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JUNE / JULY 2017
CANADA $4.95 / U.S. $3.95
HOW DRONES CAPTURED THE BEAUTY OF COUNTY CLARE MAUDIE: AISLING WALSH’S BEAUTIFUL NEW FILM
How she rose from cooking for the priests in her Southie neighborhood to being a top chef and restaurateur
THE SCULPTOR WHO PUT “FREEDOM” ON THE CAPITOL DOME DOROTHY KILGALLEN: THE REPORTER WHO WON’T STAY DEAD DOWNTON ABBEY’S IRISH CHAUFFEUR TAKES TO THE STAGE
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contents | june / july 2017
34 The Beauty of County Clare
With driving tour apps and drone footage, Clare’s scenery has never been easier to discover. By Sharon Ní Chonchúir
38 Cover Story: Top Chef
South Boston native Barbara Lynch cooks for the city she loves. By Michael Quinlin
Irish Eye on Hollywood
John Cusack, Colin Farrell, Jane Lynch, Liam Neeson, and more. p. 16
42 Wild Irish Women
Dorothy Kilgallen was a journalist and TV star who died under mysterious circumstances. By Rosemary Rogers
Anne With an E
A Donegal teen stars as Anne of Green Gables in a new Netflix series. p. 18
46 A Forgotten Sculptor
The U.S. Capitol sculptures of Irish American Thomas Crawford. By Geoffrey Cobb
50 Mother Teanga
The historical roots of Irish and its links to other languages. By Colin Lacey
54 The Great Tate Caper
How two young Irishmen made off with a priceless painting and got away with it. By Aidan Lonergan
57 Roots: The Lynches of Galway The origins of the Lynch surname are explored. By Olivia O’Mahony
60 What Are You Like?
Downton Abbey star Allen Leech takes our questionnaire. By Adam Farley
Actress Lisa Dwan talks Samuel Beckett with Olivia O’Mahony. p. 70
A new film about Canadian artist Maud Lewis shows the power of love and art. By Patricia Harty
DEPARTMENTS 6 8 12 68 74 76
66 In Search of Lost Writers
A Dublin press’s mission to republish forgotten Irish writers. By Julia Brodsky
72 Sláinte! My Personal Seanachie Edythe Preet on her father’s love of literature, storytelling, and food.
80 Photo Album
4 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
The ancient seat of the O’Neill clan has reopened. p. 23 Photos from Irish America’s 2017 Hall of Fame Awards.
62 Maudie: A Love Story
The old Irish of Burlington, Vermont. By Martha Lang
Hall of Fame
58 The Georgia Healys
In antebellum Georgia, the mixed race children of Michael Morris Healy had to be smuggled out of state to avoid slavery. By Ray Cavanaugh
Ford Motors celebrates 100 years of production in Ireland. p. 22
First Word Readers Forum Hibernia Books Crossword Those We Lost
Cover Photo: Michael Prince
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the first word | by Patricia Harty
The Joys of Cooking
ur cover story on top chef and restauranteur, Barbara Lynch got me thinking about my first forays into cooking, which involved wrestling with a Stanley wood-burning stove. I have fond memories of that black-iron beast, and the time I spent practically hugging it for the warmth that it threw off. Always cold as a child, the “range” as we called it, was the only source of heat in the kitchen, and I stayed as close to it as possible, often warming my feet in the oven on winter days. I learned to cook when I was very young, to boil potatoes on top of the stove, and fry sausages and eggs, and I learned to bake, but my mother was the master of the fire. She knew how to stoke it, how much wood was needed to get the oven temperature just right so that our apple tarts came out with a nice golden crust. It was a talent that I came to appreciate when I was left in charge of the house for the first time. I was 12, and mother was away giving birth to one of my younger siblings. A hospital stay of 24 hours is now the norm, but back then women stayed in hospital for at least a week. I enjoyed being in charge of my younger siblings while my mother was away. (Later they would accuse me of being bossy, but I like to think I was a benevolent dictator!) In my memory of that time, my mother was barely out the door when I had the baking utensils out and I was making my favorite buns. I measured all the ingredients (quadrupling the recipe since there were so many of us) and mixed everything in the yellow porcelain bowl. Then I poured the lot into two bun (cupcake) trays and after carefully putting them in the oven, I waited. And watched, and waited some more. After an hour, the buns were as pale as when I first put them in. I added more wood to the fire, but to no avail. No matter how much I poked the logs, I couldn’t get the oven temperature up. Finally, I gave up and took them out, still pale in color and hard as stone. Alas, my brother Dessie happened into the kitchen just as I was taking them out the oven. Biting into one of my anemic specimens, proved to be an experience that he never forgot, and has never let me forget, either. Luckily, he lives on the West Coast, so I don’t see him that often, but when I do, his first question, more often that not, is: “Made any rock buns lately?” Things got much easier in the cooking de6 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
partment when we got a gas cooker, but that old Stanley range, rock buns aside, still holds a warm spot in my heart. All this reminiscing is by way of saying that I identify with Barbara Lynch, who at age 12, was cooking for the priests in Southie, her Boston Irish neighborhood. I will venture to say that shouldering that kind of responsibility early in life didn’t do her any harm, nor me either. Another thing that endears Lynch to me is that in my early years in New York, I spent a lot of times in restaurants – waitressing. I remember those times with great affection. I loved the social aspects of the job, how everything revolved around the kitchen, and that wonderful surge of adrenalin that you got during the lunch and dinner rushes. But most of all, I remember the camaraderie that we shared as a team. We were all young and far away from home, mostly immigrants from different parts of the globe, and we had a lot fun together. Lynch’s story is one of many interesting features in this, our summer reading issue. Rosemary Rogers writes a thought-provoking piece on reporter Dorothy Kilgallen who was investigating JFK’s assassination when she herself died under mysterious circumstances. Colin Lacey’s piece on the roots of Irish and its links to other languages highlights the common bonds we share with others. (And reminds me again of the restaurant workers I knew back in the day. I dare say, that should I find myself on the other side of the wall, my kitchen Spanish will stand me in good stead.) In other stories, Geoffrey Cobb writes about Thomas Crawford, the son of Irish immigrants, whose “freedom” statue sits on top of the U.S. Capitol dome. Olivia O’Mahony writes about Samuel Beckett, and Ray Cavanaugh writes about the Healys, a mixedrace family who passed for white back when inter-racial marriages were forbidden. On a cheerful note, Allen Leech, Downton’s Abbey’s Irish chauffeur, takes questions from Adam Farley, and Edythe Preet writes about her father, his love of literature, his storytelling abilities, and his passion for strawberry shortcake. And there’s lots more besides. When you are done reading, I recommend Maudie, a beautiful movie that I’m sure you will love as much as I did. You can read about it in this issue too. Mórtas Cine
Vol. 32 No. 4 •June/ July 2017
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 Art Director: Marian Fairweather Deputy Editor: Adam Farley Event Reservations & Advertising Coordinator: 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: email@example.com www.irishamerica.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders: 1-800-5826642. Subscription queries:1-800582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 217. Periodicals postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Postmaster please send address changes to Irish America Magazine, P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. IRISH AMERICA IS PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.
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letters | readers forum The Irishman Who Built New York Harbor
– Bob Schneck, submitted online
Ed. The NYC Parks Dept. has restored the bust and it will be placed in Battery Park later this year.
PHOTO: NUALA PURCELL
Glad to have learned about Mr. John Wolfe Ambrose. Could you please tell us, by now, where the restored sculpture bust is? It was stolen in January 1990. There have been various news articles reporting the restoration project since March 2014.
Play Ball: The Duke of Tralee
Rosamond Mary Moore Carew at 106
What a life, what a legacy; we should all aspire to more like dear Rosamond. A beautiful story, a beautiful legacy of children, grandchildren, and a life abundant in love. We need to heed her examples of never stopping, enjoying everyday, and dressing well! May she live another 20 years.
– Dr. Clint Potter, MD, Naples, FL
Irish America is an excellent magazine and a “must have” if you have Irish heritage. Great and well-written editorials about everything Irish. It’s a lot more enjoyable to read from a tactile publication rather than on the screen, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or P.C. Keep up the good work.
Congratulations to a great lady. You have a wonderful family and your daughter, Kathie, has done so much for the world of bridge playing. You should be proud.
Rosamond, known as “Mema,” celebrated her 106th birthday at the Irish America Hall of Fame with her daughter Kathy, granddaughter Ava, and retired Army general Martin Dempsey, who sang “Red Is the Rose” to celebrate the occasion.
I look forward to seeing [The Duke of Tralee, an upcoming movie about Irish American baseball legend Roger Bresnahan]. I hope it includes a little about John “Red” Murray, another son of Irish immigrants, who was part of the trade for Bresnahan from New York to St. Louis. Red Murray went on to play in several World Series for the Giants, lead the league in home runs one year, and make one fantastic catch in Pittsburgh.
– Joseph Kilheeney, submitted online
Red Murray with the New York Giants.
– Ed Brennan, submitted online
Congratulations to Mema. What a great story, what a great life! All the best to Mema and her great children and grandchildren. Love to all!
– Ginny Carew, submitted online
– Andy Ring
I love 99.99% of this magazine. Get tired of reading about famous bankers and business people. Would prefer more stories on how the Irish built America – but overall love the magazine and especially its staff.
– Kathleen Reilly Acker
8 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
Forward the Music of the Gael
The McGonigal brothers.
I grew up in Kearny. Most Sundays after mass, you could hear St. Columcille practicing in the West Hudson Park Hollow. I know the McGonigals pretty well and always look forward to hearing them play. A great family.
– John Ramsey, submitted online
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letters | clarifications + corrections Report from Havana
The original article stated that “many of the Irish who came to Cuba were involved in the construction of the railway in 1902.” This was the 600mile Trans-Cuba railroad, though the history of Cuban railroads began much earlier, on October 12, 1834, when the Regent Queen of Spain, María Christina, approved the building of the first railroad in Latin America, a 17-mile line from Havana to Bejucal, which is where the first Irish railroad workers were employed. In the latter part of 1835, 378 workers, most of whom were Irish, were recruited in New York City to work for the Cuban Railway Commission. The line to Bejucal opened in 1837 and was extended by an additional 10.5 miles to Güines by 1839. – Harry Dunleavy
Robert DeNiro in Goodfellas.
Knock Visionary Reinterred
Our April / May article on the remains of John
contributors | Julia Brodsky, who writes
on Tramp Press’s Recovered Voices series in this issue, is working on an M.A. in Irish studies at NYU, focusing on modern and postmodern Irish literature. She is from Philadelphia and now lives in Brooklyn. , who writes on the Healy family of Georgia, is a freelance scribe from Massachusetts. His mother comes straight from Kerry, and his father is a few generations removed from Wexford.
Geoffrey Cobb, who docu-
ments the work of Irish American sculptor Thomas Crawford for this issue, is a Brooklyn high school history teacher and the author of Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past (CreateSpace, 2015).
10 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
Curry, the youngest visionary of the Knock apparition, being reinterred from Long Island to Manhattan misidentified the location of the May 13 reburial. The remains were reinterred in the graveyard of the Basilica of St Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mulberry Street, not at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
Irish Eye on Hollywood
The column incorrectly identified the character Robert DeNiro played in the film Goodfellas. Robert DeNiro played James Conway, an Irish American gangster, not Henry Hill, who was played by Ray Liotta.
Forward the Music of the Gael The name of the former pipe major of the Oran Mor pipe band was misspelled. It is Donald Lindsay, not Lyndsay.
who writes on the re-opening of the Tulach Óg fort complex in Ireland, is the author of The Little Book of Irish Landmarks (The History Press, September 2017) and chairperson of The Ancient Clan O’Neill, a group that seeks to promote the history and cultural legacy of Tyrone and the O’Neill dynasty. , who writes on the Irish language in this issue, is the editor of County Kerry’s biggest-selling weekly newspaper, Kerry’s Eye, based in Tralee, in the southwest of Ireland. He was a frequent contributor to Irish America and the Irish Voice, as well as other U.S. publications in the 1990s, when he lived in New York.
Visit us online at Irishamerica.com to leave your comments, or write to us:
Send a fax (212244-3344), 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.
is a reporter with the Irish Post in London. He grew up in East London but has family in Tipperary, Cork, and Mayo. For this issue, he writes on a 1950s robbery of the Tate Gallery by two young Irish men.
Sharon Ní Chonchúir lives and
works in west County Kerry, and much of her writing is concerned with the changing face of modern Irish culture. She writes about the beauty and history of County Clare in this issue.
who provides our cover story on chef Barbara Lynch in this issue, is author of Irish Boston (Globe Pequot, 2013) He co-founded the Boston Irish Tourism Association in 2000 and created Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail.
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hibernia | news Bus Éireann Dispute Sparks Suspicion
he daily routines of many Irish commuters were thrown into disarray when employees of Bus Éireann, an intercity and regional bus service that connects areas in Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, and Galway, went on strike for 21 days in April. Protesting poor company conditions and unfair pay, the workers lifted the pickets following a Labor Court reform proposal to improve work conditions, make 200 staff members redundant, and cut the wages of the company’s highest earners over the coming months. Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald blasted transport minister Shane Ross for his claim that he was “not a mediator” and would not be “dictating” to the company or unions on internal issues. Speaking at Leinster House, McDonald criticized the government’s handsoff approach during negotiations, saying it revealed a “privatization agenda” on the part of Ross and the Irish government. “Those workers who are risking their livelihoods on the picket lines are simply being used in an ideological campaign to privatize our bus routes,” said McDonald. “That is an indictment on this government and they should hang their heads in shame.” – O.O.
12 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
Michael D. Higgins First Leader to Light Uisneach Fire in 1,000 Years n May, Irish President Michael D. Higgins became the first Irish leader to light the ceremonial fire on the hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath since the last High King (presumed to be Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair) nearly 1,000 years ago. Higgins follows in the footsteps of previous modern Irish leaders to make the pilgrimage to Uisneach, including Daniel O’Connell, Pádraig Pearse, and President Éamon de Valera, though none participated in the ignition ceremony. The Uisneach fire is a tradition dating back thousands of years to mark Bealtaine, the beginning of the Irish summer, each May. Several thousand people joined President Higgins for the 2017 ceremony. In ancient Ireland, the hill at Uisneach was the seat of the High King, as well as the spiritual and political center of the island where Ireland’s namesake, the goddess Ériu, is said to be buried and leaders of the
Irish Artist Awarded for Refugee Shots
four provinces would meet. It was also an important focal point for political rallies during Ireland’s fight for independence. The site, which has been privately owned for nearly 100 years and contains several surviving monuments, forts, cairns, and relics dating back 5,000 years, is currently in contention for UNESCO World Heritage status. “Having the president visit the hill and light the fire on this important year for Ireland gives me great pride,” David Clarke, said. Clarke and his wife Angela own the farm on which Uisneach sits. “It was a truly historic occasion and one that will go down in the history books. This is all part of our shared mission to help reposition the hill at the center of 21st-century Irish cultural life.” Higgins’s visit in May also corresponded to the opening of a new visitor’s center on the site, set to become part of Ireland’s Ancient East Heritage Trail. – A.F.
rish photographer Richard Mosse was awarded the 2017 Prix Pictet photography award in May for his Heat Maps series, which tracks the journeys of Middle Eastern and North African refugees with the use of a military-grade surveillance camera designed to detect body heat. The device is classified as a weapon under international law. Mosse intended for his use of the camera to rehumanize the individuals it was designed to dehumanize, producing a number of haunting large-scale prints, including those depicting panoramic views of the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece, and a film entitled Incoming. “[The camera] depicts the human body as a radiant glow of biochemical processes such as respiration, energy production, hypothermia, and warmth,” Mosse, who hails from Co. Kilkenny, told the Guardian. “All that’s left of them is the biological fact of their birth.” Mosse previously represented Ireland in 2013 at the Venice Biennale with his video project exploring Congo rebel groups, “The Enclave,” and in 2014 went on to win the prestigious Deutsche Boerse photography prize. – O.O.
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New Roles for Irish Diplomats
rish ambassador to Great Britain Dan Mulhall (above right) is set to replace Anne Anderson as the Republic of Ireland’s 18th representative in the United States as part of a rotation in the senior ranks of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Barbara Jones (right), consul general of Ireland in New York, will take over as the ambassador to Mexico, with responsibilities for Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela as well. Mulhall is a native of County Waterford and is an avid promoter of Irish literary culture and posts regular poetry samples from W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and other writers on Twitter. He is expected to meet with U.S. president Donald Trump in the next few months to discuss Irish-American relations. Jones, who has served as consul general since 2014, was born in County Wexford and has served previously as head of humanitarian aid policy in Ireland. Anderson, the first woman to occupy the post since her appointment in 2013, is preparing for retirement. Originally from Clonmel, County Tipperary, she has also served as the ambassador for Ireland in the United Nations, the E.U., France, and Monaco. – O.O.
Entrepreneurial Emigrants Invited Home
eturning diaspora who wish to kickstart new businesses on Irish soil can now apply for support with a new government-funded mentoring scheme, Minister for Diaspora and International Development Joe McHugh announced in May. Funding of up to €100,000 ($111,000) will be provided to the initiative over the next 12 months as part of a new effort from the Department of Foreign Affairs to engage with Irish emigrants over the globe and facilitate those who desire to return home. “Returning emigrants often have much to offer their local communities,” said McHugh.
“Research suggests that time spent living abroad improves capacity to succeed in creating and growing businesses.” The project’s goal is to provide emigrants who are planning to or have recently come back to Ireland with resources to draw upon for beginning new business ventures. It is also committed to shedding light on and tackling obstacles in entrepreneurship for that particular demographic, such as gaps in personal and professional networks or knowledge of local current affairs fundamental to the success of a newly-established enterprise. Visit dfa.ie and search “Emigrant Support Programme” for info. – O.O.
Census Reports on Love and Language
he results of the Republic of Ireland’s most recent census, conducted April 24, 2016, were released April 6. The census, which occurs every five years, requires everyone on Irish soil to submit a thorough account of their personal information for the production of updated national statistics. First produced in 1821, the census tracks the changes in Ireland’s population distribution, age, gender, housing, and lifestyle. The population (now over 4,761,867) has increased by 3.8 percent since 2011, with 97.8 males for every 100 females. The 2016 census is the first in Irish history since the legal-
ization of same-sex marriage in 2015, and reported accordingly – over one third of people in Ireland are married, with 6,034 such of such couples being same-sex. The total number of people who answered “yes” to being able to speak the Irish language in 2016 was 1,761,420, a 0.7 percent decrease on the 2011 figure. Interestingly, 43.1 per cent of women indicated they could speak Irish compared with just 36.4 percent of men; however, whether this is representative of competence or confidence is difficult to know. The percentage of the population that reported speaking Irish beyond the
Ireland Announces Online Passport Applications
n March the Irish government rolled out a major change to its passport issuing office, allowing Irish citizens to renew their passports online, from anywhere in the world. The service, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan said, “is one of the most significant innovations in customer service that this department has delivered over the past 15 years.” The new service is a milestone in Flanagan’s Passport Reform Program, which aims to modernize and streamline the process of applying for and renewing Irish passports with a focus on fraud detection and prevention. Launched in 2015, the program has a combined capital and current investment budget of €18.6 million and will run through 2019. Last year saw the highest number of passports ever issued by Ireland, with a total of 747,810 applications processed, a nine percent increase from 2015. This year that trend appears likely to be sustained. By March, the most recent month for which numbers are available, there has already been a 26 percent increase in passports issued over the same period in 2016. Currently, the online passport application service is limited to those over the age of 18 who already hold an Irish passport and are not changing their name on that passport, but a department spokesperson told Irish America that the department envisions all Irish citizens, including first-time passport applicants, will be able to apply online by mid-2019. – A.F.
education system was 17.4, with 53,217 Irish speakers living outside the Gaeltacht. Gaeltacht areas themselves are presently home to two percent of the population. Regarding other languages, the 2016 results show that the amount of people speaking foreign languages in their household has gone up by 19 percent, with Polish being the most commonly-used at 135,895, nearly double the number of those who claim to speak Irish daily in non-school environments. – O.O. JUNE /JULY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 13
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hibernia | news Ireland’s Longest Greenway Is Officially Open to the Public
aterford Greenway, the longest off-road walking and cycling path in Ireland, opened to the public at the end of March. Running 28 miles from Waterford City to Dungarvan and tracing the former route of the Great Southern and Western railway line, the €15 million project is also part of the Atlantic Coast Route of EuroVelo, a long distance cycling network connecting Europe. “The Greenway is a wonderful asset for the South East,” said Waterford mayor
Irish Beach Brought Back to Life Overnight
and has returned to a village beach on Achill Island for the first time in over 30 years after a surprise deposit from the Atlantic Ocean in April. Since storms washed away the sand in 1984, leaving only rocks and rock pools, the beach at the small town of Dooagh has been devoid of what was once a lifeline for residents, first as a source of soil fertilization and later as a draw for tourists, who are now returning. “We have a beautiful little village as it is, but it is great to look out and see this beautiful beach instead of just rocks,” Alan Gielty, who owns a local restaurant, told the Guardian. “Since people have seen the news of the beach, we have had plenty more visitors from the middle of the country.” Speaking to the Irish Times, Sean Molloy of Achill Tourism called the development “enormously significant,” recalling how the strand once supported four hotels and several guesthouses.
Prior to the construction of a pier in 1927, the beach was used as a curragh launch and seaweed was mixed with the sand to enrich the soil and fertilize crops. But this also isn’t the first time the beach has disappeared, according to Molloy, who notes a similar occurrence in the 1890s. Sand migration is part of the life cycle of coastal beaches, which regularly change with the tides, though usually not to such a dramatic degree. And even though this renewal saw thousands of tons of sand deposited over 300 meters, Molloy advises caution, telling CNN the beach is still likely in flux: “Because of the sand coming in, we don’t know how safe the beach is now because currents could be changed and it’ll take a little bit of time.” Still, he’s hopeful, telling the Times that “Achill already has five blue-flag beaches, so we are hoping that in time it will be awarded a sixth.” – A.F.
Wexford Festival Opera Named Best in World
and Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Adam Wyse, who attended the opening ceremony. “Visitors, either on foot or by bike, can take in spectacular views, from the Comeragh Mountains to the Copper Coast.” Up to 10,000 people attended the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, held at Kilmacthomas Station House, the halfway point of the trail. “Having a world-class facility like the Greenway will encourage and provide opportunities to people of all ages, across the length and breadth of Waterford, to get out and get active,” John Treacy, chief executive of Sport Ireland said at the opening. Treacy, a Waterford native, earned a silver medal for Ireland at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games. The development was funded by Waterford City and the City Council, with a helping hand from local property and business owners and funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. – O.O. 14 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
reland’s famed Wexford Festival Opera won the prestigious “Best Festival” prize at this year’s International Opera Awards at the London Coliseum, home of the London Opera, in May. The festival, held every fall and now in its 66th year, beat out other shortlisted international festivals like Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the Lyon Festival in France; Festival Verdi in Parma, Italy; Garsington Opera in the U.K.; and Spoleto Festival in the U.S. The International Opera Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in world opera and attracts all leading opera professionals from around the globe. “A group of opera enthusiasts from the rural seaside town of Wexford started out with a clear, ambitious, but risky vision 66 years ago to put on a festival that explored the neglected and often obscure opera repertoire,” Wexford Festival Opera artistic director David Alger, who took over the position in 2005, said when accepting the award. “With the unstinting support from the local community, as well as the Arts Council of Ireland, the festival has grown from strength to strength and now performs in a new state-of-the-art theater, the National Opera House, which allows us more scope and opportunity. This award validates the founders conviction and determination; a winning combination of a shared vision, artistic quality and a warm welcome, truly second to none.” – A.F.
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hibernia | irish eye on hollywood
by Tom Deignan James Carpinello, left, and Nicoye Banks in The Dunning Man
John Cusack Scouts the North for Thomas Francis Meagher Film
rish American John Cusack recently went on a secret movie mission to Belfast. Chicago native Cusack (Say Anything, Being John Malkovich, Hot Tub Time Machine) was ostensibly in the North to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Belfast Film Festival. But as the Belfast Telegraph put it: “The A-lister, who is also a producer and screenwriter, used the trip to scout out a new film about revolutionary Thomas F. Meagher – the man who gave us the Irish tricolor.” It turns out Cusack was travelling with Irish producer Kevin McCabe. The film – still at the earliest stages of production – is based on The Immortal Irishman, a biography of Meagher by Irish American New York Times columnist Timothy Egan. Meagher was born in Waterford in 1823 and died in the U.S. under mysterious circumstances in 1867, after living a life John Cusack of rebellion, exile, and war, from Tasmania to the battlefields of the U.S. Civil War.
Colin Farrell is Beguiled
The Dunning Man Adaptation Hits the Festival Circuit
riter Kevin Fortuna’s collection of stories The Dunning Man was heaped with praise when it was released a few years back. “The mostly Irish American characters... should know better by now,” Parade magazine said. “That they don’t... is what makes them so compelling and all too real.” The title story of the collection has now been turned into a feature film, set in the gritty but moving landscape of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The film revolves around Connor Ryan, down on his luck and coming out of a bad relationship, returning to A.C., where he owns several buildings. Money troubles compel him to team up with some shady characters. The story is a personal one for Fortuna, who spent many summers in the city growing up. Fittingly, the film was featured at the recent Atlantic City Film Festival and recently had its New York premiere at the Harlem Film Festival. For now, The Dunning Man – which has already won four “Best Feature” festival awards – is still on the festival circuit, though Fortuna is hoping a theatrical distribution deal will come through soon. Look for The Dunning Man at the Art of Brooklyn film fest in June.
ne of the more highly-anticipated dramas for this summer is Colin Farrell’s The Beguiled, hitting theaters in late June. The film was in competition for the top prize at late May’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France. The Beguiled, a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film of the same name, tells the story of a wounded Union soldier in the U.S. Civil War (Farrell) who takes shelter at an isolated school for girls. Kirsten Dunst and According to Colin Farrell Variety, “The house is in The taken over with sexual Beguiled tension and dangerous rivalries.” The Beguiled also stars Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst, as well as Irish ater this year, an Irish American actress actor Barry Keoghan. It was will play a starring role in a TV drama directed by Oscar-winner Sofia series about an Irish American crime fighter Coppola. Later this year, nabbing a notorious killer. Kidman and Farrell will also star Jane Lynch (right) is slated to play U.S. in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Attorney General Janet Reno in the forthcomdirected by Yorgos Lanthimos, ing Discovery Channel series Manifesto. The the Greek director who apparprogram explores Ted Kaczynski’s deadly ently has a thing for creatures in killing spree, which spanned years and targeted his titles. Lanthimos teamed up symbols of technology and modern society. with Farrell in the offbeat recent The Unabomber (as Kaczynski was known) movie The Lobster.
Jane Lynch Leads Unabomber Series
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even released a manifesto of his thoughts that was widely discussed and debated. Central to revealing the identity of the Unabomber was Philadelphia native and FBI agent Jim Fitzgerald. He approached the gathering of intelligence on the case in a radical new way, leading to Kaczynski’s capture in April of 1996. Fitzgerald, who is now retired from the FBI, will serve as a consulting producer on Manifesto.
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Rumors Surround U.S. Father Ted Remake
ollywood runs on many things, from money to egos. Another essential show biz ingredient? Rumors. It often takes months – even years – to sort out the difference between what a movie is rumored to look like, and what actually appears on the big screen. With that in mind, here’s what we know now about the rumored American remake of the beloved Irish TV show Father Ted. Which may be set in the United States. Or not. Starring Steve Martin. Or not. According to the Irish Post, “Details about the show have been extremely sparse up until this point, but producers have now revealed it will be set in an Irish American community on a rural island called New Craggy.” The show will reportedly be renamed Father Hank. According to the Post, comedy legend Steve Martin (above) will star in the title role as “a Southern priest sent to the inhospitable New Craggy as punishment for advocating saying Mass during mid-week so that priests get a weekend off too.” This report also has A-list Irish and Irish American stars joining Martin in the cast: Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, and Mickey Rourke. Another internet report (which didn’t mention Martin or McCarthy or Rourke) has Father Ted writer Arthur Matthew writing the screenplay, while director Declan Lowney is rumored to direct. Lowney was quoted as saying, “It was important to get as many [of] the old gang back together. Some key people we will miss but you wouldn’t believe the names that have hinted they’d love to wear a collar! We all know that this is a great opportunity to produce an Irish comedy film that will make the world laugh.” Whether or not this project makes it to the big screen is anybody’s guess. Stay tuned.
The Golden Age of New York Journalism
egendary Irish American newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin (right) is gone but will not be forgotten. Breslin, who died in March at the age of 88, left behind a series of classic columns as well as a handful of brilliant books, including gritty novels like Table Money, and insightful non-fiction like The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez. But before he died, Breslin also participated in a documentary about the glory days of New York journalism, when he – as well as fellow Irish Americans Pete Hamill, Dennis Duggan, and others – ruled the ink-stained streets. Jonathan Alter, who is putting the film
together, recently told Smashinginterviews.com, “I’m working on a documentary about the legendary journalists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, New York icons of journalism, who, especially from the 1960s to 1980s, were very well known. They were gritty, urban newspaper columnists, and we wanted to make a film about them before they moved on.” No word on a release date for this documentary.
Liam Neeson Tackles a Revamped Philip Marlowe
ots of Irish talent looks to be coming together for an upcoming movie about an iconic American detective. Liam Neeson (right) will reportedly portray novelist Raymond Chandler’s famous private investigator Philip Marlowe, in a film based on a script by Irish American William Monahan. Monahan wrote the Martin Scorsese Boston Irish mob flick The Departed, and worked with Neeson on the 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven. This latest Marlowe flick is actually based on Irish writer John Banville’s reinterpretation of Chandler’s work (written as Benjamin Black) The Black-Eyed Blonde. “The book by Benjamin Black was a pleasure to adapt, and with Marlowe there’s no chance of even being asked to do it left-handed,” Monahan recently told Variety. “You have to do Chandler justice, carry a very particular flame, or stay home.”
In case you missed these when they first came out... Two famous Hollywood directors with strong Irish ties –
John Huston and John Ford – are among those profiled in the
three-part Netflix documentary Five Came Back. The series is about acclaimed directors who shot dangerous footage of World War II in order to shore up morale on the home front. Irish writer and actress Sharon Horgan continues to earn raves in the comedy series Catastrophe, currently streaming on Amazon, and also starring Irish American comedian Rob Delaney. Rob If scrolling through “on demand” offerings, Delaney and Sharon look up American Gods, which premiered in April on the Horgan in Starz network. Based on the acclaimed Neil Gaiman Catastrophe novel, the series explores mythic Gods from various countries converging in modern day America. Among the central characters in American Gods is Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber, left), from Ireland, sidekick to colorful con artist, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane).
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hibernia | on television
Reinventing Anne of Green Gables F
Amybeth McNulty stars as Anne Shirley in Anne With an E, now available on Netflix.
ifteen-year-old Irish actress Amybeth McNulty has spent her entire life in Donegal and even proudly refers to herself as “a proper country bumpkin.” This would not seem to be the ideal background for someone looking to break into the hyper-competitive world of child acting and show business. Yet after the producers of the new Netflix series Anne With an E spanned the globe auditioning nearly 2,000 girls for the coveted lead role, it was McNulty who got the part. It turns out McNulty had gotten all the training
she needed right there in the country. “I did some of my very first theater productions here in Donegal, at An Grianan theater, so it was the beginning of everything. It definitely built my passion for acting and helped me realize that this is what I wanted to do,” McNulty tells Irish America. Anne With an E is the latest reimagining of the classic L.M. Montgomery novel Anne of Green Gables. Since its publication in 1908, there have been many radio, film, TV and stage adaptations of this coming-of-age story set on Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Most recently, in 1985, a generation of fans fell in love with Anne Shirley Cuthbert all over again, thanks to a particularly popular TV production starring Colleen Dewhurst as well as Megan Follows as the title character. The new version, first shown on CBC and now available on Netflix, retains much of the original charm, but also explores and expands on darker issues only hinted at in previous versions. This is not surprising, given the creative team
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PHOTO: CBC / NORTHWOOD ENTERTAINMENT
The Donegal actress at the heart of a new series about Canada’s most famous orphan talks to Irish America.
assembling Anne With an E. The show was written and overseen by Canadianborn TV veteran Moira Walley-Beckett, who won an Emmy as one of the writers for the groundbreaking AMC series Breaking Bad. On the surface, it may not seem as if Breaking Bad’s murderous meth dealer Walter White and an orphaned 13-year-old have much in common. However, Anne With an E expands upon the abuse, alienation, and other more traumatic experiences in the Anne of Green Gables stories. (Montgomery ended up writing a series of books which followed Anne into her 40s. The first season of Netflix’s Anne With an E, set in the late 1890s, focuses on the character at the age of 13. If the show is a success, producers say they have planned out a total of five seasons.) The show’s creators have even talked about Anne as an “accidental feminist,” but McNulty cites a more personal connection to the character. “My great grandmother Martha, was hired out (to work) at 11 years old, here in Ireland. I can imagine that she went through some of the same things as Anne did, so it was a beautiful opportunity to honor her and show even just a piece of Martha’s life while playing Anne.” McNulty adds: “Of course I love to play different characters and explore how different they are to myself, but I loved playing Anne because she was very similar to me. We both love books and we talk far too much!” McNulty already has an impressive series of credits. She played the young version of the title character in director Luke Scott’s film Morgan, which was shot in Northern Ireland, and was also in Sky TV’s production of Agatha Raisin: The Quiche Of Death. On stage, she has appeared in The Sound of Music, Annie, Les Miserables, and Oliver. While Anne With an E was filmed in several Canadian locations, and McNulty has appeared in London theater productions, she has, thus far, only been to America once. “I have been to New York once before when I was five years old. I will always remember the big lights and all the tall buildings and how many people there were. I couldn’t believe it. Oh, and of course I spent an awful lot of my time in the American Girl store!” Perhaps refreshingly for such a young performer, McNulty is not rushing into her next project. She is promoting Anne With an E but also doing her schoolwork and enjoying her time back home. If her performance in Anne With an E is any indication, Amybeth McNulty has many years of star-turning performances ahead of her. – Tom Deignan
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hibernia | the arts Connecticut’s Coffin Ship Art Exhibit
series of art pieces portraying the struggle for survival aboard the “coffin ships” on which 1.5 million Irish escaped the Great Hunger are now on display at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Connecticut. The exhibit, Fleeing Famine: Irish Immigration to North America, 1845-1860, includes six oil paintings of the harrowing, often-deadly conditions on such vessels, several bronze sculptures on loan from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University
in Hamden, Connecticut, and a visual simulation in which visitors find themselves standing in an artificial rendition of a famine ship’s deck. “When you go onto the ship [in the museum], it’s obviously not meant to be exact, but it does still give you the feeling that you are boarding a ship,” museum curator and registrar Bethany Sheefer explained to IrishCentral. “With our space, it has its unique challenges, [but we did] include a fire pit that would have been on top of one of these ships and that’s where they would have cooked their meals.” The deck-feature was inspired, she added, by British artist Rodney Charman’s painting “The Odessa” (pictured above), which shows the turmoil that characterized each day of a famine ship’s gruelling journey. Though the average mortality rate of up to 30 percent plainly justified the “coffin ship” moniker, many famine refugees achieved prosperity in North America, as seen in the exhibit’s embedded narrative of a young boy named Patrick, a real-life passenger of the Washington Irving, whose family would obtain prominence in the U.S., and the story of the Knights of Columbus founder himself, Fr. Michael J. McGivney, himself the son of famine ship survivors. The exhibition runs through the fall. – O.O.
North America Acts Irish
ommunity theater groups from throughout the United States and Canada converged at the Geva Theater Center in Rochester, New York for the 24th Annual Acting Irish International Theater Festival in April. The adjudicated festival, founded in 1993, consisted this year of seven fulllength productions presented over five days, all of which were attended by Oleans-based theater adjudicator and former president of the Theater Association of New York State Paul Nelson, who reviewed each play and its links to the traditions of Irish drama. As the host organization, the Irish Players of Rochester drama group opened the festival with a production of Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which centers around the principal character’s upcoming migration to the U.S. from the fictional town of Ballybeg, County Donegal. The winners of the 2016 Milwaukee event’s “Best Production” category, the Liffey Players Drama Society of Calgary, brought the series of performances to a close with Conor McPherson’s The Weir, a story of the supernatural set in a rural Irish pub. The Irish Heritage Center of Cincinnati swept up five of the six festival awards for 2017 with their performance of John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, a romance concerning two farmers in Ireland’s midlands. As the official winners of “Best Production” for this year, the group are next in line the 2018 festival in Ohio. – O.O.
A Global Artist’s Irish Roots
centenary symposium was held at London’s Royal Academy of Arts in April to honor artist Sir Sidney Nolan (right), an Australian with Irish roots who called himself a “citizen of the planet.” An avid traveler, Nolan spent time in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Antarctica. His refusal to be geographically tied down became the callingcard of his creative endeavors. The one-day symposium explored critical themes in contemporary art, drawing on Nolan’s work and influence across countries and continents to examine what it truly means to be a global artist and included an exclusive tour of the exhibition Unseen: Works from the Sidney Nolan Trust Collection at Australia House, London. Nolan’s characteristic internationality is apparent in the worldwide presence of his work, which appears
in collections at the National Gallery, Tate, MOMA, Pittsburgh Museum of Art, and Irish Museum of Modern Art, among others. Nolan traced his ancestral roots to a small village near the Burren, County Clare in the 1870s. In 1991, he dedicated a series of paintings to the Irish people, including one of the Wild Geese, the young Irishmen who brought the army of William of Orange to a standstill and sailed to France to join the Catholic James Stuart. These men were the first figures in a sustained diaspora that installed an Irish presence in the armies of other nations. This theme recurs in Nolan’s Ned Kelly series (above), which depicted Irish bandits on the run from English soldiers across the Australian bush. – O.O. JUNE / JULY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 19
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hibernia | honors Californian Student Discovers Cork Link
Californian student attending University College Cork had a prominent role in the centenary commemoration of the first time the U.S. Navy ever landed in Ireland, after making the discovery that her greatgrandfather commanded the flotilla that arrived in Cork Harbor. Lizzie Helmer, a 20-year-old journalism student of Chico State University, was informed by her uncle just one week before arriving in Ireland in January that it was her Lizzie Helmer at UCC.
ancestor, Commander Joseph Taussig, who headed the U.S. Atlantic fleet based in Cobh when Ireland was then still part of the U.K. This decisive act marked the physical entry of the United States into World War I. “I was set on coming to study in Ireland for a long time, but I wasn’t aware at all. It’s kind of amazing how it worked out,” she told the Irish Examiner. On May 4, Helmer unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of dignitaries at the former British Admiralty House, now a Catholic convent property. “I’m not much of a believer in fate, but it’s hard to otherwise explain how I ended up in Cork 100 years after my great-grandfather,” she told Irish America. “It was so surreal to know that I was in the same building where he would have stood a century ago. It’s great that I have genetic roots here, but it’s almost more special to me that I have a connection through Commander Taussig.” Helmer hopes to soon obtain an Irish passport through her mother’s County Mayo heritage. – O.O. 20 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
Obama Receives JFK Profile in Courage Award
n May, former president Barack Obama received the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Profile in Courage Award at the JFK Library in Boston. The award, which was created in 1990, is given each year in recognition of outstanding public service. The award is named after Kennedy’s 1957 book Profiles in Courage, which documented the congressional careers of eight U.S. Senators who had voted on unpopular bills, against the wishes of their constituents, because they believed the measures were morally right. Obama touched on this legacy in his acceptance speech, his first public remarks since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, which, if made law, would reverse much of Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Speaking of the members of congress who helped pass the ACA in 2010, Obama said, “They did the hard thing. Theirs was a profile in courage. Because of that vote, 20 million people got health insurance who didn’t have it before. “And most of them did lose their seats, but they were true to what Presi-
dent Kennedy defined in his book as a congressional profile in courage: the desire to maintain a reputation for integrity that is stronger than the desire to maintain office.” He also offered a warning to the current Senate, which will vote on the AHCA in the coming months: “I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential. But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, those who often have no access to the corridors of power. “I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what is politically expedient but doing what they believe deep in their hearts is right.” John F. Kennedy’s own ancestors were part of this immigration. His maternal Fitzgerald great-grandparents emigrated from County Limerick and his paternal Kennedy great-grandparents emigrated from County Wexford during the famine, both eventually settling in Boston. – A.F.
Tom Moran Receives Honorary Doctorate from Manhattan College
om Moran, a perennial figure on Irish America’s Business 100 list and a member of our Hall of Fame, received an honorary degree in humane letters from his alma mater, Manhattan College, and delivered the annual undergraduate commencement speech to the class of 2017 in May (right). Moran, who earned a B.S. in math in 1974 and was the first in his family to graduate college, has become one of the biggest names in the New York Irish community and business world. Moran began his career with Mutual of America a year after graduating and retired as CEO in 2016, after serving as president of the company from 1994 to 2015. Under his supervision, Mutual grew from a small retirement association to a leading provider of retirement plans. For more than a decade, he also served as chairman of Concern Worldwide-U.S., until his retirement this year. “Mr. Moran is one of our most distinguished alumni and a tremendous example of someone who has used his gifts to serve his fellow human beings,” Brennan O’Donnell, president of Manhattan College, told Irish America. “In addition to being a longtime and great benefactor to the College and its students, he is a major contributor to humanitarian efforts around the world, most notably through his tireless work on behalf of Concern Worldwide.”
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hibernia | anniversary
Ford Company Celebrates
100 Years in Ireland W
TOP: Bill Ford plants a commemorative tree on the Ford homestead. BOTTOM: Bill Ford and his family at the Ford homestead. BOTTOM RIGHT: Bill Ford and distant relative Hazel Ford Buttimer unveil the memorial bench.
illiam Clay Ford, Jr., the great-great-grandson of Irish American automobile pioneer Henry Ford and executive chairman of Ford, as well as an Irish America Hall of Fame inductee, traveled to County Cork to pay tribute to his ancestors on the centenary of the opening of the first Ford plant in Ireland in April. The celebration took place in Ballinascarthy, a small village 25 miles southwest of Cork city, from where Henry Ford’s father William and his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1847. The family settled in Michigan, where Henry was born in 1863. “I am excited and honored to be coming home to Cork to celebrate 100 years of Ford in Ireland,” Bill Ford said. “Ford has deep roots in Cork, not only through my family’s historical connection, but also through the impact that the Ford factory has had as an engine for prosperity for the area over many decades.” During his visit, Ford also participated in a civic reception at Cork City Hall with 300 current and former Ford employees, hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cork City, which recognized the contribution of the employees of Henry Ford & Son Limited during the past 100 years. Henry Ford remained conscious of his family’s heritage throughout his lifetime, choosing his ancestral home as the site for the first purpose-built Ford Motor Company factory outside of North America. The Ford factory in Cork was established in April 1917.
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As Henry Ford said in his own words, “My ancestors came from Cork, and that city, with its wonderful harbor, had an abundance of fine industrial sites. There was, it is true, some sentiment in [the decision to establish the factory in Cork].” The company that Henry Ford legally established in 1917 was entitled Henry Ford & Son Ltd., and that continues to be the legal name of Ford in Ireland to this day – the only Ford entity in the world to include the full name of the company’s founder in its title. The Fordson tractor was initially the main product of the Cork plant, which by 1929 had become the largest tractor factory in the world. The factory also produced passenger cars including the iconic Model T. The last Model T ever produced by Ford anywhere in the world rolled off the Cork factory production line in December 1928. The Model A, Model BF, Model Y, Prefect, Anglia, Escort, Cortina and Sierra models also were manufactured in Cork until the plant’s closure in 1984. Ford today has the widest network of dealers of any automotive manufacturer in Ireland, with 52 dealerships providing direct and indirect employment to 1,000 people across the country. “I absolutely feel a strong connection to Ballinascarthy. I brought my family with me as I have in the past, and it is great. It is something that is very important to me,” Ford told Irish America. “We could not be happier to be here because this is where it all began. Long before my great grandfather, Henry Ford, became a legend, he was just a man with a dream. In 1903, he started the Ford Motor Company, having failed before that. But fast forward to today, it is very rare, certainly in America, to have a family company 100 years later still run by the family. This is our heritage and this is where the Ford Motor Company began, in a metaphorical sense.” IA
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hibernia | history
Home of the O’Neills A memorial stone and plaque were unveiled to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Hugh O’Neill.
By Cathal Coyle
ABOVE: The Tullaghoge fort complex seen from above.
he re-opening of Tullaghoge Fort last June has brought one of Ireland’s most notable landmarks back into the public domain. Also known as Tulach Óg, meaning “Hill of the Youth,” it is located in the townland of Ballymully Glebe on the main Stewartstown to Cookstown road in the east of County Tyrone. This magnificent rounded hilltop enclosure is a site of huge historical and cultural significance, and has a highly prominent place in the story of the O’Neill clan in County Tyrone and further afield. The site itself is at an altitude of three hundred feet, and consists of two circular banks, both now covered with trees. It commands wide views and is visible from many miles around; indeed many 16th and 17th century English maps of Ulster mark the area: on Bartlett’s map, circa 1600, two thatched buildings are shown within the enclosure. In historic terms, the fort has played an important role in the history not just of County Tyrone, but also of Ulster and Ireland. Originally Tullaghoge was a minor kingdom called Telach Óc, occupied in St Patrick’s time by the Uí Thuírtrí, who later moved to the eastern side of the River Bann. The Kings of Airgialla were once inaugurated here, but between 900 and 1000 the Cenél nEógain (“descendants of Eoghan” – son of Niall of the Nine Hostages) branch of the dynasty of Aileach spread south and east from Inishowen, County Donegal, through the present counties of Derry, Tyrone, Armagh, and Fermanagh and established Tullaghoge as the centre of their power. Indeed, by the 11th century, Tullaghoge was a dynastic center and inaugural place for Cenél
nEógain; and from then, Tyrone became the traditional stronghold of the various O’Neill clans and families. There are many other families who can claim descent from the Cenél nEógain, such as Devlin, Donnelly, and Hamill. Up until the time of Brian Boru, the O’Neills were, almost without interruption, the High Kings of Ireland, and Tullaghoge continued as the ceremonial seat of the kings of Tyrone even after the O’Neills transferred their court to Dungannon (10 miles away) at the end of the 13th century. The O’Hagan clan were also prominent at Tullaghoge; they were custodians of the fort and chief justices in the O’Neill political system. Their burial place is at Donaghrisk, the circular walled graveyard at the foot of the hill. The historical inauguration ceremony at the fort was conducted by the chief of the O’Hagans, who would place new shoes on the feet of the new O’Neill chief, followed by the throwing of a shoe over his head to indicate that he would follow in the footsteps of his distinguished ancestors who had borne the title of the “O’Neill.” He swore oaths to rule by Brehon Law (the ancient laws of Ireland) and to give up the throne if he became too old to rule. The ceremony took place on a large boulder known as the Leac na Rí, which means “the flagstone of the kings” – and legend suggests it was blessed by St. Patrick. By the 16th century, it had become incorporated into a ceremonial stone chair where three large slabs had been placed around it. It is believed that at the nearby Desertcreat Church of Ireland, another part of the stone is incorporated into the porch of the Church. Unfortunately, the Leac na Rí was destroyed in 1602 during the “Nine Year’s War” by Charles JUNE / JULY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 23
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claim descent from the Cenél nEógain were present at the official opening last June. These included Dan O’Neill, chief guardian of the Ancient Clan O’Neill group, who spoke of his immense pride in the developments at the ancient fort of Tullaghoge: “The story of Tulach Óg is an important one in the course of Irish history; it is fitting in this year of important anniversaries that 400 years after the death of Hugh O’Neill, this site now offers improved access and information displays along the path leading to the fort for visitors. It is a tremendous boost to the mid-Ulster area in terms of culture and tourism.” The official opening of these new facilities ensures another milestone in the history of this ancient site has been recorded. The PHOTO: NORTHERNIRELAND.GOV.UK site was closed for almost a year while deBlount, later known as Lord Mountjoy, in accordance velopment works were carried out to deliver a new with the Elizabethan policy of destroying all Irish car parking area, interpretation center, and a new path symbols of clan allegiance. to the landmark. This marked the end of the O’Neills’ reign, with In the course of those development works, new Hugh “the Great” O’Neill’s inauguration in 1595 and exciting archaeological discoveries were made, being the last to take place at Tullaghoge. He fled including artifacts dating back more than 7,000 years with members of the O’Donnell clan from Donegal and the foundations of a medieval settlement at the to Rome (and died there in 1616) during the “Flight bottom of the hill on which Tullaghoge Fort stands. of the Earls” episode, which was considered a major Archaeologists working on the site revealed that watershed in Irish history. flint tool fragments were found dating back before The European dimension of the O’Neill clan that 5000 B.C. to the Mesolithic period, when hunteremerged from this episode has ensured that there is a gatherer settlers inhabited Ireland. Archaeologists large network of O’Neills based on the continent, had previously found evidence of prehistoric burial particularly in countries such as Spain, France, and tombs at the nearby Mid-Ulster Sports Arena, less Portugal. than a mile from the fort. The extended O’Neill diaspora is considerable. This investment at Tullaghoge will help to preserve Indeed, if one considers the United States alone, exand protect a valuable heritage asset for future genamples include America’s only Nobel Prize-winning erations; and a few weeks after the official re-openplaywright, Eugene O’Neill; and former speaker of ing, the Mid-Ulster Council launched “The Gathering the U.S. House of Representatives, Thomas “Tip” of the Clans” festival to commemorate the life of O’Neill. Hugh O’Neill. This popular cross-community event And on Wednesday June 15, 2016, another famous encompassed a week of talks, walks, tours, drama chapter emerged for this famous Irish historical landand music to celebrate the ancient site. mark when the Minister for Communities at StorAnd, not surprisingly, Tullaghoge Fort is already mont, Paul Givan, re-opened Tullaghoge Fort proving popular, attracting hundreds of new visitors following the completion of a £500,000 investment since the re-opening to enjoy the breath-taking (about $645,000). panoramic views from the summit – like generations IA Current representatives of those families who of O’Neills did centuries before. 24 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
TOP LEFT: Leac na Rí, the king's flagstone. A replica of the inauguration chair used for the O'Neill dynasty. LEFT: Minister for Communities Paul Givan, MLA, with Sharon McAleer, deputy chair of the Mid Ulster Council at the re-opening of Tullaghoge Fort. ABOVE: Members of the local historical reenactment group with Dan O'Neill, chief guardian of the Ancient Clan of O'Neill in Ulster, and the chairman of Stewartstown Community Group Johnny Rushe, who unveiled a memorial stone and plaque for the 400th anniversary of the death of Hugh O'Neill in The Square, Stewartstown.
Further details on the Ancient Clan O’Neill group are available at: ancientclanoneill.com.
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hibernia | events
Francis Bacon Painting Hits $51.8m Bid
triptych painting of George Dyer, the lover and muse of Irishborn figurative artist Francis Bacon, sold for $51.8 million at a Christie’s auction for contemporary works in May. The painting, once owned by children’s author Roahl Dahl, a close friend of Bacon’s, spent the last 25 years in the private collection of French actor Francis Lombrail and was originally slated to reach up to $70 million with bidders. However, a substantial fall on Wall Street at the time of the auction resulted in a notably cooled demand. The piece, “Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer,” was painted in 1963, one year after the two men met, and is the first of almost 40 works inspired by their relationship. One of only five triptyches painted of Dyer, it is representative of the explosive vitality of new romance and was completed during the period of Bacon’s greatest satisfaction in his personal and professional lives. A petty thief with a yearning to learn his true place in the world, Dyer was 33 years Bacon’s junior and sought meaning through his role as
Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer,” 1964, which sold for $51.8 million in May.
muse. When their dynamic as creatives and lovers alike began to crumble, Dyer fell into an intense depression. After some time apart, Bacon invited him to Paris for a retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1971, but ignored him in favor of other guests upon arrival. The young man finally snapped, and after a hurricane of drinking and drug use, he was found dead the following morning. In his guilt-ridden grief, Bacon would paint several more portraits of Dyer in the years that followed. “George Dyer is Bacon’s number one muse, like Dora Maar was for Picasso,” said Loic Gouzer, deputy chairman of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s. “He was the subject who allowed Bacon to push his limits and become the artist he became.” Bacon’s triptyches are incredibly sought after among art collectors; one piece that depicted his joint friend and rival, Lucian Freud, previously held the world record for highest bid fetched by a painting at an auction, with an offer of $142.4 million in 2013. – O.O.
Origin Celebrates 15 Years
ew York’s Origin Theatre Company, whose mission is to celebrate the work of Irish and European artists, celebrated its 15th anniversary with a gala party at Mutual of America building on Park Avenue on Monday, July 17. Norman Houston, the director of Northern Ireland Bureau North America, received the Origin Theatre Community Leader Award, and actress Orlagh Cassidy received Origin’s Artistic Leader Award. Having worked as an actor on both sides of the Atlantic, George Heslin founded Origin in January 2002. A native of Limerick, Heslin is dedicated to producing the plays of contemporary Irish playwrights from around the world, balancing work by well-known writers and seasoned actors with the work of emerging artists. Visit origintheatre.org to learn more about the company and Origin’s First Irish Theatre Festival.
LEFT: Tom and Joan Moran.
PHOTOS: BEN ASEN
LEFT: Honoree Orlagh Cassidy (with top hat) and friends.
FAR LEFT: Honoree Norman Houston with Loretta Brennan Glucksman of the American Ireland Fund. ABOVE: George Heslin and Geraldine Sweeney. CENTER: Emcee Carey Van Driest.
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hibernia | sports Washington Nationals Return to Irish Roots
rish ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson joined the Washington Nationals baseball team at their home field of Nationals Park in May for Irish American Heritage Day, throwing out the first pitch of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Before making the pitch, Anderson celebrated the stadium’s inaugural Irish Heritage evening alongside the team, which has always boasted a strong Irish American presence, with 1,100 of its players between 1871 and 1920 being of Irish stock. Traditional Irish food and whiskey were served before game, and a musical selection was performed by the D.C. Fire Department Pipe and Drums band, the Capital Celtic Irish band, and the Culkin School of Irish dancers. Dublin tenor Mark Forrest was present to sing the Irish national anthem for all gathered. Anderson’s pitch marks a recent development in the long legacy already existing between Irish people and the great American pastime since its genesis over 130 years ago. More than two dozen Irish American men, the sons of potato famine migrants of the 1850s, are remembered in the 1880 – 1920 section of the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame for their achievements in the game. It has been estimated that more than 40 percent of all major league players during this era were of Irish heritage. – O.O.
Hurling Returns to Fenway Park
he sport of hurling will return to Fenway Park with a doubleheader in the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic and Irish Festival on November 19. The park last hosted a hurling event in 2015, bringing to an end its absence of 61 years. The match, which featured a full-team brawl on the pitch, attracted nearly 28,000 stateside GAA fans, a number which organizers expect will be matched or surpassed this fall. “Hurling continues to grow in popularity and events like the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic and Irish Festival help continue to grow the sport’s profile globally,” said Tom Allen, managing director of AIG’s Boston region. “We are excited to once again bring hurling back to this iconic venue for the game’s fans and introduce the game to a broader audience in the United States.” As in 2015, teams will play a simplified version of hurling called “Super 11s,” in which the pitch is reduced to 11 players and the only way to score a goal is into the net below the crossbar, excluding the option of putting the ball through Ambassador Anne the upper half of the H-shaped structure. – O.O. Anderson with Nationals outfielder Rafael Bautista at Irish American Heritage Day.
he Irish men’s national soccer team is set to square off against Mexico June 1 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The friendly match, which won’t count towards either teams official international rankings, is slated as a warm up game in advance of Ireland’s 2018 World Cup qualifier game against Austria on June 11. Ireland is currently ranked 26th in the FIFA world rankings while Mexico is 17th. “This is a brilliant match for us in our preparation for our World Cup qualifier against Austria,” Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said in a statement. “Mexico in the United States couldn't be much tougher but it's exactly what we 26 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
want,” O’Neill said, noting it will be good practice for the team’s u p c o m i n g g a m e s against Uruguay in Dublin June 4 and the match against Austria. “The players who may not have played for a while after their club season has ended will, I'm sure, relish the opportunity to play against such The Irish men's national team during the 2014 World Cup. quality opposition.” Ireland has faced off against Mexico have had better success at MetLife, beating only four times, with one loss (in the 1994 Italy in the 1994 World Cup game 2-0, and World Cup in Orlando) and three draws, in 2000 when they won 3-0 against Bolivia most recently in Chicago in 2000. They and 2-1 against South Africa. – A.F.
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Ireland v. Mexico Soccer Friendly
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hibernia | events
Celebrating the 2017
New York Yacht Club
Hall of Fame March 15, 2017
1. Hall of Fame inductees Kevin White, Michael Dowling, Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, & Terry O'Sullivan with House of Waterford Crystal Awards. 2. Irish America editor-inchief Patricia Harty, center, with Sinn Féin deputy Mary Lou McDonald & Ed Kenney. 3. Sister Tesa Fitzgerald & Michael Dowling. 4. Dr. James Watson receives the Spirit of Ireland Award. 5. Terry O’Sullivan. 6. Áine Mc Manamon & NY1’s Kristen Shaughnessy. 7. Irish America founding publisher Niall O'Dowd with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. 8. Megan & Brian Smolenyak. 9. Jack Haire of Concern Worldwide U.S. with Mutual of America’s Alfie Tucker, Ed Kenney, & Paul O’Hara. PHOTOS BY NUALA PURCELL
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1. Patricia Harty inducts Dr. William Campbell to the Hall of Fame in absentia. 2. Kate Overbeck with Cuan ร Seireadรกin. 3. Terry & Yvette O'Sullivan. 4. Minister of State for the Diaspora & International Development Joe McHugh with Patricia Harty. 5. Rosamond Mary Moore Carew with her daughter Kathleen McLauchlen. 6. Consul General Barbara Jones & Sister Tesa Fitzgerald. 7. Jack & Eileen Harren with Ed Kenney. 8. Martin Dempsey presents Kevin White with the lyrics of a song he wrote and sang as part of his introduction of White. 9. Niall O'Dowd presents Michael Dowling with House of Waterford Crystal award. 10. Susan Black, Patricia Harty, & Elizabeth Crabill of CIE Tours. 11. Robert Devlin at the Guinness engraving station.
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hibernia | civil war PHOTO: KEROPIANSCULPTURE.COM
Meagher’s Memorial, Late, But Not Forgotten
hen General Thomas Francis Meagher died, he never received a formal memorial. An Irish revolutionary turned exile, U.S. Army general, and acting governor of the Montana Territory, Meagher drowned in the Missouri River near Fort Benton, Montana in 1867, more than 2,000 miles from Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, where his wife, Elizabeth Townsend Meagher, would be buried. His body was never recovered and Elizabeth, who was from Monroe, New York and met Meagher in New York City after he fled Ireland, died in 1908, lamenting the lack of a proper ceremony to mark Meagher’s life until the day she died. At 1:00 p.m. July 1, that oversight will be rectified, as Green-Wood hosts a memorial at his wife’s family plot, 150 years to the day after Meagher’s death, that will include the unveiling of a bronze bust and dedicatory plaque at the Townsend/Meagher grave. Awardwinning sculptor Michael Keropian, a fellow of the National Sculpture Society, is designing the bust. Meagher was a hero of his time and his story has been told numerous times, most recently in New York Times columnist Timothy Egan’s epic biography The Immortal Irishman (which is now being scouted for film treatment by John Cusack – see p. 16). Born August 3, 1823 in Waterford city, he spent his life fighting for Irish independence and American unity, first with the Young Ireland movement and later with the U.S. Army. Meagher participated in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, for which he was tried and convicted of sedition and sentenced to death, but due to public outcry and international pressure, his, and the sentences of his comrades, were commuted to exile in the then-penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land (modern-day Tasmania). Meagher
escaped and by 1852 was living in New York. There, he studied law and was commissioned as captain in the New York State Militia. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Meagher, who was ambivalent about whether to support the Union or the South prior to the war, saw the Confederacy’s attack on Fort Sumter as a gross escalation and began recruiting to form Company K of the famed “Fighting” 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York State Volunteers. “It is not only our duty to America, but also to Ireland,” he said at the time. “We could not hope to succeed in our effort to make Ireland a Republic without the moral and material support of the liberty-loving citizens of these United States.” In 1862, Meagher was made brigadier general of the Irish Brigade, made up of the 69th, 88th, and 63rd regiments, and served throughout the eastern and western theaters of the war. He retired in 1865 and was subsequently appointed secretary to the Montana Territory and shortly thereafter acting governor, where his fate was prematurely sealed. Green-Wood Cemetery is seeking donations to raise $6,990 to fulfill Elizabeth Townsend Meagher’s final wish in advance of the July 1 ceremony. Donors who contribute $100 or more will be invited to attend a private reception at the cemetery’s historic chapel following the ceremony. Visit store. green-wood.com/products/meaghermonument to donate. – A.F.
ABOVE: Sculptor Michael Keropian’s clay mold of the bust of Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher that will be unveiled at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery July 1.
BELOW: Col. Thomas J. Kelly and the memorial plaque at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
IRB Leader and Civil War Vet Remembered
he 150th anniversary commemoration of Colonel Thomas J. Kelly and the Manchester Martyrs was celebrated at the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx in April. The event included a procession to the graveside, color guard, pipes and drum, a Civil War re-enactment, and spoken word poetry. A Galway-born veteran of the American Civil War, Kelly was deeply involved with New York’s Fenian Brotherhood and the IRB in Ireland and England, playing a key role in the Fenian uprising in 1867. That same year, he was deemed chief organizer of the Irish 30 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
Republic by IRB circles in Manchester. Captured by British forces in September 1867, Kelly managed to escape when fellow independence fighters attacked his transportation vehicle, leading to the arrest and eventual execution of three of his saviors, who became known as the Manchester Martyrs. Kelly evaded recapture and remained involved in the struggle for Irish independence until the end of his career. “Colonel Kelly is a significant but often overlooked
figure in the history of Ireland’s fight for freedom, as well as the history of our New York Irish Americans,” said Colonel Thomas J. Kelly Sesquicentennial Committee chairperson Erica Veil, who applauded his “patriotism and bravery.” – O.O.
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hibernia | quote unquote Mullins, left, with Attorney General Sessions.
“Like most American families, the fight for immigration reform is personal for me. Fleeing famine and religious persecution, my ancestors on both sides came to this country with nowhere left to turn, desperate to build a better future for their children. When they arrived on our shores they faced the same suspicion, fear and bigotry that countless immigrant families know today. President Trump’s policies double down on that prejudice. They are antithetical to everything we are as Americans.”
Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D – Mass. 4), who is running for reelection, in a press statement. April 3.
“Attorney General Sessions is absolutely correct to hold New York and other jurisdictions accountable for their so-called ‘sanctuary policies.’” “The Irish undertaker and his crew were so desperate to prove they had not totally forgotten how to pass anything that they were willing to go with garbage.” Maureen Dowd, on Paul Ryan and the passage of the American Health Care Act. New York Times, May 6.
“You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing and upholding the constitution.”
Andrew McCabe, acting head of the FBI. Later he said the Russian investigation would be pursued “vigorously and completely.” The Guardian, May 11.
“As an Irish American, Guinness represents what pasta means to my Italian friends, or pierogies to my Polish ones: a taste of home. America is a country of immigrants, and I believe many people yearn for a connection to where their ancestors came from.”
Jimmy Morrissey, from New Haven, Conn., who won Guinness’s competition in March to find out who the brewery’s “biggest fan” was, earning himself an overnight stay at the Guinness Gravity Bar at the St. James Gate brewery in Dublin. Campaign, May 2.
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Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, slammed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neil who have vowed to protect the rights of its immigrant population. Mullins traveled to Washington, D.C. to present Sessions with a plaque naming him an honorary member of the SBA. The Daily Caller, April 22.
“I think from an Irish economy point of view, we’ll be very successful going forward as a result of Brexit. But again it goes back to the companies that have the spread. Some of the Irish companies I know have 30, 40, 50, 60 percent of their exports to the U.K. So, those Irish companies need to look further afield than the U.K. and spread their wings, and try and get into other markets.” Michael Burke, founder and managing director of the County Galway-based healthcare company Chanelle, on Brexit. Enterprise Ireland, March 31.
“This stunning action of firing FBI Director James Comey by the White House, shows why we must have a Special Prosecutor like our nation did in Watergate.” Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (D – Penn. 13). Twitter, May 9.
“Someone told me about an African tribe that beat their drums and scream in anger for a whole day and night when somebody dies. I was so angry about Jack, but I didn’t know what to do about it.”
Jackie Kennedy, from the recently published James Hart’s book Lucky Jim, published April 11 by Cleis Press.
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WITH THE USE OF AUDIO TOURS AND DRONES, ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COUNTIES IN IRELAND IS CAPTURED IN ALL ITS GLORY.
By Sharon Ní Chonchúir
t’s a long, long way from Clare to here.” These may be the words of a popular song but have you ever stopped to wonder why the singer misses this Irish county so much? What attractions does it have to offer? There is a huge amount to see and do in this county. It has some of the most varied scenery of any county in Ireland. There are the spectacular Cliffs of Moher which stretch for five miles and reach over 700 feet at their highest point. There’s the lunar-like limestone landscape of the Burren, which is home to remarkable flora that you won’t find anywhere else as well as some wonderful archaeology such as Stone Age wedge tombs, Iron Age ring forts, and Norman castles. There are seaside villages such as Doolin, Lahinch, and Spanish Point, which have begun to build reputations as surfing spots in recent years. Clare is also one of the centers of traditional music in Ireland. Well-known musicians such as fiddle player Martin Hayes and accordion player Sharon Shannon are from the county and you’ll often find 34 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
PHOTOS: EOIN O’HAGAN
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some of the best Irish musicians playing in impromptu music sessions in the pubs of County Clare. As if that weren’t enough, Clare is also home to the Tea and Garden Rooms in Ballyvaughan. Stephen Spielberg made a detour in his private jet the last time he was passing just so he could sample some of their cheesecake. With all of this and more on offer in Clare, it’s no wonder that the singer of the popular ballad laments the fact that he is so far away. However, thanks to videos made by Irishman Eoin O’Hagan and a new travel app made by Cleveland native Deborah Schull, that distance is about to feel a whole lot shorter. Eoin is originally from Dublin but when he fell in love with his wife Ruth, he also fell for her home county of Clare. “She’s from Scariff in east Clare and that region, especially the area around Lough Derg, grabbed hold of my heart and it wouldn’t let go,” says Eoin. “In many ways, it’s the poor relation of the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren in west Clare. People visit those on bus tours and they don’t realize what they’re missing in the rest of the county.” Eoin decided to try to do something about this. Firstly, even though his work continues to be based in Dublin, he moved to Clare. “I’ve been working as a lighting gaffer for TV for the past 22 years and I work in Dublin for at least three days a week,” he explained to me over the phone as he drove home to Clare late on a Friday evening. “But once I fell for Clare, I couldn’t live in Dublin anymore so now I split my time between the two.” He would love to spend more time in Clare and he
ABOVE: Autumn is a beautiful time of year to visit Clare. These inquisitive horses have a view of Lough Graney from the Sliabh Aughty Mountains near Caher. OPPOSITE: The forty shades of the green hills of Clare peek above St. Michael's Church on Inis Cealtra, also called Holy Island. Legend says it was built by Brian Boru in the 10th century.
ABOVE CENTER: Bohatch Dolmen. A short hike from Mountshannon will bring you to arguably the most spectacular vista of the Jewel of the Shannon. This 5,000-year-old tomb is a beautiful and historic place on the East Clare Way, which meanders through the Sliabh Aughty and Sliabh Bernagh Mountains.
ABOVE: Cousins Jordan, Aoibheann, Grace and Ellen O'Hagan enjoy a Summer trip to Inis Cealtra.
LEFT: A view of Inis Cealtra from the air. JUNE / JULY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 35
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has set up clarevirtually.ie, a web-based business, with this in mind. Through it, Eoin hopes to show people the beauty of Clare through his eyes. He does this by posting 60-second videos of different parts of the county as well as its pubs, restaurants and accommodation providers. “I’m out with my camera, video camera, or drone any spare moment I have trying to capture the spectacularly varied landscape of Clare,” he says. “I also try to give people a taste of what’s in store for them if they visit the county. This is why I always feature a welcome from the owner whenever I showcase any businesses. It’s all part of the céad míle fáilte (one hundred thousand welcomes) for which Ireland is so well known.” Eoin’s photos and videos allow prospective visitors to take a virtual tour of Clare before they arrive. People who have emigrated from Clare have also begun to visit the site too. “Seventy percent of the visitors to the site are from America and a lot of those seem to be members of the diaspora,” he says. “I think the site is a way for them to connect with home and to see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.” Eoin’s website is just one of the ways in which he promotes his adopted county. He is very active on social media and posts from @clarevirtually can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. He also is on a constant mission to attract the attention of the world to Clare. His latest plan involves bringing Pope Francis to Lough Derg. “He’s said to be planning a trip to Ireland,” says Eoin. “So, I got the children of the local national schools to send him postcards inviting him to visit Holy Island on Lough Derg. Here’s hoping he visits!” Deborah Schull has taken a different approach in her attempt to promote County Clare. This award-winning writer and producer is also the founder and CEO of Cultural Roadmapp, a GPSenabled tour app of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. This is going to be a fourpart series of audio tours that will provide motorists with a commentary on what they are seeing as they take this scenic route up the west coast of Ireland. She has just launched the first part, which focuses on Clare, and Irish America is premiering some sections of its website. Born in Cleveland, Deborah’s relationship with Ireland began in 1970 when she, her parents, and her twin sister moved to Dublin. “My father was a sales manager for Encyclopaedia Britannica and he was asked to set up operations abroad,” she says. “He had a few options to choose from and he chose Ireland. We moved to Ranelagh in Dublin in 1970 when I was 36 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
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CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The Holy Island Ferry, a dusting of winter snow on its gunnels as it floats at Knockaphort Pier. Dawn on Lough Derg, the jewel of the Shannon. Worth getting up early for. Ruth O'Hagan pictured inside the 1,000-year-old St. Brigid's Church on Inis Cealtra. This fine trout was a worthy winner of the Jimmy "Crock" Minogue Memorial Flyfishing Competition. Held annually on the first Sunday in May, it is a great social occasion as anglers meet and swap stories of the one that got away.
A white tail eagle chick sits on a branch above Mountshannon Pier. Castlebawn is a beautifully restored Tower House on a tiny island below Ogonnelloe, on Lough Derg. This exclusive but easily affordable getaway is available to rent on Airbnb.
14 and we moved back to the States when I was 16.” It was to be another 40 years before Deborah returned. In the meantime, she established herself as an award-winning audio tour writer of prestigious destinations such as the Smithsonian Institute and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. She had long wanted to do something to showcase Ireland. “My first idea was a guidebook and then I thought a TV show might be better,” she says. “Then I came up with the idea of a travel app and when the Wild Atlantic Way opened in 2014, I realized it should not just be a regular app. It needed to be an audio tour.” However, it wasn’t until technology became hands free and triggered by GPS that Deborah’s idea fully took shape. “That allowed us to create a fully immersive app experience,” she says. “Because you can use the app without using your hands and because it’s linked by GPS to where you are, you can look at the world around you while you learn more about it. It’s like having locals along with you in the car.” Deborah and her team interviewed these local experts last September and she has spent the intervening months weaving their insights on history, music, folklore, geography, archaeology and storytelling into a compelling audio guide to the county. The guide features music, literary, and dramatic performances, stories, humor, and narration by Irish actors. Visitors who use the app as they travel along the Clare section of the Wild Atlantic Way will learn about the county in a novel way. What they might previously have learned from having their head stuck in a book can now be learned while looking out the window. Deborah is very excited about the future of this app and others like it. “I would like for it to give people an authentic and entertaining introduction to Ireland, which is such a culturally rich place with so much history,” she says. “We started with Clare because it’s got an incredible musical and cultural heritage and it’s also home to the stunning landscape of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.” The next three parts of the Wild Atlantic Way Cultural Roadmapp will be launched next year. One part will cover Cork and Kerry. The second will cover Galway and Mayo and the third will cover the counties from Sligo to Donegal. “If those do well, I’d love to do a guide to Ireland’s Ancient East and to the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland,” says Deborah. For now, readers of Irish America dreaming of a visit to Ireland’s beautiful County Clare will have to content themselves with Eoin O’Hagan’s videos and Deborah Schull’s audio tours. No matter where you are when you watch the videos or listen to the tours, the distance to Clare will suddenly disappear. It’s the next best thing to being there. IA You can view Eoin O’Hagan’s videos on clarevirtually.ie or irishamerica.com. The audio tour app will be available for free from June 21, 2017 onward at CULTURAL ROADMAPP in the App Store and Google Play Store. JUNE / JULY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 37
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Lynch: Cooking for the City She Loves
With ingenuity, a lot of talent, and a passion for cooking, Barbara Lynch rose from cooking for the priests in her Southie neighborhood to one of the top chefs and restaurateurs in the country. By Michael Quinlin
“Seven minutes and a world away”
is how Boston chef Barbara Lynch describes the two places she has straddled in her life: one fancy, expensive and tasteful, the other unadorned, modest and down-home. The first is the culinary world, where Lynch is an award-winning chef whose restaurants have shaped Boston’s hospitality landscape and strengthened the city’s reputation as a culinary destination. Her company, Barbara Lynch Gruppo, is a multi-milliondollar enterprise of seven restaurants, including No. 9 Park, her first restaurant, opened in 1998 across from the Massachusetts State House, and her newest, Menton, opened in 2010 on Congress Street. Together they represent Lynch’s culinary philosophy of elegant simplicity and style, plus meticulous service. Dining in one of Lynch’s restaurants is both a tasty and tasteful experience. The second world is South Boston, the neighborhood just seven minutes from downtown Boston, where Lynch grew up, one of seven kids raised by a single mother. The Lynches lived in the Mary Ellen McCormack Housing Project built for World War II veterans who survived the war and came home to start anew. Often described by the media in mythical pro-
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portions, South Boston is a peninsula jutting into Boston Harbor, the place where Irish famine refugees straggled to in the 19th century, clinging together while facing down opposition from Boston’s Brahmin class. As a result, Southie residents share an unbridled, irrepressible loyalty for each other and for the neighborhood. Even as it became gentrified in recent years, to those who grew up here, South Boston will always be a well-spring of family and community values like loyalty, pride, and friendship. In some respects, Lynch’s place in the glamorous culinary spotlight belies her true personality and temperament. The culinary world – and South Boston for that matter – is full of characters, many of them gregarious, audacious, larger-then life personalities who insist you pay attention to them. Lynch seems the opposite: she is low-key and alert until she has weighed up the situation, but then her wit, charm and intensity come quickly to the fore. Both of Barbara’s worlds came into full focus this April, when her unvarnished, candid, and compelling memoir, Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire, was published by Simon & Schuster. Just a few days later, Time magazine named Lynch as one of its 100 most influential people in the world for her culinary and
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TOP RIGHT: Barbara as a teen. TOP CENTER: Young Barbara in her favorite red dress. TOP LEFT: Barbara as a baby with her mother and five siblings in 1966. ABOVE CENTER: Barbara with her mother in 1988 when they both worked at the St. Botolph’s Club, a private gentleman’s club. Her mother, who passed away in 2004, had lived long enough to witness her daughter’s blossoming career as a chef and restaurateur. ABOVE: Chef Barbara with Jacques Pepin and Patricia Wells.
entrepreneurial skills. Joining Lynch on the list were Pope Francis, singers Ed Sheeran and Alicia Keys, and athletes Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Conor McGregor. In the Times profile, Padma Lakshmi, host of the popular television show Top Chef, describes Lynch as someone who “gets things done; even when they seem impossible.” She calls Lynch “a great teacher and a true provider – not just of glorious foods but of different spaces for people to flourish and grow.” There is some irony to the old sexist dictum that “a women’s place is in the kitchen,” given that the professional kitchens of luxurious hotels and fine restaurants have long been male bastions. Lynch helped changed that, and her ascension as one of America’s top chefs, male or female, was hard-won. In her book, Lynch credits trailblazers she learned from in Boston, including Julia Child and Lydia Shire. “It’s been great fun and an honor to get to know Chef Lynch this past decade – a time when she has won numerous James Beard ‘Best Chef’ and other honors,” says Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “I was especially delighted to see Barbara become the first female chef to win the ‘Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year’ in over 25 years – an extraordinary achievement in a category that historically was all men.” A prevailing challenge for Lynch has been her lifelong struggle to move beyond her modest upbringing while pursuing her passion for cooking. “My whole life I’d had to fight – to teach myself, to achieve, to prove what I could do, to overcome a million doubts and fears, including my own,” Lynch recounts. She describes one occasion in Italy when she had just cooked an extravagant dinner for a friend’s wedding attended by influential food people. “I still felt tongue tied. I had periodic flare ups of awareness that my Southie accent, constant f-bombing and cultural ignorance marked me as a project rat. I wasn’t ashamed of who I was, but I didn’t want to be a curiosity.”
Growing up in Southie The fact is, Lynch has always been proud of being
from South Boston, and her memoir is a shout-out to this neighborhood of cops and firemen, politicians and judges, gangsters and athletes and dockworkers and iron workers. Lynch is a natural born storyteller, recounting tales of her family and her raggle-taggle girlfriends from the projects, who joined her in a childhood of fun, adventure and hijinks. Lynch and her childhood pals remain close friends to this day. “We still hang out with each other,” she says, smiling at a recent memory. “We all turned 50 the last couple of years and they all came to my house, like 28 of them. There is plenty of space, but they’re all crowded together, practically sitting on each other. I said, ‘Guys, we don’t have to sit in one lounge chair, we can move around a little,’ and they’re like, ‘No, we like it like this.’ “From my perspective, and I think, my generation, the projects in general were paradise,” Lynch says in an interview. “Most families had seven kids, some as many as 13, many of them single-parent households, and it was usually a mom. We all looked out for each other. My mom lived by the police radio.” Her mother, Barbara Kelleher, had married Phillip “Yapper” Lynch, a hard-drinking taxi-driver “with the gift of blarney his nickname implied,” Barbara writes. He died of alcoholism at age 34, right before Barbara was born, leaving his wife to raise the kids. It became a difficult life for her mom, Lynch writes, “Money was a constant worry. Between her paying jobs, the housework, and keeping a half-assed eye on us kids, my mother always teetered on the edge of burnout.” Lynch describes the Southie mentality through her mother’s perspective. “My mother made sure we stayed grounded no matter what. ‘Tomorrow’s another day,’ she’d say, you could be famous, but it’s only for 15 minutes. Tomorrow’s a new day, so back at it. You could lose everything, and we had nothing to lose, so go for it.” As a latchkey kid growing up in the projects, Lynch had numerous escapades. When she was 13, she and her friends commandeered an idling transit bus on West Broadway and drove it for a few blocks; JUNE / JULY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 39
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Lynch steered while the others pushed on the gas and brake pedals. She shoplifted in the downtown department stores for beer money, and got into fist fights with other girls at high school. It was a hard life that can break a person, and that is why Barbara’s life has been inspiring to those who know her best. “Growing up in the housing projects of South Boston, it took great courage for Barbara to look past all the obstacles and pursue a different path,” says her first cousin and Southie native, U.S. congressman Stephen F. Lynch. “She is the product of a neighborhood that puts a premium on loyalty and a strong work ethic. She was and is fearless.” “For anyone to reach the top in such a competitive profession is a rare accomplishment,” says Boston’s mayor Marty Walsh, who grew up a few miles from Lynch in Dorchester. “But to do it after overcoming some of the barriers she faced as a working-class woman, it’s really special. I do think that the grit and the persistence that she learned growing up in South Boston had something to do with that.” When the James Beard Foundation nominated Lynch for “Best Chef: Northeast” in 2003, Lynch wanted to celebrate. Instead of heading to town, she went to the Quiet Man Pub on West Broadway in South Boston, co-owned by her brother Paul, where the local patrons good-naturedly ribbed her – “Beard? I don’t know him. Did he live in Old Harbor? Who the hell is Jimmy Beard?”
Learning to Cook “I wanted to be a nun at one point,” Lynch
Out of Line (Atria) was published this April.
recalled when we spoke recently on the phone. “For some reason I felt like I needed a purpose in life.” At age 12, she was cooking and housecleaning for the parish priests at nearby St. Monica’s Rectory and as a teenager worked at the Soda Shack in Southie, where she made steak and cheese subs. She was a cocktail waitress at the Bay Side Club in Southie, where State Senate President Bill Bulger held his legendary St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast gatherings and where the locals partied hard on the weekends. She got a stint with her mother at the St. Botolph’s Club on Commonwealth Avenue, a private gentlemen’s club founded in 1880 that only opened its doors to women in 1988. It was here she began thinking of becoming a chef. “I had dyslexia and A.D.D., so I figured if I could cook I would always have a job,” says Lynch. “I couldn’t follow anyone else’s formula; I couldn’t work in an office; so cooking was good for me.” Lynch credits her home economics teacher Susan Logozzo with keeping her in Madison Park High School during the tumultuous school busing years by allowing her to take the home economics class multiple years in a row. Lynch calls Logozzo “not only a great teacher but a great role model.” Lynch never turned down a cooking gig, even when it was beyond her skill set. “Half the excitement was the risk, the breath-taking, heart-stopping challenge,” she writes. “I’ll figure it out, I thought. I always have.”
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One summer, Lynch finagled a job as assistant chef on the Aegean Princess, a dinner-dance cruise ship sailing between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The head chef promised to train her how to cook for 150 high-paying guests on a fancy ship, but he quit just days before the first cruise. Undaunted, Lynch told the ship owner she could handle the job as head chef, and with no experience in banquet cooking, she somehow managed to cook enough steaks and lobsters, baked potatoes and corn cobs for the guests as “pure adrenaline was pumping through my veins.” Lynch continued to take risks while building her company steadily between 1998 and 2012. After culinary pilgrimages to Italy and France, she created her own distinct French-Italian menu that won praise from Food & Wine magazine and the New York Times. She created a test kitchen/restaurant named Stir, which featured regular cooking classes and a massive cook book library. Her cookbook, Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition, won the Gourmand Award for Best Chef Cookbook in 2009. She opened a butcher shop, a grocery store, and a restaurant dedicated to fresh oysters. One of her restaurants, Sportello, is modeled after a 1950s-style soda fountain diner called Brigham’s that her mother took them to as children. Another place, called Drink, is dedicated to the art of the cocktail. Looking back on that decade, her congressman cousin Stephen said, “I worried during the economic crisis of 2008. All the financial experts suggested that businesses slow down and ride out the recession. Instead, Barbara opened up three more restaurants and a grocery store and published a cook book, all hugely successful. Unbelievable. That’s impressive.”
Sustainable Future Lynch’s relentless quest of taking chances and
working non-stop eventually took a toll. Married with a young daughter, Marchesa, Lynch became introspective, questioning her self and her lifestyle. Approaching the age of 50, she decided it was time to confront her demons, including excessive drinking, an occupational hazard in the hospitality industry. She writes in her book that she “hunkered down, got to work on myself. I went to therapy. I ate healthy food. I boxed for exercise. I painted constantly. I stopped drinking.” The change in lifestyle brought Lynch to a new chapter in her life that continues to unfold. In 2012, she was selected to join the prestigious Relais & Châteaux, an association of 550 of the world’s best chefs and their properties. She wrote in her bio that because she “wanted the opportunity to make others happy I became a chef. That feeling has never left me.” That same year, wanting to give back to the community that nurtured her, she established the Barbara Lynch Foundation, dedicated to nutritional and culinary education for the people of Boston, especially children. “I hold Barbara up to our young people, as an example of what you can do if you pick yourself up,
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learn from your struggles, and commit to your passions and dreams,” Mayor Walsh says. “The fact that she’s kept her successful restaurant businesses close to home is an example of how she continues to help mentor, inspire and employ people in the Boston area who need work and a role model like her,” says Ungaro. Lynch continues to discover new passions and dreams. She recently bought a five-acre property outside of the fishing town Gloucester, about 40 miles north of Boston. “We have microclimates up here, so I want to make my own salt, and do some things with seaweed. I want to experiment with moss, and curing fish,” she says. Lynch is also working with the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association and helping to establish a community garden so people can have fresh produce. But her latest venture, Salt Water, Inc., brings Lynch right back to her home turf and also full circle to an earlier episode in her career involving cruise ships. She is partnering with Boston Harbor Cruises, the National Park Service, and Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation to provide new menus for concession stands on Georges Island and Spectacle Island, and at the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Salt Water will also handle the food onboard the cruise ships transporting visitors from the mainland to the islands, and cater private events too. Lynch says the new initiative can “redefine the way we celebrate through food with friends, family, and colleagues on Boston Harbor. I can’t think of a better way to highlight our mutual commitment to the community, Boston Harbor, and the city we love.”
On Irish Cooking Like many Bostonians, Barbara Lynch was aware of
her Irish American heritage long before she made her first trip to Ireland in 2014. In fact, one of her early forays into cooking was making Irish soda bread with caraway and currants. So when Tourism Ireland and Boston Irish Tourism Association created a Gaelic Gourmet series in 2006 to bring guest chefs from Ireland to cook in Boston
hotels and restaurants, Lynch was among the first Boston chefs to roll out the green carpet. She immediately invited the visiting chefs and tourism officials to dine as her guest at No. 9 Park, making them feel welcome and trading cooking ideas with them. Subsequently, Lynch has become “an amazing culinary ambassador who is passionate about Ireland and her Irish heritage,” says Ruth Moran, publicity and communications manager for Tourism Ireland. “She is keen to build awareness for the wonderful culinary renaissance that Ireland has experienced in recent years.” During the Gaelic Gourmet Gala at Boston’s Hotel Commonwealth, where 10 Irish and American chefs cooked side-by-side, Lynch was paired with Darina Allen, the cookbook author and proprietor of Ballymaloe House and Cookery School in eastern County Cork. “Darina had brought over her own butter and a full salmon with her from Ireland. She started talking to me about her cows and the grass they eat,” Lynch recalls, breaking into a Cork accent, “‘You’ll never have butter like this, there’s nothing like it in the world.’ I couldn’t wait to go over to Ireland and visit.” Allen in turn recalls being hugely impressed by Barbara’s vitality and passion for quality ingredients. “She’s such an inspirational entrepreneur who uses beautiful ingredients creatively in her own very distinctive style,” she says. The two chefs were reunited in 2014 when Lynch visited Allen’s Cookery School. “You have to go there and see her gardens,” she exclaims. “She has a microclimate there that’s just amazing: fig trees, kiwi trees. She made soda bread in planter pots that was just delicious. To me, that is what cooking is all about, nothing fancy, but it comes from the heart.” On that note, Lynch is convinced that Irish cooking is unfairly overlooked in the culinary world, and she plans to do something about it. “Everyone talks about Italian grandmothers or French mothers who teach their children how to cook, but nobody talks about Irish grandmothers. I feel that Irish cooking is underrated. I want to do an Irish cookIA book of recipes from Irish grandmothers.”
Honorary event chairs Tyra Banks, Gail Simmons, and Martha Stewart with James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro and all participating chefs (Barbara Lynch is third from left), mixologists, and winemakers at the 2013 James Beard Foundation Women in Whites Gala hosted at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York.
For more information, visit barbaralynch.com.
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the reporter who won’t go away
Dorothy is Back!
Dorothy Kilgallen was a TV and radio star, a columnist who wrote about theater and film, the rich and famous, but more than anything, she was a crime reporter who, at the time of her mysterious death, was investigating the JFK assassination. By Rosemary Rogers
he was as tough as she was brittle, as brave as she was bitchy. At a time when few women had a career, Dorothy Mae Kilgallen had several; she broke the glass ceiling without even knowing it was there. She was a television and radio star, syndicated columnist, journalist, author and, of most significance to her – a crime reporter. Today, only those of a certain age remember her, and some not fondly – she was arch and snobby, an overdressed nightcrawler in clubs and café society. Then there were her looks. Dorothy was mousy to an unsettling degree – Frank Sinatra, her friend-turnedenemy called her “the chinless wonder,” a description as apt as it was cruel. Ernest Hemingway, on the other hand, believed she was “the greatest female writer in the world.” In 1965, she was found dead at the age of 52, the death deemed an “accidental overdose” a diagnosis that derailed her posthumous reputation, reducing her to a pill-popping, boozy rich lady teetering in high heels and false eyelashes. In time, Dorothy became as much a relic as her former newspaper, the New York Journal-American and her network show, What’s My Line? But all that has changed – Dorothy is back. In January 2017, some 52 years after her death, the Manhattan DA’s office reopened her case, believing her death was not due to one vodka or two seconals too many, but rather murder. After two years of dogged investigation, she was close to uncovering the truth of JFK’s assassination. Kennedy’s murder had consumed her, turning her into a feral beast on the trail of the assassin, first debunking J. Edgar Hoover’s lone assassin theory, then ridiculing the “magic bullet” zigzagging through the air. The Warren Commission Report, to Dorothy, was pablum fed to an American public sick of the national nightmare, all of which brings to mind Josef Goebbels’s remark to Hitler, “The bigger the lie, JEAN BACH SY ESTATE OF
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the more people will believe it.” Also being released in 2017: CIA and FBI documents related to the assassination currently held by the U.S. National Archives. Dorothy’s parents, Jim and Mae (née Cavanagh) Kilgallen were first-generation Irish Americans – Jim’s father was born in Ireland, as was Mae’s mother. Dorothy’s dad spent his 75-year career as a respected reporter. As a colleague described him, “He had that kind of Irish quality that just enveloped people.” Mother Mae was pious, determined to keep Dorothy chaste and in white gloves with hankies in her purse. The family moved around the country until they finally settled Manhattan, where, at 19, Dorothy followed her father’s footsteps at Hearst. She began by covering the Beauty Parlor Convention in Coney Island, but her sights were set high. Inspired by her idol, Nellie Bly, another moxie-driven Irish American journalist, Dorothy entered “The Race Around the World,” competing with older male colleagues. She came in second, emerged a national heroine and penned a bestseller about her adventures. In 1938, she was only 25 when the JournalAmerican awarded her “Voice of Broadway,” making her the paper’s first and only woman columnist. Her column ran six times a week until her death in 1965 – she even made her deadline on the night she died. She combined entertainment, politics, and gossip, all imbued with Dorothy’s particular brand of snark. She was soon a fixture on the New York night scene, often spotted at the 21 Club, Copacabana, and the Stork Club, where an outsized portrait of Dorothy was to hang outside the entrance. She met suave Broadway baritone Dick Kollmar, who was no doubt impressed by the petite reporter’s power – on their sixth date, he proposed. Mae, the mother, was not impressed, Kollmar was a showoff, an actor, and worst of all, an Episcopalian. He obligingly converted to Catholicism, they married, had three children and their very own a syndicated radio show, “Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick.” Fans all over the country listened to the couple’s banter about their night life, children, and china patterns. Later, a Star is Born scenario emerged as her career soared while his soured. Then there was Richard’s drinking and womanizing, with even young boys thrown into the mix. It was a marriage in name only,
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with Dorothy and Dick playing “Dorothy and Dick” hosting fabulous parties. Then, at 44, Dorothy fell in love. She had her first affair with Johnnie Ray, a singer famous for his hit, “Cry” (wherein he did just that). They met cute – Johnnie was the mystery guest on What’s My Line? Both were married, and, to make things more complicated Johnnie was gay, with a history of arrests for bathroom solicitation. He was deaf and, like Dorothy’s husband, alcoholic. But she adored him and the couple’s uncontrolled passion for each other caused quite a scandal. Dorothy was drawn to glamour but her true calling was murder – the lurid crime scenes, the investigation, the backstory of victims, suspects, and witnesses. Hearst sent her to cover the most famous murder trial of the day, Dr. Sam Sheppard, who was accused of bludgeoning his pregnant wife to death. When Sheppard was found guilty, Dorothy announced that he had gotten a raw deal and the judge was biased. Her insistence on his innocence kept the case alive until he was exonerated by DNA evidence, but the case lived on through the TV show and movie The Fugitive. In late 1961 she brought her 8-year-old son Kerry to the White House, where mother and son were graciously received by the young president who showed special kindness to the third grader. “I don’t know if he’s a Republican or a Democrat” joked
PHOTO COURTESY PHOTOFEST
Kennedy, to which Dorothy replied, “I know he’s a Democrat now.” Remembering that afternoon in the White House only compounded her grief as she and Kerry watched the assassination news on November 22, 1963. When Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald the following Sunday, her instinctive thought was, “Two assassinations in three days… something is very wrong.” The most tenacious of reporters had found the murder mystery of her lifetime and vowed, “If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to break this case.” She started a folder that she kept by her bedside, “The Assassination File,” and over the next two years filled it with documents and notes. After her death, the file went missing and has never been found. Another person who smelled a big rat was Robert Kennedy, who insisted, “They should have killed me, I’m the one they wanted.” New Orleans’s Mafia leader Carlos Marcello agreed: “The President was the dog, the Attorney General was its tail. If you cut off the tail, the dog will keep biting; but if you chop off the head, the dog will die, tail and all.” It wasn’t just the mob who had a beef against the brothers, the Havana Anti-Castro Cubans had lost a big profit center, and the CIA despised Kennedy, feeling he had
OPENING PAGE: Dorothy having a night on the town with friend Jean Bach and husband Dick Kollmar. ABOVE LEFT: A publicity shot from What’s My Line? TOP RIGHT: Dorothy flanked by fans during the trial of Sam Sheppard. ABOVE: Dorothy and her younger sister, Eleanor.
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ABOVE (left to right): Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgallen, and John Daly celebrating 8th anniversary of What's My Line? RIGHT: Dorothy and pal on a scooter outside the Stock Club.
botched the Bay of Pigs invasion. Dorothy rushed to cover the trial of Oswald’s killer and used her celebrity to score two private interviews with Ruby. The low-level mob guy inspired some of her best writing: “Jack Ruby’s eyes were as shiny brown-and-white bright as the glass eyes of a doll. He tried to smile but his smile was a failure. When we shook hands, his hand trembled in mine ever so slightly, like the heartbeat of a bird.” In the weeks before she died, Dorothy visited New Orleans, explaining to her makeup man, Marc Sinclaire, it was “cloak and dagger stuff,” a possible reference to Carlos Marcello. On the night of her death, Dorothy filmed her show, filed her column, and met with a “mystery man” whose identity has never been revealed. The next morning, November 8, Sinclaire found her dead body in a way that could only have been staged. She wasn’t in her usual pajamas, but rather a peignoir, and wearing full makeup, false eyelashes, and a hairpiece. Two glasses by her bed stand, with residue of vodka and Nembutal, her sleeping pill of choice. Further analysis determined the presence of Tuinal – a drug she never used – and loose powder in the drink. A possible Mickey Finn? What followed was a series of blunders (or foul play or cover-ups) by the police department, the medical
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examiner, various coroners and toxicologists. In the more than 50 years since her death, the public has lost its innocence and most Americans assume a conspiracy was responsible for JFK’s assassination. But who killed Dorothy? The Mafia? FBI? CIA? Anti-Castro Cubans? – or, as Dorothy’s mother believed – her husband, Richard Kollmar? He had a prescription for Tuinol, lived in the same house and after the funeral, Mae clawed at Kollmar, screeching, “You killed my daughter!” Then there’s a final suspect, Ron Pataky, a somewhat caddish critic from Cleveland who served as the last boyfriend. Pataky may have had his career in mind when he hooked up with Dorothy, but something darker has been speculated. He had Mafia ties and despite his denial, was in New York on November 8, making him a candidate for the “mystery man” she spent her last hours with and perhaps took into her home a few blocks away. In any event, Pataky did write some creepy poetry in the years following her death, including one titled “Never Trust a Stiff at a Typewriter,” with the line, “Somebody who’s dead could tell no tales.” Let’s hope he’s wrong and someone who’s dead IA can tell tales.
Her instinctive thought was “Two assassinations in three days… something is very wrong.” The most tenacious of reporters had found the murder mystery of her lifetime and vowed, “If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to break this case.” 44 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
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Geoffrey Cobb writes about THOMAS CRAWFORD, who sCulpted the fiGure of liberty and freedom on top of the u.s. Capitol in washinGton, dC.
The Forgotten Irish American RIGHT: Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace (1863) is the crowning feature of the Dome of the U.S. Capitol. The bronze statue stands 19 ft. 6 in. tall and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. FAR RIGHT: Architect of the Capitol employees take a selfie (note string in hand of individual all in white) while preserving the Statue of Freedom in 1913.
eople around the world recognize the massive, iconic statue of freedom majestically standing atop our nation’s capitol building in Washington, D.C., yet few people know that a New York Irish American, Thomas Crawford, created it. Crawford has not only been largely forgotten by history, but even his grave in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery lacks a headstone. This great, but forgotten Irish American artistic genius, however, deserves remembrance. Crawford, born in New York City in 1814 of Irish parents, came of age at a time when young artists had few chances to train, but he was lucky enough to receive the best training the young country could offer an aspiring sculptor. Crawford, apprenticed at first to a wood carver, had the opportunity to master drawing by studying plaster casts at the newly
created National Academy of Design and The American Academy of Fine Arts. At age 18, he was fortunate enough to apprentice under Robert Launitz, a New York-based Latvian sculptor, carving mantelpieces and architectural ornaments. Recognizing Crawford’s talent, Launitz arranged for him to study in Europe. In 1835 Crawford set off for Rome, the city the artist would call home for the rest of his life. Writing to Launitz, Crawford gushed: “Rome is the only place in the world fit for a young sculptor to commence his career in. Here he will find everything he can possibly require for his studies; he lives among artists, and every step he takes in this garden of the Arts presents something, which assists him in the formation of his taste. You can imagine my surprise upon seeing the wonderful halls of the Vatican – after leaving Barclay Street [then home to the American Academy] and the National [Academy of Design]. Only think of it a green one like me, who had seen but half-a dozon
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Artist of the Capitol Building [sic] statues during the whole course of his life – to step thus suddenly into the midst of the greatest collection in the world.”1 In Rome, Crawford trained with the Danish-born Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770 – 1844), the preeminent neoclassical sculptor of the age. By the late 1830s, thanks to Thorvaldsen, Crawford’s talent had blossomed, moving beyond the unimaginative portrait busts of his early career into the realm of graceful, imaginative, ideal compositions. Crawford’s first marble masterpiece, “Orpheus,” created in 1839, signaled to collectors back home his emergence as the premier American sculptor. His patron, Charles Sumner, Boston’s future United States Senator, arranged to show “Orpheus” and five other works in the first show ever by an American sculptor in 1844. Although Crawford married into New York’s wealthy and influential Ward family, major commissions still eluded him. However, the commissioned pieces he did execute are considered masterpieces. He sculpted his beautiful “Genius of Mirth” in 1842 and four years later his stunning “Mexican Girl Dying,” which is a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection. Nevertheless, Crawford still struggled to gain exposure and acceptance in the land of his birth. In 1849, while on a visit home, he received his first big American commission for a monumental series of sculptures in the George Washington Memorial in Richmond, Virginia. He immediately returned to Rome and designed a star of five rays, each one of these to include a statue of historic Virginians, including Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. At the center of the star rose an imposing equestrian statue of George Washington. His creation was hailed as one of the finest American sculptures ever executed. In 1853 Crawford received his biggest commission. Captain Montgomery Meigs, supervising engineer of Capitol construction in Washington, D.C., asked Senator Edward Everett to recommend artists for the new pediments on the Capitol’s east front, and Everett suggested Crawford. Meigs wanted classical, symbolic sculptures for the pediments similar to the Parthenon in Athens and Crawford designed such a marble classical pediment, depicting
scenes from early American history, called “The Progress of Civilization.” The pediment features a female America, who stands with an eagle at her side and the sun at her back. On the right, a woodsman, hunter, and Native American chief, mother, and child represent frontier America. On the left Crawford depicted various trades including a soldier, merchant, the two youths, the schoolmaster and child, and a mechanic. Completing the side of the pediment are sheaves of wheat, symbols of fertility, and an anchor, representing hope. Crawford finished the drafts in 1854, but it took four years from 1855 to 1859 to sculpt the eighty-foot-long pediment. The figures he created were all freestanding, three-dimensional statues, independent of one another. Intricate details like the mechanic’s rolled up sleeves, and the well-dressed schoolmaster with his arm around a young pupil, proclaim Crawford’s consummate attention to the smallest details. Crawford’s amazing ability to create intricately detailed three-dimensional figures also shines in his masterpiece bronze doors at the entrances to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The huge house doors, measuring over fourteen feet high and seven feet wide, were designed from 1855 to 1857, but they were only executed during the Civil War and not hung until 1905. The House of Representatives’ right door depicts various scenes from the Revolutionary War, while the left one depicts political scenes from the struggle for independence. The Senate doors also depict scenes of the revolution and the laying of the Capitol’s cornerstone, as well as Washington’s first inauguration and other democratic milestones. Crawford’s greatest design, a massive bronze standing figure almost twenty feet tall, weighing approximately 15,000 pounds, would stand atop the Capitol, but also generate fierce protests by slave owners. Originally, the plans for the figure atop the
TOP: Senate Pediment, marble, 1863, east front U.S. Capitol: “The Progress of Civilization” features figures that represent the early days of America along with the diversity of human endeavor. ABOVE: Thomas Crawford, 1846, by C. Edwards Lester.
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RIGHT: Crawford’s Washington Memorial in Richmond, Virginia. FAR RIGHT: “Peri at the Gates of Paradise,” marble, 1856, in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
BELOW: Bust of Charles Brooks, pioneer advocate of free public schools, in the Massachusetts State House, Boston.
dome called for a statue representing the goddess of liberty, but Crawford instead proposed an allegorical figure of “Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace.” Crawford’s design was accepted in 1854 and during that same year he sculpted the plaster model for the statue in his Roman studio. U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, who a few years later would become President of the Confederacy, headed the Capitol building project and held a veto over the statue’s form. According to David Hackett Fischer in his book Liberty and Freedom, Crawford’s statue was quite close to Davis’s ideas, except above the crown where New York Abolitionist Crawford had added a liberty cap, the old Roman symbol of an emancipated slave. This made the slave-owning Davis explode with rage, and Davis angrily demanded its removal. Crawford instead designed a military helmet, with an American eagle head and crest of feathers. Even Davis had to admit the unique beauty of Crawford’s elegant design. No other artist had done as much to grace the Capitol, but 48 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
tragically Crawford would not live to see his designs realized. In 1856, at the height of his artistic powers, and finally achieving success, Crawford’s sight began to deteriorate rapidly. He sought medical treatment in Paris, and physicians discovered cancer of the eye and cancer of the brain. Desperate, Crawford agreed to undergo an untested medical treatment that destroyed the eye and orbital contents. He died five months later in London on October 10, 1857 at age 44, never seeing any of his Capitol sculptures. His body was returned to the United States, and buried in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. There is a wonderfully ironic turn in the story of the “Freedom” statue. After Crawford’s death, the model for the statue was sent from Rome to Washington. The pieces of the massive sculpture had been bolted together, but when it came time to cast it, nobody could find a way to separate the parts, so they could be moved to the foundry. A slave working for his master’s foundry, Phillip Reid, figured out how to use a pulley and tackle to lift up the model and cast it. Reid worked seven days a week casting the massive figure, but the foundry owner took the money for six days of Reid’s week of work. Reid, however, saved the money from his one day of pay and used it to purchase his freedom; casting the allegorical “Freedom” helped Reid gain his own material freedom, which must have greatly pleased IA Crawford in heaven. Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861. Eds. Catherine Hoover Voorsanger and John K. Howat (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000), 167. 1
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Mother Teanga The Irish language has roots stretching back at least 5,000 years, and shares words with Sanskrit, the ancient classical language of India. By Colin Lacey
lmost all of us can speak a little Irish, and often do. Words like “galore” and “brogue,” for example, or “smithereens” have all passed directly from Irish into English, often with little change to their original pronunciation. So the next time you refer to a “banshee” or your “clan,” or the next time you sip a glass of “whiskey” – three more words that have made the linguistic leap from Irish to English – it’s worth noting that you’re actually using language that would have been comprehensible to the average person in an Irish village hundreds of years ago. Maybe even further back and much further afield too – the Irish language actually has roots stretching thousands of years into the past and a back story that links it with several European languages, and perhaps surprisingly, even some from much further afield. The roots of modern Irish lie ultimately in a language spoken approximately 5,000 years ago in the area between the Baltic and the Black Sea. Known as Indo-European, this language is purely conjectural in the sense that no concrete evidence of it is extant, but using similarities between ostensibly unrelated languages (for example, the word “horse” is capall in Irish, caballo in Spanish, cheval in French, and cal in Romanian), experts have been able to surmise their derivation from a common ancestor. Development of trade aided the gradual dispersion of Indo-European culture across the continents and the language became a forerunner to many modern language families. Among its descendants are the Germanic (Norwegian, Dutch, and German), Romance (Italian, French, and Spanish), and Slavic (Russian, Yugoslavian, and Bulgarian) tongues, as well as Hindu, and other languages spoken today in the northern India region. The Celtic group of languages, which includes Irish, is also a descendant of Indo-European. Celtic is thought to have separated definitively from the parent tongue by 1,000 B.C. Over time, three distinct dialects of Celtic emerged – Gaulish, Brythonic, and Goidelic. Gaulish Celtic ceased to develop after the spread of Latin with the Roman Empire, but in the furthest reaches of the Empire, the Brythonic and Goidelic strands survived. The Brythonic dialect of Celtic gradually developed into Welsh, Breton, and Cornish, with Goidelic becom-
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ing the source of Scots, Manx, and Irish. Brythonic and Goidelic differ from each other roughly as much as do the Romance languages French and Spanish. The most prominent feature distinguishing the Goidelic – or Gaelic – dialect is its use of the hard q-sound, as compared to a p-sound in the Brythonic. Thus, while surface similarities between Irish and Welsh or Breton appear limited, when the split between P and Q is considered, the connection between the two strands becomes clearer: the Irish word ceann, “head,” is penn in Welsh, and the Irish cuig, “five,” is pemp in Breton. Ireland’s isolated position ensured minimal external influences on Gaelic, and for centuries the language developed largely along its own path. Until the arrival of Christianity in the country, there was no written literary tradition apart from the cumbersome and necessarily limited ogham, which consisted of a series of markings carved into strategically placed standing stones. The first examples of written Irish came only with the arrival of Christian missionaries and monasteries. During this Early Literary Period (A.D. 600 to 900), learned men wrote almost exclusively in Latin, but a comparative study of the Irish of the time is made possible through the use of glosses, notes written in the margins of manuscripts explaining Latin words and their Irish equivalents. Some linguists believe it likely that the vernacular and the written forms of the Early Literary Period were effectively separate languages. The first Viking raids in 795 marked the beginning of a new era for the language as loanwords began to appear from the Norse, Welsh, and Latin, and written language became more like that of everyday speech. A less rigid grammatical structure developed in the Middle Irish Period (A.D. 900 to 1200), and while largely incomprehensible to non-experts, snatches of Irish from this time can be understood by modern speakers in the same way that fragments of the epic poem “Beowulf” might be understood by modern English speakers. During the Classical Period (A.D. 1200 to 1600), Irish became a language under threat. In 1169, the Norman invasion of Ireland began, and the armies that arrived in the country were a linguistically mixed lot, consisting of not only the Normans themselves, but soldiers from the southeast counties of England Welshmen and Flemings. Indeed, with the arrival of the Normans, the Irish language was, for a time, faced with two main rivals in the country – English and French. The latter was the language of the ruling classes and important church men, with English spo-
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ken by the ex-soldier tenants of the landed rulers. Irish remained the vernacular of the majority of the population, however, and as the use of Norman French by ruling lords declined, the indigenous language began to take its place. This gaelicization of the Anglo-Normans was perceived as a threat by the English, and many subsequent attempts were made to stamp out Irish; in 1367, the Statutes of Kilkenny made it a crime for an English person to speak Irish, have an Irish name, or marry an Irish native. Such legislation marked an ominous note for the survival of Irish, and more serious threats to the language were to come. Introduced in 1537 by Mary Tudor, the plantation policy saw the suppression of Irish language and culture as central to colonial stability, and the large-scale introduction of non-Irish speakers to the country heralded a crisis of survival. After the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, the Irish-speaking aristocracy were driven out of the country, and with them went the backbone of Irish language and culture, the Brehon system of law, the bardic schools, and support for Irish poets and scholars. The Cromwellian conquests of the mid-17th century drove the majority of non-English speakers out of the south and east, and although pockets of Irish speakers remained, the language became confined to the relatively harsh territories of Connaught. In the rest of the country, the notion that English offered an escape from poverty and oppression became widespread, and Irish was abandoned on a large scale. Interestingly, the English language adopted around this time featured many of the Elizabethan traits that gradually disappeared from Standard British English, but contributed to the development of the distinctive “Irish brogue.” Decline came rapidly after the 17th century. At the time of the Flight of Earls, Irish was spoken almost exclusively outside of the Dublin area; by 1799 the total number of native speakers had dwindled to just under half the total population of approximately 4.75 million. More serious reductions in the amount of Irish speakers were to follow. 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. But the most profound damage came with the Famine, which killed over a million and caused the emigration of another million and a half, largely from poorer, Irish-speaking areas. English became the key to escape and survival, as emigrants realized that Irish was of little use in finding employment abroad. Taken immediately after the Famine, the census of 1851 puts the number of Irish speakers at just 20 percent of the population. But the years prior to the beginning of the 20th century saw a nationalist reaction against the Anglicization of Irish culture, and the language experienced the first stirrings of a popular revival. In 1893, the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) was formed to reintroduce Irish as the vernacular of the nation; by 1904 it had almost 600 branches across the country. The
PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
league set up schools of Irish and helped repopularize traditional dancing and music through local and national competitions. Irish literature underwent a reappraisal in Irish language journals, and the league was instrumental in having Irish endorsed as a requirement for matriculation to the National University. The Irish language became central to the politics of the post-Independence Ireland – in 1937, the Constitution recognized Irish as the first official language of the state – and successive governments have attempted to foster its survival and expansion. But despite social and economic initiatives like the Gaeltacht Commission and the appearance in 1967 of Radio na Gaeltachta (an all-Irish radio station), everyday use of Irish continued to decline. By the early 1980s, the number of native speakers had fallen to between 30- and 50,000 people, with many of these bilingual.
The Future of Irish
The 1980s and early 1990s revived hopes that the decline could be reversed. Government grants boosted the number of gaelscoileanna (Irish language schools), and currently around 60,000 children are educated solely through Irish. Meanwhile, continued support for the language through subsidies for Irish-language publications, an Irish language national radio station as well as TG4, an award-winning public service TV station broadcasting through Irish, helped bring the language into living rooms on a daily basis. In 2010, the government launched a 20-year “Strategy for the Irish Language” with specific objectives to increase the number of people with a knowledge of Irish to 2 million and raise the number of daily speakers to 250,000. The strategy has more than half its timeframe yet to run but the latest national census of Ireland has set alarm bells ringing and raised questions over the future of Irish as a living language. Figures published this April reveal that around 1.7 million claim to be able to speak Irish, but outside of
TOP: Dutch watercolor painting of Irish men and women, c. 1575, from Lucas de Heere’s book Corte beschryvinghe van Engeland, Scotland ende Ireland, “A Short Description of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” ABOVE: A page from the Book of Armagh, also known as the Canon of Patrick, a 9th century illuminated manuscript. Written mostly in Latin, it also contains some texts in Old Irish. It is held by the library of Trinity College, Dublin.
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RIGHT: Connemara, where Irish is still spoken, is known for the Connemara pony, Capaillín Chonamara in Irish, a breed that originated in Ireland.
NOTE: The terms Irish and Gaelic are often used interchangeably, but in terms of language, it’s more accurate to describe Irish as a form of Gaelic (along with Welsh, Manx, Scots Gaelic, etc.).
the education system, where learning the language is mandatory, fewer than 74,000 do so daily – a far cry from the goal of the country’s official strategy for Irish. Worse, the census shows a significant fall since 2011 in the number of Irish speakers in Ireland’s eight Gaeltacht areas, which are specifically denoted as primarily Irish-speaking. In Mayo, for example, the number of people speaking Irish on a daily basis in 2016 was 25 percent lower than just five years previously, while in the Kerry Gaeltachts, the number of daily speakers has fallen by 18 percent. The decline is the first in more than 80 years, leading some to suggest the figures point to a potential extinction of Irish as a living language. Much of the blame may lie with emigration during the post-Celtic Tiger economic crash, but questions must be asked regarding why a language that is a mandatory subject in all Irish primary and secondary schools is essentially discarded by students after their final exams. Whatever the reasons for the decline in daily usage, the danger of a continued decline is clear. According to Padraig MacFheargusa, language activist and editor of the Irish language monthly Feasta, the situation highlighted by the census fig-
Look-alikes, Sound-alikes and Distant Relatives
rish shares its origins with hundreds of others in the IndoEuropean family of languages. Effectively, Irish is a cousin to many of these languages and dialects – although a distant cousin in some cases. For example, the Irish word for horse, capall, has a family resemblance with the Spanish caballo, French cheval, and Italian cavallo, while the names for some body parts also have cognates that reflect a shared origin – the Irish word for tongue, for example, is teanga, compared to the German zunge, French langue, and Swedish tunga. Numbers also share certain family characteristics across a diversity of languages: English: One, two, three, four five Irish: aon, dó, tri, ceathair, cúig Breton: unan, daou, tri, pevar, pemp French: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq Italian: uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque But the family connection between Irish and other languages runs further afield too – often in some surprising directions. Sanskrit, for example – the ancient language in which the Hindu scriptures are written and from which modern Indian languages derive – shares a range of characteristics with Old Irish that reflects their shared Indo-European origins. 52 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
The Sanskrit word for “freeman” is arya, which has an Old Irish cognate aire, meaning “noble,” while the Sanskrit word for “good,” naib, is a cognate of the Old Irish word noeib, from which the modern Irish word naomh, “saint,” derives. The shared origins between Old Irish and Sanskrit are also evident in minda (Sanskrit for physical defect) and menda (Old Irish for a person with a stammer), and perhaps most clearly in Raj (Sanskrit word for king) and the Old Irish cognate Rí. Other comparisons include the Sanskrit badhira (deaf), which is bodar in Old Irish, while the Sanskrit pibati (drink) is reflected in the Old Irish ibid. Irish and Hindu are frequently highlighted as cognate cultures, but such connections are more than merely historic or academic. The Industrial Development Authority, the government body charged with attracting foreign investment into Ireland, continues to highlight the shared language links with India as part of its campaign to attract Indian companies to the country. Old Irish also has a kinship with a range of other languages, both in Europe and very much further afield. For example, the link between the Irish word for mother, máthair, is easily detectable in modern European languages like French (mère), Spanish (madre) and Portuguese (mai), but also in Iranian (matar), Armenian (mayr) and Albanian (moter).
PHOTO: BRIAN MORRISON FOR TOURISM IRELAND
ABOVE: Students learn the sounds of the Irish language and some vocabulary from a team of Irish speaking professional teachers at Gael Scoil in New Jersey, run by the Joe Cahill A.O.H. Division 10.
ures is worrying, but there are some silver linings too. “Leaving the major languages aside, there are about six thousand languages on the planet, and on average, they each have about 8,000 speakers. In that context, Irish is well off: it has a degree of state backing, and the people speaking it are not impoverished as they were in Famine times,” he says. And despite the shrinking usage revealed in the latest census figures, Irish is thriving in some areas, he says – particularly in the U.S. “I think there are about 50 universities which have courses in Irish language and culture in the U.S.A., and the interest there is growing,” he says. MacFheargusa believes the Irish in Ireland are doing a “disservice” to the diaspora if they do not change their mindset towards daily usage of Irish. “The present situation is an ongoing cause for concern – but not hopeless. The Irish are not a poor nation, and they have a state which can ensure that services are provided through Irish, so that the status of the language is maintained and people are encouraged and secured in their use of it,” he says. “I think too that this most significant and distinctive product of Irish culture and civilization, the Irish language, will not be easily abandoned: people do not give up on their efforts to be fully human. IA “We have to be hopeful.”
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The Great Tate Caper
How two Irish students stole a priceless masterpiece from London’s Tate Gallery – and got away with it.
ubliner Paul Hogan and his On April 12, mate Billy Fogarty from Galway believed that the painting, 1956, two Berthe Morisot’s “Jour d’Été,” young Irish was the property of Ireland and been unjustly obtained by the British Govmen walked had ernment. Hogan, then a 21-year-old art student, had into the Tate used his status as an undergraduate to get close Gallery in to the masterpiece. He and Fogarty scoped out the joint for a London with number of days previously, pretending to one brazen sketch the numerous artworks as they instead when the guards took their morning tea objective in learned breaks. The pair hoped that when they were inmind – evitably caught departing the gallery with the to seize an canvas underarm, that mass attention would be to their cause. £8 million brought So confident were they that commotion impressionist would be created that they arranged for a press photographer to take a shot of the act. masterpiece Only, when they made it out of the museum’s entrance without so much as an in the name eyebrowfront being raised by a security guard, the of their dumbstruck duo had no idea what to do next. country. A Priceless Masterpiece
By Aidan Longergan
“Jour d’Été,” which translates as “Summer’s Day,” was worth £10,000 at the time and is now valued at around $10,000,000 (£8,000,000). The painting was part of a priceless collection of 39 artworks known as the Hugh Lane collection. Sir Hugh Lane, an Irish art dealer, died aboard the Lusitania after it was infamously PHOTO COURTESY IRISH POST sunk off the coast of Cork by a German U-boat in 1915. The British authorities’ refusal to honor Lane’s last Before his death, Lane explicitly bequeathed his wishes was firmly in the minds of Hogan and Fogarty collection to the “people of Ireland” in his will. when, 41 years later, they decided to correct what However, the document was not witnessed, and a they viewed as an ongoing injustice. previous clause promising the paintings to the Tate The “Uncultured Irish” Gallery in London was enforced by Britain – generIt all sounds like something plucked straight out of ating yet another toxic bone of contention between the opening pages of a screenplay, and soon enough, the two nations.
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That, and rock ‘n’ roll.
1956 was a time of incredible social transformation – James Dean’s seminal Rebel Without A Cause, the chagrin of many a parent of a rebellious teen – was released just one year previously in 1955. If that wasn’t enough, Elvis Presley’s eponymous
debut album came out just three weeks prior, prompting thousands of young men to ditch tweed blazers for leather jackets, and to grease their hair in a triumphant middle finger to the establishment. The Tate heist was firmly in keeping with this rebellious new tradition, says Stephen Hogan, who is the nephew of one of the protesters. “This was a generation who were born in an independent Ireland and were just coming of age really, and there was a sense that direct action – student action – was what you did to change things,” Hogan said. “The Suez Crisis was happening, rock ‘n’ roll had just come out, jazz was happening, rationing was over and people were beginning to breathe after the war. “Young Irish people really felt that small acts could change the world, and my uncle’s take on that was to lift a painting off a wall.”
Taking the Picture
When 21-year-old Paul Hogan descended the front steps of the Tate Gallery with “Jour d’Été” under his arm, he was left puzzled by just how easy it had been to pinch a priceless masterpiece from under the noses of the guards. He wasn’t perplexed for long though, as the flash of a nearby camera brought him firmly back to the task at hand. Hogan and Fogarty, who planned the heist for some time, were startled by the appearance of the photographer they had booked to document their act of political protest. “The photographer was supposed to capture the
PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL NEWS SERVICE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
it will be. Two Irish filmmakers, Keith Farrell and Stephen Hogan, have toiled for years to give the heist its own big screen treatment. A feature film, tentatively titled Taking the Picture, with a script written by Oscarnominated filmmaker Michael Creagh, has already cast two actors in leading roles. Farrell and Hogan have relentlessly researched the incident, and say that looking back, the arrogance of the British Government at the time was astounding. “If you read the files from the time, they’re very patronizing towards Ireland – they actually say things like, ‘while we recognize the Irish state has a moral right to the paintings, we don’t believe the Irish are culturally aware enough to appreciate the works,’” Farrell said. “Almost from the foundation of the Irish state, the Irish Government tried to get the Hugh Lane paintings returned to Dublin, but by the 1950s there was still no progress. “It was this frustration with the British Government that was behind Paul Hogan and Billy Fogarty’s decision to seize one of them and return it home.”
PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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TOP: Berthe Morisot’s “Jour d’Été.” ABOVE: Sir Hugh Percy Lane, in an undated photograph, who died May 7, 1915 in the sinking of the Lusitania. LEFT: Paul Hogan leaving the Tate Gallery in London with “Jour D’Été” under his arm, April 12, 1956. Billy Fogarty stands st the top of the steps.
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ABOVE: A newspaper clipping from the April 13th edition of the London Irish Press describing the mysterious heist. RIGHT: Paul Hogan (right) with his nephew Stephen Hogan.
PHOTOS COURTESY IRISH POST
ABOVE: The London Daily Mail covered the robbery extensively in the days that followed.
moment Hogan and Fogarty got into fisticuffs with the security guards in the revolving doors, get the picture, and hit the headlines,” says Stephen. “The photographer was standing around waiting and waiting and there were no students coming out. “Suddenly, my uncle comes rushing down the stairs with a huge painting under his arm and behind him, his mate Billy shouts with an Irish accent ‘Take the picture,’ and the photo which went around the world was born.” The Irish students, unfamiliar with London, now had to decide upon their next move. They got into a black cab and asked to be taken to the first place that came to mind – Piccadilly Circus. Meanwhile, the press photographer who captured their audacious act was having his photograph developed, and the next morning it would hit the front pages.
A Wild Goose Chase This article originally appeared in the Irish Post and is reprinted with permission.
Hogan had chanced on a meeting with an Irish woman in a bar the night before, and the pair quickly headed to her flat with nowhere else coming to mind. The Irish woman, Mary, agreed to let them hide the artwork under her bed. The men could relax, but not for long. The photograph of Paul escaping the gallery with
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the painting under his arm was published in newspapers around the world and the Metropolitan Police were soon hot on their tail. The officer in charge of the investigation was one detective chief investigator McGrath. The Dubliner was in demand after he solved the case of the missing Stone of Scone in 1950. In a remarkably similar circumstance, the Stone of Scone had been stolen by four Glaswegian students intent on reawakening a sense of national identity amongst the Scottish people. DCI McGrath had solved that case and he was determined to locate the “Jour d’Été,” too. “It was a case of an Irishman hunting Irishmen,” says Farrell. It was quickly discovered that the suspect in the photograph was the son of a senior civil servant in Ireland, and a spotlight was soon on Paul Hogan’s family. “When it was found that he was the son of Sarsfield Hogan, a senior adviser to Taoiseach de Valera, all hell broke loose,” Farrell added. “The family had the press knocking on the door and suddenly young Paul was the big fugitive of the time.” Hogan and Fogarty, who had taken to disguising themselves as priests to escape the authorities in Cambridge, eventually decided to ask Mary to return the painting to the Irish Embassy in London. She agreed and the painting was quickly returned to the Tate Gallery. But their escapade was not in vain, as the Tate eventually agreed to share the paintings with Dublin, while controversially retaining ownership. DCI McGrath, who discovered that the pair were making a run for the Liverpool ferry, called up the Hogan household and told Paul’s mother that he was letting them go. “They got off the ferry and Paul’s mammy was waiting in the car. The only thing she said was ‘get in the car,’ and that was that,” adds Farrell.
The Hugh Lane collection remains under British ownership to this day, but the current sharing arrangement with Dublin ends in 2019 and it is hoped that the paintings can be returned to Ireland thereafter. Keith Farrell and Stephen Hogan say that their film, which they hope can come out in 2019 to coincide with the end of the arrangement, could tip the balance. Fionn O’Shea (The Siege of Jadotville, Handsome Devil) has been cast in the role of Paul, while actress Sarah Greene (Penny Dreadful, Vikings, The Guard) has landed the role of Mary. “The story of the Hugh Lane collection is far from over, but hopefully soon my uncle can see his wish come true after 60 years,” says Stephen Hogan. IA “It’s about time.”
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FROM TOP: Judge Sandra Lynch, David Lynch, Che Guevara at Shannon Airport, and the ruins of the Lynch house in Galway where Walter Lynch was hanged by his father, James Lynch fitz Stephen.
he name Lynch, which is ranked among the 100 most common names in Ireland, originates with several different clans, and is most frequently traced back to the anglicization of the old Irish name Ó Loinsigh, and the less-numerous Norman de Lench family. The de Lench arrived in Ireland from France during the 12th century and became the most prominent of the 14 Norman families that made up the “Tribes of Galway,” who controlled the city’s trade and maintained its status as a rare loyal outpost in the west of Ireland to the British crown. The landmark Lynch Castle, constructed in 1320, remains under the family’s ownership and continues to bear its coat of arms while serving the public as a bank. The Lynch presence in Galway was so strong that there have been 84 Lynch mayors to date, beginning in 1485 with Peirce Lynch, the city’s first. However, he was not the first of his family to occupy a seat of power. His grandfather, Edmond, was Sovereign of Galway in 1434, and the earliest known member of the family, Thomas de Lynch, was provost of Galway in 1274. The most famous of the many mayor Lynches of Galway was James Lynch fitz Stephen, elected in 1493. Shortly afterwards, he made a trip to Spain and returned to Ireland with a new ward, Gomez, the son of his overseas host. Gomez and Lynch’s own son, Walter, became instant friends; however, things spun out of control when Walter killed Gomez while disputing the affections of a woman. In spite of public outcry for Walter’s pardon, Lynch, who was also a magistrate, saw justice served, comforting his son in jail before hanging him from the upstairs window of his own house next door. Haunted by his decision, Lynch lived the rest of his life as a recluse. It has been proposed that this incident was the genesis of the verb “to lynch,” meaning to extrajudicially punish someone by hanging. Another theory of its origin is the unofficial Virginian court of Revolutionary War colonel Charles Lynch (1736 – 1796), who administered justice outside the law due to the war period’s disruptive effects on court operations. The Lynch’s mayoral era in Galway came to an end in 1654, when Catholics were barred from holding public office by English rule. However, it received a reprise in 1989, when Fine Gael member Angela Lynch-Lupton (d. 2007) was voted into office, and again in 1998, when she was re-elected. Those born of Ó Loinsigh stock will most typically find their roots in counties Cork, Sligo, and Clare. This name is occupational in origin, meaning “mariner,” and, fittingly, there are no shortage of
by Olivia O’Mahony
Lynches who have upheld this name’s reputation on the high seas. Two such figures were brothers Henry Blosse Lynch (1807 – 1873) and Thomas Kerr Lynch (1818 – 1891). Joining the Royal Indian Navy at just 16 years old, Henry skyrocketed to the position of official interpreter for the Gulf Squadron due to his fluency in the Persian and Arabic languages. He contributed to the exploration and survey of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, as well as the Mesopotamia region, and, together with his brother Thomas, created a postal route between Damascus and Baghdad. Thomas himself explored the Near East and was behind the first steamer services between Baghdad and India. He travelled much of Persia, building relationships that eventually allowed him to serve as the consul general for Persia in London. Making waves on distant waters, Chilean naval hero Patricio Lynch (1825 – 1886) was a principle figure in the later stages of the War of the Pacific. He was nicknamed “The Red Prince” by the Chinese slave laborers he liberated from the Peruvian haciendas for the bright ginger hue of his hair. Fascinatingly, Patricio was the great-grandson of Patrick Lynch, who emigrated in his youth from Co. Galway to Buenos Aires, and from whom would also descend Ernesto Guevara Lynch, the father of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevera (1928 – 1967). In the United States today, the name Lynch sustains significance in all disciplines. Director David Lynch (b. 1946), the mind behind films such as The Elephant Man and cult serial drama Twin Peaks, has been described by the Guardian as “the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking,” and screenwriter Brian Lynch (b. 1973) has penned many recent hits, including Puss in Boots (2011), Minions (2015), and The Secret Life of Pets (2016). Celebrated actress and comedian Jane Lynch (b. 1960) brought life to Sue Sylvester, the hyperbolic antagonist of the TV musical Glee. R&B and pop singer Sybil Anita Lynch (b. 1966), better known as simply Sybil, is known worldwide for her cover versions of Dionne Warwick’s “Don’t Make Me Over” and “Walk On By,” released in the late 1980s. Sandra Lynch (b. 1946) made history in 2008 by becoming the first woman in history to serve as a United States chief circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals on the First Circuit. She was first nominated to the First Circuit in 1995 by fellow Irish American Bill Clinton. Also making history for women is restaurateur Barbara Lynch (b. 1964), profiled in this issue of Irish America. As the second woman to be awarded the James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur award and the sole female Relais & Châteaux grand chef in North America, she is one of many Lynches today raising the stanIA dard for those in the years to come. JUNE / JULY 2016 IRISH AMERICA 57
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window on the past |
by Ray Cavanaugh
The Georgia Healys In antebellum Georgia, the Healy children, born legal slaves to an Irish immigrant father and his black common-law wife, had to be smuggled out of the state to avoid being sold into slavery. Several would go on to become some of the first mixed-race high-ranking members of the Catholic Church.
ineteenth century Georgia saw a remarkable phenomenon called the Healy family. The father was an Irish immigrant turned wealthy Georgia landowner. The mother had been his mixed-race slave. Their common-law union produced two nuns and three priests. Among them were: the first American priest and bishop of black descent, the first American Jesuit and Ph.D. of black descent, and the nation’s first Mother Superior of black descent. Their father, Michael Morris Healy, was born on September 20, 1796. For some reason, he claimed to have been from County Galway, but his background was traced to Roscommon. He left Ireland in 1815 and, after entering the U.S. through New York he came to Augusta, Georgia, before settling in rural Jones County, Georgia, in 1818. By means of persistence, good fortune, and the labor of slaves, he became wealthy. He would have had considerable prospects, but he never married – at least not legally. Rather, he entered into an unofficial marriage with one of his slaves, Eliza Clark. Her birthdate is uncertain but she was considerably younger than him: they likely began their relationship when she was in her late teens and he was in his mid 30s. Though many landowners had physical relations with their slaves, it was unusual for a successful planter to make a slave his significant other. As to why he chose such a relationship, the most likely reason was that he genuinely loved her. And so their ongoing, committed, interracial relationship “violated perhaps the most powerful taboo of 19th century America,” as related by James M. O’Toole’s book Passing for White: Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, 1820-1920. As noble as Healy’s affection may have been, the children of this union – ten in total, nine of whom survived to adulthood – would face a heavy burden. First and foremost, they were legally born slaves. The laws of Antebellum Georgia were stacked against people with any known or discernable degree of black ancestry. If a mother was a slave, her children were slaves, too. End of story. It didn’t matter if they had majority white blood. Healy could not legally grant freedom to his own children. In fact, he technically could have been
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prosecuted for teaching them how to read. The Irishman knew that if his biracial children were going to succeed in life, he had to get them out of the 1830s South. So, to the North they were sent. The elder children first attended a Quaker school in Flushing, New York. Several years later, four of the Healy brothers had enrolled at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and two Healy sisters were attending schools in New York City. The Healy children were good, eager students, finishing either at or near the top of their class. Having made it North, they stayed there. Time off from school was spent at the homes of the extended families of the priests they knew. Following the January 1849 birth of the youngest child, Eugene, the Healys planned to relocate the whole family to the North. But this move never took place. Eliza Clark Healy – slave, mother, and unofficial wife – died on May 19, 1850. She was still
young, most likely not even 40. The cause of her death is at this point unknown. Barely three months later, her former owner and heartbroken widower, Michael Morris Healy, followed her into the grave at age 53. With both parents gone, one of the elder Healy sons, Hugh, headed down to Georgia – at great personal risk to himself (for he was technically a fugitive slave) – to rescue his younger siblings, who
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were especially vulnerable as both orphans and slaves. The rescue mission was a success, and all the Healys made it out of Georgia. After graduating first in his class at Holy Cross, James Augustine Healy, the eldest son, entered a seminary in Montreal. He then relocated to Paris, where he was ordained in 1854. Returning to Boston, he served as a priest there for two decades and tirelessly worked with the city’s growing population of poor immigrants, most of them Irish. He was consecrated as the Bishop of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, in 1875. During his tenure as bishop, his diocese added more than 60 parishes and 18 schools and convents. Upon graduating from Holy Cross, Patrick Francis Healy entered a Jesuit
order. While in Europe, he earned a Ph.D. and was ordained to the priesthood in 1866. Returning to the U.S., he taught philosophy at Georgetown University, before becoming the school’s 29th president. His accomplishments for Georgetown were such that, according to BlackPast.org, he is often referred to as the school’s “second founder.” After she was orphaned at age four, Eliza Dunamore Healy lived with her older brother,
Hugh, in New York City. On reaching adulthood, she entered a convent in Montreal. Upon having spent decades teaching at several Canadian schools, she was appointed Mother Superior of a convent in St. Albans, Vermont. She ended her days at the College of Notre Dame on Staten Island, New York, where she died in 1918. The only surviving Healy photographs are of four sons. Their complexions range significantly: Patrick Francis Healy, S.J., looks like an Irish Jesuit. However, Alexander Sherwood Healy – who served as a priest in Boston and well might have been consecrated as a bishop had he not died at age 39 – has visible mixed-race ancestry. And of indeterminable ethnic appearance is Michael Augustine Healy, the most successful of the children who did not enter the religious life; he became the first officer of black descent in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, the predecessor to the U.S. Coast Guard. Most of the Healys were viewed as white, and official documents, such as death certificates, denoted them as such. When Mary Healy Cashman – an ex-nun who became a wife and mother – died on May 18, 1920, it brought the close to a remarkable generation made possible when, just over 100 years earlier, an Irish immigrant staked his claim IA on the Georgia frontier.
TOP: Georgetown University’s Healy Hall, named for Patrick Francis Healy, the university’s 29th president. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: James, Patrick, Alexander Sherwood, and Michael Healy.
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what are you like? | by Adam Farley
The former Downton Abbey star makes his American stage debut
ong before Allen Leech drove himself and the Crawley family into American hearts in a 1920 Renault for the surprise 2010 PBS Masterpiece hit Downton Abbey, he was on stage in Killiney, County Dublin, playing the Cowardly Lion in a grade school production of The Wizard of Oz. “I was 11 and I was hooked,” the now 36-year-old actor says. It doesn’t get much more clear-cut than that for a calling. By 16, after two years working backstage at Dublin’s Gate Theatre, he had his first professional acting credit, playing the gentleman caller to Frances McDormand’s Blanche Dubois in the theater’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. From there, he made the rounds around Dublin’s stages before getting into movie and TV work in the early 2000s. Laid back and cheekily modest in the way that belies his talent (in 2004 he described his first film, a made-for-TV movie about an Irish woman’s soul trapped in an American woman’s body, as “absolute shite” before knowingly rolling his eyes at the reporter), Leech has had constant work ever since. His credits range from independent Irish films like Cowboys and Angels, a critical darling that saw him play a manic pixie gay Limerick clubber, to Hollywood blockbusters like The Imitation Game and mainstream period shows like HBO’s Rome, Showtime’s The Tudors, and, of course, Downton Abbey, in which he played Tom Branson, chauffeur and Irish revolutionary who marries the Earl of Grantham’s youngest daughter, and for which he won three Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. Most recently, he appeared in the CBC show Bellevue, opposite Anna Paquin, a noted departure for Leech, not least because he got to wear modern clothing. Leech’s most recent stage work was in Mike Leigh’s 2011 London success Ecstasy – a role, incidentally, he took because he didn’t think his character would be renewed for season two of Downton – but now he returns to the floorboards, and is making his American stage debut to boot in the Geffen Playhouse’s production of Nick Payne’s 2012 Constellations in Los Angeles, opposite Ginnifer Goodwin. A famously dense two-actor play, Constellations traces the relationship of a beekeeper (Leech) and a quantum physicist (Goodwin) who talk through, at, and with each other using an assortment of esoteric principles of higher physics to examine both the struggle and the complexity of genuine human communication. The play premiered in London, where it was nominated for both Olivier and Drama League Awards, before being taken to Broadway with Jake Gyllenhaal in Leech’s role, where it earned similarly high praise, including a Tony nomination. Leech recently bought a house in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, though no word on whether the emigration from London is permanent – Constellations runs June 6 through July 16. What can be certain is that Leech, who might look even more like Michael Collins than Liam Neeson (pace Liam) will fit in just fine in the city. As London designer Oliver Spencer noted of Leech for GQ Britain when Leech made the magazine’s 50 best-dressed people list of 2015, “Allen has a raw yet relaxed style. He’s funny and charming, but also has an air of danger about him.” What could be more L.A. than that? 60 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
Americans know you as Tom Branson, the chauffeur in Downton Abbey. What did you love about Downton, and why do you think it was so popular over here? I think what made Downton so popular was the characters. Julian Fellowes did an incredible job of weaving the lives and stories of 20 or so main cast together. It’s what I loved about it too.
Julian Fellowes did a good job shedding light on Irish history in the script. Did he ever talk to you about Ireland, or his own Irish roots?
Yes, we did speak about it quite a lot. His brother still lives on an island off Kerry.
You actually had to learn to drive a vintage Renault for Downton. What was that like?
I loved driving that car. It was amazing to drive a car built at a time when there were no rules as to the placement of pedals or brakes. Levers and buttons everywhere. Like flying a plane.
How are you preparing for your role in Constellations? Did you have to learn a lot about quantum mechanics and string theory? I’ve dipped my toe in. I fear any further and I’ll enter a mental black hole.
What are you most excited / nervous about in your American debut? I’m very excited about the play as it’s a really
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fascinating and touching work by Nick Payne, and working with Ginnifer Goodwin, and I’m always nervous about doing a play.
How does it feel to be returning to the stage?
It’s where I started in this business and I always want to do more theater like so many actors. So I feel very lucky to get the opportunity.
Were your parents supportive of your decision to become an actor? They were very supportive. But the ground rules of an education first were put in place, so I had to get a degree. Thankfully drama and theater studies in Trinity College took me in.
Any relation to the famous Irish painter William John Leech?
PHOTO COURTESY ALLEN LEECH
Apparently we are related somewhere down the line. Leech isn’t a very common name, so I imagine we must be.
What sort of music do you listen to?
I like all music. All genres except German heavy metal.
Do you have a favorite group or musician? I have too many to narrow down.
What is on your bedside table?
The script of Constellations, and two books I’ve been threatening to finish for five months.
What is your most prized possession? My grandfather’s wrist watch.
Your greatest extravagance? A 1965 Ford Mustang.
What quality do you seek in friends? Humor, honesty, and loyalty.
Do you strike up conversations on long plane journeys?
Yes, the last one was with a professor who builds parts of satellites for Elon Musk.
Describe your perfect day.
A walk on Killiney beach followed by pints in Finnegan’s in Dalkey.
Where do you go to think? These days, Fryman Canyon.
How do you keep fit?
In L.A. a great friend of mine has a gym called Training Mate. It’s fantastic. And well worth a visit if you’re in town.
What is your favorite meal? Steak and…… anything! PHOTO: HBO
Do you have a favorite spot in Ireland?
I’ve always had a great love of Connemara, County Clare. The mountains and the views are spectacular.
ABOVE: Allen Leech, left, in HBO’s Rome. TOP LEFT: Leech first came to widespread American attention in the period drama Downton Abbey.
What movie will you watch again and again? Irish movie: The Commitments. Classic movie: The Sting.
Do you have a favorite line from a movie, play, or book? From the poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver: Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Do you have a hidden talent? If I do it’s well hidden even from me.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Fail. Try again. Fail better.
What question do you wish someone would ask you? At any wedding, celebration, etc.: “Are you a professional dancer?”
What’s next for you?
Let’s get through this first.
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Irish director Aisling Walsh talks to Patricia Harty about her latest film.
A Love Story
et in Nova Scotia and filmed in Newfoundland, Maudie is based on the true story of Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins) and the unlikely romance between Maud and a hardened reclusive bachelor, Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). Lovingly brought to the screen by Dublin-born filmmaker Aisling Walsh, Maudie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year to a warm reception. It will open nationwide in U.S. theaters on June 16. Already there is an Oscar-buzz about the performances of Hawkins and Hawke, and perhaps a Best Director statuette for Walsh, who masterfully brings Maudie to the screen. I never met Walsh but I knew her by reputation. Her
PHOTO: DUNCAN DEYOUNG, COURTESY SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
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2003 Irish drama Song for a Raggy Boy gained her status as one of Ireland’s finest filmmakers, someone who is not afraid to take on difficult subject matter. Raggy Boy, a film about the brutality of life in an Irish reform school for boys, is based on a true story and packs the kind of emotional punch not soon forgotten. Maudie, her latest work, also lingers in the mind long after the movie screen goes dark. Walsh herself says she was “haunted” by Maud after she read Sherry White’s script. I too found myself intrigued by Maud. After seeing Walsh’s movie, I spent a lot of time searching online for more information on this “Grandma Moses” artist who quietly faced down many challenges, including birth defects and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, to pursue her art. As long as Maud, who died in 1970 at the age of 67, had a window and a paintbrush, she was content. Painting was her purpose and her passion, and instead of having us feeling sorry for her, Maudie makes us envy her. It helps that Sally Hawkins does a masterful job of bringing Maud to life on the big screen. She shows us Maud’s dignity, humor, and smarts, and she lights up the screen with her smile. Ethan Hawke’s performance as Everett, Maud’s miserly and curmudgeonly, and mostly silent husband – a man you could easily dismiss – is such that Everett’s true nature is slowly revealed and you end up rooting for him too, and forgiving him his trespasses. The takeaway from this movie is the love between these two loners, and the power of love to transform, and the power of art to console and bring contentment. To put it simply, Maudie is a beautiful movie, one that will stand the test of time. Seeking insights into the process of bringing this film to the screen, I caught up with Walsh by email.
Y SONY DEYOUNG, COURTES
CS PICTURES CLASSI
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PHOTO: DUNCAN DEYOUNG, COURTESY SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
What drew you to Maud’s story? Maud’s struggle to be the artist she wanted to be grabbed hold of me. I knew I had to try and make this film when I read the screenPHOTO COURTE SY SONY PICTU play by Sherry White. It’s the story of an RES CLASSICS artist and the story of a remarkable woman. It’s also key to the journey his character goes on. From the portrait of a lifelong relationship and a marriage that moment on, things change for him. I wanted an and I loved all of those things about the story. audience to be shocked by that. You can’t imagine that you will have fallen in love with this man by the Can you discuss the process? You give equal end of the movie, but you do. That is a hell of a jourtime to Everett’s character as you did ney for a character. I also wanted us to understand his Maud’s. He’s quite abusive at first but then circumstances – this lone soul – this man living as an there’s the slow reveal of why he is as he is, outsider in isolation in solitude, unloved. He was an and we see a different side of him. And with orphan and illiterate. Maud changed his life. She Maud, you show us how smart she is and showed him love and he found a way somewhere her sense of humor. Her physical deformiwithin him to love her in return. ties seem to take second place. Maud had a wonderful sense of humor. She was A lot of the characters were written and formed in well educated and she was smart. Yes, I wanted her that first screenplay I read. What I like to do then is disability to take second place, as that was how it was go on a journey with the story and find things that are for her in life. Sally and myself talked about that a interesting to me when I research the story for myself. lot. People live with their disabilities and pain and I try and incorporate these things into the script and get on with life. Both Sally and myself felt it very iminto the characters’ stories if I can. I create their world. portant that we achieve that. Then there is the journey Sally, Ethan, and myself We had a wonderful documentary that CBC made went on developing these characters. We talked. We a few years before Maud’s death to draw on and refworked on detail, and nuances. We played with ideas erence again. Sally, Ethan, and myself watched it sevas we went along and things developed. Sometimes eral times together and apart. It was wonderful for on set first thing in the morning we’d have an idea detail and to see how they were together, hear how about a scene that took it in a direction that felt right. they spoke, see how they moved, see the details of You have to trust your instinct and the instinct of the how they lived in that small house. There is a real actors you are working with. We are the keepers of essence of both Maud and Everett in the film with the story – we are the narrators. No one knows the small moments and tiny details. Then you have to characters better than we do. No one knows the story create from there – to be those characters but have better than we do. the freedom to fly at the same time. For me, the moment where Everett hits Maud is so
OPPOSITE PAGE ABOVE & BELOW; THIS PAGE TOP: Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke as Maud and Everett Lewis in Maudie. ABOVE: Maudie director Aisling Walsh and Sally Hawkins.
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My takeaway from the film is Maud’s need to paint. As long as she could do her art she was content no matter the circumstances. Would you say that’s true? Yes, Maud needed to paint. She found happiness and contentment painting. I also believe she couldn’t live without it. Some of us couldn’t live without books and reading or without music; she couldn’t survive without painting. She painted every day of her life for almost 40 years, which is astonishing. It didn’t matter what the surface was – board, household objects and of course the walls of her small house. The walls of that house are for me her greatest work of art. It is a map of her life over her years there.
BELOW: Maud Lewis in real life. Even with her hands gnarled from arthritis she continued to paint. BOTTOM: “White Cat” by Maud Lewis. Oil on pulpboard, c. 1960s.
Did you have Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins in mind right from the start or is there an interesting tale to tell on the casting? I often try to imagine a particular actor/s playing the character/s when I read a script. It helps me picture the film. I need to see pictures when I read a script. I saw Sally straight away. I remember writing her name down in my notebook as I read. From that moment on there was no one else for me. We had worked together a few years before that and I desperately wanted to work with her again. I emailed
her the next day and attached two photographs of Maud along with a few examples of her work. She wrote back “YES,” and I replied, “Really you sure?” Sally replied, “Yes I love her already.” Ethan came to the film almost a year later. We sent him the script. His wife read it and was so moved by the story that she got Ethan to agree to do it before he read it. (Thank you, Ryan Hawke.) Of course he loved it too and saw Everett as a real challenge to play. An almost silent man – a lone soul. Sometimes the spaces in between words are the most exciting thing to play. I think that’s what excited him. They are both wonderful to work with. This film required both actors to embody the characters totally, and they did that. They are both artists who always want that challenge and want to go to those places. Then its my job to create the atmosphere and space where this can happen. How was it working in Newfoundland? Did you know anything of Newfoundland’s Irish history, or had you been there before? The first time I visited Newfoundland the Atlantic was frozen almost a mile out and it was minus 15. I wanted to run. I didn’t know or couldn’t see how I was going to work there. Then things start to unfold
Maud Lewis: Her Life and Art
aud Dowley was born on March 7, 1903, in South Ohio, a community near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Born disfigured with sloped shoulders and her chin pressed to her chest, physical deformity may have been her lot but Maud experienced a happy home life in the loving care of her parents, Jack and Agnes Dowley. Her mother taught her to hand-paint Christmas cards that they sold to neighbors, and she also taught her to play the piano, which Maud did, before juvenile rheumatoid arthritis crippled her hands.
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Maud’s life took a turn for the worse when both her parents died in the late 1930s and her only brother, Charles, sold the family home. An aunt reluctantly took Maud in. Looking to escape the confinement of her aunt’s house, Maud answered an ad in a newspaper. Everett Lewis, a fish-peddler, decided he wanted a housekeeper for his cottage in Marshalltown, and Maud applied for the job. Their relationship got off to a rocky start as Maud was confronted with Everett’s need to control her, but they eventually marry. With humor and smarts she turned the tables on him, with Everett ending up doing most of the cooking and cleaning, allowing Maud to spend her time creating her art, which Everett enjoyed peddling, first to neighbors
and then to tourists, who would stop by the Lewis home in western Nova Scotia and buy Maud’s paintings for a couple of dollars. Maud received some national attention when a TV crew stoped by to film her and Everett. But even as more orders for her paintings came through, even one from Richard Nixon in the White House, Maud and Everett continued to live in their 10x12 foot house without electricity or running water. As long as Maud had a brush in her hand and a window in front of her, she was content. She died at 67 from pneumonia, having suffered lung damage from exposure to paint fumes and wood smoke and a life-long addiction to Cameo cigarettes.
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and reveal themselves like some kind of magic. Places that were so remote – so isolated but had a real beauty. I started to learn of the history of the Irish there and started to realize that it is a very unique and special place. I love their stories. I love their music. I fell in love with the people and I fell in love with the landscape. There is something in the soil of Newfoundland that is so connected to Ireland. In many ways it was familiar all along. How long did the project take from beginning to end? The project took 13 years from development to completion. I joined in year 10, so it was a much shorter journey for me than for my producers who had been trying for so long to get this film made. I always feel that the right time comes for a film with the right combination of creative talent – that takes time. In our case it took those 13 years. Can you talk a bit about your own journey to becoming a director? Is that what you set out to be or did your journey in that direction develop over time? I wanted to be a painter first. I went to art school in Dublin when I was 16 and studied fine art. I started to make films there and then suddenly things made
Maudie brings fresh attention to an artist who should be celebrated, not just for her wonderful paintings, but because no matter what the conditions she experienced, Maud never gave up. Maud and Everett’s house is now in an art gallery in Halifax.
sense. I don’t think I understood what a director was at that stage, I just wanted to make films – make my own films. I wanted to be a film maker. So I painted and made films. Then that changed as I started to make more films. I painted less. I had seen a lot of films by then as my family loved the cinema and we went almost every week. The industry in Ireland at that stage consisted of a small number of people making commercials. There were one or two people making films. I knew I needed to leave and go somewhere else to find what I was looking for, to find fellow travelers, fellow artists and filmmakers. When I was in my last year at art school I heard about the National Film School in England. I applied and got in so I spent another three years there making films, working with other students, watching movies, working on my own projects – and I started writing. I was really encouraged to write there, to write my own stories and make the films I wanted to make. It was an amazing place to be. About three years after I left the school I made my first feature film from a script I’d written. Some fantastic people took a chance on me – actually they took a huge risk. A few years of development on another project followed, but it eventually fell apart. At that stage I was desperate to work – to learn – so I persuaded a television producer to take a chance on me on a long-running and very popular cop show. I am forever grateful to him and to that show as it meant ever after I could traverse that often very difficult line between film and television. That’s what I’ve done for almost 30 years now. Irish films have been receiving more attention in recent years. Have you had a lot of support from the Irish Film Board? Where do you see the Irish film industry heading? Yes, Irish films have been receiving a lot of attention in the last few years. The Irish Film Board has been hugely supportive in getting these films made and in encouraging filmmakers to tell their stories. They have always been hugely supportive of filmmakers and together I feel we have come of age. We are recognized around the world for the great films we have made over the last twenty years. Now the industry needs to progress. It is still heavily male orientated director-wise, so we need to support women who want to make films and tell their stories and the Film Board wants to achieve that. But this needs to start earlier in our lives. It needs to start at school. It needs to start like it did for me when I realized – without thinking – that I could be a filmmaker. It never seemed impossible to me. In my mind it was never something I couldn’t achieve. Thank you, Aisling Walsh.
TOP LEFT: “Cape Islander” by Maud Lewis. Oil on particle board, undated. BOTTOM LEFT: “Model T on Tour” by Maud Lewis. Oil on graphite board, c. 1960s.
Paintings reprinted with permission from Wayne and Jocelyn Cameron and the Mayberry Fine Art Gallery. Images courtesy of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
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In Search of
Lost Writers The unexpected success of the efforts of Dublin’s Tramp Press to re-release out-of-print and forgotten books by Irish women writers. By Julia Brodsky
The Uninvited (2015).
n 2014, Sara Davis-Goff and Lisa Coen founded Tramp Press, a small, independent publishing house with the aim of finding and showcasing extraordinary literary talent, whether publishing work from emerging writers, established authors, or writers whose work, though exceptional and important, has been forgotten. The two met as interns at Lilliput Press in Dublin, where Davis-Goff had discovered and pushed for the acquisition of Tipperary writer Donal Ryan’s debut The Spinning Heart. (Read an interview with Ryan, and an excerpt from his latest book, in Irish America’s October / November 2016 issue.) They take their name from John Millington Synge’s tramp figure, the outsider introduced to disrupt and restructure society. The most famous of Synge’s tramps is Christy Mahon, the titular Playboy of the Western World and presumptive father-killer, and Coen and Davis-Goff take the connection one step further, noting that the tramp enters to “shake up a stale patriarchy.” Once a year, Coen and Davis-Goff seek out and re-publish a book in their Recovered Voices series, which highlights out-of-print and underappreciated work that for whatever reason has fallen from public notice. As the pair wrote for the Irish Times upon the launch of the first book in the series in 2014, “New contexts can revive old plays; why can’t we do the same with books?” The project was not without precedent; Persephone Books had been reprinting outof-print work for some time, and in 2003, Vintage reissued John Williams’s 1965 novel, Stoner, with much success (in 2013, the New Yorker called it “the greatest American novel you’ve never heard of”). For the series, Coen and Davis-Goff seek to demonstrate that “there is important work out there that’s well-written and entertaining, but that also offers a timeless critique of politics and heteropatriarchy.” Nor are they without aid in their quest – as the series has gained traction since its launch in 2014, many people have reached out to suggest titles for consideration. However, many suggested books are still in print despite being less easily accessible. Coen notes that she and Davis-Goff take special consider-
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ation for educators who are unable to track down copies of a book they consider important for teaching. Too often, such overlooked books have been written by women. Indeed, so far, all three of books published in the series are by women and were each suggested by Irish academics looking to make certain important texts more readily available. The first Recovered Voices title, A Struggle for Fame by Charlotte Riddell – originally published in 1883 and reprinted by Tramp in the fall of 2014 – came at the suggestion of Trinity College Dublin professor Heather Ingman (Coen cites Ingman’s seminar on Maeve Kelly’s Orange Horses, the most recently printed book in the series, as one of the catalysts for Recovered Voices). The novel tells the story of a young woman in Victorian Ireland who remakes her life after her mother’s death, including becoming a successful writer under a male pseudonym, much like Riddell did herself. As serialized novels fell from popularity, so too did Riddell’s semi-autobiographical novel. The second book in the series was Dorothy Macardle’s The Uninvited, initially published in 1942 in Ireland as Uneasy Freehold, a gothic novel in which a brother and sister purchase a suspiciously affordable house on the English coast, only to find their dream home is haunted by the spirit of one of the two women who died there mysteriously some years before. Maynooth University professor Luke Gibbons, who suggested the title and wrote the introduction for new edition, says, “I suppose you could say that recovered voices are always ghosts of a sort, and it is particularly appropriate that a ghost story about lost attachments should figure in the series.” The novel was made into a critically-acclaimed film in 1944, with the Irish Times reviewer writing upon its release, “I doubt even Hitchcock could have made a better job of it.” The film’s success kept the book in popular circulation in the U.S. through the 1960s, when it merited inclusion in Corgi Books’s “selection of fine reading” – Catch-22 and Lolita among the novel’s peers on the list. Eventually, the book all but disappeared from print and the public eye. Orange Horses, reprinted by Tramp last fall with an introduction by Maeve Kelly biographer Simon Workman, is the first Recovered Voices book by a still-living author. When it was initially published in 1990, Kelly’s collection of short stories about people at the margins of society, including travelers and
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LEFT: Tramp Press founders Lisa Coen, left, and Sarah Davis-Goff. BELOW: Orange Horses (2016) and A Struggle for Fame (2014).
abused women, was misogynistically dismissed as “piling on” the misery and it subsequently fell from the shelves and from print. Tramp relaunched Orange Horses at the Dublin Book Festival, coincidentally the same year that Arlen House published Kelly’s collected poems. The dual publications have renewed popular interest in her work and reopened the door for more nuanced critical attention to her short stories, despite having been previously disregarded for being “women’s stuff.” Even at the launch of the collection, Kelly’s genius asserted itself – Sinéad Gleeson read the opening lines of the title story: “Elsie Martin’s husband beat her unconscious because she called him twice for dinner while he was talking to his brother. To be fair, she did not simply call him. She blew the horn of the Hiace van to summon him.” It is an opener that “Raymond Carver would kill for,” as a friend of Coen’s noted at the launch party. This fall, Tramp will reprint The Unforeseen – a follow-up to The Uninvited – as the fourth Recovered Voices book. The Uninvited’s success, particularly in the United States, was one of the reasons to turn attention to its sequel. Coen posits that readers here may have heard about the movie and encountered the novel via Amazon, or, it could be because “the idea of an Irish Shirley Jackson sounds too good to pass up.” However, the pair of gothic novels has a political resonance that cannot be ignored. Like The Uninvited, The Unforeseen “is about precognition and trying to anticipate catastrophe,” says Coen, and she cites Luke Gibbons’s assertion that “during times of fraught politics, writers become interested in fiction
about predicting what will happen.” (Gibbons will also provide the introduction to The Unforeseen.) Coen said that Irish readers have been incredibly receptive to the series, and book launches, especially for the work of dead writers, often lead to interesting meetings and conversations between people who have been quietly following the writers’ work for many years. She also acknowledged that the series is not restricted to work solely by Irish women writers as a rule, but there is still very much a balance to be redressed, even in a literary climate that seems suffused with brilliant up-and-coming female authors, including Tramp’s own Sara Baume and Oona Frawley. Still, the unfortunate fact that the Abbey Theatre’s 2016 “Waking the Nation” season entirely ignored work by women playwrights – new or established – highlights just how far the gender balance in Irish arts and letters has to go. And yet, though the Irish literary establishment has yet to catch up to more equitable treatment of male and female writers, the Irish book-buying public seems to have no hesitation in their demand for under-recognized female voices. Orange Horses sold so well in fact that Tramp had to reprint their edition, which Coen believes would make a perfect bookend to an Irish fiction course beginning with Joyce’s Dubliners: “If Orange Horses had been written by a man, you may be sure it’d be on the Leaving Cert curriculum, not waved off as a woman’s book and IA allowed to fade from memory.”
Tramp Press offers special discounts to teachers and students on Recovered Voices titles for coursework. Email email@example.com to discuss. Suggestions for Recovered Voices titles are welcome.
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review of books | recently published books Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan By Ruth Gilligan
ith the exception of Leopold Bloom, Irish Jews have received almost no attention in literature, and until quite recently, very little scholarly attention. Ruth Gilligan’s debut novel, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, attempts to redress that oversight with three interconnected narratives about the crossovers between Irish and Jewish culture, religion, and diaspora. Storytelling and migration are the threads connecting three central characters: Ruth Greenberg, a Lithuanian Jewish girl whose family is en route to America when they disembark in Ireland in 1901, mishearing “Cork” as “New York;” in 1958, Shem Sweeney, an 18-year-old IrishJewish boy whose voluntary muteness – though he feels it compulsatory – causes his parents to commute him to a Catholic mental institution; and Aisling Creedon, an Irish journalist whose Jewish boyfriend brings her to his family’s 2013 Hanukkah celebration and gives her a very weighty, presumptuous gift. All three understand the sacredness and weight of words, both said and unsaid. Ruth chooses to remain in Ireland, and she becomes a midwife who blends the stories of her playwright father with Irish myths while bringing new life into the world; Shem’s roommate at the sanitorium – the home’s only other Jew – asks him to transcribe his memories in secret, as they are not allowed paper or pens; Aisling, having immigrated to London, writes obituaries, telling the stories of people’s lives. Some of the details, however, remain too cruel or serendipitous to be believed, even in fiction: Shem’s father insists of making aliyah – permanently relocating to Israel – while leaving his son behind in an Irish mental institution, a man and a woman meet while cutting peat for fuel during the Emergency and get to know one another over the course of a week before becoming lovers, all without ever learning one another’s names. In a realistic, heartfelt novel that otherwise provides the reader with sympathetic, nuanced characters, these moments feel incongruous. Still, weaving in an appearance from Lady Gregory and clever references to Joyce, Beckett, and Heaney, as well as mentioning lesser-known Irish writers, such as playwright Mary Manning, Gilligan’s debut novel acknowledges not only the major influences that shaped the Irish literary canon, but also the voices – especially that of the Jewish community in Ireland – that have gone largely unheard.
– Julia Brodsky (Tin House / 400 pp. / $15.95)
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The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Vol. 4 Selected by David Wheatley
n the fourth installment of The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, curated by 2008 Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize-winner David Wheatley, five Irish poets – the experimental Trevor Joyce, religious celebrant Aidan Mathews, elegist Peter McDonald, modern poet Ailbhe Darcy, and Irish speaker Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh – receive their official publication debut among North American readers. In the anthology’s preface, Wheatley notes that despite his chosen poets’ regional variance and differences in age (37 years separate Joyce, the eldest poet in the collection, and Ní Ghearbhuigh, the youngest), his selection takes care to evade “questions of generational groups and territoriality to explore a series of related but distinct issues” in each of the five bodies of work. In this he is successful: the anthology is a latticework of themes, from troubled love, as seen in Joyce’s defiant “I will not die for you” and the raw honesty of Ní Ghearbhuigh’s “Ciaróg” (“Beetle”) to national identity in Mathews’s “The Death of Irish” and McDonald’s evocation of transatlantic dreams in “A Fall.” Darcy responds to artists old and new – Elizabeth Bishop in “The Art of Losing” and Lady Gaga in “Telephone,” respectively – with such equal gravity that time itself is reduced to a shadow. Wheatley’s selection of works readily acknowledges that Irish poetry has always willfully defied categorization. Early Irish poems, such as “Pangur Bán,” written by a cat-loving monk in the margins of the manuscript he was illuminating, date back as far as the 6th century, and the poetry of 19th century Ireland concerns itself largely with the socio-political relationship between the Irish and English languages in a time of national strife. Irish poets from days gone by, like Yeats, Kavanagh, and Heaney are lauded still on an international scale for their contributions, yet they too were once new mouths through which the voice of Ireland travelled. In this attentivelyconsidered anthology, that voice is heard loudly as ever.
– Olivia O’Mahony (Wake Forest University Press / 328 pp. / $19.95)
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Montpelier Parade By Karl Geary
he simple but beautiful cover of Karl Geary’s first novel promises great things, and it is such a relief that the story keeps to its end of the bargain. Sonny would rather spend time in the unheated shed at the back of his house than put up with the layers of toxicity that simmer between his barely speaking parents. He loves his Dad, but knows he can’t show it in front of his mother or brothers. When his builder father brings him on a job to a “posh” house, Sonny is instantly smitten with the woman who lives there. His life otherwise is unremarkable in its ordinariness. He goes to school, works for the local butcher after school, and drinks and smokes with Sharon – a girl from the neighborhood who thinks school is for losers – in the local field. As he gets to know Vera, the woman in the big house, he sees a life he knows nothing about. He takes a book from her house but has to hide it at home because there are no books in his house. He squirrels away any bits of money he can, creating a nest egg that will get him out – somewhere, anywhere. And he falls in love. But loving Vera isn’t enough for Sonny; he desperately wants to save her. And as Vera repeatedly warns, that’s the one thing he won’t be able to do. All emotions are here: desire, longing, grief, hope, and desperation. It’s a simple and universal story, elevated by wonderful characters and writing that glows. It is a hugely impressive debut from the Dublinborn Geary, and describes a world that couldn’t be further from the 1990s New York that saw him model for Madonna’s Sex and co-own and run the iconic Café Sin-é in the East Village. He now lives in Glasgow, Scotland with his family. – Darina Molloy (Harvill Secker / 240 pp. / £12.99)
Carnivalesque By Neil Jordan
n Carnivalesque, the latest novel by writer and filmmaker Neil Jordan (Michael Collins, Interview with a Vampire), the Tuatha dé Danann are alive, well, and living as a traveling band of carnival and circus performers covering up their magical powers with the guise of big-top feats, with modern-day attendees nonethe-wiser. That is, until a boy named Andy, visiting the carnival with his mother, is forced to learn the truth and is consumed, literally, by the parallel mystical world of latter-day gods. At the carnival, Andy enters Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors only to walk through a mirror and become a trapped reflection of his former self. In turn, a simulacrum emerges and goes home with Andy’s parents. In this clever take on the tradition of changeling folk tales though, Andy, his name now inverted to Dany, is saved by a young carnie girl named Mona, returns to the real world, doppelgänger to his own body double. Mona takes Dany in and teaches him the ways of the carnival while the new “Andy” adjusts to life outside the mirror and Andy/Dany’s parent’s are forced to adjust to this new the-same-but-not-quite version of their son. Anyone who has raised children, or remembers the fraught emotional transition from childhood to adulthood will recognize the allegorical implications of this switch – the book is essentially a bifurcated bildungsroman, told from the perspective of Andy’s mother, Eileen, who must confront the changeling teenager in front of her, a quiet, moody, thankless version of her previously happy-go-lucky son. (Indeed, what parent hasn’t thought their teenagers might be changelings?) Meanwhile Dany tells his own carnivalesque story of learning to play with gods. The cinematic circus-scape of Jordan’s making sometimes falls prey to his tendency to over-describe. It’s not that he puts in too much detail, it’s that the detail that is there is occasionally warped by infelicitous verbosity and repetition of words and phrases. Jordan, to his credit, anticipates this criticism within the very fabric of the novel – that is to say, in a novel where carnies are immortal and the carnival is as enchanting as it is all-consuming, the language must reflect the lived experience of the fey circus hands, for whom “time was a mangled circle, a balloon twisted into a donkey shape, a series of interconnecting doughnuts to be prodded, licked, tasted, but never consumed.” Jordan’s linguistic movements similarly mirror the discourse of the carnies, who privilege wonder and enchantment over analysis and explanation. As with the Tuatha dé Danann, or the mythical Tír na nÓg, the novel is, to be fair, a delicious tale if you’re in it, but seek too many answers or put your foot on the ground, and you run the risk of getting less than you bargained for.
– Adam Farley (Bloomsbury / 288 pp. / $27)
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Beckett’s Bodies “
By Olivia O’Mahony
PHOTO: RICHARD TERMINE
ABOVE: Lisa Dwan in Samuel Beckett’s “Not I” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2014. TOP: Dianne Wiest in Beckett’s Happy Days this May.
ance first, think later. It is the natural order.” These are the words made famous by the characters of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot; characters who, Beckett delighted in suggesting, cannot move beyond their texts, never to experience the “later” in question. But what happens when dance is a vehicle for thought? When the body is infused with metaphor, filling its every beat of movement and rest with meaning? These are questions that County Westmeath actor Lisa Dwan tackled fearlessly in “The Body and Beckett,” her May seminar at Manhattan’s Center for Ballet and the Arts. Since the age of three, Dwan aspired to a career in ballet, receiving early acclaim and a scholarship at the Dorothy Stevens School of Ballet in England. However, her path took a sharp turn when the cartilage in both of her knees gave in, making a continued life as a ballerina impossible. In this intensely vulnerable time, Dwan turned to acting and found, to her surprise, the element of dance inherent in Beckett’s scripts. “Rhythm has a pervasive centrality in Beckett,” she said. “The balletic form can keep potency from leaking away, and using it in my interpretation of Beckett’s work allowed me to dive deep, creating a space for unfathomable phantoms.” She performed the short dramatic monologue “Not I” in London’s Battersea Arts Center in 2005, guided by English actress Billie Whitelaw, for whom Beckett wrote the role and rehearsed with personally. The narrative of “Not I” is stream-of-consciousness, written like sheet music, and its principle role, that of a disembodied female mouth that speaks “at the speed of thought,” requires physical rigidity, which Dwan practiced by trapping her head in the bannisters of a staircase. Thirty-two years before, Whitelaw strapped herself into a dentist’s chair. Beckett conducted her as she said her lines. In rehearsing “Not I,” Dwan recalls her bewilderment in unconsciously releasing a “tide of Irish voices,” which Whitelaw encouraged her to embrace as the “guts of the piece,” the necessarily raw and personal elements that the piece demands. Beckett, Dwan says, “is only as good as the artists that serve him” and will “hang an actor out to dry should they attempt to placate him with spectacle or gloss.” One must not
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PHOTO: GERRY GOODSTEIN
act, but surrender themselves to this “vast holistic work that refuses to be served from the neck up.” This certainly held true in James Bundy’s production of Beckett’s tragicomedy Happy Days at the Shakespeare for a New Audience Theater in Brooklyn, starring Dianne Wiest (Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets Over Broadway) and Irish crime television actor Jarlath Conroy. The surrealist two-act play, which ran April 23 to May 28, revolves around the daily life of Winnie (a role which Wiest calls “Hamlet for women”), who chatters ceaselessly while buried waist-deep in desert wasteland, and her monosyllabic husband, Willie, who lives in a hole offstage. Despite what one might assume, an emphasis on movement is integral to any performance of Happy Days, so much so that Wiest worked with body coach Jessica Wolf in order to bring life to the immobilized Winnie, whose stage directions (right down to each singular smile) Beckett wrote with choreographic detail. By the second act, matters have only gotten worse for the woman – she is now buried up to her neck in the sand, with only her facial expressions to engage the audience. In order to pull this off, Wolf wrote in an article for American Theater called “Stillness is the Move,” everything came down to Wiest’s ability to breathe: “Because the respiratory system is the balance wheel of the body, the vitality [Wiest] found in her breath allowed her to transform into character and have an intimate connection with the audience. Her Winnie became the vessel and mirror for the human condition.” As the half-submerged Wiest-as-Winnie fluctuates unpredictably from childlike joy to desperate sadness, that condition proves ever more bisected. “When we are unburdened by the body and its distraction, its presence, and its responsibility are removed, we reach something else,” Lisa Dwan noted in her seminar. “This has a special meaning for women. The removal of a woman’s body means that she can play consciousness itself, and this is befitting of Beckett’s woman. She is more element than character – she is a creature.” Dwan’s recent and timely reflections on “Not I” and Wiest’s hilarious, heartrending performance in Happy Days are evidence that Beckett’s work continues to generate new ways of seeing ourselves – sometimes disembodied – laid bare, and as essential to the universe as dancing. IA
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My Own Personal Edythe Preet writes about her father’s love of literature and storytelling.
ABOVE: The King of Ireland’s Son, first published in 1916, is a collection of stories from the Irish oral tradition. OPPOSITE: George Francis Burns, the author’s father.
une always finds me thinking about my Father more than usual. It’s Father’s Day month, his birthday was the third, and strawberries, his favorite fruit, are in season. Naturally, his birthday cake was always strawberry shortcake. Dad loved strawberries so much that when he once visited me in Los Angeles during January and discovered abundant boxes of plump strawberries selling in the local market, he announced that might be a good enough reason to move here from Philadelphia. When I griped, “Hey, what about me? What am I, chopped liver?” he chuckled. “Aw, kiddo, you would be icing on the cake!” It was more than a decade after Dad’s passing in 1983 that I started writing Sláinte!, and he would have been as proud of me as he was of his Irish roots. As the years went by and articles flowed, I came to learn that those things I had always thought of as Dad’s “little quirks” were Irish to the core. Once, on a trip to Ireland during June, I discovered Wexford’s strawberries, so sweet they tasted like cotton candy, and learned Dad’s strawberry passion was probably genetic. He also loved potatoes, especially the little new ones, which he sprinkled with salt and pepper and chased with a glass of cold milk. More than once, he quipped that his mother “came from Donegal where they eat potatoes, skins and all!” Another of Dad’s Irish-isms was our weekly Saturday breakfast feast which consisted of eggs sunny-side-up, crisp fried potato chunks, sausages, toast with butter and strawberry jam, jelly donuts still warm from the corner bakery, and a cup of coffee with half-an-inch of cream floating on top just like whiskey drenched Irish Coffee. Hello! The legendary Irish breakfast! But the most Irish thing about Dad, assuming we ignore his classic black Irish wavy black hair and always-twinkling blue eyes, was his love of words. One day long ago, I asked him what was his favorite color. Quick as a wink and without a blink, he said: “Sky blue pink!” When I harrumphed that was not a color at all, he responded: “You’ll figure it out some day.” I bedeviled him with that fantasy color all through my youth, but one evening when I was 24 and driving as the sun was going down, a glance in my rear view mirror revealed a sky streaked in glorious shades of blue and pink! Not a sunset since has passed that I do not remember his delight when I told him I had finally figured it out. Dad’s love of words encompassed all forms of
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word games. When I was 10, he turned me on to word jumbles and crossword puzzles (which I still do every day), and he was a master Scrabble player. I’ll never forget the time he laid all seven of his tiles down and hit two triple squares at once for a score of 150 points! Try as I may, I’ve never matched that feat. More than anything, though, Dad was a true blue Irish seanachie, a storyteller of the first order. Many were the nights that my bedtime stories were all about Suzanne, the talking horse, and Pico, the talking mouse, whom he often ate lunch with at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, or Whiskers the Cat, who played the organ when the churchmaster couldn’t perform for Sunday service because he had sipped a wee bit too much of the ceremonial wine. In the old days before Church scholars adapted the Irish language to the Latin alphabet, introduced by St. Patrick (whose comparison of the shamrock and the Trinity was a pretty good tale itself), only the High Kings were more respected than the seanachies, for they were the walking talking encyclopedias of Ireland’s oral history, laws, myths, heroic sagas, and poetry. During our summers at the Jersey shore, Dad was always surrounded by children who loved the poems he recited as much as I did. Mind you, these were no “roses are red, violets are blue” rhymes, but really long story poems. I treasure the 1930s pamphlet, The Most Wonderful Collection of Famous Recitations Ever Written, that contains most of Dad’s favorites. Its fragile newsprint pages are creased and tattered from the numerous times he read its contents and the years he carried it all over the Pacific during WWII. Inside are some of the best poems ever penned, some by famous writers, like Shakespeare (“All The World’s A Stage”), Robert Service (“The Cremation of Sam McGee”), and Rudyard Kipling (“Gunga Din”), and many more by numerous lesser known authors (“I Had But Fifty Cents,” “The Boston Burglar,” “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight”). Some of the stories are true: “The Kid’s Last Fight,” subtitled “To a Glorious Little Fighter, Jimmy Brit – The Story of the Greatest Ring Tragedy,” and “The Blue Velvet Band,” which has an epilogue that reads “If anyone doubts that this is a true story, they can write to the warden of San Quentin Prison on Alcatraz Island.” And George Francis Burns, my own personal seanachie, memorized almost all of them. Dad’s love of the written word did not end with poetry. The two hour commute he made twice daily
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sláinte | good cheer
RECIPE Quick Strawberry Shortcake
No time to bake? It’s still possible to serve a show-stopping strawberry shortcake!
Slice the pound cake into upper and lower layers. Wash the strawberries, then remove the leaves and center stems. Reserve several perfect berries for decorating. Slice the rest into quarters, place them in a large bowl, mix with the sugar, and set them aside while you make the whipped cream. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl, beat until thick, then stir in the powdered sugar. Place the bottom layer of pound cake on a serving plate and cover it with chopped strawberries. Repeat with the top layer and more berries. Cover the top with whipped cream (sides too if there’s enough!). Slice the reserved strawberries in halves (they’ll look like hearts) and use them to decorate. Serves 6-8. Puddle extra sliced strawberries around the base of the cake, or save them for a snack! PHOTO: RECIPES.COM
on public transportation to the Navy Yard gave him a golden opportunity to read books, a passion I acquired by association. Every Friday night we hiked to the spot on the Avenue where the bookmobile parked, and we loaded up on reading material. He would pick out one hefty tome, and I would select a dozen or more children’s books. Once I had consumed every fairy tale in the Philadelphia Library system, Dad decided I was ready for some Irish mythology. For Christmas 1956, he gave me a copy of The King of Ireland’s Son, which he had first read shortly after its publication in 1916. This collection of stories from the Irish oral tradition was compiled by Padraic Colum, a founding member of the Gaelic League, an organization founded in 1893 for the purpose of keeping the Irish language spoken in Ireland, and a leading figure of the Celtic Revival movement that encouraged the creation of work based on traditional Irish art and culture. Best of all, the tales contained in the green and gold covered book was the one about the adventures experienced by the King of Ireland’s eldest son as he journeyed far and wide “his hound at his heel, his hawk on his wrist, a brave steed to carry him wither he list, and the blue sky over him” in his search to find and win Fedelma, the Enchanter’s Daughter. Two years later Dad gave me another literary treasure, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum, the Scots-Irish-American writer whose work was immortalized by the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Like many another young reader, Baum quickly became one of my favorite authors and over the years I collected many first editions of his books that to this day have honored places on my bookshelves. My father had only one favorite Irish author: James Joyce, whose books always topped his reading list. He read Ulysses many times and, whether consciously or unconsciously, Joyce’s seminal work so influenced Dad that he and Mom were married on June 16th, the day on which Leopold Bloom, Ulysses’s main character, wandered through the streets of Dublin. And every year their wedding anniversary was another June date IA that was celebrated in our home. Sláinte!
1 purchased pound cake, loaf style without icing 2 lbs fresh strawberries 2 tbsp sugar 1 pint heavy cream 2 tbsp powdered sugar chilled bowl
Food for Thought
All the long story poems I have mentioned can be found online by Googling the title! Here are some of Dad’s short favorites.
In one very long poem, several people (a glutton, an Italian, a Hebrew, a gossipy old maid, and a German) appear before St. Peter and ask for admission to Heaven. In turn, St. Pete denies all of them entrance. Then an Irishman shows up: Next came poor Paddy, a son of Erin’s isle, And greeted old St. Peter with a very gracious smile. “Ha, ha! it is yourself, looking so nice and sweet, So get y’er clerk to let me in and show me to my seat.” “Hold,” cried St. Peter, “your case, like all the rest, must first be tried, You will have to show a passport before you get inside.” “But hurry up”, said Paddy, “or for supper I’ll be late.” And purposely he took his old slouch hat and threw it inside the gate. “Go get thy hat,” said Peter, “thou sacrilegious lout.” So Paddy went in and slammed the gate and locked St. Peter out; Then through the keyhole, loud he cried: “I’m master now, ye see, But I’ll give up Heaven, gate and crown, if ye’ll set ould Ireland free!”
Keep Your Grit
Hang on! Cling on! No matter what they say. Push on! Sing on! Things will come your way. Sitting down and whining never helps a bit Best way to get there is by keeping up your grit. Don’t give up hoping when the ship goes down, Grab a spar or something - just refuse to drown. Don’t think you’re dying just because you’re hit, Smile in the face of danger and keep up your grit. Folks die too easy – they just fade away, Make a little error and give up in dismay. Kind of man that’s needed is the man of ready wit To laugh at pain and trouble, and keep up his grit.
I Had But Fifty Cents (first stanza)
I wish that you could see the gal I took to a fancy ball; You could span around her little waist, so neat and very small. I thought about two oysters sure would fill her up complete, Such a dainty delicate little thing, but this is what she’d eat: A dozen raw with a plate of slaw, and a fancy Boston roast, A big box stew, with crackers too, and a soft crab served on toast. Then next she tried some oysters fried, she ought to have had more sense. When she called for pie, I thought I’d die, for I had but fifty cents. IRISH AMERICA 73
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crossword | by Darina Molloy ACROSS
1 (&19 across) Newest Ed Sheeran song with a west of Ireland flavor (6) 3 See 27 across (6) 4 Affectionate term used to describe someone who has done something silly (4) 9 “I think, therefore I __” (2) 11 Knee-length skirt-like garment, usually tartan, worn by Scottish and Irish men (4) 13 JFK book: A Nation of ___________ (10) 14 Cliffs of ______ (5) 16 (& 10 down) He delivered the fourth annual Mary Robinson International Human Rights Lecture in Ballina (6) 18 One who provides accommodation and refreshments (4) 19 See 1 across (4) 21 Model of a human, often made as a child’s toy (4) 22 (& 28 down) Mayo venue for recent Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll nuptials (7) 23 A lascivious or unpleasant look (4) 24 The remains of St. Valentine are held in this city (6)
27 (& 3 across) Irish boxer who has turned pro (5) 28 This iconic bird is almost extinct in Ireland (6) 29 (& 17 down) Iconic director of Stagecoach and The Searchers, among others (4) 31 See 25 down (5) 34 An Irish mammy, in short (3) 35 See 31 down (7) 37 (& 40 across) He lost the Democratic nomination for president to Hillary Clinton (6) 40 See 37 across (7) 41 Irish Republican Army (1, 1, 1) 42 (& 30 down) This French soldier, a participant in the French Revolution, led a failed invasion of Ireland to assist Irish rebels in 1798 (7) 43 (& 11 down) Bestselling novelist and author of the book which has been made into 31 down (7) 44 (& 32 down) Hunter/warrior of Irish mythology (4)
2 Often William, in short (4) 5 (& 15 down) Former master of Ireland’s national maternity hospital who has been critical of religious involvement in the
Win a subscription to Irish America magazine
7 8 10 11 12 15 17 20
new proposed hospital (5) Woody and thorny shrub that grows abundantly throughout Ireland (10) This city is synonymous with high quality Irish crystal (9) See 34 down (8) See 16 across (8) See 43 across (4) See 20 down (5) See 2 down (6) See 29 across (4) (& 12 down) She inspired the song “She’ll be Coming ’Round the Mountain” (6) (& 31 across) He looks set to be the next U.S. Ambas-
Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than July 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 April / May crossword: Marcia Nichols, Huntington Beach, CA. 74 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
sador to Ireland (5) 26 (& 36 down) New movie set in 1970s Boston starring Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, and Patrick Bergin (4) 28 See 22 across (6) 30 See 42 across (7) 31 (& 35 across) This Irish actor stars in the upcoming Mr. Mercedes (7)
32 See 44 across (2, 4) 33 A request made in an urgent and emotional manner (4) 34 (& 8 down) The lead character in The Mary Tyler Moore Show (4) 36. See 26 down (4) 38 Niall of the ____ Hostages (4) 39 Auditory organ (3)
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those we lost | passages
TOP: Jimmy Breslin. BELOW: Rena Dardis, left, with her friend Peggy Blunden.
1928 – 2017 egendary New York City reporter Jimmy Breslin, who appeared on Irish America’s second ever cover in January of 1986, died March 19 in Manhattan following a bout of pneumonia. Breslin had a knack for finding the overlooked characters on the periphery of major stories. He wrote columns on the gravedigger for John F. Kennedy’s plot at Arlington who made $3.01 an hour; a single man, David Comacho, to document the AIDS crisis in the city in the 1980s; the scene in the kitchen when Robert F. Kennedy was shot. But he also took on the big guy, picking fights with figures and institutions as far ranging as New York Governor Hugh L. Carey, whom he took to calling “Society Carey,” to the Catholic Church. Born James Earl Breslin October 17, 1928, and raised in the Richmond Hill section of Queens, Breslin’s grandparents emigrated from Clare and
Donegal. In 1985, the Village Voice called him “classic black Irish, he loves conflict and he acts like each day is the worst day of his life.” Breslin honed a brash wit and descriptive writing style that became known as New Journalism throughout the 1960s and early ’70s, though Breslin himself rejected the term. His writing, he said, was a combination of Dickensian narrative and the visual description necessary for sports reporting, where he got his start as a copy boy at the Long Island Press in the 1940s. He would go on to write for the New York Journal-American, the New York Herald-Tribune, Newsday, and both the New York Post and Daily News, the latter where he spend the majority of his career. Writing for the New York Times, columnist Dan Barry recalled the impact Breslin had on his younger writing. “When I was a kid, my father would say: Read Breslin today. Never: Good morning. Never: I love you. Just: Read Breslin today,” he says. “The advice was good – and bad. Good because I got to read the prose of this journalistic genius, Breslin. Bad because, like so many other young reporters, I developed a Breslin tic.” In Irish America’s 2010 Famine issue, we published a piece of Breslin’s called “Leaves of Pain,” originally written in 1977, that weaves from the Fairlow Herbarium in Cambridge, Massachusetts through the Famine, the 1863 Draft Riots (though at the time they took place they were known as the “Irish Riots,” Breslin noted), and ends with the murder and funeral of a friend in the do-or-die Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York’s bankrupt ’70s. The piece barely breaks 1,500 words. (You can read this and our 1986 interview with Breslin at irishamerica.com.) Interviewed for Irish America in Costello’s bar in New York (a second home for Daily News journalists) in 1986, Breslin offered a succinct description of what makes him so prolific: “Writing is not a business you talk about much, or covering things is not a business you talk about much, for mostly anything you know you should put in the paper. That’s about it.” Breslin is survived by his wife, Ronnie Eldridge, a former Manhattan city council member, four sons, Kevin, James, Patrick and Christopher; a stepson, Daniel Eldridge; two stepdaughters, Emily and Lucy Eldridge; a sister, Deirdre Breslin; and 12 grandchildren. – A.F.
1924 – 2017 atherina “Rena” Dardis, founding member of Anvil Press and The Children’s Press, died in March at the age of 93. Economical and inspired, Dardis was among the first publishers to
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consider her authors as public figures, helping them establish relationships and rapport with their readers at libraries and launch events for success. Born in County Kilkenny to a Westmeath father and mother from Donegal, Dardis lived in her childhood home in Rathmines, Dublin with her sister, Margaret, until 2009. She first worked in advertising with Guinness, though quickly moved on to become a respected writer and director at the O’Kennedy Brindley advertising firm. She was president of the Institute of Creative Advertising and Design from 1969 to 1970. In 1962, Dardis founded Anvil Press with Seamus McConville and Dan Nolan (her life partner) of the Kerryman, reprinting many books on the Irish War of Independence, including Rebel Cork’s Fighting Story by Ernie O’Malley in a run of 10,000 as well as many new novels. Dardis established The Children’s Press, one of Ireland’s first publishing houses for children, in the early 1980s. In 1996, she received the Children’s Books Ireland Award for her contribution to children’s literature in all genres and age brackets. Remembered as “honest and forthright, considerate and generous” by Tom McCoughren, author of In Search of the Liberty Tree (which Dardis published), she is survived by her partner, Dan. – O.O.
cuing 60 survivors of the U.S.S. Corry, the lead destroyer of the Normandy Invasion task force, after a German strike. In the autumn months of the war, he provided passage on his vessel for both the soon-to-be 34th president of the United States General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Normandy invasion leader General George S. Patton. Liebenow was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and is survived by his wife, Lucy, children, Susan and William II, and two grandchildren. – O.O.
1950 – 2017 artin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s former deputy first minister and one of the primary architects of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, died March 21, at Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital at the age of 66. McGuinness was diagnosed with a rare genetic heart disease in
TOP: William Liebenow with JFK in New York. BELOW: Martin McGuinness, then vice-president of Sinn Féin, with son fly-fishing, photographed by David Spielman for Irish America in the fall of 1995.
1920 – 2017 ecorated WWII naval lieutenant William “Bud” Liebenow, who was best known for leading the rescue party that saved the life of future 35th president of the United States John F. Kennedy when his patrol torpedo boat was attacked by Japanese forces, died in North Carolina in March. He was 97. Kennedy’s gratitude to Liebenow was lifelong, and he issued him a personal invitation to the president’s inaugural ball in 1961. Liebenow first met Kennedy in 1941, while both trained for naval duty in Narragansett Bay, and were likewise both put in command of vessels stationed near the South Pacific’s Solomon Islands. A devastating attack by four Japanese ships on August 1, 1943 destroyed Kennedy’s ship, taking two lives and critically endangering the remaining ten. The crew rallied, swimming three miles to a nearby island. There, the crew met indigenous Allied scouts Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, who relayed Kennedy’s SOS to a U.S. base, which had presumed him and his men dead. Soon after, Liebenow and the crew of the PT-157 arrived on shore and successfully ferried them to safety. “We had quite a celebration going back,’’ Mr. Liebenow said in a 2005 interview with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester. “The pharmacist’s mate handed out all the medical brandy.” Liebenow’s illustrious naval career continued into 1944, when he commanded the PT-199 in resJUNE / JULY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 77
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those we lost | passages December and resigned amid health concerns as deputy first minister earlier this year, bringing about Northern Ireland elections, which saw Sinn Féin gain seats in Stormont. James Martin Pacelli McGuinness was born May 23, 1950 in the impoverished segregated Catholic neighborhood of Bogside, where much of the Northern Irish civil rights movement took place. One of seven children, McGuinness was raised a devout Catholic and was an interested student, though at the age of 15 he dropped out of a Christian Brothers school, where he was beaten, to become a butcher’s apprentice. By the age of 18, he was a gunman in the IRA and by 21 was second in command of the Provisional IRA and a member of the IRA’s Army Council. (He often quipped that he was a graduate of UCB, University College Bogside.) McGuinness joined the IRA after the failure of civil rights marches to bring about change. Having witnessed the violence in Bogside his entire life, he believed at the time that there were no peaceful means of negotiating with the British, especially after Bloody Sunday in January 1972, when civil rights marchers were gunned down in the streets of Derry by the British Army. McGuinness consistently denied allegations that he directed terrorist activities, and his only criminal convictions during the Troubles were for belonging to the IRA and possession of explosives and ammunition in 1973 and Thomas Starzl 1974. By the early 1990s, McGuinness had become Sinn Féin’s head negotiator in the peace process and a primary force behind both the 1994 ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of violence in the North when it was signed on April 19, 1998. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1997 and the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 when the body was established. From 1999 to 2002 he served as education minister and in 2007, led Sinn Féin into power sharing with the Democratic Unionist Party and served as deputy first minister alongside Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson, and Arlene Foster until his retirement this January. In 2001, McGuinness sat down for an interview with Irish America in which he reflected on his role 78 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
in the IRA and the peace process. “I think that anyone who has a conscience has to wrestle with it and rationalize and decide how to live their own life. In the course of the late 1960s we lived through a very determined effort by the British government to defeat the battle for equality, justice and civil rights,” he said. “I think what drives me on more than anything is being very, very conscious that I am going forward with the hopes of 25,000 MidUlster voters. People place so much hope in their political leaders, to make sure they get equality and justice and peace.” He is survived by his wife, Bernie, whom he married in 1974, and their four children, Fiachra, Emmet, Fionnuala, and Grainne. – A.F.
1926 – 2017 Surgeon and researcher Dr. Thomas Starzl, called the “father of modern transplantation” by his contemporaries, died in March at the age of 90. Starzl performed the world’s first successful human liver transplant in 1967, later conducting research that immensely heightened organ transplant survival rates. Born in Le Mars, Iowa to science fiction author Roman Frederick Starzl and Irish teacher and nurse Anna Laura Fitzgerald, Starzl intended to become a priest until his mother’s fatal battle with cancer in 1947, when his outlook shifted drastically. He obtained his medical degree at Chicago’s Northwestern University, where he developed a strong interest in liver biology, and in 1962 became a teacher and researcher at the University of Colorado in the then-embryonic field of organ transplantation. In 1963, his first attempt at a human liver transplant resulted in patient fatality. After four years of continued research, he operated successfully on a 19month-old girl suffering from liver cancer, prolonging her life by one year and paving the way for future improvements. “He showed persistence when everything else looked hopeless,” said chairman of the surgery department at the University of Nebraska Dr. Byers Shaw Jr., who operated alongside Starzl at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1980s. Starzl had a lifelong fascination with his Irish heritage and, after giving the Sylvester O’Halloran Surgical Lectureship of the Irish Royal College of Surgeons in Limerick in 1997, visited his ancestral hometown of Clonbullogue, Co. Offaly. In 1999, the Institute of Science Information named Starzl the world’s most-cited researcher, and in 2010 the Wall Street Journal ranked his autobiographical memoir, The Puzzle People, the third-best account of a doctor’s life. He is predeceased by two children, Thomas and Rebecca, and survived by his IA wife, Joy, and son, Timothy. – O.O.
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The Old Irish of Burlington, Vermont
y family never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at our house. When I got older and realized how Irish I was, I asked my mother why. She said she did not approve of all the drinking and she wanted her children to identify with their English background. Also, my father’s Protestant relatives from Boston were very prejudiced against Irish Catholics; they had a false sense of superiority because their ancestors had settled in Massachusetts starting in 1629. To avoid fights, my mother said as little as possible about being Irish. It was only towards the end of her life that she started to talk more about her Irish heritage, and when I visited Ireland she was very proud of me. Two of my great-grandmothers were Irish – Bridget McGrath and Mary Ellen Cullen. Bridget was born in Northfield, Vermont in 1851; her father was born in Ireland. According to my mother, Bridget was hard working and there was nothing fancy about her. Every night she would sit in her rocking chair by the furnace vent in the dining room and say her rosary. There are dozens of religious statues and pictures belonging to Bridget in the house, which I saved out of respect for her memory and her hard work. I have a picture of Bridget standing in front of her family’s farmhouse when she was a young girl and a portrait of her when she was about ten years old. Mary Ellen Cullen, my maternal great grandmother, was born in Dublin and came to Montreal with a steamer trunk containing her pink-trimmed bone china – she was not poverty stricken. My family’s most precious sentimental heirlooms are stored in this trunk and I still have her china. My Irish ancestors travelled, independently, to the port of Montreal, like most of the forbearers of the old Irish in Burlington; they were not brought here in groups to be servants like the later Irish immigrants were. Both of my Irish great-grandmothers married men of English decent, perhaps in hopes of upward mobility and to assimilate into a group where they would not be discriminated against. My grandmother of English-Irish heritage from Montreal became an American citizen, but she 80 IRISH AMERICA JUNE / JULY 2017
never gave up her attachment to her Canadian background. I remember as a child going to her house and finding her crying; it was Queen Elizabeth’s birthday. However, she was very intent on having my mother celebrate all the American holidays. Her family were members of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in downtown Montreal and she saved their baptismal, first communion, and confirmation papers, which I still have. She told my mother stories about
BELOW LEFT: Bridget McGrath Reeves, c. 1860. BELOW RIGHT: Mary Ellen Cullen. BOTTOM: The McGrath homestead in Northfield, Vermont.
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the town her father, Aaron Martin, was from on the southern coast of England but she never mentioned stories about Ireland, other than that Mary Ellen Cullen was from Dublin. I am the last of old Irish to still live in their original family homestead in Burlington, Vermont. My great grandparents, Bridget McGrath Reeves and her husband, Sheriff Reeves, bought our 13-room house, with a carriage barn on 10 acres, in 1894. They moved to Burlington in the early 1880s. My great grandfather was the county sheriff and he oversaw the construction of the jail house located in downtown Burlington. Bridget prepared all of the meals for the inmates and my mother always said these men never ate as well as when they were in jail. Unlike most of the Irish, they had only one son; and they worshipped him. When the Irish in Burlington started to buy houses, they bought ones near each other out of necessity to protect themselves and their children from discrimination, including from the Ku Klux Klan, which was active in Burlington at that time. Nearby in huge houses lived the McAuliffes, the McSweeneys, the Learys, the Wrights, and the Whalens. My mother knew the names of the all the brothers and sisters in these families, where each family lived, and when they moved away. These families surmounted the prejudice against Irish Catholics in the area by banding together, finding their niches, working hard, and providing a good Catholic education for their sons and daughters. They were prosperous and wanted their children to get ahead and not be subjected racial and religious prejudices. They sent their daughters to the private Catholic girls’ school, Mount St. Mary’s Academy, where they took private piano lessons, watercolor painting classes, and designed and painted bone china. By the turn of the century, Burlington’s old Irish had live-in housekeepers and summer camps on the lake near each other. Many of their sons became physicians or lawyers and they had started to control city politics. Their fathers, except for Dr. Patrick McSweeney, were merchants in downtown Burlington. One owned a stationary store, another a hardware store, and another a clothing store. My grandfather, J. Edward Reeves, owned a drug store, which he sold to buy a lumber and cement factory. All of these men were Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus. The Catholic Church was the center of their lives. With hard work, frugal living, and astute business
LEFT: Bridget McGrath Reeves with her husband, Sheriff Reeves, in Burlington, 1924.
skills, my great grandparents soon had a full-time hired man to help with the farm chores, a second hired man to help my great grandmother with the washing and heavy housework, and a bookkeeper who came in once a week to work on the accounts – they bought real estate, including the six houses in the Irish Hill area that I still own, several farms, and a thirty-six acre lot of land in the industrial area. By the time their only son was engaged to be married in 1912, they were prosperous enough to give him and his bride a fully-furnished seven bedroom Victorian house adjacent to theirs. Except for me, the descendants of Burlington’s old Irish have moved out of their family homesteads. However, when you see them or talk with them, there is still the unspoken bond of a time when our families were a clan and stayed together for protection. There is a fondness for the memories of all the good times our parents and grandparents IA shared with one another.
ABOVE LEFT: Aaron Martin, Mary Ellen Cullen’s husband, right. ABOVE RIGHT: Mary Ellen Cullen (below left) and her daughters in Montreal.
– Submitted by Martha Lang
Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description, to Patricia Harty at Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. If photos are irreplaceable, then please send a good quality reproduction or email the picture at 300 dpi resolution to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will pay $65 for each submission that we select. JUNE / JULY 2017 IRISH AMERICA 81
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Published on May 22, 2017
Irish America’s summer reading issue featuring Boston chef and restaurateur Barbara Lynch. Plus, drone and audio tours of County Clare make...