll never walk alone.” Roma Downey discovered the truth in this promise, and shares it now with us.
– Mary Pat Kelly (Howard Books / 256 pp. / $24.99)
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By Mike McCormack
ollowing the ever-winding train of thought of Mayo engineer Marcus Conway, Mike McCormack’s dynamic new work is a study of seamless transitions and unlikely contemplation. Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize, Solar Bones wends from Marcus’s commentary on reports in the daily paper and recollections of his father as the tragic hero of his youth to detailed depictions of his wife and children and his relationships with each. For the duration of the novel, Marcus himself remains in his quiet kitchen, the action told through his memory that defies a mysterious immovable force keeping him trapped in solitude on All Souls’ Day, Catholicism’s traditional day for praying for those in purgatory. You know where this is going – it turns out, Marcus is dead, he just doesn’t realize it himself. But, following in the footsteps of Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s groundbreaking modernist Irish language novel Cré na Cille, set six feet under in a catty graveyard where the only news comes when another body is buried, death can’t stop a good Irish story, and each figure of note in Marcus’s life has fascinating complexities of character subtly conveyed as they make their way through days colored by both routine and momentous occasion. His strong, protective wife; creative, ambitious daughter; and spirited, independent-minded son are each illuminated in their flaws as well as their virtues in an off-hand, effortless manner. Stylistically, the novel also owes much to modernism, running as a single stream of consciousness sentence, as Marcus works his way from one memory to another. When McCormack writes, “this is how you get carried away […] swept up on a rush of words and associations strewn out across the length and breadth of this country,” he is diagnosing the sensation of reading the book itself. The continuous, occasionally frenetic, narration indirectly expresses Marcus’s unaddressed fear that if he abandons his storyteller function, even for the momentary pause to end a sentence, he will cease to live through what narrow channel of existence remains. And while his lack of flourish and intense focus on the people who surround him might make him seem an unlikely protagonist, it’s Marcus’s unique and perceptive way of seeing the world that makes his story essential.
– Mary Gallagher (Soho Press / 217 pp. / $25)
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Saints for All Occasions By J. Courtney Sullivan
or the better part of her professional career as a novelist, J. Courtney Sullivan, an Irish American born and raised outside of Boston with a background in journalism, has been subtly at work crafting a sub-genre of female-driven tales of family epics and coming-of-age revelations that she deftly solidifies her power over with her most recent public offering. Following the very different lives of two Irish sisters, Nora and Teresa, who immigrate together to Boston in the 1950s at 21 and 17 respectively, Saints for All Occasions is at its best when its characters are at their worst, usually in situations so frustratingly of their own making that you can’t help but wish they were your real friends so you could shake them out of their willfully blind stubbornness. The novel is masterfully structured to amplify these moments, alternating between action taking place over a few heavy days in 2009 – between a premature death and the subsequent planning and execution of the funeral – and the five decades of family history that led to this point. In the present century, Nora is several years widowed with three children – John, Bridget, and Brian. Her fourth, Patrick, died in a drunk driving collision. His death sets off the novel. In the present, too, she has not spoken to Teresa, a cloistered nun in Vermont, since the 1970s, nor has she ever told her adult children that she even has a sister. Nora, Teresa, and each of Nora’s living children narrate interwoven chapters, and Sullivan’s handling of the slow revelation of these sisters’ shared secret and animosity is beautifully paced and even more beautifully wrought in an unassuming style that belies a unique and tender complexity. Indeed, each chapter narrated by the children could be a self-contained character study in itself. As the story progresses, of course the truth comes out, but Sullivan’s grace is in disallowing the book from becoming a who-done-it – instead, she gives a remarkably intimate look at the trials of secret-keeping and its attendant, unanticipated consequences and how they manifest across generations.
– Adam Farley (Knopf / 352 pp. / $26.95)
Nine Irish Lives: The Thinkers, Fighters and Artists Who Helped Build America
Edited by Mark Bailey
t is ethically impossible to begin discussing this new book of essays in this magazine without a disclaimer. Many of the 11 contributing writers have been profiled by Irish America – Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Moore, Tom Hayden, Pierce Brosnan. Others have contributed to this magazine – Tom Deignan and Terry Golway. And the final “Irish life” chronicled in the collection of mini biographies and impacts is Niall O’Dowd, our publisher, who was (no hyperbole) instrumental in orchestrating the IRA’s 1994 ceasefire. So, take what I write with that information at the fore. But also, please believe me – this book is very good. What makes Nine Irish Lives so compelling is the sheer range of voices and personalities that comprise its endlessly digestible pages. What Bailey has done here is inspired – take historical and contemporary figures and let people whose lives they have influenced write about them. Some of the subjects of the collection’s nine essays are well-known figures of American history – Thomas Addis Emmet, brother of Robert; labor leader Mother Jones; silent film director Rex Ingram. Others will be familiar to students of Irish American history, or the pages of Irish America itself – Margaret Haughery, the orphan savior of New Orleans; Maeve Brennan, the underappreciated New Yorker writer; Niall O’Dowd. These chapters are successful because of the perspective their authors uniquely give to their subject that galvanizes their place in the history of Irish America while giving insight into the writer’s own life. Pierce Brosnan’s profile of Rex Ingram and Rosie O’Donnell’s profile of Margaret Haughery are standouts of this type of contribution. But it’s the inclusion of the lives less known that makes this book such an important contribution to the history of the Irish in America. There’s Albert D.J. Cashier, born Jennie Irene Hodgers in County Louth, a Civil War soldier who lived as a man until the state of Illinois forced him into dresses in old age. His story is handled sharply and tenderly by poet Jill McDonough. There’s Samuel S. McClure, whose McClure’s Magazine permanently altered the course of American periodicals away from yellow journalism. His life is relayed with predictable, though not unwelcome, proselytizing by filmmaker Michael Moore. And finally, there’s Father Edward J. Flanagan, founder of Boys Town, Nebraska, a remarkable refuge for orphaned or unwanted boys in the 20th century. Mark K. Shriver, son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, tells his tale. Moreover, Bailey has selected historical figures whose causes are, or ought to be, non-partisan. Together, these profiles form a template of what the Irish can achieve in America and how America has incontrovertibly benefited from their contribution.
– Adam Farley (Algonquin Books / 272 pp. / $16.95) APRIL / MAY 2018 IRISH AMERICA 75
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by Mary Gallagher
Indian descent, was the fifth black conhe name O’Hara has held a gressman to be elected to the U.S. House distinguished place in Ireof Representatives and the sole black land for centuries. The curmember of the House when he was elected rent spelling is an anglicized pronunciation of the original in 1883. He spent his term engaging in the hard-fought battle to keep newly imposed Irish Ó hEaghra, meaning “descended from Eaghra” (rhymes with “Tara”). civil rights in place and working to enact more. Bearers of the name are believed to be the generational offspring of 10th century In religion, Irish-born Rev. William O’Hara (1816-1899) was the first Catholic Irish chief Eaghra (d. 976), who governed the areas around today’s Leyny, County Sligo. bishop to be appointed to the episcopate of The clan was a branch of the family of Olioll Ollum, Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1868. He also founded who was king of Munster. St. Thomas College in 1897, now called the University The stalwart clan divided into two separate groups of Scranton. around 1350, with one remaining in the Sligo/Leitrim O’Haras have also had a significant impact on the border region and the other migrating east to the Route, arts over time. Kane O’Hara (1712-1782), a County Sligo librettist, wrote the comic opera Midas, which County Antrim, the two locations in Ireland where the related the humorous interactions between the classiname is still most commonly held today. The name cal gods and mortals. It was performed publicly for first appeared in writing in 1585 in the Composition the first time in Dublin in 1762. Book of Connacht, directory of contemporary Irish Irish actress Maureen O’Hara (1920-2015), a clans and their landholdings. member of the Irish America Hall of Fame and known More numerous and wealthy, the Sligo O’Haras for her numerous films with John Wayne and long managed to maintain their inherited lordship over career portraying strong, proud Irish women, was born more than 21,000 acres of territory in harmony for a FitzSimons, but made O’Hara a household name by about 500 years, until the Cromwellian wars saw them taking it to work in the film industry. overwhelmed and their land confiscated by the British Irish Canadian Catherine O’Hara, who currently invasion. A detailed record of the clan’s chiefs in a restars as Moira Rose on POP TV’s Schitt’s Creek, has mains intact in a famous book of praise poems called built a 42-year long career as a comedic actress in both the Book of O’Hara, written in a vellum manuscript film and television. in the late 16th century. It is stored today in the In literature, prolific Irish American novelist John National Library of Ireland’s manuscript department. O’Hara (1905-1970) wrote such memorable, effective Periods of mass Irish emigration eventually spread portrayals of his time that several were translated onto the name worldwide, particularly in America, where the silver screen. His stories “BUtterfield 8” and it is, perhaps surprisingly, at its most popular in the “From the Terrace” were both released as films in state of Hawaii, followed by, less surprisingly, the 1960, starring (respectively) Elizabeth Taylor and Paul northeastern states. While the spelling has varied over Newman. the centuries and regions, O’Hara is one of the few Irish American poet Frank O’Hara (1926-1966) names to steadfastly maintain the “O” prefix. was internationally renowned for the unique style of Over the years, O’Haras have continued to carve out his work, incorporating a copious knowledge of art their place in history with remarkable achievements. and music seamlessly into his poems, and respected In 1706, Lieutenant General Charles O’Hara (d. 1724) was appointed the first baron of Tyrawley for for his leadership in the New York School of poets as his service in the British army. Irish-born James well as his close work with New York City’s Museum O’Hara (d. 1819) settled in Pennsylvania in 1772 and of Modern Art. served as quartermaster general in the colonial army And, though fictional, Scarlett O’Hara, protagonist of Margaret Mitchell’s 1939 novel Gone with the at Fort Lee, Virginia, from 1792 to 1796. Later, his sucWind, may be one of the most iconic personages to cessful business dealings made him able to purchase bear the surname, which speaks to Mitchell’s own land on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, an area Irish roots: her great-grandfather Philip Fitzgerald and still known today as the Township of O’Hara. grandfather John Stephens both emigrated James was certainly not the only individually from Ireland to Georgia. revolutionary O’Hara, however: Kean FROM TOP: O’Hara (1768-1851) was an active Rev. William O’Hara, Finally, there is Tony Award-winning acMaureen O’Hara, participant in the failed Irish rebel- John O’Hara, tress Kelli O’Hara (b. 1976), a member of this year’s class of Irish America Hall of lion of 1798. And James O’Hara Frank O’Hara, and (1844-1905), of Irish and West- Catherine O’Hara. Fame inductees (see page 40 for more). IA 76 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
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Fools, Fairies, and Leprechauns The history of April Fools’ Day and tricksters of folk mythology. By Edythe Preet
SYBIL SHEARIN / CHILDREN STORY TALES
ABOVE: A traditional leprechaun in red coat and breeches. TOP RIGHT: Jack B. Yeats’s “Old Man and Leprechaun,” undated. Ink on paper. 6.5 x 9.3 in.
pril is full of surprises. When spring sunshine starts warming the earth, night can fall on a brown leafless landscape and day break to green grass and golden flowers splashing the garden with color. A balmy day can suddenly turn cold, gray, and rainy. As the weather capriciously switches from sunshine to storm, Mother Nature seems to be playing a colossal joke on us. How appropriate then, that April opens with a celebration given to light-hearted jesting called All Fools’ Day. Some scholars say that April’s name derives from the Latin aperire, meaning “to open,” alluding to buds opening on trees and flowers. Others point out that the Romans named months after divinities, and because most animals mate in the spring, April was sacred to Venus, the Roman goddess of love. This leads some scholars to suggest that the Romans named the month Aphrilis after the goddess’s Greek equivalent, Aphrodite. During the Veneralia festival on the first of the month, lovers ordered each other to perform senseless tasks to prove that love, which makes fools of both commoners and kings, rules over logic. The Greek spring festival of Cerealia may be the origin of “the fool’s errand,” as it recalls how the goddess Ceres fruitlessly followed the echo of her daughter’s scream when the girl was abducted by the god of the Underworld. The modern tradition of April Fooling probably began in France. The Roman calendar had marked January 1 as the beginning of the new year long before Christ’s birth, but the medieval Church chose March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, as its new year celebration. Exactly nine months before Christmas, the day commemorated the angel’s announcement to Mary that she would bear a son. Like many festivals of the middle ages, the Church’s New Year was celebrated for a week. On the final day, April 1, people exchanged gifts and best wishes for the coming months. In 1564, Charles IX of France decreed his nation would return to the Roman tradition of starting the year on January 1st. But habits die hard, and the French were slow to accept the change. Eventually, jokers began making fun of the old ways by sending tongue-in-cheek “gifts” on April 1. Many of Earth’s ethnic groups have shown a fascination with gullibility, trickery, and customs of fooling people. The Norse pantheon includes Loki, the god
78 IRISH AMERICA APRIL / MAY 2018
of deceit whose meddling caused trouble for gods and humans alike. In Africa, the Ghanaians’ glib Anansi the spider can always talk himself out of the mischief he causes. In Hopi myths, Kokopelli’s enchanting flute music can cause women to suddenly be with child. The playful Hawaiian Menehune enjoy dancing and singing, but if humans approach, vanish instantly. When it comes to belief in mischievous sprites, however, Ireland outdoes all cultures, hands down. Scattered about the island stand numerous grassy raths (hills) that legend holds are home to Ireland’s fairy folk, the magical Tuatha Dé Danann. In Lebor Gabala (The Book of Invasions, an oral history transcribed at the turn of the 11th century), it is recorded that long ago when the Tuatha Dé Danann arrived, they encountered an earlier Celtic population, the Fir Bolg, whom they defeated at the Battle of Moytura, on the Galway-Mayo border. Despite their otherworldly powers, the Danann were conquered by the next wave of invaders – the Milesians. To maintain peace, it was agreed that the Milesians would rule above ground and the Danann would live below the green hills, emerging only at night to frolic and make mischief by the light of the moon. As time wore on, yet another group arrived in Ireland – mortal men and women. Who was the butt of their tricks mattered not a whit to the fairy folk, who turned to plaguing the newcomers by rotting their crops, sickening their cattle, and replacing babies in their cradles with logs. The cruelest joke was played on any hapless man who dared to travel alone after sunset and chanced upon a fairy troop cavorting in the moonlight. After being tricked into dancing with the Fairy Queen until dawn, the foolish fellow was carried off to live with the fairies forever. In the rare case when the captive escaped and returned to his village, he found that all the townspeople had grown old while he had remained young under a fairy spell.
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sláinte | good cheer Meat Loaf “Cake” (personal recipe)
Note: Just before serving, announce “Tonight we’re having cake for dinner!” When the “cake” is cut into serving wedges revealing the ruse, cry “April fool!”
The most famous Irish fairy is the leprechaun, a word commonly thought to derive from the Irish phrase leith brágan, meaning “half-shoe.” In Irish Wonders, published in 1888, D.R. McAnnally writes, “The Leprechaun is about three feet tall, dressed in a little red jacket and red breeches with buckles at the knee, grey stockings and a cocked hat over a little, old withered face.” In most stories he is portrayed mending a single shoe that its fairy owner wore thin by dancing (hence “half-shoe”). According to the illustrious Irish writer W.B. Yeats, leprechauns grow very rich from making shoes and have crocks of gold buried in secret spots around the island. Many mortals have tried to catch a leprechaun and force him to reveal the hiding place of his riches, but they have all been outwitted by the wily fairy. In one tale, a country youth named Tom Fitzpatrick followed a tap-tap-tapping sound until he spied a leprechaun repairing a tiny shoe, whereupon he grabbed the fairy and demanded to know the location of his treasure trove. The leprechaun moaned and groaned and denied he possessed any wealth at all, but Tom persisted until the little cobbler led him through a stone-filled field to one particular rock. “Dig there,” wailed the leprechaun, “and you will find my gold.” Since Tom didn’t have a shovel, he tied his neckerchief around the rock and made the fairy promise to leave it in place while he retrieved the tool from home. Alas, when Tom returned, he discovered that the leprechaun had tied an identical scarf around every stone in the field. According to my Dublin-born pal Paul, these days the tapping any Irish family hears outside their door on the evening of April 1 is more likely a knickknack prank played by a naughty child who runs off laughing just as the door is opened. A more innocent joke can be played at the dinner table by serving a meal that isn’t at all what it seems to be. Then you IA can be the one giggling “April fool!” Sláinte!
INGREDIENTS 2 lbs lean ground beef 3 large eggs 1 cup breadcrumbs 2 ⁄3 cup sliced green onion 1 ⁄2 cup milk 1 ⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley 2 large garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄4 teaspoon black pepper 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry 31⁄2 cups hot mashed potatoes 8 cherry tomatoes, stems removed
PREPARING THE MEAT LOAF Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, green onions, milk, parsley, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper just until blended. Divide mixture between two 8-inch round lightly greased cake pans, patting to cover pans evenly and make level. Bake meat loaves until juices run clear when meat is pierced with a fork, or meat loaves register 170° F on a meat thermometer, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pans from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes. DECORATING THE MEAT LOAF Pour off juices from pans. Invert one meat loaf onto a flat serving plate. Using a small sharp knife, trim red peppers so they lie flat. Spread 1 cup of mashed potatoes over top of meat loaf and top with a single layer of roasted red peppers. Invert second meat loaf onto red pepper layer. Using a spatula, smoothly spread remaining mashed potatoes over top and sides of meat loaf like icing on a cake. Place cherry tomatoes, stemends down, in a ring around top of meat loaf “cake” to resemble cherries. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8. Meat loaf “cake.”
Mock Apple Pie
Note: Best served warm accompanied with vanilla ice cream. INGREDIENTS 2 cups water 2 ⁄3 cup white sugar 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 30 buttery round crackers 1 ⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 recipe pastry for a 9-inch single crust pie 1 cup crushed buttery round crackers 1 ⁄2 cup packed brown sugar 1 ⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 ⁄3 cup butter, melted DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 425° F. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, and cream of tartar. Bring to boil. Drop in whole crackers and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into pie shell and sprinkle with cinnamon and lemon juice. Mix together crushed crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Sprinkle over filling. Bake for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 375° F and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer until crumbs are lightly browned. Best served warm.
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crossword | by Darina Molloy ACROSS
1 Alive, as Gaeilge (3) 3 (& 17 down) This Cardinal is the current Archbishop of New York (7) 6 Ireland’s main rugby stadium (5) 10 See 42 across (1, 5) 11 See 22 down (5) 15 Dublin church where St. Valentine is interred (10) 16 Male parent (3) 18 Kerry town on the shores of Lough Leane (9) 19 Chemical element barium (1, 1) 20 (& 14 down) At press time, he was still President Trump’s chief of staff (4) 24 Someone who has graduated from a nursing program and has obtained a license (1, 1) 25 The undocumented immigrants to the U.S. protected under DACA are known as this (8) 29 (& 8 down) Pen name of writer Morag Prunty (4) 30 (& 12 down) Actress Uma Thurman chose this Irish American columnist to write about her #MeToo story (7) 33 See 39 across (1, 5) 34 Pig’s house (3) 36 Irish youth group which opened its
41 42 43 44
first location outside Ireland in Philadelphia (7) Common slang interjection often used as a greeting (2) (& 33 across) She recently won the PEN / Nabokov Award for Lifetime Achievement (4) Also known as the Abominable Snowman (4) (& 10 across) His stage alter ego is Panti Bliss (4) Harbor city on Ireland’s west coast (6) (& 28 down) The ban on selling alcohol in Ireland on this day has been repealed (4)
DOWN 2 4 5 7 8 9
11 12 13
See 35 down (9) See 32 down (2, 7) Not false (4) Play by Enda Walsh that starred Cillian Murphy (9) See 29 across (8) (& 27 down) Mather Point and Lipan Point are two of the viewpoints at this stunning Arizona feature (5) Historic Dublin cemetery that is well worth a visit (9) See 30 across (4) Florida town where February’s
Win a subscription to Irish America magazine
14 17 19 21 22
senseless gun massacre took place (8) See 20 across (5) See 3 across (5) Early Irish law (6) See 44 down (2) (& 11 across) New Northern Ireland comedy that proved a big hit with viewers on its release earlier this year (5) An official pardon for people who have been convicted of political offenses (7) Also known as Pancake Tuesday (6) See 9 down (6)
Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than May 1, 2018. 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 February / March crossword: Anne Marie Tatkow, Randolph, NJ
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28 See 44 across (6) 31 The fields are especially low-lying here (7) 32 (& 4 down) The Will of Will & Grace (4) 35 (& 2 down) The ___ _______: originally a comic movie about two
bicycle-stealing teenage boys from Cork and now a hit TV series (5) 37 See 44 down (4) 40 (& 21 down, & 37 down) County Meath archaeological complex near the River Boyne (4)
February / March Solution
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last word |
General Martin Dempsey
Leadership Lessons of
Grandma Bridget ridget Jennings was my diminutive, Irish immigrant grandmother. In 1922, as a 16-year-old, she left her parents and siblings in County Mayo and came to the United States. At 21
Bridget Jennings taking her grandson Martin for a walk. Martin would go on to serve as the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Martin Dempsey, a retired U.S. Army general, is the coauthor of Radical Inclusion: What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership with New York Times bestselling author Ori Brafman. Dempsey has a master’s degree in literature from Duke University, where he wrote a thesis on the Irish literary revival.
she married John Devenney of County Donegal, and at 41 she was widowed. I was her first grandchild. Both my parents worked, so she became my babysitter, close companion, teacher, and mentor. Like many grandchildren, I considered my grandmother my hero. She was a woman of great faith. In her clipped Irish brogue, she would rattle off the Rosary with unbelievable fervor, speed, and precision. One of my earliest memories is walking with her through the streets of Bayonne, New Jersey, my small hand encased in her iron grip so that I wouldn’t
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bolt into the street. She taught me scores of Irish ballads and delighted in having me perform for her guests in her small parlor. At her side, I learned that I was Irish, Catholic, and American. In that order, of course. Grandma Bridget was the matriarch of the family, and she dedicated herself to fulfilling her leadership role. She instructed us in all things, from religion to history to politics. Although we lived in an almost exclusively Irish American neighborhood, she insisted we meet and respect people of other races, religions, and ethnicities. She gathered her family each Sunday, and each of us felt that we were surely her favorite grandchild. From her, I learned that a sense of belonging is the greatest gift anyone can give someone.
• • • • • • • • • •
Here are a few of the other leadership lessons of Grandma Bridget: You should give respect if you want respect. The less said in anger, the less mended. Be the person you’d like others to be. Rich or poor, we all pull on our pants one leg at a time. Build more bridges than barriers. You’ll be known by the company you keep. You make your own luck. We learn more from compliments than criticism. Effort doesn’t always produce excellence, but it’s the start. You only get one chance to make a first impression. If you listen to people, you might be surprised what you learn.
Grandma Bridget never accumulated much material wealth during her life, but she was wealthy beyond imagination. Her humility, optimism, and genuine respect for others were great gifts that she shared with those fortunate enough to know her. IA
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Published on Feb 26, 2018
Published on Feb 26, 2018
Irish America's Annual Hall of Fame Issue, featuring Broadway star Kelli O'Hara, Former CIA director John O. Brennan, California Governor Je...