Page 1






Integrated Education in Northern Ireland: Thanks in part to The Ireland Funds, over 22,000 children from Catholic, Protestant, and other diverse backgrounds are able to learn together.


in grants to Integrated Education


integrated Schools

22,000 children throughout Northern Ireland

VIDEO: Learn more about The Ireland Funds’ support of Integrated Education in Northern Ireland

Untitled-2 1 AIF_728-IrishAm_2pgAdF.indd 1

3/6/20 AM 2/25/20 3:29 PM 2/24/2011:14 12:31 PM

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 12:51 PM

Contents.March-April.v4.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 12:43 PM Page 4


contents | Vol. 35 No. 3 March / April 2020



HIGHLIGHTS News and Hibernia Irish election results; Irish Eye on Hollywood; the Irish impact on American military history; and more. p. 10



You’ve Got Mail

Chronicling Ireland’s history and culture through stamps. p. 98


41 2020 Hall of Fame Presenting this year’s inductees and their profiles: Jean Butler, Judy Collins, Patrick Doherty, Tom Kelly, Sean McGarvey, Eileen Murray, Kathleen Murphy, and Richie Neal.

Those We Lost

Mattie Maher, Larry Gogan, Seamus Mallon, James Mehaffey, Mary Higgins Clark, and others. p. 94

63 Maynooth Marks 225 Years This institution was founded in 1795 and, after two centuries, is still the fastest expanding university in Ireland. By Turlough McConnell



90 Window on the Past Roger Connor brought base hits to a new level in nineteenth-century baseball, holding the record for home runs for 24 years before Babe Ruth. By Ray Cavanaugh

94 Wild Women: Alice Crimmins This issue’s Wild Irish Woman’s tango with danger meets with tragedy, pointed fingers, and a vicious media frenzy. By Rosemary Rogers

Discover the Irish ancestry and predilections of several of the U.S.’s previous commanders-in-chief. p. 112

Photo Album


102 What Are You Like? NY1 anchor Kristen Shaughnessy reveals what she looks for in a friend, her favorite thinking spots, and a typical day in her busy life. By Patricia Harty

104 Running Rings Around the Empire The Irish dominated the 1908 Olympics – much to the chagrin of the Brits who refused to let them have their own team. By Roger McGrath 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 1606, New York, NY, 10001. Telephone: 212-725-2993. Fax: 212-244-3344. Email: submit@irishamerica.com. Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders:1-800-582-6642. Subscription queries:1-800-582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 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.

Thomas V. Murphy, Jr. served his country and his family with courage and dedication. p. 128

DEPARTMENTS 6 8 38 116 120

First Word Letters Quote Unquote Books Crossword

See Exquisite Pieces of Crystal manufactured before your eyes Guided Factory Tours Daily

C: +353 (0) 51 317000 E: houseofwaterfordcrystal@fiskars.com W: www.waterfordvisitorcentre.com Untitled-2 1HoWC Waterford Ad for the Hall of Fame Issue 8" X 10.875" +0.125" bleed V1 HR.indd 1 PCCC2795-3

3/6/20 11:3715:27 AM 06/03/2020

First word final final.rev.qxp_IA6 3/16/20 12:56 PM Page 6

Vol. 35 No. 3 March / April 2020

the first word | By Patricia Harty



Pride In Our Heritage

Founding Publisher: Niall O’Dowd Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Harty Vice President of Marketing & Special Events: Mary Cucinell Art Director: Marian Fairweather Deputy Editor : Mary Gallagher Editorial Assistant & Social Media Coordinator: Sarah Loughnane Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan Accounts: Mairead Bresnan

IRISH AMERICA 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1606 New York NY 10001 TEL: 212-725-2993 FAX: 212-244-3344

Subscriptions: 1-800-582-6642 EMAIL:

submit@irishamerica.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 1606, New York, NY 10001. Telephone: 212-725-2993. Fax: 212-244-3344 Email: Submit@irishamerica.com. Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders: 1-800-582-6642. Subscription queries: 1-800-582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 113. 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.


“Our focus is to create ladders of opportunity to help people get to the middle class through the construction trades. That's really why you do it.” – Sean McGarvey


his year’s Hall of Fame honorees reflect the length and breadth of the Irish-American experience. They show us the extraordinary impact that the Irish have had in every aspect of American life – the arts, politics, labor, and education – and they make us believe that the American dream is possible. Our honorees were not born into wealth, nor did they have an easy path to where they are today. On the contrary, their success grew out of resolve, willpower, determination, acumen, and somebody helping them along the way – that is the stuff that the American Dream is made of. Eileen Murray grew up in a housing project and worked all through high school and college in a supermarket, and as a powerful business leader is a proponent of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Sean McGarvey finished high school and went straight into a union apprenticeship program, and as a union leader, he is making sure that program is available to many others. Jean Butler put thousands of hours into her dance training to make her Riverdance debut look effortless, and inspired a generation of dancers to do the same. Through dogged persistence Patrick Doherty helped bring about fair hiring practices in Northern Ireland; Congressman Richie Neal is in one of the oldest Irish professions serving his constituents, and for over 40 years has been a dedicated friend of Ireland, lobbying for peace in the north. Persistence and brainpower are the core of Kathleen Murphy’s success. Like Eileen Murray, she is one of the few women to reach the top of the ladder in the financial industry. Perhaps she inherited some of her great-uncle’s hardscrabble determination (read about the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Roger Connor in this issue). Like Eileen, too, she supports inclusion and diversity in the workplace, and encourages and educates women on how to achieve financial independence. Tom Kelly is an educator who, like the Irish nuns of the past, is training his students not only to achieve great things, but on how to live a “giving life.” And, as she did in the ’60s, Judy Collins is using her talent to voice her concern over human rights issues. Collins recently wrote and recorded a protest song, now on the billboard charts, called “Dreamers” in response to the current administration’s policies on immigration and asylum seekers, and in particular the policy that is deporting teenagers brought here as babies to countries they are strangers to. In every issue, but in this one in particular, we remember the ancestors who left Ireland in hard times, never made it home again, and often depended on the kindness of strangers. As today’s immigrants are doing, they took that huge step into the unknown with hope in their hearts for a better life for their children. And looking down from heaven on our Hall of Fame honorees, they would say, “You did good.”

Mórtas Cine.

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 12:29 PM

IA.LettersREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 3:08 PM Page 8


caint | readers forum The American Revolution & Ireland

A Longtime Fan of Irish America

I have been subscribing to Irish America since 1994, I am able to keep up on Irish news and culture through this medium. I also challenge myself with the crossword and pass the magazine on to the convent of Irish sisters I work for. Sláinte! – Derek LaBranch (Facebook)

Swinford Celebrating 250 Years I enjoyed the piece on Swinford. My family hails from there: Michael & Catherin (née Mulligan) Carty. My great-grandmother Winifred Agnes (and her 8 siblings) was born there and lived there till she emigrated to America in 1897. Up Mayo! – Judith Cain Anderson (Facebook)

The Irish Election What just happened in Ireland? Sinn Féin upsetting the center-right duopoly, the one that has riled politics there since way back. Up to now, the left-wing nationalists were known mostly for their past as the political wing of the I.R.A. But the Troubles in Northern Ireland are long over and new standard-bearer Mary McDonald campaigned first and foremost on domestic issues like inequality and an acute housing crisis. Why the historic surge? – Nigel Davis (Facebook)

Limerick Landmark The Treaty Stone in Limerick is believed to be the stone on which Sarsfield and the English commander signed the treaty by which Limerick was surrendered to King William of Orange – on condition that Irish Catholics would be granted a certain amount of religious liberty. Forty years earlier, the same city had been surrendered to the commander of Cromwell’s forces by Hugh Dubh O’Neill, who had heroically defended it for 3½ months against a much larger army of Cromwell’s. Most of the defenders were Ulstermen, as was O’Neill. – Sean Curtin (submitted online) 8 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

Your article on the American Revolution exhibit in Philadelphia put me in mind of the following written 219 years ago by one of our Ulster Scot ancestors in the Carolinas to their family back in Ireland. It’s pretty revealing of what the average people were concerned with. It is presented as it was written as far as spelling, punctuation etc. – Nigel Davis (Facebook)

Painting titled “An Irish Soldier” shows Richard St. George. Artist Thomas Gainsborough (1776).

Turkey Crek South Carolina York County November the 20 1800 Brothers and sisters this comes to let you know that we are al in helth at present and thanks be to god for all his mercies to us hoping that thes few lines wil find you in the Same we have not got a from any of you thes several years past therfor as son as this comes to your hand please to writ to us and let us know if you are in the land of the living and pleas of repentence and likewise let us know concerning the truble you have the by past years in respect of the wars you had in Irland. It was reported in this contry how that the bretish mordered wemen an children and burnt som towns to ashes in Irland we would likewise be desirous to kno in respect of your land what rent you pay yearly we hear that vitling is very high with you we have nothing streng to write to you as for our family Son David went out to gorgea state about too years ago and is married there as for the rest of them peggy mary John James Joshua Isak and Tedy is al at home with us as yet ples let us know about Thomas beggs if he is in helth we heard that he had palsey and went home to Irland it was Froman that give us this account he said that he lived in island mcgee with mister Col this contry is much distrest by Destemper among the horses some call it (unreadable) water by reason of their (unreadable)urning to water and som of them dies a short time after they take it we lost nine hed by it and it maks horses to sel very big when any of you writs let us kno about afers of the country If you have to pay hevy rents and tiths and how Cloth and yern sels and how the por pepel livs as for my part I would reither churs to bind myself seven years to get to amereca than to live a coter in irland thre for ther thy can never get beter before (unreadable) thy can have two shillings a day for plantishon work and as much bred and hogmet as he can eat we have nothing streng to writ to you and when you writ derect to the care of cornel love on fishing crek nigh York cort house rember our lov to Daved begs and family and to all our frends and nibors nancy is writing to her frends no more at present from your Brother and Sister William and agnes Faris

Visit us online at Irishamerica.com to leave your comments, or write to us: Send a fax (212-244-3344), email (submit@irishamerica.com) or write to Letters, Irish America Magazine, 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1606, New York, NY 10001. Letters should include the writer’s name, address, and phone number. They may be edited for clarity and length.

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 11:26 AM

IA.News.ElectionsREV3.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 1:02 PM Page 10




he Irish people went to the polls on February 8 to elect a new government. Almost a month later, that government has yet to be formed. Why is this and what does it mean? In order to form a government in Ireland, a party or coalition of parties must have at least 80 seats. In the recent election, Fianna Fáil narrowly emerged as the largest party with 38 seats. Sinn Féin were right behind them with 37 and Fine Gael – the party that has been in power since 2011 – got 35. This almost three-way tie, with each party falling far short of the required minimum, means the unthinkable is suddenly possible in Ireland. Ever since the foundation of the State, every election has resulted in the victory of one of the two parties that fought on either side of the Irish Civil War: Fianna Fáil or Mary Lou McDonald, Fine Gael. president Faith in Fianna Fáil of Sinn Féin. began to wane following the party’s mismanagement of the Celtic Tiger boom and the country’s resultant crash into recession. When Ireland was forced to cede some of its sovereign powers for financial aid from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission in 2008, Fianna Fáil was voted out of power. Following the traditional pendulum swing of Irish history, they were succeeded by Fine Gael, who set about implementing the austerity measures that had been agreed as part of the bailout. Those measures are still being felt in Ireland today, especially by those most vulnerable. In the public health system, sick people are being treated on trollies in overcrowded corridors due to lack of beds and others are waiting years for medical services such as MRI scans and hip replacements. Not enough houses have been built since the crash in 2008 and the cost of housing has spiraled upwards as a result. The average cost of renting in Dublin is 10 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

now €2,000 a month, which prices a growing number of people out of the market. Over 10,000 people are living in emergency accommodation provided by the State so that they and their families don’t have to sleep on the streets. During the election campaign, Sinn Féin offered concrete policies that addressed the concerns of those who have been left behind by Ireland’s economic recovery. That’s why people broke with the voting traditions of the past. They wanted change. The question now is: are they going to get it? Fianna Fáil has ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin because of the party’s alleged ties with the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland. This is a valid concern that is shared by Ireland’s police force. An Garda Síochána

Leo Varadkar, the leader of Fine Gael

has said that it believes that Sinn Féin answers to the Provisional IRA’s so-called army council, members of whom are involved in illegal activity. This would create an obvious (even dangerous) conflict of interest if Sinn Féin were to have a say in Irish security decisions. Fine Gael is also unlikely to enter government with Sinn Féin. There is a third alternative, and that is Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael going into government together. That would mark an end to the civil war politics that have held sway in Ireland for almost a century. However, there is little public appetite for such a coalition. Sinn Féin has maintained its election footing since the election. Leadership has

held rallies in Dublin, Cork, and Newry in Northern Ireland in the past month, ostensibly to listen to voters. Some have interpreted these rallies differently, seeing them as an intimidating show of force from a party with suspected paramilitary associations. Such tactics appear to be working. A Behaviour and Attitudes Poll carried out between February 17 and 25 saw support for the party rise by ten percent since the election. The support enjoyed by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael has fallen by two percent and three percent during the same period. Sinn Féin’s political clout south of the border could have an impact on things other than the formation of the next Irish government. If the party gains power north and south, it could hasten a referendum on Irish unity. There are already signs that the public is ready to discuss reunification. The Economist ran a cover story on the issue in February, calling on politicians in the Republic and Britain to start talking about the possibility. In the general election that took place in the U.K. in December, nationalist parties won more Westminster seats than unionist parties for the first time since partition. And in a poll carried out by RTÉ on election night in February, 57 percent of Irish people were in favor of a unification poll happening in the next five years. As I write, talks about government formation are still ongoing and could continue for up to three months, unless another election is held in the interim. All that is certain for now is that the Irish electorate has made a break with the past. Ireland is no longer a two-party state and Sinn Féin represents a new political force in the country. Change is coming to Ireland, north and south. – Sharon Ní Chonchúir

IA.News.2pgsREV7.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 1:51 PM Page 11




he best hotel and tourism operators in Ireland were recently recognized at the 30th CIE Tours International Awards of Excellence. These awards took place in Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin on January 28, and a total of 84 awards were presented on the night. CIE Tours International is the largest specialist tour operator bringing visitors from North America to Ireland. The winners of the 2019 awards were decided following an assessment of feedback from 25,000 visitors who had travelled to Ireland with the company. Only operators who achieved a customer satisfaction rating of 92 percent or more were presented with awards. Speaking at the ceremony, Elizabeth Crabill, the CEO of CIE Tours International, said: “Thirty years ago, CIE Tours International introduced its annual Awards of Excellence to recognize Ireland’s hospitality ambassadors – the people and businesses throughout the country who put Irish tourism on the global stage through the warmth of welcome, the diversity of experience, and the quality of service provided to our international visitors. The Irish holiday experience is unique and continues to grow in popularity. This growth is driven in no small part by our tour partners, who are continuously improving their offering.” This year’s winners covered a wide range of operators. They included County Clare’s five-star Dromoland Castle, the four-star Lodge at Ashford Castle in County Mayo and the three-star Clew Bay Hotel in Mayo. Killarney Horse and Carriage Tours in County Kerry was named the Best Tour Feature. Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin was awarded with the title of Best Visit. Shannon Heritage in County Clare won the National Heritage Award. And the Dunbrody Famine Ship, which is connected to the Irish America Hall of Fame, was once again recognized for the quality of its visitor experience. Visit www.cietours.com to find out more about these visitor attractions and many others.

The luxurious five-star Dromoland Castle Hotel received CIE’s Gold Standard Award for Excellence. BELOW: Fiona Ross, chairman of CIE, presents to Mark Nolan for Dromoland.

LEFT: Elizabeth Crabill, CEO, addressing the CIE Tours International Annual Awards of Excellence.

Best Event Dinner / Entertainment: The Crosskeys Inn (Antrim).

Best Lunch: The Glyde Inn (Louth). LEFT: The Dunbrody (Wexford).



he Finucane brothers were unstoppable forces, seeing no such thing as an unsolvable problem. There was a sense of immediacy about them…a kind of raw humanity,” president of Ireland Michael D. Higgins said in response to the plans to erect a bench in memory of Aengus and Jack Finucane along the banks of the River Shannon in Limerick City, where the brothers were born. Aengus and Jack’s history with the Irish relief organization Concern goes back to Concern’s inaugural mission, when they coordinated the famine relief effort in

Biafra in 1968. In the decades that followed, the brothers, both Holy Ghost Fathers, were the heart and soul of Concern, delivering lifesaving and life-altering interventions to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, often at great personal risk to themselves. The total budget for the memorial bench is €56,000. Of this, €30,000 has already been donated to the project by private donors. Concern is now actively fundraising to raise the balance of €26,000 so that this project can be successfully completed in memory of Aengus (d. 2009), and Jack (d. 2017). To donate: contact Dara Burke at dara.burke@concern.net. Aengus and Jack Finucane.


IA.News.2pgsREV5.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 11:04 AM Page 12





he great-granddaughter of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy joined Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to open Ireland’s longest bridge on January 29. Named for the Irish-American matriarch, it’s only the second bridge in Ireland to be named after a woman (the Rosie Hackett Bridge in Dublin was the first). Rose Katherine Kennedy Townsend is a grandchild of Robert and Ethel Kennedy. At the opening of the bridge, which connects County Wexford with County Kilkenny, she spoke of her family’s ancestral home in Dunganstown, which is located nearby, and their deep connection to Ireland. She also discussed her plans for her visit. They included meeting Irish relatives and visiting the Dunbrody Famine Ship and the Eternal Flame in New Ross, County Wexford. The new bridge will significantly reduce the travel time between Cork and Rosslare Harbor, which is a key link to mainland Europe. “It’s about strengthening connectivity between different parts of our country and strengthening the communities themselves,” said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.



reland has a new landmark cultural institution. The Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin celebrates Ireland’s world-renowned literary heritage. The museum is a major partnership between University College Dublin (UCD) and the National Library of Ireland. It’s located in one of Dublin’s finest historic houses, UCD’s Newman House, which was the original site of the university and a place of learning for Irish writers including James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Maeve Binchy, and Mary Lavin. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins also lived in the building for a time. In its newest incarnation, MoLI (which 12 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

Pictured at the opening ceremony of the N25 New Ross Bypass PPP Scheme incorporating the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge Scheme are Rose Katherine Kennedy Townsend with Donagh and Eanna Grennan, grandchildren of Johanna Ryan who welcomed John F. Kennedy to Dunganstown at the Kennedy homestead in New Ross in 1963. The Bypass will relieve chronic traffic congestion through New Ross town, with time savings of up to 30 minutes.

acronym was chosen in honor of James Joyce’s best-known female character, Molly Bloom) features exhibitions that tell the story of Ireland’s literary heritage, from the earliest storytelling traditions to celebrated contemporary writers. Its displays include the very first copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, his handwritten notebooks, and some of his letters, including one he wrote to W.B. Yeats. The museum runs a free national children’s program, literary and writing events, readings, performances, debates, and discussions. A Joycean research library is accessible to students and to the public. There’s also a courtyard café set in hidden gardens, a shop offering the best in Irish publishing and craft, and even a digital broadcasting studio. This broadcasts interviews, readings, and discussions with writers, poets, artists, and academics from Ireland and across the world online at www.radiomoli.ie.



pring bloomed in the worldfamous Mount Congreve Gardens this Valentine’s Day. That’s when the inaugural Crocus Festival started, celebrating the simple beauty of the flower. Thousands of crocus bulbs were planted in 2019. By Valentine’s Day 2020, more than 20,000 of them had blossomed for the very first time, and members of the public were invited in to view their splendor. “Planted en masse like this, the crocus can be a real showcase, and we’re delighted to be able to share it with the public,” said estate manager Ray Sinnott. Located just ten minutes from Waterford City, Mount Congreve Gardens consists of 70 acres of foliage, including a four-acre walled garden and ten miles of walking trails through old woodlands. One of the great gardens of the world, Mount Congreve House, home to six generations of Congreves, was built in 1760 by the celebrated local architect John Roberts. Home to one of the largest collection of plants in Ireland, the grounds feature specimens from every continent in the world. The Crocus Festival is the first event to take place at Mount Congreve Gardens this year, but there are more to come. These include an Easter Egg Trail, a Special Plant Fair and Festival in May and a Wellness and Mindfulness Festival in June. You can find out more about upcoming events at the landmark’s website: www.mountcongreve.com.

Untitled-5 1

2/25/20 11:21 AM

IA.News.PG11.REV2.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 1:17 PM Page 14






ight Irish hotels have been recognized as ranking among the world’s best hotels, restaurants, and spas, according to the Forbes Travel Guide. Ashford Castle in Cong, County Mayo, was one of only eight in the world to be awarded five stars in Forbes’ 2020 Star Awards. It was also the first Irish hotel to ever receive the guide’s top rating. Three Irish hotels were each awarded four stars. These were the K Club in County Kildare and the Merrion and Marker Hotels in Dublin City. Dublin also scooped the rest of the awards, with four of its most prestigious hotels appearing on the list as recommended hotels. These were the Westbury, the Shelbourne, the Fitzwilliam, and the InterContinental Dublin. The Forbes Guide lists 1,898 star-rated properties across 73 countries. Being listed is regarded as a huge honor in the industry as all hotels, restaurants, and spas are inspected anonymously.

MS RESEARCH AT TRINITY cientists at Trinity College Dublin have made a discovery that could lead to more effective treatments for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. MS is a disease that affects approximately 2.3 million people worldwide and over 9,000 people in Ireland (this writer is one of them). Its cause is still unknown, but it is suspected that immune cells infiltrate the brain and spinal cord, causing damage to the nerves and leading to neurological disabilities. The researchers at Trinity College have identified a specific immune molecule, known as IL-17, which they believe kickstarts





that immune response. When experimenting with a mouse model of MS, they showed that immune “Tcells,” which secrete IL-17, causes damage to the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves in the central nervous system. “The new research shows that a key role of IL-17 is to mobilize and activate an army of disease-causing immune cells in the lymph nodes that then migrate to the central nervous system to cause nerve damage,” says Professor Kingston Mills, professor of experimental immunology at Trinity College. Early clinical trials with antibody-based drugs that block IL-17 have shown promise in the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS and have already been licensed for the treatment of psoriasis.

reland’s inspiring women were celebrated at the second Irish Women’s Awards on January 29. In a ceremony that took place at the Blanchardstown Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin, 32 awards were Niamh presented to women working in business, the professions, the civil O’Sullivan. service, the arts, and philanthropy. The awards were founded by Creative Oceanic, whose CEO Irfan Younis said: “Congratulations to all the winners and finalists at the Irish Women’s Awards 2020. We were delighted to host exceptional finalists who make brilliant role models and are leading a new generation of women and girls to greater success and more open doors.” This year’s winners included Niamh O’Sullivan, the curator of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, who was recognized for her contribution to arts and culture. Niamh Muldoon, CEO of the Veterinary Council of Ireland, was presented with the award for CEO of the Year. The founder and CEO of Pharmapod Leonora O’Brien was named Businesswoman of the Year and Caoimhe de Barra, the CEO of Trócaire, was honored for her services to charity.


ublin’s Dalkey Book Festival is celebrating its second decade by launching two major new annual Irish literary awards worth a total of €30,000. These awards will recognize writers in two categories. One will offer €20,000 for the Novel of the Year, making it the biggest prize that is exclusively available to Irish writers. The other will present €10,000 to the Emerging Writer of the Year. “We understand how difficult it is financially for writers,” says Sian Smyth, director and cofounder of the festival. “We hope this award will serve to provide some financial stability to our most creative minds. These awards are something the festival has always wanted to do, and we are delighted that we are now in a position to do so.” Funded by festival sponsor Zurich Insurance, the awards are for writers who were born or reside in Ireland and whose work was published in Ireland or in the U.K. in the year in question. This year, Northern Ireland television presenter and journalist Andrea Catherwood will chair the Novel of the Year judging panel, with Irish Times journalist Jennifer O’Connell and former director of the Abbey Theatre Fiach Mac Conghail. Radio presenter Rick O’Shea will chair the Emerging Writer award judging panel, with novelist and short story writer Caoilinn Hughes and poet Gary Jermyn. The shortlist will be announced this month and the winners will be announced on June 20.

In 1932, we created a company dedicated to introducing people to the beauty and magic of the Emerald Isle, and today we’re proud to bring more Americans to Ireland each year than any other tour operator. To join us on any of our more than 40 trips to Ireland, call 800-243-8687 or visit www.cietours.com.

Untitled-5 1

2/25/20 11:31 AM

IA.IEOHREV4.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 1:07 PM Page 16




emorial Day is going to feel more like a sequel to St. Patrick’s Day when the sci-fi fantasy flick Artemis Fowl – with loads of Irish talent in front of and behind the camera – kicks off the summer blockbuster season. Let’s start with the author of the book series on which the Harry Potter-esque film is based. That would be Wexford native Eoin Colfer, whose Fowl books have earned him legions of loyal fans. Then there is the director and producer who – after the film languished for several years in Hollywood’s infamous “development hell” – finally got the Fowl-ian universe to the big-screen. That would be Belfast-born legend Kenneth Branagh. And the screenwriter who translated Colfer’s pages to words in a Hollywood script? That would be none other than acclaimed Irish playwright Conor McPherson. The title character, meanwhile, is played by a young Irish actor named Ferdia Shaw, who was selected following over 1,000 auditions for the part. Reports on the internet (for whatever that’s worth) indicate that young Mr. Shaw is grandson to legendary Hollywood actor Robert Shaw (Jaws). A host of other young Irish actors also appear in the film, alongside the great British actress Judi Dench. In October, Kenneth Branagh directs – and stars! – in another gigantic production, this a new Hercule Poirot thriller, following up his previous film as Agatha Christie’s beloved sleuth, Murder on the Orient Express. This time around, Branagh stars in Death on the Nile, alongside (deep breath here) Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Armie Hammer, and Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot. Presumably to relax, Branagh will also appear – in a mere supporting role – in Christopher Nolan’s much-awaited summer flick Tenet.

Eoin Colfer. Kenneth Branagh.



he Starz network is in the same wait-and-see boat when it comes to its recent series Dublin Murders, which featured a fine bunch of Irish talent – including best-selling Irish-American writer Tana French, on whose books the series was based. Jeffrey Hirsch, president and CEO of Starz, told Deadline.com that the show’s ratings were impressive. “The audience grew from the beginning to the end of the series, which for us is always a great indicator of success,” he said. “We’re currently in talks about more seasons. There’s a couple more (Tana French) books that we’re looking at right now; we’re trying to figure out what that looks like right now. We’ll hopefully continue to have good conversations.” Dublin Murders, based on two separate French mystery novels, stars Irish actors Killian Scott and Sarah Greene as detectives struggling to solve a terrible crime, and come to terms with their feelings for each other. Until then, Sarah Greene will appear in Hulu’s highly anticipated adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Irish novel Normal People. 16 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

By Tom Deignan



ne of the more interesting political novels in recent years is being brought to television by HBO, featuring several big Hollywood names as well as an up-and-coming actor from Northern Ireland. Back in 2004, celebrated writer Philip Roth released an unusual novel called The Plot Against America. Best known for his often comic and deeply literary depictions of Jewish-American life, in this book, Roth took those ingredients but added a heaping dose of speculative history. The book explores what might have happened during the World War II-era had famed aviator – and later, unapologetic supporter of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler – Charles Lindbergh become president. What follows is a chilling portrait of a society in the grips of a demagogue, who is more than willing to exploit any and all fears for political power. Such concepts seem quite relevant in 2020. The Plot Against America comes to HBO in March, starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro, as well as West Belfast native Anthony Boyle, who has appeared in films such as Tolkien and The Lost City of Z, as well as TV shows like Derry Girls.



nother Dublin Murders star, Conleth Hill, is among the impressive cast of Irish talent putting out a film called Here Are the Young Men. Based on the Dublin-set novel of the same name, the film explores the lives of young men in Celtic Tiger Ireland, who party too hard as they try to avoid life’s more adult questions. The film also stars Sing Street actor Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, as well as Peaky Blinders star Finn Cole. Here Are the Young Men will be directed by Dubliner and Renaissance man Eoin Macken, who has written and directed numerous films Eoin and starred in the NBC series The Macken. Night Shift, the Netflix show NightConleth flyers, and RTÉ’s Fair City. Oh, and in Hill. his spare time, Macken has worked as a model for Ralph Lauren, GQ, and Abercrombie and Fitch. Look for Here Are the Young Men in late 2020 or early 2021.

IA.IEOHREV4.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 1:07 PM Page 17

Lisa McGee. Billie Eilish (left) in 2017 with her brother Finneas O’Connell (right), who produced and co-wrote the album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?



ne of the heartwarming success stories of the streaming entertainment era is that of Lisa McGee, a Northern Ireland-born screenwriter whose success in Ireland and the U.K. would not likely have translated so well to the U.S. if not for Netflix. That’s where McGee’s unlikely comedydrama Derry Girls found a home, along with legions of adoring fans who have embraced Erin, Orla, Michelle, and Clare as they stumble through their awkward teenage years, just as 1990s Northern Ireland stumbles through the late days of the Troubles. Now there is word that Derry Girls might be made into a movie. The Irish Post newspaper quoted McGee as saying: “That’s definitely something we’re talking about and something I’d like to explore. It’s just if the story is right. So, it’s about me figuring all that out at some point!” Which is a long way of saying...there might be a movie. We do know there will be a third season of Derry Girls, though the official release date is not yet set. In season three, McGee added: “There’s definitely a very personal journey that (the characters) go on, as well as a political one. It’s an exciting time for them as they’re just on the cusp of adulthood.” McGee also said: “In every episode, we have a new big guest star come in.” For now, if you have yet to catch Derry Girls, check it out on Netflix. Also this year, Galway-born Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan (Clare) will appear in Bridgerton, a Netflix historical drama about a British family, whose producers include hit-maker Shonda Rhimes (of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder fame). And speaking of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy: season 12, now airing, introduces a possible new love interest for Meredith in Dr. Hayes, played by Irish actor Richard Flood, who is best known in the U.S. for his role in Showtime’s popular series, Shameless.




t’s been 15 years since Pierce Brosnan played James Bond, but the next 007 film will be getting a little help from the Irish. Eighteen-year-old music superstar Billie Eilish – born in California as Billie Eilish O’Connell, to parents Maggie and Jack O’Connell – has been tapped to write the theme song for the latest Bond flick No Time to Die, which hits theaters in April. This comes after Eilish nabbed five Grammy Awards in January, including, with her brother Finneas O’Connell, the win for Album of the Year for When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?



t would take quite a dedicated film historian, or very creative film producer, to pick out any role in movie history that both hunky Colin Farrell and balding and barrelshaped Danny DeVito could both play. But that is yet another way superhero movies have changed the world. Because three decades after DeVito played the evil Penguin during the Michael Keaton Batman years, Colin Farrell has signed on to play the same role in the latest reboot of the caped crusader’s franchise. Currently slated to be released with the title The Batman, Robert Pattinson assumes the title role, following in the footsteps of Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, and George Clooney. The Batman is not scheduled to be released until next year, and also stars Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, and Andy Serkis. Until then, Farrell – seen recently in Guy Ritchie’s latest guy flick The Gentlemen – has numerous movies on the way. There’s the sci-fi robot drama After Yang, about humans who grow too close to their robot babysitters; the outer-space adventure Voyagers, about a crew that goes mad while seeking other worlds; and, finally, the thriller Ava, which also stars John Malkovich and Jessica Chastain. MARCH / APRIL 2020 IRISH AMERICA 17

IA.Hib.Bus100 REV3.rs.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 12:20 PM Page 18


Honoree Jim Summers.

Honoree Dermot O’Brien.

The Spirit of Ireland Award is presented to Michael Clune by Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason and Patricia Harty. Keynote speaker Paul Boskind with a guest.

The 34th Annual Business 100

Left to right: Paige Tabler, Kevin McManus, Carrie Otte, and Andrew O’Flaherty.

Representatives of Tourism Ireland: Billy Condon, Orla Carey, and Deirdre O’Brien

Irish America’s Business 100 honorees were celebrated at a gala luncheon that took place at the Metropolitan Club on December 10, 2019. Paul Boskind, CEO of Deer Oaks, a behavioral health organization, gave the keynote address. Michael Clune, the founder of Clune Construction, received the Dreamers of Dreams Award for his dedication to his Chicago community and his work with the Irish American Partnership, which funds education and community development programs across Ireland, north and south.

IA.Hib.Bus100 REV3.rs.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 12:20 PM Page 19

ABOVE: Group shot of the Business 100 honorees, who were celebrated at a gala luncheon on December 10 at the New York Metropolitan Club.

Honoree Kathleen Murphy chats with author Mary Pat Kelly.

Sean Kelleher of Wall Street Access took home the champagne, courtesy of Moët Hennessy.

Honoree Shannon Deegan and his daughter Orla.

Honoree Brendan Farrell and Eric Moore (originally from Dublin), BNY Mellon.

Honoree Nick Keane Vita.

Honoree Desmond Lyons shows a picture of his identical triplet sons to Patricia Harty.

Honorees Elaine O’Brien and Jim McCann.

Kyle Clifford of the Ireland Funds with a guest. Honorees James Delaney and Adrian O’Connell pictured with guests. MARCH / APRIL 2020 IRISH AMERICA 19

IA.HIB PG.18-22REV8.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 12:53 PM Page 20




osted by the Irish American Partnership, women’s leadership breakfasts in Boston and Washington, D.C., featured Ambassador Samantha Power and Senator Joan Freeman, founder of Pieta House and Darkness Into Light. Held in early January throughout rural Ireland, Nollaig na mBan, or “Women’s Christmas,” is an old custom for which women would gather and take a break from the housework associated with the festive period. For nearly a decade now, the Irish American Partnership has reinvigorated the traditional celebration of women’s hard work and collaboration with breakfasts highlighting Irish female leaders and the positive impact these women have worldwide. In Boston, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power was recognized for her deep commitment to humanitarian causes and public service throughout an outstanding career in journalism, academia, politics, and diplomacy that has blazed a trail for the next generation of female leaders. In a frank conversation with media powerhouse and Cork native Samantha Barry, editorin-chief of Glamour, former ambassador Power discussed growing up in Dublin, her working relationship with former president Obama, balancing motherhood with the Security Council, and the power of one person to make a difference. Ambassador Power credited her Irish roots with instilling the importance of storytelling within her – a skill that she expertly employed in her advocacy and diplomacy: “In my Irish family, being able to tell a lovely story has always been a means of fitting in and drawing people in,” she explained. As part of the morning’s program, the Partnership presented a $10,000 grant in Ambassador Power’s honor to University College Cork, which will 20 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

ABOVE: Senator Joan Freeman, the founder of Pieta House, Ireland’s suicide prevention organization. LEFT: (From left) Peta Conn of Invest Northern Ireland, Samantha Power, Samantha Barry, and Orla Furey of the Cambridge Savings Bank.

be used to fund an early intervention initiative in disadvantaged schools to introduce third-level education to young girls. The education-focused non-profit organization also donated a gift of $5,000 to Barry’s primary school, Scoil Barra National School in Ballincollig. At its eighth annual Washington, D.C., celebration, the Partnership awarded a $10,000 grant to Pieta House, Ireland’s first suicide and self-harm prevention organization, in honor of its founder, Irish Senator Joan Freeman. Freeman was recognized for her groundbreaking advocacy and work administering therapeutic services to people in the acute stages of distress and their families, which

changed the face of mental health in Ireland – and beyond. Throughout her accomplished career as a psychologist, advocate, and politician, Freeman stressed that the common thread has always been “being surrounded by strong, Irish women.” The Irish American Partnership connects Irish and Irish-American communities directly with education and community programs in Ireland, north and south, honoring its heritage by investing in Ireland’s youth. Since 1986, the Partnership has raised more than $33 million for Irish children, students, schools, and communities in need, empowering the next generation by equipping teachers and community leaders with the resources they need to educate and inspire. For more information on Irish American Partnership events, including its New York Leaders Breakfast on April 23, please visit www.irishap.org.  

IS YOUR HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE? Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

Because it wants to come home. Home to family, friends, stories. Home to festivals, traditional music, and the Irish pub. Home to majestic landscapes and fabulous feasts. You know the places. They’re the castles silhouetted against fiery sunsets, the islands that stir you with their beauty, the towns like Westport that pulsate with energy, and the iconics sites like Kylemore Abbey that are etched with true love. And when it comes to those legendary 100,000 welcomes, well‌ They say you should always listen to your heart, and it wants to be in the right place. Find your way home at

Untitled-12 1

2/25/19 12:08 PM

IA.HIB PG.18-22REV8.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 12:53 PM Page 22






he 12th annual Origin 1st Irish Festival, a month-long theater festival (January 7 to February 3, 2020) in New York City dedicated to showcasing the work of contemporary Irish writers at venues across the city, brought together some familiar faces and a host of new plays and writers. The world premiere of Seanie Sugrue’s comedy-drama  The 8th, about a family’s tensions around Ireland’s recent epic referendum to overturn the 8th Amendment outlawing abortion, received seven nominations and nabbed Best Production. The Irish Repertory Theatre’s hit comedy London Assurance, a five-act comedy by Dion Boucicault that was first produced at the Theatre Royal in 1841, won three awards – for direction by Charlotte Moore, for acting by Rachel Pickup, and for design.  The other acting award was offered to Ciaran O’Brien, who co-starred with Eva O’Connor in the American premiere of Maz and Bricks. The play was imported from Dublin by Fishamble. The Best Playwright honor went to Honor Molloy, the New York-based writer of an astonishing new work, Round Room,  about childbirth in the wards of Dublin’s infamous Rotunda Hospital over several centuries. Shown for just three performances, the in-studio production is produced by the Grammy Award-winning Irish singer / songwriter Susan McKeown’s Cuala Foundation, and features a new score by McKeown.   TOP: Director Origin Theatre was founded in New Charlotte Moore and Playbill writer York by George Heslin from Limerick, in Harry Haun. 2002. BELOW: Seanie For all festival details, visit  Sugrue and the cast www.origintheatre.org. of The 8th.


hiladelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution held a winter ball on January 21. Visitors were encouraged to fall into step and join in a traditional Irish céilí – a social gathering with dancing and storytelling. Timoney Irish Dancers performed a blend of traditional and contemporary Irish dances set to festive folk tunes, and guests wearing their finest ballroom attire joined in eighteenth-century country dances set to Irish tunes in the museum’s elegant Liberty Hall.  Niel De Marino of the New Jersey-based dance company In Good Company was on hand to teach the dances so that everyone could participate.

Spiked eggnog and hot chocolate were on the menu, which included an Irish-inspired sandwich featuring corned beef, swiss cheese, and braised cabbage. Those who were 21 and over could enjoy free samples of Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Old Fashioned Cocktail.  At the museum’s special exhibition Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier, visitors heard a poetry reading of works by eighteenthcentury poet Anna Seward. The presentation explored the untold story of Richard St. George, an Irish soldier and artist in the British army, through more than 100 artifacts, manuscripts, and works of art from Australia, Ireland, England, and the United States, many of which are on display in America for the first time. The exhibition ran from September 2019 through March 17, 2020.  For more information on the museum and information on upcoming exhibitions, see: https://www.amrevmuseum.org/ exhibits/special-exhibitions.

Untitled-5 1

2/25/20 11:52 AM

IA.HIB PG.18-22REV8.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 1:22 PM Page 24





FAR LEFT: Bridgette Brew, who is heading up the Galway 2020 tourism engagement, and Billy Condon, vice president of marketing for Tourism Ireland U.S., pictured with musicians who performed at the marketing launch. TOP: Andrew Elliot, Northern Ireland Bureau; Niall Gibbons, CEO Tourism Ireland; Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s executive vice president, USA & Canada; and Bill Byrne, Aer Lingus director of global sales North America. LEFT: A group of Aer Lingus employees celebrate Tourism Ireland’s success.

Bridgette Brew, Head of Tourism Engagement ourism Ireland hosted a stellar event at The Lotte New York Palace Hotel in New York City at Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, talked about the program line-up, which includes on January 28 to launch its 2020 marketing plan an astonishing 2,000 events planned. She noted – an extension of the 2019 “Fill Your Heart with that while the city will serve as the central hub of Ireland” campaign. Guests from all over the U.S. the festivities, the region’s landscape will also be and Ireland filled the beautiful ballroom at the a feature. One event is highly anticipated, and Palace for a night of celebration and discussion.  planned to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day: Finnish Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of artist Kari Kola is creating a massive light artwork North America and Australia, opened the event that will illuminate the Connemara Mountains. with grace and style, and the good news that – Sarah Loughnane tourism is booming in Ireland, and that there are high hopes that this trend will continue into 2020 and beyond. She introduced Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland’s CEO, who continued on a positive note, and made fast work of the figures, revealing that 11.2 million tourists visited Ireland last year, generating €5.8 billion for the economy and supporting 350,000 jobs all over the country. Metcalfe and Gibbons also touched on reasons why Ireland is a year-round destination, the many festivals in Ireland that run throughout the year that allow visitors a personal experience of meeting locals, and the “Green Is the New Black” plan to boost the annual Global Greening initiative with big sales around St. Patrick’s Day, inspired by the North American Black Friday, when retail prices are heavily discounted for 24 hours. he Children’s Medical Research Foundation hosted its ninth annual Best of Bill Byrne, the Aer Lingus executive Ireland Gala Dinner on Monday evening, February 24, 2020, in New York City. responsible for the airline’s North A total of $750,000 was pledged on the night for the support of international pediAmerican business, also highlighted atric research projects across the areas of oncology, the ease of access, and the fact that cardiology, and immunology. Enda all major U.S. cities now have Enda Kenny, former taoiseach of Ireland, Kenny. direct flights into Dublin. An Irish introduced the honorees: Robert McCann, chairman American from Chicago, Byrne of UBS America; golf champion Pádraig Harrington; engaged the audience with recollecand Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly, the tions of his own travels to Ireland as founders of the Irish Repertory Theatre. a child and the long journey from Three hundred guests from the spheres of Shannon to Mayo, contrasting that to business, the arts, and politics attended the gala, a recent visit, when he drove from which was chaired by Alan T. Ennis, former CEO of Dublin to Galway in two hours. Glansaol. Another high point discussed was The National Children’s Research Centre is based Galway City’s designation as a at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin European Capital of Culture. in Dublin, Ireland.




We are proud to congratulate our dear friend Dr. Thomas M. Kelly on his induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame. We continue to be inspired by his commitment and dedication to education and to our community. Allison & Howard Lutnick

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 12:06 PM

IA.HIB PG.18-22REV8.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 1:22 PM Page 26




festival showcasing the best of contemporary Irish film took place at the beautiful American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, M.D. It was six days of feature films, short programs, and documentaries, with post-screening discussions and meet-and-greet receptions that ran

ing the finest poet of his generation and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. Six years after Heaney’s death in 2013, his wife Marie and his children talk about their family life and read some of the poems he wrote for them, and for the first time his four brothers remember their childhood and the shared experiences

ABOVE LEFT: A scene from Shooting the Darkness. RIGHT: Katie Taylor in a scene from Katie.

from February 27 through March 1. Some of the highlights included a showing of Seamus Heaney & Music of What Happens, which documents the poet’s life, from his birth into a farming family in rural Northern Ireland to becom-

that inspired many of his finest works. Other documentaries that won high praise include Cumar: A Galway Rhapsody (top right), a documentary about the diverse glories of the city of Galway celebrated in song, perform-

ance, and image. The documentary was directed by Aodh Ó Coileáin (The Lark’s View), who spoke at a post-screening reception. The film Shooting the Darkness, by documentarian Tom Burke (Losing Alaska) artfully tells the powerful stories of the Irish men who unwittingly became war photographers on the streets of their own towns during Ireland’s Troubles. The evocative film Katie, which follows champion boxer Katie Taylor as she attempts to rebuild her career after a year of turmoil threatened to derail it, also got a great reception. The festival was presented by Solas Nua (“new light” in Irish), an organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 2005 with a mission to bring the best new Irish artistic talent to American audiences, Solas Nua has a growing and increasingly diverse audience attracted by its programming. For over a decade now it has brought audiences an exciting mix of modern Irish theatre, music, dance, visual arts, film, and literary events, including the annual Capital Irish Film Festival and Irish Book Day.

about how their lack of education had impacted their lives. The event was launched by former president of Ireland Mary he urgent need to empower girls was the theme of an Irish Robinson and U2 frontman Bono. Mrs. Robinson called on the world’s governments to ensure that all girls received 12 years of Mission to the U.N. event in New York on February 11. free education. The “Drive for Five” campaign identifies five transformative “Far too many girls are out of school,” she actions that the world’s governments said. “If we do not empower girls through edushould take to provide adolescent cation, we can never overcome the challenges girls with quality education in of conflict, inequality, and climate change.” supportive and safe environments. Bono said that ensuring girls had better access Millions of girls worldwide are not to subjects like math, science, and technology provided with this education. At the could change the world. “The climate crisis may event, young women from countries be man-made, but it’s likely to be womansuch as Iraq and Afghanistan spoke solved,” he said. Ireland’s ambassador to the U.N. Geraldine Byrne Nason, who hosted the event, announced LEFT: Mary Robinson and Bono put a spota contribution of €250 million for global light on adolescent education from Ireland, saying “Education and girls’ education at gender equality are deeply intertwined. The U.N. headquarters in promises we made 25 years ago have not been New York. kept and we want to provoke collective action ABOVE: Bono with to correct that. The Generation Equality Forum a group of Drive for coming up in May and July could be our onceFive girls. in-a-generation opportunity to deliver.”





IA.Bridgewater_AD_IA Template 2/25/20 9:12 PM Page 92



Eileen Murray on her

Induction into the

Irish America Hall of Fame.

Untitled-5 1

3/4/20 5:17 PM

IA.HIB PG.18-22REV8.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 1:22 PM Page 28




ouise Imogen Guiney (1861-1920), an American poet and essayist with ties to nineteenth-century Boston literary circles, is the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the John J. Burns Library, on display through May 29. Devoted Catholic & Determined Writer: Louise Imogen Guiney in Boston focuses on Guiney’s relationships with Catholic religious leaders, fellow writers, and publishers in Boston. She wrote poetry (first published in John Boyle O’Reilly’s Pilot), and later, stories and biographical essays. Her choice of subjects was informed by her Catholic beliefs, admiration for Jesuits, and sojourns in Ireland and England. Guiney may have faded from the canon, yet she

continues to offer a unique window into the multifaceted literary establishment of late nineteenth-century Boston, according to exhibition curator Barbara Adams Hebard, a conservator at Burns Library, who notes that Guiney is one of only two women represented in Bapst Library’s stained-glass portraits of American authors, housed at Boston College. Guiney’s Irish-born father was an officer in the “Fighting Ninth” Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry regiment, an Irish heritage unit that engaged in crucial Civil War battles. Active in law, politics, and Irish and Catholic organizations, he developed influential connections that

aided his widow and only daughter following his early death from war-related injuries in 1877. By then, Boston had become a major hub for education, publishing, and the arts, and Guiney benefited from her father’s network. But it was her own drive to write – first, poetry, and later, short stories and biographical essays – that earned her acclaim in literary circles.

A VISIT TO THE IRISH AMERICA HALL OF FAME Michael Dowling and Sean Connick, the CEO of the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience.



he Irish America Hall of Fame is fast becoming a travel destination in Ireland. The Hall of Fame is housed at the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience in New Ross, County Wexford. The ship, open for tours, is an exact replica of a sailing ship of that name that ferried thousands of Irish to America during the Great Hunger. New Ross is also the port from which Patrick Kennedy set out for Boston in 1849. Though he died at 35 of cholera, leaving his wife Bridget Murphy the sole supporter of their four children (the couple’s two-year-old son, John, had also died of cholera), the family would prosper. Bridget started a small shop on the wharf on Boston Harbor, and her son P.J. left school early to help out. A smart young man, Patrick became a savvy businessman and a politician, setting the course for future generations. His great-grandson, named for the little boy who died, became the president of the United States. The Kennedy homestead is just outside the town of New Ross and is also well worth a visit. The Dunbrody and the Hall of Fame are helping to revitalize the town of New Ross, as many of our inductees, as well as tourists to the southeast of Ireland, have made it a stopping point on their trips to Ireland. Michael Dowling, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, recently visited and took a tour of the ship and the Hall of Fame, where his portrait hangs. Michael’s own story is one of great achievement. Born and raised in Knockaderry, County Limerick, in a house without running water, Michael is the eldest of five children. He had to help support his family from an early age as his father was crippled with arthritis. His mother, though deaf, was a great reader, and inspired him to push further and achieve his dreams. He paid his tuition by working on the docks in New York during the summer holidays, and after graduating from University College Cork, he went on to earn a master’s degree from Fordham. Today he is the CEO of Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health system. Michael was moved by his visit to the ship and the Hall of Fame, and encourages others to visit.

Untitled-3 1

3/16/20 11:38 AM

LIUNA is Proud to Support the



Untitled-1 1

3/5/20 5:27 PM

Congratulations to Hall of Fame Inductee

Sean McGarvey

North America’s Building Trades Unions President


Untitled-1 1

TERRY O’SULLIVAN General President

ARMAND E. SABITONI General Secretary-Treasurer

3/5/20 5:22 PM

IA.HIB PG.32REV2.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 2:55 PM Page 32


Photos by James Higgins



Award for Arts and Letters is given in memory of the late Nobel laureate, who was a great champion of Glucksman Ireland House and an honored guest at the 2013 Glucksman Ireland House Gala. Always a memorable event, this year’s festivities raised $500,000 and gathered together luminaries including Ireland’s ambassador to the U.N. Geraldine Byrne Nason, former taoiseach Enda Kenny, former Irish ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson, and Consul General for New York Ciarán Madden, as well as writer Zadie Smith, poet Nick Laird, musician Iarla O Lionaird, and dancer Jean Butler. The evening was ably compered by Dan Barry of the New York Times. Dómhnal Slattery and Loretta Brennan Glucksman; Zadie Smith and Nick Laird; Alice McDermott and Colm Tóibín. An outstanding musical performance was provided by Maura winning writer Alice McDermott to Mr. ship in recognition of his immense O’Connell, who flew in from Nashville Tóibín in recognition of his outstanding achievements over three decades, most especially for the occasion of honoring literary accomplishments on the interespecially by establishing Avolon as a her fellow Ennis native Slattery. global leader in aircraft leasing. The Lewis national stage. The Seamus Heaney YU’s Glucksman Ireland House, at their eighth annual gala, recently honored Irish business leader Dómhnal Slattery and award-winning writer Colm Tóibín at an event at NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life. Loretta Brennan Glucksman presented Mr. Slattery with the Lewis L. Glucksman Award for Leader-

L. Glucksman Award for Leadership is awarded in memory of the co-founder of Glucksman Ireland House, whose career in finance and philanthropy is relived constantly through the teaching, learning, and research fostered in the House. The Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters was presented by award-



LEFT: Couple Eon and Miriam Nyhan Grey, Jordan Carey, and NYU professor Mike Gomez.

n extraordinary gathering of Irish and African-American leaders took place at the Irish Consulate in New York on Wednesday night, February 26, 2020 to celebrate Black History Month. Irish Consul General Ciarán Madden called together leaders in the Irish and African-American communities who shared Irish heritage to create new links and forge a new organization. In his remarks, Madden referred to the both were dying by the thousands due to the fact that it is contended that one-third of harsh labor of draining swamps. African-Americans have Irish ancestry, and At the bottom of the ladder, many Irish men lost while there are some dark aspects to how their lives as they were placed first in the swamps, that Irish link came about during slavery, it is ahead of the slaves. “If a slave dies, you lose the also clear that there was collaboration, price of property. If an Irishman dies, you can cooperation, and intermarriage that are get another one,” was the general consensus. worthy of attention and celebration. Dennis Pamela Miller and Ciaran Madden. The network was also launched by an Brownlee, a successful media entrepreneur emotional speech by Miriam Nyhan Grey, the associate director who has traced his own part-Irish heritage back to Niall of the of Irish and Irish-American Studies at NYU university, whose Nine Hostages, heads The African American Irish Diaspora husband is of Jamaican heritage. Back in 2015, Nyhan Grey had Network. Brownlee became interested in the Irish part of his been instrumental in creating a seminar about the Black and heritage through his friendship with Stella O’Leary, head of Irish Irish experience and influence on each other, and the evening American Democrats. was the culmination of her efforts to increase awareness of the African-American cultural expert Lenwood Sloan said there history and culture of Black Irish Americans and the relevance of is a history of intermarriage between the two communities in a Black History month gathering in an Irish space. places such as New Orleans that dates back to a time when 32 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

Untitled-3 1

3/16/20 11:52 AM

IA.Hib.HistoryREV3.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 4:32 PM Page 34




apostle of Ireland.” Earlier Hughes had confronted Jacob Aaron Westervelt, the anti-immigrant mayor of New York, warning that if one Catholic church was attacked by rioting Nativists, the city would be turned into a “second Moscow” (Russians burned Moscow to the ground in 1812 rather than let Napoleon occupy it.) The Fighting 69th had the designation of being the first regiment in the Irish Brigade, formed by Meagher at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. The brigade fought with courage and discipline, despite suffering the highest casualty rate of any Union brigade during



hen the New York Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, the Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment, led by two Irish wolfhound mascots, marches up Fifth Avenue on March 17, 2020, it will mark its 169th year in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, a tradition that began in New York City in 1762; when the first parade honoring the patron saint of Ireland was held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army. The Fighting 69th in its present form was organized by Irish revolutionary and Civil War Union general Thomas Francis Meagher of County Waterford. The raison d’être for inviting the 69th to lead the St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1851 was to protect the Irish from the violence orchestrated by the anti-immigrant “KnowNothings.” In a St. Patrick’s Day speech in 1855, Meagher denounced anti-immigrant movements, insisting that America “does itself great wrong when it supposes, in view of that which occurs in the emigration from Ireland, that it can fail in its strength because of the addition which it receives from poor old Ireland, drawing out drops of her choicest blood, and infusing them into the veins of this young giant, that he may go forward with more rapid strides to achieve the brilliant conquest which awaits him in the future.”   Meagher’s rhetoric resonates with contemporary language, and rebuffs current attacks on immigrants today by American nationalists. Archbishop John Hughes, in his March 17, 1853, oration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, turned to the condition of the Irish immigrant community in America: “Wherever they are found…not only do they cherish fond memory for the apostle of their native land, but they propagate it, and make the infection as if it were contagious, so that those who would not otherwise have had any knowledge of St. Patrick become thus desirous to enter into those feelings, and to join in celebrating their anniversary festival of the

ABOVE: Archbishop John Hughes was an ardent defender of Irish Catholics. LEFT: Harrison’s Landing, V.A., group of the Irish Brigade. Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, the Peninsular Campaign, May-August 1862. Sitting from left to right: Captain Clooney, 88th New York; Father Dillon, Chaplain of the 63rd New York; and Father Corby, Chaplain of the 88th New York. Standing from left to right: visiting priest and Colonel Patrick Kelly, 88th New York.

the Civil War. The Irish had already distinguished themselves in the American revolutionary war. When the shot heard round the world was fired, 147 Irishmen were among the minutemen at Lexington and Concord. After the smoke cleared on April 19, 1775, 22 Irishmen had given their lives in America’s bid for independence.  General George Washington proclaimed March 17 a day of rest for his Continental Army in 1780, acknowledging the cause of Irish freedom and the IrishAmerican alliance against the British Empire. Americans were not going to allow themselves to be ruled as Ireland was.  Forty-five percent of Washington’s Continental Army was Irish. Alan Lomax, Amer-

ican folk song collector, observed: “If soldiers’ folk songs were the only evidence, it would seem that the armies that fought in the early American wars were composed entirely of Irishmen.” The Irish, skilled at verbal arts, raised a glass to toast their dual identity at the centennial celebration of Boston’s Charitable Irish Society, March 17, 1837: “To Ireland and America. May the former soon be as free as the latter, and may the latter never forget that Irishmen were instrumental in securing the liberty they now enjoy.” In the Siege of Yorktown sequence of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical, Alexander Hamilton asks: “How did we know that this play would work? We had

The members of the Horace Mann School Board of Trustees are proud to celebrate our Head of School, Thomas M. Kelly, Ph.D., at his induction as a member of the 2020 Irish America Hall of Fame. March 12, 2020

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 12:39 PM

IA.Hib.HistoryREV3.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 4:32 PM Page 36


a spy on the inside. That’s right!” The chorus shouts: “Hercules Mulligan!” Mulligan, an Irish-born tailor and agent of the Patriot’s spy network, replies: “A tailor spyin’ on the British government! / I take their measurements, information and then I smuggle it. / To my brother’s revolutionary covenant. / I’m runnin’ with the Sons of Liberty and I am lovin’ it!”   The morning after the British evacuated New York City, November 26, 1783, General Washington invited Mulligan to breakfast. Soon the city was returned to the victorious Patriots and declared the capital of the United States. Before the American Revolution there had been little attempt by either Ireland or America to actively champion the cause of the other. That all changed after Benjamin Franklin visited Ireland. Franklin cherished the filial tie with England but reluctantly resigned himself to breaking it after he witnessed the wretched conditions under which the Irish lived. He believed that after almost six centuries of British rule and conquest, the Irish were faced with the possibility of total extinction. In April 27, 1769, Franklin wrote to his fellow patriots in Massachusetts: “All Ire-

land is strongly in favor of the American cause. They have reason to sympathize with us.” John J. Cosgrove lectured the American Historical Society in 1910: “I assert tonight without fear of contradiction from any histoA member of the New York Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, rian American or Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment, leads the battalion’s Irish English that the blunwolfhound up Fifth Avenue in the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. dering unjust, and ceremonies, the British regimental band criminal acts of England in Ireland, and played the familiar march, “The World especially in the province of Ulster, did Turn’d Upside Down.” It was the Irish in more to fill the armies of George Washthe Continental Army who accelerated ington with brave soldiers than almost the pace of that downward turn. any other cause.” Irish participation in the American RevLord Mountjoy lamented in Parliament olution helped give birth to a new nation. on April 2, 1784: “America was lost by The American-Irish returned the favor Irish emigrants… I am assured from the after the 1916 Easter Rising when, “Irebest authority, the major part of the land…supported by her exiled children in American army was composed of Irish America…strikes in full confidence of vicand that the Irish language was as comtory.” Ireland’s war of independence monly spoken in the American ranks as ended with the Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty English. I am also informed it was their in 1921 and, “Ireland, long a province, A valor that determined the contest. “ Nation once again!”  Erin go Bragh! After Cornwallis surrendered at YorkAmerica forever! town, Virginia, on October 19, 1781, leg– Robert Lyons  end has it that during the surrender



ack in 1974, City Council President Paul O’Dwyer introduced a bill that would change the date on the New York’s flag and seal from 1664 to 1625. The move was an effort to set history straight and to recognize the city’s Dutch heritage on the 700th anniversary of the founding of the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The Irish-born O’Dwyer noted that the only significance of the year 1664 was that the city fathers took an oath of allegiance to Charles II of England, following Peter Stuyvesant’s capitulation to the Duke of York’s forces, and cited a number of historical documents showing that the Dutch presence in New York, which began with Henry Hudson’s 1609 Dutch East India Company-funded voyage up the river that now bears his name, had coalesced into what amounted to a city by 1625. “In truth,” O’Dwyer said at the FROM LEFT: Former New York City council president Paul O’Dwyer, Irish America publisher Niall O’Dowd, Charles McCabe of Manufacturers Hanover Bank, and former mayor of Boston Ray Flynn at the launch of Irish America magazine in October 1985. 36 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

The two flags: one showing the 1664 date honoring when the British took the city, which Paul O’Dwyer fought to change to 1625. LEFT: The seal of the city of New York, the date on which was also changed back to 1625.

time, “the city had then been in existence with a democratic form of government for 39 years.” While some, including Philip Klingle of the New York Historical Society, disputed O’Dwyer’s claim, and other stated that O’Dwyer’s Irish heritage was the source of his wish to downplay the British legacy of the city, the change was made on December 30, 1977, when the seal was subtly modified. The date was changed from 1664 (when the kingdom of England took possession) to 1625, when it was founded by the Dutch.

Horace Mann School’s students, parents, guardians, administrators, and faculty and staff members join Irish America Magazine in honoring Thomas M. Kelly, Ph.D. Head of School at his induction to the Irish America Hall of Fame March 12, 2020 Horace Mann School prepares a diverse community of students to lead great and giving lives. We strive to maintain a safe, secure, and caring environment in which mutual respect, mature behavior, and the life of the mind can thrive. We recognize and celebrate individual achievement and contributions to the common good.

Untitled-2 1

2/26/20 5:42 PM

IA.HibQuotesREV.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 6:41 PM Page 38

Seamus Heaney with Marie, his wife of more than 50 years.




“Let others decide if I’m a good writer. I know I’m a good Irish storyteller.” – Mary Higgins Clark, best-selling suspense novelist and 2011’s grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. She died on January 31. New York Times, February 2, 2020

“This is a beautiful film. When [Michael] Longley talks about the heartbreak at the loss of his old friend, he says, simply, “I thought we were all going to go on forever, you know.” Two days after Heaney died, 80,000 people attended the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park, and a picture of him was put up on the screens. “I can think of no other country where a football crowd will have a minute’s silence and cheer a poet,” says Marie Heaney. – Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian. The documentary Seamus Heaney and the Music What Happened was recently shown at the Capital Irish Film Festival at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, M.D.

“I think as much as we can all agree that this objectification of women, typically by men, has not been the greatest thing for women, we have to be careful and not become the other and start objectifying men in a way that’s not appreciative and respectful.” – Caitriona Balfe, the County Monaghanbred star of Outlander, which just unveiled its fifth season, Entertainment Weekly.

“[And it was great to work] with someone as unbelievably honest and raw as Saoirse, who is a gorgeous actor.” – Laura Dern, speaking to Greta Gerwig about working with Saoirse Ronan on Little Women, Inside the Actor’s Studio. 38 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

“My Irish highlight is walking down High Street with my grandfather in Holyoke, M.A., when he was the grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1965.” – Thomas J. Lynch, 2019 Healthcare 50 honoree, member of the American Association for Cancer Research, Irish America.

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers congratulates

Newton B. Jones International President

William T. Creeden

International Secretary-Treasurer

INTERNATIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS Lawrence J. McManamon J. Tom Baca Warren Fairley John T. Fultz Arnie Stadnick

www.boilermakers.org International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, AFL-CIO/CLC

Untitled-3 1

3/16/20 12:06 PM

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 11:45 AM

IA.HoF.INTRO.rev4.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 1:57 PM Page 41


T The Irish America Hall of Fame is on display at the Dunbrody History of Emigration Centre in New Ross, County Wexford. It was established by Irish America in 2010 with the induction of Donald R. Keough, an IrishAmerican businessman who exemplified the very best of Irish America, and embodied our motto “Cuimhnígí ar na daoine ar tháinig sibh – Remember the people from whom you came.” We are proud to present this year’s honorees: Jean Butler, Judy Collins, Patrick Doherty, Thomas Kelly, Sean McGarvey, Kathleen Murphy, Eileen Murray, and Richard Neal.



Cuimhnígí ar na daoine ar tháinig sibh – Remember the people from whom you came.


Jean Butler Thomas Kelly Judy Collins Richard Neal Eileen Murray Patrick Doherty Kathleen Murphy Sean McGarvey


IA.HOF-Butler REV5.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 2:04 PM Page 42



HALL FAME Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher

Jean Butler

By Tom Deignan & Rosemary Rogers

ABOVE: With dancing teacher and extraordinary performer, Donny Golden, at Danspace Project, NYC after Jean’s performance of “Day” commissioned by the Abbey Theatre.


few years back, the Irish dancing community was dealt a series of devastating losses. Four celebrated dance masters – Jimmy Erwin, Jerry Mulvihill, Michael Bergin, and Peter Smith – passed away in close succession. “All I could think,” recalls Riverdance choreographer and dancer Jean Butler, “was the steps and stories that died with them. The dances live in the body and memory of the people who have danced them.” For Butler – who has spent her post-Riverdance career exploring more intimate forms and expressions of Irish dance, as well as teaching in Ireland and at New York University – something had to be done to chronicle the extensive history of Irish dance, to tell a part of the Irish diaspora story that had yet to be told. “I just got this fire in me: this has to happen now,” Butler recalls. She has created the Our Steps Foundation, whose mission is to reclaim “the essence of Ireland’s traditional dance, the story of its people, and the evolution of the form through a range of innovative archival, performance, and multi-disciplinary projects.” In May, Butler and an Our Steps crew will embark on their first research trip to Dublin, as well as Belfast, London, and Scotland. They will be talking to as many people and performers as they can about Irish dance, documenting the personal part they’ve played in this history, as well as – whenever possible – recording their performances, and tracing their distinct influences. “I dance the way I do because of Donny [Golden, Butler’s celebrated teacher]. Donny dances the way he does because of Jimmy Erwin. And Jimmy Erwin danced the way he did because of Cyril McNiff.”


But without a central source to record such legacies, they are in danger of simply vanishing from historical record. “Irish dancers don’t talk about this stuff. They just do it,” adds Butler, who was born and raised on Long Island by a mother from Mayo and a father who was New York City Fire Department battalion chief. To create this first archive dedicated solely to Irish dance, Butler has partnered with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library. “Jean Butler is one of the most accomplished Irish dance artists of the last century and a pioneer in the field, expanding and re-imagining the vocabulary and boundaries of Irish step dance,” said Linda Murray, curator of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division. “Her desire to safeguard the legacy of Irish dance is one that the Jerome Robbins Dance Division shares, and we were honored to serve as partners on this project.” Our Steps will be a “living archive” for scholars, dancers, and other artistic storytellers, who too often fail to grasp or even acknowledge the depth, complexity, and richness of Irish dance and how it relates to, and reflects, the history of Ireland and the Irish diaspora. Also in the works is an installation entitled The Stepping Fields, which will use material collected by Butler as part of the Our Steps project, but also include artistic works about dance, by artists working outside of the field, such as writer Enda Walsh. For Butler, competitions and commercialism have become so dominant in the world of Irish dance that they are crowding out other important discussions – on big topics, such as history and power, as well as more personal matters. “My connection with my teacher (Golden) was so strong, and I want Irish dancers today to know how important that connection can be,” says Butler, whose decades of contributions to the world of Irish

IA.HOF-Butler REV5.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 2:04 PM Page 43

dance have made her a new member of the Irish America Hall of Fame. t’s been more than two decades now since Jean Butler was, as she referred to herself, “just a gigging Irish dancer.” She was touring with the Chieftains, as well as traveling to Dublin to perform on weekends at the Harcourt Hotel. But then came Riverdance, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Butler originated the principal female roles and co-choreographed the wildly popular show. She was first exposed to Irish dance by her mother, Josephine, who was born in Mayo, and came to the U.S. at 17. “I come from a long line of very strong women,” declares Butler, when asked what drove her to pursue dance with such passion. “I don’t think I could have articulated this (when I was younger). But it had to come from them. My mom’s story is such a big part of this story.” Butler attended Birmingham University in the U.K., where she studied drama. “I always had theatrical aspirations. I knew I would be a performer, but I never expected it to be through dance. And then, obviously, Riverdance happened.” That was in 1993, when she was still in Birmingham and received an invitation from producers Moya Doherty and John McColgan. The rest, of course, is history. Riverdance became a global phenomenon – though Butler moved on from it in 1997. “Who wants to stay in the same place?” she says. “We accept that art is about growing and evolving.” Butler developed a follow-up performance show entitled Dancing on Dangerous Ground, which The


New York Times celebrated for “channeling Irish step dancing into genuine artistic expression.” But she also decided to go back to school, studying contemporary dance at the University of Limerick. The dancing projects that followed were far more intimate and nuanced. Butler also collaborated with artists outside of dance – poets, filmmakers, visual artists and actors. “My contemporary work is pared back, abstract, and innovative, as I am asking hard questions about what it means to be an Irish dancer. I am challenging my audiences to not sit back but to lean in and engage in a way that they are not used to. It is the direct opposite of my work in Riverdance and Dancing on Dangerous Ground and that’s exactly as it should be.” In 2001, Butler married fellow artist Cuan Hanly, a fashion designer. Their wedding was held in Mayo near the home of her grandmother Mae Byrne, where her mother was also born. In 2006, Butler

CLOCKWISE: With students at a special event entitled “Jean Butler Choreographs Connemara,” hosted by Notre Dame’s Global Center for Irish Studies at Kylemore Abbey; Jean Butler, photographed by John Midgley; Jean with her sister Cara Butler; Jean with her grandma, Mae Byrne, from Ballyhaunis, County Mayo at the National Concert Hall for the Mayo 5,000 concert in 1993.


IA.HOF-Butler REV5.qxp_IA Template 3/16/20 2:04 PM Page 44

RIGHT: Solo dance shot at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin from “This Is an Irish Dance” a duet created and performed by Jean Butler and cellist Neil Martin.

ABOVE: On the red carpet: Jean (right) with her mother, Josephine Butler,and her sister Cara at the 25 years of Riverdance celebration in Dublin. MIDDLE: Cara and and Jean dancing at the Mineola Irish-American Center, where Donny Golden taught them to dance and where he still teaches to this day. RIGHT: On stage speaking to 8,000 people at Dublin’s 3Arena with the original cast whopremiered the show together 25 years ago to the day.

and her husband moved to Brooklyn. Teaching and researching at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House compelled Butler to reflect not just on dance, but on its place in the broader culture. Textbooks and other scholarly sources, Butler came to discover, often have no references at all to Irish dance. “I refused to accept that,” she says. “Dance is always the last thing on the list. Dance needs to be a part of the bigger conversation in the humanities.” She believes this in part because dance allows people to see other topics – politics, history, gender roles, immigration – with new eyes. “We need to think about dance in relation to the state, to the rise and fall of the Church (in Ireland),” says Butler. Current intense debates about gender, prompted in part by the #MeToo movement, are also reflected in dance. “Males and females are treated so differently in the world of dance,” says Butler, who notes that generations of female as well as male Irish dancers have been forced to negotiate a complex web of expectations and associations related to gender.


Many, on the other hand, simply chose not to participate in Irish dance – or to conceal their participation – precisely because of powerful gender associations linked to dance. (According to Butler, male participation in Irish dance skyrocketed when they were no longer required to wear a kilt.) Female Irish dancers, meanwhile, have long been objectified on stage and screen in disturbing and unsettling ways by male show creators. All of which can obscure what is powerful and beautiful about Irish dance, how it expresses the tragedies and triumphs of a relatively small island culture that, against tremendous odds, has managed to conquer the world. It is Jean Butler’s hope that the forthcoming The Stepping Fields installation and the broader work of the Our Steps Foundation inspires audiences to think about all of this – to appreciate Irish dance in all of its glory and complexity. Because, to a substantial degree, the story of Irish dance is the story of the Irish people. “This is about the diaspora,” declares Butler. “Everywhere the Irish are, they bring dance with IA them.” To donate to Our Steps Foundation visit: https://www.ourstepsfoundation.org/.

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 12:12 PM

IA.HOF-CollinsREV6.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 5:05 PM Page 46



HALL FAME Singer, Songwriter, Social Activist

Judy Collins By Christine Kinealy

A young Judy Collins.


t is difficult to define or to encapsulate Judy Collins in under 2,000 words. Ironically though, perhaps just two words can provide an insight into this remarkable woman’s activism, career, and song choices: they are, “amazing grace.” Everything Judy has done in her long and varied life have shown ability, creativity, tenacity, and – grace. These two words also happen to be the name of a popular anthem that she has made her own. Judy first recorded “Amazing Grace” in 1970. In 1993, she sang it at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. In 2017, her version was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress on the grounds of it being, “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.” In addition to its being one of the most beloved songs ever written, there is also a personal connection – Judy’s Methodist grandmother sang it to the family. Furthermore, there is an Irish connection. “Amazing Grace” was penned in County Donegal in 1772, by a former slave-trader turned abolitionist, John Newtown. He was shipwrecked off the coast of northwest Ireland and underwent a spiritual conversion: “[I] was blind but now I see.” A similar clarity and quest for social justice has underpinned all of Judy’s work. The hauntingly beautiful “Dreamers” (2018) is a recent example of Judy using her creativity and her pristine vocal abilities to remind us about the plight of immigrants: This land was made by dreamers, and children of those dreamers / We came here for democracy and hope / Now all we have is hope. Ever the activist, Judy’s song is about the deportations of young undocumented immigrants who were brought here as babies: “I’m very much a participant in my country’s action. I want my voice to be heard. I don’t think anyone outgrows that. I marched on a picket line in 1985 and was arrested because my government was supporting a racist government. That’s the same reason I went to Mississippi in 1964,” she told a reporter for UPI.


Which brings us to Judy’s own roots. She was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1939. On her paternal side, the family emigrated from Ireland, probably from the north. Her father, Charles (Chuck), though blind from age three, became a well-known radio host in Denver, having moved the family there in 1950 when Judy was 10. Chuck had a fine tenor voice and Judy remembers him singing “Danny Boy” and “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” to her mother, Marjorie. As a young 14-year-old, Judy was a student of classical piano and had already made her orchestral debut, but a chance hearing of the folk song “The Gypsy Rover” on the radio changed the course of her life. The ballad, a tale of a girl who runs off with a dashing stranger, won her heart. She persuaded her father to buy her a guitar and so began the musical journey that would take her out of Colorado and put her on the road to being recognized as one of the greatest folk singers of our time. Judy first visited Ireland in 1964, but even before this her love of Irish history and culture were apparent. In 1961, she had released her first album, entitled, A Maid of Constant Sorrow. The songs included “The Rising of the Moon” (a tribute to the failed 1798 rebellion) and “The Bold Fenian Men” (an elegy to the Irish Republican Brotherhood). She was aged only 22. Her rise to prominence in the revitalized American folk scene was phenomenal. In 1963, Judy performed at “America’s Democratic Legacy,” along with the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (she was to share a stage with the Clancy Brothers on several occasions afterward). President John F. Kennedy was the recipient of that year’s award. Tragically, Kennedy was assassinated only a few months later. Judy returned to Dublin in 1966, as did many other giants of the American music scene, including Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Johnny Cash, and the Carter Family. In Belfast, Judy performed in the Ulster Hall alongside Paxton. They gave “magnetic performances,” to which the audience responded

IA.HOF-CollinsREV6.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 5:06 PM Page 47

showcases such Judy Collins’ classics as “Chelsea Morning,” “Cat’s in the Cradle,” and “Bird on a Wire” (originally by Leonard Cohen), as well as many of her favorite Irish tunes, including, “She Moved Through the Fair” (featuring the amazing Mary Black), “Wild Mountain Thyme,” and, of course, “Danny Boy.” Judy explained to Irish America: “I have lived with Irish songs all my life, and it was important to me to bring them back to Ireland, where they all started. My father was half Irish and always sang the old songs, as a tribute to my family roots and the roots of my own career. The songs that got me started in my career of singing folk music were Irish – “Barbara Allen” and “Gypsy Rover” – and had their roots in the Irish tradition, so it was important to me that I do that concert in Ireland.” During the concert, Judy shared with the audience that performing in such a location was “a

with “rapturous enthusiasm.” In the same year, the title of Judy’s album was Golden Apples of the Sun – the final line of W.B. Yeats’ mystical 1897 poem, “The Song of Wandering Aengus.” The Irish influence was clear throughout. The album included “Shule Aroon,” an eighteenth-century Irish folk song, “The Christ-Child’s Lullaby” (Taladh Chriosta) by Seamus Ennis, and “The Great Selkie,” a traditional folk song of Scotland and Ulster. The album provided a perfect partnering of Irish and Celtic traditional music with American folk music, allowing Judy to bring to new audiences: The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun. Just as Judy loves Ireland, Ireland loves Judy. In 1970, the year that she recorded “Amazing Grace,” the music critic for the Dublin Evening Herald described her as “the best girl singer to emerge from the American folk revival.” He went on to explain that “Judy’s singing has a rare warmth, sensitivity, and an emotional content that has always been conveyed not only with her life performances, but on record, too.” The emotionally riven “Send in the Clowns,” released in 1975, established Judy as one of the leading performers in the world, who was able to cross genres and create new artistic spaces. Since her first visit to Ireland in the early 1960s, Judy has returned to Ireland and to her Irish musical roots on many occasions. In 2014, Judy, together with some of Ireland’s best-loved musicians, took over Dromoland Castle in County Clare to film a concert, sponsored by Quinnipiac University, that was broadcast on PBS throughout March 2015. Live in Ireland

TOP: Judy Collins, who remains one of America’s most vital artists because of her creative rigor and dedication to her artistry. ABOVE: Judy Collins in a stage performance at Dromoland Castle in County Clare, Ireland, on September 29, 2013, which was filmed and recorded for a concert television special that aired on PBS in March of 2014.

dream come true.” She talked about her father and his “distinctly Irish mentality” and explained how, growing up, “everybody knew the old Irish songs.” It is in no small part due to Judy’s beautiful renditions of many of them that we still know and love these songs. Moreover, Judy made her own personal contribution to the “canon” by writing a new “Irish” song for the Clare concert called “New Moon Over the Hudson.” She explained, “It came to me just before I left to do my Irish show at Dromoland Castle – I had only recently learned that two of my great-great-grandfathers had fought and died in the Union Army in the Civil War, and one of my relatives played the pipes for the Colonial Army in the Revolutionary War – one night I looked out my window and saw a new moon over the Hudson, and the thought that my ancestors had come over to the States in ships made of tears as well as dreams struck me as proper for a song, as well as a tribute to the Irish diaspora in MARCH / APRIL 2020 IRISH AMERICA 47

IA.HOF-CollinsREV6.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 5:05 PM Page 48

America and other points around the globe.” “New Moon over the Hudson” is not only a plaintive tribute to her own family’s emigration to America, it is a reminder of the poverty that caused so many to flee: “And the ships that brought us over here / Were made of dreams and smoke.” In it, she also made a promise to her “father’s father’s father’s” people that: I will return to Ireland I’ll sing the old sweet songs. In 2018, Judy embarked on an 18-month tour with Stephen Stills, and with hit song “Dreamers” on the Billboard charts, was back in New York City, her home since the 1970s, on February 4, to accept the Joe’s Pub Vanguard Award and Residency for 2019. The award celebrates the career of a singular artist who has contributed to American life and pop culture. Alex Knowlton, director of Joe’s Pub, which is part of the Public Theater, said, “Continuing this program into its second year with the voice of a generation is a dream.” In addition to recording more than 40 albums, Judy has excelled in other creative fields. She received an Academy Award nomination for her film Antonia: A Portrait of a Woman (about her piano teacher), and she has her own label, Wildflower Records. She is also the author of almost a dozen books, including a highly evocative memoir, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music (the title is from a song Stephen Stills about wrote for her). In Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide and Strength, she chronicles her son’s battle with alcohol and his seven years of sobriety, followed by a relapse and various suicide attempts before his death, and in the more recent Cravings, she details her own struggle with alcoholism and an eating disorder. Judy has lived in the same New York apartment for over 40 years. She shares it with her husband, Louis Nelson, the artist known for the Korean War memorial in Washington, D.C., whom she met in 1978. 48 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

TOP LEFT: Judy’s father, Charles Collins, working on his Braille typewriter. LEFT: Judy with her son, Clark. ABOVE: Judy and Loius Nelson in Central Park on their wedding day. TOP RIGHT: Judy’s mother, Marjorie Collins.

Beyond her extraordinary talent, Judy Collins remains one of America’s most vital artists because of her creative rigor and dedication to her artistry. Since her debut album in 1961, Judy has won many awards and accolades. These include a Grammy in 1968 for “Both Sides Now,” being showcased on the cover of Life magazine in 1969, and today, more than 40 albums later (at least six of them gold), she is still recording and playing concerts – up to 200 a year. At the end of 2019, Judy, together with Norwegian singer-songwriter Jonas Fjeld and North Carolina bluegrass revivalists Chatham County Line, recorded the album Winter Stories. It was not only groundbreaking in its approach, but has been recognized as some of the best music Judy has ever made, and was nominated for a Grammy. In regard to the collaboration, Judy explained: “I like the idea of working with other artists and hearing new sounds, the addition of other colors, other viewpoints.” Winter Stories can be seen as a metaphor for Judy’s life because, as we all know, winter is always followed by spring, a time of rebirth and renewal. And it should come as no surprise that the ever-creative Judy Collins is already busy planning new partnerships, more writing, more performing, and multiple other creative projects. The final words in the quest to define Judy Collins are from an Irish newspaper that closely followed her early career. In 1975, they likened Judy to Billie Holiday for the “quality, character, and depth in her singing, [and her ability] to take often seemingly mundane or hackneyed songs and revitalize them.” The conclusion: “Judy Collins, who has always occupied a rather unique position in that she can’t be categorized, offers something that embodies the qualities of art songs and singing, the French chansonier style, the pure, natural voice of the natural folk singer.” The brilliant and multi-talented Judy Collins continues to defy easy categorization as a performer. As a remarkable woman, she remains peerless. In 2020, the ethereal and ever-fresh Judy continues to occupy a unique place in music on both sides of the Atlantic. IA She also has a special place in our hearts.

IA.J.Collins_AD.rev.qxp_IA Template 3/4/20 5:20 PM Page 64

Congratulations to our Beloved



Long May Your Irish Eyes Smile!

IA.HOF-Doherty.rev6.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 7:13 PM Page 50



HALL FAME New York Official Uses Investment Power to Promote Human Rights

Patrick Doherty By Tom Deignan

Pat Doherty (left), his brother Kevin, and their grandmother in the 1960s.


atrick Doherty recalls one of many St. Patrick’s Day parties on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where his parents met, and his grandparents still lived when he was young. “The parade in those days ended at 96th Street. So, each year my grandmother basically invited the whole parade back to their apartment,” Doherty said, seated behind his desk at the downtown Manhattan office where he works as New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s director of corporate governance. The extended Doherty clan was active in social circles with ties to Derry City, where Doherty’s father and grandfather (just two in a long line of boys in the family named Patrick) were born. A photograph from one particular St. Patrick’s Day parade party made its way across the Atlantic and into the Derry Journal newspaper. When young Pat Doherty later studied that newspaper, his eyes were drawn less to the photo of revelers in his grandparents’ apartment, and more to the stamp on the envelope that brought the paper to New York. “I was a precocious six-year-old, so I said to my grandfather, ‘We’re Irish – so how come the Queen of


England’s picture is on the stamp?’ That’s when my grandfather sat me down and explained partition to me.” This was the beginning of what would later become a career focus on Northern Ireland. The personal, for Pat Doherty, became not just political, but professional, even historical. Ultimately, Doherty played a key role in the build-up to the Good Friday Agreement, and what has since become two decades of sometimes fragile but ultimately lasting peace in Northern Ireland. For playing a central role in implementing what came to be called the MacBride Principles, a corporate code of conduct for companies doing business in Northern Ireland, Doherty has earned induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame. “It’s very heartening,” Doherty says of the honor. “I’ve been working on this issue since 1984... Persistence in life is always the key. You have to stick with it.” Those who worked by Doherty’s side said persistence is just one of the many attributes which made the passage and implementation of the MacBride Principles possible. “One would be very hard-pressed to find another leader with as much knowledge and dedication...on matters of great importance to the Irish-American community,” recalls John Dearie, a longtime New York state lawmaker and, for his own contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process, a 2019 Irish America Hall of Fame inductee. “Pat knows these issues inside and out and is very effective at getting them implemented,” adds Dearie. Gerry Adams himself told Irish America: “Pat’s leadership and tireless work on behalf of the MacBride Principles campaign was hugely influential and contributed enormously to its success. He enthusiastically supported the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, and in particular the human rights and equality elements contained within it. He believes in freedom and justice, in the rights of citizens, and in equality. He has given tirelessly and selflessly of his

IA.HOF-Doherty.rev6.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 7:13 PM Page 51

time over many years, staying the course and never losing faith.” While Pat is being honored for his work in Northern Ireland, a significant part of what he does on a daily basis involves promoting corporate adherence to sound environmental, social, and human rights policies. “We monitor the state’s investments for human rights and environmental issues and social responsibility on a global scale. We file proposals to companies on various issues and we get results because we have over $200 billion in state funds and thousands of companies in our portfolio. We are one of the biggest funds in the world, and we have clout,” he explains. Doherty was raised in Massapequa, Long Island. Home to a longtime political junkie, Doherty’s office is packed with mementos and memorabilia befitting an avowed history buff. Statues, photos, and posters honor centuries of public figures, from Thomas Jefferson to British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. One of his favorite items is a bronze bas-relief depicting President Theodore Roosevelt in profile above the quote: “Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords.” He entered the political game while still in college, working on the George McGovern presidential campaign in 1972, and serving as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention. He also worked with Democratic presidential candidates in 1976, and again in 1980 for Irish American Ted Kennedy. Doherty graduated from Hofstra University, and

went on to study International Affairs at Columbia University where a campus visit from Bernadette Devlin McAliskey rekindled his interest in human rights issues in Northern Ireland – something that would stay with him as he went on to pass the New York State bar exam and find work as a public official. He began his career working for the New York State legislature, where he learned the nuts and bolts of how laws were passed, knowledge that would come in handy when he landed a position with the New York City comptroller’s office, and help earn him a place in the history of the Northern Ireland peace process. In hindsight, it might seem a role Doherty was born to play. His grandfather fought in the Irish War for Independence in his native Derry, eventually serving time in both British and southern Irish prisons. “When he got out, he saw what the employment situation for nationalists in the North was,” recalled Doherty. He decided to emigrate to America with his young family, including Doherty’s father. Doherty’s own father, brought to New York at age three, went on to serve in World War II, and settled on Long Island to raise a family. But for all of the lessons Doherty may have learned about partition from his grandfather, it was a different conflict – thousands of miles from Northern Ireland – that gave inspiration to Doherty, as well as Irish-Amer-

TOP LEFT: Patrick Doherty. TOP RIGHT: Doherty with then First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. ABOVE: New York State comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, then Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, and Pat Doherty pictured in the comptroller’s office.


IA.HOF-Doherty.rev6.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 7:13 PM Page 52

TOP LEFT: Working on George McGovern’s presidential campaign in 1972. TOP RIGHT: Doherty’s parents on their honeymoon. ABOVE: Doherty (left), following a meeting that took place in Stormont Castle in 2000 between M.P. Gregory Campbell of the DUP (fourth from left), and an American delegation of human rights observers.

ican activists, in the mid-1980s. By that time, an African-American civil rights activist named Leon Sullivan had devised a unique way to pressure the government of South Africa, which enforced a racially separatist system known as apartheid. What came to be called the Sullivan Principles were designed to ensure that American corporations invested only in South African companies that also fought discrimination. Various Irish and Irish-American groups, most notably Fr. Séan McManus and the Irish National Caucus, had been agitating on the employment issue in Northern Ireland. And Doherty, then working for New York City comptroller Harrison Goldin, was asked to respond to a letter to Goldin from a constituent living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, at the time a heavily Irish neighborhood. “They probably sent it to me because I was the new Irish guy in the office,” Doherty recalls with a laugh, adding: “The letter basically said, ‘It’s good you’re endorsing the Sullivan Principles for South African investments. Why not do the same thing to fight discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland?’” Doherty and others in the comptroller’s office formulated a series of “principles” which linked Ameri-


can investment to anti-discrimination initiatives. Doherty then sought out prominent figures in Irish political circles from varying political backgrounds, enticing them to join a campaign to support these guidelines. Irish statesman and international human rights activist Sean MacBride – a Nobel Peace Prize-winner and founding member of Amnesty International – agreed to “lend his name and prestige to the effort” to link American investment to anti-discrimination initiatives. Billions of dollars in public and private investments would come to be tied to fighting anti-Catholic discrimination in the North. Though many cities and states ultimately signed on to support the MacBride Principles, there was no initial guarantee they would have such a positive impact. In 1985, the New York Times dubbed them “lofty but misguided.” The influential paper editorialized: “The danger is that such exertions could make matters worse. With an unemployment rate of 21 percent, Northern Ireland desperately needs more investment, not less. Adding an American anti-discrimination law to Britain’s is unnecessary and would surely deter the new investors. These interventions from afar would only add to Ulster’s agony.” John Dearie recalls: “This ran into tremendous opposition, particularly in the [New York] State Senate. The feeling was: ‘Why should we restrict these investment decisions?’ Pat was enormously helpful in overcoming that opposition.” Doherty, Dearie, and others held firm in their belief that the MacBride Principles could lead to significant progress during what were some of the most tense days of Northern Ireland’s “Troubles.” It was just a few years after the hunger strikes of 1981. The early 1980s saw an average of over 100 annual deaths due to the ongoing conflict. Irish Americans were deeply stirred by these events and the MacBride Principles campaign gave them a vehicle to press for significant change. The MacBride Principles also highlighted the central role that Irish Americans were ready to play in the peace process.

Untitled-1 1

2/25/20 2:52 PM

IA.HOF-Doherty.rev6.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 7:13 PM Page 54

Doherty’s grandfather, Patrick Doherty (second row, fourth from left), with the Shamrock Rover’s team in Derry, just before he emigrated to the U.S.

Many people in the North were skeptical about their chances for success. “Americans sometimes approach things differently – with more of a ‘can do’ attitude. It’s not ‘Can we do this?’, but ‘How do we get this done?’” Doherty also found that people in the North were sometimes more willing to engage with Americans than they were with each other. “The key was that men and women on all sides of the divide talked to us, and were anxious to tell their story,” Doherty recalls. In the end, the MacBride Principles campaign successfully galvanized Irish Americans, helping to pave the way for the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. Looking back on his many trips to the North at the height of the Troubles, Doherty expresses a mixture of amazement and relief. There were particularly tense moments amidst the bonfires of the July marching season, as well as late-night trips to pubs well known for their patrons’ hard-liner stances. But these visits proved to many that Doherty and other Irish Americans were serious about making progress in the North. “Discrimination was rampant and systemic,” recalls Doherty. “There was virtually no enforcement. The anti-discrimination laws were a joke.” The MacBride Principles were able to succeed, Doherty believes, because they “had teeth.” They were far more substantive than merely passing strongly worded but ultimately superficial resolutions. There were specific incentives for companies to abide by the principles, and penalties for not doing so. Doherty notes, “Catholics in the North were twoand-a-half times more likely to be unemployed. When we talked to some British officials about this they would say things like, ‘Well, [Catholics] lack the Protestant work ethic.’” But once the MacBride Principles were enacted, Doherty and others kept a close eye not just on American investments, but hiring practices and employment figures in the North.


“The key part of all this was that progress had to be institutionalized and today the unemployment rate differential between Catholics and Protestants has virtually disappeared, and one of the chief reasons is that Irish America ushered in the MacBride Principles,” said Doherty. Doherty also believes the principles had such a substantial impact because they did not address the national question directly, but rather attacked the systemic discrimination against nationalists that was one of the root causes of the Troubles. “We were promoting fairness and equality.” Meanwhile, if Doherty has learned anything after nearly four decades monitoring issues related to Northern Ireland, he’s learned to expect the unexpected. In 2016, Northern Ireland emerged as a complicated but central player in the broader and bitter debate over “Brexit” – Great Britain’s exit from the European Union. As Doherty notes, it may well be that Brexit will bring about something many Irish Americans have been waiting for – a united Ireland. “The North voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union,” says Doherty. As he sees it, the economic, social, and political dislocations that will arise from Brexit, combined with shifting demographics and a younger population whose views on history are not as hardened, may lead to a border vote for unifying Ireland and thus rejoining the E.U. Summing up, Doherty says, “The legacy of the MacBride Princlples campaign is threefold: one, it was successful in helping to end the systemic employment discrimination against Catholics that had existed since partition; two, it highlighted the critical importance of the American dimension in resolving the conflict, and helped lead to the critical American interventions during the Clinton administration; and lastly, and perhaps most important, it helped to demonstrate to many people in Ireland that non-violent political action could IA bring about significant change.”

Untitled-2 1

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 10:37 AM

3/16/20 12:23 PM

IA.HOF-KellyREV5.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 8:17 PM Page 56



HALL FAME Visionary Educator and Advocate for “Great and Giving Lives”

Thomas Kelly By Tom Deignan


ifteen years ago, when Thomas Kelly, Ph.D., became Horace Mann School’s Head of School, the independent school’s reputation was already established. Founded in 1887, the N-12 northern Bronx preparatory school has educated generations of the tristate area’s best and brightest, including Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Robert Caro, acclaimed musical composer Elliott Carter, professional tennis player Renée Richards, and celebrated poet William Carlos Williams. Kelly was taken by the school’s vision to educate students to lead “great and giving lives.” To Kelly, though, there was work to be done in realizing that goal. The school’s beautiful campus seemed a world apart from the surrounding Bronx neighborhood, and Kelly believed that Horace Mann School’s students could learn from –

Tom Kelly with his mother, Joan Fee Kelly and his daughter, Emma. RIGHT: Tom’s late father, Edmund J. Kelly, pictured with Tom’s daughter Emma.


and give to – their neighbors. Kelly set that as a priority for his early tenure. Signaling a new era of community and inclusion at Horace Mann School (HM), Kelly changed the school’s official mailing address from “Riverdale” to “The Bronx.” Inclusion is a theme running throughout Kelly’s long, accomplished career as an educator, from classroom teacher to principal to district superintendent: expanding access and equity for all students and families, regardless of background or need, income or ability. “In a nation like ours, in a world like ours, I’m continually fascinated by our collective inability to put kids first. We just can’t seem to get it right. Part of it is poverty. And we’re not going to fix poverty until we fix housing. But it is fixable.” Kelly knows plenty about how poverty, housing, and success are connected. During his senior year at Fairfield University, as part of the research for his senior thesis, Kelly lived among the homeless on the streets of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He wasn’t (in Kelly’s words) “undercover or disguising his life back in Scarsdale.” His life revolved around soup kitchen lines, sleeping on concrete in the cold and rain, and “dumpster diving” for food – which even led to a serious injury, after a dumpster tipped over on his foot. Living shoulder-to-shoulder among individuals who, for a wide and complex variety of reasons, found their way to the street made Kelly see that “homelessness is a non-discriminating issue.” A vivid memory from his time on the streets was the 1987 collapse of L’Ambiance Plaza, a Bridge-

IA.HOF-KellyREV5.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 8:17 PM Page 57

port building under construction, which killed 28 workers. “It was the homeless who rushed in first to aid the injured, before the first responders could get there. They didn’t hesitate for a second,” Kelly recalled. “This confirmed my belief that all people are born with good intentions, kindness, and a warm heart.” For decades now, Kelly has approached education with this ambitious mix of optimism and determination, helping to change the lives of thousands of kids and their families along the way – and earning him induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame. “With my dad having recently passed on, and my mom getting older, I can’t think of any better way to recognize their good work,” said Kelly of the honor. Returning to his parents later in the interview, and how they would feel about his Hall of Fame induction, Kelly paused and said: “I’m going to tear up a bit here. I just wish my dad were alive to see this.” Kelly was born in Washington, D.C., where his father worked as a civilian attorney for the Air Force. The middle child of five (three boys and two girls), Kelly and his family eventually moved to Westchester County, north of New York City, where his Irish background was central to his upbringing. “It was omnipresent in terms of the values and our commitment to others.” Kelly traces his roots back to Tyrone and Cork. “We grew up know-

ing that our connections to Ireland were important, enough so that if you wanted an Irish passport, you could have one. My mom had an Irish passport. That was important to my parents.” Not surprisingly, so was education. “You didn’t have to be perfect,” said Kelly, “but you had to present yourself in the best way at school every day.” He added: “There was a lot of freedom to explore, a lot of freedom to make mistakes.” Spending time with Kelly makes you realize that for him, this freedom was about bringing a new kind of enthusiasm and creativity to learning. By high school, Kelly had also learned valuable lessons at home about service, reeling off a list of civic groups and other organizations for which his parents served as volunteers. “My parents worked awfully hard to not raise us privileged – even within privilege. The message was clear: ‘You’re going to do things on behalf of others.’” Which might explain why, at the tender age of

TOP LEFT: Dr. Kelly in a recent photograph taken on the Horace Mann campus. TOP RIGHT: Dr. Kelly interacting with students at the annual book fair. ABOVE: Dr. Kelly teaching an eighth grade BioPsych elective class.


IA.HOF-KellyREV5.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 8:17 PM Page 58

TOP: Dr. Kelly pictured with Dr. Leeds and Horace Mann students taking the ethics class. ABOVE: Dr. Kelly interacting with elementary school students.

17, Kelly assumed the first of many challenging supervisory roles, as coordinator of a Scarsdale day camp which served over 1,000 children. “I don’t hesitate to jump into the deep end of the pool,” Kelly noted. “I like it there.” Equally satisfying were the connections he was able to forge on an individual level. Kelly has long been an advocate for building connections and coalitions with other like-minded individuals and organizations, including Scarsdale Family Counseling Services and the United Way of Westchester. One of his first roles as a professional educator was as the principal of the Margaret Chap-

man School; he continued to serve that program as a board member for decades. During his time at HM, Kelly has served as a board member for Early Steps, Riverdale Senior Services, the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, and De La Salle Academy. His second year at HM, Kelly appointed then director of guidance Jeremy Leeds (’72) as founding director of the school’s Center for Community Values and Action (CCVA). The center, reflecting Kelly’s dedication to service and education through action, organizes a wide range of initiatives to bring education outside of the classroom. High school students at HM, for example, all participate in multiple service learning projects before they graduate. Kelly was instrumental in shifting HM’s focus from community service to service learning, with the expectation that students will take the time to reflect upon their experiences. Kelly and Leeds have stewarded HM’s service programs with other local groups including the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, Bronx Center for Science & Math, Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, Riverdale Children’s Theatre, the Fuller Center, and HM’s own Summer on the Hill program. In 2015 Kelly met Dave Aldrich, the founder of Grab The Torch (GTT), and was impressed with Aldrich’s determination to empower high school girls by teaching them about leadership, ethics, and philanthropy. Kelly and Leeds co-teach an Continued on page 62.


Congratulations TO MY DEAR FRIEND

Tom Kelly


Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 12:36 PM

Untitled-3 1

3/2/20 4:45 PM

Untitled-3 1

3/2/20 4:51 PM

IA.HOF-KellyREV5.qxp_IA Template 3/3/20 8:17 PM Page 62

Dr. Thomas Kelly continued from page 58.

ABOVE: Joining in a communal meal for the lower division students. TOP RIGHT: The first day of nursery school can be tough. Dr. Kelly is a reassuring presence.

Ethics in School and Society course for high school students, and Kelly decided to include GTT as part of HM’s expanded community services. In 2018, he offered GTT a campus office, further cementing the relationship. “The world needs to know about Tom Kelly,” Aldrich said of Kelly’s induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame. “There isn’t a more deserving human on earth.” Kelly shared, “I was fortunate enough, recently, to be in San Francisco and Los Angeles with young (HM) alumni. And they were all doing these amazing things in college. But the first thing they talked to me about was their service to others. That is what ‘great and giving lives’ is all about.” This message has apparently gotten through to

ture might help alter some of the behavior that has come to dominate public affairs. “Adults are behaving in ways that would get our kindergarteners suspended from a class trip. We need to prioritize respectful discourse while encouraging open debate.” This is just one challenge Kelly feels HM must continue to prepare its students for. Another challenge Kelly has embraced throughout his life is the effort to bring people together with a common goal, a common vision, and a common focus. At HM, Kelly has worked tirelessly to make the school more inclusive and to make sure that others are aware of students’ and families’ diversity.

“I was fortunate enough, recently, to be in San Francisco and Los Angeles with young (HM) alumni. And they were all doing these amazing things in college. But the first thing they talked to me about was their service to others. This is what ‘great and giving lives’ is all about.” many HM graduates – including Kelly’s own daughter, Emma. A 2018 graduate now studying at Brown University, Emma recently joined a volunteer program in which she offers her time at grade schools in some of Providence, Rhode Island’s toughest neighborhoods. Beyond the focus on service, Kelly believes that today’s students need to be educated to see the world through a global lens. Kelly adds that seeing issues and concerns as part of a much bigger pic62 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

“Difference is the only thing we all share at the end of the day,” says Kelly, before pausing and adding: “I look at how my own ancestors were welcomed. They were given a place to live; they were given an opportunity. I worry sometimes that we forget that the American Dream is still there every day. Why can’t we stop and celebrate that?” Kelly has made a long, impressive career of doing just that, while epitomizing what it means to lead a IA “great and giving life.”


St. Patrick’s College Maynooth sets a bold agenda for a new generation of faith-based leaders who will play a unique and crucial role in the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland and worldwide.

Untitled-1 1

3/5/20 6:06 PM

Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth at the intersection of past, present and future. By Turlough McConnell

Above: St. Patrick’s House from St. Joseph’s Square. A.W.N. Pugin (1812-52), one of Britain’s most influential architects, designed the extension to St. Patrick’s College Maynooth, commissioned one year after he completed work on the interior of London’s Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament.) Cover: Main entrance to St. Patrick’s House called The President’s Arch.

Untitled-1 1


aint Patrick’s College Maynooth was founded on June 5, 1795, as the Royal College of Saint Patrick. The date was established by an Act of Parliament signed by George III (1738-1820), who reluctantly assented to the ‘”Act for the Better Education of persons professing the Popish or Roman Catholic religion.” George was reputed to have said, “Giving this education to Catholic papists pains me more than the loss of the American colonies.” This landmark decision was the result of the shifting geopolitical landscape across Europe and North America in the late 18th century. The population of Ireland was increasing, and the growing number of Catholics faced a shortage of priests, but the Penal Laws forbade the education and training of priests in Ireland. Irishmen wishing to enter the priesthood were sent to seminaries on the continent, mostly in France; by the late 1700s, nearly 500 men were in these institutions. But these colleges shut down due to political unrest in France that culminated in the French Revolution of 1789. By 1793, the remaining schools were shuttered because of religious suppression. The Penal Laws The gradual relaxation of the Penal Laws made it possible for a Catholic college to be built in Ireland. Irish bishops made an urgent appeal to the government, warning that students sent to France might be infected with revolutionary zeal. The British government was amenable to the Irish bishops’ request, allowing for the establishment of a Catholic college in Ireland under the watchful eye of the authorities. The Trustees bought Stoyte House in Maynooth, 17 miles west from Dublin, on the property of the Duke of Leinster’s land steward. St. Patrick’s College was born. In 1845, both to accommodate the growing number of students and to improve relations with the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland, a grant to expand the college was provided by Parliament under Prime Minister Robert Peel. Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852), a pioneering Brit-

3/5/20 6:24 PM

Above: President Rev. Michael Mullaney with Dr. Philip Gonzales and Dr. Gaven Kerr, of the Faculty of Philosophy and Dr. Aoife McGrath, Director of Pastoral Studies. Top: Class of 2019. Rosemary O’Brien, Samantha Finn, Michelle Wall and Adam Barnes were among the first students to receive Baccalaureate of Theology & Arts degrees, awarded by St. Patrick’s College Pontifical University in conjunction with Maynooth University.

Untitled-1 1

ish architect and leading exponent of the Gothic revival, designed a large extension, including a library, refectory for over 500 seminarians, accommodations for staff and students, spacious cloisters, and a college chapel. The chapel took another 30 years to be completed by J.J. McCarthy in 1875. The latter decades of the 1800s and early 1900s were the halcyon days of Catholic studies in Ireland. Over 11,000 men prepared at St. Patrick’s for ordination to the priesthood; they went on to serve in parishes and missionaries worldwide. St. Patrick’s continued to grant degrees in theology up to and following its charter as a Pontifical University in 1896. Thousands of lay students have gone from Maynooth to work as religious educators, catechists, pastoral assistants, philosophers and theologians, making a lasting contribution to the work of the Church across the globe. A New Century The complexion of the college changed in 1966, when the Trustees decided to develop the College as an open center of higher studies and admit lay students. With the passing of the Universities Act of 1997, the Irish Government created an independent Maynooth University on St. Patrick’s 180-acre campus. Since then, Ireland’s unique university town has been home to a trio of learning centers: St. Patrick’s College National Seminary, St. Patrick’s Pontifical University, and the public Maynooth University. Maynooth University is Ireland’s fastest-growing university. The modern campus, occupying about 100 acres, serves over 13,000 enrolled students. A public road from the older southern campus, with Pugin’s 19th century buildings, which houses the seminary and the Pontifical University, separates it. Recent years have witnessed a steep decline in the number of men entering the priesthood – not surprising, in light of the global abuse scandals. This situation begs the question of just what role a National Seminary and a Pontifical University play in today’s complex world.

3/5/20 6:27 PM

“I can see the strength that St. Patrick’s College Maynooth has given me in my role as a healthcare chaplain. It’s more than academic teaching – Maynooth instills in you a way of thinking, a way of seeing the world with a wider lens. You gain a greater perspective.” Julianna Crowley Healthcare Chaplain Cork University Hospital

“Formation to be a priest involves four key areas – academic study, human development, spiritual growth and pastoral experience. These “pillars” help a seminarian best respond to his vocation in a wholesome and holistic manner. The formation I received at Maynooth has enhanced and strengthened me. I will be ordained a priest in June 2020.” Deacon Shane Costello Final Year Seminarian

Untitled-1 1

Maynooth, a center of church music, offers famed Christmas carol services and annual choral performances to the public. The crisis that the Catholic Church faces cannot be underestimated. Timothy Egan, in Pilgrimage to Eternity, describes it as a body blow to “a church struggling to hold together the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics through the worst crisis in half a millennium.” There is reason for hope – but only by confronting the challenges head-on and enlisting support from the secular world, especially women. Pope Francis Before his visit to Ireland in August 2018, as part of the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis condemned the secrecy, ambition and self-preservation of the culture of clericalism that he claimed led to the crisis. Francis has long railed against elitist priests who put themselves above their parishioners and invest themselves with an unreachable authority. “To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism,” Francis wrote in his letter of apology to all Catholics at the time of his visit. His message has not gone unheard in Ireland. Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Primate of All Ireland and Chancellor of the Pontifical University at Saint Patrick’s, echoes Francis’s commitment. In his unsparing address to 230 lay women and men at the Annual Graduation Ceremony last November, Dr. Martin conferred the first group of students with dual Baccalaureate in Theology and Arts degrees at Maynooth University. “As lay women and men, clerics and religious, you, and your contemporaries from every third-level institution in this country, are going out into a society which is struggling with complex issues and questions – from human trafficking and homelessness, to migration and direct provision; from gangland violence and economic uncertainty, to finding a shared vision for lasting peace and reconciliation on this island; and that’s not to mention the complex challenges presented by climate change and caring for the future of planet earth, our common home.” A Public University The measure of the Church’s success will be in the local efforts as well as the national. At the commencement, Archbishop Martin shared his vision for St Patrick’s as “a vibrant Pontifical University alongside a dynamic National Seminary and a Center for Ongoing Formation, both linking ever more closely with Maynooth University.” The

3/5/20 6:29 PM

“As a television correspondent for RTE it is my job to tell the stories of the people who live in my region; tragic road accidents and ongoing feuds. I have to get to the heart and the facts and the real stories out there for people, and the course in St. Patrick’s has helped me to do that.” Sinéad Hussey Graduate; RTE North East Correspondent

“I can draw so many comparisons between my life in the GAA and my time in St. Patrick’s – both institutions are seeking to provide an environment where people belong, where people are loved, where they’re given an opportunity to grow and develop, and nobody is turned away regardless of their faith or where they’re from.” Ger Brennan Alumnus; Former Dublin Footballer Head of Gaelic Games at UCD

Untitled-1 1

The cloisters provide ample space for students gathering in all seasons.

presence of a public university beside St. Patrick’s may prove key to the success of the college going forward--and help to advance its mission. Reverend Professor Michael Mullaney, President of St. Patrick’s, approaches the current state of affairs with a forward-looking attitude. He understands the need for reaching beyond the Church as a step toward healing. “In Ireland and across the globe, there is a deep human hunger for spirituality and faith renewal, and our students will be central to this transformation. Today an increasing number of lay undergraduates and post-graduate students, along with our seminarians, will go on to assume key pastoral roles in parishes, schools and communities across Ireland and further afield.” A Forward-thinking Church The 2018 appointment of Fr. Tomás Surlis as Rector of the National Seminary sent an optimistic signal. Surlis is excited by the challenges and opportunities of his position: “As our Church responds to some of the most significant changes in its lifetime, the responsibility of St. Patrick’s remains unaltered. To form rounded, compassionate and committed Catholic leaders – both priests and laity – to serve in our parishes and our communities and society.” President Mullaney and Rector Surlis are strongly committed to collaboration. With Surlis in place at the seminary, Mullaney can exercise leadership by conveying the clear, overarching vision for St. Patrick’s, which “will remain at the heart of ensuring a vibrant and forward-thinking Church.” Professor Declan Marmion, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, recognizes the need for outreach from the Pontifical University. “Today, more than ever, the Church needs confident, articulate voices who can communicate their faith in a credible and coherent way.” Marmion is committed to re-affirming the Pontifical University as an ecclesiastical center of excellence in teaching, learning and research. “At St. Patrick’s, our aim is to produce graduates – lay and cleric, male and female – who are fluent in the Catholic intellectual tradition, open, integrated and socially engaged. We need to present the beauty of Christianity and its wisdom to a society in need of such a vision.” He continues: “We are preparing the next generation of Christian leaders. Our students will work as teachers in schools, as parish pastoral workers, chaplains and elsewhere in the public ser-

3/5/20 6:17 PM

“Six precious years in Maynooth led me to a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. The multi-cultural atmosphere of the college fostered in me an open mind that enables dialogue with different traditions and cultures. Now, working as a priest in Misiones, Argentina, the experiences of studying in Maynooth, have become inestimable treasures for me.” Fr. Yang Shuai Divine World Missionary

“The receipt of the Eriugena Scholarship has helped in a multitude of ways for my academic career. It has allowed a genuine sense of focus, and enabled me to become truly invested in my studies, without which I would not have progressed to the point that I am now going forward to get my PhD.” Nicole O’Riordan Scholarship Awardee 2016 – 2019

Untitled-1 1

National Seminary Rector Fr. Tomás Surlis welcomes 13 new seminarians in 2019. vice, while ordained ministers serve as pastors in Ireland and abroad. We help our graduates to develop a love of the Church while at the same time being aware of its faults and limitations. Their job is to bring about a new kind of Church: more inclusive, evangelizing, and engaged with today’s world.” A Future Direction What is the future of priestly formation in a world where the Church needs to reset? A 2017 conference at St. Patrick’s Pontifical University brought together theologians, psychologists, and seminary rectors and teachers to discuss future directions. Reporting in the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, Dean Marmion and Salvador Ryan, Professor of Ecclesiastical History, outlined the consensus view of the conference that, by ordination the priest should have reached a stage of “affective maturity”: comfortable with his celibacy and able to relate easily with women and men. Gone are the days of seminaries as exclusively male bastions cut off from the world where “lone ranger” priests predominate. Today’s seminary is more likely to be at the centre of a vibrant university campus where seminarians study alongside lay students, and where pastoral placements in parishes, hospitals, schools and prisons are a regular feature of their training. In addition, the Church must adapt to the changing demographics of those entering priestly training, who are now more likely to have worked for several years. Many have experienced long-standing, stable, intimate relationships, while others have “returned” to the faith, perhaps after a significant “conversion experience.” Both pathways present challenges. The zeal of converts (or, indeed, “reverts”) needs time to mature. The corrective is a return to the experience of Church as community. Two speakers at the conference, Brenda Dolphin RSM and John Kartje of the Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, highlighted the importance of laypeople, especially women, in the discernment process. When seminarians interact with women (single, married and religious), as person to person in a friendly and mature manner, they are more likely as priests to appreciate the role and leadership of laywomen and men in ministry. Ultimately, Marmion and Ryan conclude that there is no one solution to seminary reform. The best practice is to encourage creativity and empower episcopal conferences to draw up guidelines for priestly formation to suit

3/5/20 6:18 PM

“Stationed in a community that was one of the worst affected during the troubles, I have learnt that the priest is that person who can bridge divides. My time in St. Patrick’s has given me an understanding of a Church that is more than just a building; it’s given me a foundation in theology that I can develop day to day.” Fr. Tony McAleese Ordained in 2018, Curate North Belfast

“God willing, I will be ordained to the Priesthood in 2021. My pastoral experiences in various parishes, hospitals, and schools and in youth ministry initiatives have demonstrated that we are going through an exciting period in the Church’s history. There’s an abundance of potential in today’s secularized culture. John Gerard Acton 5th year Seminarian

Untitled-1 1

The Pope John Paul II Library jointly accommodates students from St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and Maynooth University. The library opened in 1984. local circumstances. To implement Pope Francis’s vision, seminaries will need to replace the clericalist model with an approach based on discipleship, service, mercy and forgiveness. Monumental Challenges The challenges of the future for the Church are monumental. However, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth occupies a unique position in the effort toward renewal. That transformation has come through a synthesis of academic, ecclesiastical and lay missions that remain deeply integrated in the modern world – while honoring traditions of the past. Today, the visitor to Saint Patrick’s College will encounter a sacred place where knowledge has flourished for more than two centuries. Here, thousands of priests have been ordained, and as many lay students have received training. Here, poetry was written, and the Irish language was spoken. Music was composed by those housed within some of the world’s finest architecture. The eclectic history of St. Patrick’s can be re-affirmed for the present and future, as Maynooth University president Fr Mullaney conveyed in his 2019 address to 200 delegates of the National Convention of St. Joseph’s Young Priests Society. He invoked Pope Francis’s 2013 document, The Joy of the Gospel: “Christianity was born on the road; and roads are open to everyone. We are journeying together on that road with believer and non-believer alike. We are not on a special segregated street, but humbly walk with everyone else asking the same questions, facing the same struggles. “Pope Francis calls for a Church that is not self-referential, that goes out of itself… This will mean a realignment of all our church institutions, hospitals, and schools, which were established and flourished in a different time.” Today, President Mullaney, his faculty and staff, and the students, are inspired both by the golden days of St. Patrick’s College and by the promise of the present and the future of Maynooth. For them, the real work lies ahead. Turlough McConnell gratefully acknowledges the contributions of: Caroline Tennyson, Jim O’Connor, John Egan, Mary O’Kennedy, Barbara McCormack and James Murphy. Designer: Andrew Patapis Design. Editor: Judith Rodgers. Photography by Tony G. Murray, courtesy of SPCM.

3/5/20 6:19 PM

Alive in Hope: Transforming Tomorrow Join St. Patrick’s College Maynooth in preparing future generations of faith-based leaders for service in communities around the world.

St. Patrick’s College is uniquely positioned to create the change called for in our parishes and communities. To fulfill our mission, we need to provide:

In these challenging times of social renewal and transformation, the new, innovative initiatives of St. Patrick’s College Maynooth stay current by emphasizing ministerial needs, world religions and ecumenical perspectives. Our post-graduate programs grant diplomas and certifications to those currently in full-time religious service who wish to enhance their ministerial skills and deepen their knowledge of today’s society and Church.

• Gospel value-based faith formation for our seminarians; • World-class tuition for our increasing number of lay students; and • An environment that requires and promotes excellence. Thank you for your continued interest and support.We look forward to sharing our progress with you over the months and years ahead.

Please join us in advancing our goals by supporting our Alive in Hope: Transforming Tomorrow campaign for Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth. For more information please contact: Reverend Professor, Fr. Michael Mullaney, President | Fr. Tomás Surlis, Rector of the National Seminary IRELAND: President’s Office, St. Patrick’s College | Maynooth, Co. Kildare, W23 TW77, Ireland Tel: 00353 (0) 1 708 3958 | Fax: 00353 (0) 1 708 3959 | E-mail: president@spcm.ie | Web: www. Maynoothcollege.ie NORTH AMERICA: Mr. Jim O’Connor, Director of Development U.S. | Tel: (781) 829-0584 | E-mail: jim.oconnor@spcm.ie A Special Supplement for Irish America in partnership with St. Patrick’s College Maynooth.

Untitled-1 1

3/5/20 6:21 PM

Untitled-5 1

2/25/20 11:46 AM

IA.HOF-McGarvey.final5.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 6:21 PM Page 72



HALL FAME Labor Leader Promoting Diversity

Sean McGarvey

By Patricia Harty

Sean McGarvey and his wife Shari on a trip to Ireland. April, 2019


ean McGarvey began his career as a glazier, so it’s fitting that he has an office with a view. And what a view! McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), has an unobstructed view of the White House from his office in the union’s headquarters on 16th Street in Washington, D.C. Not bad for a guy who was fresh out of high school when he began his apprenticeship in Philadelphia with the glaziers’ local union 252, in 1981. You could argue that McGarvey’s journey to lead a three million-strong union began in infancy when he was a two-year-old and his father, a teamster, moved his family to Northeast Philadelphia, a bluecollar neighborhood, filled with cops, firemen, teachers, constructions workers, factory workers, and tradespeople. Many of their new neighbors had Irish connections, and most of them were in a union. “When we first moved to northeast Philly, my parents didn’t know anyone other than the McCabes, the family who sold us our new home,” he says. Mr. McCabe offered to help the McGarveys settle into the neighborhood and introduced his three teenagers as potential babysitters for Sean and his four-year-old sister, Tricia. The middle McCabe daughter, Jerry, became young Sean’s babysitter, and that connection would play an important part in his life going forward. Jerry and her future husband put him on the path to being a union man, a critical identity of his life. “The union was your most expedited ticket to the middle class, and people strived for that,” McGarvey said of the ethos of community he grew up in. It all started on a snowy day on McGarvey’s first winter out of high school, “I ran into Mr. McCabe in the neighborhood diner and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was installing aluminum siding,


but that I wasn’t working that day because of the weather. And he said, ‘Hey, my sonin-law is running the glaziers’ union now, you should think about becoming a glazier. I’ll connect you with Jim.’” McCabe’s sonin-law was Jim Williams, married to Jerry McCabe, Sean’s former babysitter and the coach of his former little league baseball team. “Long story short,” McGarvey says, “I took the test, had the interview, got accepted into an apprenticeship, and started on June 1, 1981.” “So your babysitter opened a window for you,” I suggested, and drew a hint of a smile from McGarvey. “Absolutely. A good one.” McGarvey is a big man. At six-foot-two with a shaved head because he doesn’t have the patience to deal with his hair, he gives off a rugged, tough edge. He puts one in mind of a linebacker ready to jump to the defense of his players, his members, but as we settle into our conversation, his demeanor softens – less linebacker, more union cheerleader. Did you like being a glazier? “I loved being a glazier. When my career began, it was during a time of transition as the greatest generation was starting to retire. I was working with a lot of World War II vets. As a student of history, I found their stories fascinating: where they were and what they did. It was just unbelievable. Back then, I worked with Kenny Fetters, who was a tank commander in Patton’s army. I worked with ‘Old Man’ Blineberry, who was on the Bataan Death March, and I worked with Snuffy Smith, the Santa Claus at our local union with his full white beard. He was a paratrooper who landed behind enemy lines on D-Day.” Working with these veterans when he first joined the union was a great experience for McGarvey. “This cast of characters are all gone now, but they had, as I have always been amazed by, ‘seen it all, done at all, killed it all, and watched it all be killed’ when they were 18, 19, 20 years old. That was for their country; when they came home, it was about

IA.HOF-McGarvey.final5.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 6:21 PM Page 73

their community, their union, their church and – most importantly – their family. They literally built their way into the middle class.” McGarvey began making upward strides to the middle class in the union almost right away. “I had some acumen and worked hard. Jim Williams encouraged me along the way to participate and volunteer: all the things that you need to do to make a successful local union.” Williams urged McGarvey to run for office in 1985, “So I became recording secretary. I did that until 1994, when I was elected business agent.”

MOVING ON UP! Serendipity was also at play when it came to McGarvey’s next career move. At a party celebrating McGarvey’s election to business agent, A.L “Mike” Monroe, the general president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), asked McGarvey to come work for him as an international representative. The two had known each other since McGarvey was a young apprentice. Within six months, in January 1995, McGarvey was working for Monroe, and again for Jim Williams, who was now IUPAT’s general vice president Allied Trades Region. When Monroe retired, his son Michael Monroe succeeded him as president, and he promoted McGarvey to a vice president role. Then, when Jim Williams took over as IUPAT president, he gave McGarvey the additional responsibilities of

government affairs director. In this role, he engaged with the legislative task force of North America’s Building Trades Unions and met Ed Sullivan, who was the NABTU president at the time. Sullivan recognized a leader in McGarvey, and asked him to run in 2005 for NABTU Secretary-Treasurer, which he did – and won. So began his rise to the top. Ed Sullivan retired from NABTU in 2008, and Mark Ayers became the NABTU president for the next four years. When Mark died suddenly in 2012, McGarvey succeeded him as president. “That’s how I got here,” McGarvey says. “Somebody helped me and looked out for me every step along the way. A lot of it I did on my own. I got up in the morning, did my work, was thoughtful, and worked hard. But nobody gets anywhere in this world without people helping them.” As the leader of NABTU, which has 14 building trade unions under its aegis, McGarvey always sticks to his modus operandi, which is – borrowing from his own life story – “to focus on helping workers get to the middle class through the construction trades, and the membership always comes first.”

TOP RIGHT: At the Easter Parade in Belfast, April, 2019. ABOVE: Sean, Criona Ni Dalaigh (lord mayor of Dublin in 2016), Sean’s mother, Patricia and his daughter Kelsey. LEFT: On the job: Sean (right) with a union member.


IA.HOF-McGarvey.final5.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 6:22 PM Page 74

TOP: Sean McGarvey at his desk in Washington, D.C., with a view of the White House in the background. TOP RIGHT: Kelsey McGarvey, Sean, his father Jack, and his mother Patricia. ABOVE: Patrick Donaghey and his wife, Annie. CENTER: McGarvey’s office is replete with photographs of meetings with influencers of the day, including Presidents Obama and Trump, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, and family photographs and memorabilia, including this shadow box of mementos of his grandfather’s time in the Navy in WWII.

He’s also making diversity central to the union’s mission, which means more inclusion of underserved communities: women, people of color, veterans, and the formerly incarcerated. Asked how the union is different now from over five decades ago, he says: “We have a keen focus on recruiting at-risk communities, minorities, women, and veterans, so I would say we are much more diversified now. Second, there’s a cultural change – we now see the owner as a customer and client, not an adversary. We’re in sales, and what we sell is skilled manpower – the finest, safest construction craft workforce in the world. It’s good. These rightful changes are why we continue to grow and have gained over 400,000 new members in the last six years.”

trades. For the past seventeen years, we’ve helped over thirty-six thousand service men and women get into the trades. Not only have they gone through apprenticeship, many are journey-level status now and at various levels of leadership in their unions.” “It’s some of the most rewarding work we do,” McGarvey says. War stories aside, he respects the discipline armed servicemen and women bring to the job. “We’re talking about a group of people who have all the soft skills, know how to work as a team, and how to take orders. They get up in the morning, and get the work done on time to the best of their ability – all of the things you need in the construction industry, and on a construction site. It’s been great for them, it’s been great for us, and it’s been great for our contractors, clients, and the construction users that we serve. We’re happy that almost everybody in the country does it now, but our program was way ahead of the curve.” McGarvey is proud of many aspects of his job, but feels the best thing (perhaps because it echoes his experience) are the apprenticeship programs. “When you take somebody from a community that hasn’t had a lot of opportunity over a couple of generations, and you help flatten the road a little bit for them, and they make it: that is what it’s all about. The satisfaction that you get from that “thank you” letter or card saying how important it was for them, or their family, to get into the program – and then, to see them succeed – is the most rewarding thing.” NABTU assists in setting up these programs by developing curricula, training trainers, and supporting programs at large, but they are managed regionally across the United States and Canada. For instance, in New York City, the program operates out of the Eddie Malloy Center.

HELMETS TO HARDHATS Impressed by the veterans who inspired his pathway, President McGarvey was keen to expand the Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) program put together by Ed Sullivan. “When soldiers were first coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, we had an extraordinarily high number of veterans unemployed. Ed connected with Matthew Caulfield, a major general retired from the Marine Corps, and they came up with the idea to start a program that would help transitioning military personnel, either active duty or guard and reserve, get into registered apprenticeship programs and into our


FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE In addition to Helmets to Hardhats, NABTU works with Urban League, Youth Build, different church and community groups, education and school counselor associations, major corporations like Southern Company, and executives like Alabama Power’s Mark Crosswhite, and Jamie Dimon from J.P. Morgan, who help support apprenticeship readiness programs that usually last six to eight weeks. “ARPs are like an introduction to the trades. We introduce them to blueprint reading, applied STEM, health and safety, and then get them ready to take registered ap-

IA.HOF-McGarvey.final5.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 6:22 PM Page 75

prenticeship tests. Our registered apprenticeship programs, all over the US. and Canada, commit to taking as many of the successful candidates as they can, and then they’re either in a three or five-year apprenticeship program. It’s phenomenal.”

A SECOND CHANCE Getting the opportunity to be introduced to the trades is one thing, but McGarvey says there are still other stumbling blocks that underserved communities face, in particular the formerly incarcerated. “The requirements to get on federal reservation sites, such as an Air Force base or a federal office building – construction workers with a felony conviction couldn’t get on them.” McGarvey and his team “contributed our experience” to the Trump administration on the issue. “We met with policymakers multiple times to talk about our programs, and how we do it.” Most recently, McGarvey was very pleased to see the First Step Act passed to change the law on employing the formerly incarcerated. Giving people a second chance is something that McGarvey is big on. “My dad spent a little time in reform school. But he turned out to be a phenomenal father, and a phenomenal husband. You know, just a great guy. He was a teamster and worked two jobs, most of the time.” McGarvey’s still trying to piece together the hardscrabble story of his father’s early life. He knows that his grandfather on the McGarvey side lost three wives in childbirth, and that when he lost the last one, he was unable to focus on his children. “After he couldn’t take care of the family, the four youngest – including my father – were all split up. My dad lived with a series of different families in different neighborhoods for a good six years.” “My dad had an older stepbrother, Uncle Pete, who got out of the Navy at 20, got married, and had a small apartment. He and his young bride went and gathered up all of the kids and brought them home. At that time, my dad and his siblings were around twelve, thirteen, and fourteen years old.” McGarvey’s sister Colleen, who is working on their father’s story, came across a newspaper article about seven-year-old Jack McGarvey being hit by a trolley car. Considering other life-altering incidences, she says she doesn’t know how their father survived his early life.

BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME Just as Uncle Pete took in his father and the McGarvey kids, his great-grandmother, Annie Heaney, raised his mother. “Annie grew up in Limavady, a townland in County Derry where her father was the local cobbler. They were Catholics. They knew their situation in the North was not good. A bitter civil war was raging over the partition of Ireland, and they were in British-occupied County Derry. Annie asked her parents if she could go to America, and they reluctantly agreed. “Friends and families scraped together fifty dollars, and twenty-year-old

Annie got on a boat with an overcoat and a suitcase,” he says. Landing in Boston, the cobbler’s daughter found work in a shoe factory. A few years later, she moved to Philadelphia, where she met Frank Donaghey, another immigrant from Northern Ireland, County Tyrone. They met at St. Veronica’s church, fell in love, got married, and had six children – their Irish-American family. Annie maintained a positive disposition about her new country, but her husband Frank was difficult to be around. McGarvey recalls this from his mother’s testimony: “He was bitter, and angry, and never got over the discrimination he experienced early in life.” While Annie’s economic situation hadn’t advanced much, she wanted her children to have a better life and more opportunity in America. When the war came,

and her boys were able-bodied, she took them down to send them off to fight for her country. And then she prayed for their return. McGarvey says, “Every night, around five o’clock, a military staff car would start driving through the neighborhood and all of the women would stand on their porches and hope that car didn’t stop at their house. None of them wanted a letter from the president thanking them for the sacrifice of their son, or a gold star to put in their window.” Patrick Donaghey, Annie’s oldest son, was 32 years old when he joined up. As a union sign painter, he became a Seabee in the Navy’s construction battalion. The Seabees fought alongside the U.S. Marines across the South Pacific. To Patrick, it was an adventure. “He was the only person I ever talked to who thought that the war was a wonderful experience. He used to say, ‘The places I went, and the people I met there… If it wasn’t for the war, I would never have seen the Pacific.” Sadly, while Patrick was away in the South Pacific, his wife dropped out of sight, and his baby daughter, Patricia, wound up in an orphanage. No one knew where the young girl was. It wasn’t until 1945 that her grandmother, Annie Heaney, finally found her and brought her home. “My mother was exceedingly close to her grandmother,” McGarvey says. Even today, she speaks of

TOP: Sean’s mother, center, with her Irish cousins in Limavady, Co. Derry. ABOVE: Sean, with his faithful companions, Gomers and Meany.


IA.HOF-McGarvey.final5.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 6:22 PM Page 76

her with reverence and awe. And the love was reciprocated. Annie would fill the young girl’s head with stories of growing up in Limavady and share with her the letters from home. “The amazing part to me, given the world we live in today, is that when Annie got on that boat, she never saw or spoke to her parents again. But throughout her life, they had beautiful correspondence back and forth, and lots of letters were written. We’re grateful that those survived. My mother saved all that stuff.” Other mementos survived as well. “He loved having his photograph taken,” McGarvey says, showing me a shadow box of mementos from his grandfather’s travels that he keeps in his office. All of Annie’s sons came home from the war; they all got union jobs, and they never left home again. When Annie died in 1968, she had three sons and a daughter, who still lived with her.

A VISIT TO LIMAVADY In 2016, McGarvey decided it was time to take his mother “home.” It was the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, and there was a big contingent of North American labor going over for the groundbreaking for the Conno-lly Center in Belfast (James Connolly, one of the leaders of the Rising, had American labor connections). “I took my youngest daughter and my mom and dad. We hired a car and driver and went to Derry. We found St. Patrick’s parish in Limavady. We didn’t know anyone there, but we found the church and snapped gravestone pictures of all the Heaneys and Donagheys. My mom wanted to talk to the priest, but he was in another town doing a funeral. Some lady randomly drove up outside the parish, and my mom got to talking to her, telling her she’d been hoping to talk to the priest. And the lady said, ‘Oh, there’s a woman who lives three doors down who knows everything about everybody. Do you want me to ask her if she’ll see you?’ Within a couple minutes, the lady was back, and long story short, we got in our van, drove down to the house and went in. There were three women there, and two of them were my mom’s second cousins. “My mom’s grandmother and their grandmother were sisters. These ladies had books of photographs and connected an unbelievable amount of dots for my mother about our extended family. “My mother was so thrilled. She told me her life is complete now that she made this connection. My mom doesn’t do email, but my daughter stayed in touch with one of these women. About three months after our trip, she sent my mom a painting of the house where my great-grandmother was born, under Thieves’ Hill. It had been painted by a nun around 1928.”

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP McGarvey’s office is lined with photographs and memorabilia; casual snapshots of his parents, his children, step-children, grandchildren, and his wife, Shari, line the walls and the window sill, framing its view of the White House. Mixed in with the family photographs are pictures of McGarvey with political heavyweights, including Presidents Clinton, Obama, and Trump. There is one of him and Hillary – “A good woman” he respected like no other – whom he bled for trying to get her elected, and wept for when she didn’t make it. His beloved French bulldogs Gomers and Meany sit on his desk, which is his most prized possession as a union leader because it was Geroge Meaney’s desk. He claims to be bipartisan as a registered Independent, after many years as a Democrat. “I believe that there’s probably ten percent of right-wing Republicans who believe it and live it. There’s ten percent of ultra-liberal Democrats who believe it and live it. And then there’s that eighty percent in the middle who are moder76 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

Annie in her later years with her son Patrick and her great grandkids, Sean and Tricia.

ate, who, I believe, if not for the politics, would work together across the aisle for the betterment of the nation.” McGarvey keeps his most important keepsakes in a drawer in his desk. These are letters from people saying how being accepted into the union’s apprenticeship program changed their lives. There is one from Dawn Benitez, a woman from Waynesboro County, Georgia, who was a former staff sergeant with the U.S. Army. Dawn served with distinction, earning an Iraq Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star. “I talk about Dawn a lot,” he says. “After her service to our nation, like too many veterans, she struggled to find meaningful employment. She was homeless and she and her daughter lived in her car. Through our apprenticeship readiness program in conjunction with Southern Company, she went to work in the ironworkers’ union as a registered apprentice. Now, she has been in the business for about eight years. She is completely self-sufficient and a phenomenal iron worker. The woman’s story would crush you because that opportunity changed her world.” “There are thousands of stories like that. When I have the bad days that we have in this business, and want to pull my hair out or go get a stiff drink, I keep letters and stories like hers in my drawer. Many times, I just pop one of them out to read at the end of the day. I remind myself that our focus is to create ladders of opportunity to help people get to the middle class through registered apprenticeship and unionized construction trades. That’s really why we do it.” IA Sean McGarvey has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is a graduate of Harvard University’s Trade Union Program. Married to his lovely wife, Shari, Sean has two daughters, two step-daughters, and two grandchildren named Lucas and Leah. For more of this interview, including how McGarvey got to Harvard, what he thinks of The Irishman, and why he switched from being a Democrat to an Independent, visit Irishamerica.com

Untitled-2 1

2/25/20 3:17 PM

IA.HOF-Murphy10.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 5:27 PM Page 78



HALL FAME Family, Faith, Fidelity, & Financial Independence

Kathleen Murphy By Darina Molloy

May 11, 2018: Kathleen Murphy, who graduated in 1987 with a Juris Doctor degree with highest honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law, receives an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from U-Conn.


t may be an over-used chestnut at times, but that “there is no ‘I’ in team” is still a popular phrase in the worlds of sport and industry. And Kathleen Murphy, a team player to her fingertips, is the epitome of someone who believes in the importance of “we” rather than “I” when it comes to getting things done. Is this valuable characteristic something that harks back to her high school sporting days? She certainly seems to think so. Her swim training (to state championship level), along with her participation in basketball, she acknowledges, taught her an early lesson about the importance of teamwork, both “on the field and in business.” Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Murphy – the president of Fidelity Personal Investing (a unit of Fidelity Investments) and one of the top 50 most powerful women in business – is still convinced of the value of teamwork. To this end, there’s no separating herself from the rest of her colleagues and closing the office door behind her: “Everyone’s on the same team, and there’s no reason for me to have an office… We don’t have offices anymore because it’s all about collaborating together in teams. I gave up my office several years ago.” With a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science, followed by a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law, Murphy – known as Kat or Murph to friends, family, and close colleagues – initially worked in the legal department at Aetna, rising to general counsel and chief compliance officer. After Aetna sold its financial services to ING, she switched from legal matters to the business side, becoming CEO of ING U.S. Wealth Management – and later moving to Boston to take on her role at Fidelity. In this role she has responsibility for Fidelity’s retail brokerage, mutual fund, IRA,


insurance, and managed accounts businesses. The teamwork started early for Murphy, who grew up in Connecticut as the third of six children. Her father, a salesman whose Murphy and Ahern forebears hailed from Cork, and her mom, a nurse with Connors and Reardons from Kerry in her bloodline, raised their three boys and three girls in a traditional Irish-Catholic family. “They drilled into us the importance of faith, family, hard work, and being good people,” she said in an interview with Irish America in 2019. The importance of sticking together – on another team – was also nailed down at an early age, with Murphy’s father telling his offspring: “You guys can fight among yourselves as much as you need to, but as soon as you walk out that door, you support your brothers and sisters.” It was her dad’s sudden death at 57 which Murphy also credits with eventually influencing her current career path. With the division of roles in the family having been fairly traditional – Murphy’s mom paid the bills while her dad did the investing – Murphy helped her mother navigate the new reality of having to manage her finances in the best way possible. With three kids still in college, this would be quite the challenge. Recalls Murphy: “Helping my mother through this period gave me a very clear picture of some of the financial challenges people, especially women, face. Women have a very different perspective on why they care about money, and it’s to either help their family or achieve their goals. And they’re quite often, unfortunately, intimidated by the way the financial services industry both talks to them and treats them in the process. I have developed quite a passion for trying to empower women to take con-

IA.HOF-Murphy10.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 5:27 PM Page 79

trol of their futures by taking care of their finances.” It’s no surprise that the avid young reader who adored Little Women – Jo March featuring as something of a personal hero – and the Nancy Drew series would grow up to feel so strongly about the need to encourage women as the masters of their own financial affairs. This empowerment of women is something Murphy returns to again and again – and she outlines the way in which Fidelity is trying to change the status quo, both in terms of hiring more women in financial roles and in helping female clients to benefit from better financial management. “At Fidelity we’ve got a team focused on helping women,” she explained to Irish America editor Patricia Harty in last year’s interview. “We’re breaking down barriers in terms of how approachable the information is we provide … We’ve hired more women financial advisors – less than twenty percent of financial advisors in the industry overall are women. We’ve had

a focused effort over the last several years to hire women at all levels in terms of serving customers, and so now in our branches, across the country, I’m pleased to say that half of the people we have hired in our branches over the last several years are women, which is much better than the industry average.” Despite her elevated status in the company she joined in 2009, Murphy manages to keep a close eye, and ear, on the bottom line, and uses her commuting time to listen to customer calls so she can keep an eye on how best to improve the customer experience. She is a big believer in positive energy, hard work, curiosity, and a good attitude. Having enjoyed positive mentoring experiences on her way up, she appreciates the value of having someone on your side: “If somebody has confidence in you, you tend to take more chances, you tend to do more, and I have always benefited from that.” What does she see as key issues for the future?

TOP LEFT: Kathleen Murphy, President, Fidelity Personal Investing. TOP RIGHT: Kathleen Murphy with her parents and siblings. ABOVE: May 29, 2019: Women’s Wellness webcast featuring CBS This Morning’s Gayle King, WW’s president and CEO Mindy Grossman, and Kathleen Murphy.


IA.HOF-Murphy10.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 5:27 PM Page 80


TOP: Kathleen with her son, Jack Hornyak, and her husband, George Hornyak at a New England Patriots game at Gillette Stadium in 2016. RIGHT: At 5’8”, Kathleen excelled as a forward in basketball and as a backstroke swimmer, helping the Sheehan High School Titans become state champs three years in a row.



“Having inclusion and diversity of thought, and really embracing that, is the future,” she states confidently. “There’s a huge challenge in that more than half of college and postgraduate degrees are earned by women, and yet less than twenty-five percent of the financial services industry is made up of women.” The recipient of an honorary degree from University College Cork in 2014, Murphy is a regular visitor to Ireland, and Fidelity have recruited a lot of staff from the Leeside university. She appreciated the significance of the honor: “My father’s family was all from Cork, I was like, ‘Oh my God, if my father was still alive...’” In his address at the occasion of her UCC conferring with a Doctor of Economic Science, Professor Ciaran Murphy paid tribute to Kathleen: “She is generous with her time and she actively shares her advice with others, on a range of social media and traditional platforms. Her social conscience has led, among other things, to her support for the U.S. State Department’s Mentoring Program, which has enabled her to connect with and support businesswomen from emerging countries like Bangladesh, Palestine, and Ghana.” Eileen Murray, co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, who serves alongside Murphy on the FINRA board of governors [FINRA is a government-authorized not-for-profit organization that oversees U.S. broker-dealers], has this to say about the dynamic Connecticut native: “Kathy Murphy is a leader who has the unique combination of incredible integrity, smarts, vision, wisdom, empathy, common sense, and a great sense of humor. She’s one of those people who knows what needs to happen and makes things happen… Ireland and America should be proud to call this special person ‘daughter.’” IA

FINRA Congratulates

Kathleen Murphy and Eileen Murray 2020 Irish America Hall of Fame Inductees

Congratulations to FINRA Board Members Kathleen Murphy, President of Fidelity Personal Investing, and Eileen Murray, Co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, on their induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame. We commend them for their significant contributions, including their work to ensure the integrity of our financial markets—and salute them on the occasion of this extraordinary honor.

Untitled-5 1

2/25/20 11:00 AM

IA.HOF-MurrayREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 5:10 PM Page 82



HALL FAME Powerful Business Leader Promoting Inclusion & Diversity

Eileen Murray By Darina Molloy

Eileen’s parents, James and Bridget.


hat does the next chapter hold for Eileen Murray, one of the most senior women in the financial services industry – someone who has made a career out of breaking barriers and redefining expectations? Last December, she announced that she would be leaving her position as co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, at the end of March, a position she has held longer than any other executive, save the firm’s founder. Murray called the move “my natural next step” in a note to colleagues. “I have achieved my major goals and am looking for new challenges and opportunities,” she said. “Still, it is with mixed feelings that I’m leaving because I love so many of the people at Bridgewater.” Whatever she does next, one thing is clear: the tenacity and work ethic that have underscored her storied Wall Street career to date will be on full display. They’re a part of her heritage. Born in 1958, the sixth of nine children of an Irish-American couple living in Manhattan’s Inwood, Murray grew up knowing the value of hard work. With chores shared equally between the boys and girls in the house, hard work was a given. She held down a job in high school while still managing to come in the top three at school with an average of 98 percent on tests. Murray’s mother encouraged her to do her best, but her dad was more demanding and expected top marks. Having served in World War II and Korea – which earned him three purple hearts, one bronze star, and one silver star for his service, this descen-


dant of Cork people who fled Ireland during the Famine placed a high value on hard work and educational success. “He was a very, very well-read man, and he was a doer,” Murray said of her father in an interview with Irish America editor Patricia Harty in 2018. Her mother, on the other hand, grew up partly in Ireland – born in the United States, she was raised by her grandparents in County Galway, eventually returning to the country of her birth at 14 when her grandparents died. Two years later, she would meet the man who would become her husband, and they travelled the U.S. with his various service postings. Child number five finally put the kibosh on the peripatetic existence, and Murray’s mother insisted on returning to New York to put down roots. The Dyckman Housing project in Inwood, North Manhattan, was to become the family’s home – at least, until the going got a lot rougher in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Returning home from her college job at Grand Union one night, the barely-out-of-her-teens Murray came across the body of her neighbor – shot and killed in the building’s lobby for the little cash he was carrying. That spurred her mother to leave Dyckman and relocate to Riverdale in the Bronx. “Most of what I learned, I learned between the ages of 10 and 12 from my parents,” Murray said during her keynote remarks at Irish America’s 2018 Wall Street 50 awards dinner. “Of course, it took me 35-40 years to figure that out. My parents taught me Irish curiosity, creativity, determination, common sense, and most important, hospitality, creativity,


IA.HOF-MurrayREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 5:11 PM Page 83

LEFT: Eileen Murray visiting Inwood’s Dyckman Housing Projects where she grew up. BELOW: Eileen’s mother, Bridget.

and generosity... I have to admit, it was sprinkled with a little bit of Irish guilt as well.” After completing her B.S. in accounting at Manhattan College, Murray went straight for Wall Street. She was aware of how few women held senior positions in the financial industry (only 0.5 percent at that time), but having been raised in an equal opportunities family, she couldn’t see why “hard work wouldn’t be rewarded for what it was,” she says. But as she climbed higher on the corporate ladder and the disparity became even more apparent, the tenacious Murray always kept going forward, determined to do what she could to make a change. Shortly after losing her 58-year-old father, whose loss drove her onward, Murray landed her first accounting job at Peat Marwick (later to become KPMG), which then led to a stint as an entry-level analyst in the controller’s office at Morgan Stanley. By the time she was ready to leave Morgan Stanley in 2002, Murray had risen to the role of controller herself and had been named chief accounting officer. Her next position, with Credit Suisse First Boston, saw her head up her own division and become the first woman to sit on the firm’s executive board. But Morgan Stanley was keen to get her back and did so by offering her a managing director role and a position on its Management Committee, where she knew she could help address some of the inequalities that were per-

vasive on Wall Street at the time. Retirement in 2007 proved to be short-lived, first taking over as president of Duff Capital and then joining Bridgewater Associates in 2009. Kathleen Murphy of Fidelity Personal Investing, who serves alongside Murray on the FINRA board

(From left) Jazz musician Cassandra Wilson, Eileen Murray, and actress Roma Downey with their awards at the 2015 Spirit of Ireland Gala.


IA.HOF-MurrayREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 5:11 PM Page 84

RIGHT: Murray with Liam Neeson at the Spirit of Ireland Gala. BELOW: Murray’s father James, honored by the town of Clarkstown for his service at their Memorial Day parade.

of governors, has called Murray “refreshingly candid, objective, results-driven, extremely down-to-earth, wonderfully family-oriented, and someone who has a terrific sense of humor.” Murray applies that same drive and mindset in her work beyond Wall Street to champion Ireland and honor her Irish roots. For her efforts, the Irish Arts Center awarded Murray the Spirit of Ireland Award in 2015, presented to her by none other than noted Irish actor Liam Neeson. Her association with the Irish Arts Center is one that gives her deep satisfaction. “I knew right away when I joined the board that I’d found a home, and a group of people that I have a lot in common with,” she told Irish America in an interview. “What I love about the Irish Arts Center is that it has never wavered from the idea that Irish culture isn’t just for Irish people, it’s for everybody. If that’s not hospitality shining through, I don’t know what is.” Murray is also a supporter of the Our Steps Foundation. Founded by Murray’s fel-

“Work hard. Don’t expect anything for nothing. Ask for help. Find someone who is good at what you are not and see if they will help you.”

low Irish America Hall of Fame inductee Jean Butler, Our Steps is a nonprofit organization that creates and produces artistic and academic projects that honor the Irish past and inspire the future of Irish dance.


urray’s affinity for Ireland and the Irish complements her deep appreciation for the country of her roots and, in particular, for the opportunity it provides to realize the American Dream. “I think it’s still achievable,” she says. “At least it has been in my experience – you may be in a bad neighborhood, and every day come face to face with a lot of despair and injustice. But if you work really hard and focus on what you want, you can achieve it.” For those hoping to make a career in business, Murray’s advice is succinct: “Work hard. Don’t expect anything for nothing. Ask for help. Find someone who is good at what you are not and see if they will help you.” What does she look for herself when considering whether or not to hire somebody? “Curiosity, respect, a mutual understanding that we can learn from each other,” she says. “I have no tolerance for know-it-alls.” She acknowledges the difficulty faced by her own mother when she arrived back on U.S. shores from Ireland as a teenager. “My mother couldn’t get a job at the phone company when she first came here because she had an Irish accent. In this country, there were signs posted, ‘Irish need not apply.’” No fear of that with Eileen Murray, business trailblazer, who has never done less than apply herself 100 percent to whatever role she has held IA in life. Where does she plan to apply herself next? Watch this space!


joins in honoring

EILEEN MURRAY Co-CEO Bridgewater Associates and

THOMAS KELLY Head of Horace Mann School as they are inducted into

2020 IRISH AMERICA HALL OF FAME Thursday, March 12, 2020

B R E N N A N O’D O N N E L L, President T H O M A S M AU R I E L LO, Vice President for College Advancement Manhattan College | Riverdale, NY | manhattan.edu

Untitled-2 1

2/25/20 4:04 PM

IA.HOF-NealREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 1:41 PM Page 86



HALL FAME An Honest Broker

Congressman Richie Neal By Tom Deignan


ast April, U.S. Congressman Richie Neal had an extraordinary moment when he was able to pay tribute to his personal as well as political forebears – not in his native Massachusetts, but in Northern Ireland. “It is with no small amount of humility that I accept this honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Ulster University, and I accept in honor of my grandmother, Mary Ward, who was born in County Down,” said Neal, whose remarks came after an emotional introduction by Ulster University president Paddy Nixon, before a crowd including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The award was bestowed for Neal’s decades of dedication to the cause of a just and lasting peace in Northern Ireland, which most recently included his support for a series of initiatives honoring Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill – another Massachusetts Democrat with a passion for Ireland, not to mention one of Neal’s political heroes. Neal – who is chair of Congress’s powerful Ways & Means committee – spoke to the crowd about a forthcoming lecture series named after O’Neill, as well Derry-born Nobel Peace Prize-winner John Hume. “The Ulster University Hume O’Neill Washington Lecture Series launched today will connect with local and global peace and conflict experts to further develop expertise in conflict resolution.”

in 1960,” Neal told Irish America last year. “He finished in three communities: Waterbury, Connecticut; Springfield, Massachusetts; and Boston, and if you’ve ever seen the film footage of him finishing in Springfield and Boston, as you might expect, he got a hero’s welcome. But seeing him that day (my mother was smart enough to keep us home from school) on the steps of Springfield City Hall, I remember that sense of inspiration and aspiration that I felt, the hope and ambition to do something.” Neal was just 10 when his mother, Mary Garvey Neal (with roots in Ventry, County Kerry), took him to see JFK speak. The sense of triumph marked by the Kennedy victory was short-lived – Neal’s mother died of a heart attack just two years later. His father, a school custodian, died soon after. “I was lucky to have an aunt and a grandmother,” Neal recalled. “They were both great. And I also think it’s interesting that they were very Catholic. So we were never adopted. No social worker ever came to check on us. And the grandmother, she was one of fourteen, so I think her attitude was, ‘What’s another mouth at the table?’ My aunt was devout. Remember those days they used to cover their heads when they went to Mass? We said the rosary at night. There is much controversy right now as it relates to some of what happened in the Church, but for my aunt, grandmother, and my mother, the Church to them in those days was everything. It was an anchor.”


ABOVE: Congressman Neal receiving his honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

It was just the latest big role for Neal in the Irish peace process on both sides of the Atlantic – and it came a long way from the working-class neighborhoods of Springfield, where Neal grew up amidst the ward politics typified by O’Neill, and, of course, the Kennedy family. “I saw Jack Kennedy the day before the election


The Irish roots in Neal’s family – and hometown – are deep. Aside from his paternal grandmother from Down, there are his maternal grandparents from Ventry, West Kerry. “Irish was the first language for the West Kerry people,” said Neal. “Springfield was the next parish over. You went where the others went before you, and they came here. In Holyoke, which is close by, they all came from Mayo. We were all from Kerry.

IA.HOF-NealREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 1:42 PM Page 87

And I think that they were very, very, proud of it. And it wasn’t as though they were going to Irish rallies or anything like that. But they knew of their traditions; they knew who they were and that they came from a pretty ancient culture that was comprised of great achievers. If you asked those people whereabouts they were from, they never said Ireland; they said they were from Kerry.” Neal also grew up at a time and in a place when the Irish and the Democratic Party were inseparable. “My family would have known Congressman Eddie Boland. My mother in particular always knew someone who was running for the register of deeds or the city council, because that was the way up. And it was a great time of ascendancy in politics. There was a succession of mayors, six or seven in a row, whose parents or grandparents were Irish-born. The Democratic Party in particular was the beneficiary [of the Irish]; they brought the right infusion of energy. And there was a great alliance between unions and the Democratic Party.”

GOING TO NORTHERN IRELAND Neal was a hard-working and ambitious player in Springfield politics, serving on the city council before his election as the city’s mayor in the early 1980s. At the height of the Troubles, Neal believed Irish Americans could play a powerful role in easing tensions in the North. “The first time I got involved was in 1981 when Bobby Sands died [on hunger strike]. That’s when I took up a position because people in my community were pretty outraged. You know, those guys

were dying on hunger strike, and Margaret Thatcher’s response was that they were criminals.” Neal continued: “The first time I went to Ireland was around 1983; I went to visit relatives in County Down. In those days it was a militarized state. There were 30,000 British soldiers in an area the size of the state of Connecticut. You couldn’t go from street to street without being monitored. Helicopters circled no matter where you went. I was on a bus with Speaker of the House Tom Foley, and they boarded the bus. They had the big armaments and they had night vision – it was dark when we got on the bus – and they searched it.” That involvement continued when Neal was elected to Congress in 1988. “My first or second speech on the House floor after I got elected was on the use of rubber bullets [in Northern Ireland]. “ To Neal, Ireland was in some ways an extension of his heavily Irish district. “I was thirty-eight when I first got elected to Congress. I think I worked at least as hard, if not

TOP LEFT: Congressman Richard Neal in his Washington, D.C., office. TOP RIGHT: Tánaiste Simon Coveney with Congressman Richie Neal in Washington, D.C. during his February visit. Former congressman Peter King stands in the background. ABOVE: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meeting with Congressman Neal in Washington, D.C., in March 2019.


IA.HOF-NealREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 1:42 PM Page 88

We’re the backstop. The British Embassy used to come up to the hill to meet with those of us in the [Congressional] Friends of Ireland. These were not pleasant meetings. But when the Good Friday Agreement came about, Tony Blair applauded us right here at the British Embassy. I remembered his quote all these years later. He said, ‘We’ve been great friends, America and the United Kingdom. We generally agreed on just about everything, but there was one issue we disagreed on: Ireland.’ He said, ‘There was a time when I thought that the Friends of Ireland were a hindrance, but you helped us get through this.’ People forget that the Friends of Ireland was born of the purpose to try to compete with the money that was being used for gunrunning. House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who founded it in 1981, said that the idea was just to kind of offer a competing vision. So now you can go and say that the Friends of Ireland position is ‘No Border.’ You can have the Speaker of the House say, ‘I agree!’ I think people have forgotten that.”


TOP: 1916 Garden of Remembrance at Forest Park in the city of Springfield, M.A. ABOVE: Congressman Neal at the border in Northern Ireland in April 2019.

harder than everybody else. I had a good constituency that I inherited from Eddie Boland. He retired in 1988 and I took his seat… I came through a system where personal loyalty was a very important consideration. You had Joe Moakley [South Boston politician who was chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Rules], Tip O’Neill was just leaving, Eddie Boland had just left, and I took his seat.” To this day, Neal leads the House Friends of Ireland committee, which played an essential role in the leadup to the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. “I’m proud of the American role in the Good Friday Agreement. This is our agreement, too.


It’s been a whirlwind start to 2020 for Neal. There was the House impeachment of President Trump, and then the Democratic race for president kicked into high gear. All the while, Neal maintained his duties as Ways & Means chair. Then, overseas, came word that British leaders had finally agreed on a Brexit deal, which could have long-term ramifications for the U.S. and Northern Ireland. In a statement back in January, Neal said he hoped Brexit details would include “incorporating strong provisions on worker rights,” as well as “environmental protection.” He also prioritized “respecting the achievement of the Good Friday Agreement, which has maintained peace and prosperity for communities in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States since 1998.” This only makes sense. After all, Neal played a central role in bringing about that “peace and IA prosperity.”

IA.R.Neal.AD3.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 1:53 PM Page 89



Irish America Hall of Fame

We are proud to celebrate with you. Friends & Family of Congressman Richard E. Neal

IA.WindowPastREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 1:13 PM Page 90

window on the past |

By Ray Cavanaugh

The Irish Bambino


courtesy NatioN al BaseBall Hal

l of fame liBrary , cooperstoWN,

NeW york


n late 1990s baseball, home runs were everywhere. The balls were allegedly juiced. The sluggers were definitely juiced. Players who had been lanky rookies would later display cartoon-sized muscles, thanks to a regimen of syringes in the posterior. Even hitters of mediocre power were expected to belt 15 home runs per season. About one century earlier, however, 15 round-trippers could lead the whole league. In that era of hard-earned homers, the mightiest power-hitter was Roger Connor. A broad-shouldered 6-foot-3-inch stud with a handlebar mustache, Connor and his chiseled 220 pounds looked the part of a slugger. He was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on July 1, 1857. One of 11 children (two of whom did not survive childhood), he grew up in the city’s Irish neighborhood, known as the Abrigador district. His father, Mortimer Connor, came from Tralee, County Kerry. At age 24, he had arrived in New York City and found employment in a Waterbury brass mill. Not long after, he married Catherine Sullivan (also from County Kerry). Roger left school at a young age and worked alongside his father. However, his work ethic became less consistent in his early teens as he began spending much of his time playing baseball. Connor’s father “had no sympathy for his eldest son’s frivolous fixation on a game,” and the young ballplayer received “harsh retribution” for his pastime, as related by Roy Kerr’s Roger Connor: Home Run King of 19th Century Baseball. Things became so problematic that, at age 14, Connor left home for the baseball bastion of New York, where he worked odd jobs and tried to find any team that would have him. But no one was interested in Roger Connor – not yet. At age 17, he returned home to Waterbury. Undoubtedly, he must’ve been concerned about his father’s reaction. But this concern was unfounded, because, during his absence, his father had died. In 1876, at age 18, Connor found a semi-pro


baseball team, the Waterbury Monitors, that had use for his services. Two years later, he was playing for the Holyoke Shamrocks, where his power-hitting soon earned him a major league contract with the Troy Trojans. He made his big-league debut on May 1, 1880. His batting average was a superb .332 for his rookie year. But his defense at third base was woeful; in 83 games, he made 60 errors. He was moved across the diamond to first base for the 1881 season. That year, his fielding improved, but his hitting somewhat declined. Off the field, he married Angeline Mayer in 1881. She was a seamstress in a Troy shirt factory that made customized uniforms for Connor (the existing Trojan uniforms were not large enough for him). In 1882, his third season, Connor was back hitting at a very high level, with a .330 batting average. The ensuing year, he joined the New York Gothams (who later became the New York Giants, the primary team of his career) and hit .357, second-best in the whole league. In 1885, Connor had perhaps the best season of his career, batting .371. Also, he was establishing himself as one of the league’s best defensive first basemen.


Additionally, he was proving himself a base-stealer, a rare talent for a man of his size. In 1887, he belted a career-high 17 home runs. But this successful year was marred by personal tragedy: Connor’s daughter, Lulu, died of dysentery shortly before her first birthday. He regarded her early death as divine punishment for his having married a non-Catholic (on that note, his wife would soon convert to Catholicism). The couple later adopted a girl, Cecelia, from a New York City orphanage. In 1888 and 1889, Connor played a leading role on two New York Giants championship teams. In 1890, he posted a league-leading 14 home runs and was statistically the league’s best-fielding first baseman. He continued to put up solid numbers in the early 1890s. However, by 1894, Connor – who was approaching his late 30s – began to see his playing time reduced. So he switched teams, joining the St. Louis Browns. This team performed poorly, but Connor put up good personal statistics. In 1896, he had the position of player-manager for the Browns. As a player, he was fine. But his reserved personality was not conducive to leading a baseball team, and he resigned as manager mid-year, after a 15-game losing streak. The 1897 season would be Connor’s last. He played only 22 games and struggled both at the plate and in the field. For his major league career, he batted .316 and had 2,467 hits, including 441 doubles, 233 triples, and 138 home runs (a record that stood for 23 years, until someone named Ruth came along). Also, during his 17-plus major league seasons, the soft-spoken and gentlemanly Connor was never once ejected from the game by an umpire. Not long after returning to his family home in Waterbury, Connor joined the local team in Connecticut’s newly established minor leagues. He held positions as player-manager and even player-owner

Photo: Courtesy Library of ConGress.

urtesy of Photo: Co

Gary Laoi


IA.WindowPastREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 1:13 PM Page 91

before selling his club and retiring from pro baseball at age 46. Over the ensuing years, Connor was enjoying a comfortable way of life, including winters in Florida, until in 1926 a mammoth Miami hurricane devoured his real estate investments. He and Angeline were forced to share a home with their daughter’s family. Angeline died of a heart attack on St. Patrick’s Day, 1928. Not long after her passing, Connor’s own health began to decline: he would suffer cancer of the larynx, the removal of much of his voice box, prostate cancer, and sepsis from a prostate operation, along with heart disease. He died on January 4, 1931, at age 73, and was buried alongside his wife in an unmarked Waterbury grave. The Great Depression was underway, and his loved ones lacked enough money to afford a proper tribute. The strapping slugger who had inspired so many nicknames (such as: “Gentleman of the Diamond,” “Giant of the [New York] Giants,” “King of First Basemen,” “Squire of Waterbury”) went largely forgotten for several decades after his death. Connor’s name was retrieved from obscurity in 1974, the year that Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th career home run. The website for the Society for American Baseball Research relates how people began to wonder: “If Aaron had just broken Babe Ruth’s career home-run record, whose record had Ruth broken? The answer to that question shined the spotlight on long-neglected Roger Connor.” In 1976, Connor was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Yet despite that recognition, his grave remained unmarked until a group of local baseball fans paid for a headstone. This belated tribute came in 2001, the same year that Barry Bonds and his suspiciously transformed physique hit an all-time single-season record 73 home runs. Such a lofty number is more than four times the career-high 17 home runs hit by Connor – an overshadowed titan of an untainted, long IA bygone era.

FAR LEFT TOP: Yum Yum Tobacco card featuring Roger Connor. FAR LEFT BOTTOM: Posed studio photograph of Giants’ Roger Connor at first base, 1887. LEFT: Roger Connor, MLB Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, who started early in his career on the roster of the Holyoke Shamrocks. CENTER: Roger Connor’s South Main Street home in Waterbury, Connecticut. The Connors lived here from 1894 to approximately 1903. A brass weather vane in the shape of two baseball bats crossed over a baseball originally adorned the cupola. The ornament was a gift from Roger’s wife, Angeline. TOP RIGHT: Roger Connor, age 68, and future Hall of Famer Leon “Goose” Goslin, age 25, of the Washington Senators, 1925.


Untitled-1 1

2/25/20 12:43 PM

Untitled-1 1

2/25/20 2:01 PM

IA.WildWomenREV7.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 3:08 PM Page 94

wild irish women |

By Rosemary Rogers

Alice Crimmins More Sinned Against Than Sinning Pilloried by the press and railroaded to prison, she still managed to sail into the sunset.


uring the summer of 1965 in the East Bronx, the collective grief in Saint Raymond’s convent was almost palpable. The nuns learned that one of their students, a former Good Irish Catholic Girl, had brought shame on them and the rest of the tribe. Alice Crimmins was now fodder for the tabloids, their front pages festooned with pictures of her in too-short skirts, too-heavy makeup and too-teased hair (red, of course). She was all over the nightly news too, cameras filming her insolent face, which seemed to be saying she didn’t give a rat’s ass what anybody thought about her. In 1959, Alice, the daughter of hard-working and religious parents, was 19. She did what girls did back then to get out of their parents’ home (only tramps got their own apartments) – she got married. Her new husband was high school boyfriend, Eddie Crimmins and within three years, they had two children, Eddie Jr. and Alice Marie, or “Missy.” They left the Bronx for Kew Gardens, Queens, moving to the grandly named Regal Gardens Apartments, then a mix of Irish, Italian, and Jewish families. Queens was considered a move up from the Bronx; it was more a suburb than a borough, as Jimmy Breslin described: “Queens...has over 2,000,000 people. But it is a very small place. It is a collection of small towns that spill into each other...” In the small town of Kew Gardens, Alice provoked gossip – she strutted down the street in a Bad Girl Uniform of revealing clothes and high heels, ignoring her neighbors. She was brazen – she must have been out sick the day the nuns instructed girls to be Marylike. Local women, shouting under hair dryers, would exchange Alice stories, portraying her at varying times as a snooty bitch, a drunk, a nymphomaniac, and finally, a killer. The Crimmins marriage began to sour when Eddie Sr., an airline mechanic, took to drinking after work with his buddies; soon he was sporting a double chin and beer belly while his pretty wife, home and alone with two young kids, fumed. But not for long. Alice got a job as a cocktail


waitress and then – mortal sin alert! – began seeing other men. The couple separated, Eddie to a rented room where, no longer ignoring Alice, he began stalking her. Aware of her many affairs, he installed a microphone in her bedroom and listened in the basement. His snooping led to farce when he burst in on her and a local waiter, sending the lothario running, naked, to his car. Alice demanded a divorce. Divorce! That was the provenance of movie stars and rich Protestants, not working-class Irish Catholics. Eddie retaliated, demanding full custody of the children. The morning of July 14, 1965, Alice saw that Missy (4) and Eddie Jr. (5) weren’t in their room, contacted Eddie Sr., who came over and called the police. The minute Alice, wearing tight toreador pants and white high heels, opened her door, she was doomed. Standing in front of her were the police, a bastion of conservative and sexist 1950s morality, and they hated her on sight. Alice was too overtly sexual; she didn’t look the way a mother – their

IA.WildWomenREV7.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 3:08 PM Page 95


mother or their wife – should look. She looked like, and there’s no other way to put it, a near occasion of sin. The refrain around the precinct soon became, “If she were my wife, I’d kill her.” From the very beginning, she was their only suspect. Alice even had her very own Inspector Javert, Gerald Piering, a short detective with feral ambition who instantly knew this case was his way to a promotion. After briefly meeting the couple, he separated them, whispering to his partner, “You take the husband, I’ll take the bitch.” He had known “the bitch” for only ten minutes, but would hound her for years to come. Piering had already spied the liquor bottles in the garbage but saw worse in Alice’s bedroom: birth control, Frederick’s of Hollywood brassieres and her “little black book,” something that should only be the purview of ring-a-ding bachelors, not mothers. Poking under her bed, he found letters and invitations to classy affairs with NYC swells, including the mayor and RFK, thanks to her main boyfriend, wealthy contractor Tony Grace. They all called her by a jaunty nickname, “Rusty.” Who did this gum-chewing whore think she was? Alice’s sins, to Piering, were manifest. He was so busy being a voyeur he neglected basic detective work, not taking photographs, notes, or fingerprints, nor did he notice the screen on the children’s window had been removed. Hours later, without telling her why, Piering drove Alice to a vacant lot and pointed to a swarm of flies. He pushed her forward to take a closer look – it was Missy’s dead body, strangled by a pair of pajamas and in the state of rigor mortis. Alice fainted on the spot, although Piering & Co. would later report she remained “unmoved.” Weeks later, they found Eddie’s decomposed body. The tabloids joined the police in the rush to judgment. Alice, they argued, wanted her children out of the way to have more time for her boyfriends. What choice had she, really, besides filicide? An illogical motive, considering she was fighting for custody of her kids and, in truth, they never put much of a damper on her active sex life. She was condemned, too, for her face: impassive and heavy with makeup, but rarely covered in tears. Never mind that makeup was Alice’s protection, the only way she could erase her deep acne scars, and never mind that

she was determined to keep her grief private. The changing culture provided a subtext to this melodrama. It was 1965, the time when free love, the women’s movement, the Pill, and the social revolution of the ’60s were taking off and threatening the status quo. Alice, a woman in mini-skirts who dumped a lumpen hubby and took lovers, was an outlier, a symbol of morality gone to hell. She had broken all the taboos of her religion and class; if she were a movie, the Legion of Decency would have rated her a “C” for Condemned. Alice once said, “Nobody was out looking to see who killed my kids,” and she was right. The police, so convinced of her guilt, focused only on her and didn’t seriously follow other leads; the few detectives who suggested other suspects were frozen out of the case. And there were other leads. Kew Gardens had its share of weirdos: a “pants burglar” who broke into homes only to steal men’s trousers; a bushy-haired stranger who kept taunting children; and a neighborhood teenager who admitted to the murders, then committed suicide. And there was Eddie. Always stalking Alice, he spent the night of the children’s disappearance double-parked outside her building. Earlier, he had confessed to Alice that he had exposed himself to children in a local park; he had taken to visiting her apartment to “touch” her things. The medical examiner found him “pathologically curious” about his kids’ injuries. Detectives knew all about Eddie’s creepiness, the bushy-haired stranger, and the suicidal teen, but stayed only on Alice. Three years went by, and still, there was no physical evidence linking Alice to the deaths of the children; two grand juries refused to indict her. She tried to get something of her life back, going to work as a secretary using her maiden name, Burke. But every employment agency she visited and every employer who hired her received a visit from detectives informing them that the efficient redhead was really Alice Crimmins, the child-murderer. She was let go. Now notorious, she became known all over the country. As the detectives grew more relentless and aggressive, Alice grew more defiant and self-destructive. The police had her under 24/7 surveillance, tapped her phone, bugged her bedroom, and Alice knew all about it. She decided to give the peeping dicks a

ABOVE: June 1967: Alice conferring with her mother at a grand jury hearing. Sophie Earomirski had just come forth as eyewitness. OPPOSITE PAGE: Alice, in a photo printed by the Daily News during the ordeal. FAR LEFT: Alice and Eddie Crimmins take a break during her first trial, May 1968.


IA.WildWomenREV7.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 3:08 PM Page 96

wild irish women |

Alice Crimmins

show. She would exaggerate sounds of bed springs springing and lovemaking (Detective Piering would complain “the filth” was making him sick) then sign off with “Drop dead, you creeps.” She would answer her tapped phone with “Hi boys, drop dead.” She got dolled up to get drunk in bars and slow dance with strangers, giving the gaping flatfoots a show…and the stink eye. Finally in 1968, the police got a break in the person of Mrs. Sophie Earomirski, a beauty parlor habitué known to feed on Alice gossip. Sophie came forth, three years after the fact, to claim she saw Alice, accompanied by an unidentified man, on the night of the disappearance, carrying a bundle and holding a child by the hand. The cops pounced, overlooking the pesky fact that Sophie was brain-damaged – and indicted Alice for manslaughter. Taken away in the police car, Alice shouted “Is this an indictment? I can’t believe it!” Piering, smug in his victory, turned to her, saying if she had confessed earlier, “It would have been so much easier.” Alice spat back, “Drop dead.” Before “The Sexpot Trial” even began, the sexpot had already been found guilty by the police press and public. Needing another unreliable witness besides Sophie, the cops zeroed in on her sleazy lover, Joe Rorech. They knew he needed to keep his bisexuality secret – he was married with seven kids – and ordered him to wear a wire to get Alice on tape admitting her guilt. She admitted nothing. Still, Joe was pressured to lie on the stand, which he did, claiming Alice confessed to the murders but (ahem) he accidentally erased the tape. Hearing this, Alice jumped from her chair screaming, “Joseph, you snake, you liar!” Alice took the stand in her own defense and would break down every time she talked about Eddie and Missy. But what sympathy she may have gained from the all-male jury was sucked out of the courtroom court when D.A. Lombardino examined her about swimming in Rorech’s pool: LOMBARDINO: What were you wearing when you went swimming in that pool, Mrs. Crimmins? CRIMMINS: One time a bathing suit; one time, no bathing suit. LOMBARDINO: Where were your children when you were swimming without a bathing suit in Joe Rorech’s swimming pool? CRIMMINS: They were dead. After an audible gasp in the courtroom, Lombardino began to recite a litany of her lovers, including her children’s barber. Judge Farrell had to stop him, “We are not trying here a case involving sex morals. We are trying a homicide case.” Still, the jury was listening; one member remembered thinking, “She’s capable of anything if she did that.” Sophie came to the stand with her recovered-memory testimony, every detail parroted from newspaper reports. The judge excluded an affidavit of a doctor stating that the head injury suffered by Mrs. Earomirski at the World’s Fair had resulted in “permanent brain damage.” But Sophie couldn’t hide her battiness, she claimed she heard the children’s voices crying out to her from the grave. When she pointed to Alice, identifying her as the woman she saw the night of the disappearance, Alice shouted out, “You liar! You liar! You liar!” During the trial, Sophie had acquired the status of a folk hero and after her turn on the witness stand, she was cheered by her hordes of fans as she assumed the stance of a prizefighter. Alice was convicted of manslaughter in Missy’s death. Next began the zigging and zagging of her case through the 1970s. Her 1968 conviction was overturned on appeal but she went on trial again in 1971, now for the murder of both kids, and again, was found guilty. In 1973, the convictions were overturned 96 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

Alice leaving the courtroom.*

and she was released. But not for long. The verdict was reinstated and she was imprisoned in 1975, serving out her sentence at first in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, then in a work-release program in East Harlem. There, she had weekends off and spent them with Tony Grace on his yacht, Alicia II. Alice was spotted at baseball games with Grace, driving his white Cadillac, and when The New York Post ran a picture of her, in a bikini bottom and t-shirt, on his yacht, it ran with the caption, “Alice Crimmins Should Be Behind Bars!” Pete Hamill in the Daily News countered with “They ought to just leave Alice Crimmins alone.” She was still creating controversy when, in 1977, she married Tony Grace, and was sprung from prison. The new bride, shapely and glamorous at 37, sailed off with Tony to Key Largo and the legions of Alice-haters thought she won, and maybe she had. In recent history, Alice has been (unfairly) compared to Casey Anthony, but really, her case echoes that of the “dingo-ate-mybaby” mom, Lindy Chamberlain. Lindy, an Australian, was arrested and convicted by a jury (and the media and the public) of murdering her child. She claimed, truthfully, that a dingo took her baby during a camping trip. Like Alice, she projected coldness, keeping her face stony and her hair styled throughout her arrest and trial. Both women couldn’t or wouldn’t give way to hysterics. After she was exonerated, Lindy said, “If I smiled, I was belittling my daughter’s death, but if I cried, I was acting.” Alice would inspire a succession of true crime books, movies, and documentaries. In 1975, Irish-American mystery novelist Mary Higgins Clark based her first bestseller, Where Are the Children?, on Alice. Clark’s novel vindicated the woman once demonized as the “Medea of Kew Gardens.” Almost everyone connected with the case is dead but Alice, now widowed, is still alive at 81. She’s been spotted in various parts of Florida, and most recently in Queens and Nassau County. But nothing is confirmed and she remains elusive. No doubt she still keeps, as she always has, pictures of Eddie and Missy in her wallet. IA * Jimmy Breslin used to tell the story of Jacky the Bartender in Poor Nick’s, a Queens bar, who spotted Alice in a booth one evening while she was on trial for the murders. A detective not involved in the case told Jacky, “That woman is innocent. No murderess could have legs like that.”

Untitled-5 1

2/25/20 12:05 PM

IA.StampsREV2.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 5:28 PM Page 98

history note |

By Christine Kinealy

You’ve Got Mail IRISH HISTORY FROM STAMPS bailitheoir stampaí – a philatelist or stamp collector.


ver the last four decades, stamp-collecting, also known as “philately,” has been undergoing a slow but sure death. This has been mirrored by a decline in letter-writing and a similar wane in the use of cursive writing. Consequently, the hobby of stamp-collecting, so beloved by generations of schoolchildren, is mostly the preserve of people above the age of 60. Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University has recently been gifted two extensive collections of Irish stamps. While their monetary value may have dropped, their value in providing an insight into Irish history and culture remains invaluable. The stamps in these collections date from the formation of the new Free State in the 1920s and they recount the early decades of Irish independence in an unusual way. Postage stamps have been in existence for almost 200 years. The world’s first postage stamps were issued in London in 1840 for use in Britain and in Ireland. The original stamp was black and cost one penny, but the color was impractical for showing any marks, so, in 1841, “Penny Reds” were introduced. British stamps continued to be used in Ireland until 1922. In the previous year, Ireland had been partitioned and two new states formed – 26 counties to be known as the Irish Free State, the remaining six as Northern Ireland. The latter continued to be part of the United Kingdom and to use British stamps. The new Free State, however, determined to assert its independence in every way, printed over the British stamps with an impress saying “Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann 1922,” which translated as “Provisional Government of Ireland 1922.” Simultaneously, a competition was held to design the first distinctive stamps of the new country. On December 6, 1922, the first Irish stamp was issued. It was green and the text was all in Irish, made further distinctive by the use of a “Celtic” font. It depicted a map of Ireland, tellingly, with no partition. The word ÉIRE featured prominently. All was surrounded by traditional Irish artwork: shamrocks, triskeles, etc. It cost 2d. For such a small object, the stamp made a strong, unmistakable statement about what it meant to be Irish. In the same year, Irish post-boxes were painted green (postboxes throughout the British Empire had traditionally been red). It was another gesture of Ireland’s newfound independence. In 1929, the first commemorative stamp was issued. It celebrated the 100th anniversary of Catholic 98 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

FROM TOP: Several Irish stamps from the collection of Quinnipiac University.

If you would like to view the Institute’s Historic Collection, please contact: IGHI@qu.edu. Christine Kinealy is a historian, author, and founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University. She is an authority on Irish history.

emancipation and featured “the Liberator,” Daniel O’Connell. Multiple other commemorative stamps followed, including to honor the bicentenary of the Royal Dublin Society (1931), to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1934, and multiple stamps celebrating the Easter Rising in 1916 (stamps have been issued to mark its 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries). Events outside of Ireland were also observed. Two stamps were issued in 1939 to celebrate America achieving its independence, each showing George Washington, the eagle from the Great Seal, and an Irish harp. Individuals have also featured, including stamps commemorating William Rowan Hamilton (18051865), an Irish mathematician renowned for his discovery of quaternions in 1843; the tercentenary of the death of Micheál Ó Cléirigh (c. 1590-1643), an Irish chronicler and chief author of the Annals of the Four Masters; the 150th anniversary of the execution of Robert Emmet, leader of the 1803 republican rising. Women were little in evidence in the early decades of Irish stamps, although the centenary of the death of Mother Mary Aikenhead (1787-1858), founder of the Religious Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of Charity of Australia, and of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin were issued in 1958. Special events in the history of the state were memorialized, including the opening of the Shannon hydroelectric power station in 1929; the Marian Year in Ireland (1954), the year in which Catholics throughout the world remembered Mary, the mother of Jesus; and the International Year for Human Rights in 1968, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Clearly, the early stamps reflected the values of the newly created Free State, and, after 1949, the Republic. Inevitably, they tended to be Catholic, insular, and male in their outlook. But, like so much in Ireland, stamps have changed and increasingly reflect the country’s diversity. In 2018, two new postage stamps featuring Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela were issued as part of a set called “International Statesmen in 2019,” and two commemorative stamps paid tribute to the Dublin rock band Thin Lizzy and their lead performer, Phil Lynott. In June 2020, stamps highlighting Ireland’s Pride movement will appear. The contribution of women is also being recognized more: in 2019, the centenary of the birth of Irish author, Iris Murdoch was celebrated and, in 2020, Maureen O’Hara will be honored with her own stamp. Overall, Irish stamps provide a visual history of almost 100 years of Irish independence. They offer a unique insight into how the newly created Irish State viewed itself and its place in the world. They are also powerful reminders of how the country has changed IA over a century.

IA.GTT_AD.FINAL_IA Template 2/24/20 9:22 PM Page 1

You always say how proud you are of us, well it’s our turn


Dr. Kelly You’ve kept our torch burning bright


Untitled-2 1 Untitled-1

3/6/20 11:21 AM 2/25/20 3:01 PM

Ia.EileenMurrayAd.rev.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 2:00 PM Page 100

Congratulations to my

fellow inductees into the Irish America Hall of Fame

It is an honor to be Three Rock Mountain, which forms part of the group of hills in the Dublin Mountains.

Ia.EileenMurrayAd.rev.qxp_IA Template 3/6/20 2:00 PM Page 101

among you. ~ Eileen Murray

IA..qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 2:21 PM Page 102

what are you like? |

By Patricia Harty

Kristen Shaughnessy Anchor & Reporter


NY1 television reporter since 1995, Kristen Shaughnessy says the best part of her job is meeting New Yorkers from all walks of life. Wherever in the five boroughs the story takes her, she feels privileged to share the stories of her fellow New Yorkers. Kristen graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in communications in 1990. She started out in radio and then went on to an upstate New York television station before working for NY1. Ironically, she grew up in a house without a TV. After her family’s television broke, they decided reading was a better option. During the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Kristen was one of the first reporters on scene. She arrived before the first tower fell. Due to the loss of cell phone service, she found the nearest pay phone to report back to the studio. Midway through the conversation, she had to drop the phone and run as the tower came down. When not on the anchor desk or in the field, Kristen spends time at home with her college sweetheartturned-husband professional golfer Joe Bush and their two daughters. She traces her roots back to ancestors who immigrated in the mid-nineteenth century, from the southwest of Ireland.

Earliest memory? Hiding my vegetables under the china cabinet in the dining room. I’d fold them into a napkin and then retrieve it after everyone had left the table.

What is your current state of mind? Determined to create lasting change.

Your perfect day? Spending time with Joe and the girls, especially when we go away and there are no distractions.

Your greatest extravagance? Ice cream and cookies for breakfast. Who is your hero? Any person who risks the comfort of their own situation to fight for the truth. What is on your bedside table? She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey; Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, and Chris McNickle’s Bloomberg: A Billionaire’s Ambition. First job? Reporting and anchoring for WGNY radio in Newburgh, NY. I made five dollars an hour so I supplemented my income with a bartending job at Banta’s, which was right down the road. 102 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

Best advice ever received? Trust your instincts; intuition doesn’t lie. Do you strike up the conversations on long plane rides? The last plane ride I took, the person next to me put a blanket over her head and kept it there for the entire trip from California. That’s about as clear a signal as you’re going to get to not engage. I’m happy to chat with those who don’t have blankets over their head. Where do you go to think? On long walks or in bed with a blanket over my head. What is your hidden talent? After much consideration my husband and I could come up with absolutely none. Not one. Our girls agree. Favorite quality in friends? Honesty and kindness, and if you can make me laugh, even better. Your typical day? My only typical days are weekends. I’m up by 2 AM on Saturdays and Sundays; read email about the news covered the night before; check different news sources; do a three-minute plank and sit-ups, shower, get to work at 4 AM; spend the morning with my fabulous weekend team. After that it can be errands, relaxing, baking, working out, or hanging out with friends.

Favorite country you have visited? I have two – Ireland and Denmark. Ireland for the people and the beautiful countryside. Denmark because it’s very walkable and I love all the restaurants along the canal in Copenhagen. Best opening line in a book or piece of music? From our wedding song, “Cross My Heart” by George Strait: “Our love is unconditional, we knew it from the start.” Movie you will watch again and again? Green Book. What drives you? Realizing we aren’t promised another minute, so we have to make the most of the time we have.

IA..qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 2:21 PM Page 103

BELOW: Anchor and reporter Kristen Shaughnessy. LEFT: Kristen reporting from one of the five New York boroughs.

Your most embarrassing moment? Some things are better left unsaid. Your favorite places? By the beach when the waves are crashing. The city streets early in the morning. Favorite sound? Our girls laughing together. Favorite smell? Coffee grounds and fresh brewed coffee. I just don’t like to drink it. Favorite meal? Breakfast. I could eat it for any meal. Favorite drink? Sad to say but a big glass of ice water What trait do you most deplore in others? An oversized ego. You can learn a lot about someone by how they speak to a waiter or waitress.   What is your motto? In the end we always regret the life we failed to live. If you weren’t doing what you are doing, what would you do? Earlier in life: FBI agent or police detective. Future life: College professor.

Proudest honors? Being one of Irish America’s Top 50 Power Women; being named Hofstra University’s Alumni of the Month; and winning an Associated Press Award for “Best Documentary” for a six-part series I wrote and edited for the 15th Anniversary of the September 11 attacks. I’m proud that my live report from the World Trade Center site as the first tower fell is used by college journalism professors. What’s your Irish heritage? Lawrence Shaughnessy and Mary Murphy Shaughnessy were born in Ireland. So were James Shaughnessy and Kate M. Burke Shaughnessy. Our family came over from Ireland during or after the famine. Many settled in Northampton, M.A. There is a “Shaughnessy” monument or stone at St. Mary’s Cemetery there. My grandpa, Duke Shaughnessy, played football at Colgate University in the middle and late 1920’s. He was friends with Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who went to school there, too. In his autobiography, Powell (the first person of African-American descent from New York to be elected to Congress) called Grandpa a “football great.”

What question do you wish someone would ask you? What are some of the wildest things you’ve seen coming into work in the middle of the night?

What’s next for you?     I’ve never been more unsure of that answer. When you sue your company for age and gender discrimination, the future becomes a big unknown. Whatever happens, I’m glad we started a discussion about a subject that for too long has been cast into the shadows.

What have you been working on recently? Taking more time for myself, reading more books, and learning to slow down.

What are you like? Someone who will always cheer you on, unless I find out you’re someone who doesn’t root IA for others.

Note: In June 2019,

Kristen Shaughnessy was among a group of five women who filed an age and gender discrimination lawsuit against their employer NY1 and Charter Communications in New York City. Together, the five women form what they call “Unseen Women on TV,” a group of female anchors fighting age discrimination in the newsroom. At press time, the women were waiting to see if the judge decides to dismiss the case or not.


IA.OlympicsREV2.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 2:32 PM Page 104

Running Rings Around the Empire:

With the 2020 Olympic Games scheduled to begin in Tokyo in late July, we look back on the first great modern Olympic confrontation between the United States – most of whose top athletes were Irish – and Britain, which took place in London in 1908. Notably, they were the last Olympic Games at which the judging committee was made up entirely of people from the host country. By Roger McGrath


n 1908, as the world’s attention focused on the Olympic Games in London, Britain had decided again not to allow Ireland to field its own team, imperiously stating, “Ireland is not a nation.” All Irish athletes would have to compete as members of the British team. The policy had worked well for Britain in the 1906 Intercalated Olympics in Athens, where Irish athletes won most of Britain’s medals in track and field. Having to represent Britain infuriated the Irish athletes. One of them, Peter O’Connor, rushed to the Olympic flagpole after winning the hop, step and jump, and pulled down the Union Jack, which had been raised in honor of his victory. In its place he flew a green flag for Ireland. Despite O’Connor’s act of defiance, Britain was now out to garner more victories by such “British” athletes in the 1908 Olympics in London. Several Irish champions refused to compete rather than be used again by the British. Watching the latest British suppression of Irish nationalism put Irish Americans at a fever pitch. On July 13, King Edward VII declared the Fourth Olympiad opened. The stadium displayed the flags of all the competing nations, except that of the United States. Where was the American flag? The British said they had been unable to find one. Equally insulting, the American team was assigned a marching position just in front of the “British Colonies,” who, in turn, were followed by the United Kingdom. The symbolism could not have been lost on anyone present. As the music of Grenadier Guards filled the stadium, King Edward settled into the royal box with Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria at his side. At the Bugler’s signal, the gate leading to the athletes’ quarters was flung open and the parade of national teams began. One by one, they marched by the royal box and dipped their flags to the King of England. It was a glorious moment for the host nation. Even the


hard rain that had drenched the stadium earlier in the day had stopped. God seemed to be smiling on the Empire. Then came the Americans, including the worldrecord hammer thrower and New York City cop, Matthew J. McGrath. When they approached the royal box, the County Tipperary-born McGrath, a six-foot, two-inch, 245-pound human bull of a man, stepped beside the team’s flag bearer and is rumored to have said, “Dip that banner and you’re in hospital tonight.” Old Glory went unbowed past the King of England. The English were left in shock. London newspapers lashed the Americans with the severest criticism they could muster and called for an apology. Veteran Olympian and world-record discus thrower Martin J. Sheridan, another New York City cop, spoke of “Mighty Matt” McGrath and the other American team members when he answered the English by pointing to the flag and saying, “This flag dips to no earthly king.” The precedent had been set. To this day the United States does not dip its flag at Olympic ceremonies. Preliminary heats were run for the 1,500-meter race – the “metric mile” – later on opening day. Controversy continued. The British held the drawings for heat assignments in private. The Americans suspected conspiracy. The “luck of the draw” consistently left America’s best runners bunched together in one or two heats where they eliminated each other. James E. Sullivan, the commissioner representing the United States, commented: “It is extraordinary bad luck or the manner in which the drawings have been made that has resulted in such unfavorable conditions for the Americans. We have tried to find out how the drawings are conducted, but have not been able to get anything from the officials except the reply, ‘The drawings are made in the usual way.’” Despite Sullivan’s protestations, the British continued to hold the drawings in “the usual way” throughout the games.


1908 I


IA.OlympicsREV2.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 2:32 PM Page 105

The first heat of the 1,500-meters went to J.P. Sullivan of the Irish American Athletic Club of New York City. Mel Sheppard, also of the Irish American club, took the second heat. However, several other Americans had also run the first two heats and thus were eliminated, while Englishmen had been nicely distributed in heats three through eight. The next day Sheppard and Sullivan found themselves facing five Englishmen and a Canadian. Two of the Englishmen – world-record holder Harold Wilson, a tiny chap at 5’ 4” and 115 pounds, and middle-distance runner Norman Hallows – were considered the favorites to win. Mike Murphy, the coach of the American team, stepped up to Sheppard and said: “Mel, you might as well stay in the stands. You don’t have a chance.” Murphy then winked at Sullivan and walked off. Sheppard ran his best when angry and Murphy had left him steaming. The Englishmen ran a tactical race and, for a time, it looked as if they might shut out the Americans. But Sheppard, still in a rage, put on a tremendous finishing kick and won by a couple of yards in 4:03.4, setting an Olympic record. Ironically, Sheppard, who wanted to be a cop, had been rejected only months earlier by the New York Police Department because of what the department’s medical examiners called a bad heart. The Irish American Athletic Club and the United States had a gold medal, and now the English were the ones steaming. Meanwhile, the final in the hammer throw was

being held. The American powerhouses Matt McGrath of the New York Athletic Club and his teammate John J. Flanagan of the Irish American Athletic Club were expected to dominate. McGrath was the world-record holder and the County Limerick-born Flanagan the reigning Olympic champion. Flanagan, like McGrath, was a New York City cop. The lead seesawed back and forth, with first McGrath, despite an injured leg, and then Flanagan breaking the Olympic record. Flanagan ultimately took the gold medal and McGrath the silver. The bronze went to County Cork-born Canadian Cornelius Walsh. The awards ceremony must have been especially galling to the English, having to watch their king present the Olympic medals to a Flanagan, a McGrath, and a Walsh. When Matt McGrath received his medal, he was said to have responded to King Edward’s compliments in “a brogue two sizes wider” than normal. Two days later, the Irishmen from America were at it again. They swept the discus final, with County Mayo-born Martin J. Sheridan taking the gold medal. Sheridan would also take the gold in the “Greek style” discus throw, and win the bronze in the standing broad jump. In three Olympic games, the tall, lanky Sheridan won five gold medals, three silver, and one bronze. Although he won the shot put in the 1906 Olympics, Sheridan didn’t put the 16-pound ball in London. In his absence, Ralph Rose of San Francisco won, and Denis Horgan of Ireland took second. The County Cork-born Horgan was a 37-year-old New

LEFT: Matt McGrath at the June 1912 Summer Olympics ABOVE: James Brendan Connolly, who won a medal in the hop, step and jump.



IA.OlympicsREV2.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 2:32 PM Page 106

TOP: Statues in Nenagh, County Tipperary, of three Olympic gold medalists from or with Nenagh connections. Left to right, 1908 Olympians, Matt McGrath and Johnny Hayes, and Bob Tisdall,who won a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. ABOVE: Portrait of John Hayes of the U.S.A. during the 1908 Olympic Games in London. Hayes won the gold medal in the marathon event after the disqualification of Dorando Pietri of Italy.

York City cop, who retired from the force after being severely injured while breaking up a brawl in 1907. Considering his injuries and his age, few thought he would ever compete again, let alone win an Olympic medal. However, his silver medal was chalked up for Britain. While American Irishmen were bringing home the gold in the trackand-field events, which Americans considered the real Olympics, Britain was racking up the medals in cycling, shooting, polo, walking, and tennis. In addition, the British were using their own unique scoring system, which would practically ensure them an overall victory even if American dominance continued in track and field. U.S. commissioner Sullivan formally protested the special scoring system but to no avail. The British qualified two runners, Theodore Just and Ian Fairbairn-Crawford, for the 800-meter final. They decided that Fairbairn-Crawford would set a blistering pace and sacrifice himself in an effort to run the kick out of American finalist Mel Sheppard. At the sound of the starter’s gun Fairbairn-Crawford raced into the lead and almost sprinted the first 200 yards. Sheppard did not take the bait. He ran at his own pace, and with 300 yards to go began a withering kick that destroyed the field. Fairbairn-Crawford dropped out and Just finished well back in the pack. Sheppard’s winning time of 1:52.8 broke not only the Olympic record but also the world record. The same day another member of the Irish American Athletic Club was winning the high jump. Harry F. Porter easily cleared 6’3” to set an Olympic record and then had the bar raised to 6’6” in an effort to break the world record of 6’5⅝”, set by Irish-born Michael F. Sweeney in New York City in 1895. Porter just brushed the bar off on one of his three attempts. Second place went to the Irish champion Cor-


nelius Leahy of County Limerick, but his points went to Britain. The next day Britain had something to cheer about when Reginald E. Walker of South Africa won the 100-meter race, but Francis C. Irons of the Chicago Athletic Club won the broad jump and Daniel J. Kelly of the Irish American Athletic Club took second. Irons’ leap stretched 24’ 6½”, an amazing distance for a man who stood just 5’5”. The mark bettered the old Olympic record by nearly a half-foot but fell that same distance shy of breaking Peter O’Connor’s world record. Then in the 400-meter hurdles, New York City cop Charles J. Bacon of the Irish American Athletic Club not only won but also set a world record of 55.0 seconds. The score in the track-and-field events at this point stood: United States – 75; United Kingdom – 56; Sweden – 12; Greece – 6; and some nine other countries with five points or fewer. Britain was leading in total overall points, but because Britain had introduced several new events (many of which she alone competed in) and was using her own unique scoring system, most observers thought the score meaningless. Real attention was focused on the track-andfield events. British newspapers were daily publishing increasingly virulent attacks on the Americans. U.S. team coach Mike Murphy was worried. The day after Bacon’s world-record win in the 400-meter hurdles, the final in the 400-meters was held. The four finalists included three Americans: J.C. Carpenter, W.C. Robbins, and John Taylor, and one Englishman: Wyndham Halswelle. Murphy assembled the American runners and warned them the British were looking for any excuse to disqualify the Americans. The atmosphere was tense when the starter’s pistol cracked. Taylor got off slowly and the 400-meter quickly became a three-man race with Robbins in the lead by a yard, followed by Carpenter and Halswelle. Coming out of the final turn, Carpenter drifted wide but at the same time began a devastating kick, which carried him past Robbins to victory. Robbins held on to second and Halswelle, the Englishman, came in third. Or so it seemed. British officials began yelling foul and claimed that when Carpenter drifted wide coming out of the final turn, he had interfered with Halswelle. After a short delay, British officials declared the race void. As the New York Times reported: “A great British cheer broke out, and continued for several minutes, men who could not under any circumstances have seen the incident crying ‘Foul!’ louder than those sitting opposite the spot where the alleged foul was said to have taken place, and who, seeing Halswelle taking a wide turn, thought it a mistake in judgment, as he has [sic] lots of room to pass Carpenter on either side.” Matthew P. Halpin, the manager of the American team, immediately entered a protest on behalf of Carpenter. A special committee of British officials assembled in private to decide the issue. They took testimony from the judges who had first alleged that

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 10:49 AM

IA.OlympicsREV2.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 2:32 PM Page 108




BELOW: The Irish Whales of the 1908 Olympics: John Flanagan, Martin Sheridan, and James Mitchell.

a foul had occurred, and from Halswelle, but refused to allow American officials or Carpenter himself to attend the meeting or even to submit statements. Their decision was predictable. The race was declared void and would be rerun, and Carpenter was disqualified. U.S. commissioner James Sullivan said, “Never in my life, and I have been attending athletic meetings for 31 years, have I witnessed a scene that struck me as being so unsportsmanlike and unfair as that in which the officials participated... The race was as fair as any race run.” The Times of London didn’t think so. In what it claimed was “a fair and impartial account” of the race, the Times said Carpenter ran “diagonally” across the track and “elbowed” Halswelle. Moreover, this was a “definite and carefully thought-out plan.” Other London newspapers made the Times account look reserved. It didn’t matter that none of the British reporters had been close enough to the action to really describe it accurately – if any of them had any such intention in the first place. However, there had been an eyewitness standing just inside the track on the final turn, Ray Ewry. A member of the New York Athletic Club and winner of both the standing high jump and the standing broad jump, Ewry said he saw Carpenter drift wide but make neither a diagonal run nor throw elbows. “I thought Halswelle lost his head,” declared Ewry. “He had the option of going either on the in-

side or the outside of Carpenter, but apparently could not make up his mind what to do.” Carpenter said much the same thing. “I certainly ran wide, as I have done every time I have been on the track. Halswelle had lots of room to pass me on either side. We just raced him off his feet and he could not stand the pace.” When the race was rerun, Halswelle was the only participant. Robbins and Taylor refused to run unless Carpenter was allowed to compete. Halswelle’s “winning” time was nearly two seconds slower than Carpenter’s. Halswelle had his gold medal, but the 108 IRISH AMERICA MARCH / APRIL 2020

American Olympic committee gave special medals to Carpenter and Robbins – for first and second place. While the battle over the 400-meter race was raging, the 200-meter final was run. Irish-born Canadian Robert Kerr won by inches over Bobby Cloughen, a freshman at Fordham University and member of the Irish American Athletic Club. In 1909 Kerr visited Ireland to run in track meets in his native land. Off the track, the British were continuing their duplicitous ways. The rules for the tug-of-war explicitly stated that participants must wear everyday footwear, and that “no competitor shall wear prepared boots or shoes.” Nonetheless, when the British arrived to pulloff against the Americans, the British competitors, policemen from Liverpool, were found to be wearing specially constructed heavy boots with steel rims around the soles. The Americans protested, but British officials responded by declaring that the boots were everyday footwear for the Liverpool bobbies. After slipping and sliding on the wet ground and losing the first of the scheduled three pulls, the Americans gave up in disgust and withdrew from the competition.


ritish unfairness finally backfired on them, though, in the quintessential Olympic event: the marathon. Fifty-eight runners, including six Americans, began the race in front of Windsor Castle on a muggy day. More than 100,000 spectators filled the Olympic stadium some 26 miles away. Three English runners raced to the front and alternated in the lead for the first 10 miles. Meanwhile, a little-known American was carefully pacing himself back in the pack. John J. Hayes, the 19-year-old son of Irish immigrants from Nenagh, County Tipperary, and member of the Irish American Athletic Club, was clocking effortless six-minute miles with teammate Mike Ryan. Only 5’4” and 125 pounds, Hayes seemed only half the size of the big-weight men: Sheridan, Flanagan and McGrath. Nonetheless, Hayes was well-built, wiry, and strong. He had the heart of a lion and was one of the most popular members of the American team. About halfway through the marathon, Hayes began his move. “You’re going too fast, Johnny,” warned Ryan. “No, we’ve got to move now. Stick with me, Mike,” replied Hayes. Ryan did for a while but the hard pace that Hayes was now setting soon caused Ryan to fall back. One by one, Hayes passed the runners in front until the leaders came within sight. By the 24th mile, it was a three-man race. Charles Hefferon, an Irishman from South Africa, was in the lead, and Dorando Pietri, a diminutive Italian who made Hayes look big, was second. Spectators ran onto the course and slapped Hefferon on the back. He wasn’t English, of course, but he was the next best thing: a British subject. Hefferon accepted a drink from one of the spectators. It was his first and last mistake of the race. Within a mile he developed stomach cramps and slowed dramatically. After a steep climb near Wormwood Scrubs prison, Pietri passed him. Meanwhile, very fresh and strong, Hayes was

Untitled-5 1

3/4/20 5:53 PM

IA.OlympicsREV2.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 2:32 PM Page 110




James Brendan Connolly in 1906. Connolly, who won the hop, step and jump that year, went on to write 25 novels and some 200 short stories.

closing rapidly on both of them. As the Olympic stadium at Shepherd’s Bush came into view, Hayes, at 22 the youngest man in the race, easily pasted Hefferon, the oldest at 30. There was something ironic about the moment: two Gaels from opposite ends of the earth meeting in London. No words were exchanged between the two runners at the time but Hayes later said: “I found out later that Hefferon was of Irish descent. If I had known, I would have talked to him.” Hayes now set his sights on Pietri, some 50 seconds ahead and about to enter the stadium. It looked as if Hayes would have to settle for second. But as Pietri turned into the stadium with only 385 yards to go, he staggered and suddenly appeared delirious. In the vernacular of marathoners, he had “hit the wall.” When he wobbled off in the wrong direction, British officials turned him around. He took a few steps and collapsed. The officials again came to his aid, lifting him to his feet, and helped him on his way. Again he collapsed and again he was lifted to his feet. To the dismay of the British spectators, John J. Hayes himself now entered the stadium. The officials redoubled their efforts in aiding Pietri, encouraging, lifting, dragging, and pushing the tough little confection maker from Capri towards the finish. “He staggered along the cinder path like a man in a dream,” said a reporter on the scene, “his gait being neither a walk nor a run, but simply a flounder, with arms shaking and legs tottering.” Just short of the finish Pietri started to collapse for the fifth time. Jack Andrews, the chief British official, grabbed him and carried him across the line, some 30 seconds ahead of Hayes. The assistance the officials gave to Pietri was a clear violation of the rules. Nevertheless, the British immediately raised the Italian flag and announced Pietri the victor. Pietri didn’t know or care. He was carried away on a stretcher, delirious and evidently near death.


eanwhile, Hayes finished strongly, the heat and humidity not seeming to affect him. “Heat never bothers me,” said Hayes later. “My grandfather and father were bakers, and I worked in the bakery as a boy. I was used to the heat.” Nor did the sight of the Italian flag disturb him. “I knew it was going to be all right,” he said. “They had to disqualify Dorando.” Actually, they tried not to. It took several hours and a formal protest from the United States before the British admitted that Pietri had been illegally aided and was, therefore, disqualified. That night, Johnny Hayes and James Brendan 110 IRISH AMERICAMARCH / APRIL 2020

Connolly sat in a London hotel sipping beers until 2:00 a.m. The product of a South Boston Irish family from the Aran Islands in County Galway, Connolly was an Olympic champion himself – the first champion of the modern Olympic Games. He won the first event – the hop, step and jump – of the 1896 Olympics at Athens. He also took third in the broad jump. He later went on to write 25 novels and some 200 short stories. The next day Hayes and Connolly saw another Irishman, Timothy J. Ahern, win Connolly’s favorite event. Ahern set an Olympic record in winning the hop, step and jump but his mark was a foot shy of Daniel Shanahan’s world record. Since Ahern was from Ireland, his victory was chalked up in the British column. Americans then swept the high hurdles and Mel Sheppard, running anchor, led the American team to victory in the 1600-meter relay race, the final event of the games. Of the 23 individual championships in track and field, Americans won 13; of those, members of the Irish American Athletic Club of New York City won eight. Britain won seven individual championships, but Irishmen, Robert Kerr of Canada and Timothy Ahern of Ireland, won two of those and a South African won another. Englishmen accounted for exactly four victories, and one of those was Wyndham Halswelle’s solo run in the 400 meters, another two came in walking events in which the English were virtually the only participants. The crushing American victory in track and field was especially satisfying considering the inhospitable treatment the Americans had received. Said highjump champion Harry Porter, “In nearly every event the boys had to compete not only against their competitors but against prejudiced judges. The judges may not have been intentionally unfair, but they could not control their feelings, which were antagonistic to the Americans. This was especially true in the field events, where the boys came in closer contact with the judges. The Americans were continually nagged at and made uncomfortable. The officials were discourteous to our men and further, by their encouragement of the other men, tried to beat us.” While acting mayor Patrick F. McGowan of New York City and Patrick J. Conway, the president of the Irish American Athletic Club, were formulating plans for “an immense civil parade” to honor the American team, the athletes boarded ships for the voyage home. The Irishmen on the team had a stop to make, though. On July 30 they arrived in Dublin and were greeted like conquering heroes. “The greeting accorded them,” reported a correspondent for the New York Times, “was all the more remarkable because it was entirely spontaneous, the mere announcement of the hour of their arrival bringing many thousands of persons to the station to meet the athletes. The streets along the route to their hotel were completely blocked by Dublinites, and the enthusiasm displayed recalled the triumphant entries into the city of Parnell when IA he was at the height of his popularity.”

Untitled-5 1

3/4/20 5:48 PM

IA.SlainteREV2.qxp_Layout 1 3/5/20 3:59 PM Page 112

THE IRISH & the Oval By Edythe Preet


n 2020 you can safely bet that the biggest topic of news and conversation is going to be the presidential election. And until midsummer, the hottest sub-topic will be “Who will the Democrats choose for their ticket?” I have a suggestion: select someone with Irish heritage. This is not a willy-nilly witticism. The numbers back me up. More than one-third of U.S. presidents have had Irish blood flowing in their veins. The trend began in 1829 with the election of Andrew Jackson, and for 101 of the past 191 years – more than 50 percent of the time – an Irish American has occupied the White House. Eleven of the 20 men have practiced law, four have had military backgrounds, three excelled in business, and two were academics. The best statistic is this: of the last eleven candidates voted into the Oval Office – beginning with John F. Kennedy – nine claim Irish ancestry! Here’s another way of looking at it: in only six of the past 58 years has our chief executive not been an Irish American. I’m no political pundit, but it sure seems to me that since 1960, having ties to Ireland and getting

Ulysses S. Grant.

IRISH-AMERICAN PRESIDENTS Andrew Jackson William Henry Harrison James Knox Polk James Buchanan Abraham Lincoln Ulysses S. Grant Chester Alan Arthur Grover Cleveland

7th president 1829-37 9th president 1841-41 11th president 1845-49 13th president 1857-61 16th president 1861-65 18th president 1869-77 21st president 1881-85 22nd president 1885-89 24th president 1893-97 Benjamin Harrison 23rd president 1889-93 William McKinley 25th president 1897-1901 Woodrow Wilson 28th president 1913-21 John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th president 1961-63 Lyndon Baines Johnson 36th president 1963-69 Richard Milhous Nixon 37th president 1969-74 James Earl Carter 39th president 1977-81 Ronald Wilson Reagan 40th president 1981-89 George Herbert Walker Bush 41st president 1989-93 William Jefferson Clinton 42nd president 1993-2001 George W. Bush 43rd president 2001-09 Barack Obama 44th president 2009-17 Note: President Harrison died of typhoid fever one month into office.


Irish Americans to exercise their right to vote on Election Day have been boons to anyone seeking the office of president of the United States. Though a stranger to most truths, this fact has not escaped the attention of the current White House resident: Donald Trump’s claim of having ancestral ties to Ireland was disproved – nevertheless, it went viral. Unlike policy, presidential food preferences don’t usually make headlines. There’s a good reason for the way the White House press corps addresses the presidential pantry. Information about what our chief executive prefers eating can have huge impact on the food industry. When word spread that Ronald Reagan’s secret treat was cottage cheese smothered in ketchup, school lunchrooms countrywide listed the condiment as a vegetable. George Bush, Sr.’s dislike of broccoli caused sales for the healthful vegetable to plummet. In contrast, when it leaked out that Bill Clinton enjoyed hamburgers, beef sales soared. In the case of our Irish-American presidents, they – like yours truly and most of my readers, too, I would guess – have food preferences shaped by Irish ancestry. There’s evidence aplenty that Irish food traditions played an important part in White House meals during each of the 20 tenures. James Polk and Abraham Lincoln loved ham, as does Jimmy Carter, even though we tend to connect him primarily with peanuts. Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, and Woodrow Wilson all started their day with a big Irish breakfast, and Wilson’s often included strawberries, another Irish culinary delight. Chester Alan Arthur derived immense pleasure from fishing, and salmon – the Irish King of Fishes – appeared frequently at both informal and state dinners. Lyndon Baines Johnson, George Bush, Sr., and George W. Bush preferred beef – a measure of wealth not only in Texas but in ancient Ireland as well – above all else. Beer has a long history in Ireland, and Barack Obama so enjoyed an occasional pint that, in 2011 after purchasing a home-brewing kit with personal funds, he asked the White House chefs to create a “House” brew. Made with honey gathered from hives on the South lawn, it was called White House Honey Ale and served at that year’s White House Super Bowl party and Saint Patrick’s Day dinner. Per Freedom of Information Act requests, on September

IA.SlainteREV2.qxp_Layout 1 3/5/20 3:59 PM Page 113

sláinte | good cheer

RECIPES Grover Cleveland’s Corned Beef & Cabbage John F. Kennedy on the campaign trail in Philadelphia. Photo by the author’s father, George Burns.

1, 2012 the recipe for White House Honey Ale was released to the public (https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2012/09/01/ ale-chief-white-house-beer-recipe). During John F. Kennedy’s brief 1,000 days in office, the press extolled the fact that his favorite treat was cold milk and cinnamon toast (the former a staple of every Irish diet and the latter an Irish favorite since the Middle Ages), and despite Jacqueline Kennedy’s partiality for French cuisine, on March 17 the White House chef diligently prepared corned beef and cabbage. Grover Cleveland, who usually breakfasted on oatmeal – a staple Irish grain since neolithic times – had perhaps the most Irish palate of all. He preferred corned beef and cabbage over everything. Our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, is one of the best examples of a palate tempered by Irish food preferences. He loved cheese. I doubt this was a reflection of Jackson’s frontier upbringing. More likely, it was a food fondness inherited from his Hibernian forbears, as cheese – known as “white food” in Ireland – has been a mainstay of the Irish diet since antiquity. Jackson loved cheese so much that in 1835 a group of dairymen from Oswego, New York, sent him a 1,400-pound cheddar to celebrate his election to a second term. Such a gift might seem to only reflect the presidential palate, but there is a subtle secondary meaning. Several hundred years ago in Holland (remember: New York was founded by the Dutch), a massive wheel of cheese was awarded annually to a region’s most successful person. From that custom comes the practice of calling someone who commands great public attention a “big wheel” or “big cheese.” Jackson’s cheese sat ripening in the White House cellar for two years. Shortly before surrendering his office to his successor – a member of the opposition party – the president invited one and all to share his gift at a reception honoring George Washington’s birthday. Ten thousand cheese lovers descended on the White House. The result was chaos. Cheese bits were ground into the carpet and smeared on the drapes and upholstery. One reporter wrote, “The whole atmosphere of every room and throughout the city was filled with the odor.” Jackson’s penchant for cheese was addressed several times by the NBC series The West Wing. In multiple episodes, Big Block of Cheese Day celebrated a time for staffers to meet with groups that ordinarily encountered difficulty having their concerns heard at a presidential level. White House chief of staff Leo McGarry, played by the late John Spencer, chastises grudging underlings: “I assure you that listening to the voices of passionate Americans is beneath no one, and surely not the people’s servants.” Among the Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination, former vice president Joe Biden (who detoured a San

1 8 1 4

4-6 pound corned beef peppercorns clove garlic carrots, peeled & quartered 3 potatoes, peeled & cut in chunks 3 onions, peeled & quartered 1 cabbage, cut in wedges Place the corned beef in a large pot with cold water to cover. Add peppercorns and garlic and bring to a boil. Remove the scum, lower the heat, cover the kettle, and simmer gently for 4-5 hours, or until the meat is tender. Add boiling water to keep the beef covered while cooking. In the last 1/2 hour of cooking, add carrots, potatoes, and onions. Approximately 15 minutes before the meat is finished cooking, add the cabbage wedges. Do not add the cabbage too early in the cooking process, or it will become water-soaked and overcooked. Serve the corned beef on a platter, surrounded by the vegetables. Accompany with horseradish sauce. Makes 8 servings.

Horseradish Sauce

4 tablespoons horseradish 11⁄2 tablespoon vinegar a pinch of cayenne pepper 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 cup fresh whipped cream Thoroughly mix together the horseradish, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and salt. Fold in the whipped cream. Makes approximately 1 cup.

John F. Kennedy’s Cinnamon Toast Homemade white bread Cinnamon White or light brown sugar Butter Cut slices of bread in half, making two rectangles or two triangles. Toast one side in the oven broiler. Remove, spread the other side with softened butter, and sprinkle thickly with white or brown sugar mixed with cinnamon (1 teaspoon cinnamon to 1/2 cup sugar). Set under the broiler again until topping begins to bubble. Serve at once. Recipes: The Presidents’ Cookbook by Poppy Cannon & Patricia Brooks)

Francisco campaign trip to lunch on a grilled cheese sandwich) is Irish-American to the core. Biden’s great-grandfather emigrated from County Louth in 1850. All eight of his great-great-grandparents on his mother’s side and two great-grandparents on his father’s side were born in Ireland. That makes him five-eighths Irish. Prior to visiting Ireland during his tenure as vice president, Biden wrote: “I’ll meet with the country’s leaders, discuss issues of trade, economic recovery, migration and refugee policy, and other national security challenges, and celebrate our shared heritage. Our shared values of tolerance. Diversity. Inclusiveness.” Sounds good to me. So does the thought of having another Irish IA American sitting at the desk in the Oval Office. Sláinte! MARCH / APRIL 2020 IRISH AMERICA 113

Building the future of energy At Alabama Power and Southern Company Gas, we’re committed to ensuring tomorrow’s energy today. Our customers depend on us to provide clean, safe, affordable and reliable energy now and for generations to come. That’s why we’re proud to partner with North America’s Building Trades Unions to develop a workforce trained for the future. Through our shared commitment, we’re building the future of energy for our industry, our customers and our communities. Congratulations to Sean McGarvey, North America’s Building Trades Unions president, on his induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame.

© 2020 Alabama Power Company

Untitled-1 1

3/5/20 5:41 PM

Untitled-1 1

3/5/20 5:45 PM

IA.BooksREV.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 12:04 PM Page 116

review of books | recently published books FICTION

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry


American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins


hen Stephen King describes something as “one hell of a novel,” you sit up and take notice. And when, barely a few weeks into 2020, many reviewers start adding the same novel to their “best of the year” lists, you definitely watch out for it. So many times, that sense of anticipation can be such a let-down, but happily, for this reviewer, American Dirt more than lived up to all the advance hype. From the opening scene, it grabs the reader’s attention – Lydia and her son Luca hiding in a shower cubicle while the clatter of gunfire ricochets around the garden where their family had, minutes previously, been gathered to celebrate a birthday. A bookshop owner married to a journalist, Lydia knows all about the dangers of a city like Acapulco, and the oppressive threat of the drug cartels, but when the reality of “bodies as close as toppled dominoes” hits her own family, she knows she has to flee with Luca in order to keep them both alive. From here, the tension ratchets as they attempt to head to the safety of the U.S. without using bank cards or anything to alert their pursuers. A page-turner of the highest order. $16.79 / Macmillan Publishers / 387 pages


he inside of Kevin Barry’s head must be a wild and exciting place to hang out, given the imagination that powers his madcap novels. Fiercely reminiscent of Pat McCabe – in his Butcher Boy heyday – Barry authored the wonderful Beatlebone about John Lennon’s island off the coast of Mayo (and planted the great man himself firmly in Clew Bay in an imagined primal scream escapade). Now, in his newest novel, Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond sit on a bench in a ferry terminal in the old Spanish port of Algeciras. The two men have a long history of drug smuggling and various other antics, and they are waiting for Maurice’s estranged daughter, 23-year-old Dilly. They expect she will either be catching a ferry to Tangier or disembarking from one. Or so they have it on good authority. “It is a tremendous Hibernian dilemma – a broken family, lost love, all the melancholy rest of it – and a Hibernian easement for it is suggested: f**k it, we’ll go for an old drink.” Told mostly in dialogue, and with strong notes of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, it’s a tale cheerfully told, but not recommended for those who prefer their narrative strictly linear and ordered. $11.82 / Canongate Books / 232 pages

Grace in Winter by Deirdre Purcell


race is the kind of selfless mother who puts others before herself and has spent years caring for others. Now that her children are grown, and her ex-husband Harry has found himself a new family, it should be her time to shine – but her youngest daughter Leonie has always been prone to explosive rages and still needs a lot of looking after. When Harry gives Grace and Leonie the gift of a winter cruise, in order to make sure Leonie is otherwise occupied and won’t interrupt a critical occasion, Grace hopes against hope that a change of scene will do them both good. But the cruise is a disaster, and Leonie’s paranoid fantasies create havoc. When she goes missing, Grace knows that things are not going to end well. But will she have the courage to make some tough decisions? There are glimpses throughout of Purcell’s old talent for character and story, but the book is something of a disjointed mess in parts, and the main relationships at its heart never really gel fully. $16.10 / Hachette Books / 212 pages

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 12:02 PM

IA.BooksREV.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 12:04 PM Page 118

review of books | recently published books FICTION

Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain


Filter This

hat do you do when the prodigal son returns? In the absence of a fatted calf, Frazer Lattimer – the domineering patriarch of a very fractured family – decides to summon all of the clan together when son Adam turns up after being missing for ten years. Adam’s mother has died in the interim, and his siblings are all over the country (and the world), but they gather obediently in Spanish Cove, well used to their father and his whims (not to mention his trust fund threats if they fail to jump at his command). They’re a troubled bunch – Ellen bitterly resents the others for forging lives away from home while she has remained living with Frazer and making improvements around the house; Clio has overstayed her welcome in New York City and is almost glad of the excuse to leave; James’s production company isn’t half the success he lets on, and he’s running out of money; and Kate has kept quite a few family secrets hidden from her husband Cheng. Lies, deceit, bullying, insecurity – all of the ingredients are perfectly placed by master chef Jo Spain to create the tasty treat she serves up in her third stand-alone thriller. She’s also the author of the Inspector Tom Reynolds police procedural series and is exceptionally prolific – having published eight novels since she debuted in 2015. $15.24 / Quercus Publishers / 400 pages

by Sophie White


li Jones is an up-and-coming influencer who is keen to break the 10,000 benchmark of Instagram followers and maybe even scoop a Glossie Award. (In the absence of a glossary, the resviewer feel duty-bound to point out that sponcon is jargon for sponsored content, OOTD is outfit of the day, and mumfluencer is…well, you get the picture.) At the heart of the story, a young woman grieving for her dying father craves approval from the strangers in her phone, and longs to be part of the glossy, self-assured group of Irish social media darlings. Behind the screens, however, all is not necessarily so marvellous in their various glittery worlds. Über mama Hazel outsources most of the nittygritty parenting work to a team of staff, while Ireland’s biggest influencer Shelly has resorted to hiring a stand-in for her increasingly fed-up husband. When Ali mistakenly leads her followers to believe that she’s expecting a baby, the surge in follower interest stops her from ’fessing up. It’s an entertaining debut, with number two in the series already in the works, and an education for those to whom Instagram remains a foreign land. $15.44 / Hachette Books / 256 pages


Keep Your Eyes on Me by Sam Blake


t was Mark Twain who once opined that “there is no such thing as a new idea,” and he had a point. Many books and films are variations on similar themes that, when boiled down to their absolute stripped-back simplicity, are actually almost the same thing. In her newest crime thriller, Sam Blake has started from the same premise as Strangers on a Train – the Patricia Highsmith classic noir novel that inspired the highly-praised Hitchcock film. In fact, if Blake had called her novel “Strangers on a Plane,” it would have been highly apt. Vittoria Devine and Lily Power find themselves next to each other in the airport, and subsequently on a flight to New York, and the two women strike it off so well that they end up confiding in each other about the people who’ve made their lives a misery. Lily’s beloved brother has lost their grandfather’s shop in a stupid bet, and the bullying winner is insisting on collecting his forfeit. Meanwhile, Vittoria has had it with her cheating husband, particularly now that his latest girlfriend is pregnant. By the time their plane lands in the Big Apple, the two women have concocted a plan that will see them wreak revenge on the men who’ve caused the upsets in their lives. Incredibly convoluted – a little too much at times – and fast-paced, this is one that forces you to keep your eyes firmly on the page. One blink in the wrong place and you could miss an entire plot twist. $15.37 / Atlantic Books / 384 pages

A striking tale of the enduring Irish-American spirit “Irish Above All combines the myths and magic of Ireland with the grit and energy of Irish-American Chicago in the first half of the 20th century.” —ROMA DOWNEY, acclaimed actress, producer, and New York Times bestselling author

“Nobody knows the Irish like Mary Pat Kelly. And nobody writing today knows better how to breathe life into Irish-Americans, with all their dreams, hopes, and aspirations.” —WILLIAM MARTIN, New York Times bestselling author of Bound for Gold

“Prepare to be transported through 1920s-40s Chicago and Ireland for an epic story of love, loss, and the strength of one incredible Irish woman.”


—MARTHA HALL KELLY, New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls

Hardcover, Trade Paperback, and eBook • Available Now


“Mary Pat Kelly is a peerless storyteller. In Irish Above All, she blends history and fiction into a seamless narrative that is gripping, poignant and enlightening.” —PETER QUINN, American Book Award-winning author of Banished Children of Eve

TOR-FORGE.COM FOLLOW FORGE BOOKS GET ORIGINAL CONTENT when you sign up for the free Tor/Forge monthly newsletter For Mary Pat Kelly’s events check out her website marypatkelly.com

Untitled-2 1 Irish Above All_Full pg 2020.indd 1

2/25/20 5:23 PM 2/25/20 5:16 PM

IA.CrosswordREV2.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 12:56 PM Page 120

crossword |

ACROSS 1 Ask Again, ____: book by Mary Beth Keane (3) 4 (& 21 across) Real-life character who inspired new movie directed and produced by 28 down (5) 7 See 23 down (2, 5) 10 Doggy treat (4) 12 See 28 down (8) 13 The River Barrow flows through this county town (6) 15 See 27 down (5) 16 Mrs. Michael D. Higgins (6) 17 A span of time defined for the purpose of chronology or historiography (3) 19 The U.K. / Ireland equivalent of Lifesaver candies (4) 21 See 4 across (7) 24 (& 37 across) He is better known by his initials, but what are the first names of poet and playwright Yeats? 26 See 34 down (3) 29 See 10 down (5) 31 Formerly UCG or University College Galway (1, 1, 1, 1) 33 (& 36 down) Writer of the song “40 Shades of Green”(6) 35 Not thick (4) 37 See 24 across (6)

By Darina Molloy

38 Heritage town in Limerick known as one of Ireland’s prettiest towns (5) 39 (& 16 down) Actor brother of Irish Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy (7) 41 See 30 down (6) 42 See 3 down (4) 43 (& 11 down) London equivalent of Broadway (4)

DOWN 2 See 9 down (10) 3 (& 42 across) Irish America magazine’s motto (6) 5 Book by Emma Donoghue (4) 6 (& 8 down) Ireland’s Tanaiste or Deputy Prime Minister (5) 8 See 6 down (7) 9 (& 2 down) The “R” and “M” in the Irish R.M. TV series of the 1980s (8) 10 (& 29 across) Leader of the Maze Prison hunger strikes who died in 1981 (5) 11 Hurt expression (2) 14 See 43 across (3) 16 See 39 across (5) 18 An Irish dream and a popular girl’s name (7)

20 Boy George’s surname (1, 4) 22 Limerick castle named for this king (4) 23 (& 7 across) This golfer recently won the sport’s biggest pot, taking the FedEx Cup in the PGA tour (4) 25 Ireland’s largest island (6) 27 (& 15 across) This actor is set to star in the screen version of Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang (8) 28 (& 12 across) Director of The

Win a subscription to Irish America magazine Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1606, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than March 30th, 2020. 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. The winner’s name will be published along with the solution in our next issue. Xerox copies accepted. Winner of October / November 2019 crossword: Anne Sullivan Miscoski, Blountville, TN


Irishman (6) 30 (& 41 across) A musical version of this Dublin movie is due to hit Broadway soon (4) 32 A thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action (4) 34 (& 26 across) Irish

famine musical which premiered in 2019 in Mayo and New York (6) 36 See 33 across (4) 37 This Rory captains the Irish rugby team (4) 40 Popular form of folk dancing in Ireland (3)

October / November Solution

Ad.qxd_Layout 1 3/6/20 7:45 PM Page 1

IA.TWLREV3.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 4:02 PM Page 122

those we lost | By Mary Gallagher Mattie Maher (1939–2020)


rish bar owner Matthew (“Mattie”) Maher died in January, aged 80. The retired publican was a staple of McSorley’s Old Ale House, beloved for his affection for his customers and dedication to preserving the original aesthetic of the bar as it was ushered begrudgingly into modernity. Born in Threecastles, Kilkenny, in 1939 to Patrick and Ellen Maher, Mattie quit school entirely at 14 to work full-time. By 25, Maher was married to Teresa Brady, and he met Harry Kirwan, then owner of McPHOTO: ARI MINTZ/NEWSDAY RM, VIA GETTY IMAGES Sorley’s, when Kirwan’s car broke down on a visit home. Maher stopped to give him a ride, and as thanks Kirwan offered him a job if he moved to the U.S. Maher moved his family to New York that year to start work, eventually buying the bar in 1977. He was there for the court order to admit female patrons in 1970, when the establishment that had contemptuously ignored trends like cash registers and Prohibition was finally forced to bend to outside pressure to violate its founder’s motto: “Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies.” In fact, McSorleys’ first female bartender was Maher’s daughter, Teresa, who would respond to any disgruntled patrons by calmly stating she was about her father’s business. Other than that, Maher was a stickler for maintaining the bar’s authenticity. He internalized the bar’s wide variety of artifacts to regale customers with incredible stories of its place in history. He even went to bat with the health department to preserve the hanging wishbones tied by patrons who left to fight in WWI and never returned. Still, when asked by a new customer if he was the owner, Maher’s nephew Michael Brannigan told the New York Daily News that his uncle would respond easily, “No, you own the bar.” Maher is survived by his wife Teresa, four daughters, and 12 grandchildren. TOP: Matty Maher and *Read more about Maher and McSorley’s in Irish the establishment he America’s October / November 2019 issue.

joined in 1964 as a bartender. He eventually became its manager, and then proprietor. CENTER: Seamus Mallon (SDLP) speaking at John Hewitt International Summer School 2017. BOTTOM: Dr. James Mehaffey.

Seamus Mallon (1936-2020)


arty leader of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party and vocal activist in the Irish peace process Seamus Mallon died in late January, aged 83. Mallon was responsible for establishing the fine details of the party’s position, and was the first deputy minister in the power-sharing government created under the Good Friday Agreement, which he helped to craft.


Though Mallon started out as a schoolteacher in the Protestant-dominated pocket of South Armagh where he grew up, the area was a focal point of violence from the Troubles, and he was quickly drawn into the political sphere. He was antagonized on all sides, alienating Protestants as a Catholic, unionists as a nationalist, and the I.R.A. as a proponent of non-violence. His care for preserving the hard-won peace extended even farther than his desire for a united Ireland. He argued in his 2019 memoir that a unity vote should require at least 60 percent in favor to pass – a simple majority vote might leave Ulster unionists a disillusioned and unrepresented minority, too similar to the Catholic nationalists of the years previous to be ignored. “I think all of us have lost a champion of democracy and justice today,” said Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey. “I don’t believe the Good Friday process could have succeeded without him.” Though he knew that his cancer was terminal, Mallon maintained a bright sense of humor even in planning his funeral arrangements. He stipulated to his daughter Orla that “The Bard of Armagh” be performed. When she asked by whom, he replied, “Well, nobody sings it better than me.” Mallon is predeceased by his wife Gertrude, who died in 2016. He leaves behind sisters Maura, Jean, and Kate; daughter Orla; and granddaughter Lara.

Dr. James Mehaffey (1931-2020)


ormer Church of Ireland bishop of Derry and Raphoe Dr. James Mehaffey died in early January, at the age of 88. Bishop Mehaffey was a dedicated exemplar of tolerance and peace during the Troubles, even as his diocese sat in the midst of the wreckage. Born in Portadown, County Armagh, Mehaffey played rugby as a young man, and was a contender for the Ulster U-17 team. He continued the pastime while attending Trinity College in Dublin, even after realizing he wanted to pursue a life in the church. He was inducted a clergyman in the Church of Ireland in 1955 and made his way up the ranks over the course of several assignments before being elected bishop of Derry and Raphoe in 1980. Mehaffey was well-known for the friendship he cultivated with the Roman Catholic bishop of Derry Edward Daly, demonstrating an idyllic relationship between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. They were founding trustees of the Inner City Trust, established to rebuild Derry’s city center after it was damaged by bombing. In honor of their decades of service, the bishops were jointly awarded the Freedom of the City of Derry in 2015. “I didn’t pretend that I was a Roman Catholic and he didn’t pretend that he was Church of Ireland,” Mehaffey told the BBC when asked about his atypically close friendship with Daly. “We found that, in



Devastation after the earthquake in Nepal.

Long after a disaster stops “trending” and the media leaves the scene, we stay behind to finish what we started and help the most vulnerable. Whether we’re responding to a natural disaster, epidemic, or conflict. Our work isn’t just about showing up - it’s about following through. Please donate:

Untitled-1 1 Untitled-3


7/3/19 5/2/19 12:13 3:00 PM

IA.TWLREV3.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 4:03 PM Page 124

those we lost | spite of our background in different churches, different theology, we had a lot in common,” he went on. “That goodwill, working with people, and reaching out to all kinds of people was important.” “We all saw in Bishop Jim a gracious composure coupled with a steely resolve,” remarked retired Church of Ireland Archbishop Lord Eames at Mehaffey’s memorial service. “The sense that this work for peace and harmony between communities so long divided was work for the Kingdom of God, and it would not be thwarted, from whatever quarter.” Bishop Mehaffey was predeceased by his son Philip and Bishop Daly. He is mourned by his wife Thelma, daughter Wendy, and son Tim. PHOTO: RTÉ RADIO

Marian Finucane (1950-2020)


TOP: Marian Finucane. ABOVE: Larry Gogan.

eloved RTÉ interviewer and broadcaster Marian Finucane died in early January, aged 69. Finucane’s close to five decades in radio earned her many recognitions, including a Prix Italia, a Jacobs’ Award, Radio Journalist of the Year, and an honorary doctorate from Dublin Institute of Technology. Though she attended university with plans to become an architect, Finucane admitted, “I got involved with inter-varsity debating and I spent a hell of a lot more time talking about politics than I did about architecture.” She was told she should audition for RTÉ, and once she did, she never looked back. Her enjoyment of what she did came through in her enthusiasm and proficiency, but she put it into words in a 2013 interview with the Irish Independent: “Sometimes I think how lucky am I to be part of the national conversation, to be meeting all these extraordinarily interesting, or boring [with a laugh] people and to engage with them.” Through work and travels she came into contact with countless people in need, and went out of her way to help them however she could. After visiting South Africa and seeing firsthand the devastation wreaked by the HIV pandemic, particularly on young children, she and her husband John started the foundation Friends in Ireland, which takes in orphaned and otherwise vulnerable children with HIV to ensure they are treated properly. After her daughter Sinead died of leukemia at age 8, Finucane began working with many hospice charities, since her own experience had affected her so closely. In a tribute at Finucane’s funeral service, her husband John spoke through thick waves of emotion, recollecting “my Marian – a woman who I’ve loved for 40 years. A woman who, for me, always made the colors brighter, the world a bit easier to live in.” Finucane was predeceased by Sinead, who died in


1990. She leaves behind John; son Jack; stepchildren Jocelyn, Neil, and Timothy; and siblings Therese, Dorothy, Noel, and Tomas.

Larry Gogan (1934-2020)


TÉ broadcaster and disc jockey Lorcan “Larry” Gogan died in early January. He was 85. Gogan’s 40 years as D.J. for RTÉ 2FM accounted for more than two thirds of his broadcasting career, with thousands of listeners tuning in to hear him introduce classics on his show The Golden Hour, during which he conducted the infamous Just A Minute quiz game. Gogan was born in Dublin, and knew he wanted a career in radio from the time he was young. He crafted his performing skills with parts in plays including Life With Father and Juno and the Paycock as a teenager. After graduating, he worked for his family’s shop in Dublin, where he met and recognized a broadcast radio producer. He asked her for an audition and was granted one on the spot. They liked his voice, and the rest was history. From the very first band he played on the RTÉ 2 (The Boomtown Rats) Gogan was committed to putting Irish acts on the air, which earned him many friends in the vibrant community of Irish music. “He advocated for Irish artists and Irish music throughout his career,” noted RTÉ’s Jim Jennings. “This, in many ways, was his unique quality: he was loved by the listener, and loved by the artist.” To Gogan, the choice was simple, and he didn’t understand why his younger peers didn’t do the same. “They seem to be slaves to the British charts for some reason,” he told RTÉ Guide in 2005. “If it’s good, play it. There’s loads of Irish rubbish out there but there’s loads of British and American rubbish as well.” In spite of that criticism, Gogan loved his job, and was notorious for keeping every demo and album anyone sent to him, regardless of who they were, and listening to what they had to offer, with a magnanimous attitude that is uncommon in the music business that made him beloved by up-and-coming musicians in particular. Larry is preceded in death by his wife Florrie. He is mourned by children Gerard, Orla, Grainne, David, and Sinead; and 12 grandchildren.

Arty McGlynn (1944-2020)


raditional Irish music performer and guitarist Arty McGlynn died in December of 2019. A long career peppered with performances with stars including Van Morrison and Christy Moore saw McGlynn a well-loved and renowned pillar of the traditional and folk music community in Ireland, and the recipient of the lifetime achievement award from TG4 in 2016. Born in Botera, County Tyrone, into a family of

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 11:57 AM

IA.TWLREV3.qxp_IA Template 3/5/20 4:03 PM Page 126

those we lost | talented musicians, McGlynn’s vocation was less a choice than it was an inheritance. He received his first guitar from his mother at the age of 11. He got his start as a professional musician as a guitarist in the showbands Brian Coll and the Plattermen and Frankie McBride and the Polka Dots. He met, married, and started a family with fiddler Nollaig Casey in his 18 years travelling with showbands, and uncovered a reborn love for his traditional roots by playing old tunes in his off hours on the road. He turned back to those roots completely to play with Paul Brady, providing guitar instrumentals on his album Hard Station, then moved on for a time to play with Makem and Clancy, eventually settling for a seven-year period with a spot in Van Morrison’s band. Even as his name gathered notoriety and began to draw crowds on its own steam, McGlynn preferred to play in the background. “I always see myself as a side man more than a front man,” he confessed in an interview with Irish Music Magazine in 2004. But critics and audiences alike knew talent when they saw it, and they saw it in Arty in spades: “It would be difficult to name anyone playing music who is the equal of Arty McGlynn for subtlety and complexity of harmonic invention,” wrote critic Kenny Mathleson. McGlynn leaves behind wife and partner Nollaig Casey and five children.

Mary Higgins Clark (1927-2020)


TOP: Arty McGlynn ABOVE: Mary Higgins Clark being inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame on March 21, 2011.

ward-winning, best-selling novelist and treasured friend of this magazine Mary Higgins Clark died in late January, aged 92. With over 50 books and 21 honorary doctorates to her credit, Clark received numerous prestigious awards: being recognized by the Pope as a Dame of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, the Gold Medal of Honor from the American-Irish Historical Society, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and Family Heritage Award. She also had an award named after her by the Mystery Writers of America. Clark was an inaugural inductee into Irish America’s Hall of Fame in 2011, the year she was grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Born in 1927 to a first-generation Irish American and an immigrant from Roscommon, Clark’s love of and talent for writing had been cultivated from a young age by her mother, she recalled in an interview with Irish America, who encouraged “every word I wrote as though it were scripted by the angels.” She


grew up in the Bronx in a fairly secure middle-class existence until her beloved publican father died when she was 12. With “$2,000 and three children,” her mother began renting rooms to make ends meet, offering “Kitchen privileges” to entice boarders, which inspired the name of Clark’s 2002 memoir. Clark held a job from her youth to contribute what she could, ending with a year as a Pan Am stewardess before marrying Warren Clark, with whom she had five children: Warren, David, Carol, Pat, and Marilyn. She wrote several short stories and submitted them to magazines, taking the seemingless endless rejection slips in stride. When Warren died of a heart attack in 1964, Clark went back to work, eventually landing a job writing pieces for a historical radio program. While any less determined person might have thrown in the towel on pursuing her dream as a single mother with five young kids, Clark pushed herself and set aside 5:00-7:00am every morning to write. While doing research on George Washington for work, she became fascinated by his relationship with his wife, Martha, and the pair became the locus of 1969’s Aspire to the Heavens, which bookstores would invariably shelve with spiritual works. It did not sell until it was re-released years later, under the more marketable title Mount Vernon Love Story. Her next novel claimed another real-life inspiration. When a young mother was accused of murdering her children in cold blood, Clark began asking herself the questions that would inform the advice she later gave young writers: What if..? and Suppose..? Those two initial questions led to the 1975 release of Where Are the Children?, purchased by Simon & Schuster for $3,000. It was a bestseller, and her next one sold in seven figures. From then on, Clark’s books basically reserved the number one slot on the New York Times’ Best Seller list. Beyond the 37 solo works to her credit, Clark cowrote several times with her daughter on Carol’s Regan Reilly detective series, and later with Alafair Burke, launching their Under Suspicion series. Clark also became an inspiration to late-in-life sweethearts everywhere when she married her “Spouse Extraordinaire,” former Merrill Lynch Futures CEO John Conheeney in 1996, after meeting him at a St. Patrick’s Day party. Their blended family was the joy of her life, and he would accompany her on book tours before his death in 2018. “I had a prince at the beginning and a prince at the end,” she told Irish America in 2011. In an online tribute recalling his close friendship with and admiration for Clark, Cardinal Timothy Dolan extolled, “You’re a class act ’til the end, dear Mary! Your laugh, your wit, your smile, your wisdom, your faith…you!…are eternal!” Clark is predeceased by Warren, John, and her brothers Joseph and Johnny. She leaves behind five children, four stepchildren, 17 grandchildren, and IA two great-grandchildren.

Untitled-3 Untitled-31 1

3/16/2011:51 12:29 PM 3/4/20 AM

IA.PhotoAlbumREV2.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 2:52 PM Page 128

photo album | the last flight

A Son of Erin is

Called Home Remembering Thomas V. Murphy, WWII Flyer

T RIGHT: Tom Murphy of the 27th Fighter Group pictured at Tarquinia Airfield, Italy, 1944. FAR RIGHT: Tom Murphy at home on his porch in Baltimore, 2019.

homas V. Murphy, Jr was born in Baltimore in 1922. A great-greatgrandson of Terence Murphy, who emigrated from Tallanstown, County Louth, in 1863, Tom spent his youth doing what all boys do – playing ball, going to school, and, in those days, dodging streetcars. At the age of 16, his mother passed away and Tom stepped up to play a big role in raising his younger brother, the late James Randall. A graduate of St Bernadine Catholic School and Mount Saint Joseph High School, Tom was destined for a blue-collar career until history intervened. Shortly after he graduated high school, Tom was walking with his childhood friend, Barry Lawler, when a neighbor raced out of a nearby house and shouted, “Pearl Harbor was attacked!” Neither Tom nor Barry knew where Pearl Harbor was at the time, but they soon found themselves at a recruiting office testing to qualify as pilot candidates in the Army Air Corps. As luck would have it, the Air Corps had just rescinded the requirement for pilot candidates to have a college degree. Both passed the test. As recently as 2017, Barry claimed he copied his answers from Tom, but Barry would go on to achieve status as a fighter Ace. He clearly had an innate acumen for flying. After flight training in the United States and a brief initial assignment in Panama, Tom found himself on a troop ship steaming toward Morocco, zigzagging across the Atlantic to elude German U-boats. From there he took a five-day, 2,000-mile steam train journey across North Africa, through the Atlas Mountains to what was then called Berteaux Airfield in eastern Algeria.


In Algeria the call came for two pilots to join a unit newly equipped with the P-51 Mustang. To select from among 17 interested pilots, cards were drawn from a deck held by their colonel. Tom would draw the highest card, the queen of

IA.PhotoAlbumREV2.qxp_IA Template 2/29/20 2:52 PM Page 129

clubs, and with it his assignment to the 27th Fighter Group, where he would serve throughout his time overseas. The 27th Fighter Group performed tactical missions that had Tom and his fellow pilots skimming the treetops and chimneys of enemyheld Italy and France to attack ground targets. Tom spoke infrequently about the specifics of his wartime experiences, but when he did it was more often to highlight the courage and sacrifice of others, especially those who never made it home. His family would later learn that he flew over 120 fighter combat missions during his two tours in the Mediterranean theater, earning an Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross among other decorations. At the conclusion of the war, Tom returned to the States and came under the command of the late Walt Flynn of East Greenbush, New York, who was a decorated fighter pilot from the European theater. The two became fast, lifelong friends.

Thanks to the GI Bill, Tom was able to attend the University of Maryland, where he was awarded a degree in engineering. In 1948 he married his beloved “Bess,” the late Edith Murphy. Seven children later, Bess agreed to a bold plan for Tom to join two co-workers, Jack Burdette and Lou Koehler, in starting their own engineering firm. Burdette, Koehler and Murphy, better known as BKM, opened its doors in 1968 and to this day remains a thriving, wellrespected firm. At the age of 55, Tom took up the mandolin and despite no past experience, became an accomplished player in the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra, with his wife Bess not far away on the piano. After selling BKM and “retiring,” Tom returned to college and earned a master’s degree in history, which he applied to his role as a volunteer docent for the National Park Service at the Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland. He enjoyed sharing how he often had to assure young visitors that, “no, he did not serve in the Civil War.” Tom also volunteered time at his parish church and a local nursing home. He joined a lifelong friend, Leight Johnson, in a memoir writing class at Johns Hopkins University and his children are blessed to now have the 66 memoirs Tom wrote about his life. Well into his last decade, Tom worked as a volunteer with the Baltimore County Police Department. Tom was dismayed that as time passed, so too did many of his beloved family and friends. People like Walt and Eleanor Flynn, his brother James, Barry Lawler, Tom’s wife Bess, and his oldest son David. Through it all, blessed by mostly good health, a remarkable memory, and the Irish gift of storytelling, he could often be heard saying, “It has been a great ride.” Tom died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Baltimore on January 6, 2020, a few miles from where his life began 97 years earlier. In a corner in his home remains an Irish blackthorn walking stick that was carried to America by Terence in 1863. Tom is survived by six of his seven children (son David passed prior to Tom): sons Kevin, Ralph, Brian, Wayne, and Miles; daughter Susan; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. IA This remembrance was written by Tom’s sons Miles and Wayne and his granddaughter Jennifer.

Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description to Patricia Harty at Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1606, New York, NY 10001. If photos are irreplaceable, then please send a good quality reproduction or email the picture at 300 DPI resolution to submit@irishamerica.com. We will pay $65 for each submission that we select.


Help us share the story Quinnipiac is home to Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, with the world’s largest collection of Famine-related art. The story it tells is more relevant than ever.

Become a member and help support the museum. ighm.org/support

3011 Whitney Avenue | Hamden, Connecticut For more information, please visit ighm.org or call 203-582-6500

Untitled-2 1

2/26/20 5:30 PM

Being Wilde: The Importance of Oscar Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University presents a symposium on March 18 to mark the launch of an exhibition on the life and legacy of Oscar Wilde. “Being Wilde” is part of a vibrant program of lectures, conferences, courses, exhibitions and publications that help provide a deeper understanding of Irish history and culture.

GET DETAILS go.qu.edu/wilde

Untitled-2 1

2/26/20 5:32 PM

Do what you love and you will find a way to get it out into the world. —Judy Collins

The feeling is Mutual.

Poet, dreamer, legend, rebel. Congratulations to Judy Collins and all of the 2020 Irish America Hall of Fame honorees for their outstanding leadership, creativity, and dedication to public service, the arts, business and education. Jean Butler, Judy Collins, Patrick Doherty, Thomas Kelly, Sean McGarvey, Kathleen Murphy, Eileen Murray and Congressman Richie Neal.

Untitled-3 1

3/4/20 12:34 PM

Profile for Irish America Magazine

Irish America March / April 2020  

The March / April issue of Irish America profiles the 2020 inductees into the Hall of Fame – Jean Butler, Judy Collins, Patrick Doherty, Tho...

Irish America March / April 2020  

The March / April issue of Irish America profiles the 2020 inductees into the Hall of Fame – Jean Butler, Judy Collins, Patrick Doherty, Tho...

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded