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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

CANADA $4.95 / U.S. $3.95

KATY PERRY’S IRISH GREAT GRANDMOTHER AND THE LURE OF GOLD HOW IRISH UNIVERSITIES ARE LEADING THE WAY IN HEALTH AND SCIENCE THE CELTIC CURSE AND HOW IT AFFECTS YOUR LIVER THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF WOODY GUTHRIE READING WEST CORK: A LITERARY TRIP TO BANTRY

DanielO’Day THE CEO OF ROCHE PHARMACEUTICALS TALKS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF HEALTH CARE

HEALT & LIFE SCHCARE IENCES

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contents |

Vol. 32 No. 5 August / September 2017

Features

HIGHLIGHTS Irish Eye on Hollywood

14 Collegiate Medicine

Irish universities lead the way in life and health science. By Sharon Ní Chonchúir

30 Reading West Cork

Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Elizabeth Moss, & more. p. 16

30

Olivia O’Mahony takes a literary trip to Bantry on the bay.

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34 Medicines’s New Frontiersman

The CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals talks to Patricia Harty.

40 Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 Fifty trailblazers of medicine, research, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and more.

72 Typhoid Mary

How an Irish cook became the most famous symbol of infectious disease. By Rosemary Rogers

How the nuns of New York tamed the gangs of New York.

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p. 23

Is “The StarSpangled Banner” an Irish melody? p. 24

22

78 “Molly, You Have Alzheimer’s”

How her grandmother’s diagnosis turned Muireann Irish to neuropsychology.

Giving Back

The County Mayo Foundation’s new campaign. p. 26

A Long Long Way Tom Deignan on the famous WWI marching tune. p. 91

80 Why Cats Are Man’s Best Friend

Cahir O’Doherty writes about grieving for his two Siamese companions.

Woody Sez

Woody Guthrie comes alive at the Irish Rep. p. 96

84 Katy Perry’s Irish Granny

The shiny, shady past of Katy Perry’s greatgreat grandmother. By Megan Smolenyak

Book Expo 2017

88 Sláinte! All Hail the Humble Spud

Books are portals to other worlds. p. 102

There is more than meets the eye, or belly, in Ireland’s signature crop. By Edythe Preet

94 Sons of Our Shakespeare

Judy Collins talks to Patricia Harty about her new book on mastering addiction.

O’er the Land of the Green?

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Coming to terms with hemochromatosis. By Colette Connolly

98 Conquering Food Cravings

JFK’s centenary is celebrated in Ireland and the U.S. p. 22

Sisters of Charity

76 The Celtic Curse

The tragic suicides of Eugene O’Neill’s sons. By Ray Cavanaugh

JFK 100

DEPARTMENTS 84

99 Death is Not Fatal

Malachy McCourt’s hilarious take on aging. By Tom Deignan

Irish America Magazine ISSN 0884-4240) © by Irish America Inc. Published bi-monthly. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277.Editorial office: 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Telephone: 212-725-2993. Fax: 212-244-3344 E-mail:submit@irishamerica.com. Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders:1-800-582-6642.Subscriptionqueries: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.

6 8 11 27 82 100 104 106

First Word Readers Forum Hibernia Those We Lost Roots Books Photo Album Crossword

Cover Photo: F. Hoffmann / La Roche


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the first word | by Patricia Harty

“Did Ye Get Healed?”

“I wanna know did you get the feelin'? / Did you get it down in your soul? / I wanna know did you get the feelin'? And did the feelin' grow? / Sometimes, when the spirit moves me / I can do many wondrous things / I wanna know when the spirit moves you / Did ye get healed?” “Did Ye Get Healed?" is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and recorded on his 1987 album, Poetic Champions Compose.

I’ve been long enough away from Ireland now that as I planned for a recent trip, I wondered that I might feel like an outsider. A stranger to my own people. But I didn’t. I found it easy to slip back into the halfspeak, the nod that says everything, the shrug that says even more. Often there was no need for words at all – everyone was on the same wavelength, and I could still tune in. Thank God. I was in Ireland to celebrate the life of my friend John who passed away in New York. The send-off took place in his hometown of Bantry, County Cork. There was music and stories, and a few drinks, good company – old friends and new – all making merry in one of the most beautiful spots in Ireland – a place I had never been before. My connection to Cork had been through friends, John, now gone, and a girl named Mary Mac. Years ago, it was Mary Mac who had sold me on the idea of leaving Ireland and spending a summer in Atlantic City. After that wonderful couple of months (and the first tan I ever had in my life), our summer extended into a trip around the States. At Mary Mac’s instigation, we each purchased a $99 Greyhound bus pass that allowed three-months of travel. We went all over – four of us. Mary Mac, myself, and two girlfriends of Mac who were also from Cork. Fermoy, to be exact. We went as far north as Montreal and as far south as New Orleans. We went west to California, passing through places with names like Medicine Bow (we were in love with The Virginian, the TV series starring James Drury that was set in this Wyoming town), and Walsenburg, Colorado (where our picture was taken for the local newspaper because we were “real Irish”). We traveled thousands of miles and met 2. wonderful people – some of 7 9 1 t. p Se ra Falls, whom said they were “Irish ac. Niag Mary M too,” though they had never been to Ireland. I didn’t fully understand their longing to belong back then, but they are the very Irish Americans I think of now when I’m putting this magazine together. People like Dan O’Day’s ancestors, and their descendants, who moved across the country working in mines and oil refineries and passing on the love of their Irish heritage to their children, who in turn passed it on again. When we reached New York in November of that year, weary, but full of stories of cowboy dances in Texas, and our first Mexican food in San Jose, we had a new appreciation for America 6 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

and Americans. Mary Mac and her friends soon went home and I stayed on in the Bronx with my brother. I lost touch with Mary Mac. I even forgot her last name. McNulty, McDonald? But I didn’t forget her spirit, and the know-how that made her the leader in all our travels. I wondered sometimes how I might find her. I even contemplated putting an ad in the local Fermoy paper, saying I was going to be in Cork and asking her to get in touch. I didn’t do that, but she got in touch anyway. On the ferry to scatter John’s ashes in Bantry Bay, I chatted with the woman sitting next to me. She had traveled from Leitrim for the occasion. John had often mentioned her and her husband, and their daughter, who he always referred to as,“Nessa my goddaughter.”And as we talked I learned that she had grown up in Fermoy, which prompted me to mention Mary Mac. After a pause, her hand pressed to her heart, she said, “Mary Mac (McDonald) was my best friend.” Was? “Mary passed away ten years ago,” she said softly. I was sad to learn this. I regretted that I hadn’t tried harder to find Mac sooner. But as we talked on, we smiled and told stories, and said how lucky we were to have known her. I learned that her life had been a good one. She had found love and had a son. She was larger than life, a cliché I know, but true. “Kind of like John,” I laughed. “They knew each other. They met many times.” Catherine my new friend informed me. I was stunned. John, whose ashes we were scattering, had known my Mary Mac! How was it that we had never connected the dots in our many talks? I pictured them together, those two friends of mine, on the other side, having a laugh at the sheer serendipity of it all. There was something otherworldly about the experience on the boat that stayed with me for the rest of the trip, that is still with me. Ireland is a place that is full of connections, stories, rainbows, sky and ocean, and sometimes, magic happens when you least expect it. I left with the feeling that there’s more to life and death than we will ever know, something beyond our knowledge – something good. And there’s great comfort in that. My heart was sore when I started out on my trip, but there was so much healing at play at John’s wake that I came away renewed. In the words of Van the Man, I felt healed “right down to my soul.” If you’ve been putting off that trip to Ireland, you should go. And if there’s an old friend you’ve been thinking about, get in touch. Do it now. Let them know. I owe my life in America to Mary Mac, and I so wish I had told her so. Back home in NYC, I put on Van Morrison’s “Did Ye Get Healed?” I looked through my photos of that long ago trip around the States. Images, faded now, that still capture Mac’s style and sense of fun. I will share them with her son.


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letters | readers forum

The Old Irish of Burlington, Vermont

Roots: The Galway Lynches

You are to be commended for your Roots segment on Irish surnames and, in your most recent issue, on the Lynches of Galway. However, to once again ignore Commandant Liam Lynch (cf. “Roots: Lynch,” October / November 2014) does a disservice to the Volunteers of 1919-1921 and those so-called “Irregulars” who continued, under Lynch, the struggle for an Irish Republic. Lynch was appointed IRA chief of staff in March 1922. His death on April 10, 1923 at Knockmealdowns, marked the effective end of that “unmentionable” Civil War. Two days later, Lynch’s successor ordered the IRA to surrender.

Eoin O Leannain, Rochester, NY

These are the kinds of stories that need to be told. I remember my mother, who grew up in Pennsylvania, talking about how if you were Protestant, the Catholic teachers were mean to you, and vice versa. She recalled the neighborhoods by their ethnic identity. She was proud to be English and Irish, but she

Thomas Crawford: The Forgotten Irish American Sculptor of the U.S. Capitol Building

The McGrath Homestead in Burlington, VT.

was fairly prejudiced against those “not like her,” and I believe she carried that throughout her life. I never understood it, and to read your “Photo Album” story and look at the beautiful faces, I cannot fathom what it must have been like not that long ago. They really did create their own “clan” and that makes me smile. You have a rich and valuable heritage, so much to be proud of as you obviously are. I admire that you have remained “where your roots” are and am just a little bit envious.

I read with great interest Geoffrey Cobb’s “The Forgotten Irish-American Artist of the Capitol Building.” I am pleased to report that, at least at Green-Wood Cemetery, Thomas Crawford will soon be “forgotten” no more. Green-Wood has acquired a significant work of Crawford’s entitled “Babes in the Wood.” It is our intention to place this sculpture on or near Crawford’s final resting place with descriptive text emphasizing Crawford’s significant contribution to American sculpture. As the work is of fragile marble, we are currently studying how to best protect the work and how to raise the necessary funds for a granite base and protective covering, which we hope to do no later than 2018.

Richard J. Moylan, President, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Margaret Lundien, submitted online

First Word: The Joys of Cooking

Patricia Harty’s editor’s note took me back to our farm kitchen in Illinois and the happy hours spent there. We also had a black-iron beast with a water reservoir attached. We would prime the pump outside, carry the bucket through the back porch and fill the reservoir, which gave us hot water when needed, but especially for Saturday night baths in our large metal tub. My sister and I (one year older) were in charge of kitchen cleaning and baths for the younger six when Mom and Dad were away. We were 11 children, but two were born when I was studying as a young Sister. For many years, my sister Susie and I

8 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

Thomas Crawford’s “Babes in the Wood.”

packed seven lunches and lined them up on the kitchen table to be picked up before school. In those early hours, my Mom was driving to the two parishes to sing the requiem Masses – which paid for our Catholic high school tuition! You see, those wonderful editorials of yours warm our hearts and make us grateful for loving, caring parents and even brothers like Dessie who bite into rock buns. Our oldest brother, Mike, wouldn’t take a pack lunch his senior year! He bought his lunch!

Patricia McCormick, Denver, CO


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letters | readers forum Mother Teanga

Colin Lacey’s story of the roots of the Irish language stretching back 5,000 years to India is a superb and informative piece of writing on a complicated subject. Lacy recounts how “the National School system, set up in 1831, educated hundreds of thousands of children through English only, and stigmatized Irish as the language of poverty.” An expanded account of this chapter in the Angliciza-

“News from America,” by James Brenan. Oil on canvas, 32 in. x 36 in., 1875. Crawford Art Gallery, Cork.

tion of Irish culture reveals how this parliamentary action systematically uprooted the native tongue, the link to Ireland’s ancient culture and history. The British parliament voted the National School Act of 1831 ‘‘to enable the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to assist with the education of the people,” but only if the instruction and textbooks were exclusively in the English language. This requirement contributed to the accelerated decline of the Irish language and had fatal effects on the old Gaelic traditions. Thomas Davis observed that at this time the vast majority of people living west of the line drawn from Derry to Cork spoke nothing but Irish daily and east of that line, a considerable minority did so. He concluded in a famous speech in 1846: “There is a fine song of the Fusians, which describes ‘Language linked to liberty.’ To lose your native tongue, and learn that of an alien, is the worst badge of conquest – it is the chain on the soul. To have lost entirely the national language is death…. To impose another language on such a people is to send their history adrift.” While living in Ireland some years ago, I spent many pleasurable hours in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork where one particular painting caught my attention. It was “News from America,” painted in 1875 by James Brenan, headmaster at the Cork School of Art for nearly 30 years. This poignant painting portrays a young barefoot girl reading a letter to her father in a stone cottage in west Cork. The gallery’s caption reads, “‘News from America’ contains one of the strongest nar10 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

Vol. 32 No. 5 August / September 2017

ratives, where the introduction of the government national school education system in Ireland has enabled the girl to read and write, while older members of her family remain illiterate.” It is no whingeing on my part to observe that this caption distorts history. It implies that the native Irish, being illiterate, were given a great gift by the 1831 Education Act. It totally ignores the reality that “prior to the establishment of the national system of primary education in 1831, there was already in existence a vast network of schools, the great majority of them provided by a people who had been dispossessed of their lands and who were experiencing harsh penal legislation.”* Archbishop Richard Whatley, appointed Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin in 1831 – the year of the National School Act – wrote: “What we want is to make these Irish children forget they have a land.” He mandated that every Irish child begin each school day with this recitation: I thank the goodness and the grace That on my parents smiled, And made me these blessed days A happy English child. In Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland, Tim Pat Coogan writes of the school experience of young Marianne O’Brien in 1859: “There is a well-attested story in the Collins family of how she took part when she was seven in a ceremony organized by the school at Lisavaird, west Cork… [When] the children had to recite this [mandated] verse, Marianne suddenly piped up in front of visiting dignitaries, ‘Thank God I am a happy Irish child!’ She was badly beaten and sent to Coventry as a result.” Marianne would become the mother of Michael Collins when she married Michael John Collins, a fluent Irish speaker, also literate in Latin, French and Greek, having been educated in the hedge schools in defiance of the Penal Laws. In his Dictionary of Hiberno-English, Terence Dolan writes, “Irish people use and speak English in a distinct way…. Its characteristics reflect the political, cultural and linguistic history of the two nations, Ireland and England.” It is ironic to note that after the Brexit divorce proceedings are finalized, when the U.K. leaves the European Union, Ireland will find itself the only English-speaking member among the 27 countries. English will remain an official language of the E.U. Perhaps, the linguistic wealth harvested from the 5,000-year-old Irish language tree, filtered through today’s Hiberno-English, will continue to enrich western civilization. Thanks Colin Lacey of County Kerry for presenting the portrait of this old, gnarled, deeply rooted tree so vividly. Agreed – “We have to be hopeful.” Robert F. Lyons, Kennebunkport, ME

*A Brief Description of the Irish Education System,

Department of Education and Science, January, 2004.

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

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

Visit us online at Irishamerica.com to leave your comments, or write to us: Send a fax 212-244-3344, e-mail submit@irishamerica.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.


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hibernia | news RecordBreaking Year for Irish Tourism

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or the first time since figures have been recorded, more than one million North Americans visited Ireland in 2016. The numbers were released in June by Fáilte Ireland. “While we have known for some time that 2016 was a record year for tourism, this week’s report adds more layers to our understanding of that performance,” Caeman Wall, head of research at the National Tourism Development Agency, told the Irish Independent. In addition to the record-breaking North American numbers, 2016 also saw the total number of tourists to Ireland increase nearly nine percent to a total of 8.7 million visitors from across the world. Britain retains the majority share of visitors, representing over 40 percent of the total number, though, interestingly, the British spend significantly less money than their North American counterparts – €1.11 billion compared to €1.34 billion – despite accounting for more than double the number of tourists. Significantly, 64 percent of all visitors to Ireland last year were first-timers, while, unsurprisingly, Dublin was the most popular destination, with 5.7 million visitors. – A.F.

Bank of America, and a Dozen Others, Eye Dublin for E.U. Headquarters

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ank of America Merrill Lynch is just one of the many international institutions emigrating from London to Dublin in the wake of 2016’s Brexit vote. With the United Kingdom no longer holding E.U. membership status, 12 major firms have unveiled their intention to establish their head European offices in the Irish capital, the Irish Development Authority revealed in June. All banks and financial services operations are required by regulators to be “day one ready” for Brexit’s official starting point of March 2019. Between now and then, banking license applications, securing real estate, and establishing credit ratings take priority for the creation of stable contingency plans. Alongside Paris, Frankfurt, and Luxembourg, Dublin is among the top migratory choices for financial groups seeking a new European home post-Brexit. Kieran Donoghue, head of international financial services for the IDA, told the Irish Times that the authority has fielded more than 80 inquiries from international institutions since the Brexit referendum. “A number of these groups have privately decided they have selected Dublin but won’t announce until they conclude discussions with the

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Bank of America’s London headquarters.

regulatory regimes in Britain, Ireland, the European Central Bank, and regulatory authorities in the U.S. Given the scale of these groups, this is very sensitive,” he said. Speaking to the Times in July, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan (above) confirmed that the firm’s move will merge its existing Irish subsidiary with its current European kingpin in London, though “the question of what gets located everywhere is a long-term question based on a set of rules which no one has negotiated yet,” he said. Among those also rumored to be relocating to Dublin are Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and J.P. Morgan, which is planning construction on a new 22-story tower along the River Liffey. – O.O.

New Irish Prime Minister Willing to Work with Trump eo Varadkar made history in June when he was elected taoiseach, becoming the first openly gay prime minister of Ireland as well as the first prime minister of Indian heritage and the youngest ever elected. Varadkar, a member of Fine Gael and a fiscal conservative, seeks to become another centrist face of the European Union, à la French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, a friend to corporate interests and open to multilateral trade and migration. In an interview with the European edition of Time magazine, Varadkar also said he hoped to forge a relationship with American president Donald Trump and maintain the friendship of the two countries. Recalling a time when he served as Irish Minister for Tourism when Trump called him directly regarding his golf course in County Clare, Varadkar noted that he recognized Trump operates more

like a CEO. “I get the impression he is the kind of person who would just pick up the phone and want to ring the man or woman who is in charge over there, rather than necessarily going through normal business or diplomatic procedures,” he said. “There are pluses and minuses to that.” Elaborating, Varadkar expressed a sympathy with this tactic. “In many ways I actually like that approach, because you know traditional civil service and diplomatic approaches can be all about hierarchies, and sometimes the principals just need to talk and sort it out,” he said. “He is very much a CEO rather than a politician and it might be possible once you have developed a relationship with him to resolve issues that officials and diplomats might spend years exchanging papers on. So I think the first thing is to try to develop a relationship.” – A.F. IRISH AMERICA 11


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Non-Verbal Autistic Teenager Given A Voice

ixteen-year-old Fiacre Ryan’s life was transformed because of the Rapid Prompting Method, an innovative way of dealing with the effects of autism, and he now wishes to expand its use in Ireland and lower the stigma often associated with autism. Diagnosed with autism at age three, it was difficult for friends and family to fully communicate with Fiacra. After reading the book Ido in Autismland by non-speaking autistic teenager Ido Kedar, a group of Mayo parents reached out to a provider in Wisconsin who agreed to travel to Ireland and conduct a weak-long workshop. “I feel it necessary to share my thoughts with the world today. Just a short time ago I would

Fiacre Ryan

have been considered dumb by many. The one thing that saved me was finding my voice with RPM. Keeping silent is not easy, but having a voice in any way is a voice to be heard. Believe!” Fiacra says. Through the use of stencil boards and laminated letter boards, RPM supports a person with autism’s learning ability, but also allows them to effectively communicate with others. Earlier this year, Fiacre agreed to take part in an RTÉ documentary called Autism and Me. Using his letter board, Fiacra asked people to “Try to see past the Autism and realize that we are the same inside as others.” – A.M.M.

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108-Year-Old Irish Woman Has Been to a Doctor Exactly Once

n an interview with the Belfast Telegraph shortly following her 108th birthday in July, County Antrim woman Maud Nicholl (left, with Telegraph reporter Donna Deaney) revealed that she has only been to see the doctor once since 1909. “I don’t feel my age in the slightest, in fact I have never felt my age,” she said. “I have never had any illnesses. I went to see the doctor once and I had to get an antibiotic, but that was all.” Nicholl, who has never married, also shared her secret with the Telegraph. “I’ve a good healthy appetite, never missed a meal. And no drinking, no smoking, and no men!” She has outlived four kings, nine taoiseachs, and 26 British prime ministers – A.F.

Superbugs Be Gone

ublin Institute of Technology start-up comD pany Kastus was the recent recipient of a Knowledge Transfer Ireland award, which pro-

homes. The W.H.O. list also includes high- and medium-priority drug-resistant bacteria that cause diseases such as gonorrhea and food poisoning caused by salmonella.” The solution is “factory applied,” according to Brown, mixed in with raw materials during the manufacturing process, allowing the solution to infuse just about any product imaginable, from smartphones to door knobs, ATMs to ceramics. Buoyed by patent success in America and the U.K., Kastus has fifteen other global patents pending for their solution. – A.F.

motes publically-funded research in Ireland, for their new antimicrobial solution designed to kill so-called “superbugs” like MRSA, Ecoli, fungus associated with athlete’s foot, and carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae. Kastus CEO John Browne says their solution will kill what the World Health Organization calls the “Dirty Dozen,” twelve superbugs listed as highest priority, John Browne, second from right, at Kastus Technologies. including critical bugs like acinetobacter, pseudomonas, and various enterobacteriaceae. According to Marie O’Halloran, a health reporter for the Irish Times, “These can cause bloodstream infections and pneumonia and pose a major risk in hospitals and nursing 12 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

Record Overcrowding in Irish Hospitals

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inn Féin Deputy Leader and Dublin Central TD Mary Lou McDonald (below) published a comprehensive and substantive document on Dublin’s ater Hospital, which in June was the third most overcrowded hospital in Ireland, behind University Hospital Limerick and University Hospital Galway, according to figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization. The Mater “provides not just a local service but also provides many specific specialties such as in the area of transplants,” she said at a press conference. “It is in all of our interests that the hospital works and works well.” McDonald also noted that Sinn Féin’s review demonstrated that the government is critically underfunding health, which “will have consequences for patients in cancellations of elective surgery, longer waiting times and less resources available to treat them,” she said. Five-hundred-and-thirty-two people were also left on trolleys in the hospital in June. “These figures represent further evidence that our health service, through inadequate bed and staffing levels, simply cannot cope with the demands being placed upon it,” I.N.M.O. general secretary Liam Doran said. “The legitimate attempts to reduce waiting lists has only exacerbated the levels of overcrowding, with the indignity and loss of privacy that result, now taking place in this peak summer period in emergency departments and wards across the country.” – A.F.


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Ireland’s First Satellite Is Ready to Launch

or the first time in history, the Irish are poised to make a material contribution to the night sky. In May, the European Space Agency confirmed the launch of Ireland’s first satellite, dubbed Educational Research Satellite-1, or EirSat1. The satellite was built under the ESA education office’s Fly Your Satellite! 2017 program, and is owned and built by an Irish team and operated by University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. It will be released from the International Space Station to join many others of its kind that orbit the Earth.

Students discuss EirSat-1 at a symposium at in Ireland.

The purpose of EirSat-1 is to provide training and research opportunities for students of satellite development, under guidance from academic mentors and the ESA. It will also act as a tangible representative for Irish space research, aiding outreach programs at Blackrock Castle Observatory and Cork Institute to ignite interest in potential students of STEM subjects. The satellite contains two different payloads containing technology from industry partners, each of which will enter outer space for the first time. “Our students will have an amazing op-

Salmon, Mead, and Sunsets at Ireland’s Oldest Working Lighthouse

portunity to learn, not only from the wealth of expertise at ESA, but also from the other excellent teams participating in the programme from across Europe,” said Professor Lorraine Hanlon of UCD’s School of Physics, the lead scientist on the project. Though this is the first Irish-made object to be launched into space, Ireland’s research role has always been a sizable one: the Birr Castle telescope in Co. Offaly provided an intimate look into the heavens from 1845 – 1914, and the ESA’s Laurence O’Rourke was integral to comet-chaser Rosetta’s contact with Comet 67p in 2014. – O.O.

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Bog Butter: Returning to Tradition

ook Lighthouse (pictured below), located on the Hook Head H peninsula in County Waterford, has expanded its tourism offerings this year by introducing sunset tours to capitalize on the vast seascapes

PHOTO: COLIN SHANAHAN

and glorious colors of the Irish Sea. “Watching the sun go down at the tip of the Hook Peninsula is a memorable experience. The lighthouse watch-room offers spectacular panoramic views underneath unpolluted dark skies with just the sea as it’s mirror and the lighthouse beacon casting its presence,” lighthouse manager Ann Waters says. Tours culminate with the spectacular panoramic views of the rolling seas stretching out while visitors savor Irish mead, prosecco, fresh tea and coffee, along with Ballyhack smokehouse smoked salmon on homemade brown bread, a selection of homemade canapés and homemade mini desserts while visitors enjoy the stunning sunset from the lighthouse watch room and balcony. The lighthouse was first opened as a tourist attraction in 2001 and is the world’s second oldest operating lighthouse after the Tower of Hercules, a second-century Roman lighthouse in northwest Spain. Marking the eastern entrance of Waterford Harbor, Hook Lighthouse was built at least 800 years ago by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, Strongbow’s son-in-law, and is one of the most significant examples of medieval Irish architecture still in use. For more information visit hookheritage.ie.

n June, Brian Kaller walked to the edge of the Bog of Allen, just behind his house in County Kildare, took 100 paces forward, 100 paces to the right, and began to look for a bright blue rope he had tied to a tree 17 Bog butter months earlier. It took him two tries, but he eventually spotted the rope through the overgrown surface of the bog and started digging. After about five feet, he uncovered what he sought – a tightly bound parcel, wrapped in a kitchen towel and cheese paper, containing three pounds of bog-aged butter, a little yellowed and smelling faintly of parmesan, and perfectly edible. In conducting this little experiment, Kaller, who grew up in St. Louis but whose family is Irish, was following in the millennia-old tradition of using the bogs to preserve food, likely as a safe-guard against famine. The peat bogs prevent oxygen from reaching too far down, allowing for an ideal environment for the preservation of organic materials. Bundles of bog butter have been discovered that date back at least 5,000 years, in addition to the famed “bog bodies” occasionally discovered in states of arrested decay. “It’s still recognizably butter. It tastes a little different. My friend described it as ‘earthy.’” Kaller told Atlas Obscura, noting that he uses it to fry eggs and melt over popcorn. “It’s not something I think most people would eat regularly,” he says, “but if you were hungry, I think you’d happily eat it.” – A.F. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 13


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hibernia | irish universities

Leading the Way in Life & Health Science

Irish universities are at the forefront of medical science. Here are some of the recent breakthroughs they have made in understanding human health. By Sharon Ní Chonchúir

TOP: Dr. Philip Dunne. CENTER: Dr. Denise Fitzgerald.

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mproving the prognosis and quality of life for patients with bowel cancer is the aim of researchers at Queen’s University Belfast. Patients with bowel cancer are currently offered chemotherapy, which is successful for some. However, it has no effect on fighting the cancer for others, even though those patients still suffer its debilitating side effects. Scientists at Queen’s have shown how defining precise gene signatures within bowel cancer can allow for the development of new prognostic markers as well as personalized medical approaches. Dr. Philip Dunne, senior research fellow at Queen’s said, “Through analysing data generated from tissue samples, we have discovered different subtypes of bowel cancer. This will allow us to identify particular gene signatures that can indicate sensitivity or resistance to specific therapies. Thus, we can tailor treatment to individual patients, maximizing effectiveness while minimizing potential side effects.” Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Ireland, with approximately 2,500 people diagnosed every year. Mortality rates are high and it’s the second most common cause of cancer death in the country. Developing a cure for MS is the goal of another team of researchers at Queen’s. A recent landmark study of theirs has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the treatment of MS and other neurological disorders. MS affects 2.3 million people worldwide. It involves the body attacking its own myelin sheath – the protective layer that surrounds the brain, spinal Myelin sheathing cord, and optic nerve. These in the brain. attacks can lead to symptoms such as vision loss, pain, fatigue, and paralysis. Until now, treatment could limit these attacks but could not reverse the damage already done. This new research shows that a protein made by certain cells within the immune system triggers the brain’s stem cells to mature into oligodendrocytes that repair myelin. “This opens up new therapeutic potential for myelin regeneration in patients,” says Dr. Denise Fitzgerald, senior author of the study.

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cientists at University College Cork may have discovered how to mend broken hearts. In the first trial of its kind in the world, a UCC professor has shown that low dose insulin-like growth factor injected into the heart improves remodelling

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for heart attack patients. Professor Noel Caplice, the chair of cardiovascular sciences at UCC, successfully tested the growth factor in a trial of 47 patients, all of whom had experienced serious heart attacks. Some received the growth factor while others received a placebo. Those who received the growth factor had improved remodelling of their heart muscle in the two months after their heart attack as well as other measures of improved heart performance. Around a fifth of people who suffer heart attacks have ongoing difficulties because of lasting damage to heart muscle, even after the best current therapies. “We hope that these findings can be replicated in larger trials of many hundreds of subjects in the future,” Caplice says. “A significant minority of patients currently remain unwell after heart attacks and we are excited by the possibility that cardiac repair therapy may help them.”

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iabetic kidney disease (DKD) is the single leading cause of end-stage renal disease in the industrialized world, accounting for 40 percent of all new cases in the U.S. and E.U. There are few effective treatments for this condition, but a cell therapy company at the National University of Ireland Galway may have found one. Dr. Stephen Elliman, the chief scientific officer at Orbsen Therapeutics, has discovered a novel allogeneic stromal cell therapy called ORBCEL-M. This therapy has demonstrated significant improvements in kidney function in pre-clinical models of DKD and clinical trials are now about to begin at locations across Europe, all coordinated from NUIG. The aim of the research project, called NEPHSTROM, is to establish the safety and efficacy of ORBCEL-M. It hopes to show that important markers of DKD are improved and that the therapy is safe to use in the long term.


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Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish.

For decades, the standard practice for treating stings by the Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish was to rinse with seawater and apply ice. However, an NUIG study has found these are actually the worst things to do. Collaborating with jellyfish sting experts from the University of Hawaii, NUIG scientists discovered that the best treatment was to rinse with vinegar, remove tentacles and immerse in 45°C (113°F) hot water for 45 minutes. Just last September, unprecedented numbers of Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish came ashore in Ireland. “Thankfully we had very few reported stings given the time of year,” said Dr. Tom Doyle, lecturer in zoology at NUIG. “If this event had occurred during the summer, then we may have had hundreds.” According to Dr. Christie Wilcox from the University of Hawaii, the previous advice could have had fatal results. “Because we didn’t have solid science to back up medical practices, we ended up with practices that actually worsen stings and even cost lives,” she said. NUIG scientists are now researching the next most venomous snake in Irish waters, the lion’s mane jellyfish. It’s responsible for more bad stings than any other and many victims end up in hospital. CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUIG, has recently begun to collaborate with the Mayo Clinic on research into blood clots which cause ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. They can be caused by clots that come from the heart, the carotid artery, or other parts of the body. The characteristics of these clots vary widely, which has implications for what therapy is given to patients. The Mayo Clinic is initiating a nationwide effort in the U.S. to collect samples of clots removed from patients who have suffered strokes in order to analyse them. Through CÚRAM, NUIG will be establishing a dedicated clot pathology lab to conduct parallel research in Europe. Professor Abhay Pandit, scientific director of CÚRAM, commented: “We’re excited by the opportunity to advance research in this area. We hope this will lead to ground-breaking research and drive

significant improvements in outcomes for stroke patients in the future.”

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cientists at Trinity College Dublin have discovered that a biological molecule known as STAT3 is critical in protecting against infection. With new viral infections such as Zika and Ebola emerging all the time, the importance of understanding how we can protect our immune systems against viruses has never been greater. During any viral infection, cells produce interferon to prevent viruses from replicating in our bodies. Interferon activates other molecules within the cells and when the final molecule is activated, the viral infection should be cleared. However some viruses, such as hepatitis C, are not cleared by this response. Immunologists from Trinity, led by assistant professor in immunology Dr. Nigel Stevenson, have discovered that these viruses have evolved to block responses to interferon. STAT3 may be able to counter this negative effect. “Using new molecular techniques, we have revealed that STAT3 is an essential anti-viral component in the signalling pathway,” said Dr. Stevenson. “Without it, cells cannot even fight the common flu virus. This discovery opens the door to new therapeutic options which we hope will help people to restore their natural immunity against a host of problematic viruses.” Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have also shown for the first time that motor neuron disease (MND) and schizophrenia share a genetic origin, indicating that the causes of these conditions are biologically linked. By analysing the genetic profiles of 13,000 MND cases and 30,000 schizophrenia cases, the researchers confirmed that many of the genes associated with these conditions are the same. “Our work has shown us that MND is a much more complex disease than we originally thought,” lead investigator Orla Hardiman, professor of neurology in Trinity, said. “Combining clinical work and our studies using MRI and EEG, it becomes clear that MND is not just a disorder of individual nerve cells but a disorder of the way these nerve cells talk to one another as part of a larger network.” She and her team now see MND similarly to schizophrenia – as a problem of disruptions in connectivity between different regions of the brain. They are looking for drugs to help stabilize these failing brain networks. This research also shows that the divide between psychiatry and neurology may be a false one. “This will have major implications for how we classify diseases going forward and in turn how we train doctors in psychiatry and neurology,” said Professor IA Hardiman.

TOP: Professor Abhay Pandit. CENTER: Professor Nigel Stevenson. ABOVE: Professor Orla Hardiman. LEFT TOP: Professor Noel Caplice. LEFT BOTTOM: Members of the NEPHSTROM team in Galway.

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hibernia | irish eye on hollywood Liam Neeson Tackles Deep Throat

s if there weren’t enough references these days to former president Richard Nixon, Watergate, and the impeachment process… This September, as movie studios begin releasing their “serious” prestige films in the hopes of garnering Oscar buzz, Liam Neeson will play one of the most elusive characters in American political history. His name was Mark Felt, but he was much better known as Deep Throat. Neeson will join fellow Irish thespian Colm Meaney and Irish American Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy) in the suspense drama The Silent Man. Neeson stars as Felt, who served as the anonymous source to Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, all of whom eventually brought down the president in 1973 when Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal. For decades, the identity of Deep Throat was one of the most

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Liam Neeson as FBI leaker Mark Felt

discussed secrets in the corridors of power until Felt confirmed to Vanity Fair in 2005 that he was the source for Woodward and Bernstein (whose own exploits were celebrated in the cinematic classic All the President’s Men.) The Silent Man is to be directed by Peter Landesman, whose credits include Concussion as well as Parkland, which was an extended look at the many people present at the hospital where John F. Kennedy was taken following his assassination. The Silent Man’s supporting cast includes Diane Lane, Josh Lucas, and Michael C. Hall. After The Silent Man, Neeson returns to thrillers with the early 2018 film The Commuter. Later next year, he will also star (alongside Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall) in the thriller Widows, with a screenplay co-written by Irish American Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and Hunger director Steve McQueen.

The Summer of Farrell peaking of Colin Farrell, the Dublin actor also has a full slate of films coming up. He was just in the muchpraised Civil War drama The Beguiled (beside Nicole Kidman) and in November his second collaboration with director Yorgos Lanthimos (after The Lobster) will hit screens. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is being

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marketed as psychological thriller about the dangerous bond that forms between a doctor and a troubled boy. Sacred Deer also stars – you guessed it – Nicole Kidman. Farrell is also currently shooting the political thriller The Inner City with Denzel Washington.

by Tom Deignan

Elizabeth Moss is Typhoid Mary

n the wake of the critical and popular success she had starring in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale (based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel), actress Elisabeth Moss is turning next to a true-life Irish American tragedy. Moss is partnering up with BBC America to turn Mary Beth Keane’s novel Fever into an extended series. The series will chronicle the journey of one of the most notorious figures of the early-20th century – the Irish immigrant who came to be known as “Typhoid Mary.” Aside from starring as Mary Mallon – a cleaning woman who denied she was the source of the disease that mysteriously killed several people she had come in contact with – Moss (who won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Peggy Olson in AMC’s Mad Men) will also serve as executive producer. No word yet on when BBC America will air Fever. “I look forward to telling this story about one of the most infamous women in America... a woman whose true tale has never been told,” Moss recently said. “She was an immigrant in turn of the century New York, a time of huge change and progress in America. She was incredibly unique, stubborn, and ambitious and in fierce denial of any wrongdoing until her death where she lived out her days imprisoned on an island just off of the Bronx in New York. She is incredibly complicated, something I seem to enjoy playing.”

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A Year of Brosnan

n August, Pierce Brosnan stars in the family drama The Only Living Boy in New York. (If the title sounds familiar, it comes from a Simon and Garfunkel song.) Also starring Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Nixon, and Kate Beckinsale, the film explores a troubled twentysomething (Callum Turner) trying to get his life together after college. In the fall, look for another Brosnan release, The Foreigner, in which the former James Bond plays an IRA soldier confronted with the consequences of his actions. Brosnan is also slated to star alongside Antrim native Ray Stevenson as well as Guardians of the Galaxy behemoth Dave Bautista in the thriller Final Score, which is not likely to be released until early 2018. Brosnan’s film The King’s Daughter (directed by Irish American Sean McNamara), which has been completed for some time, may finally also be released later this year.

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Barry Keoghan in Dunkirk

Kerry Condon Teams Up with Martin McDonagh

n November, look for Tipperary native Kerry

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Condon in Irish writer-director Martin

McDonagh’s latest twisted flick Three BillKerry Condon boards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. McDonagh shot to fame with his Irish plays The Beauty Queen of Leenane and A Skull in Connemara. More recently he has taken his profane, violent characters to the big screen, in films such as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. Three Billboard stars Condon as well as Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and John Hawkes, and is about a woman seeking revenge when she suspects the local police department is not doing all they can to capture her daughter’s murderer. Nikesh Patel and Sarah Bolger in Halal Daddy

Two Irish Releases to Keep an Eye On

wo Irish films that have not yet received American release dates but that are worth keeping an eye out for are Halal Daddy and Delinquent Season. Halal Daddy is a culture clash comedy-drama about a Muslim immigrant to Ireland living a contented life, at least until his father arrives, explaining that his son should take over a business. Filmed in Sligo, Halal Daddy stars Colm Meaney as well as Sarah Bolger (In America). The film debuted at the Edinburgh Film Festival in June. Meanwhile, Mark O’Rowe – who wrote Boy A as well as the underrated Irish drama Intermission – makes his directorial debut in Delinquent Season, starring Cillian Murphy and Andrew Scott. The film, also starring Catherine Walker and Eva Birthistle, is a psychological exploration of two seemingly-perfect marriages that are actually deeply flawed.

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Barry Keoghan Stars in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk

ith Irish stars like Kenneth Branagh and Cillian Murphy, not to mention the AList director Christopher Nolan, it’s easy to forget that the much-hyped July war thriller Dunkirk also features the young Dublin actor Barry Keoghan – recently dubbed “Hollywood’s Next Big Thing,” by the influential magazine Hollywood Reporter. The gushing profile says: “The vulnerability Keoghan brings to the screen is brewed from a tough upbringing. Starting when he was five, he and his brother spent five years in foster care. ‘Heroin came into Dublin, and it caught every family. My mother was one of the unlucky ones. She got caught on it, then she passed away,’ says Keoghan, who still lives in Dublin, where he and his brother were raised by his grandmother, now 85.” After Dunkirk, Keoghan will appear alongside Colin Farrell in Killing of a Sacred Deer.

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Streaming Report

If case you missed these when they first came out, they are worth catching on DVD or your favorite streaming service:

Irish director John Butler tells an intriguing coming-ofage tale in the boarding-school film Handsome Devil, starring Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine and Game of Thrones actor Michael McElhatton. Belfast director Nick Hamm tells the story of the Northern Irish peace process through the eyes of Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney) and Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) in the drama The Journey. The film charts the political evolution of the two men at the heart of the Catholic-Protestant divide in the North, and the unlikely friendship they forged on the way to the 1998 Good Friday agreements. Netflix is currently streaming an informative six-episode documen-

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tary entitled The Irish Mob, which explores the long, violent history of Irish immigrant gangsters in North America. Dublin actress Dominique McElligott (right) once again returns to House of Cards, the cutthroat Netflix political drama, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. McElligot plays Hannah Conway, the wife of Republican presidential nominee Will Conway. Also worth looking up is a series McElligot previously starred in Hell on Wheels, which explored the role Irish immigrants and others played in the construction of the transcontinental railroad and the settling of the American West.

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hibernia | health

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n the Ireland-Boston Heart Study, researchers followed 600 Irishmen between the ages of 30 and 60 who had lived in Boston for 10 or more years and their brothers who had never left the old country. The Irish brothers ate about twice as many eggs as their American brothers – averaging over 14 per week. Yet, the Irish brothers had lower levels of cholesterol in their bloodstream, and their hearts were rated from 2 to 6 times healthier. The same Harvard doctor examined both groups. More physical exercise was given as a possible reason for this difference. From “Eggs and Cholesterol,” University of Illinois Extension Incubation and Embryology.

The Vanishing Irish Americans

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he number of people in the United States who identify as Irish American has suffered a sharp decline in recent years and shows no signs of recovering just yet, according to the Pew Research Center’s “Fading of the Green” report released in May. The population of Irish American residents, which stood at 36.9 million in 2009, dropped to 34.7 million in 2010, and by 2015 it had fallen to 32.7 million. In the last 15 years, there has been an overall drop of six million listings of Irish heritage. The percentage of the U.S. population composed of Irish Americans has decreased from 15.6 to less than ten. The report lists several causes for the shrinking demographic, one of which is that as an ancestral group, the median age of Irish Americans (40.5) was older than that of the U.S. population as a whole (37.8). Also cited is an overall reduction in transatlantic immigration. In 2015, a mere 1,607 Irish-born emigrants obtained legal permanent residency. The Pew Research Center has estimated that the recorded number of Irish Americans in the U.S. will drop below 30 million by 2020. However, it also calls on the United States’ Census organizers to allow Americans to fill out more than the currently-prescribed two countries of ethnic origin while filling out their details in order to allow individuals of diverse ethnic background to more accurately describe their roots. – O.O. 18 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

PHOTO: ROY LOPEZ

Health Note: Eggs & Cholesterol

Rory Fanning, MD of Slaney Foods International; Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia; and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed pictured in Washington, D.C.

Grass-fed Irish Beef Gets USDA Import Approval

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laney Foods International, based in Bunclody, County Wexford, is celebrating after landing a deal to supply premium Irish Hereford beef to stores in the United States. The deal, facilitated due to their relationship with Lidl Ireland, was actively supported by Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. It comes as Irish beef secures a USDA seal of approval after 3 years of engagement between Bord Bia and the USDA. The decision ensures that Irish

Beef sold in the USA from Bord Bia approved plants can now carry the USDA shield and provide a further guarantee to US buyers and consumers that the unique claims Bord Bia makes are validated by their own national authority. In the wake of Brexit, and a challenging beef export market, this is welcome news for the Irish beef industry. Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy congratulated Lidl on its confidence to bring the new taste of sustainably produced Irish beef from Slaney meats to U.S. customers. “The USDA shield on Irish beef will assist in attracting the U.S. consumer to a new beef taste, a product that is Irish and sustainably produced.”

First Findings in From NASA Twin Study

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he first results from a years-long study about the effects of prolonged space travel involving celebrated Irish American astronaut twins Mark and Scott Kelly (below, left and right) were released by NASA in January. The study, aptly named the Twins Study, compared biological samples shared by the brothers after Scott’s nearly year-long posting at the International Space Station while Mark stayed earth-bound. In addition to returning to Earth a full two inches taller (a result of the expansion of his spinal discs, which contracted back to normal after a short time back on the planet), researchers found that the caps on the ends of Scott’s chromosomes, called telomeres, in his white blood cells lengthened. This was an unexpected finding, considering telomeres shorten over the course of human life and space travel was thought to accelerate that process. Kelly’s telomeres returned to normal length back on earth. The rate of DNA methylation, the process by which DNA modifies and copies itself, also slowed while Kelly was in space, and returned to normal once he landed. “The greatest importance of the study is to show that we can do it,” Andrew Feinberg, a geneticist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and member of the Twins Study research team, told Nature. “I don’t think people realized it would be so easy to do genomics on astronauts in space.” The full results of the 10-part study won’t be available for several more years as NASA continues to monitor Scott and Mark. When they are, it could fundamentally alter the feasibility of long-term space travel, paving the way for landing a human on Mars, which would involve a seven-month trip. – A.F.


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hibernia | events Mr. Pearse Goes to Washington

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reland’s Poet-Patriots: A Musical History, which premiered last year in San Francisco to correspond with the centenary of the 1916 Rising, is coming to Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral in October. The one-night performance will illuminate 140 years of Irish history, featuring the inspired words of 12 Irish poets and patriots set to music by American composer Richard B. Evans and with an introduction by the Ambassador of Ireland to the United States. Kerry natives Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Christy O’Leary and Dubliner Aimée Farrell-Courtney will lead the Irish trad musiChristy O’Leary and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh.

cians, and Derek Ryan, an operatic bassbaritone from Tipperary, will sing the role of Pádraic Pearse – accompanied by a 60member orchestra, chorus, and trad ensemble. Narrators for the concert will include Irish America editor and co-founder Patricia Harty, television commentator Chris Matthews, former Governor Martin O’Malley, Washington businesswoman and strategist Susan Davis, and Mark Tuohey, director of the Washington mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel. For more information visit irelandspoetpatriots.com.

Irish Rep Honors Sondheim

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he Irish Repertory Theatre celebrated its 2017 gala at the New York Town Hall in June. The evening, “Sondheim at Seven,” recognized the work of one of America’s greatest musical artists, Stephen Sondheim. Angela Lansbury introduced this one-night-only musical revue which included as many hit songs as could fit into 90 minutes. A galaxy of Broadway stars performed selections from: Sweeney Todd, Follies, Into The Woods,

Pictured above are Ciarán O’Reilly, the Irish Repertory Theatre’s producing director (left) and Irish Repertory Theatre artistic director Charlotte Moore (right) with award-winning actress Angela Lansbury at the event.

Passion, A Little Night Music, Company, Merrily We Roll Along, West Side Story and more. The evening, true to Sondheim’s shows, offered, “Something familiar, something peculiar, and something for everyone!”

Meagher at GreenWood Cemetery

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ictured below at the dedication of a new monument to General Thomas Francis Meagher at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery in July is Jessie Meagher, great, great grandnephew to Meagher, stands next to a newly unveiled bust of his relative. Jessie is dressed as a soldier in the 69th New York 1st Irish Brigade, which Meagher commanded. He had a sprig of boxwood in his hat to recall General Meagher’s distribution of the greenery before Fredericksburg. Meagher, who died in Montana while serving as territorial governor, never had a proper funeral, his body never having been recovered after he fell off a boat on the Missouri River. His memorial at the cemetery is located at the site of his wife’s Townsend family plot.

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he 2017 Women of Concern Awards Luncheon, hosted by Concern Worldwide US in New York in June, raised over $450,000 to advance Concern’s work fighting extreme poverty, a new record. Over 500 guests championed Concern’s work changing the lives of women and girls globally, and celebrated honorees Carrie Craigmyle, SVP account director at PHD Media, and #1 New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin. Pictured above: Colleen Kelly, CEO of Concern Worldwide US and Joanna Geraghty, chair of Concern, present Carrie Craigmyle the 2017 Women of Concern Leadership Award and Gretchen Rubin the 2017 Women of Concern Humanitarian Award.

Permanent Memorial Plaque on Washington Monument for Ireland

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rish Senator Mark Daly, U.S. Office of Budget Management director Mick Mulvaney, Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson, Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-PA), and Minister for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief Seán Canney (right, left to right) were on hand in May to dedicate a new commemorative plaque symbolizing the close relationship between Ireland and the U.S. for the Washington Monument. The plaque joined 193 other commemo20 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

rative stones upon the interior walls of the structure and signifies a rare honor, as only 16 other foreign countries are repre-

sented in the building and there hasn’t been a new memorial stone added since 1982. Ireland’s plaque contains the words of the 1916 Proclamation in addition to a dedication to Thomas Francis Meagher, the Irish patriot who became a Civil War general and later territorial governor of Montana.


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hibernia | kennedy

LEFT: Waiting for election results, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, November 9, 1960.

JFK 100 Celebrated in New Ross

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PHOTO: JAQUES LOWE / COURTESY THE JACQUES LOWE ESTATE)

The New York Historical Society’s Moving JFK100 Exhibition

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o commemorate the 100th anniversary of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s birth, the New York Historical Society has mounted a bold exexcitement of the space age, hibition, American Visionary: the photos capture the comJohn F. Kennedy’s Life and plexity and diversity of the isTimes. The primary display of sues facing the president and the exhibition is a series of 77 our country. The exhibit has images – “some iconic, some been carefully researched rarely seen,” according to the sowith input from President ciety’s description of the show – Photo booth, portrait, 1953. Kennedy’s nephew, Stephen as well as is a video screen playKennedy Smith, who authored ing his inaugural address and magazines of the a companion book, JFK: A Vision for America, era opened to articles about the Kennedys. with Douglas Brinkley. Though most of the photographs were faFor many visitors to American Visionary, miliar to me, I found the ones that were unfa- the exhibition will be a valuable history lesson miliar the most moving. presented in a very accessible format. For Two were from a magazine some, it can be fascinating social commentary photo essay about a young – what people wore and looked like and were Senator Kennedy and his preoccupied with during the early 1960s. But recent bride shopping in for those of a certain age, what happened to Georgetown on a chore- this vibrant young couple, and to us all, left me filled Saturday afternoon. with a sense of sadness that bordered on the The Kennedys were dressed unbearable. – Marsha Sorotick casually and Jackie had a mid-1950s Audrey Hepburn American Visionary runs through January 7, 2018 at the New York Historical Society, located at 170 gamin hairstyle. The look is Central Park West in Manhattan. Produced in parttimeless. It is impossible to nership with the Smithsonian Institute in Washingbelieve these pictures are 60 ton, D.C., the exhibition will also tour the U.S. years old. throughout the year. Visit nyhistory.org/exhibitions From the civil rights or americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2017/jfk for more information. movement to the early PHOTO: @CAMPAIGN4KEHOE / TWITTER

ore than 350 people attended a special ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Arboretum near New Ross, County Wexford, on May 29, marking the hour of the birth of America’s 35th president 100 years ago that day. Minister with Responsibility for Defense Paul Kehoe (below, right), Wexford County Council chairman Paddy Kavanagh (below, left), and U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Martin (below, center), who is stationed at the American Embassy in Dublin, all laid wreaths at the memorial plaque dedicated to John F. Kennedy’s roots in the county. Kennedy’s great-grandfather left New Ross in 1848 for Boston. JFK himself returned to the Kennedy Homestead in 1963, marking the first time a sitting American president made an official state visit to Ireland. Éamon de Valera dedicated the arboretum in Kennedy’s honor in 1968. Kennedy’s visit to his homestead, Minister Kehoe told Wexford People, “reflected the importance which he placed on family and heritage. It is a testament to the Kennedy family and the people of Wexford that this connection not only endures, but continues to grow in strength, particularly in this centenary year.” – A.F.

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PHOTO: PAUL SCHUTZER / COURTESY THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES)

BELOW: Kennedy draws an unintended audience while preparing a speech, Baltimore, Maryland, September 1960.


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hibernia | history

The cast during the curtain call for the Origin Theatre Company’s staging of How the Nuns of New York Tamed the Gangs of New York at the Sheen Center on June 3.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR

place in our city’s history and they will continue to play a critical role, now and in the years to come.” Two Academy Award winners, director Martin Scorsese and writer John Patrick Shanley, attributed their pursuit of the arts to the inspiration of their Sister of Charity teachers. Scorsese attended St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School on New York’s Lower East Side, which was built as an orphanage and convent by the Sisters of Charity in 1826 remained in their care until 2010 when it closed due to low enrolment. “Prior to that, I had no religious training,” Scorsese said in a 2013 interview with National Endowment for the Humanities president Jim Leach. He also recalled equating the vibrant ceremony and beauty of the church with the glamor of the cinema: “I found some comfort in the old cathedral of St. Patrick’s, and, of course, some comfort in the movie theater.” (The building was sold by the Archdiocese of New York in 2015 and now contains condominiums.) John Patrick Shanley was educated by the sisters in the Bronx, and based his 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt on his experiences with them and the Christian Brothers. The play is dedicated to Sister Peggy McEntee, Shanley’s Sister of Charity first grade teacher.

was able to sniff back tears during most of the moving presentation of the 200 years history of the Sisters of Charity, entitled How the Nuns of New York Tamed the Gangs of New York, at the Sheen Centre on June 3, but I couldn’t stop myself from sobbing when a group of children dressed in 19th century costumes sang “Where is Love” from the movie Oliver. They represented some of the thousands of orphans saved by the sisters from the city’s mean and dangerous streets. Their parents, who had, against all the odds, saved them from Ireland’s Great Hunger, had perished and they too would have died if not for the women whose service was being celebrated in song, dance, and story. How much we Irish Americans owe to the nuns, I thought, and felt grateful to Turlogh McConnell who worked with the sisters to commemorate their bicentennial (1817 – 2017) in this theatrical presentation, which was directed by George Heslin, founder of the Origin Theatre Company, and narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Ciaran Byrne. The piece dramatizes the early days of the sisters. Their founder, Elizabeth Seton, a widow with five children who converted from her prominent family’s Episcopalian faith to Catholicism after her husband died, started the first American congregation of religious women and sent three sisters to open an orphanage in New York in 1817. How the Nuns of New York Tamed the Gangs of New York, “explores through words, music, and dance the impact of the work of the sisters that grew out of the original 19th century work of healing, teaching, and housing Ireland’s Great Hunger refugees,” McConnell said. “These remarkable women hold a distinguished

PHOTO: MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

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How the Nuns Tamed the Gangs of New York

CENTER: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the Sisters of Charity. ABOVE: St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School, c. 1978.

“This play is dedicated to the many orders of Catholic nuns who devoted their lives to serving others in hospitals, schools and retirement homes,” he wrote in the playbill. “Though they have been much maligned and ridiculed, who among us has been so generous?” – Mary Pat Kelly The Sheen Center plans to stage the performance again in February 2018. Details to come. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 23


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hibernia | history Is “The Star-Spangled Banner” a Traditional Irish Melody?

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t first glance the claim seems like pure pub blarney: an Irishman wrote the melody for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” There is however a strong basis to assert that the melody of our national anthem is in fact an adaptation of an Irish tune written by Ireland’s greatest composer. If you half paid attention in school you know the anthem’s story. On September 14, 1814, during the War of 1812, amateur poet Francis Scott Key, standing on board the deck of a British warship, witnessed the massive British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. Inspired by the huge American flag flying defiantly above the fort the next morning, Key wrote a verse, which he set to the tune of a popular English song. His brother-in-law, commander of the militia at Fort McHenry, read Key’s work and had it distributed under the name “Defense of Fort M’Henry.” The Baltimore Patriot newspaper soon printed it, and within weeks, Key’s poem, now renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” appeared in newspapers across the country, immortalizing the words – and forever naming the flag it celebrated. In 1913, on the song’s hundredth anniversary, a scholarly commission was formed to determine conclusively the song’s origins. The anthem at that time was a popular patriotic song, but it was still just another patriotic tune. Only in1931 was Scott’s song officially adopted as the nation’s anthem. So, where did the music for “The Star-Spangled Banner” come from? The commission, deliberating on this question, examined evidence from a variety of sources. It finally came to the conclusion that the music most probably originated in Ireland. There wasn’t much debate that the original melody was a London drinking song called “Anacreon in Heaven,” created by John Stafford Smith in 1793. Smith, however, never claimed authorship of the music, implying that the music had an earlier Irish authorship. Experts on the commission narrowed the anthem’s origins to one of two possible Irish musicians who lived during the 18th century. The first was William McKeague from County Fermanagh, who some believed composed it as the regimental song for the Royal Inniskillin Fusiliers. However, the more likely writer of the famous melody is the greatest composer Ireland ever had – Turlough O’Carolan, the last of the Irish bards. The O’Carolan song regarded as the “ancestor” of our national anthem is his 1723 tune “Bumper Squire Jones,” which honors one of the composer’s patrons. Proof, you demand? “Bumper Squire Jones” is metrically identical to Key’s famous song.

Many believe the tune “Bumper Squire Jones” came to London, where decades later John Stafford Smith added his own words to it, transforming it into a drinking song called “Anacreon in Heaven.” This song, a hit during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, traveled across the Atlantic, where it was modified and used by Key as the melody for our national anthem. You might not have heard of O’Carolan, but if you have ever celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day, then you have heard his music, which has been played by Irish groups to numerous to mention. The harp is the national symbol of Ireland, in part, in tribute to his musical genius. O’Carolan, honored by the Irish government on a bank note, was born in Nobber, County Meath, in 1670 – 15 years before Bach. He died in 1738 at age 68, 18 years before the birth of Mozart. Blinded by smallpox at the age of 14, amazingly, he mastered the harp in three short years without being able to read a single musical note. He then began traveling Ireland on horseback, his harp slung over his shoulder, moving from patron to patron. Unlike other Irish bards, O’Carolan composed his music before playing it, but none of it was written down during his lifetime. His funeral, lasting four days, drew musicians from all over the country who realized the nation’s reigning musical king was dead and an era of Irish history had come to a close. Today, O’Carolan’s musical legacy, consisting of at least 214 pieces of music, is firmly established in his native land, but very few Irish Americans realize his great American musical legacy is America’s national song. – By Geoff Cobb

TOP: The original StarSpangled Banner at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. ABOVE: Portrait of Francis Scott Key by Joseph Wood, c. 1825. BELOW: Turlough O'Carolan £50 banknote.


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hibernia | giving back County Mayo Foundation Launches “Be Part of the Start” Campaign

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n a mid-May evening in a Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park, the County Mayo Foundation launched its first major fundraising campaign since the organization was established in 2015. The campaign is called “Be Part of The Start” and aims to connect an estimated 2.5 million Mayo diaspora across the U.S. with the non-profit sector in the county, as well as with immigrants from County Mayo living in the U.S. The apartment was that of Geraldine Kunstadter, chairman, president, and director of the Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation, which has specialized in international grantmaking for the past 30 years, and a friend of Mike Hannon, executive officer of the foundation. Mayo-based goldsmith Nigel O’Reilly, who flew in especially for the occasion, presented Kunstadter with a uniquely crafted brooch as a token of appreciation. It was an auspicious beginning for a noble project. Speaking at the event, Professor Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, said, “While it’s true that the tragic legacy of the Great Hunger added to the size of the Mayo diaspora here in United States, I think it is only fitting that the descendants of that diaspora give back to the county that many of them feel closely connected with.” With Be Part of the Start, the County Mayo Foundation invites applications from the estimated 300 non-profits in County Mayo. The foundation is also calling on Mayo immigrants for help in connecting to the diaspora and to charitable initiatives of interest. The board has a three-year strategic plan in place and drafted the help of two Mayo diaspora advisory groups in communications and fundraising. “As a board we are excited to launch this new initiative and we commit to be diligent that those who participate in the online donation platform are reputable charities, that they are accountable and have a professional administrative and governance structure,” Siobhán Carney, a native of Kiltimagh in Mayo and the foundation’s vice president, says. The foundation, which received 501(c)(3) status last year, recently launched a new website and dona26 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

PHOTO: COURTESY CO. MAYO FOUNDATION

TOP: (left to right) Mike Hannon speaking with Gary Smyth, Jim Waldron and Aine Carr about a new amenity park in Kiltimagh, County Mayo. ABOVE: (left to right) Christine Kunstadter; Mike Hannon, executive officer, County Mayo Foundation; Siobhan Carney, vice president, County Mayo Foundation; and Professor Christine Kinealy, director, Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University.

tion platform to help facilitate the crowdfunding portion of Be Part of the Start – that is, helping potential donors find and review various projects from nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and in County Mayo. Donors can select a project that responds to needs across five priority areas – education; social enterprise; recreation; public health; PHOTO: NUALA PURCELL and arts and culture. A project description outlining the need and what the project is hoping to achieve over time will be detailed on the website. Each project will also include photos and/or videos of work in action. The organizations will also provide periodic updates on success. Donors will be able to see in real-time how much a project is hoping to raise, how much they have already raised, and progress to date. A number of non-profits have already gone through the online application process. Moreover, as a 501(c)(3) organization, donations that come through the foundation will be tax exempt, creating a structure for giving and an incentive for the Irish diaspora to support the charitable sector in County Mayo, the foundation says. County Mayo Foundation president Jim Waldron, who was not at the launch but spoke with Irish America over email, had recently returned to Mayo, where his grandparents were born and from where they had emigrated. While there, he traveled the county visiting a number of the projects that the foundation supports. After the eye-opening trip, he is more determined than ever to help all these projects. “I went to Mayo looking to express the United States’ support for our Mayo-based organizations and came away energized by the incredible work being done by them for the people of Mayo. I am certain the Mayo diaspora will answer.” – Áine Mc Manamon For more information visit countymayofoundation.org.


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those we lost | passages Jack Finucane

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1937 – 2017 ather Jack Finucane, who co-founded the Irish humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide with his brother, Father Aengus, died in June at the age of 80. The Limerick-born priests first came to international prominence for their selfless humanitarianism during the 1960s when they began famine relief efforts by shipping food to starving Beafrans in west Africa, where Jack was stationed with the Spiritan missionary society. Jack was shortly imprisoned in 1970 by Nigerian authorities for the relief work for his support of the Biafra cause before eventually being expelled from the country. The two brothers, once reconnected in Ireland, turned their “Africa Concern” organization into Concern, supporting efforts in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Rwanda (during the genocide), and other locations where famine and other emergencies were rampant. Never one to seek the spotlight, Jack spent more time away from Ireland than in it during his time at Concern, serving 19 countries in total. He was “an unassuming leader,” Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley called him, saying he was “a bridge” between the missionary tradition of Ireland and contemporary needs of developing countries. “Together,” she said of the two brothers, “they brought a nation with them.” Aengus Finucane died in 2009. “What Jack has achieved may never be fully quantified but he has saved and improved the lives of millions of people caught up in crisis and poverty,” she said. “Sorely missed, he leaves behind a legacy of incredible humanitarian significance”– A.F.

Patrick Johnston

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1958 – 2017 he president and vice chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Patrick Johnston, known to familiars as Paddy, died at the age of 58 in June following a bicycle ride. He served nearly his entire professional career in Northern Ireland and is largely credited with revitalizing Queen’s University’s international reputation as an innovation hub and worldclass medical research university. Johnston received his medical degree from University College Dublin in 1982, followed by a Ph.D. in medicine in 1988. He later obtained a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute at Bethesda. Outside of academia, Johnston was heavily involved with growing the Belfast science community, including serving as a non-executive director of Catalyst, which was responsible for the development of the science park in the Titanic Quarter of the city. “He believed that the highest quality of academic medical research could only be achieved close to patients and intimate with the health providers’ supply chain,” Catalyst chairman Dick Milliken and chief executive Norman Apsley said in a joint statement. “Professor Johnston put Belfast on the research

map, changed the cancer outcomes for our people and built the beginnings of a local economy bringing these benefits to the world at large. It behooves those of us left behind to remain true to his dream.” Johnston was born and raised in Derry and was the first vice chancellor and president to have been appointed from within the Queen’s University community to that position since 1976. He is survived by his wife Iseult, and their children, Seamus, Eoghan, Niall, and Ruairi. – A.F.

Norm McClelland

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1927 – 2017 ne of the most iconic leaders of Irish America in the U.S., Norman P. McClelland, whose father emigrated from County Down and founded Shamrock Roods Company in Tuscon, Arizona, died in June at the age of 90. Norman, who was born in Tuscon in 1927 and served as CEO of Shamrock for 45 years, was an iconic leader and leaves behind him a tremendous legacy of business leadership and devotion to public service. He was loved by all who knew him, from Shamrock associates and customers and suppliers, to the greater community full of friends and family. He personified Shamrock’s long-standing commitment “to treat associates like family and customers and suppliers like friends.” Norman’s Irish heritage was a source of tremendous pride and he dedicated much of his time to ensuring that Irish culture continues to thrive in Arizona. He kept in close contact with his relatives in Ireland and frequently traveled there to visit family and friends. He was actively involved in the Phoenix Irish Cultural Center and led the charge to create the center’s 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art library. In 2016, he received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad from the Irish President in recognition of his commitment to promoting Irish culture and history. He placed a high value on education and remained an active supporter of his alma mater, the University of Arizona, throughout his life. Norman and his sister, Frances H. McClelland, were both alumni and in 2008 working with close friend John Norton built McClelland Park to house the John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. With lifelong friend Karl Eller, in 1992 the new Eller College of Management facility was dedicated and named McClelland Hall in their honor. He is survived by his wife Barbara, son Kent, daughter Kathe, stepdaughter Heather Helser, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. – S.F.

Jack McCloskey

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1925 – 2017 he man who took the Detroit Pistons to their first National Basketball Association finals in over 20 years, in 1988, and won the franchise’s first two N.B.A. championships, in 1989 and 1990,

TOP: Jack Finucane. CENTER: Patrick Johnston. BOTTOM: Norm McClelland.

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those we lost | passages died in June. Jack McCloskey, who died of complications from Alzheimer’s at his hospice care facility in Savannah, Georgia, was 91. McCloskey, who joined the Pistons in 1979 when the team was en route to be the worst team in the N.B.A., became known as “Trader Jack” for his eagerness to continually upgrade his team through engineered draft trades. Among the players he drafted as a result of some of these deals were future Hallof-Famers Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars, and Isiah Thomas, who later became general manager of the New York Knicks. It took nearly a decade, and lots of Detroit skepticism, before McCloskey’s strategy worked, but by the mid-1980s the Pistons had acquired the moniker of the Bad Boys, with a reputation for aggressive defense that wore down even the best teams of the era, including Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, whose offense at that time consisted, effectively, of Magic Johnson. “When you think about the Bad Boys you’re going to think about the Jack McCloskey era,” former Piston Earl Cureton told Philly.com. Born in 1925 in Mahanoy City, an Appalachian coal mining town in central Pennsylvania, McCloskey was an energetic and diverse athlete, lettering in baseball, football, and basketball in high school, later playing football at the University of Pittsburgh until he joined the Navy during World War II. When he returned, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, playing those same three sports, and, after graduation, playing a single game with the Philadelphia Warriors, the city’s former N.B.A. team, before beginning his coaching career at the high school level. He eventually coached the Penn college team, before moving to Wake Forest University, followed by stints with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Lakers. McCloskey is survived by his first wife, Anita Morales, and their six children; his second wife, Leslie Gray, and two step children from that marriage; 14 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. – A.F.

Sheila Michaels

TOP: Jack McCloskey. CENTER: Sheila Michaels. BOTTOM: Jack O’Neill.

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1939 – 2017 heila Michaels, who liberated the feminine honorific from dependency on men by introducing “Ms.” into the vernacular, heralding a new era in feminism and permanently changing the English language, died in July at the age of 78. It may seem a small adjustment – just two letters and a period – but the symbolism of the change spoke volumes for the advancement of women’s independence in the middle of the 20th century. Though the honorific had existed since at least 1901, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was never commonplace to refer to women with the term – “Miss,” for unmarried women, and “Mrs.,” for married women, being the default, tying women to their marital status in a way that the masculine “Mr.” does not.

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Michaels, who was born in St. Louis and moved to New York City in 1959 to work for the Congress of Racial Equality, didn’t even know of it until she saw her roommate’s mail in the early 1960s. Michaels was by then working as a civil rights lawyer and had become involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and living with a fellow leftist named Mary Hamilton, whose copy of a Marxist publication called News & Letters, was addressed to Ms. Mary Hamilton. Those years were tumultuous for Michaels. Her parents had disowned her for her civil rights work and she was struggling to find a sense of identity and purpose independent of her father or potential romantic partners. “There was no place for me. No one wanted to claim me, and I didn’t want to be owned,” she told the Guardian in 2007. “I didn’t belong to my father, and I didn’t want to belong to a husband – someone who could tell me what to do. I had not seen very many marriages I’d want to emulate.” It wasn’t until 1969 though that Michaels gained traction with “Ms.,” invoking it during an interview on a popular radio program on New York’s WBAI. Two years later, Gloria Steinem, crediting Michaels, founded Ms. magazine. – A.F.

Jack O’Neill

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1923 – 2017 ack O’Neill, founder of the O’Neill surf brand and the inventor of the neoprene wetsuit, died at his home in Santa Cruz, California in June. He was 94. He is also credited with trademarking the phrase “surf shop,” having established his first in 1952 in a converted garage on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach before expanding to Santa Cruz a few years later. O’Neill was a life-long adventurer and innovative marketer, famous for stunts including putting his own children in wetsuits and dunking them in ice water at trade shows and walking the beaches of San Francisco and Santa Cruz to recruit real surfers to model his creations. He lost his left eye in a surfing accident in the early 1970s and sported a roguish eye patch and bushy beard the rest of his life. Born in Denver, Colorado, O’Neill soon moved with his parents to Long Beach, California, where his love of the swells took root. After serving as a Navy pilot during World War II, he earned a business degree from the University of Portland, in Oregon, later settling in San Francisco where he learned about neoprene, though the specific accounts of exactly how he did vary. Undisputable is the fact that O’Neill knew long underwear and sweaters coated in oily sealant, the insulators du jour for surfers in the area, weren’t cutting it, so he started tinkering. “I just wanted to surf longer,” he said. O’Neill was predeceased by his first wife, Marjorie, in 1972 and his son Mike in 2012. He is survived by his second wife, Noriko, as well as three daughters, three sons, and six grandchildren. – A.F.


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hibernia | quote unquote “It’s the frontier between the European Union and the nonEuropean Union and it is on the island of Ireland. It will be a hard border and that will be devastating for everybody, the island economically, in terms of the Good Friday Agreement, protections that are there for human rights.”

“I am very thankful that I was raised by parent’s never to hate anyone or anything… the annual display of hate must end.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams on the potential ramifications of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic when Brexit takes effect. IrishCentral, July 11.

Emmett McGuinness, responding to the burning of an effigy of his father, the late Martin McGuinness, in a coffin by Northern Irish Loyalists in East Belfast. Twitter, July 11.

“Given his stature, his remarks at the beginning when he came in, moved everybody and I think that helped. He’s a hero. He’s a hero of mine.”

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) commenting on Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who returned to Washington with a fresh scar from brain surgery to vote down the repeal of Obamacare, thus putting an end to the seven-year campaign by the Republicans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. – The Guardian

“This is clearly a disappointing moment … So yes, this is a disappointment. A disappointment indeed. Our only regret tonight is that we didn’t achieve what we had hoped to accomplish. I think the American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward.” Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, declared immediately after the vote on the Senate floor in the early hours of Friday morning, July 28. – The Guardian

“You cannot hypnotize someone not to be gay and furthermore why would you want to? Hypnotherapy is massively beneficial for day-today psychological issues such as stop smoking, weight loss, overcoming fears and phobias or help people reduce anxiety/ stress or improve confidence. It cannot or does not cure anyone of being gay.” Irish Psychologist Jason O’Callaghan, founder of the D4 Clinic Blackrock, responding to a May 3 BBC report in which a Russian psychotherapist claims to have “cured” 78 gay and eight transgender people.

As the number of Lyme disease cases grows nationally, Alec Baldwin is sharing his personal struggle with the infectious illness. Hours after appearing on the season finale of Saturday Night Live, Baldwin rushed to California to speak at a LymeAid research benefit. At the event, Baldwin said that he first encountered Lyme disease about 17 years ago.

“The first time was the worst of all. … I really thought this is it, I’m not going to live,” he said.

According to People, Baldwin said he experienced the classic Lyme disease symptoms each summer after that for five years.

“Every August, [I experienced] this black lung, flu-like symptoms, sweating to death in my bed,” he said.

– Reported in AARP

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A trip to the West Cork Literary Festival turns into an unexpected and inspiring look at Bantry Bay and the people who call it home.

Reading WEST CORK By Olivia O’Mahony

TOP: The town and bay of Bantry, County Cork.

n the words of Man Booker Prize-winner Anne Enright, “Ireland is a series of stories that have been told to us.” For me, Enright’s words couldn’t have rung truer. My father’s stories of growing up in Country Cork, told to me as a child, had the power to transport me to a time and place that I only knew in my mind until I arrived in Bantry for the West Cork Literary Festival in mid-July. Bantry did not disappoint, and neither did the festival. The town is nestled on the coast, at the head of Bantry Bay, and the scenery is stunning in all directions – the Beara peninsula is to the northwest, with Sheep’s Head also nearby, on the southern peninsula. The festival provided a week of endless literary talks, poetry readings, music, theater, and countless opportunities to meet great writers such as Enright, Colm Tóibín, John Boyne, and Eimear McBride, as well as fellow book lovers, artists, and thespians. All this in a splendid setting so beautiful that it has been designated part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. One of the most enjoyable events of the festival was when BBC talk show host (and native of the nearby Bandon) Graham Norton read from Holding, his debut novel on small town Irish life, and proved during his Q&A that he could dazzle a crowd just fine on the other side of the mic. Irish Times Paris correspondent Lara Marlowe, meanwhile, elicited gasps and debate with her recollections of the horrors she has witnessed in her time as a wartime reporter in the Middle East; and in the autobiographical category, there was acclaimed

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PHOTO: GEORGE KARBUS PHOTOGRAPHY / COURTESY TOURISM IRELAND

South Korean violinist Min Kym, who told the highs and lows of her life story as a musical prodigy devastated by the theft of her instrument in Gone: A Girl, A Violin, a Life Unstrung. If, like me, you are charmed by the discipline of children’s fiction, you might like to know that all were welcome to join younger patrons of the festival


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ABOVE CENTER: TV host Graham Norton speaks about his debut novel Holding. ABOVE RIGHT: Illustrator P.J. Lynch, Ireland’s Laureate na nÓg, supervises a dragon mural. The position, literally “laureate of the young,” promotes the importance of literature for children. BELOW: The Atlantic Ocean provides a breathtaking view from the summit of Sheep’s Head peninsula.

in an impassioned discussion with Jane Mitchell, author of Syrian refugee story Without Refuge, or enjoy the sunshine in the yard of St. Brendan’s National School while painting a thirteen foot-long dragon mural, overseen by children’s storybook illustrator P.J. Lynch, Ireland’s current Laureate na nÓg, or Children’s Laureate. The festival made full use of the town’s amenities, including Bantry’s Maritime Hotel, the event’s home base for the week. The hotel is managed by Fionnbar Walsh (whose own book, Donal’s Mountain, tells the moving story of his son’s battle with cancer) and played host to several events each day, frequently double-billing highlight authors such as Sara Baume and Lisa McInerney to incite a juxtaposition of literary techniques. Baume, for example, noted that she could “write a whole novel without dialogue if it was possible,” whereas McInerney would happily write one that featured nothing but character back-and-forth. The Maritime continued the fun with nightly open mic sessions, emceed by journalist Paul O’Donoghue for festival attendees and tourists alike.

PHOTO: VALERIE O’SULLIVAN / COURTESY TOURISM IRELAND

ABOVE LEFT: Colm Tóibín, the author of Brooklyn, talks Sasha de Buyl-Pisco, the current literature officer at Creative Scotland.

Other events brought literature aficionados to the enchanting Bantry House, a well-maintained manor constructed around 1700, with a much-lauded seventerraced garden that served as a dazzling backdrop for many an afternoon’s conversation, one of which featured weaver of feminist fairytales Marina Warner, who emerged, oh-so-fittingly, from a hidden passageway to begin her Q&A. The festival also spread its cheer to the local library (an architectural wonder set atop a moving watermill at the top of the high street), which, one afternoon, hosted a reading by American authors Dean Bakopulous and Alissa Nutting, a married couple whose novels are both concerned with the disintegration of relationships; their own, they assured the audience, did not serve as inspiration. One of the festival’s most popular events, Emma Jane Kirby’s reading of The Optician of Lampedusa, took place on the LÉ Samuel Beckett, a ship deployed twice in the Mediterranean in 2015 and 2016 and responsible for the rescue of over 4,000 migrant lives, docked for the day in town. Just off Bantry’s shore is the storied and beautiful Whiddy Island, a roughly triangle-shaped piece of earth brimming with gentle hills and fertile land that takes up much of the eastern head of the bay, buffering the town from the harsher bay weather. It is currently home to some 30 islanders, though prior to 1880, the number was closer to 450. As most islanders own boats for the ease of mainland visits, fishing has always been Whiddy’s signature trade. During the Napoleonic era, English forces constructed batteries on the island to prevent a repeat of the 1796 storming of Bantry Bay by the French, accompanied Wolfe Tone (for whom Bantry’s town square is named), in an attempt to free the Irish from British rule. In the autumn days of World War I, Whiddy served as a U.S. naval air station. Today, the island hosts a large oil terminal that dominates its southwest corner and is home to Ireland’s strategic oil reserves. Despite its diminutive population, Whiddy Island is no reclusive, water-locked hamlet. Connected to the mainland by a small local ferry, Ocean Star III, its peaceful shores and pastures draw in many a visitor, particularly during the summer months. The very night before my tour with Tim O’Leary, islander and owner of the island’s sole pub, the Bank House, it hosted the West Cork-based Fit-Up Theatre Festival’s AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 31


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TOP: Fans of Graham Norton enjoy his reading from his new novel, Holding, at the Maritime Hotel. ABOVE: Passengers aboard the Ocean Star III, which serves as the Whiddy Island Ferry. RIGHT: Aspiring travel writers line up to take the Whiddy ferry on the first day of a five-day workshop.

opening night with a play called Sharon, the story of an Irish woman’s search for a life of her own in her conservative hometown. The play brought in theater lovers aplenty, many of whom lingered at the Bank House for a pint after curtain. Whiddy was also the very appropriate location of Wanderlust magazine editor Phoebe Smith’s five-day travel writing workshop. Walking tours, guided by Tim, are also a strong draw to the island. They offer a chance for both tourists and locals to get active while learning about the island’s intricate history and culture in ways precluded by reading about it, online or elsewhere. Easily bypassed without an insider’s knowledge, for example, is the island’s coffin stone, inlaid into a jetty where islanders traditionally rest the casket of one of their own before the body is ferried to the mainland. Past the island’s western strand is Bantry Bay proper, one of several long, slender bodies of water on Ireland’s southwest coast that look as if someone had dug their fingers into Cork and Kerry 30 miles inland and scraped away the earth underneath. It separates the Beara Peninsula to the north and Sheep’s Head Peninsula to the south, the latter of which I was lucky enough to steal a morning to explore alongside West Cork Music CEO Francis Humphry, a resident of the nearby village of Durrus. Perhaps it was the way that the Literary Festival was igniting my imagination with new ideas at every event I attended, but as we drove up the green, crinkled hills to reach the nose of the peninsula, I could have sworn we moved

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along the skin of a slumbering green giant, at rest so long that wildflowers had claimed his hulking form as home. Francis was quick to supply the flowers’ formal names as I marveled at the variety – meadowsweet, oxbow daisies, and honeysuckle, which I was happy to recognize as one of the flowers carted by the statue of a small donkey in Bantry’s Wolfe Tone Square. Also familiar to me was the spiky, fire-orange montbretia, which Francis informed me was a foreign species. Despite this, I remembered it too had a home in the donkey’s cart, growing proud and vivid for the town to see. Pausing often to take in the rugged loveliness, the peninsula and be carried away by the walloping echoes of ocean on cliff, we eventually reached the tip of Sheep’s Head, and an entrancing view like none I had experienced yet. Looking out onto the endless stretching horizon where sea met sky, soaked, in the words of poet Eavan Boland, in the “hard shyness of Atlantic light,” I thought of America, invisible, somewhere beyond my line of sight, a world away. As a pair of thoroughly unfazed sheep rambled by, I had to laugh at their timing. The West Cork Literary Festival was, according Francis, “born from the arms” of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival (which was held the first week of July this year), a provider of top-class master class programs, student concerts, composition workshops, and an array of Bantry-based pop-up events since its own genesis, in 1995, as an arrangement of performances during the bicentennial celebration of St. James Church just outside of Bantry, a site still utilized for the festival’s musical showcases today. Like the Literary Festival, the Chamber Music Festival continues to attract more lovers of the arts each


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year, its status as one of the largest chamber music events in Europe necessitating the committee’s current fundraising plans for the construction of an official venue for festival performances. The music hall, development consultant Deirdre O’Donovan told me, will serve the Bantry community in other capacities during the off-season, and will allow the West Cork arts scene to soar at entirely new heights. The Literary Festival began in 2000 after the Chamber Music’s annual congregation began to attract artists beyond those musically inclined. Poetry

TOP: Donkey and cart filled with wildflowers in Bantry’s Wolfe Tone Square. ABOVE: Deirdre O’Donovan, development consultant for West Cork Music Ltd.

readings and writer’s workshops were soon in such demand that establishing a yearly tribute to the world of words was the only logical step. It has thrived ever since, and if the excitable crowds gathering before each event to secure the best possible seats were any indicator, the momentum shows no signs of dropping off. Before returning to Bantry to rejoin the excitement of the festival, Francis and I paid a visit to Durrus Cheese, a family business located by the valley of Coomkeen, about five miles west of Bantry, that approaches its fourth decade of providing artisanal cheese made from local milk. Cheese maker Sarah Hennessy gave me a tour of the facilities, teaching me about the unique West Cork cultures with which the family’s cheese is

washed to give it its distinctive pink rind. The company’s cheese making process was developed by Sarah’s mother, Jeffa Gill, who brought home a gold medal from one of the first Irish Farmhouse Cheese competitions in 1984. Suffice to say that after sampling the classic Durrus cheese, the softer Durrus Óg, and the hard, mature Dunmanus version that the family produces, the many national and international awards they have continued to claim over the years came as no surprise to me. The village of Durrus is also home to another family business of a very different style. For 30 years, the natural beauty of this area has stoked the flames of inspiration for the Cronin family, who operate Cronin’s Forge, providing handmade ironwork in the form of everything from candleholders to exquisitely crafted garden gates. A strong Celtic influence is clear when one examines the Cronins’ creations, and I was invited into their workshop to observe the forging process. The lines of Seamus Heaney’s “The Forge” came back to me: “Inside, the hammered anvil’s short-pitched ring / The unpredictable fantail of sparks / Or hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.” As I watched the masters at work, I recalled that in the poem Heaney never actually sees the forge’s interior, instead evoking an imagined scene from the sounds of the blacksmith at work. He had it so right. Wrangling words for one week straight can prove quite the mental workout, so it was fortunate for all festival-goers that Bantry’s many restaurants were up to the challenge of refueling that brain power. Fresh seafood dishes were plentiful and beyond compare, and I came away from each meal a degree more convinced that, fulfilling the old “you are what you eat” adage, I’d soon find myself growing gills. In O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant, pan seared hake was complemented with a bright swirl of butternut squash and smoked sundried tomato purée. The crab cakes served up by the Fish Kitchen, a tiny, intimate spot tucked above a real fishmonger’s, were delicately formed but packed a flavorful punch. Only in chef Christian Barcoe’s Donemark West was I tempted to depart from the bounty of the bay to enjoy a perfectly prepared breast of duck, courtesy of one of the nearby farms. On the last morning of my visit, I took a walk around Bantry Bay and reflected on my father’s stories of Cork. By delving into the area’s festivals, industries, and rock-solid community spirit, I had made memories aplenty to play against his, and, reluctant to close the cover on the West Cork Literary Festival for good, I promised myself to one day return. In truth, I’ve always had a penchant for a good serial, and so until the next installment, I’ll remember this IA one by heart. For details on all festivals visit westcorkmusic.ie. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 33


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Healthcare’s New

Frontiersman As the visionary leader of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Daniel O’Day is changing the future of patient care.

TOP LEFT: Dan meeting patients at the Roche Childrens' Center in India. TOP RIGHT: Dan pictured in Sydney with a group of employees from Roche Australia. RIGHT: Dan at work. Roche Pharmaceuticals Headquarters, Basel, Switzerland.

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t a time in our country when healthcare is a polarizing topic, everyone can agree with Daniel O’Day. His mission to cut the time between discovering life-changing medicines and getting those medicines to patients is central to his role as CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals. Roche has a unique innovation model – bringing together the latest advances in diagnostic technology with the development of breakthrough medicines, all within the universe of “Big Data” and advanced analytics. Roche innovations have already made the company a global leader in treatments for cancer and other diseases, and there’s much more to come. “We took a leadership role in personalized healthcare. I believe we have a unique strategy in that we have both pharmaceuticals and diagnostics divisions

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within one company, working together to optimize the outcome,” In other words: “It’s all about getting the right drug to the right patient, in the shortest amount of time possible,” I first met Dan over the phone when he spoke to me from Basel, Switzerland, Roche’s headquarters. Despite the distance, he has a gift for sharing stories and experiences that make you feel like he’s in the room. During our conversation, he spoke with energy and warmth across a range of topics, from speeding up clinical trials, to the need for diversity in the workplace, “not just because it’s right,” but because of the creativity and divergent thinking that people from different backgrounds bring to the table. Born in Texas, Dan and his four siblings formed a tight-knit unit. They had to, because the family moved every couple of years, wherever their father’s job with IBM took them. The constant uprooting was actually a gift for young Dan, making him very adaptable to change. Today, perpetual motion seems


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TOP LEFT: “Give Back" volunteers. Employees are encouraged to take time from their busy schedules to give back to the community. TOP RIGHT: Meeting with Dr. Khaled Bakolka, Executive Director of the National Guard Hospital in Jeddah. Saudi Arabia. ABOVE: Dan preparing for a meeting. FAR RIGHT: Taking part in an interactive event with Roche employees.

to be built into his very essence as he works to make things better and faster in drug development. O’Day has never moved outside of Roche though and has been with the company since 1987. After joining right out of college, as part of Roche’s U.S. commercial team, O’Day has climbed up and up with leadership positions in various parts of the organization. His previous roles include head of corporate planning in Japan, general manager in Denmark, president of Roche Molecular Diagnostics in California, and CEO of Roche Diagnostics. He became CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals in 2012. “It’s exciting to bring all these different disciplines in the company together with a common goal,” he says of the job. Spending an entire career within one company is certainly not the norm today, but O’Day has an innate loyalty to Roche. In that respect he’s like his father, who spent his whole career with IBM. Maybe it’s an inherited trait. Also like his father, O’Day has taken his family - his wife Mara and the couple’s three children Tierney, 26, Meghan, 24, and Brendan, 20 overseas, as his moves within the company necessitated. (As the luck of the Irish would have it, Mara – “my adventurous wife” – was hired at the same time as O’Day, and by the same manager. She also shares his love of travel.) “I always wanted an international job,” says Dan, who’s one of the lucky few who found it in a field he was always drawn to – healthcare. While still in high school in Connecticut, he became an Emergency Medical Technician, working with patients in need of critical care. It was an experience that informed his life and his sense of purpose. He went on to do his undergraduate degree in biology at Georgetown University (his thesis was on the mating habits of the Mexican beetle!), and considered going on to medical school, but ultimately decided on the healthcare industry, where he could put his education and empathy to work from the business side. While working at Roche, he also gained

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his Executive MBA from Columbia University. “You really do need private industry to make certain things happen,” Dan says. “I think [where I work is] where the rubber really hits the road in terms of bringing new ideas to patients.” With big goals in mind and eager to cover new ground, O’Day remains on the move. “I look on my work as a journey. There is a lot of learning every day and that’s exciting.” For all of us.

What would you say was the culture of Roche that kept you there all this time? I think the most important, central theme is the focus on the patient. A lot of companies talk about this, but at Roche the patient focus underpins all our decisions. This way of thinking was instilled in me by my mentors in the organization and I pass it along to others: If you need to make a choice between something that is right for patients and something that seems better for the business, ALWAYS chose the option that is right for patients. It is something that is lived throughout the organization and emanates from the founding fathers of Roche. The other factor is that Roche is a very decentralized organization, with a lot of independent decision-making and creativity at the local level. That suits me very well and to some extent, it has made it feel like I was moving between lots of small companies, even though all the moves were within Roche. How did you end up at Roche? At the time, I applied to several pharmaceutical firms. Roche was one of the companies that offered me a position, and I had to decide which one I would accept. I remember asking my father, “Dad, which would you pick?” He said, “Well, who was the hiring manager that you think you could learn the most from, and would inspire you the most?”


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What he was saying was, “pick the right cultural fit,” so that is what I did and I was fortunate enough to be hired by Roche. My father influenced my choice of company and he has also inspired me in many other aspects of my life. He was very industrious and became the first member of his family to go to university, attending Gonzaga in Spokane. After completing his undergraduate studies, he went into a recruitment office and said, “I would like to get a job at IBM.” They said, “Well, we only hire people with master’s degrees.” My father who was very literal, went away and got his masters in mathematics from Washington State University. When he returned to the office two years later, the same people were there. They couldn’t believe that he’d actually gone off and done what they told him to do, so they gave him a job. That job turned into a thirty-five year career with IBM. Fifteen years ago, my father passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). After influencing me so much throughout my life, my father continued to inspire me at the end, with the way he approached his illness. Rather than question “why me?” he accepted what had been dealt to him and persevered with great courage and dignity. This made a lasting impression on me. It is very difficult to see anybody that you care about go through this disease because their mind stays very alert, but the body gradually breaks down. The greater understanding of DNA and genetics has blown the doors open for our cancer research over the past ten to twenty years but there is still a long way to go in understanding neurological diseases. We are seeing some breakthroughs. We have just introduced a new medicine for multiple sclerosis, for example. It is based on a whole new mechanism of action and has shown terrific results in patients with both the relapsing and primary progressive forms of the disease. Other companies have also made incredible progress in MS in the past ten years but in diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ALS, there is so much medical need and so little you can do. I am really hopeful that we will also start to see breakthroughs in these diseases in the next ten years.

You have done a lot of moving around, first as a kid, and then within the company. Was that something you sought? We moved every three years when I was a kid, and both my wife and I have had a strong interest in living in different countries to learn about other cultures. From a business standpoint, it has been really valuable to appreciate that diversity around the globe and why that is so important, to any innovation-based business. I spend a lot of time focused on how we might increase the diversity of people in the company and how to bring that mix together in

a way that leads to something very innovative and powerful. I always wanted a global career. My ideal move within the company was one that gave me the experience of a new discipline and a new country. I looked on my career as a journey and I didn’t have any final destination in mind in terms of a specific role. What I did know is that I wanted to have an enterprise-level job and I thought the best way to do that was to try to get as many different experiences as I could. I find it very exciting to bring all the different disciplines in the company together – from development to manufacturing to marketing – with one common goal.

Personalized medicine is a term we hear more often now. Can you talk about that? The personalized approach allows us to better understand who is likely to benefit from the medicine and who is not, while we are still at an early point in the development of a medicine. We want to do this in every field and we are doing it beyond cancer care, but oncology is an area where we have a really deep understanding of the science. We are able to target specific groups of patients that are likely to benefit from a particular medicine, based upon their genetic profile and with the use of sophisticated diagnostics. When you are able to identify those patients, you can do clinical trials much faster and with smaller patient populations. I am very passionate about reducing the cycle time from discovery of medicine to getting it into the hands of physicians and patients. We are making great progress.

The

personalized medicine strategy is allowing us to better understand, earlier in the development cycle of a medicine, who is likely to benefit from the medicine and who isn’t.

So, do you think this next state of personalized healthcare – or personalized healthcare 2.0 – is the way of the future? I am sure it is the future of healthcare. It’s a much more logical way of approaching diseases when you can get a very good, comprehensive diagnosis at the time of onset or preferably at the preventive stage, and then allocate the right resources specifically for that patient. We wouldn’t want our medicines to be used when someone is not benefiting. Every medicine has a side effect, and you are essentially adding cost to the healthcare system if somebody is taking your medicine but isn’t going to benefit. It will be an evolution, but I have to say, in cancer care in particular, I think we are going to see this approach used much more consistently in the next five years. More and more cancer medicines are being apAUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 37


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proved in countries around the world that are specific to a particular patient’s genomic profile. We need a critical mass of these medicines to ensure that we have enough personalized options to offer to patients. Eventually we will reach a tipping point and this is when personalized medicine will become routine rather than just for the more fortunate patients. We are getting to that point.

TOP Dan is passionate about putting the needs of the patient first. ABOVE: Dan visits Roche sites around the world to host interactive events with employees.

Can you explain the “big data” idea? The digital world is helping to take personalized medicine to a new level because of two things: the availability of big, robust data sets that track people over a long period of time, and the application of really advanced computer capabilities. Advanced analytics can interrogate the data to come up with ideas for new medicines, enable us to do clinical trials faster, and eventually to help the healthcare system determine who should be treated and who shouldn’t in a constrained economic environment. The discovery of medicines is all trial and error, at the end of the day. You have a hypothesis, you test it, you adapt it, and you keep trying. The better you can analyze the data, the more refined your hypotheses are going to be and the more likely you are to get things right first time or be able to adapt quickly. It has a huge effect on reducing the time of bringing transformational medicine to patients for diseases where there is significant need. We are really just at the beginning of exploring what big data can do for advancing medicine, but we know it will improve both the development of medicines and patient care. Is this something Roche can do alone or do you need to bring in other companies to make progress? I think we took a leadership role with what I call “personalized healthcare 1.0,” which is a combination of diagnostics and a medicine. Within Roche, I have had the opportunity and pleasure of leading

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both the diagnostics and pharmaceuticals divisions, and our strategy has always been to have colleagues working together at the intersection of these two fields. Now we are evolving this to “personalized healthcare 2.0” with the use of advanced data and analytics. As part of that, we have added some external partners from the fields of data and analytics. One of these is Foundation Medicine in Boston, a company that performs deep analyzes of the genomic profiles of cancer patients and compares them with existing profiles in their database to generate valuable insights. We have another exciting collaboration with a company in New York called Flatiron Health. They have electronic medical records from around 1.5 million patients in the United States through their network of cancer treatment centers. Flatiron is able to curate reams of structured and unstructured information from those records, creating a very powerful database that shows how patients progress over time in the real-world setting. Even as a large company, we believe that the vast majority of innovation happens outside of our walls, so having these partnerships with entrepreneurial companies that are leaders in their fields is very important. It helps us to stay at the cutting edge of innovation and I find it extremely exciting.

What is key to your leadership success? It starts with hiring smart people. I think it’s key to surround yourself with people who are smart, confident, and can challenge you. My job as a leader is to provide feedback, to remove obstacles, to do everything possible to make that person and their mission successful. The more senior I’ve become in my career, the more opportunity I have had to cut through things that aren’t working well in the organization. My leadership style is getting clear on what success looks like and then spending my time going around, removing obstacles, coaching, providing feedback. This is something that has served me well. What do you look for then in a new hire? I look for people that have had diverse experiences and are passionate about looking at problems from a different angle. There are a lot of jobs that require very specific technical skills and some that are more general, so on the skill side, we look for people that are really thoughtful, very well educated and feel confident in their field of expertise, but then, on the experience side, I always look for folks that have a diverse mindset. It is really fundamental to my leadership style because I believe very much in spending a lot of time in the hiring process, getting that right, hiring the very best people you can with the criteria I described. Continued on page 103


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THE HEALTHCARE & LIFE SCIENCES

Irish American innovators who are leading the way in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease

CO-PRESENTED BY

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Elaine Brennan

Northwell Health Elaine Brennan is managing director of pharma ventures at Northwell Health, where she has responsibility for managing and developing collaborative and strategic relationships with the pharmaceutical industry. The focus is in establishing Northwell as a premier destination for clinical research, innovation, outcomes, and international programs. Previously, Elaine was the CEO of Socrates, a health care information technology company, where she led the development and launch of its electronic health records system in the U.S. She also worked with Enterprise Ireland, managing the Irish life sciences companies entering the U.S. market. She also founded Gastroenterology Ireland, which combined a cluster of companies, research and development, and Irish opinion leaders in Ireland and the U.S. Her pharmaceutical career at Roche, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Abbvie included marketing/sales and clinical roles launching blockbuster products in the virology sector. Elaine has published scientific articles on genetic engineering and biodegradable polymers applications, and patented many products in the same area. She earned her science degree in the U.K. and did her early education in County Galway and Belgium. She currently resides in New York with her son Cian and says, “A modern Irish woman in business today is fully aware that she can aspire to be a leader in business in the knowledge that they perform or compete to the highest standards. We have many traits that lead us to success – we are passionate, charismatic, risk takers, and innovators, all the while being grateful to those in our lives both at home and work.”

Kevin Cahill

As a distinguished doctor of medicine, Dr. Kevin Cahill has not only treated patients including Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan, but has offered his vast expertise to a number of national and international organizations including the United Nations and the New York Police Department. These efforts to aid human suffering come as no surprise considering that Cahill began his medical career in 1961, studying tropical disease in the slums of Calcutta beside Mother Theresa. Kevin’s relief efforts have since spanned the globe and include treating refugees in Sudan, serving concurrently as the special assistant to the governor of health affairs, chairman of health planning commission, and chairman of the Health Research Council of New York State. Raised in an Irish immigrant home in the Bronx, Kevin was taught from childhood the importance of Irish poetry and literature from his own family members. The majority of his relatives established themselves in America and became policemen. His father, who as a physician was the exception to the rule, would buy up land in his native Rathmore, County Kerry, and give it to the family members who stayed behind. His first visit to Ireland was when he was only 11 or 12, and since then he has maintained a strong connection to the country both through professional and personal work. He and his late wife, Kate, have five sons and several grandchildren.

Peter Canavan

Novartis Dr. Peter Canavan is head of quality assurance for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, U.S.A., where he leads teams of Q.A. professionals responsible for quality oversight and governance of clinical development and commercial operations across the U.S. Peter’s experience spans the world of pharmaceutical development, from manufacturing to the commercial market, including head of manufacturing, head of U.S. supply center for clinical drug substance and global head of

“My Irish heritage keeps me grounded and realistic in the face of challenges and opportunities.”

Peter Canavan

quality regulatory operations and vendor Q.A. Peter holds a Bachelor of Science in biotechnology and a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from Dublin City University. Born in Bray, County Wicklow, he spent many years in Cork with his wife raising their two children. “I am naturally proud of my Irish heritage and, as an emigrant, it is reassuring to know your roots and cultural history,” he said. “I think it keeps me grounded and realistic in the face of challenges and opportunities. I hope it remains just as meaningful

for my kids and future generations of my family.” He lives with his family in Bernardsville, New Jersey, and is a keen road cyclist who loves to explore the lesser-known beauty of New Jersey’s back roads and countryside.

Maura Loughlin Carley

Healthcare Navigation Maura Loughlin Carley is the founder and president of Healthcare Navigation, a leading national healthcare advocacy and consulting firm. She founded the company in 1999 to establish a helping hand for consumers in the increasingly complicated world of healthcare. Maura is also the author of Health Insurance: Navigating Traps and Gaps, which became Amazon’s number one bestseller AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 41


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in the health insurance category after its 2012 release. Born in Boston and raised in Indianapolis and Northern California, Maura attended the University of San Francisco and Yale University. Her passion for caring for others began early, when her mother allowed Maura and friends to run a home day care center from her house the summer after seventh grade. “It was total chaos, but we took care of everyone,” she says. Maura is of Irish stock on both sides of the family, being a third-generation Irish American on her father’s side, and fourth-generation on her mother’s. Her paternal great-grandparents were born in Ireland and married in North Easton, Massachusetts, in 1873. “I have grandparents who didn’t finish grade school but who worked tirelessly to see my father and mother be college-educated,” she says. Maura and her husband John have four children, Paul, Eileen, Lisa, and Margaret.

Mary Ellen Connington

Advocate Community Providers As chief operating officer at Advocate Community Providers, the largest Performing Provider System within the New York State Delivery System Reform Incentive Program, Mary Ellen Connington is responsible for, among many things, strategic visioning for quality, value-based healthcare payment. Prior to ACP, she served as senior vice president for quality and medical management at Oscar Insurance Company. Mary Ellen earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing at the College of Mount Saint Vincent on Hudson and an M.A. in nursing administration at the Teacher’s College at Columbia University, though her most profound learning experience was as an accordion player in a wedding band with her brother and classmates. “I learned the art of taking the temperature in the room and learning how to react,” she says. “Don’t play a polka when they want to waltz!” A second-generation Irish American, Mary Ellen has maternal roots Ballyguil42 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

“I learned the art of taking the temperature in the room and learning how to react.”

Mary Ellen Connington

tenane, County Limerick, and Knockanure, County Waterford, while her father’s family comes from Cork. She upholds the traditions of her heritage with her husband, Kevin William, who is himself a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and children, Dr. Kevin William, Jr., Tara, and Sean Michael.

John F. Crowley

Amicus Therapeutics John Crowley is the chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, Inc. John’s involvement with biotechnology stems from the 1998 diagnosis of two of his children, Megan and Patrick, with Pompe disease – an often-fatal neuromuscular disorder. In his drive to find a cure for his children, he left his position at BristolMyers Squibb and became an entrepreneur as the co-founder, president, and CEO of Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, a biotech start-up conducting research on a new experimental treatment for Pompe disease (which he credits as ultimately saving his children’s lives). John and his family were the inspiration for the motion picture Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford. John’s personal memoir is Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope and Joy.

Earlier this year, John and his daughter Megan were honored by President Trump during the president’s first Joint Address to Congress in Washington. John has been a tireless advocate for people living with rare diseases and is widely credited for establishing the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Rare Diseases. John, a first-generation Irish American with roots in Cork, graduated with a B.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University, and earned a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School and an M.B.A. from Harvard.

Kevin J. Curran

Memorial Sloan Kettering Three years ago, nine-year-old Ezzy Pineda was diagnosed with leukemia and began chemotherapy. Ninety-eight percent of adolescent patients respond positively to chemo, so her doctors at a Long Island hospital began the routine process. After four rounds, however, she was only getting worse. Her parents were lucky enough to get her into a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, where she first met Dr. Kevin Curran, a pediatric oncologist who specializes in the development of novel treatment approaches for leukemia and lymphoma that do not respond to current therapies. Specifically, he and his colleagues use genetic manipulation of immune cells to recognize and kill cancer cells. “When you are diagnosed with cancer, people start reading on the internet and they would be like ‘Oh, success rate is so high,’ but truthfully, that doesn’t matter for the individual. We have to give them the chemo and see how they respond,” he told Irish America. “And hers didn’t respond, so she needed a different approach. We were able to give her that different approach and she has been cancer-free since.” That approach is a budding treatment called CAR-T, which uses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancerous cells attacking it. The problem is that cancerous cells, though deadly, are effectively invisible to the body’s white blood cells, our natural defense mechanism against viruses and bacteria. What makes this treatment so unique, and experimental, is that Curran and others who are on the front lines actively remove billions of white blood cells,


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Terrie Curran

genetically modify them, and return them to the body so they can recognize the cancer when they encounter it. Curran likens it to giving the blind back their sight. “The cells, they want to find the cancer, they just forgot how to do it,” and blind cells can’t find and kill what they can’t see, so Curran is working on ways to genetically engineer white blood cells to learn how to see that cancer both exists, and is bad. In the case of Pineda, it only took two weeks for her to be cancer free after her genetically modified white blood cells were returned to her body, and four weeks for her normal cells to return. He double-checked at six weeks to confirm. She has been in remission ever since. This is an exceptional story to be sure, but more radical medical treatments have been developed based on less conclusive case studies (penicillin comes to mind). Curran’s job now is to determine what the success rate is of CAR-T for a larger pool of trial patients. He just closed a four year trial in March that treated 25 patients with a 75 percent success rate, and by the end of the year, several drug companies will have products on the market as the direct result of Curran’s research. “We have now shown this proof of principle,” he says. “So now we need to figure out how to work it for five cancers, 10 cancers, 15 cancers, and not just for kids. We need to make it work for adults, too. We have to have them work better with less toxicity so that people don’t have to have three years of treatment or 44 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

have a lot of side effects or have longterm side effects. That is our vision, our dream.” Curran has been working towards this goal since high school, when he saw how talented and happy his pediatrician was, he says. He earned his M.D. at Georgetown University, where he decided to specialize in oncology. He did his residency at Tufts Floating Hospital and afterwards joined Sloan Kettering. He grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of two Irish emigrants, both from Kerry, who met in Boston. His mother, Eileen O’Sullivan, is from Castleisland, and his father, Liam, is from Ballyferriter, where the Curran family farm remains today with many extended Irish relatives. It was there, in fact, where he proposed to his wife, Kathleen. Today they have two sons, three-year-old Liam, named after Kevin’s father, and 11month-old Declan and still attend the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade every year. “Education was definitely something that was instilled by my family and by my community,” he says. “My father worked for the gas company, so he worked driving front loader and literally digging holes and putting in gasoline, and he did that for thirty-five years and my mother was a homemaker. Sometimes my dad says, ‘How come you are not a regular doctor? What is all this research business?’ But that is the farmer in him… Like, ‘Why are you not doing a regular job? What are you doing?’”

Celgene Terrie Curran is the president of global inflammation & immunology at Celgene, having previously served as president, worldwide markets I&I until April 1 of this year. Prior to joining Celgene in 2013, Terrie was Merck’s senior vice president and general manager of the global women’s health franchise, where she had commercial responsibility for $3 billion business, spanning the categories of contraception, fertility, HRT and osteoporosis. In 2012, the UNFPA honored her with an award for the Health and Dignity of Women and Girls. With over 22 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Terrie has worked across many therapeutic categories including immunology, gastro-

enterology, oncology, ophthalmology, metabolic and pain and women’s health. In addition to Celgene and Merck, she has held senior leadership roles with Schering-Plough, including with both their Switzerland and Australia/New Zealand offices, as well as a variety of sales, marketing, and management roles at the former Pharmacia. A native Australian, Terrie holds both a B.S. and a graduate diploma in marketing from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. In November of 2016, Terrie was appointed to the board of directors of Myovant Sciences, Ltd., and also served on the board of directors for H. Lundbeck A/S.


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Mary E. D’Alton

Columbia University Medical Center Dr. Mary E. D’Alton is chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Willard C. Rappleye Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. She also serves as director of services at the Sloane Hospital for Women at New York-Presbyterian. Mary specializes in maternal fetal medicine, focusing on high-risk pregnancies. Honored with a lifetime achievement award in 2006 by the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, Mary has served as its president and held key positions in other organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Neonatal Encephalopathy and Cerebral Palsy Task Force and the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society. She is co-chair of the Safe Motherhood Initiative, which works to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in New York State, and coeditor of Seminars in Perinatology. Mary, who grew up in County Mayo, had a father who was both a doctor and a member of the last-winning Mayo AllIreland football team in 1951. “It was watching my father with his patients that I believe has most influenced me in my own practice here in New York,” she says. Despite having left Ireland over 30 years ago, Mary continues to travel home often to visit family.

“If you tell me I can’t do something, that’s when I become determined to get it done.”

Michael Dowling

Patricia Devitt Risse

Precision Oncology Patricia Devitt Risse is president of Precision Oncology, spearheading the group’s vision to establish an accelerated pathway for companies to develop new and effective compounds to treat patients with advanced cancers. Born in Buffalo, New York, Pat earned her Pharm.D. from Rutgers University. Currently far from her first job as a librarian’s assistant, she has been named by NJBIZ as one of the Best Women in Business 2014, a PACT Enterprise Healthcare CEO finalist in 2015, and an award winner of the PACT Enterprise Award for Emerging Healthcare Company in 2016. A third-generation Irish American, Pat has traced her great-great grandfather back to County Donegal, though he migrated to the U.S. in the late 1800s. “He worked hard to establish himself and provide a stable, healthy environment for his six children,” she said. “This hard work ethic was instilled in his children and their generations. Great opportunity exists for those who have the drive to succeed and make a difference.” She is married to Stephen Mark and is mother to Anna Rose and Carter Anton. They live in New Jersey.

Michael Dowling

Northwell Health Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health and was our 2015 Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 keynote speaker. He began his career as a faculty member at Fordham University as a professor and the assistant dean at the Graduate School of Social Services. In 1983, under Governor Mario Cuomo, he served as deputy secretary and director of Health, Education, and Human Services. He became executive vice president

and chief operating officer of Northwell (then North Shore-LIJ) in 1997, and was named president and CEO in 2002. Born and raised in Knockaderry, County Limerick, Michael is the eldest of five children. He had to help support his family from an early age, inspiring him to push further and achieve his dreams. “No” was never an option for Michael as he makes clear: “If you tell me I can’t do something, that’s when I become determined to get it done.” He was the first person in his family to attend college, graduating UCC while working odd jobs to pay for tuition. After graduation he went to New York and earned a master’s from Fordham. Michael and his wife Kathy live on Long Island with their two children, Brian and Elizabeth. This year, he had the honor of serving as the Grand Marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Bill Doyle

Novocure Bill Doyle is the executive chairman of Novocure, an oncology company developing a novel cancer treatment using a proprietary therapy called TTFields, which uses electric fields to disrupt solid tumor cancer cell division. He is also executive chairman of Blink Health, a digital savings platform tackling the high cost of prescription medications. Previously, Bill served as an executive at Johnson & Johnson, where he served on the consumer pharmaceuticals and medical devices group committees, and as the vice president of Licensing and Acquisitions. Earlier in his career, Bill provided consultation insights at McKinsey & Company. He received his bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Speaking of his third- and secondgeneration Irish heritage, he says his father’s side dates a little farther back than his mother’s. “The first to come to America was Owen Doyle, who emigrated from County Carlow in about 1843 and arrived AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 45


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in Nova Scotia.” Bill’s maternal grandparents were both originally from Belfast. After emigrating, they met by chance in Boston and were married in 1898, where the family has remained ever since.

Joan Fallon

Curemark Dr. Joan Fallon, founder and chief executive officer of Curemark, has made it her lifelong mission to improve healthcare and quality of life for children, focusing her company on the development of novel therapies for the treatment of neurological disorders. Currently, Curemark is enrolling children three to eight in a Phase 3 clinical trial for autism, in addition

to having a Phase 3-ready clinical-stage research program for ADHD and preclinical programs for addiction, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s. Born in New York, Joan served on the ADA board for the building of the new Yankee Stadium. She holds appointments as a senior advisor to the Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute and as a distinguished fellow at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College. She is also a member of the board of Franklin & Marshall College, her alma mater, and currently holds 120 patents worldwide. She was recently named EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 New York award winner in healthcare. Joan is a fifth-generation Irish American and has traced her father’s family roots to County Galway. She believes that “strength, fortitude, patience, and 46 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2016

“My Irish family passed on to me a strong work ethic and the belief that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and be who I wanted to be, without compromise.”

Glenn Gormley

perseverance,” qualities she draws from her Irish heritage, are necessary to lead Curemark to a bright future. She currently resides in White Plains, New York.

John Fraher

Adare Pharmaceuticals As CEO of Adare Pharmaceuticals since 2015, John Fraher has grown the organization to over 600 people across four countries, directing the company’s mission to provide product solutions for patients whose needs are not being fully addressed by current treatments, while also growing its pipeline, R&D, and manufacturing capabilities. This year, he was named EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of life sciences, New Jersey. Prior to his appointment as CEO of Adare after Aptalis Pharmaceutical Technologies was acquired by TPG in 2015, John was president of Aptalis, and before that held a number of executive positions with the company’s previous title, Eurand. A native Irishman, John hails from Dungarvan, County Waterford, the county in which both his parents were also born. His father, Edmond Fraher, came from Ballinamult, and his mother, Hannah Flynn, from Scart. John holds a degree in biochemistry from University College Dublin. Asked what his nationality means to him, John’s answer is succinct: “It’s made me who I am.” He currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Monica and daughter Meghan.

Adrian Gilmore

ProVerum Medical Adrian Gilmore is the chief executive officer of ProVerum Medical, a Dublinbased men's health company dedicated to providing new and effective means for physicians to treat symptomatic Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).

Born in Cork to a father from Dublin and mother from Kerry, Adrian’s first jobs were as a 12-year-old caddie at Ballybunion Golf Club and helping in the family pub, The Bunker. He studied law at Dublin's Trinity College, but later chose not to finish his degree and immigrated to the U.S. in 1987. He began his medical career in 1990 with Becton Dickinson and later went on to serve as president of Terumo Medical Corp and CEO of MetaCure, Inc. “I feel very fortunate and proud to have been born and raised in Ireland,” says Adrian. “I have traveled all over the world, personally and professionally, and found that people welcome me with open arms, largely based upon my nationality – I don’t know of any country in the world where Irish visitors are unwelcome!” Adrian currently resides in Orlando, FL, and is the proud father of two teenagers, Lillian, 19, and Jack, 16.

Glenn Gormley

Daiichi Sankyo Dr. Glenn Gormley is the senior executive officer and global head of R&D for Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd., and the executive chairman and president of Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. A leading pharmaceutical company in Japan, Daiichi Sankyo has developed a diverse portfolio of medicines and is committed to the development of new and innovative treatments for cancer patients. Glenn was born in Philadelphia and


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educated at UCLA, New York University, and the University of Chicago where he earned his M.D. and Ph.D. He is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric endocrinology, and holds an array of awards and acknowledgements for his services to healthcare, such as the MacArthur Foundation Research Award and the Pfizer Fellowship Award. He began his career at Merck, where he first learned how to develop new medications for those in need. A second-generation Irishman, Glenn has traced his paternal roots to just outside of Belfast. “My Irish family passed on to me a strong work ethic and the belief that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and be who I wanted to be, without compromise,” he says. Glenn and his wife Anne live in New Jersey and have three children, Adam, Julia, and Ellen.

genetic heritage,” he says, “we will reveal the commonalities and diversity of Irish people, a complexity that should be celebrated.”

Alastair Greer

WellBe Solutions Alastair Greer is the founder and chief executive officer of WellBe Solutions, which installs and implements healthy strategies, campaigns, and initiatives for

Brian Hanifin

John Greally

Albert Einstein College of Medicine Dr. John Greally serves as professor of genetics, medicine, and pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he is currently a driving force in the implementation of new ways to perform human epigenetics research. Greally, a native of County Galway, was first educated at the National University of Ireland in his home county and subsequently undertook an internship in medicine and surgery there. He is married to fellow Irish American Geraldine McGinty. Since arriving in the U.S., Greally has received multiple awards for his services to his field, such as the 2015 – 2016 Litchfield lectureship under the University of Oxford title. He was made a fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics in 2013. Greally continues to play a role on his alma mater’s governing body, an experience that has confirmed for him that “we can create a new way of exploring the definition of Irishness, based on the genomes of the people living on the island of Ireland and scattered overseas. By understanding this 48 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

merous television spotlights, and has acted as national fitness coach in SELF magazine’s annual “SELF Challenge,” helping 100,000s of people nationwide attain their fitness goals. Alastair is currently based in New York and is happy to make several trips home to catch up with family in Ireland each year. “Every trip back, I’m reminded how incredibly friendly us Irish are,” he marvels. “A day in Ireland is a day full of funny and happy interactions with anybody you come across, and it tends to start as soon as you get on the Aer Lingus flight at JFK.”

corporations, and Root Blends, a healthy food startup focused on the delivery of organic, functional frozen smoothie packs to homes and businesses in over 25 states. Born in Magherafelt, County Derry, Alastair received a degree in sports coaching at Farnborough College in Hampshire. He has lived in the U.S. for 18 years, in that time appearing on nu-

“I am proud of my ancestors, who sacrificed and endured so much hardship to establish themselves here.”

Brian Hanifin

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation As vice president of technical operations at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in New Jersey, Brian Hanifin oversees the manufacture of products and innovative medicines for patients in need. Brian is a native of Suffern, New York, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in human resources at Marist College. He is a fourth-generation Irishman on his mother’s side, with roots in Cashel, County Tipperary, and Cavanaguillah, County Monaghan, and fifth-generation on his father’s, with ancestors from Ventry and Tralee, County Kerry. His ancestor, William Hanifin, left Ventry during the Tithe Wars in 1834, traveling on a timber ship to Quebec. The collapse of farming in upstate New York led him to Westchester County, where he found work in the Alexander Smith carpet mills in Yonkers. “While being Irish in the states today is not like what it was generations ago, one thing that hasn’t changed is our pride,” says Brian. “I am proud of my ancestors, who sacrificed and endured so much hardship to establish themselves here.” Brian and his wife Kristen have two children, Sydney and Abby. They live in New York.

Niall Mercer Heney

Massachusetts General Hospital Dr. Niall Heney is a pioneering urologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center whose career spans


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over 50 years. He was part of the team in the mid-1980s that developed a groundbreaking method of treating invasive bladder cancer that combines limited, bladdersaving surgery with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, saving thousands of lives and preserving the quality of life in countless others. A native of Oldcastle, County Meath, Niall holds both an M.B. and M.D. from Trinity College Dublin. The son of a banker, he couldn’t wait to leave school, entering Trinity at 17 and commencing his professional career immediately upon graduating. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1972, conducting his residency at Mass General, where he has remained ever since. His Irish nationality, he says, has helped him feel at home in Boston. “Speaking English with proper grammar and being in Boston has made me feel very welcome in this country. I am very much aware that other immigrants have not had the experiences I have and I feel sorry for them. I never tried to hide my Irishness. I still have an Irish accent and never felt the need to manufacture a different one.”

John Kennedy

Hospital for Special Surgery Dr. John G. Kennedy is the assistant attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery Department of Orthopedic Surgery, as well as assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. Kennedy also founded and co-chairs the International Congress on Cartilage Repair of the Ankle, a multinational think tank instrumental in changing cartilage treatment strategies around the world. A native of Dublin, Kennedy was a big sports fan as a child. He went on to compete at national and international levels in track, rugby, fencing, and water skiing. His medical career stretches over 25 years and is buttressed by a commitment to teaching, researching, and administering quality care dedicated to sports injuries of the lower limbs. His interest in basic science research was initiated as a medical student at the Royal College of Surgeons. As a result, in his intern year he began his first post50 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

doctoral thesis investigating the effects of oxygen-free radical scavengers on tourniquet induced ischemia. This formed the basis of his M.M.S. Following this, he continued to be involved in basic science at the Enders Laboratory at Harvard Medical School under Dr. Melvin Glimcher, where he defended his Masters in Surgery thesis on new composites in bone regeneration. Shortly after that, he was instrumental in setting up a basic science laboratory at University College Dublin as part of his role as senior lecturer in orthopedic surgery. Since his time at H.S.S., Kennedy has been involved in several basic science investigations principally involving cartilage regeneration, but also involving biomechanics and biological augmentation of healing processes, having published over 190 peer-reviewed articles in addition to countless podium presentations and other citations of his research. Kennedy’s goal in both clinical and basic science research is to establish H.S.S. as a world leader in ankle cartilage regeneration and arthroscopy. To this end, Kennedy’s office has many fellows visiting and collaborating from numerous international universities. “The world is getting to be a smaller place. Medical problems are universal but often were approached in a regional manner. International collaboration, sharing knowledge for the common good is truly the only way forward,” he says. As part of the international collaboration between Ireland and the U.S., Kennedy recently received an honorary degree from the faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons. This was in part due to the pipeline of medical students and residents that travel from the R.C.S.I. to his office in New York each year to experience the different medical culture and

collaborate in innovation between the two countries. His approach to innovation is that of a collaborator. “If I have had any success it is because of those who have taught me well,” he says. “My parents, my school teachers and my college professors all have left their mark. I remember my mentors in surgery every day I operate.” Of his strong connections to Ireland, he knows he is similarly one of many. “Ireland has a deep and rich history of medical excellence and innovators. That legacy has been supported and advanced by massive outpouring of support from Irish communities at home and abroad who have allowed Irish doctors and scientists to achieve success,” he says. “I am blessed to have a great family, great friends, and be Irish!”

Rob Laverty

Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals As vice president of market access at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., Rob Laverty leads the strategic approach Continued on page 55

“The pharmaceutical industry has always been under a microscope. But it continues to do what it does best, which is innovate and help patients.”

Rob Laverty


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and execution of business-to-business relationships with the company’s payers, trade customers, and emerging access channels. He is also a member of the brand development & commercialization and pharmaceutical operating committees, U.S. leadership team and the joint executive team. Prior to this role, Rob served as senior director of market access. Before joining Otsuka in 2012, Rob spent 18 years at BristolMyers Squibb, where most recently he was the executive director of global market access. Growing up in Riverside, New Jersey, Rob had a passion for helping people. He continues this today by working hard to bring life changing medicines to patients who need them. He holds a Bachelor of Science in management science from Kean University and an Master of Business Administration in finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Despite the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has “always been under a microscope,” he says, “it continues to do what it does best, which is innovate and help patients.” Rob is proud of his Irish heritage.

Michael F. Mahoney

Boston Scientific Corporation Mike Mahoney is CEO and chairman of the board of Boston Scientific Corporation, a global medical technology leader with more than $8 billion in annual revenue and commercial representation in more than 125 countries. Since joining Boston Scientific in 2011 as president, he has focused the company on addressing the needs of the evolving healthcare landscape by driving improvements to patient outcomes and increasing healthcare economic efficiency and access. Under his leadership, Boston Scientific has brought many transformational medical devices to market. He became president, CEO, and a member of the board in 2012 and was elected chairman in 2016. Mahoney’s career spans more than 25 years of success building market-leading medical device, capital equipment, and healthcare IT businesses. Prior to joining Boston Scientific, Mike held prominent

“My Irish heritage is a source of pride and I enjoy teaching my children about the special culture.”

Neil Malloy

leadership roles at Johnson & Johnson, Global Healthcare Exchange, and GE Medical Systems, where he spent the first 12 years of his professional life. Mike serves on the board of Baxter International and the American Heart Association leadership council. He earned a B.B.A. in finance from the University of Iowa and his M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. He is married and has three children.

and one daughter, Jordan, and live in Connecticut.

Meg McCarthy

Aetna Meg McCarthy is executive vice president of operations and technology at Aetna, responsible for the company’s information technology, service operations and global security. She is also a member of Aetna’s executive leadership team, the company’s senior governing body. Meg holds a bachelor’s from Providence College and a master’s in public

Neil Malloy

Simpson Healthcare Neil Malloy is the executive vice president of global strategy and business development at Simpson Healthcare, where he leads the planning, strategy, and execution of sales and marketing within the company. Since his arrival at the company in 2004, he has guided Simpson Healthcare in dynamic growth and award-winning scientific communications strategies with biopharmaceutical clients on a worldwide scale. Neil was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, and attended Quinnipiac University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts, and Boston University, where he earned a master’s degree. He began his career in medicine as a research assistant at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and later served as program manager with the Cancer Genetics Network headquartered at Massachusetts General Hospital. A fourth-generation Irish American, Neil bears a County Sligo connection through the family of his father, while his mother’s McMahon roots lead back to County Galway. “My Irish heritage is a source of pride and I enjoy teaching my children about the special culture. We are planning their first trip to Dublin later this year,” he says. He and his wife Marycia have one son, Neil,

health, hospital administration, from Yale University. She has served in the U.S. Navy Medical Services Corps, and as a lieutenant at Bethesda Naval Hospital and a lieutenant commander with the U.S. Navy Reserve. Prior to joining Aetna in 2003, Meg was senior vice president of information technology at CIGNA Healthcare and served as chief information officer at Catholic Health Initiatives and Franciscan Health System. A third-generation Irish American, Meg is a proud member of the Order of Ancient Hibernians. She has traced her paternal family to County Kerry, and calls her Irish heritage a source of “strong spirit, personal warmth, and perseverance,” traits that have helped her ascend to where she is today. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 55


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Moira McCarthy

Hospital for Special Surgery Dr. Moira McCarthy is a board-certified (ABOS) orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports surgery, performing arthroscopic as well as open knee and shoulder procedures for active individuals. Moira is adamant about the importance of offering customized care to patients, including non-surgical treatment alternatives for those with knee and shoulder injuries. Hailing from Troy, New York, Moira is a third-generation Irish American with ties on both sides of her family (the McCarthys and the Sullivans) to County Cork. She received her undergraduate training at Princeton University, and completed her medical qualifications at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She completed her resident training at the Hospital for Special Surgery. After her fellowship, she spent time in France and Australia, learning alongside leading sports surgeons how to better repair damage to the knees and shoulders of injured athletes. She works closely with the Brooklyn Nets, Long Island Nets, New York Liberty, and, previously, the New York Giants, as well as many high school and collegiate teams and individual athletes.

Mark McClellan

Duke University Dr. Mark McClellan is the Robert J. Margolis Professor of Business, Medicine, and Health Policy, and director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University with offices in both Durham, NC, and Washington, D.C. The

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“Being Irish means understanding the sadness of being away from home but the possibilities that life in a new country can offer.”

Geraldine McGinty

center, which was established in January 2016, aims to leverage research, evaluation, implementation, and education against public-private partnerships in order to develop and apply policy solutions that improve healthcare at every level, from the hyper-local to the global. With a distinguished record in both public service and academic research, Mark is a physician-economist who focuses on quality and value in health care including payment reform, realworld evidence and more effective drug and device innovation. Before coming to Duke, he served as a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, where he was director of the Health Care Innovation and Value Initiatives and led the Richard Merkin Initiative on Payment Reform and Clinical Leadership. He is former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where he developed and implemented major reforms in health policy. Mark, whose Irish ancestors immigrated to the U.S. in the early days of the union and too many generations ago to count, is immensely proud of his lineage, last year connecting with his roots on a family trip to Ireland over St. Patrick’s Day. He and his wife Corinna reside in Durham and Washington, D.C.

Thomas G. McGinn

Northwell Health Dr. Thomas G. McGinn is deputy physician-in-chief and senior vice president at Northwell Health, and chair of medicine and the David J. Greene Professor of Medicine at the innovative new Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. An internationally acknowledged authority in evidence-based medicine and comparative effectiveness, Tom built and continues to oversee an unprecedented expansion in both the scope and size of Northwell’s Department of Medicine research enterprise by focusing on cuttingedge study of healthcare delivery and patient-centered outcomes research.

The foundation of Tom’s research and clinical programs is his belief that every patient deserves the best available evidence-based, highly integrated care and that health outcomes research can immediately transform healthcare delivery to reduce waste and enhance the quality of care. He was an early researcher in the health benefits of evidence-based medicine, preventive care, and patient empowerment, well before the Affordable Care Act institutionalized these principles. For over 20 years, he has received extensive federal, state, and foundation support for his work, including an innovative study of bringing state-of-the-art research to physicians at the point of care by integrating it into electronic medical records. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, numerous book chapters, and various social media programs. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. He earned his medical degree from SUNY Downstate, completed his residency in internal medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/ Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, and holds a Master of Public Health from Columbia University.  He comes from a highly medical family: his father, uncle, brother, sister-inlaw, and nephew all hold prominent roles in health care and the title “Dr. McGinn.” A third-generation Irish American with both paternal and maternal roots in County Tyrone, Tom was raised in New York City’s “Irish Riviera” – Breezy Point, where several family members continue to make their homes. He is an enthusiast of traditional Irish music and closely follows the Irish national rugby team and Gaelic sports, often ducking out of New York to take in a game or two (or three) in Dublin.


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Donnie McGrath

Biohaven Pharmaceuticals Dr. Donnie McGrath is the chief of corporate strategy and business development at Biohaven Pharmaceuticals in New Haven, CT, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a portfolio of innovative, late-stage product candidates targeting neurological diseases, including rare disorders. He has over 22 years of clinical research and pharmaceutical business development experience. From 2013 to 2017, he was vice president of business development and head of search and evaluation at Bristol-Myers Squibb. During this period, the business development group executed over 50 major transactions in the therapeutic areas of oncology, neuroscience, cardiovascular, fibrosis, immuno-science, virology, and genetically-defined diseases.

The world needs “more scholars, fewer saints, and a better sense of humor.” Geraldine McGinty

Weill Cornell Medical College Dr. Geraldine McGinty is an assistant professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine and an assistant attending radiologist at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Her clinical specialization is in breast cancer diagnosis and she is an expert in healthcare payment policy and the economics of imaging. Geraldine attended medical school at the National University of Ireland, Galway, from 1982 until 1988. She continued her training in radiology in the U.S. at both the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Massachusetts General Hospital, where she undertook a fellowship in women’s imaging. She was named vice chairperson of the American College of Radiology’s board of chancellors in 2016, and will become the first female board chair in 2018. She also holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University. Geraldine’s father was born in County Mayo and her mother in County Kerry. She says that being Irish means she understands “the sadness of being away from home but the possibilities that life in a new country can offer.” She is married to a fellow Irish native, Dr. John M. Greally. 58 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

Donnie McGrath

In addition, Donnie was responsible for overseeing BMS’s venture capital investment portfolio, and provided leadership for all global external partnering activities. From 2010 to 2013, he was executive director in business development with responsibility for neuroscience and virology. In 2005, he joined the BMS virology clinical development group as a director of clinical research, and became group director in 2007. Born in the U.K. and raised in his father’s home county of Dublin, Donnie

attended both University College Dublin, where he earned a degree in archaeology and sociology, and the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, where he acquired a medical degree in 1990. Growing up in Ireland, he says, taught him that the world needs “more scholars, fewer saints, and a better sense of humor.” Donnie went on to become assistant professor of medicine at his postgraduate alma mater, Tufts University. His specialization in infectious diseases took him to South Africa in 2002, where he conducted research in HIV infection at the Africa Centre in KwaZulu Natal province. In 2004, the Africa Centre initiated the first districtwide HIV treatment program in sub-Saharan Africa. Donnie lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Michelle, and children, Tim and Molly.

Stuart M. McGuigan

Johnson & Johnson Stuart M. McGuigan, vice president and chief information officer for Johnson & Johnson, has global responsibility for information technology strategy and operations. Working closely with business leadership, he is responsible for accelerating the pace of technology innovation for enabling patients, providers and consumers; delivering key business improvement programs; and driving overall IT effectiveness. Stuart joined Johnson & Johnson in April of 2012. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Stuart was CIO and SVP for CVS Caremark, the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States. In that role, Stuart was responsible for the company’s information systems and technology operations, including information technology strategy, application development and technology infrastructure. Stuart previously held key IT positions at Liberty Mutual and Medco Health Solutions, in addition to a number of technology and business areas, including marketing research, product management, and e-commerce. He has a B.A. in psychology from Fairfield University and an M.S. and M.Ph. from the cogni-


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tive science program at Yale University. He currently serves on the advisory board for Golden Gate University’s new master’s in business analytics program. A devoted Irish American, Stuart has been involved in the development of a stable business environment in Northern Ireland for more than 12 years, working with both Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, as well as Gordon Brown and Enda Kenny to further world-class IT work in the Republic and the North. “An Irish heritage is always front and center with a last name like McGuigan, which requires constant spelling and pronunciation,” he says. “However, the opportunity in my role as CIO to work with the governments of Northern Ireland and the Republic has been great payback.”

John Monahan

Synthetic Biologics John Monahan is a clinical and development advisor for Synthetic Biologics, having previously served as executive vice president of research and development from 2011 to 2015. An experienced CEO-level executive of biotech companies focused on gene medicine and pharmaceutical companies with biotechnology research departments, John also currently sits on the boards of a number of private biotech companies. In 1992, John founded Avigen, a biotech company that pioneered the development of gene medicines based on AAV vectors, which he spearheaded to become an industry standard. Over a 12 year period as CEO of Avigen, he took the company public, raised over $235 million, and led the company through a number of gene medicine Investigational New Drug applications. Born and raised in County Kildare, John was scientifically inclined from an early age, winning Ireland’s first ever Young Scientist Exhibition in 1965, and later earning a B.S. from University College Dublin before immigrating to Canada for his Ph.D. and later the U.S. where he would spend his career in the biotech industry.

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“There’s nothing I like better than when someone tells me something can’t be done.”

Brian Mullaney

John P. Mulhall

Memorial Sloan Kettering Dr. John P. Mulhall is the director of both the Male Sexual and Reproductive Medicine Program and the Sexual Medicine Research Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He holds an adjunct position as professor of urology in the Department of Urology at Weill Cornell Medical College. Born in Dublin, John was an avid rugby player and captained the all-Ireland universities during their 1987 tour to Korea and Japan. He received his medical degree in 1985 from University College Dublin and, following his move stateside in 1989, his reproductive medicine and surgery fellowship training at Boston University Medical Center. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Robert P. Nelson Award from the Sexual Medicine Society of North America and the Gold Cystoscope Award from the American Urological Association. He is associate editor of the Journal of Sexual Medicine and the author of Saving Your Sex Life: A Guide for Men with Prostate Cancer. John travels back to Ireland regularly to visit family and see Ireland play rugby in Dublin’s Aviva stadium. “It's hard not to be proud of my country with so many accomplishments in arts and sports,” he says. “Ultimately, I am most proud of the medical education that I received which has led to the accomplishments and success that I have achieved in my

career and, through this, have been able to contribute to the U.S. during my time in Chicago and New York.”

Brian Mullaney

Smile Train and WonderWork In 1999, Brian Mullaney created Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity, which has raised over one billion dollars and provided 1.5 million surgeries. Instead of sending volunteer doctors on missions, Smile Train empowers local doctors in developing countries. In 2010, Brian created WonderWork to tackle the problems of burns, clubfoot, and blindness. To date, WonderWork has helped provide over 275,000 surgeries.

Brian produced Smile Pinki, an Oscarwinning movie about clefts that has been seen by 30 million people, and FirstSight, a video about blindness, which has been seen by 16 million in 91 countries. Brian’s work has been featured in CNN, Time, the New York Times, the Daily News, and two best-sellers: Think Like A Freak and A Path Appears. He has spoken at MIT, Princeton, Columbia, Syracuse, Harvard, Columbia Preparatory and Grammar, The Winsor School, Belmont Hill, Hopkins School, Friends Academy, and Fessenden. A third-generation Irish American, Brian’s ancestors come from Boyle, County Roscommon. “Of the many talents that come with being Irish, stubborn determination is my favorite,” he says. “There’s nothing I like better than when someone tells me something can’t be done.” Brian and his wife Cricket have three children, Maura, Charlie, and Quinn, and live in Boston.


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“I only use technology to augment and not replace the personal care that each patient needs.”

Joseph Mulvehill

Joseph Mulvehill

Concierge Medicine Dr. Joe Mulvehill obtained his medical degree from SUNY Stony Brook and completed his training in internal medicine at Albert Einstein Medical College. A diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and recognized as one of Castle Connolly’s Top Doctors and Best Doctors by New York magazine, Mulvehill’s metropolitan New York practice was rated one of five “best concierge medicine practices nationwide” by Town & Country. Joe is among a small group of New York physicians who pioneered the concept of concierge medicine, with the goal of restoring to his practice the intimate doctor/patient relationship he experienced while growing up in rural Ireland. He believes that finding the solution to medical problems must be accomplished in the context of each patient’s life. Dr. Mulvehill believes in innovation, and his use of Internet-based solutions to stay in contact with his patients has become an integral part of his everyday practice. However, he says, “I only use technology to augment and not replace the personal care that each patient needs,” which he believes is paramount to the doctor/patient relationship. To this end, a patient’s ongoing medical history is consolidated into a Personal Health Record, which allows each patient to access his or her vital medical information. This Personal Health Record, which helps to create a closer bond between doctor and patient, is now available to treating physicians wherever they happen to be.

Maureen L. Mulvihill

Actuated Medical Maureen L. Mulvihill is the chief executive officer of Actuated Medical Inc., where she leads a team dedicated to im62 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

proving patient outcomes by designing the next generation of innovative motion medical devices. Actuated Medical’s first medical device, the TubeClear System is FDA cleared, CE marked and patented, and being sold across the U.S. The first use of the TubeClear System was a 27-year-old soldier at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2012. Born in Buffalo, New York, Maureen attended the Pennsylvania State University and holds a B.S. in ceramic science and engineering, an M.S. in solid state science, and a Ph.D. in materials. She is also a 2015 National Scholar from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program at Babson College. Maureen is a second-generation Irish American and her family have traced their patrilineal roots back to the birth of her great-grandmother, Caroline Kelly Mulvihill, in County Down in 1832. Her maternal grandfather, Cornelius Stack, emigrated from Duagh, County Kerry, in 1929, with his family being listed in the 2015 book, Irish Pittsburgh: Images of America, by Patricia McElligott. She and her husband Roger live in Pennsylvania with their children, Brooke Cornelia and Cedric Robert.

Barbara Murphy

Mount Sinai Health System Dr. Barbara Murphy is the system chair for the Department of Medicine, the Murray M. Rosenberg Professor of Medicine, and the dean of clinical integration and population management at the Icahn School of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Health System. She is a transplant immunology researcher whose most recent work has focused on the use of genomics and genetics to investigate outcomes following renal transplantation. She was first recruited to Mount Sinai as director of transplant nephrology in

1997 and was named chief of the division of nephrology in 2003. In 2011, she was appointed dean for clinical and population based research, director of conduits at the Institute for Translational Science and PI of the Institutional CTSA. She was named Murray M. Rosenberg Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2012. Dr. Murphy is a councilor for the American Society of Nephrologist and past president of the American Society of Transplantation and chair of the World Transplant Congress. Among her numerous honors, Dr. Murphy was named Nephrologist of the Year by the American Kidney Fund in 2011 and received the Wyeth Basic Science Investigator Award – the single most prestigious award for young physicianscientists in the transplant field – from the American Society of Transplantation in 2003. She is the recipient of the 2014 Jacobi Medallion for her dedication and distinguished service to Mount Sinai. Born in Ireland, Dr. Murphy earned her M.B., B.A.O., and B.Ch. from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and went on to do an internship, residency, and a fellowship  in clinical nephrology at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.


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Tomas Neilan

Massachusetts General Hospital Dr. Tom Neilan is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the director of the cardiooncology program at Massachusetts General Hospital, the co-director of the cardiac MR PET CT program, and the associate director of the training program in cardiovascular imaging. His research focuses on improving the cardiovascular care of patients with cancer and HIV as well as the use of novel imaging approaches to better characterize cardiovascular disease. Tom has been named the de Gunzburg Family Endowed Scholar in Cardiology, received the Locke Award for excellence in medical education and is a senior fellow in the Oliver Wendell Holmes Society at Harvard Medical School. Born and raised in Ardfert, County Kerry, Tom is one of four children. He spent his early years helping his parents run a dairy farm and Neilan’s Bar. He completed his medical training and M.D. at University College Dublin Medical School, and his training in internal medicine and cardiology at the Mater Hospital in Dublin and at Mass General. He also completed advanced training in echocardiography at Mass General, a cardiac MRI fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a Master of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Tom and his wife Anne are parents to three children, Eamon, Elizabeth and Grace.

Aoife Ní Mhuirí

Salaso Health Solutions

Healthcare professional and businesswoman Aoife Ní Mhuirí is a native Irish speaker. So is our regular contributor Sharon Ní Chonchúir. When they met, they spoke to each other as Gaeilge. Here’s what they discussed, in Irish for those of you who can read it and in English translation on page 70 for those who can’t. Deireann gach éinne go bhfuil siad gnóthach na laethanta seo, ach nuair a deireann Aoife Ní Mhuirí é, creidim í. Is 64 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

léacthóir fisiteiripe in Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Thráighlí í an bhean seo as Conamara. Tá ceathrar clainne aici chomh maith le a gnó féin. Gnó is ea Salaso Health Solutions a bhaineann úsáid as féidireachtaí na teicneolaíochta chun tacú le daoine go bhfuil gá acu le aclaíocht a chabhróidh leo teacht ar ais ó ghortú nó a chuirfidh lena sláinte go ginearálta. Bhain Aoife céim sa fisiteiripe amach ó Choláiste na Tríonóide i 1995. Ní ró fhada ina dhiaidh sin, fostaíodh í mar fhisiteiripeoir le foireann caide Chiarraí agus tamall ina dhiaidh sin arís, fuair sí post mar léachtóir ins an institiúid. Is mar thoradh ar an obair a bhí á

“They have patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who come back to them again and again because they don’t do their exercises at home.”

Aoife Ní Mhuirí

dhéanamh aici ins an institiúid gur tháinig sí suas leis an smaoineamh laistiar do Salaso. Tagann na mic léinn ó ar fud na tíre agus dá bharr san, bíonn gá le roinnt don ábhar a chur ar líne dóibh. “Chonaic mé go raibh ag éirí go maith leis sin,” arsa Aoife. “Is é an smaoineamh a bhí agam ná má oibríonn sé dos na mic léinn, cén fáth nach noibreodh sé le h-othair atá imithe ón gclinic nó ón ospidéal ach gur gá dóibh cleachtadh a dhéanamh leo féin le go bhfeabhasóidh siad?” Bhí a fhios ag Aoife go raibh deacrachtaí ag fisiteiripeoirí agus ag dochtúirí go ginearálta le othair dá leithéid. “Tá cleachtadh gur féidir leis na h-othair seo a dhéanamh ach is í an fhadhb ná nuair a théann siad abhaile, ní dhéanann siad é,” adeir sí. “Ní orthu atá an locht go minic mar nach bhfuil ar a gcumas nó ní cuimhin leo conas iad a dhéanamh.” Is é an smaoineamh a bhí ag Aoife ná go gcuirfí físeáin ar fáil dos na h-othair seo ar líne. Ansin bheidís in ann faire orthu agus iad sa mbaile. D’éirigh thar barr leis an dtáirge ó gcéad lá a seoladh é i 2011. “Le himeacht na h-ama, bhí go leor daoine


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ag rá linn go raibh an táirge níos leithne ná fisiteiripe,” arsa Aoife. Is léir ón dul chun cinn atá déanta ag Salaso ó shin go raibh sé sin fíor. I measc a gcuid custaiméirí, tá AXA PPP Healthcare, ospidéil móra le rá in Éirinn cosúil le Ospidéal Naomh Shéamais i mBaile Átha Cliaith, Cricket Scotland, Virgin Active, Spectrum Health, Spine Nevada agus Northwell Health. “Tá an t-uafás féidireachtaí leis an tárdán,” arsa Aoife. “Tóg an méid atá á dhéanamh againn le AXA mar shampla. Tá 25 fisiteiripeoir ag oibriú leo in ionad glaonna i nGlaschú. Má chuireann duine éigin glaoch orthu le pian ina droim, cuirfear ceisteanna ar an nduine sin agus déarfar leo dul chun an ospidéal le haghaidh x-gha, fanacht 24 uair a chloig agus dul go dtí an dochtúir muna bhfuil feabhas tagtha orthu nó cleachtaithe faoi leith a dhéanamh sa mbaile. Baineann siad úsáid as an bog earra atá againne chun na cleachtaithe sin a chur chuchu. Cabhraíonn sé seo go mór le AXA, mar go bhfuil siad ag sábháil airgid. Níl a gcuid custaiméirí ag dul go dtí an ospidéal le h-aghaidh comhairliúcháin nó scanadh MRI.” Tá togra eile ar bun acu le Northwell. “Tá othair acu go bhfuil galar scamhóige toirmeascach ainsealach acu,” arsa Aoife. “Tagann siadsan ar ais chuchu arís agus arís eile mar ní dhéanann siad a gcuid cleachtaithe sa mbaile. Tá siad chun ranganna aclaíochta a chur ar fáil ins an ospidéal agus beidh na h-othair ábalta na ranganna seo a fheiscint beo tríd an árdán seo againne. Ag an am céanna, beidh siad ag caitheamh monatóir comharthaí beatha agus beidh an teagascóir in ann súil a choimeád orthu. Seo é an chéad uair riamh dúinn rud mar seo a dhéanamh.” Tá Aoife dearfach mar gheall ar thodhchaí Salaso. Tá ochtar ag obair don gcomhlucht faoi láthair agus tá sé ar intinn aici foireann díolacháin agus margaíochta a fhostú go luath, go mórmhór sna Stáit Aontaithe agus sa Bhreatain. “Beidh an foireann taighde agus forbairt lonnaithe anseo i dTráighlí i gcónaí ach ba bhreá liom go mbeadh foireann againn ag díol an táirge thar lear,” adeir sí. “Tá an t-uafás go bhféadfaí a dhéanamh le Salaso. Nílimid ach tosnaithe.” Mar a dúras ag tús an ailt seo, is bean gnóthach í Aoife Ní Mhuirí. Is cinnte go bhfanfaidh sí amhlaidh go ceann i bhfad. 66 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

Daniel O’Connor

BioNJ Having led multiple biotech organization in the Garden State, Daniel J. O’Connor speaks from deep experience as vice chairman of BioNJ, the trade association that represents one of New Jersey’s most vibrant industries. Born in Mineola, New York, Dan obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English and American literature from Boston College in 1987, and graduated from the Dickinson School of Law at Pennsylvania State University with his J.D. in 1995. Between college and law school, Dan graduated from the United States Marines Officers School and served as a captain with the first deployment of U.S. Marines in Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. A penchant for hard work came to him early when, at the age of 14, he did yard work for 85-year-old Mr. Carlebon and housework for a similarly-aged widow, Mrs. Tearse, both of whom he remembers with great fondness. Most recently, as president and CEO of Advaxis, Inc., for four years, he brought the company back from the brink of bankruptcy, rais-

“I have lived and worked in many countries, but Ireland remains the home of my ancestors and my relatives.”

Rory O’Connor

ing more than $250 million in funding and launching multiple global clinical trials to treat patients with cancer. Before Advaxis, he has held positions with multiple healthcare groups, including a vice presidency with ImClone Systems from 2003 to 2008 and Bracco Diagnostics from 2009 to 2012. Dan is a second-generation Irish American. His paternal grandfather, James Joseph O’Connor, was born in Bailieborough, County Cavan, and inspired Dan’s ability to embrace opportunity and hard work alike. That heritage, he says, “is the source of my love of home, family and of course, a cold beer when the day is done.” Daniel and his wife Kathleen are based in New Jersey and have three sons, John, James, and William.

Rory O’Connor

Pfizer Rory O’Connor is chief medical officer of Pfizer Innovative Health, where he is currently responsible for large-scale development programs which include novel treatment technologies and realworld data analyses. Most recently, he oversaw the release of Pfizer’s findings from an analysis of data from nearly 50,000 patients to compare the efficacy of oral anticoagulants versus warfarin for the risk of stroke and rate of major bleeding, showing that the


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oral anticoagulant Eliquis was associated with a significantly lower risk of both. Born to an Irish immigrant family in Liverpool, Rory’s heritage is tied to the O’Connors of County Sligo and the Fieldings of County Waterford. He and his family visit the country frequently, and lived for five years in West Cork. He says, “I have lived and worked in many countries, but Ireland remains the home of my ancestors and my relatives.” He received his medical qualifications from the University of Liverpool in 1978 and initially practiced in family and internal medicine. He is a fellow of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians. In 2000, Rory assumed responsibility for medical affairs in Pfizer European operations, connecting him with the company’s Dublin office. Rory and his wife Catherine live in New York, where he is based at Pfizer’s global headquarters. Together, he and Catherine have five children, Mairéad, Ruairí, Ciara, Niamh, and Sinéad.

“Viribus Capital will partner with exciting companies focused on improving patient outcomes and reducing overall healthcare costs.”

Joe Riley

recognitions – by Healthgrades. Raised in northern New Jersey, Trish received her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and her Master of Science in nursing administration and Ph.D. from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. Her first job was as an aide in a nursing home, where she developed a love for the stories that the patients from the “greatest generation” wanted to tell. This passion for patient care sparked her passion for building healthier communities. Trish is a second-generation Irish American with all familial lines leading back to County Cork. She aspires to carry the Irish attributes of “strength, perseverance, love of family, loyalty, spirituality, and the ability to enjoy life” into both her professional and personal life, which she shares with her husband, Darren Siker.

having and sharing a strong sense of family, culture and tradition,” he says, and shares these values with his own family, consisting of his wife, Vicki, and children, Patrick and Christina. Joe is based in Massachusetts.

Joe Riley

Viribus Capital Management As co-founder and managing partner of Viribus Capital Management, a private equity firm specializing in growth investments in technology-enabled healthcare services companies, Joe Riley leads a mission dedicated to improving

Joe Regan

Trish O’Keefe

Atlantic Health System Trish O’Keefe is president of Morristown Medical Center and vice president of Atlantic Health System. Under her leadership, Morristown Medical Center was named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals two years in a row, in 2017 and 2016 – among many other national

Takeda Oncology As vice president of U.S. sales at Takeda Oncology, Joe Regan oversees the distribution of revolutionary drugs for conditions currently devoid of treatment. One such example is the NINLARO drug for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer currently without any cure. Takeda acquired the group Ariad in 2015, and will soon initiate its launch of another new drug, Alunbrig, for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Born to James Regan and his wife Marion (née Monaghan) in Charles City, Iowa, Joe earned his degree in finance from Indiana University while also working full-time as a laborer in an industrial pump assembly factory for seven years. Joe is a fourthgeneration Irish American, with the ancestors of both his parents originating in County Cork. “To me, being Irish means

patient outcomes and reducing their overall healthcare costs. Born in Darby, Pennsylvania, to thirdgeneration Irish American parents with roots in County Limerick, Joe worked his first job cleaning pizza pans at a local pizzeria. “By the time I left that job, I was making the pizzas and their famous Philly cheesesteaks,” he remembers. “I like to think I’m still a connoisseur of both of those foods today.” He earned an undergraduate degree in accounting in Georgetown University and a master’s at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to co-founding Viribus, he spent nearly two decades in healthcare venture investing with Psilos AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 67


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Group as managing partner and chief administrative officer. Joe and his wife Noreen have three children, Colin, Timmy, and Patrick.

Moira Ryan

Duke University Medical Center Dr. Moira Ryan has been the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University since July 2017. Her previous positions include the Ruane Professor for the Implementation of Science for Child and Adolescent

“I learned from them the importance of hard work, perseverance, humor, and Irish music from my Irish grandparents.”

Moira Ryan

proud of my Irish heritage,” she says. Moira lives in North Carolina with her husband Alfred and ten-year-old fraternal twins, Ella and Aiden.

Brenton L. Saunders

Mental Health at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Columbia University and the director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Division at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at New York Presbyterian. Born in Islip, Long Island, Moira majored in biology at Goucher College and received her medical degree at Rutgers University. From her first jobs as a swimming instructor and lifeguard, she had an interest in keeping those around her happy and secure, something which she passed on to her five younger siblings, all of whom followed in the lifeguard tradition. Moira is a second-generation Irish American with roots in counties Leitrim and Limerick on her father’s side. “My grandparents taught me how fortunate I was to be born and raised in the U.S.A. but at the same time taught me to be 68 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

Allergan Brent Saunders is chairman, president and CEO of Allergan plc, a Dublinbased global pharmaceutical company, having previously served as a director, CEO and president since July 2014. He was elected chairman in 2016. Brent has significant healthcare industry expertise and a proven track record leading business transformations and integrations. Before joining Allergan, he was a director and later president and CEO of Forest Laboratories and prior to that CEO of Bausch + Lomb, in addition to holding several leadership positions at Schering-Plough, PwC, Coventry Health Care, Home Care Corporation of America, and the Thomas Jefferson University Health System, where he began his career as chief compliance officer. Brent serves on the board of Cisco Systems and RWJBarnabas Health, and is a member of the Business Council and PhRMA. Raised in P e n n s y l v a n i a ’s Lehigh Valley by Charles and Sheila Saunders, healthcare was an important aspect of his life from the beginning. His father, a urologist, and mother co-founded Senior Solutions, the first geriatriccare agency in the area. Brent earned both his M.B.A. and J.D. from Temple University and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Diane Sirakovsky and Michele Teter

Alliance Homecare As co-founders of Alliance Homecare, Diane Sirakovsky and Michele Teter are committed to the vision of a future in which the loss of independence need not be a frightening experience for elderly individuals and their loved ones. Both were working as critical care nurses at the New York Columbia Presbyterian University (where they specialized in neurology) when, in 2006, they merged their wisdom as carers with the financial know-how of their now-colleague, Gregory Solomento, who was at the time acting as carer for his own grandmother, Val. Together, they set out on a mission to provide top-quality care for those in need, maintaining a strict code of confidentiality, respect, and integrity.

Diane Sirakovsky

Alliance Homecare, which offers its services to individuals with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and COPD, as well as those in need of palliative end of life care, operates by the “Grandma Rule.” This means that all new carers are hired only after the interviewer has asked themselves whether they would trust this candidate to care for their own grandparent with competence and compassion, recognizing their individuality. In addition to this, the company applies a 360 degree approach to its aid services, including full-service home care delivery, emergency planning services, patient and family advocacy, food delivery programs, regular in-person case manager visits, networking opportuni-


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ties for families, and physician and specialist coordination. Beyond their shared vocation, Diane and Michele have much in common: both are first-generation Irish Americans born in the Bronx, and both were students of the Dominican College in New York, where they obtained their nursing degrees. Diane serves as Alliance’s director of education, evaluating and selecting education and training material for Alliance’s homecare staff. Her knack for care work revealed itself early. “My very first job was in fifth grade, babysitting a three-month old baby,” she told Irish America. “An Irish family we were friends with were the superintendents of the building across the street from us. The wife was a nurse and worked nights. I would stay in the apartment and watch the baby while she slept and her husMichele Teter

band was doing various jobs around the building. In retrospect, there was always an adult close by, but I remember feeling very proud of my responsibilities!” Diane’s own parents are natives of County Clare (her maiden name is O’Dea), and her childhood was spent “in a home listening to ceili music, spending Sundays at Gaelic Park and summers in Ireland. My family moved to Ireland in 1984 and I lived in County Kildare. Although we ended up moving back to New York, it is a cherished memory for me.” She and her husband Henry continue to live there with their children, Ella Margaret, Tess Doran, and Henry John. Michele, Alliance’s director of patient services, works with doctors and families

to develop an appropriate care plan specific to the patient’s needs and is spearheading the initiative to incorporate tablet computers into the home life of all Alliance clients to better connect them with their families, doctors, and care managers. Michele, whose father played hurling for Kilkenny, spent every summer in Ireland and every Sunday in the Bronx in Gaelic Park. Her paternal Leahy family comes from County Kilkenny, while her maternal ancestors, the Tevnans, are rooted in Galway. “I have been to 13 countries, and Ireland is by far the most beautiful to me,” she says. “It is important to me that my children know where their grandparents were from and visit often.” She and her husband Brian have twin boys, Jude Martin and Rory Brian.

Patrick Smith

Certara Strategic Consulting Services Patrick Smith serves as the chief scientific officer at Certara Strategic Consulting Services, assisting biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in designing innovative drug development strategies. With 20 years of experience in the world of drug development, Patrick also cofounded the startup d3 Medicine, which was acquired by Certara in 2016. Patrick obtained his Pharm.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, completed a clinical residency at Duke University Medical Center, and is the author of over 120 peer-reviewed publications in major medical and scientific journals, which include the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. Patrick is a fourth-generation IrishAmerican on his mother’s side, having found records of his ancestor, Catherine Somers, who arrived in Virginia in 1772. “We are all a product of our past, and undoubtedly my independent spirit,

“We are all a product of our past.”

Patrick Smith

adventurous personality, and restless nature come from my Irish heritage,” he says. “I have had the opportunity to visit Ireland multiple times, and have found the country and its people to be a source of pride and inspiration.”

Eugene J. Sullivan

Insmed Dr. Eugene Sullivan is the chief product strategy officer at Insmed. Promoted to this position earlier this year, Eugene is also the first to hold the role. He joined Insmed in 2015 as chief medical and scientific officer. Most recently, Eugene helped complete the enrollment in a large, multi-national, Phase 3 clinical trial in a rare disease called refractory nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) lung disease caused by Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), with Insmed’s lead product candidate, Amikacin Lipsomal Inhalation Suspension (ALIS), the results of which are expected later this year. If the trial is successful, “the trial will form the basis of a marketing application for our lead product,” he says. A native of Washington, D.C., Eugene earned his medical degree at the University of Maryland and conducted his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Medical College of Virginia. He completed his fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and received a master’s in pulmonary vascular disease from the University of Bologna, Italy. Prior to joining Insmed, he was chief medical officer at United Therapeutics. Eugene is a third-generation Irish American with paternal roots in Macroom and Ballyvourney, County Cork. He is married to fellow doctor Patricia M. Sullivan, with whom he has three children, Aidan, Darby, and Mae, and is currently based in Maryland. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 69


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Aoife’s Mobile Physiotherapy App

(Translated from the Irish, p. 64)

By Sharon Ní Chonchúir Everyone says they’re busy these days, but when Aoife Ní Mhuirí tells me she is, I believe her. This woman from Connemara lectures in physiotherapy at the Institute of Technology in Tralee, County Kerry. She has four children and she also runs her own business. Salaso Health Solutions is an e-health company that uses modern technology to support people who need to practice specific exercises in order to recover from injury or restore themselves to health. Aoife graduated from Trinity College in 1995. Not long afterwards, she become the physiotherapist for the Kerry football team and shortly after that she got a position as a lecturer at the institute. It was the work she did there that gave her the inspiration for Salaso. The students there come from all over Ireland and because they are so widely spread, a great deal of the course content is made available to them online. “I saw that this was succeeding very well,” says Aoife. “It struck me that if it was working for students, then why wouldn’t it work for patients who have left clinics or hospitals but still have to practice exercises at home so that they continue to get better?” Aoife knew that physiotherapists and the medical profession in general struggled with these types of patients. “There are exercises that these patients can practice at home but the problem is that once they get home, they don’t do them,” she says. “Often, it’s not their fault because they may not be able to do the exercises or they might not remember how to do them properly.” Aoife’s idea was to provide an online platform where videos of these exercises would be made available to these patients. Then they would be able to watch the videos and practice the exercises at home. Her idea proved to be a success from the moment it was launched in 70 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

2011. “People were soon telling us that the product had potential beyond physiotherapy,” says Aoife. It’s clear from what has happened since that this was true. Salaso now counts AXA PPP Healthcare, major Irish hospitals such St James’ in Dublin, Cricket Scotland, Spectrum Health, Virgin Active, Spine Nevada and Northwell Health among its clients. “The platform offers huge potential,” says Aoife. “Take what we’re doing with AXA for example. They have 25 physiotherapists working in a call centre in Glasgow. One of their customers might call with a pain in their back. That customer will be questioned to find out what the correct course of action might be. They might be told to go straight to hospital for an x-ray; to wait 24 hours and to go to the doctor if they’re not feeling better by then; or to practice a certain set of exercises. Our software is used to send these exercises. This approach saves AXA a lot of money, because fewer of their customers are going

to hospital for consultations or MRI scans.” Salaso’s work with Northwell is taking them in a new direction. “They have patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who come back to them again and again because they don’t do their exercises at home,” says Aoife. “Now they are going to run exercise classes in the hospital and the patients will be able to attend these classes live online through our platform. They will be wearing monitors as they exercise which will feed directly to the instructors in the hospital who will be able to adjust the exercises accordingly. This is a first for us.” Aoife is optimistic about the future of Salaso. The company currently has eight employees and her next priority is to hire a sales and marketing team who will focus on selling to the U.S. and the U.K. “I’ll always keep the research and development arm of the company here in Tralee but I’d love to have teams out selling the product overseas,” she says. “There’s a huge amount we could do with Salaso. We’ve only just begun.” As I said at the beginning of this piece, Aoife Ní Mhuirí is a very busy woman. It appears she’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Irish America’s 2017 Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 Awards Dinner will take place at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan on September 6. For more information on the event, including to purchase tickets, visit irishamerica.com/events or email Kate Overbeck at kate@irishamerica.com.


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Mary Mallon Typhoid Mary

Patient Zero

She was the original Patient Zero, a healthy and asymptomatic carrier of a deadly plague. Baptized in Ireland in 1869 as Mary Mallon, she was re-baptized in America as Typhoid Mary, a name conjuring evil and purposeful contagion, a name that carries a peculiar legacy – the notice in restrooms demanding, “Employees must wash their hands before returning to work.” By Rosemary Rogers

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rphaned as a child, Mary lived with her grandmother in County Tyrone, one of the poorest counties in the poorest country in Europe. In Ireland they may have been starving but Granny taught Mary how to scrounge for food and cook with what they had, making potato cakes and nettles over a peat fire. Granny and Mary were part of the new breed of post-Famine women, all tough, strong and independent. They were fighters – they had to be – and many years later, many miles away, the word “fighter” was often used to demonize Mary Mallon. In 1883, Mary arrived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, an area teeming with immigrants, many sick and starving. She was 14 and worked, first, as the stereotypical Irish washerwoman. But the robust redhead was ambitious and saw cooking as her calling and a way out of poverty. Mary concocted a resume of employers and addresses that didn’t exist and managed to find work in the finest homes, starting in the scullery. In time she was head cook, using her now evolved talent to compete with recently imported French cuisiniers. Turn-of-the century New York was enjoying a foodie phase and Mary, with enormous ovens (not peat fires) and an excess of fresh foods and delicacies (not potatoes and nettles) at her disposal, emerged a true chef. Her employers appreciated her managerial skills, shopping savvy, and varied menus and would host feasts prepared by their gifted, albeit Irish, cook. But Mary, unwilling and unwitting, was doing some hosting of her own – in her intestinal tract – where billions of Salmonella typhi bacteria were proliferating and thriving. Over the course of 15 years, she infected hundreds with typhoid fever and killed, estimates vary, somewhere between three and fifty victims. Until Mary invaded wealthy households, it was held that typhoid fever, which killed 10 percent of its victims was, like cholera, influenza, diphtheria, a disease of the slums spread by its unclean immigrants. The Lower East Side had created what health officials named the “miasma,” the collective term for the noxious gases of sewer, garbage, horse carcasses and manure – all the stuff of immigrant stink. But the miasma theory was as phony as Mary’s resume; it was bacteria that caused disease. And the disease of typhoid fever was transmitted by

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food and water that had been contaminated with human feces or urine. Call it denial or delusion, Mary always claimed she never connected herself to the typhoid outbreaks that followed her arrivals. Why would she? She was stronger than most men and, to use what would become her lifetime mantra: “never sick a day in my life.” Mary may not have washed her hands as well or as often as she should and, of course, these were the days before cooks wore gloves. Still, she must have seen it was more than coincidence that typhoid seemed to shadow her. But, she proceeded with blithe indifference… until August, 1906. A prosperous New York banker, Charles Henry Warren rented a house in Oyster Bay, Long Island, close to a home inhabited by then-president Theodore Roosevelt. In early August, Mary was sent in as a relief cook and within three weeks, the usual incubation time for typhoid fever, six of the eleven people in the Warren household had come down with the disease. What was a disease of the slums doing in the President’s backyard? The usual suspects – drinking water, dairy supplies and the old woman who sold shellfish – were examined and quickly eliminated. Into the picture comes Dr. George Soper, a very ambitious sanitary engineer and something of a sleuth. Interviewing the Warren family, Soper learned there was a cook, since departed, whose employment coincided with the outbreak. Her name was Mary Mallon. The cook’s specialty, Soper learned, was peach cobbler and ice cream, a dish that, since it required no heating, was teeming with Mary’s typhoid bacilli. Much like the CDC researchers in the 1980s who thumbed the paisley address book of airline steward Gaetan Dugas, the patient zero of the AIDS epidemic, Soper trolled the employment agencies that staffed private kitchens and retrieved the name of Mary’s employers from 1900 to 1907. He discovered that typhoid had struck seven of the last eight families where she worked. He learned, too, that in all the stricken households she had lovingly iced and nursed the victims – one employer even gave her a $50 tip.


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TOP LEFT: Confined to quarantine, Mary, who resented being “a peep show,” glares at the camera. TOP CENTER: This illustration of Mary breaking skulls into a skillet, appeared in a 1909 issue of the New York American. TOP RIGHT: The “employees must wash hands” signs started with Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. BELOW Headstone marking Mary’s final resting place in Saint Raymond's Cemetery, the Bronx.

oper closed in on Mary when she was head chef at the Park Avenue home of Walter Bowen, where a daughter and maid had already come down with typhoid. Mary was in the kitchen wiping duck grease off her hands when she felt the presence of a stranger. Dr. Soper was standing over her and forgoing any formalities, asked for samples of her feces and urine. Who could blame her for coming after him with a roasting fork? Too late, he tried to explain that she was sick and, worse, she was a typhoid carrier. She hadn’t a clue what he was talking about and began shouting, along with expletives, “I’ve never been sick a day in my life!” Soper kept insisting; Mary kept resisting, poking the roasting fork in the face of the spindly civil servant. He quickly rushed off. Besides the multiplying typhoid bacteria in her body, Mary had another problem: she was Irish, a member of a despised underclass portrayed by cartoonist Thomas Nast as drunken brawling men and brawny women, only slightly elevated from apes. It didn’t help that Mary had “moral failings,” as evidenced by her relationship with a degenerate alcoholic, German immigrant, Alfred Breihof, who lived off her and with her in a dumpy set of rooms. Learning of Breihof’s existence, the very sober Dr. Soper joined him at a bar, plied him with drinks and questions about Mary. Breihof, a snootful in situ, takes his new friend to their apartment where they wait for Mary. She arrives – pursuer and prey confront each other until Mary tosses him out with, as he later wrote, “a volley of imprecations from the head of the stairs.” Soper now goes to the Department of Health demanding Mary be taken into custody and quarantined. He returns to the Bowen house with a woman doctor, Dr. Josephine Baker, but Mary spots her captors. Helped by her fellow domestics, she jumps over a fence and hides in a neighboring outhouse for three hours. Finally, five policemen drag her, kicking and cursing, into an ambulance where Dr. Baker proceeded to sit on her, an experience the doctor described as “being in a cage with an angry lion.” Mary is taken to Willard Parker hospital, put in quarantine to lie among the dead and dying. A picture of her taken at that time shows a woman in her 40’s, obviously very healthy and very angry glaring at the camera with a look that could have atomized lower Manhattan. Finally, Soper’s wish is granted and Mary’s stools were tested. The verdict: “a pure culture of typhoid.” It was further determined that her gall bladder was the bacteria’s breeding ground

and her gallstones, a residence of sorts. The cook’s goose, as it were, was cooked. From Willard Parker, she was committed to North Brother Island, “Plague Island,” on the East River between Riker’s Island and the Bronx. She refused to have her gallbladder removed, confirming to medical authorities that, besides being an ignorant, filthy Mick, she was a killer too. By the end of 1907, Mary was in solitary confinement in a small cottage, her one-woman leper colony. As a practicing Catholic, Mary may have preferred demons to be inhabiting her body since then she could call a priest. But no exorcist could do help with Salmonella typhi. Mary refused to give up. Although authorities assumed she was illiterate, she was an accomplished letter writer and pled her case to authorities. She was completely healthy, yet confined – without a trial – to solitary confinement for two years, forced to be “a peep show.” George O’Neill took her case and arranged for a hearing before the New York Supreme Court. Arriving in the city, she was a tabloid sensation, a favorite of the Hearst papers who gave her a name that stayed with her forever, a name she hated, “Typhoid Mary.” Spectators crammed the sweaty courtroom and, in a hysteria similar to the early days of the AIDS crisis, were both thrilled and anxious, afraid to breathe near her or touch anything she had touched. She lost her case. Within two years, sentiment had shifted and there was a new Commissioner of Health. It seems that in the rest of the country, asymptomatic carriers were no longer quarantined if they reported for regular testing and didn’t work in the food industry. In this new climate, Mary was released; she signed an affidavit promising to show up for screenings and to “change her occupation, that of cook.” Now free, Mary felt like an Untouchable, a woman who could be recognized and shamed, a woman completely alone. This might explain her reconciling with the bad boyfriend, even nursing Breihof until he died of a heart ailment. At 41, she found herself, again, a washerwoman barely able to survive on the miserable wages. The cook who didn’t thoroughly wash her hands was now condemned to a life of having her hands submerged in scalding water for 12 hours a day. Never one to follow orders, Mary stopped reporting to the Department of Health and just… disappeared. When she finally surfaced she took on the odd cooking job and wasn’t caught. Emboldened and determined to find more lucrative work, she changed her name to Mrs. Mary Brown. Mrs. Brown got a job in the Sloan Maternity Hospital, winning the affection of staff and co-workers who, in clueless but prescient banter, dubbed her “Typhoid Mary,” a joke she went along with. But, levity didn’t stop Mary from bringing her apparAUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 73


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Typhoid Mary

ently inexhaustible supply of typhoid bacteria with her. The eventual epidemic struck the hospital, infecting 25 and killing 2, prompting the desperate hospital director to call Soper, who confirmed the cook as culprit. Now when the police came and surrounded her house, she gave in without a fight. By 1915, Mary was back on North Brother Island where she would stay for the rest of her life. This time she was more social, working in the lab, embroidering and oddly, beginning to look like a man. She frequently visited nearby St. Luke’s, the church where her funeral was held in 1938. Only nine people attended the mass and none signed the guest book, isolating her even at the very end. She was 69 and her autopsy revealed she still had typhoid. In 2013, Mary Mallon, still a medical legend, inspired a Stanford University team of microbiologists and immunologists to study her case and determine how her body was able to neutralize typhoid fever. Usually, when Salmonella typhi enter the body, macrophages – the Pac-Man-like attack cells of the immune system – gobble up the bacteria. If they fail, the victim succumbs to the disease. Mary, at some point in her life, was indeed infected with typhoid but her macrophages did not attack. Instead, they offered a hospitable environment to the bacteria, allowing them to hide in her gut, provide courier service to the lymph node and shed deadly pathogens while she never had as much as a mild cold. She was telling the truth when she said she was never sick a day in her life.

TOP: The bungalow on North Brothers Island where Mary lived from 1915 to 1938. LEFT: Mary Mallon at age 39.

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yphoid fever has the distinction of being mankind’s oldest recognizable disease. Pesky and microscopic Salmonella typhi caused the Great Plague of Athens in 430 BC, a devastation that allowed Sparta to claim victory over Greece in the Peloponnesian War. In the 20th century, industrialized nations with antibiotics and improved sanitation claimed victory over typhoid and other infectious diseases. But in developing countries with poor sewage and without sufficient medical care, typhoid is still a threat. In Africa and Asia, new and virulent strains of typhoid have emerged, resistant to multiple antibiotics, now making, again, the disease difficult to treat. Mary Mallon provided the template for what the medical world now terms a “super-spreader,” one who spreads disease in a disproportionate way. This phenomenon is now defined as the “80/20 Rule:” 80 percent of infections are caused by 20 percent of individuals who are infected but not necessarily sick. When American scientists analyzed the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, they determined that superspreaders attacked 61 percent of the victims. During 74 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

the SARS pandemic, super-spreaders were responsible for 75 percent of infections in Hong Kong and Singapore – one 26-year-old man, over a short stay in a Hong Kong hospital, contaminated 156 victims including hospital staff, patients and visitors. Current medical reports and press releases, attempting to explain contagion and super-spreaders frequently begin with an obligatory paragraph, the story of an Irish cook in early 20th century New York, a woman they call Typhoid Mary. IA

Part of a six-page letter that Mary wrote protesting her incarceration.


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Coming to Terms with Hemochromatosis

ABOVE: Deirdre Sumski, 22, discovered she possessed two different mutations for hemochromatosis after getting results from 23andMe, the popular genetic testing company.

By Colette Connolly

hen I began researching hemochromatosis for this story, I knew only the basic facts: that hemochromatosis is a genetic condition that causes the body to store high levels of iron; that the body has no way of getting rid of that excess iron; and that, if left untreated, it can accumulate in the liver, heart, pancreas, and other organs, causing irreparable damage and sometimes death. Unlike the other health-related stories I’ve written in the past, this one is of particular interest to me. About five years ago, my sister was told she had hemochromatosis. At the time, I had never heard of the disease and neither had my family. My sister’s ferritin levels were high and she also had elevated serum transferrin saturation, which in non-medical terms means that her liver was storing too much iron and her body’s iron-binding capacity was also high. While a normal ferritin result varies with gender and age, a level of more than 200 ng/ml for women and 300 ng/ml for men is considered out of range. Levels over 1000 ng/ml suggest liver damage. A normal transferrin saturation range is typically 25 to 40 percent. Anything great than 45 percent requires further investigation. Naturally, I told my doctor about my sister’s newly diagnosed condition and he promised to keep an eye on my own ferritin levels. Beyond that, he cautioned that I would need to be genetically tested for hemochromatosis, a recessive disorder that only develops if both copies of the HFE (High Iron Fe) gene are abnormal. If only one copy is defective, a person can be free of the condition but still be a carrier. Several weeks later, the results confirmed that I had two inherited C282Y mutations of the HFE gene, one from my father and one from my mother. Calming my nerves, my doctor reassured me that this was not the worst of the genetic diseases to be predis-

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posed to. A simple phlebotomy treatment would be the cure for keeping my iron overload at bay. Even though I possessed the right mutation for the disease, my body’s ferritin and saturation levels were not yet elevated enough. We agreed to wait it out. Following my physical exam in 2016, blood tests revealed that my numbers had indeed risen and it was agreed that I would begin a phlebotomy regimen, which consists of regular removal of blood.

Curious Beginnings

Curious to know how it all began, I discovered that most researchers trace hemochromatosis to the Celts, with some believing that the well-traveled Vikings were the bearers of the mutation. Still others say it goes back much farther than that, but all point to an overabundance of hemochromatosis among people in Northern Europe. Daniel Bradley, a professor of molecular population genetics at Trinity College Dublin, has been researching the origins of hemochromatosis for years. In 2011, Bradley, along with archaeologists from Queen’s University Belfast, examined the skulls of people who lived in Ireland up to 5,000 years ago and found that they had hemochromatosis. Fast forward to 2017 Ireland. Bradley says that one in four people across the Dublin area carry the C282Y mutation. The west of Ireland has a high incidence as well, with one in five people being carriers of the gene and one in 83 predisposed to developing iron overload, according to a report from the Irish Haemochromatosis Association. Thomas Duffy of the Yale School of Medicine has written about the connection between hemochromatosis and the Great Hunger, explaining that the very poor diet may have contributed to the gene mutation. Duffy surmised that without the gene mutation more people would have died since iron is such a critical element to the body’s functioning. Bradley believes the prevalence of hemochromatosis among the Irish is still an open question. “I am personally open to the idea that there may have been a selective force in favor of the disease allele in the past,” he explained. “It could have been an iron-poor diet and, if so, it is undoubtedly not the only


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genetic change common today that is the product of a harsher past.” Bradley’s research has determined that diabetes, which is increasingly common in Ireland, may also be a possible consequence of Irish genomes, having been adapted to harsher times but now poorly suited to our more “plentiful present.” On this side of the pond, Paul Adams, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at the University of Western Ontario, has been researching hemochromatosis since 1977. His interest in the condition was piqued when, as a young doctor, he served as an assistant on a research study of Canadian families who demonstrated a “pattern of inheritance” for hemochromatosis. At the time, Adams said the scientific community wasn’t even sure if there was a genetic connection. Today, it is the most common genetic test performed in Canada and the United States. According to the most recent statistics from the National Human Genome Research Institute, an estimated one million people in the U.S. have hereditary hemochromatosis.

Dealing With Hemochromatosis

Sandra Thomas, founder of the American Hemochromatosis Society based in Florida, has had her own personal experiences with the condition, which she calls the “Celtic Curse.” Of Irish and Scottish heritage, Thomas’s mother, Josephine Bogie Thomas, died in 1999 from primary liver cancer due to hemochromatosis. “When we first got the diagnosis, it seemed like a big, long, scary word to us,” recalls Thomas who, since her mother’s death, has been on a mission to educate the public. “There is no reason for anyone to be ill or need an organ donation, or to die from hemochromatosis,” said Thomas. “The important thing is to know your risk and to keep track of it.” Callers frantically reach out to Thomas with questions about what doctors they should see, the types of tests that can diagnose hemochromatosis, and the foods they should avoid. Thomas, who advocates for a universal screening of the general population as well as genetic newborn screening, tells her callers to cut back on red meat, limit their alcohol consumption and avoid raw shellfish, as well as giving other dietary measures.

Importance of Genetic Testing

Twenty-two-year-old Deirdre Sumski (who is Irish and Polish) of Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, was one of those recent callers. Sumski discovered she possessed two different mutations for hemochromatosis after getting results from 23andMe, the popular genetic testing company. The University College Dublin genetics graduate said she possesses the C282Y mutation and also the H63D mutation, which makes her a compound heterozygote, another variant of the condition.

“My doctor told me not to worry about it until I reach menopause,” said Sumski, a view that is widely held among physicians since iron build-up in the body occurs slowly and women don’t have symptoms earlier in life due to loss of blood through menstruation and childbirth. While the results of her genetic test do not confirm the existence of symptoms, Sumski is eager to talk with her doctor to get a fuller picture of her diagnosis. Scott Weissman of Chicago Genetic Consulting explains that genetic testing is the most accurate way of discovering whether one is a carrier of hemochromatosis or is genetically disposed to it. “Just because you test positive, however, doesn’t mean you are going to develop hemochromatosis,” Weissman said, adding that high ferritin and transferrin saturation levels in homozygote patients usually determines that they have the condition. Depending on the severity of one’s iron overload, symptoms of hemochromatosis, which rarely appear before middle age, may include chronic fatigue, abdominal pain, arthritis, joint pain, skin pigmentation (often giving a bronze effect to the skin), cardiomyopathy and more. Thomas, who prides herself on providing “personalized, customized advice,” said the solution is as simple as giving blood, adding that most doctors will put hemochromatosis patients on a regular phlebotomy schedule until ferritin levels and saturation percentages are at acceptable levels. Beyond that, she is adamant about spreading awareness to the 32 million Americans she believes know nothing about hemochromatosis and their proclivity for the disease. “We all have to die of something,” she said. “But IA it doesn’t have to be hemochromatosis.” If you suspect you may have a predisposition for hemochromatosis, check out the following websites or ask your physician to order an iron series profile, which usually includes the serum iron, ferritin, transferrin, and transferrin saturation tests.

• National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hemo • 301-592-8573

• Iron Disorders Institute

irondisorders.org • 1-888-565-IRON

• American Liver Foundation

liverfoundation.org • 1-800-GO-LIVER (includes diet recommendations for hemochromatosis)

• American Hemochromatosis Society, Inc. americanhs.org • 1-888-655-IRON

• New York Blood Center Hemochromatosis

Phlebotomy Program nybloodcenter.org/donate-blood/hemochromatosisphlebotomy-program For more information, contact Special Donors Services at 1-800-688-0900 AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 77


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personal essay | the path i walk

“Molly, you have

A grandmother’s legacy lives on in the work of Muireann Irish, whose research has shown that people with dementia don’t just lose the ability to remember the past, they also lose the ability to envisage the future.

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Muireann Irish, whose work in cognitive neuropsychology was fueled by her grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.

ne of my favorite memories of my grandmother, Molly Lowney, is calling in to her house every day after school to chat about the day over a cup of tea. On Fridays, Nan would bake her legendary apple tarts, and I would arrive in to the smell of pastry and hot tea. Her house on St. John’s Road in Wexford became a second home for myself and my brothers. We would spend sick days snuggled under a blanket while Nan fetched us soup and sometimes, for a treat, I would stay overnight with Nan to be woken up in the morning with tea and “Ready Brek” in bed. These memories are very important to me and ones that I hope to pass on to my son. The first glimmer that things weren’t quite right came in my early teens when Nan sent me to her local grocer’s to pick up some tablets. Lucy, the shopkeeper, knew nothing about this medication and asked me to double check. Nan was adamant that the prescription was there, but she had sent me to the wrong place. It was the start of growing confusion, of missed connections or seemingly innocuous lapses in memory that gradually became more worrisome. One day, Nan fell while out shopping with my two young cousins and became very disorientated despite being in a familiar place. It was the precipitating event that threw Nan’s other difficulties into sharp relief and prompted my Mum to bring her to her doctor. Nan had known Barty Curtis, her G.P., for many years. He ran some simple tests and stated, “Molly, you have Alzheimer’s disease.” The diagnosis hit our family like a grenade. Back then, we knew so little about Alzheimer’s disease that Nan’s diagnosis came as a huge shock. There was a ripple effect that brought so many questions with it – Should Molly stay in her familiar surroundings at home? How advanced is the disease? What happens

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next? Is there medication? Will it help? What can we do? One of the worst aspects was the lack of understanding that we all had – we watched the disease unfold feeling increasingly helpless. What made the onset of Alzheimer’s disease such a cruel twist of fate for Nan was her fantastic memory. She had been a trailblazer, establishing her own midwifery service for the local community and running her nursing home single-handedly. Her memory was formidable – Nan could recall the name, date of birth, and birth weight of every child that had been born in her care. She would astound us with her memory of local events and families and was often called upon as the authoritative source during any disagreements. Nan had been a nurse in England during the war and retained the stoicism and resilience characteristic of that generation. She was a strong matriarchal presence in an Irish culture that revolved around community. Her house, “Ivera,” was cozy and warm, with the regular ticking and chiming of clocks. Visitors were always popping by, ranging from old friends to the parish priest. If Nan was not present at Mass, it would trigger alarm from her friends who would all arrive at the house to make sure that she was alright. By the time I turned 16, I was staying overnight at Nan’s house regularly. Her memory was fast deteriorating and she was becoming increasingly confused. At night, she would come into my room thinking that I was my mother and my efforts to quell her anxiety often failed. What was particularly difficult for my mother was Nan’s persistent questioning as to where her husband, Mal, was. Mam would say, “But Molly, Mal is dead,” unable to comprehend how Nan could have forgotten this. As we know now, Nan was simply unable to encode this new information and so she would experience the loss and grief all over again. We soon agreed not to confront Nan with such truths and would instead try to talk about what made sense to her at that point. As Nan’s condition worsened, my path in life became clearer. I had always had an interest in science – my mother was a science teacher in the local high school and I would often flick through her biology and physics books. I loved drawing on graph paper and being able to use big words, like photosynthesis, from a young age. My dad was also a teacher and an artist, so we had a lovely mix of science and art in the house. I grew up in a very egalitarian household and watched my parents divide the running of the house evenly. Growing up with two brothers also meant that I was exposed to much more than the tra-


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Alzheimer’s” ditional gendered toys of dolls and tea sets. I had a Transformer and a Mr. T figurine from The A-Team, and watched programs such as MacGyver and Quantum Leap. I was the quintessential tomboy! I found myself gravitating towards studying medicine at university, until my mum reminded me of my squeamishness with blood. Ultimately, I picked psychology and moved to Dublin to study at Trinity College. There, I was exposed to all different facets of psychology, but things clicked for me during a third year cognitive neuropsychology course. I remember sitting in the lecture theater thinking, “This is what I want to do,” and feeling a new sense of direction. As part of that course, I had to present a case study on memory and began reading up on memory disruption in dementia. First, I wanted to understand what was happening to Nan, and then I realized that this was an area of research I was truly passionate about. Later that year, a serendipitous opportunity arose for me to study the use of music as a cognitive enhancer in dementia. I commenced my honors dissertation at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin and felt a sense of purpose at the prospect of exploring a novel means to improve memory in dementia patients. I remember traveling back down to Wexford, armed with my new knowledge, and visiting Nan in the nursing home at Knockeen, Barntown, where she was now living. This facility was established by an incredibly generous woman, Mary Doran, who showed a sensitivity to the individual circumstances and life history of the residents that was truly inspiring. Recognizing that Nan had been a nurse, Mary encouraged her to “go on the rounds” giving out biscuits and assisting with the tea breaks. It gave Nan a sense of purpose and resonated with the fact that she believed she was back on the wards. In the final year of my degree, we gathered for Nan’s 86th birthday. At the nursing home, they made sure that her hair was nicely done and we had a cake to celebrate. Nan was sitting in her chair but largely silent – her speech had deteriorated and she could only communicate with single words or sounds. She was thin and frail, a shadow of her former self. We learned to be tactile; holding her hand, stroking her hair, and talking gently to her without expecting her to reply, although sometimes she surprised us and would talk with such clarity that it made me wonder what her internal experience was truly like. At the end, the hardest thing for all of us was seeing Nan bed-bound with ulcers. Visiting her was now extremely emotionally painful – we desperately wanted

her to be released from this existence yet felt guilty for thinking this way. The last time I saw her she couldn’t talk, but she grabbed my hand and tried to murmur something. Her eyes looked so pleadingly at me, I knew that she recognized me and was beseeching me for something. I just didn’t know what it was. She died shortly after. That was 15 years ago, but Nan’s legacy lives on in my work. I went on to complete a Ph.D. in cognitive neuropsychology and then moved to Australia where I established my own research lab at the Brain and Mind Centre, Sydney. Every day, we chip away at understanding how damage to the functional networks of the brain impact memory processes, hopefully moving closer to developing strategies to enable individuals living with dementia to stay connected to their past. I have so much to thank my Nan for – her strong presence in my life, her resilience and determination, and her care and compassion. She was my first strong female role model and her experiences set me on the path I walk today. She will never know the effect she had on me, but hopefully through her experiences I IA can continue to forge on in her footsteps.

Molly Lowney, “Nan,” worked as a midwife when she was younger, before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

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Living in PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR

We should be attendant to involves love, even when it’s the bond between a cat

The author’s cats, Edison and Twiggy, in August 2009.

E

arlier this summer my cat died. I know it’s not important in the scheme of things, but it left me reeling. For days I was buffeted by my grief in the most unexpected places: in the supermarket checkout line (no longer any need to buy pet food or litter), riding the subway (sitting opposite an elderly woman with a tiny, playful dog in a tote bag), and, of all places, at the Starbucks drinks counter in Hell’s Kitchen (where a barista called out a name that sounded similar to my poor kitty’s). It was embarrassing to respond like this. I mean, I’m a grown man. It struck me as unseemly to mourn for a little pet the way I was until I finally understood what was going on. He was a lilac point Siamese. My husband and I had adopted him and his inseparable brother in early 2002, just a few months after September 11 when the nation and New York in particular was still stricken by the terrorist attacks. The pitilessness and cruelty of what had happened to the city was still on many people’s minds. My own had blanked at the glare of it. To me it felt like, and it turned out to be, one of those moments in history when a line is temporarily drawn under human

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progress. It felt as if America and the world had stepped into an unsettling new era of uncertainty. It turned out to be the case too. Between the endless color-coded terror alerts on TV and the drumbeats calling for war, I wanted something to remind me that life was not entirely regrettable. Something creaturely and reassuring and human scale. It didn’t take long for me to decide that this would be a cat. My husband was not convinced. Recent events had proved to him that nothing was fixed, that people could not be trusted, that your life could end without explanation or ceremony between the ordering of a coffee and sitting down at your work desk. In that existential absurdity, why subject yourself to more needless complications, he asked, not unreasonably. But I’m Irish, which means when I make a decision it stays made. Within a week I was filling out an application at the Humane Society on East 59th Street. Founded in 1904, it has cared for abused, ill, or abandoned animals in New York City for over 100 years, and the scope of its operations has only grown. On the way there I had pictured myself picking up a scrappy, spirited little cat and when I arrived it turned out there was no shortage of them waiting to be brought home. But on impulse I asked if this was all of them and the female attendant told me that there were some I hadn’t seen in another room. We took the rickety elevator up another story and I walked into a room where ten full-grown cats were sitting up or sleeping in their metal cages. All of them were delightful, but for some reason I walked to the end of the long room to the very last cage. And that was the first time I saw him. He meowed at me with that distinctive and funny Siamese yowl. He clearly wanted to be let out. “Oh, this one is calling to you,” the attendant said wisely, so she opened his cage. He stepped out, stretched luxuriously, and then right away jumped into my lap. I had thought to choose a cat, but the truth is one chose me. His brother, the shy and sensitive one, held back in the cage until he saw the bond that was opening between us. Then he leaped up to join his brother


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Shadow

Each Other’s any story that strange and wonderful and human.

in my lap, almost knocking me over. It delights me now to remember all of this. I still have a sense memory of the two of them snuggling up to me, placing their curiously heart-shaped heads under my chin on that first afternoon. A day earlier I had no pets, now I had two. When I brought them home, the more spirited one explored the apartment like he was stalking the Serengeti, but the shy one holed up in the bathroom for hours and had to be gently coaxed out with soothing words and the promise of food. In Ireland I had grown up around animals – devoted dogs that accompanied me through every year of my childhood, two palomino horses that taught me the exhilaration of racing along an empty strand in County Donegal, and lazy cats that were quirky and affectionate, but not to be toyed with. I learned about farm animals too, how each one had their own character, how much they could respond to a little bit of affection. Both of the my newly-adopted Siamese cats were young, but already full grown. Their previous owners, an unnamed gay couple, had surrendered them to the society when it turned out that their new apartment in another state would not permit pets. I wondered at their apparent heartlessness. Looking at my two new arrivals, I was reminded of an observation made by the artist Auguste Rodin. Cats, he said, are living sculpture. My two new ones could make seen-it-all veterinarians gasp at their beauty. I could not imagine how their two previous owners had willingly given them up. In the weeks that followed, we began to get more clues. Both developed dangerous viruses from their long stays in the adoption center. Our kitchen became a triage where we slowly nursed them back from death’s door. After that one of them thrived and the other, the shy and more serenely beautiful one, struggled on and off with an irritable bowel until the very end of his long, happy life. Their occasional and serious health challenges only made us more aware of the responsibility we had taken on. They literally needed us to survive.

By Cahir O’Doherty

This meant that we often had to prioritize something other than ourselves. That’s a healthy thing, no matter who or what you’re prioritizing. Siamese cats pick one human. Once they do the bond is unbreakable. The spirited one picked me and the shy one picked my husband, ironically complimenting our own characters. My cat was fearless and affectionate, and my husband’s cat formed the strongest bond I have ever seen between a human and an animal. It was kismet. Reading about other people’s pets can be as deadening as reading about other people’s dreams, I realize. But we should always be attendant to any story that involves love. For fifteen years, those two curious cats were there for our birthdays, holidays, summers and winters, for war and peace, for triumphs and failures, for the thousand natural shocks, always ready for a head scratch or a little chin rub. Home and the heart and best part of home. The Humane Society of We really got to know them. My cat was headNew York, located on strong and aloof, but he had the heart of a lion, and Manhattan’s east side, my husband’s was so sensitive that if you even looked was originally founded at him crossly he would hide until you apologized. in 1904 to protect the city’s horses from abuse They were hilarious, in other words. They were endand now serves as a lessly surprising. I miss them like I miss people. hospital and adoption So when I finally understood what was happening center that helps nearly 40,000 cats and dogs to me last month, that I had now annually. said goodbye to two adored companions that had accompanied me on a long voyage, my deep sorrow began to make sense. We are all sharing this long, strange trip and only fools think otherwise. It’s wise to hold your loved one close in life and close to your heart after their lives have ended. The Irish say we all live in each other’s shadow, and the surprising thing is that those shadows include everyone, PHOTO: CO URTESY OF TH E HUMANE SO IA even your little cats. CIETY OF NEW YO RK

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roots |

by Dave Lewis

The Rebel O’Deas I

Bishop Edward John O’Dea (b. 1856), Bishop of Seattle from 1896 until his death in 1932.

n the past and at present alike, the name O’Dea is almost exclusively associated with the County Clare and adjacent areas such as Limerick City and north Tipperary. Though it is not a common name elsewhere, and even within County Clare is uncommon outside of the part of the county where it originated, it is an ancient and noble name with associations ranging from battle prowess to religion and science. The name, also spelled O’Day, O’Dee, and occasionally Daw, originates from the 10th century chieftain of the clan Déaghaidh, who came to rule much of southwest Clare, bordered by the Fergus river to the east, the Burren to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Shannon estuary to the south. The family claims that Déaghaidh, anglicized as Dea, is one of the first surnames that appeared in Europe. While the Ó Deághaidh’s had lordship over this area, they were déis, vassals, under the Dál gCais, a powerful 10th century dynasty. Déaghaidh is referenced later in Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éireann, known in English simply as the “History of Ireland,” as one of 500 men who aided Brian Boru’s father in rescuing the King of Munster from a Viking ship. Around 400 years after this rescue, the O’Dea’s played another vital military role in the defense of Gaelic owned land and lordship against a different foreign invader, the Normans. The Battle of Dysert O’Dea took place on the 10th of May 1318. It was loosely part of Scottish king Robert the Bruce’s campaign in Ireland, during which he sent his brother, Edward, to Ireland, hoping to unite the Scots militarily with the Gaelic lords against the Hiberno-Norman lords, effectively opening a second front in his war against the English crown. As a result, a number of proxy battles occurred during this time between the Normans and the Gaels, only occasionally having a direct relationship to the Bruce campaign. The battle began when the Norman Richard de Clare, a descendent of Strongbow, attacked the Gaelic Kingdom of Thomond, an area of Clare which had long resisted foreign control, hoping to install a Norman sympathizer as king. De Clare had over 800 knights and foot soldiers who marched on Dysert O’Dea, the stronghold of the Ó Deághaidh clan, thinking they had the upper hand over the Gaels. Clan chief Conchobar Ó Deághaidh, renowned as a brilliant tactician, feigned retreat, causing de Clare to order a charge on the open Irish, hoping for a decisive blow. Instead, Ó Deághaidh’s troops surrounded the

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Norman party, resulting in Richard de Clare’s death by Conchobar Ó Deághaidh’s own axe as well as the death of de Clare’s son. When de Clare’s wife learned this, she torched their family castle and estate before fleeing to England. The battle was a decisive blow and the Kingdom of Thomond would not be controlled or influenced by a foreign ruler for another 200 years. It was in these years that the most enduring symbol of the O’Dea clan was built in the area – a fortified tower known as O’Dea Castle, completed in the 1490s. The tower was lost and regained by the O’Deas throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and was even used as a stronghold by Cromwellian forces. It was eventually was seized by the Synge family, landlords during the 19th century. In 1970, the castle returned to O’Dea hands, when John O’Day, an Irish American from Wisconsin, purchased the building and had it restored. Since 1986, O’Dea Castle has been open to the public, serving as the Clare Archeology Centre. The land over which the Ó Deághaidh’s ruled also had a role in the early days of Christianity in Ireland. Saint Tola established a monastery and built a round tower on the land in the eighth century, and a high cross that housed a relic of Saint Tola was erected later in the 11th century. This influence must have made an impact on the O’Dea clan, as various members have risen to the office of bishop. The first of these was Cornelius O’Dea (d. 1434), who was appointed as Bishop of Limerick in 1400, only 82 year after the triumphant battle of Dysert O’Dea. Three artifacts survive from his time as bishop – his crozier, a manuscript called the Black Book of Limerick, and his mitre. According to legend, Bishop O’Dea forgot his own mitre and crozier when he traveled to Dublin for an important synod with the other bishops of Ireland. Feeling awkward, the bishop scoured the city unsuccessfully for replacements until a young boy presented the him with a box, saying only that it contained what he sought and if the bishop was pleased he could keep it. O’Dea opened the box and, seeing what was inside, turned to thank the boy, but he was nowhere to be seen. The crozier and mitre can still be seen today as they are housed in Limerick’s Hunt Museum and the crozier has been used on solemn occasions by subsequent Bishops of Limerick. The next Bishop O’Dea was Thomas O’Dea (1858 – 1923), who held two bishoprics, Galway and Clonfert. In 1903, Thomas was named as Bishop of


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Clonfert and, six years later, named Bishop of Galway. During his time as bishop, he planned to build a new cathedral for Clonfert but these plans were interrupted by the arrival of the First World War. He was a Gaeilgeoir and was an ardent supporter of the GAA. The third Bishop O’Dea, Edward John O’Dea (1856 – 1932), was appointed bishop of the Seattle diocese in 1896 (it was called the Diocese of Nesqually until 1907) and served until his death in 1932. During his time in Seattle, the O’Dea dealt with financial difficulties, guiding his flock during the First World War, and a threat from the Ku Klux Klan that tried to make parochial schools illegal. He late went on to establish Saint Edward’s Seminary school in Kenmore, Washington, and O’Dea High School in Seattle in 1923. The ancestors of Déaghaidh were not only great warriors and holy men, but have gone on to amazing feats in science, technology, and entertainment. In 20th century Irish comedy, Jimmy O’Dea (1899 – 1965) is the most prominent representative of the clan. A stage and film actor, director, and producer, he is best known

PHOTO: EOIN O’HAGAN

for his Christmas plays and his Mrs. Biddy Mulligan character, a stereotyped caricature of a workingclass Dublin street seller. His stage productions often took place at the famed Gaiety Theatre, where he performed various pantomime shows and other vaudevillian acts. As the world turned from stage to film, so did Jimmy O’Dea. One of his most recognized films is Disney’s 1959 Darby O’Gill and the Little People, in which he starred as King Brian, king of the leprechauns, alongside a very young Sean Connery. Among O’Deas, the reputation of Marcus Driver O’Day’s (1897 – 1961) may be the most far-reaching, literally. He was an American physicist that was a major player in the development of space exploration, and was among the first voice to give a scientific possibility of humans living on the planet Mars. During World War II, he worked at MIT and the IFF radar system. The IFF system, an acronym for “identification, friend or foe,” enables military and civilian air traffic control radio interrogation systems to identify aircraft vehicles and can determine their range. After the war, O’Day guided a team to use V-2 rockets that were brought over from Germany to launch scientific payloads into the ionosphere. During the late ’50s and early ’60s when pop culture was dominated by ideas of humans living in space, O’Day was thinking about the scientific possibilities of space colonies actually existing. He theorized that solar power could be used to sustain a colony on the moon and hypothesized that there might be water under the lunar surface. His contributions were great enough that one of the moon’s craters was named the O’Day Crater in his honor. Ann O’Dea is the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic, Europe’s leading STEM news website where her mission has been to champion women in industry. She has developed initiatives like Silicon Republic’s Women Invent Campaign and established Inspirefest, Europe’s premier sci-tech event that emphasizes diversity and inclusion in STEM. Finally, in this issue, we feature Daniel O’Day (b. 1964), CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals, as our 2017 Healthcare and life Sciences keynote speaker. O’Day, who has spent his entire adult life with Roche, has been a member of the corporate executive committee since 2010. From their beginnings as one of the first family names in Europe to producing one of the greatest comedians Ireland has ever seen, the O’Dea name has graced many accomplished men and women since the early 10th century and will certainly conIA tinue to produce them.

TOP: The O’Day Crater on the lunar surface, named for American physicist Marcus Driver O’Day. ABOVE: Ann O’Dea, CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic. LEFT: O’Dea Castle in County Clare.

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Katy Perry performing in 2016.

Gold Fever: The Shiny, Shady Past of Katy Perry’s Irish Great-Great-Grandmother She came from a gold-obsessed family, so perhaps it wasn’t so surprising when the treasure bag was found in Hannah’s water closet. But what was this Galway girl even doing in San Francisco?

By Megan Smolenyak

A

nyone who’s ever dabbled in genealogy knows that certain forebears call louder than others – even when they’re not your own. While researching Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson – better known as musical megastar, philanthropist, and activist Katy Perry – I climbed all the branches of her family tree, but became enchanted with Hannah Mulhare, one of her Irish immigrant ancestors. Perry describes herself as a “singer-songwriter masquerading as a pop star.” As one of the best-selling artists of all time (more than 100 million records to date) with sold-out world tours, she’s nailing that charade, but Hannah’s story makes it clear that Katy’s not the first in the family to pull off such a convincing deception.

Meandering Mulhares

Hannah (Anne) and two of her brothers arrived in New Orleans on February 10, 1852.

(Ancestry.com)

Born in Eyrecourt, County Galway in the 1830s to Patrick Mulhare and Sarah Stanton, Anna “Hannah” Maria Mulhare was one of at least ten children. Her mother’s brother had married her father’s sister, producing a tight family cluster that was shattered when her uncle, a Ribbonman who defended the rights of tenants against absentee landlords, was convicted of sedition and transported to Australia in

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the 1820s. Around the time Hannah was born, her uncle was pardoned and assorted family members – including four of her oldest siblings – began drifting to Australia to join him. The 1840s ushered in the Great Hunger as well as the early days of both the Californian and Australian gold rushes, and it soon became a last-one-to-leaveGalway-turn-out-the-lights situation. While the older contingent of her siblings had opted for Australia and New Zealand, her parents and the younger ones set their sights on America. 14 year-old Hannah (perhaps understated to save on fare) and her brothers John and Pat were among the 268 passengers on the Forest State when it arrived in New Orleans on February 10, 1852, but this was just a staging ground. Another brother named James had been there for some time, and made arrangements for the family to push on to California, which had only become part of America in 1848 and a state in 1850. The following May, James demonstrated remarkable efficiency when he applied for a marriage license on the 2nd, became an American citizen on the 4th, and set sail on the 7th. He and his bride Catherine, along with Hannah, Patrick, and their mother Sarah, departed on the United States and headed for California via Aspinwall, Panama (now Colón). Since the Panama Canal did not yet exist, this meant that they had to disembark and take a train from the Atlantic to the Pacific seaports. Gradually, the Mulhares, including some who had been living in Australia, reassembled in California. San Francisco became something of a hub with a rotating cast of family members based there, but other pockets settled in nearby Marin, Contra Costa, Sacramento, and Yuba counties. Those in Yuba County resided in gold mining towns whose names reflected


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WIKIPEDIA/FRANK SCHULENBURG

TOP: San Quentin State Prison, Marin County, California. ABOVE: “She will be convicted.” (July 26, 1861,

Sacramento Daily Union, GenealogyBank)

RIGHT: Ann “Hannah” Denis left $9,000 to her family. (August 31, 1895, San Francisco Chronicle, Newspapers.com)

was that Hannah found herself indicted as an accomplice in July 1861. From the testimony at her trial, it emerged that just about everyone in the Mulhare family knew about the money – at least after the crime took place – but because she was John Connor’s fiance, Hannah was the one believed to have it – though she had subsequently become engaged to another Irishman. In fact, it was her pending nuptials to another man that provoked John’s brother to go to the police. In spite of evidence that convinced reporters that she would be convicted, her trial resulted in a hung jury, so she was scheduled for a second trial. The next round commenced in August, and on September 14th – against expectations – she was acquitted.

Hannah’s Last Laugh

Fast forward to 1864. Both John Connor and James Mulhare received pardons. Probably wishing to put his past behind him, Mulhare headed to Portland, Oregon, where he remarried and began a second family before eventually returning to San Francisco. Similarly, Hannah left at least two fiances in the

1.

Katy Perry (who uses her mother’s maiden name) is of Portuguese, Irish (about 9 percent), German, French, English, and Scottish origin. Through her father’s side, she has deep, mostly Southern, roots in America. Her mother’s family is riddled with over-achievers including philanthropists, politicians, and business pioneers in the oil, steel, banking, construction, and beer industries. Among her relatives are Charles Schwab, Leopold Vilsack, Joseph Craig, and others who were especially prominent in the history of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Katy’s family wasn’t the kind to let moss grow under their feet. One of

2. 3.

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dust and moved to Sacramento where she married Portuguese-born Vicente Denis before circling back to San Francisco like her brother. At this point, she settled down and lived a more traditional life, raising her children, including daughter Sarah, who would become Katy Perry’s great-grandmother. As to the $10,000? Accounts in the 1860s justified the pardons of Connor and Mulhare based on family responsibilities and good behavior – and Mulhare had already served most of his term. But since Connor – who still had a decade to go – received his pardon first, one can’t help but wonder if perhaps a bit of the lost money found its way to the right pockets. And curiously, Hannah, who spent the last three decades of her life as a housewife, had the wherewithal to leave $9,000 of her own money to her husband and children when she passed away in 1895. Translated into today’s terms, that’s roughly $262,000 in spending power or $2,250,000 in economic status (i.e., relative “prestige value” of an amount of wealth). For at least one Mulhare, it seems, chasing gold IA paid off.

about Katy Perry’s Roots her fourth great-grandmothers gave birth to five children in Alabama, six more in Kentucky, and then made it an even dozen with one more in Tennessee. Her Perry grandfather (grandson of Hannah Mulhare) survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when just a baby. His big brother recalled the city being in flames while they evacuated with all their possessions in a cart, and their house was one of many destroyed in the fire. Sadly, this family would lose their subsequent home in Mill Valley to fire as well. One of her great-grandmothers, Gladys Brace Vilsack, wrote a book called The Unpardonable Sin, which seems a likely title for a song.

4.

5.


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possible outcomes of their ambitions – Smartsville and Sucker Flat. The Mulhare patriarch, Patrick, died in San Francisco in 1858, and James – who took to using his mother’s surname of Stanton as a middle name – assumed his place at the head of the family. James soon made his mark with a local paper lauding his character for his work with the Pacific Express Company and recording his election as Secretary of the Sons of the Emerald Isle, established just a few years earlier. But then things took an unexpected turn.

The Old Switcheroo

On the evening of August 1, 1859, Freeman & Co. Express Company (which would become part of Wells Fargo the next year) discovered a theft. During a delivery from Sacramento to San Francisco, a bag of gold dust worth $10,000 was swapped out with one full of shot, iron, and other heavy objects. It didn’t take long to determine that the switch occurred when the consignment was transferred from the wharf to a waiting wagon, and the porter responsible was none other than James S. Mulhare. Police failed to find the money, but a bit of clever detective work revealed that the counterfeit bag was made by a local saddler, who identified John Connor as the man who had ordered it. Connor, it turned out, was in business with another Mulhare brother and engaged to Hannah, so this was both an inside job and a family affair. Mulhare and Connor were swiftly arrested, and because the attempted ruse captured the attention of the public, the story was covered not just in local newspapers, but across the country and as far away as Australia. The accused requested separate trials, and within six weeks, both were found guilty of grand larceny. Connor received a sentence of 14 years, while Mulhare – who pleaded guilty – got five. Both were sent to San Quentin State Prison where Mulhare’s entry notes a short, pale, lightly freckled man with “scant whiskers” and a scar on his right hand. Mulhare had gone from being

a pillar of the community to an incarcerated felon in the space of a couple of years and his life continued to spiral downward. In 1860, he was briefly let out of prison to attend his wife’s funeral and six months later lost a son.

Hannah’s Turn

Around this same time, a fellow named James Connor – brother of the prisoner, John Connor – showed up in San Francisco and began hounding Hannah, who was working as a live-in servant for a New York physician and speculator. Why? During a visit to San Quentin, his brother told him that Hannah had the money, and James wanted it to try to buy a pardon for both prisoners. Hannah claimed that she only learned of the crime after the fact, and initially denied any knowledge of the money, but finally admitted to having at least some of it. James nagged her non-stop until she relented and gave him a bag of gold dust, but when converted to coin, it only amounted to $760, so he went back for the rest. Hannah dodged and promised and dodged some more, until James got fed up and went to the police. The police searched her premises for the money and didn’t find any, but instead discovered the express company bag from the robbery. So it

FAR LEFT: Hannah’s brief time in New Orleans left a trace when she was listed among those with letters waiting at the post office. (March 7,

1852, The Daily Delta, Newspapers.com)

CENTER: The Mulhare family left New Orleans for California. (May 8,

1853, The Daily Delta, Newspapers.com)

ABOVE RIGHT: James S. Mulhare recognized for his stellar work. (April 3,

1857, The Daily Alta California, California Digital Newspaper Collection)

ABOVE: James S. Mulhare was a prominent member of San Francisco’s Irish American community.

(September 22, 1858, The Daily Alta California, California Digital Newspaper Collection)

FAR LEFT: Express company robbery discovered. (August 2,

1859, San Francisco Bulletin, GenealogyBank)

LEFT: James S. Mulhare.

(August 27, 1859, California Police Gazette)

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All Hail the

Humble Spud

Edythe Preet writes about Ireland’s relationship with its signature crop.

B

ack in first grade, my “see Spot run” primer told how Dick and Jane grew potatoes in their backyard and roasted them in an autumn leaf bonfire. If those kids can do that, I thought, so can I. Mom supplied a few spuds that had begun to sprout “eyes,” and we buried them in a skimpy strip of dirt edging our row-house driveway. Impatiently, as summer dragged on, I watched my precious potato vine overflow onto the cement. When the leaves on our neighborhood trees began turning autumn colors and the lumpy dirt suggested there might actually be some potatoes hiding under the soil, a little digging yielded a modest mound of

PHOTO: TONY AUSTIN / FLICKR

Weighing potatoes after a bountiful harvest.

petite spuds. The joy of harvesting was only minimally diminished when Mom drew the line at roasting my crop under a pile of leaves in the city street, and baked them in the oven along with a celebratory roast. At dinner that night, Dad swore they were the best taters he had ever tasted, and I went to bed dreaming of the piles of spuds I would harvest the following year, which of course never happened. In the intervening decades, I have eaten potatoes boiled, broiled, baked, roasted, fried, mashed, and hashed. Hot and cold, crisp and fluffy, plain and embellished, jackets on and jackets off. I make potato

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salad infrequently, because after one bite I have to employ strict self-discipline not to eat the whole bowlful. The same is true for potatoes au gratin, potatoes roasted with garlic and rosemary, or even plain old mashed potatoes and gravy. Mildly put, I am a potato addict. Some of the blame can be ascribed to my Irish heritage. Ask anyone where potatoes were first grown and odds are you’ll be told, “Ireland.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Potatoes were unknown to the European palate until the discovery of the New World. As the Conquistadors marched through South America pillaging ancient civilizations for treasure, the foods they discovered proved far more valuable than the gold they sought. From the holds of Spanish galleons, potatoes found their way to farms and gardens all over Europe. There are Irish folk tales of potatoes washing ashore from wrecks of the Spanish armada that stalked the British seas during the reign of Elizabeth I. Local myth tells that Sir Francis Drake brought the South American tubers back from an expedition in 1586 and gave some seedlings to his friend, Sir Walter Raleigh, who planted them at his estate in Youghall, County Cork. The new vegetable quickly became a staple crop of Ireland’s agricultural economy. Potatoes were a godsend. They were easy to grow, requiring only an initial planting with minimal tending. They were easy to cook, needing only a pot and a fire. And they were abundant. Supplemented with plenty of fresh whole milk, greens, and a bit of meat, fish or eggs, a good potato harvest meant that the average farm family had ready access to a nutritious diet. For nearly 200 years, the ancient South American plant nourished Ireland’s poor. Then disaster struck. In the warm wet summer of 1845, a fungus attacked the potato crop, and as winds carried the invisible spores from county to county, green fields turned black in days and the tubers rotted. Blights had troubled local areas before, notably Mayo in 1831 and Donegal in 1836, but this time the infestation was national. Again, in 1846 tragedy descended. More than two-thirds of the harvest rotted, and in some western areas the crop was lost completely. Blight struck again in 1849 and 1851. With the main food source for people and livestock destroyed five times in seven years, Ireland was devastated. One and a half million people died of starvation, cholera, and famine fever. Another million


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sláinte | good cheer emigrated. In the following decades, the tide of emigration swelled to a flood as millions more fled the specter of starvation. More than one million Irish immigrants came to the United States, bringing with them their love for spuds. Initially, Americans were suspicious of potatoes as they belong to the botanical nightshade family that includes many poisonous plants. While it’s true that the potato plant’s leaves are toxic, the tubers are perfectly safe for consumption. Even so, most Americans chose to feed spuds to their pigs rather than serve them at the family dinner table. But the Irish knew a good thing when they bit into it, and when they began arriving by the boatload, the tide of American anti-potato-ism started to shift. Today, potatoes are planted in more than 1.3 million acres across 35 states, with an annual yield of nearly half a billion bushels. Considering that several dozen potatoes are contained in every bushel, the actual yearly U.S. spud count is in the trillions. While Ireland’s size naturally limits the total tonnage of its crop, the Irish are among the world’s heartiest potato-eaters with average annual consumption weighing in at a hefty 319 pounds per person. Ireland and the United States are not the only countries where spuds have taken firm dietary root. In that potatoes are fat and cholesterol free, and one serving of a 5.3 ounce, medium potato provides 45 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 21 percent of the daily value for potassium, three grams of fiber, and only 100 calories, spuds pack an impressive nutritional punch. Add to that the success with which they are cultivated and it’s easy to see how the potato has become a vital food staple all over the world. In fact, the production of potatoes is growing faster than that of any food crop except for wheat. Until the early 1990s, most potatoes were grown and consumed in Europe, North America, and countries of the former Soviet Union. Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in potato production and demand in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where output rose from less than 30 million tons in the early 1960s to more than 165 million tons in 2007. In 2005, for the first time, the developing world’s potato production exceeded that of the developed world. China is now the biggest potato producer. Everywhere, people have discovered the wisdom of the time-honored Irish proverb: “Be eating one potato, peeling a second, have a third in your fist, and your eye on a fourth.” I’ve even planted a patch of spuds again. And when they’re harvested, I’ll be cooking them up in an international rainbow of styles, in addition, of course, to colIA cannon and champ. Sláinte!

RECIPE

Potato Curry

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed 2 spring onions, minced 2 cloves garlic 1 ⁄2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled 1 green chili, seeded and minced 2 tablespoons butter 2 large tomatoes, chopped 1 small cinnamon stick, broken 1 ⁄2 teaspoon mustard seeds 1 tablespoon garam masala 1 cardamom pod, opened 1 ⁄3 cup plain yoghurt

Boil the potatoes in water until just tender, then drain. Grind the spring onions, garlic, ginger, and chili to a paste and cook in the butter for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, cinnamon, mustard seeds, garam masala, and cardamom and cook for 23 minutes, stirring. Add the yoghurt and cook to a thick sauce. Add the potatoes and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Makes 4 servings. (Personal recipe)

Hawaiian Potato Salad

4 large red potatoes, unpeeled and cubed 2 large carrots, peeled and cubed 1 ⁄2 medium red onion, minced 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted 1 ⁄2 pound lobster meat, shredded 1 ⁄4 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon lemon juice salt & pepper

Boil the potatoes and carrots in water until just tender, then drain and combine with onion, peas, and lobster meat. Add mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to eat. Makes 4-6 servings. NOTE: Any of the ingredients can be increased to taste. (Personal recipe)

Left-Over Baked Potato Pan Fry

2 left-over chilled baked potatoes 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut in chunks 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in chunks 1 onion, sliced medium thick 2 tablespoons butter salt & pepper

Cut baked potatoes into bite-size chunks – do not remove skins. Melt butter in a heavy frying pan and sauté peppers and onion until slightly wilted. Add potato chunks and continue frying, stirring frequently and scraping any browned bits into the mix, until potatoes are browned and vegetables are fully cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fried or scrambled eggs. Makes 4 servings. (Personal recipe)

Mom’s Potatoes Au Gratin 2 large baking potatoes, peeled flour butter salt & pepper milk (approximately 2 cups)

Slice potatoes very thin. Layer potato slices in a small casserole, dusting each layer with flour, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and small bits of butter. When casserole is full, pour in milk to cover. Bake in a 350ºF oven for Potato salad, served fresh. approximately 45 minutes or until top is nicely browned and a knife inserted into the potatoes indicates they are cooked tender. Makes 4 servings. (Personal recipe)

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POTATO NUTRITION FACTS SERVING SIZE: 100 g (Approximately 3 oz. or ¼ lb.) PREPARATION: Boiled in skin Water 79.8% Calories 76 Carbohydrates 17.1 g Fat 0.1 g Protein 2.1 g Fiber 0.5 g Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acid 0 AMINO ACIDS TRY (tryptophan) LEU (leucine) LYS (lysine) MET (methionine) PHE (phenylalanine) ISO (isoleucine) VAL (valine) THR (threonine)

21 mg 105 mg 111 mg 25 mg 92 mg 92 mg 111 mg 86 mg

MINERALS Na (sodium) Ca (calcium) P (phosphorous) K (potassium) Mg (magnesium) Fe (iron)

3 mg 7 mg 53 mg 407 mg 0 0.6 mg

VITAMINS THI (thiamin) NIA (niacin) A RIB (riboflavin) ASC (ascorbic acid/vitamin C) D

0.09 mg 1.5 mg trace 0.04 mg 16 mg 0

(Composition of Foods – United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service) 90 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

Andrew Taylor’s Year of Nothing but Potatoes

etween January 1, 2016 and January 1 of this year, Andrew Taylor lost over 100 pounds, going from 335 to 212 lbs., on a diet of nothing but potatoes. “I haven’t weighed myself since January, but my clothes all fit the same,” he told me over the phone this past June. Irish America covered Taylor’s story earlier this year (February / March), but we thought we’d check back in with him for our annual health issue to see how he’s doing and get more details on his Irish-inspired diet. “I’ve been eating a very simple diet. I still eat a lot of potatoes. Food is fuel for me these days; I don’t use it as a source of emotional support and comfort. It’s just something I need to eat to help me be healthy,” he said. The 36-year-old Taylor, a former teacher and now stay-at-home dad for his threeyear-old son Teddy, lives in Melbourne, Australia, first went viral last spring after posting a series of video diaries about his diet to his YouTube channel, Spud Fit. Shortly afterwards, his local grocer became a sponsor, donating all his potatoes for free – about eight to nine pounds per day. He began this diet because he recognized he had a food addiction and wanted to remove the emotional motivation for eating as much as possible. He was eating junk food compulsively, drinking an unhealthy amount of Coca-Cola, was suffering from depression, and wanted to stop. But, unlike quitting alcohol or nicotine cold turkey, that obviously wasn’t an option with food. “I had this idea of quitting food, so I decided to quit all foods except one and then I went about researching if there was a food that would let me to do that,” he said. “I read a lot about the history of the human diet and that’s where potatoes came into it a lot. I read a lot about the Irish diet before the potato Taylor’s before and after shots from his spud diet. famine, and that was a really big part of my inspiration. You know, for a couple of centuries they went through a population boom, they were fit and healthy, and ate almost nothing but potatoes.” That research proved to him that if the Irish could do it out of necessity, he could do it by choice and remain physically healthy, too. He found a doctor who specialized in nutrition to supervise him and began. Since the whole point of the diet was to curb addiction and effectively nullify his enjoyment of food, plain boiled potatoes were his staple. Three-quarters of the time, he ate them unseasoned, occasionally adding small amounts of seasoning. (He did also allow himself a beer or two once or twice a week.) “I did my best to keep it as bland and boring as possible. That way it would force me to get comfort and enjoyment from other areas of life instead of relying on food for those things.” Now, seven months after ending his diet, Taylor’s life has changed completely. He operates spudfit.com, offering podcasts, recipes, coaching, and a DIY book to help people similarly suffering from food addiction to eliminate their emotional reliance on unhealthy eating. Most importantly, he has stayed off the junk food and hasn’t had any cravings either. Since ending the year of potatoes, he’s moved on to a whole foods plant-based diet, which means he’s eating exclusively whole, unprocessed plant foods like beans, rice, greens, bananas, and, of course, potatoes. Other than the weight, the biggest changes he’s experienced have been to his sleep patterns, joint pains, and emotional stability. “My body just works better. I sleep better. I don’t have aching joints,” he says. “So I don’t see any reason to go back.” – Adam Farley


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Tipperary Tom Deignan examines the WWI marching tune.

ABOVE: Sheet music cover for “It’s A Long Way to Tipperary.” TOP RIGHT: Statue of Jack Judge with a WWI soldier in Stalybridge, England, where Judge first publically sang the song at the city’s Grand Theatre.

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ans of legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore – who died in January at the age of 80 – may recall the final episode of the groundbreaking Mary Tyler Moore Show, which aired 40 years ago, in 1977. The TV news team at the center of the show had just wrapped up their own final episode. They hug and cry but, in the final scene, walk out of the news studio belting out an impromptu version of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.” This year marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, which is forever linked to that famous tune about the central Irish county. The song was, in fact, written before the war even started. Its origins are somewhat hazy – and have, in fact, been challenged in court – though all agree the son of Irish immigrants to England played a central role in bringing the song to the masses. His name was Jack Judge. Born in 1872, Judge’s parents were from Mayo but his grandparents were from Tipperary. Originally a fishmonger, Judge always aspired to a life in show business. While performing in British musical halls and theaters, Judge, along with a neighbor named Harry Williams, wrote a peppy tune about, fittingly, an Irish immigrant to London who misses the love of his life back home in Ireland. The first version of the song was actually set in Connemara, though Judge later made the wise decision that Tipperary sounded more musical. It’s a long way to Tipperary To the sweetest girl I know! Goodbye, Piccadilly Farewell, Leicester Square! It’s a long long way to Tipperary But my heart’s right there.

How did this upbeat immigrant love story become associated with the gruesome war that would engulf Europe from 1914 to 1918? The story goes that a Daily Mail war correspondent named George Curnock was covering the British Expeditionary Forces at the beginning of the war, in August 1914.

PHOTO: CYAN22 / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

IT’S A LONG WAY TO

The British troops’ mission was to aid the French in what many believed would be little more than a brief skirmish with the Germans. Curnock supposedly heard the Connaught Rangers singing a catchy tune as they marched through the northern French town of Boulogne, and reported that the song was, in fact, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.” Not long after Curnock filed his column, the song’s popularity began to spread. “Reprintings of the sheet music (there were many) bore the subheading ‘The Marching Anthem on the Battlefields of Europe, Sung by the Soldiers of the King,’” Max Cryer notes in his book Love Me Tender: The Stories Behind the World’s Favorite Songs. If Curnock introduced the song to a wider audience, it went positively viral (at least by early 20th century standards) when legendary Irish tenor John McCormack recorded his own wildly popular version of the song later that year. Perhaps inevitably, there were lawsuits when the song became popular. In 1917, a woman named Alice Jay claimed she had, in fact, written the tune for the song. (During court proceedings, famed Dublin-born composer Victor Herbert was even brought in as an expert.) Also, over the years, relatives of Harry Williams have said that he failed to get sufficient credit for writing the music, mainly because Judge often performed the song, while Williams was never a singer. “When Harry died, I think everyone forgot about him. He is a forgotten hero. We’ve always had this thing in our family to try and prove he was the one who wrote ‘Tipperary,’” Williams’s great niece Meg Pybus told the London Daily Mirror in 2012. Today, there are sculptures commemorating the song in Tipperary as well as Manchester. It was sung by the crew of U-96 submarine in Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 film Das Boot (that particular arrangement was performed by the Red Army Choir). And, for what it’s worth, though Williams may not be immediately associated with the song in the public mind, a century after the war that popularized “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” his living IA relatives still receive royalty checks. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 91


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DANIEL O’DAY Continued from page 38

Can you talk a little bit about your own wellness approach? I hear that you took part in an Ironman triathlon. Where you always athletic?

In my university years, I was more into music than sports. I played trumpet at that time, but found it was difficult to keep up with the music during my professional life. I took up running as a way of maintaining my mental and physical stamina. I start most of my days with running or some type of exercise, and I find that my mind works really well for the rest of the day when I’ve done this. It enables me to stay physically fit, too, but I do it more for the mental benefit. I like to have a goal, so I started running races and got into marathons and then triathlons. I like nothing more than to go out for a two-hour run and just have my thoughts to myself, whether that is working through a problem or switching off for a while. Eventually I started doing Ironman triathlons and am happy to say I completed five so far, as well as some half-Ironman competitions. I enjoy the lifestyle that goes along with triathlons and I like the people that do them. I don’t approach them in a very competitive way. It’s more about having a goal and pushing myself to achieve it.

Was your Irish heritage important in your family? Yes, very much so. The perseverance of my Irish ancestors is a daily motivation to me professionally and personally. My dad

made a point of making sure we went back to Ireland, and traced our roots to Ennis, County Clare. He brought the whole family back at different intervals in our lives. I have been very touched by my visits back there. We don’t have a direct connection with relatives, but we have run into other O’Days doing their pilgrimage at the O’Dea Castle. My great-grandfather, Richard O’Day, was born in 1853 in Berlin, Wisconsin, and he was first generation. If I understand the history right, he was working a bit on the railroads, and eventually my grandfather transitioned from the railroad to oil refinery work in Montana. My dad grew up in Cut Bank, Montana. There was still very much this spirit of perseverance and hard work in the family; there was a connection to our Irish heritage, and a sense of trying to establish yourself in a new country, as an Irish American.

Clare is known for the quality of its traditional musicians. Was there music in the O’Day family? It is so interesting you say that about Clare, because the last time I was in Ennis, I was so inspired by all the musicians on the street. My grandmother played piano and my siblings and I were all exposed to music at a young age. I started with piano and then got into the trumpet, and it became a great passion of mine. I miss it actually. Maybe I can spend some of my retirement back in Clare, trying to earn a keep by playing trumpet on the street. Thank you, Daniel O’Day.

Maura Carley AND THE STAFF OF

Healthcare Navigation, LLC Healthcare & Life Sciences 50 honorees SALUTE THE IRISH AMERICA

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SONS OF

PHOTO: HULTON ARCHIVE

Our Shakespeare The tragic story of Eugene O’Neill’s sons, both of whom died by suicide. By Ray Cavanaugh

TOP: Eugene O'Neill, his second wife, Agnes, their daughter, Oona, and their son, Shane.

four-time Pulitzer Prize winner and 1936 Nobel laureate, playwright Eugene O’Neill has reigned as the undisputed Irish American heavyweight champion of drama. His private life, however, was far less enviable than his career trajectory. At age 23, while living in a rooming house on Manhattan’s Fulton Street, he attempted suicide by overdosing on tablets of the barbiturate veronal. Though he survived – thanks to a crew of concerned drinking pals who busted into his room and revived him – his gloominess and internal turmoil persisted. His three marriages were troubled, as was his relationship with his three children. He disowned his daughter, Oona, when she married film star Charlie Chaplin, a womanizer who was three times her age. And his two sons, Eugene Jr. and Shane, died by suicide. Eugene Jr. was born on May 5, 1910, in New York City. His mother, Kathleen Jenkins, was O’Neill’s first wife. O’Neill had been so eager to escape the marriage and impending fatherhood that he went on a gold-prospecting journey to Honduras where he found no gold but contracted malaria. Eugene Jr. was at least 11 years old when he met his father for the

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first time. Aside from his name, he inherited his father’s intellect, and graduated in 1932 from Yale University, where he belonged to the legendary and secretive society known as the Skull and Bones. After graduation, Eugene Jr. studied in Germany before returning to New Haven, where he received his doctorate degree and joined the faculty as an instructor of classics from 1936 to 1941. During 1942 and 1943, he left teaching temporarily to work in factories that made military equipment, according to eoneill.com. He later taught at New York City’s New School for Social Research along with Princeton University (where his father formerly attended until his expulsion) and Fairleigh Dickinson University, both in New Jersey. He also wrote articles on Greek drama, along with book reviews for the Saturday Review of Literature and the New York Times. Though Eugene Jr. was, like his father, married three times, it does not appear that he had any children. He had enjoyed some success as a scholarly TV personality, but upon coming to the studio in a state of obvious intoxication, he was blackballed from any future TV appearances. Though his famous playwright father had completely given up on his other children, he still maintained hope for Eugene Jr. His


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namesake, however, felt differently: on September 25, 1950, Eugene Jr. “stripped naked and, in the way of the Romans, slashed his wrist and ankles and submerged himself in a warm bath so the gashes wouldn’t coagulate,” as described in Robert M. Dowling’s book Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts. The body of the classics scholar was discovered near the front door of his house in Woodstock, New York. Eugene Jr. was survived by both parents. His mother, however, was the only family member who attended his funeral, the expenses of which were covered by his fellow Bonesmen from Yale. The Yale University Obituary Record does not explicitly mention suicide but lists the cause of death as “exsanguination.” His remains are interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. On November 27, 1953, a little more than three years after his son’s suicide, the Irish American Shakespeare died at age 65. For the last dozen-plus years, he had struggled even to hold a pencil, as he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. However, some in the medical community have more recently contended that Parkinson’s was a misdiagnosis, and he suffered instead from a separate neurological disorder. Not long before his death, the playwright – exasperated by the wayward life of his Eugene O'Neill, Jr. sole remaining son, Shane – had disinherited him. A halfbrother to Eugene Jr., Shane O’Neill was born in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on October 30, 1919. He spent much of his youth in New Jersey, living with his mother Agnes Boulton, a successful writer of pulp fiction. She had been the playwright’s second wife until they divorced when their son was eight years old. Shane attended military school in Florida, where he drank copiously. He served his country in WWII, participating in the ongoing naval conflict known as the Battle of the Atlantic. Hospitalized for shock in 1943, he was subsequently discharged. By his mid-20s, he was an alcoholic drifter who sometimes worked odd jobs and, on multiple occasions, attempted suicide. In 1944, he married Catherine Givens. They raised a family and settled in New Jersey, where they lived off an inheritance from the wife’s family. Shane was known as an exceptionally kind-hearted person. But he had proven himself unable to form any sort of occupational identity and continually gravitated to substance abuse. In 1948, he had received a two-year suspended sentence for heroin possession. He was also arrested at least twice in the 1960s for narcotics possession. On June 22, 1977, Shane O’Neill, then age 57, jumped from the fourth floor of a friend’s Brooklyn apartment, following a dispute. The next day, June 23, he succumbed to his injuries at Coney Island Hospital, according to a New York Times article dated December 7, 1977 (the suicidal nature of Shane’s death was not immediately publicized). He left behind his estranged wife and four children – along with a tortured legacy of a playwright’s sons meeting an end IA as grim as any character in their father’s tragedies.

THE IRISH AND SUICIDE

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ccording to a 2017 report by UNICEF, Ireland has the fourth highest rate of teen suicide of E.U. or O.E.C.D. nations. Furthermore, Ireland has Europe’s highest rate of suicide among girls. “While the overall number of people dying by suicide has declined,” James Doorley, National Youth Council of Ireland deputy director, notes, “there has been an increase among young men. And, of particular concern is the fact that the suicide rate for young people aged 15-19 here in Ireland is the fourth highest in the E.U.” In recent years, suicide has also been a serious problem among Irish immigrants in the U.S., particularly in New York. Fortunately, there are people working to address this issue. Venues that offer counseling geared towards New York Irish immigrants include the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and the Aisling Irish Community Center. Additionally, the suicide and self-harm prevention organization Pieta House arrived in New York in 2015, following a decade-long tenure in Ireland, where it still operates. In the experience of Pieta House founder Joan Freeman, common reasons for suicidal ideation include: immediate family deaths in Ireland and an inability to travel home for funerals; alcohol and drug dependency; feelings of disconnect from home; and an inability to move forward professionally, especially among undocumented clients. Freeman considers immigration status a “contributing factor” to suicidal ideation “but not necessarily the root.” She adds, “Our clients enjoy their lives in the U.S. having built roots here over a period of time. However, the ongoing longing to visit home to see their family and friends can be strenuous, in most cases, creating feelings of isolation, loneliness and a sense of being trapped. They can also feel very professionally restricted, being tied down to ‘off the books’ jobs, unable to return to education and prohibited from building credit. There is also the ongoing fear of becoming ill – and facing huge medical bills should this happen.” Freeman says, “Immigration status has always [been] and will always be a trigger that contributes to longstanding mental health issues. As a result of this trapped feeling, panic attacks, anxiety and depression can arise, thus, leading to suicidal ideation or self-harm.” Pieta House NYC is located within the New York Irish Center in Long Island City, Queens. – R.C. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 95


PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG

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David M. Lutken, who also plays Guthrie. I caught up with Lutken, first at a high-spirited gathering at the Storehouse Pub near the Irish Rep, and later by phone. (Official post-show “hootenannies” at the Storehouse follow each Sunday matinee performance and are open to the public.) Lutken, a life-long musician, was encouraged to work on a theatrical presentation of Guthrie’s life by Harold Leventhal, who had been Guthrie’s manager. “Mr. Leventhal thought it was important to present Woody’s life in a theatrical format. There would be a depth of meaning for the music knowing Woody’s life story,” Lutken said, adding that he considers himself a “deviser” because most of the material for the show is based on direct quotes from Guthrie. here is perhaps nothing more joyously After years of immersing himself in all things therapeutic than lifting one’s voice in Woody, Lutken’s performance fits Woody’s character song. And in these unsettled times there is like a glove. His performance is skillfully crafted and a lot of joy and one heck of a good time at wonderfully acted, and he has won the Helen Hayes the Irish Repertory Theatre’s off-Broadway producAward and the Joseph Jefferson Award for best actor tion of Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody for the role. Guthrie. The New York Times called it “exhilaratAsked how he keeps and grows an audience for folk ing” and praised its “brisk and polished pace,” while music, Lutken said it’s organic, perpetuated by the Time Out New York said, “Everything about the inter-generational make up of the audience. “As you show has the ring of truth.” know, the popularity of this music comes and goes. Guthrie, of Scotch-Irish heritage, began his life in What we’re finding is that people are bringing their Okehmah, Oklahoma in 1912 and died in Queens grandchildren to the show. We’re seeing a lot of that.” in 1967 after spending the last years of his life Lutken is also pleased that audience members have hospitalized with Huntington’s disease, a fatal been sharing their Woody-related memories with him genetic disorder in which the brain’s nerve cells when he comes into the Irish Rep lobby after the break down over time. His was a life of turbushow. A special bonus of the New York City staging lence and tragedy (his mother also died of Huntis that folk performers like Judy Collins, who was inington’s), but he left us with a greatly enriched fluenced by Guthrie in New York in the 1960s, have American songbook – “This Land Is Your Land,” been in to see the show. “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You,” “This Lutkens’s commitment to the Guthrie legacy also Train Is Bound for Glory,” “Union Maid,” and includes the donation of a portion of the profits from “Deportee,” being among his many compositions. the sale of the cast-recording album to the Huntington The production has been traveling the world since Disease Society of America. it began its theatrical life at the Correspondent with the musical, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in “There never was a Irish Rep has also dedicated its second 2007. In addition to the U.K., the floor to a museum-quality exhibition of sound that was not Guthrie’s life and times. It’s definitely show has toured throughout music – there’s no Europe, and has been performed worth the trip upstairs, which the audiin China, the Middle East, and real trick of creating ence is encouraged to do during interacross the U.S. There are also mission. words to set to talks of bringing Woody Sez to Whether the show (which the Irish music – once you Ireland after its run at the Rep. Repertory Theatre has extended through realize that the Though the director, Nick September 10), is an introduction to Corley, and cast members Helen the man and his music, or a performword is the music Jean Russell and Andy Teirstein that makes you go home and dust and the people are ance are listed in the credits as “cooff your old ’60s folk vinyl, you’ll very the song.” devisers,” the show’s main crelikely start to wish that Woody Sez runs IA ative force is musical director – Woody Guthrie forever.

Woody Sez The Time is Right for

By Marsha Sorotick

TOP: Megan Loomis, Helen Jean Russell, Andy Teirstein and David M. Lutken in Woody Sez at Irish Repertory Theatre in New York. ABOVE: Woody Guthrie.

For more information visit irishrep.org or woodysez.com.

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Conquer Cravings A new book by folk singer and author Judy Collins reveals all about her battle with food.

Published February 2017 by Nan A. Talese. (Hardcover / 288 pages / $26)

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eonard Cohen is dead. Joni Mitchell is ailing. Judy Collins stands out in the crowd of ’60s folk artists as blooming. I recently caught her concert at the Metropolitan Museum – her skin glows, she wears high-heeled boots, she plays guitar and piano (and makes you realize what a classical pianist the world lost when, at 15, she turned to folk music) and her voice is as pure as the driven snow. How does she do it? The secrets are revealed in her book, Cravings: How I Conquered Food, a frank account of how she overcame compulsive overeating and dieting, and the journey that led her to a solution and good health. Some of the material will be familiar to readers of Collins’ memoir, Judy Blue Eyes, in which she wrote about, among other things, her battle with the bottle. Drinking to excess was something Judy inherited from her father who was charming but could be terrifying when he was drunk. Now free from her dependence on alcohol, Judy reveals her almost daily struggle with food. “I have been sober for 38 years now, and I do not have to drink alcohol. But three times a day, I still have to face food. How to do that has been my lifelong struggle. The fight is over and I want to share how that happened,” she says of her reason for writing the book. We meet, at my suggestion, at a restaurant, primarily know for its meat, on the Upper West Side. (Born in Seattle and raised in Colorado, Judy has been a Manhattan resident since the early ’70s.) Judy’s having iced tea. I’m having wine. We are both having burgers, except mine has a bun and hers doesn’t. And reckoning that it’s at least eight ounces, she just eats half, while I eat mine whole.

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PHOTO: SHERVIN LAINEZ

How to

“Exercise, along with a diet free from sugar, grains, flour, and junk is the secret,” she says leaning over across the table towards me. Though she was never noticeably overweight, Collins estimates she has lost “at least a thousand pounds” in her struggle to keep the weight off. Nothing seemed to stop her cravings for certain foods until she started to relate her problem with food to her problem with alcohol, and began to see her cravings as food allergies. “What the allergy does is set up the compulsion, which I call cravings. We know that alcohol is made up of grains and sugar and flour and corn and wheat . . . basically those are the ingredients of hard booze and beer and all of those ingredients are things I don’t need because my body is allergic to them,” she explains, following up with another alarming fact. “The minute you put sugar, alcohol, or sugar, grain, flour, corn, and wheat into your body it turns into alcohol because at 98.6°F [the average normal body temperature] that is what happens.“ Once Judy cut the “allergy” foods from her diet, her cravings disappeared and she’s maintained a healthy weight for 18 years now. Gigi, a friend who has struggled with her own weight for ages, read Collins’ book and it struck a chord. “It’s the first book on food that made sense,” she told me. She has begun to follow Judy’s advice and it’s working. And besides, “[the book] is a bloody good read,” says Gigi. I can only concur. In between chapters on her life, and eating disorders, and the many diet gurus she encountered along the way, Collins profiles some well-known fellow “obsessives” who struggled with their weight. We learn, for instance, that the poet Lord Byron was said to have been anorexic, as well as bulimic. Very interesting. However, it is her treatise on William the Conqueror that grabbed my attention. It turns out that William, known for launching the Norman conquest of England, had a serious fight with his weight. When he became too fat to ride his horse (and those horses were bred to carry enormous weight) his answer was to lock himself in a room and just drink liquids – beer, wine, and milk (“water wasn’t good in those days,” Judy says). The liquid diet worked, enough that he could mount his horse, but alas his stomach still protruded. When his horse stumbled, he was thrown forward onto the pommel of his saddle, and his internal organs ruptured. That was the end of William. Judy herself drinks a ton of water, “probably sixty ounces or more a day,” she says. “It’s the source of life, the essence of fifty to sixty-five percent of our bodies.” Her parting words to me are something I’ve taken to heart. “The next time you are exhausted and feel like you need a sugary drink, try a glass of water. You are just dehydrated,” she advises. Cravings is a fascinating read, and I won’t give away any more of Judy’s secrets on how she succeeded in conquering food, because you should buy the book. Besides being a great read, it could change your life. – Patricia Harty


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by Tom Deignan

Taunting Death

with Malachy McCourt

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Malachy McCourt with George Heslin, director of the Origin Theatre, on Bloomsday, June 16, this year. McCourt was awarded the inaugural Origin in Bloom Literary Award at the theater company's annual Bloomsday Breakfast at Bloom's Tavern in New York City. “There is no better champion for artists, the arts, the little guy, and the big-hearted than our dear friend, Malachy McCourt,” Heslin said. “That is why this award is so meaningful to us. Though he always brushes these kinds of things off, Malachy deserves our undying love for all that he does.” Bloomsday is celebrated in honor of James Joyceʼs landmark novel Ulysses, which follows the day-long wanderings of Leopold Bloom through Dublin on, June 16, 1904.

Published May 2017 by Center Street. (Hardcover / 288 pages / $27)

here is something fitting about where Malachy McCourt is calling from as I speak to him about his dark and hilarious new book PHOTO: JAMES HIGGINS Death Need Not Be Fatal. McCourt is at a Manhattan rehabilitation facility, where he will spend the next few weeks recovering from a “severe attack” of gout. “I’m doing pretty good now,” he says, sounding lively and cheerful enough given what he’s endured. Initially, he says, “The pain was so awful.” For the next few weeks, as he recovers, McCourt will spend his days moving around very carefully and doing light rehabilitative exercises. “All the things little babies love to do,” he says with a laugh. In September, McCourt turns 86. He is the last living child born to that resilient literary heroine Angela McCourt. His now-famous youth – in Brooklyn as well as Ireland – was scarred by poverty and death. His adult years brought some material comforts, thanks to numerous books, and acting roles on the stage and screen. But friends and family, including beloved brothers Alphie, Mike, and of course Frank, are passing at a ferocious rate. So perhaps it’s no surprise that McCourt would write a book not only about death, but that essentially taunts the Grim Reaper with a very powerful and very Irish weapon – humor. “It’s like Mark Twain said,” notes McCourt, “‘I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.’” McCourt credits a chat with New York Irish American author Brian McDonald (My Father’s Gun, Last Call at Elaine’s) for inspiring Death Need Not be Fatal and helping to shepherd it into print. McDonald, credited as co-author, ended up listening to and organizing various thoughts McCourt had written, ultimately getting the words onto the pages. “I don’t type,” McCourt says bluntly. Early in the book, a darkly humorous meditation on mortality combined with tender, uproarious anecdotes from his immensely colorful life, McCourt writes: “As I am in my eighties... and there are far fewer tomor-

rows ahead and more yesteryears behind, I am essentially hanging out in the departure lounge, waiting for the call to board the last transport to somewhere.” This is, of course, a particularly Irish take on what Shakespeare, in Hamlet, called “the undiscovered country.” “We’re the only race that celebrates the wake and mourns the marriage,” Malachy says. In Death Need Not be Fatal, we revisit the horrific death of Malachy’s infant sister Margaret Mary, in Brooklyn, and the more recent search for the poor, dead child’s remains. Then there’s the family’s return to Limerick, which had “cornered the market on death, destitution, and despair.” “Frank once said that it felt sometimes like we belonged to the death of the month club.” This book may not be for you if you are sensitive about things like, say, organized religion. Or right wing politicians. (“People are getting it wrong,” McCourt says about the 2016 presidential election. “Hillary was e-lected, Trump was se-lected.”) But we also get Malachy’s teenage years in England, where he “shoveled coal into a furnace all night like O’Neill’s Yank in The Hairy Ape.” After journeying to America, there’s time spent on the waterfront, as a longshoreman, in Manhattan and New Jersey – though not Brooklyn, “the province of the Italians, who would say to me in no uncertain terms, ‘No Micks allowed here.’” In the decades that followed, Malachy ran bars, acted in movies from The Molly Maguires to She’s the One, in soap operas such as Ryan’s Hope, and wrote a play with his brother called A Couple of Blaguards, which is still being produced. His memoirs A Monk Swimming and Singing My Him Song were best sellers. McCourt still writes every day, when he’s not strolling in the park or meditating with his beloved wife Diana, whom he’s known for over 50 years now. These days, McCourt finds himself missing the sense of humor he and his brothers all shared. But he still loves spending time with his four children, as well as his grandchildren. That is what he is most looking forward to when he completes his recovery from gout. McCourt, it seems, is taking his own advice, offered near the end of Death Need Not be Fatal: “Live each day as if it’s you last, and one day you’ll be right.” IA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 99


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review of books | recently published books Napoleon’s Doctor: The St. Helena Diary of Barry O’Meara

Ghost Songs

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By Dr. Hubert O’Connor

he last few years of the great Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s life were spent with an Irishman. That Irishman was Barry O’Meara, a Dublin-born surgeon who caught the Emperor’s attention during his surrender on the British warship Bellerophon. This encounter would change O’Meara’s life, as he was personally requested by Napoleon to be his physician during his time on the island of St. Helena after Napoleon’s original physician fell ill and begged his Emperor to be dismissed. Napoleon’s Doctor: The St. Helena Diary of Barry O’Meara, by Dr. Hubert O’Connor, is a fascinating insight into one of the most influential military minds that the world has ever seen. The book is the result of 30 years of research by O’Connor, a former rugby player for Ireland and a physician himself. In it, O’Connor transitions between O’Meara’s diary and the history surrounding O’Meara’s words. O’Connor had two goals in mind in researching and writing this book. He wanted to “attempt to vindicate the reputation of O’ Meara” and to “paint a personal picture of the Emperor and the Irishman – the great Napoleon himself on St. Helena and the Irish doctor who accompanied him there.” These goals are admirably attained in O’Connor’s thorough project, as he mostly lets O’Meara’s diary entries do the work in showing how these two men interacted. After the diary entries, O’Connor delves into the last days of Napoleon’s life, O’Meara’s return to London, and the journey Napoleon’s body took from St. Helena back to France. The last chapter explores the possibility of Napoleon being poisoned by his jailers at the end of his exile. If you want an intimate perspective on the last days of a man who almost conquered the world, Napoleon’s Doctor should be right up your alley.

– Dave Lewis (O’Brien / 224 pp. / €16.99)

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By Regina McBride

host Songs, Regina McBride’s new memoir of despair and recovery, is a coming-of-age story set in the aftermath of her parents’ suicides as she attempts to navigate the chimeric burden and comfort of ancestral inheritance. “I am still a child when I find out that neither of my parents have actually ever been to Ireland,” she writes in one of the book’s flashback sequences. “I wonder how they can still love and miss a place their ancestors left before they were born. Yet somehow I understand.” For McBride, the idea of missing a place to which one has never been represents a continuity with the past as much as it symbolizes its haunting of the present. It is in the space between these two nodes – the terror and the beauty implicated in the memoir’s title – that McBride sets to work rebuilding her life. The memoir opens after McBride’s admission into a psychiatric ward after a breakdown following her parents’ closely-timed deaths as she documents her struggle with the literal ghosts of her past. This is not some metaphoric haunting, but the actual specters of her mother and father who pay her frequent, distressingly silent visits by night. Eighteen-year-old Regina confesses to her therapist that due to a relentlessly Irish American upbringing, she wrestles with the staunch Catholic belief that those who die by their own hand are damned to purgatory, trapped between the world of the living and the afterlife forever. Desperate to come to terms with the past and learn to cope with, if not move on from, her grief, Regina sells her car and buys a one way ticket across the Atlantic, searching for answers on the small island that was, for her parents, magnetizing but unreachable. A dizzying network of memories new and old, Ghost Songs bears a title incredibly befitting of the narrative pattern it represents. At times, the novel composes itself from strings of vignettes and quasi-prose poetry, faithfully rendering the mindset of a narrator acutely displaced by her loss, whose consciousness snags on regret and things left unsaid at every turn. Searching for solace in the land from where her grandparents emigrated, McBride becomes familiar with a new kind of Ireland – one decidedly her own, landmarked with moments of selfdiscovery and the realization that, after the storm is over and the wreckage cleared, that which has survived will provide the steadfast foundation needed to begin afresh.

– Olivia O’Mahony (Tin House / 312 pp. / $15.95)


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Irish-American Autobiography: The Divided Hearts of Athletes, Priests, Pilgrims, and More By James Silas Rogers

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he title, and especially the cover, of IrishAmerican Autobiography belie the content and message of this brilliant book. It’s not an autobiography at all – the author remains anonymous throughout, serving only as a narrator studying what it means to be Irish in America. While the cover features a traditional nun step-dancing with children wearing symbols of Irish treacle, leprechaun derbies, the book is anything but a sentimental trek through Irish eyes, smiling or crying. Rather, in Irish-American Autobiography James Silas Rogers brings an insightful and beautifully written study of IrishAmericana over the past 100 years. The book is a series of essays that encompass biographies, literary excerpts, and countless cultural references to illustrate the disparate history of Irish immigrants and the generations that followed. Rogers covers all the tropes of the IrishAmerican experience, particularly immigration. He posits that assimilation, contrary to popular belief and despite the common language, was painful for Irish immigrants and their children: “the profound experience of being on the inside and on the outside in two different places.” If there is an over-arching theme in the book, it’s that to be Irish means to be a study in contradictions, whether it’s Gaelic vs. English, cynic vs. happy-go-lucky or shanty vs. lace-curtain. As the Irish left the ethnic strongholds of the city (“peaceful ethnocide”), they moved to the sameness of the suburbs, becoming in effect, “deracinated.” Yet – contradiction again – the more the blood of Ireland became diluted in modern generations, the more they begin to embrace their Irishness. “The heirs,” as Rogers calls them, “have invented an ethnic identity out of scattered knowledge… or nakedly constructed ones, such as ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish!’ buttons. It’s part of a particularly American need be ‘from somewhere.’” Why not embrace your Irishness, however minimal, and become a member of an impish and

fun-loving race? To do this, of course, the heirs need to obliterate the tragic history of Ireland and its many brooding “priestridden” inhabitants. The book gracefully moves from writers to accordion players, from John F. Kennedy to Whitey Bolger, from priests to heavy weight champions. In a fascinating chapter, Rogers analyzes and contextualizes the bus driver from Brooklyn, Ralph Kramden, a figure familiar to all of us of a certain age. Ralph doesn’t have an Irish name but it’s clear he’s as Irish as his creator, the actor who plays him, Jackie Gleason. The Honeymooners is filled with Irish subtext – the long-suffering wife, the tiny tenement apartment where the Kramdens are “crammed in,” Ralph stuck in his working class job waiting for his lucky break, his pot of gold, to arrive. All that sadness under all that brilliant humor, so very Irish. Rogers celebrates the recent shift in the mindset of Irish Americans. Thanks to the genealogy websites like Ancestry and 23andMe, many Irish Americans now visit Ireland, not to ride on jaunting cars or donkeys, but to search for their roots and visit the land of their ancestors. Called alternately “The Homecoming” or “The Gathering,” these modern pilgrims are now versed in Ireland’s bloody and starving history. They want to grasp what it means to be Irish, realizing that it’s so much more than green beer or buttons or leprechaun derby hats. President Kennedy expressed this as far back as 1963 during his Ireland trip: “It is strange that so many years could pass and so many generations pass and still some of us who came on this trip could come home – here to Ireland – and not feel ourselves in a strange country.”

– Rosemary Rogers (Catholic University of America Press / 208 pp. / $24.95)

Something to Be Brave For BRIEFLY NOTED

By Priscilla Bennett

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here can never be enough said or written about domestic violence. Too often it’s lurked in the shadows, silent, its victims muted by shame. Something to Be Brave For is an important take on this epidemic that claims 24 victims per minute and still hides only to emerge when a celebrity is involved or when an assault ends in death. This novel brings domestic abuse into a rarefied strata of society where wealth, fame and plastic surgery intersect. The protagonist, Katie Giraud, is married to a world famous plastic surgeon who spends his days

carving the faces of his adoring patients, and relaxes at night by battering the face of his wife. Katie tells no one about her terrible secret; who would believe a voice from a gilded cage? Priscilla Bennett, a former emergency room nurse and victim advocate, tells this Jekyll and Hyde story at a rapid and terrifying pace. The author has partnered with the National Network to End Domestic Violence in Washington, D.C., which will receive some of the proceeds from the sale of the e-book.

– Rosemary Rogers (Endeavour Press, published exclusively for Amazon Kindle / 225 pp. / $3.99, or free with Kindle Unlimited)

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by Mary Pat Kelly

PHOTO BY MARK COGGINS

FROM TOP: Jennifer Egan, Alice McDermott, Lawrence O'Donnell, and Michael Connelly. RIGHT: Robert Gleason’s new novel.

Portals to the

Other World

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his fall, a number of our most celebrated Irish American authors will launch books into heavy seas where Twitter storms and televised tantrums batter our attention, but after spending time at the Book Expo, the publishing industry’s lollapalooza in New York City this summer, I realized all will be well. I met with Jennifer Egan, Alice McDermott, Michael Connelly, Lawrence O’Donnell, Robert Gleason, and a number of other Irish American authors whose new titles represent a continuum of genres and subjects. Irish American women from the Greatest Generation live rich and complicated lives in both Jennifer Egan and Alice McDermott’s eagerly awaited new books. Anna Kerrigan in Egan’s Manhattan Beach becomes the U.S. Navy’s first female diver at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II, while Sister St. Saviour, the aging nursing Sister of the Sick Poor in Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour, set in the same period, intervenes to help a family shattered by suicide. Mingling with the tens of thousands of attendees – from publishers to bookstore owners and librarians – and the job of meeting the authors up close and personal convinced me that the printed word will live on. As Jennifer Egan said, “I’m thrilled to be surrounded by so many people who have books. It makes me feel the world will be okay.” Unhurried, Alice McDermott took time to talk to each reader whose books she signed, and she’ll be doing the same when she appears at other events and bookstores. In what other area PHOTO: ER-NAY / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY EPIC/JAMIE SHOENERGER

PHOTO BY DAVID SHANKBONE

book notes |

102 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

of the arts do we get to be that close to the creators? John Grisham, on his first book tour in 25 years, was extending the same courtesy to his readers on the other side of the sprawling Jacob Javits Convention Center. Lawrence O’Donnell’s new book is called Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics. He told his audience that the empathy for others that propelled him into politics came from his Irish American upbringing. Michael Connelly, signing his new book The Late Show, recalled that one of the most gratifying turnouts of his career was the crowd that came to a Belfast book store. “They welcomed me home,” he said. These authors are strengthening the bond between writer and reader, especially when they, too, are rooted in the Irish American experience. And we do come from a nation of readers. I was reminded of this recently while traveling around Ireland on public transport. I couldn’t help but notice the number of passengers on trains and buses who were reading books. And my two favorite hotels, Lough Inagh Lodge in Connemara and the Beech Hill Country House in County Derry, both overflow with books. In the old Celtic religion, you could enter the other world through a lake, a river, a well, or a sudden insight. Books are portals. Sometimes the journey is frightening, as in Robert Gleason’s And Into The Fire, an all-too-plausible tale of nuclear terrorism. But, luckily enough, we always have an author’s guiding hand. Once we are stuck in a story, distractions fall away. We Irish have been telling stories of thousands of years. They have seen us through very dark times. They will again. IA


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a journey of discovery

Who Was My

Grandmother Kate?

y maternal grandmother Kate and I were very close. As a child I would go to Jersey City to stay with Kate for two or three weeks during the summer. As I got older, she was as much a “girlfriend” as a grandmother. Over the years, I learned bits and pieces of the story of her early years and, hearing that sad story, my heart went out to her and I needed to know more. Now, so many years later, I realize that despite my sincere intentions, my interest meant dredging up things that she had very deliberately left behind and my curiosity may have caused her pain. Knowing what I now know, I am grateful that she shared what she did and made my ensuing 30 year journey to discover more possible. Kate, a red-head like her mother and named for her paternal grandmother, was born in 1904 in Jersey City, the daughter of Mary Agnes Flannelly, known as Mamie, and Patrick Joseph Whalen. She was one of five children, three girls and two boys. Pat Whalen, my great-grandfather, born of Irish immigrant parents and raised by his widowed mother, was apparently a drinker and “n’er-do-well” by all accounts. In 1913, Mamie was stricken with tuberculosis and, at the age of 35, succumbed to that disease as had her only sister Anna four years earlier. Pat Whalen could not or would not assume responsibility for his motherless children and so, at the age of nine, my grandmother began being shuffled between her Irish aunts and uncles. Pat eventually enlisted in the Army, leaving the raising and care of his children to various relations. A year after her mother’s death, my grandmother’s five-year-old sister was burned to death after falling into a bonfire of leaves in the street. Things did not go well for my grandmother with her Whalen and Flannelly extended family and by the age of 13, after running away from a severe aunt she blamed for her younger brother’s crippling fall down a flight of stairs, she was put into domestic service in the home of a prosperous family in Jersey City Heights. She was paid $12 a month and remained there until the age of 16, when she married and embarked on a loving partnership that would last over 50 years until the death of my grandfather. She was a devoted mother to five sons and one daughter (my mother), a doting grandmother to 13 and a dear great-grandmother to my sons and my cousins’ children. While her difficult, interrupted childhood and sub104 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

sequent premature leap into adulthood and the creation of a loving family made me proud of her, that childhood and the abandonment by her father were an embarrassment to her, one of those skeletons found in so many family closets. She knew next to nothing about her family history, believing that her parents were born in the U.S. of Irish immigrants, which turned out to be correct. I was determined to find out her greater family story, sure that I could dilute her painful childhood memories by doing so. She did not live to see me succeed, falling victim to Alzheimer’s in her early eighties. But I did succeed, albeit many years later. So, who was my grandmother Kate? Kate Whalen was the granddaughter of John J. Flannelly, born in 1841 in Skreen Parish, County Sligo. John and his five surviving siblings fled Ireland with their parents, William and Mary Lang Flannelly, in late 1846 during the Great Hunger. They sailed alongside 180 other Irish men, women and children in steerage class in the belly of the packet ship Marmion out of Liverpool, landing in New York on November 28, 1846. They settled in downtown Jersey City among other Irish immigrants. William Flannelly, a Catholic born in about 1800, was the son of Owen and Mary Flannelly, who were born in the second half of the 18th century in the waning years of the Penal Laws. William’s wife Mary Lang, raised in the Church of Ireland, was born in about 1810 in County Cavan to John Lang of Killeshandra and his wife Abigail Leviston, descended of the Levistons of Cullentragh. Mary turned away from her family and her Protestant faith and married William Flannelly in March 1832 at the Flannelly’s Catholic parish church in Skreen. She must have been a very strong young woman to defy convention and societal boundaries to marry the Catholic man she loved. She would need that strength 14 years later when she and William, then in his mid-40s and a tenant farmer on the lands of a Cromwellian plantation descendant named Jeremiah Jones, made the fateful decision to join the diaspora trying to escape the ravages of hunger. John J. Flannelly, age five when he arrived in America in 1846 with his parents and siblings, enlisted in the Union Army at age 18 in 1861, incented by the promise of a $100 bounty payment for three years’ service. In May, 1862, he fought on the front

ABOVE: Kate Whalen in the mid-1920s. BELOW: Patrick Whalen, Kate’s father.


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lines at the Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, a place I would feel drawn to and visit regularly for over 30 years before the discovery of that personal family connection. John’s military service record shows he was hospitalized there post-battle. As John lay in a Williamsburg field hospital, three thousand miles away, a 13-year-old Irish girl named Bridget Hough (but who everybody called Delia) had made her way to Liverpool alone and set sail on the ship Vanguard destined for America. Delia traveled in steerage along with 345 other Irish emigrants. The ship passenger manifest indicated she was a “housemaid,” one of 75 female steerage passengers aged 7 to 62 with that same occupational designation. In addition, another 41 women in steerage were listed as “servant,” meaning that more than one-third of the passengers in steerage were girls and women intending to go into domestic service upon arrival in America. John Flannelly returned from the Civil War in 1864 and would meet and marry Delia Hough at the former St. Peter Church in Jersey City in October 1867. They had 10 children, two sons dying in infancy. The surviving children, six boys and two girls, included my great-grandmother, Mamie Flannelly. Delia died at 41 years old in 1890 of pneumonia and John, a Civil War pensioner, died in 1894 at age 53, leaving Mamie parentless at age 15. Just four years later, Mamie would become an unwed teenage mother and, in the 1900 U.S. census, is found as a boarder in a rooming house working in a local laundry as an “ironer” to support herself and her baby son, John Flannelly. At the age of 22 she married Pat Whalen. My grandmother Kate was born three years later. The Flannellys had escaped the ravages of the Great Hunger by no doubt reluctantly leaving the homeland and family they loved. Their new life in America was a story of continuing struggle to integrate into the community, laboring like most immigrants in low-paying, physically demanding jobs and dealing daily with the challenge of keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table as tenants in rowhouses and tenements in crowded immigrant neighborhoods along the congested and increasingly industrial streets of downtown Jersey City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite the family’s presence in America for a half-century by the time

my grandmother was born, they lived in the same immigrant neighborhood and had not yet risen out of the lowest laboring class, nor escaped the threat of poverty. I wish I could have held my grandmother’s hands in mine, telling her the story of her modest, persevering Irish family who risked everything and sailed across the vast ocean in a quest to survive. I wish I could tell her about her Irish immigrant great-grandparents’ “love match” that led to a 50-year marriage and about the parallel between her early teenage years in domestic service in Jersey City and those of her grandmother Delia some 50 years earlier. But the Alzheimer’s, like quicksand, had dragged her down to a cruel death years before I discovered her family story. In recent months, television programs on NBC and PBS have generated renewed interest in genealogy, using the tag line “who do you think you are” and, in the course of 60-minutes, revealing the ancestral family history of various public figures including entertainers, film-makers and the like. I am pleased and proud to have answered that same question for my Kate and for me, realizing that my grandmothers Mary, Delia, Mamie, and Kate’s lives, woven of struggle, difficult choices, spiritual faith, and love of family made possible the gift of their ancestral DNA and my very life.

TOP LEFT: John Flannelly’s 1841 Baptismal Record. Skreen, County Sligo. TOP RIGHT: Ship Marmion manifest showing Flannelly family 1846. ABOVE LEFT: William Flannelly and Mary Lang 1832 Marriage Record. Skreen, County Sligo. ABOVE: John Flannelly’s Civil War discharge.

– Maureen Wlodarczyk

Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description, to Patricia Harty at Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. If photos are irreplaceable, then please send a good quality reproduction or e-mail the picture at 300 dpi resolution to submit@irishamerica.com. We will pay $65 for each submission that we select. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 IRISH AMERICA 105


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crossword | by Darina Molloy ACROSS

1 Finished, done (4) 7 Number of vehicles travelling together, often presidential (9) 10 Pre-Easter period of fasting in Catholic church calendar (4) 12 Iconic British tennis championship (9) 14 (& 43 across) U.S. singer who performed in Dublin the weekend before her Manchester concert became a terrorist target (6) 15 Highest mountain in Connacht (8) 16 See 30 down (3) 17 This McEnroe is now a commentator at 12 across (4) 18 “I wish I was in ___________” – line from an iconic song (13) 21 Kerry town on a peninsula (6) 22 This Sligo estate has opened a Leonard Cohen memorial garden (9) 24 Used in speech to indicate hesitation (2) 26 (& 27 down) Hollywood’s answer to Fr. Ted? (6) 29 (& 5 down) Current Prime Minister of Canada (6) 31 A person who presides over a

33

34 37 39 40 41 43 44

45

formal event, in short (1, 1) (& 9 down) This singer broke Irish records for selling the most concert tickets (3,000,000) in a single day (2) Ireland’s national potato chip or crisp (5) Ill, unwell (4) Bog product (4) This town’s opera festival is now in its 66th year (7) 1690 Battle of the _____ (5) See 14 across (6) New romantic drama movie starring Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins (6) Pre-politics profession of 42 down (6)

DOWN

2 Oldest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (9) 3 Galway is the city of the _______(6) 4 Actress _____ Lynch will play Janet Reno in an upcoming movie (4) 5 See 29 across (7) 6 Sligo beach famed for its surf (10) 8 Someone who competes in multi-disciplinary sporting competitions – usually swimming, cycling, and running (10) 9 See 33 across (7)

Win a subscription to Irish America magazine

11 Kevin Spacey’s President Frank ____________(9) 13 Tyrone beat this county in this year’s Ulster football final (4) 19 Strong wind (4) 20 (& 25 down) This accomplished novelist now shares his advice for young writers in his new book (5) 21 (& 28 down) Stretch of railway line in Pennsylvania that also marked a mass grave of Irish immigrants (6) 23 More usual name for South Boston (7)

Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than September 15, 2017. A winner will be drawn from among all correct entries. If there are no correct solutions, the prize will be awarded for the completed puzzle which comes closest in the opinion of our staff. Winner’s name will be published along with the solution in our next issue. Xerox copies accepted. Winner of the June/July crossword: Sarah Nargard, Ware, MA. 106 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017

25 27 28 30

See 20 down (2, 4) See 26 across (4) See 21 down (3) (& 16 across) Latest novel by Tracy Chevalier, a retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello (3) 32 Irish for Mary (5) 35 They say it’s the new black (6) 36 Elisabeth Moss plays this “hand-

maid” in the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood's seminal novel (6) 38 Shy (3) 39 Group of people linked in a common purpose (4) 42 Ireland’s new Taoiseach Varadkar recently made the cover of Time magazine (3)

June / July Solution


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Irish America August / September 2017  

The 2017 Health Issue, featuring Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO Daniel O'Day and the 2017 Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 list. Featuring Katy Pe...

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