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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2012 CANADA $4.95 U.S. $3.95

1908 Olympics When Irish Americans won a host of medals

Travels in Kerry Villagers step up when a knapsack is stolen

TheYear

Michael

FASSBENDER’S BRILLIANT CAREER CONTINUES TO RISE 0 9>

Tana French Ireland’s favorite American crime writer 0 74470 73334 DISPLAY UNTIL SEPT. 30, 2012

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promising Ireland for over 35 years The American Ireland Fund has supported innovative work that preserves Irish culture, counters sectarianism, advances education, strengthens community development and cares for those in need. Today, our Promising Ireland Campaign seeks to raise $140 million for Irish charities by the end of 2013. With charities facing increased demand for services with fewer resources, your support is needed more than ever. So far, over 350 outstanding projects and organizations have received support from the Promising Ireland Campaign. Please join us in Promising Ireland.

We invite you to learn about giving back to the land that has given us so much. Please visit

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Contents

42

August / September 2012 Vol. 27 No. 5

32

62

54

58 36

FEATURES

ever, shares her life story and her secrets to living well. By Catherine Davis

14 IRISH EYE ON HOLLYWOOD The latest on upcoming movies and TV shows featuring your favorite Irish stars. By Tom Deignan

58 THE FIRST LADY OF IRISH CRIME Tana French’s bestselling crime novels keep readers in suspense and mark this American actress-turned-author as an astute observer of Irish life. By Tom Deignan

32 TRAVELS IN KERRY When Mary Tolan’s belongings were stolen on her trip to Ireland, she thought all was lost. During five weeks on the Dingle Peninsula, she found something even better.

6O WHAT ARE YOU LIKE? Fionnula Flanagan, actress, Joycean scholar, and activist, answers questions about her life and work.

36 THE YEAR OF MICHAEL The extraordinary rise to fame of Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who stars in this summer’s Prometheus. Interview by Patricia Danaher.

62 THE SILENT MASTER Rex Ingram, the clergyman’s son from Ireland who became one of the biggest directors in Hollywood and discovered Rudolph Valentino. By Bill Grantham.

42 THE OLYMPICS OF 1908 As the Summer Olympic Games take place in London, we take a look back at 1908, when Irish Americans did well – despite some dubious judging by the British. By Roger D. McGrath.

66 A FESTIVAL FOR PEACE The story of Patrick Gilmore, the Irish-born bandleader and music impresario behind Boston’s 1872 World Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival – one of the largest music festivals in history. By Michael Quinlin.

48 DIARY OF A CIVIL WAR SOLDIER Michael Dougherty, a young Irish soldier in the American Civil War, kept a diary of his experiences, including the horrendous conditions endured in Confederate prison camps. By Sean Cronin

54 DANCING

THROUGH LIFE In the second installment in a new series on inspiring IrishAmerican seniors, Terry McLaughlin, ninety-one years old and still as vivacious as

COVER PHOTO: AP IMAGES

68 THE IRISH LUTHIER Downpatrick-based George Lowden talks to Tara Dougherty about his world-class guitars.

80 MARTIN & THE

DEPARTMENTS 8 12 16 52 72

Readers Forum News Hibernia Roots Music Reviews

QUEEN

74 76 78 82

Book Reviews Sláinte Crossword Family Album

Martin McGuinness explains why it was all right for him to shake hands with the British queen.


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{contributors}

Vol.27 No.5 • Aug. / Sept. 2012

IRISH AMERICA Mortas Cine Pride In Our Heritage

Founding Publisher: Niall O’Dowd Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief: Patricia Harty Vice President of Marketing: Kate Overbeck Art Director: Marian Fairweather

Patricia Danaher Patricia Danaher, seen here with Michael Fassbender, is a writer, journalist and producer based in Los Angeles. She is the only Irish member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with a vote in the Golden Globes. A longtime political correspondent for UTV, she was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University for stories which she broke regarding the Northern Ireland peace process. She has just completed her first novel and children’s book, and is developing a movie on Mother Jones.

Deputy Editor: Sheila Langan Copy Editor: John Anderson Advertising & Events Coordinator & Music Editor: Tara Dougherty Director of Special Projects: Turlough McConnell Financial Controller: Kevin M. Mangan Editorial Writers: Laura Corrigan Catherine Davis Molly Ferns Michelle Meagher

Tom Deignan

Tara Dougherty Irish America’s advertising and events coordinator, Tara also serves as music editor. She has interviewed such legends as Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains) as well as newcomers Julie Feeney and James Vincent McMorrow. A graduate of New York University with degrees in history and creative writing, Tara is a native New Yorker with roots in Roscommon.

For over a decade, Tom Deignan has written the weekly “Sidewalks” column for The Irish Voice newspaper. He also writes columns about movies and history for Irish America, and is a regular book reviewer for the Newark Star-Ledger. In this issue, he interviews mystery writer Tana French.

IRISH AMERICA 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 201, New York NY 10001 TEL: 212-725-2993 FAX: 212-244-3344

Subscriptions: 1-800-582-6642 E-MAIL: irishamag@aol.com www.irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine ISSN 08844240) © by Irish America Inc. Published bi-monthly. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. Editorial office: 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Telephone: 212-725-2993. Fax: 212-244-3344 Email: Irishamag@aol.com. Subscription rate is $21.95 for one year. Subscription orders: 1-800-582-6642. Subscription queries: 1-800-582-6642, (212) 725-2993, ext. 150. Periodicals postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Postmaster please send address changes to Irish America Magazine, P.O. Box 1277, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-5277. IRISH AMERICA IS PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

Bill Grantham Dublin-born Bill Grantham is an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, as well as a writer on topics ranging from the history of the Irish pub to the dynamics of film financing. Through his production company, Obelisk Films, he is working on a documentary film on the career and influence of Rex Ingram.

Mary Tolan Mary Tolan grew up in Wisconsin and has lived in the Southwest for three decades. A freelance journalist based in Flagstaff, Arizona, her stories and some photographs have been published in many magazines including Arizona Highways, Trail Runner, and Horizon, and in several newspapers including the Irish Times. She writes a monthly column in the Arizona Daily Sun called “The Long & Winding Road” and is a journalism professor at Northern Arizona University. It was during her year’s sabbatical in 2010 to 2011 that she fell hard for Ireland.


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{readers forum} The Last Word: Stand With the Sisters Mary Pat Kelly’s opinion piece in the June/July issue on supporting women religious received a multitude of comments online. A sampling – from supporters and detractors, nuns and lay people – follows. Thanks, Mary Pat. I love the stories of the Native American women and the story of Saints Brigid and Mel. Only in Ireland! We Irish Americans take our religion seriously, but not to the detriment of what is real. Sisters believe that all people are called to be co-creators and bearers of God’s love in an evolving world. Life is short. We have to get on with it. Somebody needs to tell the Vatican that the road to heaven does not have to be hell. Jean Hughes, O.P. Posted online, June 23.

I too was a Sister of Providence for twenty years. Without sisters there would have been no laity, for we taught them in schools around the country and abroad. I feel our message of the love of God was true then and is today. Sisters of most orders have developed their message and spread their ministry to embrace all God’s children, and the social problems facing us today. The sisters must stand their ground, and we will stand with them. For we, not Rome, are the Church. Joyce Reis. Posted online, May 28.

Wonderfully written article. Thank you for your insightful response. Please forward to the Bishops. Barbara Reder S.P. Posted online, May 27.

These women gave their lives to the church. They are on the front lines helping the poor, the sick, and the elderly, even though many of them are now elderly themselves. They never received the “little extras” that the parish priests received and in fact never received any financial support from the Vatican and now have very little security in their old age. But worst of all is the scrutiny from the men who live a much more comfortable life in Rome, in their castles with fine meals and clothing. At the end of the day whose life truly reflects the life of Christ? Certainly not the men who choose to scrutinize the sisters. So today if 8 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

of the Church. Over the years the LCWR has publicly opposed the bishops on many different fronts: Obamacare, the HHS Contraception Mandate, ordination of women, homosexuality, abortion, etc. To add insult to injury LCWR leadership has been defiant and downright nasty in their responses. They have Native American women being presented with mocked Pope Benedict and the bishthe Global Justice Award by Sister Rita Arthur. ops and attempted to cast themselves you live near a convent or have sisters at as ‘victims.’ IowaMike. Posted May 23, your child’s school, show them a little supon our sister site IrishCentral. port, many are old and being sent back to their mother house after living in commuVery upset to ‘discover’ that there are a nities for forty years or more. Send a card, number of people who have negative feelbake something, take them out for a dinings about the Sisters. Yeah, in the Roman ner, show them the gratitude that is certainCatholic world, there are the fathers, but ly not coming from Rome. McNamara 31. Posted May 23, the Sisters are truly and deeply the on our sister site IrishCentral. Mothers for one and all. Given their teaching and instruction, they have really raised The Pope nor his government departthe children within almost all aspects of ments nor any hierarchy is throwing any the Church. I do hope that the bishops nuns under any buses. He is doing what eventually learn and understand that the Jesus advised: if they will not hear you in future of the religion really relies upon any town, shake the dust from your feet; these exceptional women. JoePatAl. Posted May 23, and what St. Paul said and did: ex-comon our sister site IrishCentral. municate, cut off from your community anyone who disagrees with official teachThe nuns are the only constituency in ing or acts immorally. . . No one ever disthe Church who have carried out as far as credits the great work that nuns who serve they could, the reforms of Second Vatican the needs of others [do], and monks and Council. Usually, they did so in the face of nuns who pray all day are extremely stiff opposition from bishops. Now important for the Church. We have all they’re suffering pay-back for their sucbenefited from priests and nuns in both cess in carrying the Gospel to so many, categories. No CEO would tolerate any especially people in need, in a world that member of a company or organization gives them little thanks for their acts of who was bad-mouthing the product – kindness and of love. They have demonmost would not give such a one an opporstrated by [the] work of their lives that the tunity to repent. The Church does, followHoly Spirit guided the Church through ing Jesus, or should, but do not confuse Vatican II. Look to the nuns to learn how pity with love and truth and faithfulness. HermitTalker. Posted May 23, to bring Christianity into the modern on our sister site IrishCentral. world and how to stand strong against oppression from churchmen. I want to thank Mary Pat Kelly for this Eiriamach. Posted May 23, on our sister site IrishCentral. article because it completely and totally vindicates the Vatican for censoring the I do have a question for the article’s Leadership Conference of Women author. She uses the words sister and nun Religious (LCWR). No one, including the interchangeably. I was under the impresVatican, doubts or criticizes the nuns for sion that a nun was a member of a contemtheir social justice accomplishments. But plative (prayer) order, usually cloistered. that is not why the Vatican censored the Sisters on the other hand belong to reliLCWR in the first place. The Vatican gious orders that serve the greater comaction was necessary to stem the tide of munity such as teachers, social workers, radical feminism as revealed by the doctors, nurses etc. Did I have this wrong? LCWR’s heterodox doctrines and opinpilib04. Posted May 23, ions as well as by their continual criticism on our sister site IrishCentral. of and opposition to the all-male hierarchy


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Editor’s Note: A good question. A group called Catholic Nuns Today provides a thorough answer: “Nuns and Sisters are women who have chosen to live vowed religious life within the Catholic Church. There are a number of different orders, each with its own charism or special character. . . While both Nuns and Sisters are called “Sister,” there is a distinction made in the Catholic Church which is generally not made by the public. Nuns take solemn vows and are cloistered, that is, they reside, pray and work within the confines of a monastery. Sisters take simple vows and live a life governed by the particular mission, vision, and charism of the respective Orders or Congregations of Sisters. Sisters embrace ministries that take them out to serve the people in hospitals, schools, parishes, social services, and the like.”

Irish America Day: Celebrate the 4th of July in Ireland My grandfather left Dublin and arrived in Charleston, S.C. in 1910. I have dual citizenship (Irish & American) and hold an Irish passport. As the 4th of July approaches I have both my American & Irish flags flying in front of our home in Charleston. Charleston has a very large Irish heritage and are very proud of it. Our Mayor of 40 years is of Irish descent (Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr) whom I graduated from high school with. Robert Charles Maguire. Posted online, June 3

presentation of the history, stories, athletes and magic that is the Winged Fist Organization. Thank you for bringing to the present the wonderful adventures and records you uncovered through your persistent research about the athletes that once called Celtic Park their home. Walter J. Kehoe. Posted online, May 22. JFK with bat at Fenway Park, April 1946.

A Century of Fenway Lovely piece Mr. Quinlin. I had not read about JFK in 1962. From the photo of the park’s opening in 1912, I’d say it was the kind of cold April day we hardly have anymore in the Northeast. Cheers! Michael Coffey. Posted online, May 18.

Many thanks, Michael, for your interesting and informative linkage of Fenway’s history and the Kennedy clan. This adds another item of ‘love’ to my love/hate relationship with Fenway. Now if you could only reduce beer prices and improve the bullpen! Dave Repetto. Posted online, June 12.

The Glory Days of Celtic Park Ian, congratulations on another fine

Roots: The History of the Clooney Clan What about the “Parish church at Clooney, a mile from Spancil Hill” – the next most famous Clooney after George and his Dad? The actual church that the song features is gone over 30 odd years and was replaced by a more modern one. But it’s still called Clooney Church and it’s still a mile from Spancil Hill where the fair is still held once a year! Eion O’Hagan. Posted online, May 30.

A Climb to Give Thanks ’Tis a grand tale of love and devotion and how we can cement the family in its journey through life. Very well written. Congratulations to Patrick, Mary and all the Connolly family. Pauline. Posted online, May 30. Patrick Connolly, 90, and his family, atop Croagh Patrick.

GAA Takes Off in Texas This is all very exciting and I’m happy to be participating in the GAA club, but I also wanted to bring attention to the Conradh na Gaeilge Craobh Chairdeas Dallas non-profit organization. Our goal is to help spread the Irish language by providing weekly access to study groups. The study groups are free of charge. We also periodically host immersion days and weekends with fluent Irish language teachers. We had 25 people participate this year from beginners through intermediate learners. You can find out more info at our website http://www.dfwgaelicleague or search for DFW Gaelic League on Facebook. Sean Mac Uidhir. Posted online, May 22.

Visit us online at Irishamerica.com to leave your comments, or write to us: Send a fax (212-244-3344) , e-mail (submit@irishamerica.com) or write to Letters, Irish America Magazine, 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Letters should include the writer’s name, address and phone number, and may be edited for clarity and length. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 9


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{the first word} By Patricia Harty

Hunger & Silence “People think [the Irish] are such great talkers, but there is so much silence in Ireland about certain issues.” – Fionnula Flanagan he image of Michael Fassbender on our cover is very different to how he was seen in Hunger, the 2008 movie in which he played Bobby Sands, leader of the 1981 hunger strike in Northern Ireland. Fassbender, a Kerry native whose mother is from County Antrim and whose father is German, portrayed Sands in the last six weeks of his life. His performance is especially gripping as he shows the physical decline of Sands in his last days. It is said that the actor existed on a diet of berries and a few nuts to get down to starvation weight for those scenes, in which he looks like a Holocaust victim. Hunger, directed and conceived by Steve McQueen, is a truly painful film to watch. It’s excruciating as it shows the conditions in the Maze prison prior to the hunger strike, where, for four and a half years, in a sharply escalating power struggle between rights taken away and rights sacrificed in protest, the prisoners went naked or wore blankets instead of prison uniforms (they sought to be characterized as political prisoners), and lived in the midst of their own waste. Except for one central scene when Sands talks about the morality of what he’s about to undertake with a priest played by Liam Cunningham, Hunger is almost a silent film although it is so visual and visceral that the message is loud and clear. The lack of dialogue seems appropriate. The hunger strike, in which 10 men died, Bobby Sands being the first, is not an easy topic to talk about. And like so much of our Irish history, especially as it pertains to the North, it often gets the silent treatment in the south of Ireland. (Fionnula Flanagan who played the mother of a hunger striker in Some Mother’s Son, says, “People think [the Irish] are such great talkers, but there is so much silence in Ireland about certain issues.” The national silence also applies to the Irish Civil War (1922-23). The conflict over the partition of Ireland took a terrible toll – more lives were lost than in the War of Independence – splitting families and

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pitting former comrades against each other. Perhaps that’s why in the ensuing years, the south, in the main, left the Northern nationalists to fight their own battles. During the latter-day Troubles in Northern Ireland, which escalated with Bloody Sunday (January, 1972), the Irish government reacted with a broadcasting ban that prevented Sinn Féin members from having access to the media. The ban, called Section 31, lasted from 1971 until 1993, when it was lifted by Michael D. Higgins (now the president of Ireland, then the Minister for Arts, Culture & the Gaeltacht). For much of the Troubles, I was in the United States and thus looking at it from afar, but also partaking in the debate, as it was more freely discussed over here than in Ireland. In 1991, I happened to be in Belfast as a tourist when an opportunity came to interview Gerry Adams for this magazine. I was happy to report back that Adams said it was time for political talks. And indeed, largely thanks to President Clinton and Irish-American involvement, the ensuing years brought talks, and the Good Friday Agreement, which was signed in 1998. I find myself reflecting back on this particular time in Irish history, not just because Michael Fassbender is on our cover, but because I was recently in Ireland. I discovered that the Irish are

deeply divided on the hunger strike – and on the North in general – and that any mention of a desire for a united Ireland is liable to get one labeled as a rabid republican or worse, a terrorist. As part of the induction ceremony into our Irish America Hall of Fame, Fionnula Flanagan talked about her part in Some Mother’s Son, the story of the hunger strike told through the eyes of two mothers. The movie was slammed in the Irish papers as well as the British tabloids as “provo propaganda,” and both Fionnula and Helen Mirren, who played the other mother, were vilified for taking part in the movie. On its release in 1998 it received scant distribution (you still can’t rent it on Netflix). I don’t think I was imagining the silence in the room when, after she was asked why she became involved in the project, Fionnula answered, “Ten men died.” All of this looking back on our history reminds me of how much blame and pain had to be put aside for the recent handshake to take place between Martin McGuinness and the British Queen (whose favorite cousin, Lord Mountbatton, was blown up by the IRA). “All those people killed, I can’t believe McGuinness had the audacity to shake the Queen’s hand,” is one comment I heard in Ireland. McGuinness, meantime, is forthcoming on his handshake with the Queen, while making it clear that he is still a republican (see page 80), and he has called for further dialogue as a way forward towards the goal of a united Ireland. “For too long, successive Irish governments have paid lip service to partition. They have tolerated the division of our country and people which has resulted in Ireland as a nation not reaching our full potential. In future, ending partition, and national reunification, need to become Irish government policy, not merely an aspiration goal,” he said. I think he’s right. Ninety years after partition, isn’t it time for talks, even if it means breaking the silence and disturbing the ghosts of the Civil War?


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PEOPLE

| HERITAGE | EVENTS | ARTS | ENTERTAINMENT

Martin McGuinness Meets the British Queen n a seemingly simple gesture that would have been unthinkable not too long ago, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth II shook hands for the first time, on June 27 in Belfast. During the Queen’s two-day visit to Northern Ireland (part of her Diamond Jubilee celebration), in a private room at the Lyric Theatre, they shook hands as Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson and President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, among others, looked on. They repeated the exchange later in public, and McGuinness bade the queen “Slán agus Beannacht.” The handshake was a highly significant sign of progress, and an important step following the Queen’s 2011 visit to Dublin, which Sinn Féin did not participate in. A few days before the meeting, McGuinness, who was once a commander in the IRA, acknowledged the tension underlying the gesture of reconciliation.“I represent people who have been terribly hurt by British state violence over many years. I also recognize I am going to meet someone who has also been hurt as a result of the conflict, and someone who is very conscious that in many homes in Britain there are parents, wives, children, brothers and sisters of British soldiers who were sent here who lost their lives in the conflict,” he said.

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LIBRARY BOOK RETURNED, 80 YEARS OVERDUE n December 1932, a book was checked out of a library in Navan, County Meath.The book, a pictorial record of the Catholic Eucharistic Congress, was never seen again – until very recently. In June, eighty years after the book was borrowed, with late fees of over $5,144, the library staff discovered the volume – in excellent condition – discreetly placed in the returns box. The borrower and nameless returner remain unknown, as the library does not keep records as far back as the 1930’s. Librarian Ciaran Mangan believes it’s possible that the book’s original borrower is now deceased, which means it was most likely returned by a surviving relative. Mangan and the rest of the County Meath library staff are curious to discover who has held the book for the past eight decades, and reassure whoever returned it that they will not be charged the hefty fines. The return of the book coincided with the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which took place in Dublin the week after, and which Mangan believes may have inspired the book’s return. The library decided to put the book on display, and Mangan remarked that they “won’t be lending it out to anyone again!” – M.M.

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Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth shake hands, as First Minister Peter Robinson looks on.

Reflecting on the handshake in a speech at a Sinn Féin event at Westminster, McGuinness described the moment as “a result of decades of work constructing the Irish peace process.” Turn to page 80 to read McGuinness’ speech. – S.L.

BLOODY SUNDAY INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED olice in Northern Ireland are launching a murder investigation into the infamous Bloody Sunday shootings, which occurred on January 30, 1972, in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, and left 14 unarmed Catholiccivil-rights protesters dead at the hands of British soldiers. PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott told the Irish Times, “It’s a lengthy investigation. This has to be done to modern standards of murder investigation which is both resource-intensive and prolonged.” The PSNI states that the major murder inquiry could take up to four years, and will involve as many as 30 police. The decision comes after the 2010 publication of the Saville Inquiry. Commissioned by Tony Blair in 1998 and chaired by Lord Saville, the Saville Inquiry found that those who died on Bloody Sunday were killed unjustly, as they posed no threat to the armed soldiers. Two of the soldiers, the report claims, fired into the crowd believing (though uncertain) that they had spotted a gunman, while five fired believing that no one in the area posed a threat. Campaigner John Kelly, Mural depicting the fourteen whose brother Michael was people killed on Bloody Sunday. shot and killed during the incident, responded on UTV news saying, “It shouldn’t take much longer to come to the point where these guys should be prosecuted for what they did.” The Saville Inquiry also found that the soldiers went into the Bogside on an order from Col. Derek Wilford, which should not have been given. – C.D.

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{news from ireland} EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS HELD IN DUBLIN he 50th International Catholic Eucharistic Congress was held in Dublin in June – a week-long celebration of Roman Catholicism, with a particular focus on transubstantiation, or the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Ireland has not hosted the Eucharistic Congress since 1932, coincidentally during another period of economic hardship. Depression-era Ireland, however, had quite a different climate politically, culturally, and spiritually than today’s recessionera Ireland. Over a million Catholics gathered in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 1932 for the open-air Mass that started off that Eucharistic Congress. This year’s opening service, held at the Royal Dublin Society

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The opening mass of the 50th Eucharistic Congress

Arena, saw just 12,000 in attendance. While people in the 1930s turned to Church leaders for guidance and assurance, many Irish today regard the Church with disillusionment and suspicion, as yet another corrupt institution whose leaders have abused their power.

Protesters, mainly on behalf of sexual abuse victims (LGBT supporters, and vocal atheists were also present), gathered by the entrances to the conference. Abuse survivor Paddy Doyle told the Irish Times he believed it was offensive to hold the Congress in Ireland at a time when so many people are “still smarting.” In addition, the Congress arrived on the heels of the Vatican’s recent censure and silencing of Fr. Tony Flannery and several other Irish priests for questioning Church orthodoxy. But for those in attendance, the Eucharistic Congress was a revitalizing experience. Eimear Felle, a 27-year-old Dubliner volunteering at the Congress, told Catholic News Service she believes the Irish people “are letting their anger overshadow the positive aspects [of the church’s work] … I really feel something good is going to come out of this – Ireland really needs this.” Approximately 75,000 people attended the closing mass, held in Dublin’s Croke Park. There, Catholics from over 120 countries listened to a pre-recorded address from the Pope, acknowledging that the Church has “been shaken in an appalling way by the revelation of sins committed by priests and consecrated persons against people entrusted to their care...they abused people and undermined the credibility of the Church’s message.” He went on to remind the congregation that they are heirs to a faith that has been a force for good throughout the world. – C.D.

ADVENTUROUS DOG REUNITED WITH OWNER erhaps it was an accident, or perhaps it was a case of wanderlust. In the early hours of July 4, Patch, a Jack Russell terrier from Co. Kildare, boarded a Dublin-bound train at Kilcock. By the time he arrived at the Pearse Street station a little before 8:00 a.m,. the train crew were aware of the fourlegged stow away, and took him to the nearby Irish Rail offices. Irish Rail then posted a photo (right) of Patch on Twitter, in hopes of finding his owner. Evidently taken by the story, Irish Twitter users shared his photo over 500 times, and only 32 minutes later it appeared on the Twitter feed of his owner, Deirdre Anglin, who was also in the process of sending out an alert via social media. Deirdre and Patch were later happily reunited at the Pearse Street station. Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny described Twitter as “a very effective alert-system” and told the Irish Times “It was a good job she showed up, as they were getting quite attached to him in the office.” – S.L..

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MONET PAINTING ATTACKED AT NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND he usually peaceful National Gallery of Ireland reported sad news on June 30: an attack on its only painting by the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. In the middle of the day, a man lunged at the 1874 painting Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, making a large hole in the canvas. He then collapsed and told security guards that he had chest pains, and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. After being discharged, the man was arrested in connection with the attack. The damaged painting was given to the National Gallery in 1924 by Edward Martyn, a musicologist and one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre.The Monet was one of six paintings in Martyn’s bequest, which also included works by Degas and Corot. Martyn was a cousin of Irish poet and mysticist George Moore, who is said to have encouraged him to purchase the painting during a trip to Paris. One of the most prized pieces in the gallery’s collection, the painting also numbers among its loveliest, depicting a sailboat floating down the Seine under a clear blue sky, with the town of Argenteuil faintly in the distance. National Gallery director Sean Rainbird told the Irish Times “It is a shocking and very regrettable incident and I would like to praise the Garda Siochana and the NGI staff in dealing promptly with the matter.” The National Gallery is currently assessing the possibilities for the painting’s restoration. – S.L..

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{ irish eye on hollywood} By Tom Deignan

A husband-and-wife political team in which the man is a womanizing former president and the woman is currently serving as Secretary of State. . . Sound familiar? Well, if you’re thinking of the Clintons, you’re only partially right. Because just such a family is also at the center of the USA cable network’s new drama Political Animals, starring Northern Irish veteran of stage and screen Ciaran Hinds and Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals hit TV screens on July 15, and features Hinds as former president Bud Hammond, whose sexual dalliances cost him his family. However, Hammond still wants to play the game of politics, and even his enemies know he is a master. Political Animals is a six-hour series that will run most of the summer on USA. This summer television season also brings the muchanticipated debut of Copper, the BBC America series about Irish cops and criminals in 19th century New York, during the era of the Irish Famine. Copper premieres on August 19. Denis Leary spent nearly a decade playing Irish-American firefighter Tommy Gavin on the FX drama series Rescue Me. Leary recently landed a plum gig in the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. He played police chief George Stacey, who also happens to be the father of Peter Parker’s main squeeze, Gwen Stacy. Up next for Leary, whose parents were Irish immigrants, is yet another New York production: a new television comedy called Bronx Warrants. Returning to the FX cable channel, Leary is serving as an executive producer for the show, which follows the trials and tribulations of detectives as they set out to arrest people with outstanding warrants. Currently, Leary is not slated to appear in Bronx Warrants, which will begin shooting its pilot episode this summer in New York City.

Martin McGuiness recently shook hands with the Queen of England, so you know the times they are a-changing in Northern Ireland. But that doesn’t mean the worst years of The Troubles have stopped inspiring great filmmakers. Belfast native Kenneth Branagh recently announced that a drama about political conflict in the North is one of the many projects currently on his very full plate. “What’s always appealed to me was to tell a story about 14 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

my own experience: a generational thing about my time in Belfast, a particular slice of dockside, working-class, Protestant life. I have an almost photographic recall of seeing Bernadette Devlin [the republican activist and MP] on television in the riots, and what all of that was doing to our family and all of those around us,” Branagh recently told The Guardian. Branagh was always a hardworking actor/director, but since he brought the comic book smash Thor to life as a director, he’s been red hot. He will be directing Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins in the romantic comedy Italian Shoes and then directing Kate Winslet in the movie version of

TOP: Ciaran Hinds and Sigourney Weaver in Political Animals. ABOVE: Denis Leary as Police Chief George Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. LEFT: Kenneth Branagh.

the best-seller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. September will bring with it yet another film with angel-faced Saoirse Ronan playing a cold-blooded killer. Ronan, whose last film, Hanna, featured her as a CIA-trained assassin, is set to star in Violet & Daisy, an action comedy also starring Alexis Bledel and directed by Geoffrey Fletcher. Bledel (of Gilmore Girls fame) and Ronan play teenage assassins who are given what they believe will be an easy job, but which turns out to be anything but. To add a menace to the proceedings,


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former Sopranos leading man James Gandolfini also stars. Later this year, or early next, Ronan will also team up with fellow Irish entertainer Neil Jordan for the film Byzantium, about a mother and daughter vampire duo. The film also stars Gemma Arterton and Jonny Lee Miller. Speaking of vampires, for Ronan, there is also the 2013 film The Host, a big-screen adaptation of Twilight author Stephanie Meyer’s novel. To be directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War), The Host will also star Max Irons, and Jake Abel when it hits theaters March 2013.

First up for Gleeson is the star-studded The Company You Keep, a political thriller produced and directed by Hollywood legend Robert Redford. The film is about a group of former 1960s Weather Underground militants who have managed to evade the FBI for three decades. When one of the fugitives has his identity exposed by a reporter, he must once again run, this time with his 11-year-old daughter. Redford also stars in the film, along with Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie and Terrence Howard. Brendan Gleeson appears as the retired police-man who initially investigated the militants’ In other Irish assassin film news, Colin bank robbery. Look for The Company You Farrell is slated to play a contract killer Keep in theaters in October. in a new film entitled Dead Man Down, More recently, Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan nominated the elder Gleeson to currently shooting in New York and play the elder Mr. Sheridan in Sheriff elsewhere. The film also stars the Street Stories, Sheridan’s upcoming film original girl with the dragon tattoo about growing up in Dublin’s inner city in the (from the first Swedish film ver1950s. Sheridan said Gleeson would be persion), Noomi Rapace. Fittingly, fect to play his late father Peter Sheridan in Dead Man Down is directed by the film, which is slated to begin shooting in Niels Arden Oplev, who was behind Dublin later this year. Speaking to the Irish the camera for the original Girl with Independent, Sheridan said: “I’d kind of like the Dragon Tattoo. Dead Man Brendan Gleeson to play my dad if he would Down will also feature Terrence do me the honor,” adding that the story is Howard and Dominic Cooper. “very personal; whether it’s true or not, I In the film, Farrell portrays a prodon’t know.” fessional killer and associate to an The Gleeson clan are just one of many Irish underground New York crime boss. connections to the upcoming film Stay. The After he is seduced and blackcast features Brendan’s son Brian Gleeson mailed by a victim seeking revenge (seen in the RTE series Love/Hate), who will (Rapace), the duo think about joinplay the role of Liam. Stay, which also stars ing forces. Aidan Quinn and is currently shooting in Galway, is based on Vancouver poet Aislinn Recently, filmgoers finally got a TOP: Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan Hunter’s debut novel of the same name. It chance to see the Irish film Stella on the set of Violet and Daisy. Colin Farrell on the set of explores the life of a young Canadian woman Days, starring Martin Sheen and ABOVE: Dead Man Down. Stephen Rea. Directed by living in a village outside Galway, who returns Thaddeus O’Sullivan (Ordinary Decent Criminal, Into the home after learning that she is pregnant. Storm), Stella Days should be available for home viewing Brian Gleeson recently appeared – visually altered – as one soon. The film is based on the book Stella Days: 1957 – of the dwarves in Snow White and The Huntsman and will be 1967, The Life and Times of Rural Irish Cinema by Michael seen next in Lance Daly’s Life’s A Breeze. Doorley. Both the book and film explore the small Tipperary town of Borrisokane, where tensions arise when a local priest Rumors of a screen adaptation of Irish author John Banville’s Quirke mystery series, which he writes under the (Sheen) who loves movies begins to bicker with a powerful pen name Benjamin Black, have been simmering for a while bishop. Though he was born Ramón Antonio Gerard Estévez, now. The Irish Film and Television Network recently Martin Sheen’s Irish roots are well established. In fact, Stella confirmed that scriptwriters Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones’ Days was a homecoming for the veteran actor. Sheen’s mom, Diary) and Conor McPherson (The Eclipse) had received Mary, was an Irish immigrant who hailed from Tipperary. funding from the Irish Film Board. The adaptation, simply Brendan Gleeson has a big-time film hitting screens in called Quirke, will star Gabriel Byrne in the title role, as a October, and a prized Irish project on the horizon. pathologist turned detective in 1950s Dublin. IA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 15


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The Red, White and Blue Meets th On July 4th, Ireland celebrated its first Irish America Day

Photos: Mary and Patrick Browne

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his Fourth of July, flags were her insightful and sensitive portrayal raised, grills were lighted, of James Joyce’s female characters, streets were decked with red, Flanagan joined a prestigious group white and blue, and America was celeof previous honorees, including forbrated – on both sides of the Atlantic. mer U.S. President Bill Clinton, In recognition of the strong ties dancer Michael Flatley and film star between the U.S. and Ireland, and of Maureen O’Hara, who was inducted the millions of Irish immigrants who last summer. began new lives in America throughShe said, “It is a source of great out the centuries, the Co. Wexford pride to me to be recognized in this town of New Ross devoted the fourth way, and to be inducted into the Irish of July to celebrations of America. America Hall of Fame. I would like Fittingly titled Irish America Day, the Above: The Clancy family celebrates Liam Clancy’s to commend the work that Irish induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame. Below, festivities ranged from readings of the left to right: The Parade through New Ross; Jim America magazine is doing. I’m Declaration of Independence and re- McDermott and Patricia Harty at the Three Tenors delighted that Irish America’s Hall of enactments of the Boston Tea Party, Concert; American football at Hook Lighthouse; Fame is housed in New Ross at the to traditional American barbeques and Dunbrody CEO Sean Reidy and Fionnula Flanagan. Dunbrody Famine Ship. This is one the naming of a town Prom King and Queen. of the best visitor attractions I have ever visited, with wonderful New Ross is of particular importance in the story of Irish emiactors bringing the story of the Great Famine very much alive.” gration. Thousands left Ireland from its port, including Patrick Musician Liam Clancy, who made an immeasurable impact on Kennedy and Bridget Murphy, President John F. Kennedy’s greatmusic and culture in both Ireland and America, was inducted grandparents, as did the grandparents and father of playwright posthumously. His wife, Kim Clancy, traveled to New Ross for Eugene O’Neill, to name just a few. Their stories, and the stories the ceremony. She noted how pleased Clancy would have been, of countless other immigrants, are commemorated at the and the high regard he had for the Dunbrody and its work. Dunbrody Emigration History Center, which is home to both the “Liam would have been very proud at his induction into the famous Dunbrody Famine Ship replica and the Irish America Hall of Fame. As part of the celebrations, Irish America was thrilled to induct new Hall of Fame honorees. Actress Fionnula Flanagan, who was born and raised in Dublin and has made California her home, was honored for her extraordinary accomplishments in film, television and theater. Famous for her roles in Some Mother’s Son, The Others, The Guard, Lost, Brotherhood, and Rich Man, Poor Man (for which she won an Emmy), and for

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ets the Green, White and Orange Opposite page: Patricia Harty, Kim Clancy, Fionnula Flanagan and her husband, Dr. Garrett O'Connor, pose with re-enactors Ellen Lawlor (left) and Statia Gahan on the Dunbrody; The Three Tenors Ireland: David Martin, Declan Kelly and Morgan Crowley. This page: Fireworks over the River Barrow.

Irish America Hall of Fame, and particularly so since it is housed at the Dunbrody Irish Emigration History Centre in New Ross,” she said. “Liam loved the Dunbrody Famine Ship and always followed its progress with great interest.” James Concannon, founder of the award-winning Concannon Vineyard in California’s Livermore Valley, was also inducted posthumously. Born on the island of Inishmann on St. Patrick’s Day in 1847, Concannon immigrated to the U.S. and worked in Maine before taking his family West. The first Irish founder of a successful vineyard in America, his story is symbolic of the great risks and triumphs of Irish immigrants. In addition to the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, The Dunbrody played host to some colorful re-enactments, with a group of actors playing out the drama of the Boston Tea Party every hour. Nearby, the town held a series of American-themed events including Mark Twain readings and a flag raising ceremony. In the early evening, an Irish America Day Parade proceeded through the town’s streets, led by Brendan Ryan and Jean Kelly, the newly crowned Prom King and Queen, and featuring floats, dancers and American classic cars. The historic Hook Lighthouse held a Family Day, with music, barbequing and demonstrations of American football by the Waterford Wolves. Later that night, The Three Tenors and Declan O’Rourke took the stage at the Kennedy Arboretum, and a fireworks display lit up the – blessedly clear – night sky. At the end of the concert, the flags were lowered and stowed away, to be safely stored for next July. See you there! IA

A Boston Tea Party re-enactor. Below: Enjoying the parade; O’Brien’s shows its colors.

PHOTO: MARIE MARTIN

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Keep ‘er Lit: The Olympic Torch in Ireland

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he Olympic torch relay, a throwback to ancient Greece, became a contemporary Olympic tradition at the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. The 2012 summer games will open on July 27, in London, after the torch has completed a 70-day tour of 8,000 miles, carried by 8,000 torch bearers. As the Olympic torch traveled its 5-day relay through Northern Ireland and Dublin June 3 through June 8, the torch’s path was a whirlwind of running high-fives, cheers, and inspiring athletes and citizens. The torch was welcomed by thousands on Sunday, June 3 as it traveled from Belfast to Portrush for day 17 of its journey. Starting at Titanic Belfast, Karen Marshall from the village of Tynan in Co. Armagh, the first of the 132 bearers of the day, was cheered on with encouraging signs saying, “Keep ’er lit.” The flame visited important sights, including Stormont, the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. On June 5 the torch traveled from Derry to Newry, where it changed hands at a former border check point to 1992 Olympic champion boxers Wayne McCullough and Michael Carruth. As the torch progressed into Dublin, children and adults took

PHOTO: LOGOC/GETTY

breaks from school and work to watch its procession. Songs of “Ooh, ah, Paul McGrath” were chanted ecstatically as Irish footballer Paul McGrath ran by. Sonia O’Sullivan, Olympic silver medalist for the 5,000 meter run in the Sydney 2000 Olympics, carried the flame down Dublin’s O’Connell Street for a 12 km circuit through the city of Dublin. O’Sullivan was the first of 40 sports champions who participated in this celebration that lasted approximately two and a half hours. Taoiseach Enda Kenny, President Michael D. Higgins and singer Jedward also carried the torch. On June 7, the torch traveled from Newcastle to Clough, Downpatrick, Crossgar, Saintfield, Ballynahinch, Templepatrick, Antrim, Ballyronan, Magherafelt, Ballymena, and then up to Moorfields. The day ended with the torch’s trip on the ferry to Stranraer in

order to begin the Scottish portion of this 70-day voyage. Paul McLister from Ballycastle, known as a “shining light for those with disabilities,” held the Olympic’s blazing light through the damp grey fog as the final torch bearer of the Northern Ireland portion of its journey. Irish Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar commented that “the visit of the flame [was] a wonderful opportunity for the whole of Ireland to be even more involved with the 2012 London games and for the Irish people to be part of the biggest sporting event in the world.” Numerous international teams have selected Dublin as a training base for the London Olympics, and several Irish athletes will be competing in the London Games. The Olympic torch’s visit was a great reinforcement of the unifying strength of sport and the cooperation that exists today on the island of Ireland. – L.C.

The Irish and Irish-American Olympians to Watch McKayla Maroney

Kelley O’Hara

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s the Olympic Games get in gear, Irish Americans with loyalties on both sides of Katie the Atlantic will find themselves with an abundance of stellar athletes to root for. Taylor Team U.S.A. with 525 athletes, is a force to be reckoned with.The Irish-American competitors receiving the most media buzz include 16-year-old gymnast McKayla Maroney; distance runner Shalane Flanagan, who set a new event record at the marathon trials; middle-distance runners Julie Culley and Kim Conley; swimmers Conor Dwyer,Tyler McGill, Claire Donahue and multi-medal-winner Natalie Coughlin; soccer forward Kelley O’Hara and cyclists Timmy Duggan and Taylor Phinney, to name just a few. Though the Irish team is small, with 63 members, it is mighty. Great things are expected from boxer Katie Taylor, 26, who won Ireland’s first officially sanctioned female boxing match in 2001, and has since won the European championships five times and the world championships three consecutive times. Swimmer Grainne Murphy, who, at 19, is one of the youngest team members, shows significant promise in the 800m freestyle. In trackand-field, the four women of the relay team will be the ones to watch, after qualifying with the twelfth fastest time on average. Paul Hession, the fastest sprinter in Irish history, who holds the country’s records from 60m to 200m is on the path to secure a final place in the 200m, which he narrowly missed in Beijing in 2008.There is also much excitement over the Irish sailing team, which recently ranked 5th in the world at the ISAF World Cup regatta in June.We wish all of the competitors the best of luck!

18 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

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A Bridge for Ireland’s Nobel Physicist

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number of Irishmen have been recognized as Nobel Prize winners: Yeats, Shaw, Beckett and Heaney for Literature, Sean MacBride and John Hume for Peace. But only one Irishman has ever received the Nobel Prize for Physics. In 1951, Irish physicist Ernest Walton and partner John Cockcroft won the Nobel Prize for their invention of the first particle accelerator to split the atom. The Institute of Physics (IOP) Ireland believes that Walton’s recognition is long overdue. The IOP are now campaigning to have the Marlborough Street Bridge, which is in its early stages of construction, named “The Ernest Walton Bridge” in honor of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. The institute created an online petition to garner support in pressuring the Dublin City Council. When the bridge is complete, it will span the River Liffey and will function as a transport, cycle and pedestrian bridge connecting Marlborough Street and Hawkins Street. Aside from wanting to properly recognize Walton, the IOP has other reasons for calling the bridge “The Ernest Walton Bridge.” This year, Dublin was named European City of Science 2012. Additionally, 2012 marks the 80th anniversary of Walton’s work on splitting the atom in 1932. Therefore, the IOP and its supporters believe 2012 is the perfect year to commemorate Walton. They also hope national recognition of Ernest Walton will “inspire school children to pursue careers in science and technology, a key objective of the [Irish] Government,” said the institute. Born Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton in County Waterford on October 6, 1903, he found himself excelling in mathematics and science from an early age. He studied at Methodist College, Belfast, and in 1922 he entered Trinity College Dublin. In 1927, he went on to receive his Masters in Science degree. That same year he received a research scholarship and attended Cambridge University to work at the Cavendish Laboratory. He earned his PhD in 1931. In 1932, while still at the Cavendish Laboratory, Walton and Cockcroft built an apparatus that split the nuclei of atoms after bombarding them with accelerated protons. This invention paved the way for modern nuclear physics, including the groundbreaking Higgs Boson discoveries currently under way at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. After his work at Cavendish, Walton returned to Ireland and taught. He had a productive relationship with the government, often writing to propose new methods for economic and scientific development. Walton died in 1995 at the age of 91. – M.F.

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Gallagher Initiative Examines the Lives of Elderly Irish Americans

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enturies of political and economic unrest brought mass immigration of Irish to foreign shores in search of a better life. Many have found it and lived long, full lives, but are at risk of being isolated as they grow older, with family members across the ocean. The Gallagher Initiative is a new study focusing on elderly Irish Americans, which will soon be published in New York. The study was inspired by the tragic passing of Tony Gallagher. In 2008, the 72-year-old Mayo native was found dead in his Queens home. He lay undiscovered for over seven days. His death sparked outrage among the Irish-American community, and so the study hopes to get an understanding of the daily struggles that the isolated and elderly Irish face, and discover ways of improving their lives. Ciaran Staunton, the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform president, secured political support from both the Irish and American governments for the study. Dr. Elaine Walsh and her team are leading the study and have already interviewed 300 Irish. Many of the participants come from the generation who, for years, sent back money and goods to family in Ireland. They include a 70-year-old former bus driver who still sends money every month to his Irish nieces and nephews. Dr. Walsh says many still fear for the future of Ireland after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. Her team has designed a questionnaire for the study about health, social service needs, income and housing. She says it will show “how they’re doing now, what their concerns are in the future and what kinds of programs we could put in place that would be culturally sensitive for the Irish.” Ultimately, Dr. Walsh asserts the study will serve as an “action plan” that will work with the Irish and American government to see what can be done to some prevention and support services, and to work with the communities. Despite the daily struggles the elderly Irish face, they demonstrate surprisingly high positivity and the data, so far, shows the resilience of the Irish people. They have no regrets over leaving Ireland to work for a better future for their children; they are happy and very “positive” about the U.S. – M.M.


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In Dublin’s Little Jerusalem, Museum Begins Ambitious Expansion he names of the most prominent figures of Jewish-Irish history are well known. James Joyce’s Ulysses follows the Dublin meanderings of its Jewish protagonist, Leopold Bloom. Robert Briscoe, the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin, became a celebrated figure both in Ireland and abroad, and his sons, Joe and Ben, carried on his legacies in the military and in politics. But, as a small

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the museum is became very popular, so they built a synagogue.” The Walworth Road Synagogue, as it was called, ceased functioning as a place of worship in the ’70s, as the majority of Jews in the area had moved farther into the suburbs. The synagogue became the home of the Irish Jewish Museum, which

museum in Dublin’s Portobello neighborhood proves, there is all that and more to learn and celebrate about the two cultures. Since its founding in 1985, the Irish Jewish Museum has educated visitors of all faiths and nationalities about the rich history of the Jews in Ireland, from the first mention of Jewish traders in the 1079 Annals of Innis, to William Ayers, who became the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Cork in 1550, to Irish-born Chaim Herzog, the sixth president of Israel. But with the majority of the museum’s exhibits in storage, and with its 10,000 visitors a year – a large portion of which include school groups – crowded into the museum’s limited space, plans are now under way for a much-needed expansion. Speaking by phone from their home in Co. Kildare, former Lord Mayor of Dublin and Dáil senator Ben Briscoe and his wife, Carol, outlined the importance of the museum and its strong need of support – not just from those in Ireland, but also from Irish and Jewish ex-pats around the world. Portobello, sometimes called Dublin’s Little Jerusalem, was once the heart of the Jewish community in Ireland. “Every second house in the area was Jewish,” said Carol, who helps archive the museum’s collection of historic and religious documents, cultural artifacts and educational displays. “There was a little prayer room on nearly every street, and the one where

Top: Ben Briscoe, former mayor of Dublin. Above: the museum now (left) and the plans for its renovation (right). Right: the museum’s current exhibition space.

Carol says was lovingly built up by its curator, Raphael Siev. Before his death in 2009, Siev purchased the three adjoining houses and bequeathed them to the museum, to ensure its expansion. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has declared his support for the plan, citing the museum as “a significant resource in the cultural life of the [Irish] State,” and commending its key role in Holocaust education and the government’s anti-racism program. The Irish government’s Office of Public Works has drawn up a comprehensive plan for the museum’s new home, which will feature a library with research and archival facilities, a conference hall for lectures and workshops, and expanded exhibition space dedicated to Irish and Jewish history, life, arts and culture. Briscoe, who retired from a 37 year career in politics in 2002, on his late father’s advice that “it is far better to know when it is time to go than have people decide for you,” is acting as an unofficial ambassador for the museum, drumming up

support at home and abroad. He shared that the expansion plans were met with great enthusiasm at an event at the Irish Consulate in New York in late May. “I have great interest in what we’re trying to achieve, and I am hopeful that once we get seed money, we can get going on some serious fundraising. There is considerable work ahead,” he said. The museum has just embarked on the journey towards reaching its fundraising goal of $13 million, which will cover the expansion and lay the brickwork for funding the museum’s continued operation, as admission is free. The Briscoes both emphasized the importance of the museum in contemporary Ireland. The Jewish population

increased significantly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when many Jews fled to Ireland to escape the Russian pogroms. The community reached its peak of around 5,500 in the mid-1900s, but has since declined to a little over 1,000, due to general trends of immigration and because many move elsewhere in order to marry within the faith. Between the dispersion of what was once a strong community and Ireland’s increased multiculturalism, the Briscoes believe now is the time to fully commemorate and share the story of the Jews in Ireland. “The Jewish community got on very well with the Irish people and became as Irish as anyone else. They had no difficulty, no confusion between their religion and their nationality, as such. The history of the Jewish people and their experience in Ireland is integral, and it would be a dreadful thing to lose that,” Briscoe said. “It’s very important that this museum should continue; it’s the only museum of its kind,” Carol added. – Sheila Langan AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 21


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From left: Siobhan Walsh, Executive Director of Concern Worldwide U.S.; Jenna Wolfe, Sunday Today Show cohost; Stephanie Gosk, NBC correspondent; and Guerda Debrosse, Project Manager for Concern Worldwide Haiti.

25 Years of the Irish Voice

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n June 13, the Irish Voice celebrated its 25th anniversary with a reception at the home of Consul General Noel Kilkenny. Pictured above left: Consul General Kilkenny praises the paper’s work, with publisher and founder Niall O’Dowd.Above right: Chuck Feeney, Hanora O’Dea Kilkenny and Helga Feeney.

DruidMurphy Comes to New York

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n July, Galway’s Tony-winning Druid Theatre Company presented a mini-retrospective of Irish playwright Tom Murphy. Held in New York City, the festival, DruidMurphy, featured three productions – Conversations on a Homecoming, A Whistle in the Dark, and Famine – all directed by the Druid’s famed artistic director, Garry Hynes. The Druid Theatre Company exposes audiences across the globe to contemporary Irish theater. DruidMurphy sets out to display works which, though written as much as 25 years apart, reflect similar themes of emigration, nationhood and identity. Hynes raved about Murphy’s work and his willingness to communicate openly with the ensemble throughout the rehearsal process. She wrote of these works, “Murphy writes an inner history of Ireland, a nation that has now – under the pressure of a debt crisis that has become an identity crisis – come to re-examine the materials and rhetorical strategies out of which it makes itself.” With the support of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, which, under the presidency of John Lahey has been dedicated to spreading knowledge about the famine, DruidMurphy is a resounding success in its effort to present artistic insight into Ireland's

great tragedy. This fall, Quinnipiac will open the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, the world’s largest collection of famine art, artifacts and printed materials, in Hamden. Jackie O’Halloran Bernstein, Deputy Consul General of Ireland, applauded Quinnipiac for bringing Murphy’s important voice to the U.S.“This play cycle [...] explores important and often painful themes

PHOTO: JAMES HIGGINS

oncern Worldwide, U.S. held its annual Women of Concern luncheon on June 28 in New York. The 2012 honoree was Dr. Anita M. Sands, head of Change Leadership at UBS Wealth Management, and one of the Irish America’s Wall Street 50. Sands, whose family had travDr. Anita eled over from Ireland Sands receives for the lunch, spoke the 2012 about her recent trip to Women of Haiti with her sister. Concern Award. Emcee Jenna Wolfe of NBC’s Sunday Today Show spoke of her childhood in Haiti and of Concern’s great work there. Guerda Debrosse, guest speaker and project manager for Concern’s maternal and child health program in Haiti, shared the inspiring story of the sacrifices her mother made so that Debrosse could get an education, and emphasized the crucial importance of working with Women in Haiti.

Druid Theater chairman Seamus O’Grady, Jackie O’Halloran Bernstein, Garry Hynes and John Lahey

in Irish life and culture, principally the famine and emigration. The themes have continuing relevance to Irish people in Ireland, and for the Irish diaspora. In this context, the co-sponsorship of DruidMurphy by Quinnipiac University is appropriate and visionary,” she said. DruidMurphy will return to the U.S. October 17 – 20, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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ver 250 supporters of the Worldwide Ireland Funds gathered in Cork June 21 – 23 for the annual conference. Following the recent news that the Funds had reached the $100 million goal of the Promising Ireland campaign 19 months early, Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of the Worldwide Ireland Funds announced that the goal has been Michael and Niamh Flatley with Loretta extended to $140 million by the end of the year. Highlights of the three days included the opportuni- Brennan Glucksman, chairman of the American Ireland Fund, and Worldwide Ireland Funds President Bill Clinton and ty to see the Funds’ impact on local projects, a wel- president & CEO Kieran McLoughlin. poet Seamus Heaney. coming dinner at Castlehyde, the home of Michael and Niamh Flatley, strategy sessions and a gala dinner at the Ambassador Dan Rooney, and Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney, famous Ballymaloe Cooking School. Guests and speakers who, earlier in his career, was the second recipient of the included President Bill Clinton,Taoiseach Enda Kenny, American Ireland Fund’s AWB Vincent Literary Award.

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PHOTOS: AENGUS MCMAHON

Worldwide Ireland Funds’ Annual Conference


Markree Castle, County Sligo.

YOU CAN STAND AND GAZE IN AWE. BUT WE’D RATHER YOU CAME IN AND PUT YOUR FEET UP. Felt our famed hospitality all around you. Relaxed in front of our log fires. Dined like a king. And slept like a baby in our luxurious four-poster beds. You see, in Ireland, nothing’s too much trouble for our guests. So yes, the grandeur of our castles will astound you. But it’s the warmth and friendliness inside them that will take your breath away.

2013 is the year of The Gathering: a yearlong celebration of music, food, culture and lots more. For more information and great travel deals, visit discoverireland.com

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Those We Lost Katie Beckett 1978 – 2012

In 1981, Katie Beckett, at the age of 3, helped bring about major healthcare reform. On Friday May 18, at the age of 34, she passed away due to complications from a digestive disorder. Born Mary Katherine Beckett in 1978, Katie contracted viral encephalitis four months later. The disease, which caused inflammation of the brain, left her partially paralyzed, unable to swallow and in need of a ventilator. Her parents, Julie and Mark Beckett, believed they could better manage her care at home. Hospital care was costing $12,000 a month, six times what home care would cost. They found themselves in a bureaucratic battle. Under Medicaid, Katie qualified for the Supplemental Security Income program. However, her parents’ incomes would have counted against her. Julie and Mark began lobbying politicians. Then-Vice President George Bush relayed Katie’s case to President Reagan. In a news conference, Reagan cited Katie’s case as an example of “hidebound regulations.” A day after the news conference, Richard S. Schweiker, secretary of health and human services, waived the Medicaid rule. This became known as the Katie Beckett Waiver and allowed Katie to return home while still retaining federal support. Katie graduated from Mount Mercy University in 2001 with a degree in English and creative writing. She worked as a secretary in a homeless shelter. She was writing a novel and had applied to graduate school. At 34, Katie was more than three times the age that doctors predicted she would reach. She is survived by her parents and a stepsister, Chelsea. – M.F.

John Curran 1938 – 2012

John Curran, a prominent leader in Boston’s Irish-American community, died on June 21 at age 73. The cause was heart disease, which he had battled for a number of years. Best known for his roles in founding the Boston branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, MA, and for his participation in the local Sound of Erin radio program and TV show, Curran was born in Waterville, Co. Kerry in 1938. He was raised in Crosshaven, Co. Cork, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1955, settling in Boston. There he met his wife, Kitty Ryan from Ballinagare, Co. Roscommon, when the two were riding a bus through Cambridge. They married in 1960 and had four children. In addition to his successful career as a food broker, Curran devoted much of his time to various Irish-American causes in the Boston area. In 1973, Curran, along with Pat Berry, Billy Caples and Larry Reynolds, formed the Boston chapter of CCE, which, with over 500 members, is now one of the largest in the world. From 1973-2008, Curran was a regular voice on the Sound of Erin radio program on WNTN. In 2011, with his friend Tommy Sheridan, he began to host a Sound of Erin television show. A member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 14, Curran 24 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

was inducted into the Comhaltas Hall of Fame in 2006. He also served as Comhaltas’ National Public Relations Director of the North America Province. Curran is survived by Kitty, their four children, Sean, Tricia, Deirdre and Maura, seven grandchildren, and extended family in Ireland. – S.L.

Marina Keegan 1989 – 2012

A journalist, playwright, activist and 2012 Yale graduate, Marina Keegan of Wayland, MA died on May 26 in a car crash in Dennis, MA. She was traveling with her boyfriend, a fellow Yale graduate, from her grandmother’s house in Brookline to her parents’ house in Cape Cod for her father’s birthday dinner. By all accounts, and by the legacy of writings she left behind, Keegan, at age 22, had learned and achieved much more than most people twice her age. She was a regular contributor to the Yale Daily News, president of the College Democrats and a leader of the campus Occupy movement. Independents, a musical for which Keegan wrote the book, had recently been accepted to the New York International Fringe Festival. She was set to enter the professional world with aplomb, as an editorial assistant at The New Yorker. Keegan had already made a name for herself in national media when one of her articles, “Even Artichokes Have Doubts,” which questioned the disproportionately high percentage of Yale graduates being recruited for and heading straight in to careers in financial consulting, was picked up by the New York Times’ DealBook blog. “I’m JUST SCARED about this industry that’s taking all my friends and telling them this is the best way for them to be spending their time. Any of their time. Maybe I’m ignorant and idealistic but I just feel like that can’t possibly be true. I feel like we know that. I feel like we can do something really cool to this world. And I fear – at 23, 24, 25 – we might forget,” she concluded. Following her death, Keegan’s last piece for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral and was shared, read and quoted from all around the world. Stunning in its optimism, insight and tragic poignancy, the column describes Keegan’s sadness at leaving the Yale community, and her charge to her fellow graduates to not be scared, to make the most of the years in front of them: “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.” In her memory, Keegan’s family and friends have started the Artichoke Fund, which aims to endow a staff position at Yale to help students pursue career options driven by passion and ambi-


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{hibernia} tion. Keegan is survived by her parents, Kevin and Tracy, and by her younger brothers, Trevor and Pierce. – S.L.

Mike McGrady, 1933 – 2012

Mike McGrady, award-winning Newsday reporter and author of the best-selling 1969 hoax of a novel Naked Came the Stranger, died on May 13, at age 78. He lived in Lilliwaup, Washington. Born in New York City in 1933, McGrady earned his bachelor’s degree at Yale before going on to study at Harvard as a Nieman fellow. After serving in the Army, he began writing for Newsday, where he covered the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, becoming a film and restaurant critic for the newspaper in later years. He invented “demure Long Island housewife” Penelope Ashe to serve as the pen name for a novel which is, in reality, a parodic series of horribly written chapters following the torrid adventures of a bored suburban woman. The book, to which 24 of his awardwinning Newsday colleagues contributed, satirized the reading public’s taste (or lack thereof), without their knowledge. The writers eventually came clean, and the book developed a cult following. But what always worried McGrady, he said in a 1990 interview with Newsday, were “the 20,000 people who bought [the book] before the hoax was exposed.” McGrady is survived by his wife, Corinne Young; two sons; a daughter; a brother; and five grandchildren. – C.D.

Thomas H. O’Connor 1922 – 2012

Thomas H. O’Connor, Professor Emeritus and University Historian at Boston College, died at his home in Milton, MA on May 20. He was 89. Born and raised in South Boston, O’Connor attended Gate of Heaven School and Boston Latin. He received degrees in history from Boston College, and his doctorate from Boston University. O’Connor was one of Boston’s most influential and perceptive historians. He wrote 20 books and hundreds of scholarly papers concerning various aspects of Boston, New England and American history. His best-known book, Bibles, Brahmins and Bosses, published in 1976, opened the door to many unexplored topics of Boston history and life, which his subsequent books would delve into. O’Connor also wrote extensively about the American Civil War, starting with an influential series of pamphlets entitled The Call to Arms: Massachusetts in the Civil War (1960). He was also a gifted chronicler of local celebrations and milestones, such as the Boston Irish Famine Memorial project in 1998. The Eire Society of Boston gave O’Connor its Gold Medal Award in 1999. O’Connor is survived by his wife, Mary McDonald; a daughter, Jeanne; a son, Michael; two grandsons, and Boston College’s community of scholars and students. – M.M.

Joyce Redman 1915 – 2012

The Irish-born actress Joyce Redman died on May 10, in Kent, England from pneumonia. She was 96 years old. Redman was widely acclaimed for her intelligent stage presence, though she is best known to Americans for her lavish eating scene with Albert Finney in the 1963 film Tom Jones, above. Joyce Redman was born on Dec. 9, 1915 in Newcastle, Ireland and grew up in Co. Mayo. She got her start as an actress when she began her training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Standing at 5’1”, Redman was small in stature, yet she had a commandingly husky voice. Together, these attributes gave her a unique mien, which she used brilliantly in both dramatic and comic roles. Redman was almost continually employed in British theater and television from the 1940’s to 1970’s, and worked with nearly every major repertory troupe in England, including Old Vic and the National Theater Company, as well as the Comedie-Francaise in Paris. She was twice nominated for Academy Awards for best supporting actress: for her role in Tom Jones and for her portrayal of the maidservant Emilia in the 1965 film of Othello. She continued acting until 2001, when she played the elderly Queen Victoria in Victoria and Albert. She married her late husband, Charles Wynne Roberts, in 1949. Redman is survived by three children and five grandchildren. – M.M.

Kevin M.Tucker 1940 – 2012

Kevin M. Tucker, Police Commissioner of Philadelphia from 1985-1988, died from a brain tumor on on June 19th, just two days short of his 72nd birthday. Tucker was born in Brooklyn on June 21, 1940. His father, William, was a railroad worker, and his mother, Catherine, was a nurse. Both were emigrants from Ireland. In 1965, after graduating from Kean College, Tucker was offered a job with the secret service. His first assignment was to protect Jacqueline Kennedy and her children. The inscription in a book she gave to him read “To Kevin Tucker, whose humor and intelligence made our time together so memorable and missed.” In 1985, after resigning as director of the Philadelphia office of the secret service, Tucker was chosen by then-mayor W. Wilson Goode to replace Gregore J. Sambor as head of the city’s police department. The first outsider to lead the Philadelphia police since the 1920s, Tucker brought great change to the corrupt system, which had come under criticism following Sambor’s decision to bomb the houses of the radical group Move during a standoff. Tucker's implementations included foot patrols, guidelines against police abuse, and strategy training sessions for officers. In 1990, doctors discovered that Tucker had a brain tumor, and he was initially told he had six months to live. Undaunted, Tucker continued to contribute to the greater community by joining the board of managers at a National Cancer Institute Center for biomedical research, on which he served until 2005. Tucker is survived by his wife, Judy, their daughter, Christine, three brothers, a sister, and four grandchildren. – L.C. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 25


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{hibernia}

Charlotte Brontë: One of Our Own “

wanted to claim Charlotte Brontë as one of our own because she is,” said Irish actress Maxine Linehan, who portrays Brontë, the author of Jane Eyre, in the one-woman show Brontë: A Portrait of Charlotte by William Luce. “Charlotte’s schoolmates have remarked that she spoke with an Irish accent,” says Linehan. “Her father, Patrick, was born in County Down at Emdale, Drumballyroney, near Rathfriland, about 20 miles from my own home place in Newry. The more research I did, the more I saw the profound influence their Irish heritage had on Charlotte and her sisters.” Patrick, whose family name was originally Brunty, an Anglicized version of O’Pronntaigh – a family of hereditary scribes (appropriate, that) – was the oldest of 10 children. His father, Hugh, a farm laborer had eloped with his mother, Alice McClory, when her family objected to the marriage, perhaps because Hugh was an outsider, born in southern Ireland and adopted by an uncle – a tale that resonates with his granddaughter Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Whatever the facts, there’s romance enough in Patrick’s well-documented rise through self-education from blacksmith’s apprentice to young schoolmaster and then, amazingly, to St. John’s College, Cambridge and ordination as an Anglican clergyman. This history is made palpable in the Brontë Homeland, an open-air museum in County Down that contains Alice McClory’s family cottage, the school where Patrick Brontë taught and the church where he preached. Juliet Barker’s recent book, The Brontës, discussed the family’s roots in Ireland and highlighted the involvement of Patrick and his brothers in the rebellion of 1798. Barker argues that Charlotte Brontë was not a victim of circumstances, but a vibrant and talented artist. This is the woman Maxine Lenihan plays. As Backstage put it, “Charlotte Brontë requires a more robust portrayer and she gets one in Maxine Linehan. “Charlotte had passion and intensity and a determination to do something out of the limit that society imposed on women in those days,” says Lenihan. In other words, she was a true Irish woman, as is Maxine Linehan.

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26 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

“My mother is a McAnulty, one of thirteen, and my father, Patrick Linehan, has eight brothers and sisters. They met in London and came home to Newry where I was born and lived until I was eight, when we moved to Cork. We always returned to Newry for visits, so I knew the countryside around the Brontë homeland well. I got involved in acting and dancing at a young

Clockwise from top: A portrait of Charlotte Brontë; the Brontë sisters – Charlotte, Emily and Anne; Maxine Linehan as Charlotte Brontë in Brontë: A Portrait of Charlotte.

age and continued through wonderful years at the Presentation Convent in Crosshaven. Because I did well academically my parents and teachers encouraged me to pursue a degree from the University of London. I then went on to study at the Inns of Court, where I became a barrister

and began working in London. But I had never forgotten the thrill of my first professional appearance in the theater. At seventeen I played Louisa in a production of The Sound of Music at the Cork Opera House. I got the bug. It never left me. When the London media company I was working for as in-house counsel moved to New York, I thought, this is it. I have to pursue acting. It’s who I am.” Maxine won roles in musical theater productions and in dramas. Drawing on her own Northern Ireland roots, she appeared in the acclaimed New York premiere of Jacqueline McCarrick’s The Mushroom Pickers. I experienced Charlotte Brontë in a completely new way while watching this production. Maxine Linehan reaches out to the audience and brings us into Charlotte’s emotional life. We feel her strength when she refuses to be defeated by the tragic death of her siblings or her unrequited love for the married headmaster of the Brussels school where she taught. Show Business magazine said that “Linehan’s portrayal of Charlotte is one of a heartbroken but plucky and at times humorous heroine.” But I was most affected by the scene in which Maxine as Charlotte puts on masks and in turn becomes each of her lost sisters and brother. She evokes this motherless family, an island unto themselves, who create their own independent nation using songs and stories, supported by family love. They are not deterred by hardship or the indifference of the outside world. Doesn’t that sound like the Irish experience itself? The Brontë sisters gave the world masterpieces far beyond what seemed possible. Jane Eyre still sells in the hundreds of thousands every year, and has inspired classic movies and plays. Charlotte Brontë died too young but achieved immortality, as did so many Irish heroes. Charlotte Abú. Bravo Maxine Linehan. Don’t miss it. – Mary Pat Kelly Brontë: A Portrait of Charlotte has an open run at The Actor’s Temple, 399 West 47th Street, New York.


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{hibernia} Galway Celebrates Photograph’s Irish Connection

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t’s an iconic image of the building of America: Eleven construction workers on a break for lunch, happily chatting away on a girder balanced some 800 feet above New York City. The photograph, taken during the construction of the RCA building (now the GE building) in Rockefeller Center, ran in the October 2, 1932 edition of the New York Herald. For all its enduring popularity (the image is frequently reprinted and has graced an abundance of posters, greeting cards and desktop backgrounds), little was known about its history until fairly recently. The photographer, Charles C. Ebbets, was not properly identified until 2003, and the names of many of the men are still unknown. Two, however, have been identified as

Irish immigrants, and a new Irish documentary, Lon sa Speir (“Lunch in the Sky”), delves into their backgrounds and the history of the famous photograph. Perched on the far left and the far right of the beam are Matty O’Shaughnessy and Patrick (Sonny) Glynn, brothers-inlaw, who both came to America from Shanaglish, a small town in south Galway. As the photograph shows, they both succeeded in finding work in the midst of the Great Depression. Matty eventually returned to Ireland and became a farmer, while Sonny stayed in the U.S. The feature-length documentary was

made for TG4, Ireland’s Irish-language TV station, was directed by Eamonn Ó Cualáin, and is narrated by Fionnula Flanagan. Lon sa Speir had its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh on July 13, and will be broadcast on TG4 in September. Matty O’Shaughnessey’s son Gerry and Sonny Glynn’s great-nephew Patrick have been involved in commemorating their relatives and the photograph. On July 10, with a steel girder donated by Coen Steel, they helped the filmmakers organize a photo shoot in Galway’s Eyre Square, to re-create the image on their ancestors’ home turf. – S.L.

An American Hero Buried in Ireland W

illiam Tally Mallon, an American soldier who fought and died in WWI, was laid to rest in a small cemetery in Galbally, Co. Tyrone in 1922. He was the only U.S. solder of The Great War to be buried in Ireland, which was at that time in the midst of its own Civil War, but by the early 2000s no one could recall how or why he came to be buried there. Plunkett Nugent, a local barrister with a keen interest in history, decided to find out. He began research with only Mallon’s gravestone and bits and pieces of information from his own relatives and neighbors. After seven years of delving into archives and records on both sides of the Atlantic, and tracking down and interviewing Mallon’s relatives, Nugent reached an answer and uncovered a forgotten piece of history. Mallon’s mother, Mary Ann McKane, immigrated to the U.S. from Clonavaddy, Co. Tyrone in 1868 and married William Mallon. They had one son, William Tally Mallon, who was born on April 15, 1899 in Germantown, PA. In 1919, Mary Ann returned to Ireland alone. By this point, she had lost her husband, her two brothers (both of whom were priests), and William Tally, who was killed on July 29, 1918, at nineteen years of age, at the Battle of Ourcq near Seringes-et-Nesles, France, by the bullet of a German sniper. He had been buried on French soil, but Mary Ann sent a letter to the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army, asking for William Tally’s

remains. “He was my only child, and I would like to have him buried where I intend to be buried,” she wrote. The U.S. government agreed to her request, and William Tally’s body was repatriated to Ireland, to be buried again on May 20, 1922. On May 19, ninety years after his remains arrived in Ireland, the grave of Private 1st Class William Tally Mallon was rededicated in a Above: Irish and American rel- ceremony that drew relatives atives of William Tally Mallon at the May 19th re-dedication from both the U.S. and Ireland. This almost forgotten story will ceremony. Left: Private Mallon in France, a few days before be published later this year, once his death. Nugent has completed a book about Mallon’s life and his own effort to uncover it. Nugent has also received interest from some television and production companies. His incredible research and dedication were honored by the Commander of the Battalion of the New York 69th, who awarded him a medal of excellence. “This project was about remembering a young soldier’s life, to retrieve history before it disappears forever by unravelling the stories that lay hidden in people’s memories and in archives in the U.S.,” Nugent told the Tyrone Times. Next, Nugent will work on identifying and marking the graves of the close to ninety Irishmen who died in WWI fighting with the American Expeditionary Forces, and who were re-buried in Ireland in 1922. – S.L. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 27


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Honorary Degrees from Galway and Ulster

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Dowd’s Irish Opinion

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fter receiving her honorary Irial Finan, Maureen Dowd, Jim Flaherty MP and Sebastian degree from NUI Galway, Barry, with a bottle of Coke, the NY Times, the Canadian flag and Barry’s latest novel, On Canann’s Side. Maureen Dowd, whose father emigrated from Fanore in Co. Clare, and whose was here and was struck by the utterly maternal grandparents came from Ballinrobe changed world.“This will end Irish and in Co. Mayo, remained in Ireland for a few British what-abouting,” he told me. “What days to travel and visit family. The trip had a about my suffering? Who suffered the most clear impact on her New York Times column, in this conflict? We must just say one death as Dowd devoted three of her recent articles was too many and all are responsible. to Irish topics: the handshake between There’s no moral high ground here.’” Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland From “Gaelic Guerilla,” July 3: Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth, “Cameron, [Labor Party Member of the the international controversy over a proposal Galway city council] hopes the city council to erect a statue of Argentinean revolutionary takes the memorial matter up soon. Che Guevara (whose ancestors were Meanwhile, he sees the totalitarian rainbow. Lynches from Ireland) in Galway, and film‘The ultimate fruit of all this is that Che will maker John Ford’s impact on our percepbe known as having the Irish blood and the tions of Ireland and the American West. Galway connection,’ he says. ‘And that is an Select quotes below: achievement in itself.’” From “The Wearing of the Green,” From “Cowboys and Colleens,” July 7: June 30: “A mesmerized country watched “Standing on the little bridge where [John] with a sense, as one TV commentator put it, Wayne’s Sean Thornton hears his dead of ‘My goodness, me.’ There was a cascade mother’s voice [in The Quiet Man], it struck of the words unthinkable, unimaginable and me that Ford created the most potent cine– for dead-enders – unspeakable. The queen, matic images of two countries, Ireland and gracious once more in a green suit and hat America, indelibly shaping our dreams. . . the color of bright spring shoots, offered a ‘The Irish Cyclops,’ as he was known for gloved hand and warm smile to the former wearing a black eye-patch, was the Old guerrilla . . . Niall O’Dowd, the editor of Master of diametrically different landscapes, New York’s Irish Voice and Irish Central lush in the love story shot in Mayo and dusty Web site [and publisher of Irish America], in the Westerns shot in Monument Valley.”

28 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

PHOTO: PETER FOLEY

number of very deserving Irish and Irish-Americans were selected by the National University of Ireland, Galway and the University of Ulster in the North to receive honorary degrees this summer. At Galway’s graduation ceremony on June 29, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd; Irial Finan, Coca-Cola’s executive vice president and president of Bottling Investments; novelist and playwright Sebastian Barry (author of The Secret Scripture); and Jim Flaherty, Canada’s Minister of Finance, received honorary degrees. Dowd and Barry were named Doctors of Literature, while Finan and Flaherty were named Doctors of Law. On July 12, Bill Flynn, former chairman of Mutual of America, was awarded a Doctor of Law degree by University of Ulster, in recognition of his great achievements in the business world and the key role he played in the Northern Bill Ireland peace process. Flynn, who is a first-generation Irish American with Flynn roots in Mayo and Down, was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2011. Gary Lightbody, frontman of the band Snow Patrol, received a Doctor of Letters for services to the music industry. Golf champion Rory McIlroy, actor Ian McKellan and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will also be honored by Ulster later this year.

Great Philanthropist Chuck Feeney Winds Down ‘Giving While Living’

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huck Feeney, the IrishAmerican billionaire known for both his generosity and distaste for the limelight, has announced that he will bring his extraordinary charitable giving to a close by the end of 2016. Feeney, who made his fortune as the co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group, founded Atlantic Philanthropies in 1982 as a channel for his donations. Since then, he has given close to $5 billion in grants, a practice in line with his personal philosophy of “giving while living.” He has given $1.25 billion to causes in Ireland, both North and South, particularly to universities and educational programs. The announcement marks an effort to put the $1.83 billion in remaining funds to their most effective use, with $750 million already dedicated to existing projects.Atlantic Philanthropies will then cease operations in 2020. Feeney, who was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2011, commented to the Irish Times “I particularly value the commitment and spirit of generosity among the many people I have come to know through Atlantic’s work across the island of Ireland. These are challenging times. I admire the resilience of the people on this island and remain optimistic for the future.”


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{hibernia} Women of Concern

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From left: Siobhan Walsh, Executive Director of Concern Worldwide U.S.; Jenna Wolfe, Sunday Today Show cohost; Stephanie Gosk, NBC correspondent; and Guerda Debrosse, Project Manager for Concern Worldwide Haiti.

25 Years of the Irish Voice

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n June 13, the Irish Voice celebrated its 25th anniversary with a reception at the home of Consul General Noel Kilkenny. Pictured above left: Consul General Kilkenny praises the paper’s work, with publisher and founder Niall O’Dowd.Above right: Chuck Feeney, Hanora O’Dea Kilkenny and Helga Feeney.

DruidMurphy Comes to New York

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n July, Galway’s Tony-winning Druid Theatre Company presented a mini-retrospective of Irish playwright Tom Murphy. Held in New York City, the festival, DruidMurphy, featured three productions – Conversations on a Homecoming, A Whistle in the Dark, and Famine – all directed by the Druid’s famed artistic director, Garry Hynes. The Druid Theatre Company exposes audiences across the globe to contemporary Irish theater. DruidMurphy sets out to display works which, though written as much as 25 years apart, reflect similar themes of emigration, nationhood and identity. Hynes raved about Murphy’s work and his willingness to communicate openly with the ensemble throughout the rehearsal process. She wrote of these works, “Murphy writes an inner history of Ireland, a nation that has now – under the pressure of a debt crisis that has become an identity crisis – come to re-examine the materials and rhetorical strategies out of which it makes itself.” With the support of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, which, under the presidency of John Lahey has been dedicated to spreading knowledge about the famine, DruidMurphy is a resounding success in its effort to present artistic insight into Ireland's

great tragedy. This fall, Quinnipiac will open the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, the world’s largest collection of famine art, artifacts and printed materials, in Hamden. Jackie O’Halloran Bernstein, Deputy Consul General of Ireland, applauded Quinnipiac for bringing Murphy’s important voice to the U.S.“This play cycle [...] explores important and often painful themes

PHOTO: JAMES HIGGINS

oncern Worldwide, U.S. held its annual Women of Concern luncheon on June 28 in New York. The 2012 honoree was Dr. Anita M. Sands, head of Change Leadership at UBS Wealth Management, and one of the Irish America’s Wall Street 50. Sands, whose family had travDr. Anita eled over from Ireland Sands receives for the lunch, spoke the 2012 about her recent trip to Women of Haiti with her sister. Concern Award. Emcee Jenna Wolfe of NBC’s Sunday Today Show spoke of her childhood in Haiti and of Concern’s great work there. Guerda Debrosse, guest speaker and project manager for Concern’s maternal and child health program in Haiti, shared the inspiring story of the sacrifices her mother made so that Debrosse could get an education, and emphasized the crucial importance of working with Women in Haiti.

Druid Theater chairman Seamus O’Grady, Jackie O’Halloran Bernstein, Garry Hynes and John Lahey

in Irish life and culture, principally the famine and emigration. The themes have continuing relevance to Irish people in Ireland, and for the Irish diaspora. In this context, the co-sponsorship of DruidMurphy by Quinnipiac University is appropriate and visionary,” she said. DruidMurphy will return to the U.S. October 17 – 20, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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ver 250 supporters of the Worldwide Ireland Funds gathered in Cork June 21 – 23 for the annual conference. Following the recent news that the Funds had reached the $100 million goal of the Promising Ireland campaign 19 months early, Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of the Worldwide Ireland Funds announced that the goal has been Michael and Niamh Flatley with Loretta extended to $140 million by the end of the year. Highlights of the three days included the opportuni- Brennan Glucksman, chairman of the American Ireland Fund, and Worldwide Ireland Funds President Bill Clinton and ty to see the Funds’ impact on local projects, a wel- president & CEO Kieran McLoughlin. poet Seamus Heaney. coming dinner at Castlehyde, the home of Michael and Niamh Flatley, strategy sessions and a gala dinner at the Ambassador Dan Rooney, and Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney, famous Ballymaloe Cooking School. Guests and speakers who, earlier in his career, was the second recipient of the included President Bill Clinton,Taoiseach Enda Kenny, American Ireland Fund’s AWB Vincent Literary Award.

22 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

PHOTOS: AENGUS MCMAHON

Worldwide Ireland Funds’ Annual Conference


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{hibernia}

Quote Unquote A selection of quotes – some poignant, some hilarious – from commencement addresses by Irish and Irish-American speakers throughout the States.

“John F. Kennedy was right when he talked about the army of young people going out around the world. I’ve walked through countries like Malawi where the difference between a small community with running water coming out of a one-inch white PVC pipe and a town without water is often just which towns have been visited by terrific young American people acting as volunteers.” – Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News in his address to the graduating class of Georgetown University. May 20.

“We better understand that we are just part of a bigger whole and not divided by political labels or gender or race, but are stronger as a nation because of what binds us. Those differences are our heritage. Identities do matter and we can all be proud that we are here, together.” – Soledad O’Brien, delivering the commencement address to the 2012 graduates of the University of Delaware, on May 26.

“All your life you have been hearing about how your lives will be changed on this occasion as you enter the real world. I have a news bulletin for you tonight. You’ve already been there. Turns out, junior high was the real world. . .The same petty jealousies, the insecurities, the snobs, the cliques, the dorks, the egos, the tantrums, and the dopes that you met in junior high, you’re going to encounter for the rest of your lives.” – Tom Brokaw, 2012 Arizona State University commencement speaker. May 3. 30 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

“My advice to you: live in the moment. Stay fluid and roll with those changes. Life is just a big extended improvisation. Embrace the ever changing, ever evolving world with the best rule I’ve ever found. Say “YES AND.” – Actress Jane Lynch, to the Smith College class of 2012 at their commencement on May 20.

“But that’s what makes our country great: our individual ability to openly and freely express our views, whether or not they are popular, whether or not they are in the minority, or whether they are even based on misimpressions. . . That’s why I still do my job, because the values that this country was founded on, to include freedom of speech and freedom from harm, are worth fighting for.” – John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and deputy national security advisor, in his commencement speech at Fordham University on May 19.


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Joe Duffy Made Me Famous,

Dingle Saved Me

ALL PHOTOS BY MARY TOLAN

When Mary Tolan’s backpack – containing her wallet, passport and six months of writing – was stolen in Ireland, she thought all was lost. Over the course of five weeks on the Dingle Peninsula, she found something even more important.

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Clockwise from top, scenes from the Dingle Peninsula: A rock wall; a sheep; author Mary Tolan’s rented bike on Slea Head Drive; Vincent O’Gormain and his dog, Molly.

o you’re the American who lost everything, are you?” asked Vincent O’Gormain, who with his wife, Sile, owns a Dingle Peninsula bed and breakfast. This was a refrain I heard from many Irish during my visit, which moved from disaster and frustration to contentment and connection. I’d walked from my borrowed cottage to Vincent’s place to rent a bicycle. Unable to rent a car, I figured a bike would provide a break from walking and hitchhiking. He had heard about my plight on the nationally known RTE Joe Duffy radio show (“Talk to Joe!”) and after he recognized my voice from the radio interview, his rental rates sank to half of what he normally charged. As he fitted me for a blue bike with fat tires, his yellow lab, Molly, pushed her head gently into my hand. While I knew she was like many labs that beg for strokes, her nudges felt like one more Irish show of support and kindness.

32 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

Vincent’s offer was one of many I received from the people of the Dingle Peninsula after word spread that my backpack and six months of work had been stolen. I became a slight celebrity during my five weeks on the peninsula, as the national radio show and then the County Kerry weekly newspaper, The Kerryman, ran stories of one middle-aged American’s loss. Dingle was once called “the most beautiful place on Earth” by National Geographic Traveler. Dingle’s physical beauty stole my breath away, yes, but it was the loveliness of the people, the kindness of nearly everyone I met, that floored me and then buoyed me up after my big loss. It happened a year ago. Traveling alone after six months in Ireland, my backpack was stolen in the village of Killarney, and with it went six months’ worth of writing and photographs, a camera and laptop (and hard-drive back-up), passport and I.D., cash, plastic, journals, every-


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Clockwise from top: A field outside of Ballydavid; a warning sign from another era; boats on Baile na nGall pier; Sean Brendan O’Conchuir behind the bar at Tigh TP’s; an old door.

thing but the seven Euros in my pocket. I was devastated but soon I was being saved by the generous people of the Dingle Peninsula: the villagers of Baile na nGall and the townsfolk of Dingle, County Kerry. The three days following the theft was a buzz of gardai (police) reports and investigations, e-mailing and calling my bank and credit cards, and wetpillowed nights. I was in shock, and I was angry at myself for shoving my hard-drive into the same pack as my laptop, thus insuring the disappearance of all my work up to that point on my year’s sabbatical from teaching journalism at Northern Arizona University. I hadn’t been mugged, this wasn’t a death, but it felt big and bad. After three days in Killarney and no return of my possessions, I took the bus to the Dingle Peninsula. When the thieves struck, I was waiting in a hotel lobby for the next-door car rental to open. I’d just gotten off the train from Dublin and had planned the drive from Killarney to Dingle because I’d heard so much about the scenery. After the theft, however, I was unable to rent the reserved car because I had no I.D. or driver’s license. Even the banks and credit card companies I frantically contacted were mostly unable or unwilling to wire me cash without identification. Finally American Express agreed to wire money to the hotel, which then gave me my Euros. Initially, I was going to borrow an Irish friend’s cottage for a week. After the theft, I was able to stay there for five weeks during which time I licked my emotional and professional gashes and went from bereft to renewal. The cottage belonged to my friends Dorren and Oisin O’Siochru, whom I’d met in Malahide, north of Dublin, when I first arrived in Ireland. I’d borrowed a wonderful old Victorian-style house next door to them, and was immediately invited over for tea, dinners, and to Dorren’s brisk morning walks by the Irish Sea with some of her women neighbors. Now, seven months later, the O’Siochrus had offered me a week in their cottage, in the village of Baile na nGall. It was Dorren who, after I told her about the bag being stolen, suggested I contact Joe Duffy, the radio personality who hits the Irish airwaves every weekday afternoon with his call-in show, where topics range from politics to grievances to national controversies. Joe interviewed me sympathetically, asking gentle questions that never pointed out it was my own damn fault for taking my eyes off my stuff. While the on-air “Liveline” conversation never returned my stolen goods, it certainly bought me a way to meet people. For all I lost, the people of Ireland gave me tenfold in return. The list is a long one. But the first and probably biggest savior came in the shape of a young pub owner.

I

went to Tigh TP’s, a pub just a half block from my Baile na nGall cottage, feeling a bit shy. I’d been told that the owner had a laptop at the pub that he let travelers use to check their e-mail. I walked in and took in the L-shaped wooden bar, the boat lantern hanging from the ceiling, and the photos of Michael Collins. Most of the clientele were men speaking Irish Gaelic, their eyes glued to the TV set showing some match. Sean Brendan O’Conchuir is the son of TP, who owned the bar before him. “You’re the American who lost everything,” he exclaimed when I said hello. “Phil told me all about you.” Phil Brosnan ran the tiny post office up the road. When I’d arrived it was she who gave me Dorren’s extra key. “Oh, you’re the woman that everything happened to,” she’d greeted me the day before. With her maroontinted hair and grumbles usually followed by a laugh, Phil helped me keep a balance during my time in the village. After I ordered a cup of tea and borrowed Sean’s laptop, I posed my big question. “Do you know anybody in the village who might be able to rent me time at their computer a few days a week?” I explained that I was a writer and I AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 33


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needed to start recreating some of the work that I’d lost. In typical Irish hospitality, Sean didn’t hesitate for more than a breath. “I have a little electronic notebook at home. You’re welcome to use it for the time you’re here.” And I did. On his tiny laptop, in the comfort of my borrowed cottage, with cups of milky Irish tea, I started to recreate the writings I’d lost. And whenever I’d stroll down to the pub to check my e-mail and have a half pint, Sean and the regulars would ask if I’d heard anything from the gardai, then swap stories of police and government incompetence, and the state of the country’s flailing economy. It was at TP’s that actress Maureen O’Hara, on the peninsula for the Dingle Film Festival, heard about my plight, and in sympathy gave me her trillion-dollar smile. And nearly every evening, my friend Dorren would give me a quick call to check in. “So you’re ALL right, Mary, are you?” she would usually conclude our conversation. Dozens of people picked me up as I stuck out my thumb along the narrow roads on the edge of the Atlantic. I had not hitchhiked since my college years back in the ’70s. Now here I was, a foreigner in her late 50s, standing on the side of the road and hoping, praying, for a ride into town. My first ride was from Dingle back to the village, carrying a (new) backpack full of groceries. The driver was a reticent farmer. When I opened the passenger door, I saw the sheep dog sitting on the front seat. The driver told me the dog wouldn’t mind sharing with me, so I slid in beside her and she moved part way to the floor, gazing up at me with her liquid brown eyes for the whole ride. The elderly farmer apologized for not giving me a ride all the way home, but he was going to a different village. Through my hitchhiking I met mothers, 34 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

Clockwise from above: Phil Brosnan at the local post office; Michael O’Sullivan on the Dingle pier; the rocks at Slea Head.

children, cooks, a filmmaker, a developer, and a musician. Most laughed a lot. Often, they knew my story before I finished a sentence, and many apologized, as if they had done a runner with my backpack. And then there was the Phoenix Cinema, and the O’Sullivans’ Tuesday Night Film Club. (The older generation say filum, not film.) The O’Sullivan family owns the movie theater and the adjacent video-rental shop, and in addition to the regular showings hold the Tuesday Night Film Club that offers a more eclectic range of movies. From the first Tuesday night that I showed up and naively asked siblings Francis and Kathleen O’Sullivan if they could help me find a ride back to the village after the movie (they did) to the weeks of films and visits and rides home, I delighted in the cinema house and the family. Michael O’Sullivan, 80, spoke to the crowd (sometimes just a handful) on Tuesdays, reminding the patrons of the free coffee and biscuits. He stood by an amazing home-made lamp constructed of a wooden coat rack and a blindingly bright light bulb covered by a tin coffee can (carefully placed each week by Michael’s other son, Sean), introducing the next week’s film by reading snippets from reviews and concluding by holding up a large film poster. One Film Club regular is Eileen Clearly Fitzgerald, who has been going to the movie theater since 1960, when she was just 11.

“I never miss a Tuesday night. Never,” she said, driving me home. “It’s my favorite of all favorites.“ She said while she could go to the movies any night, it was the Tuesday Night Film Club and Michael O’Sullivan that persuaded her and others to return every week. “We call [Michael] the king of Dingle,” she said with delight in her voice. “There’s something about him. There’s just something about him. He has class. That’s it, yes. “

O

ne afternoon a month before I left Ireland I was walking through Dingle and ran into Kathleen, Michael and Francis – all independently. Kathleen and I shouted out hellos as she rushed to work. A block later Michael O’Sullivan and I ran into each other and took a walk along the Dingle pier. He posed for a photograph and then, looking at me with those deep blue Irish eyes, he told me to come back soon, saying “I hope to see you again, girl.” Two blocks after that I saw Francis, who invited me in for supper with his family. Always ready to discuss the economic crisis but just as quick to enjoy a joke, the O’Sullivans were open to this crazy American who hitchhiked from the village of Baile na nGall to Dingle every Tuesday to see the featured filum. Michael O’Sullivan died several months after I left Ireland, and his family is adjusting to his absence, as are the Tuesday Night Filum Club devotees. When Eileen told me about her love for the movies, she could have been talking of my feelings for her country. “There’s something about it. When I go to the cinema, I forget the world,” she said. “It’s my heaven on earth. “ The first day I’d arrived in Dingle, the taxi driver who drove me past the sparkling Atlantic, through the narrow roads winding between stone walls, and past the sheep-dotted fields, said much the same thing. Not about the movies, but about Dingle. “Dingle is grand,” he said. “It’s a magical place, a beautiful place, and people will always want to come here.” The combination of Dingle’s scenery, the cliff walks with the ocean crashing below and the people’s generosity will, for this Irish American, forever be Ireland. IA


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In Michael Fassbender’s latest role as David, an android, in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, he utters one of the most memorable and symbolic lines in the film – a quote from Lawrence of Arabia: “Big things have small beginnings.” The same can be said of the extraordinary Irish actor and his rise to fame. Interview by Patricia Danaher. ichael Fassbender looks tanned and relaxed as he strolls into the bar at Claridge’s Hotel in London to join me for a drink. Sporting a bushy red beard, he is thin and slight in appearance, and like the chameleon he is on screen, he glides through the hotel undisturbed by importunate fans. For someone who became so famous as an actor in 2011 – starring in a slew of movies as diverse as X-Men, Jane Eyre and Shame, among others – he is remarkably still able to fly below the radar when he’s on the street, in his civvies. After his annus mirabilis last year, there is no resting on his laurels.

caught and re-enslaved. He’s also about to have his first stint as a producer on a feature film on the Irish legend Cú Chulainn, with his London-based production company Finn McCool films. Oh, and he’s also part of the Irish male acting aristocracy starring in Brendan Gleeson’s film adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim Two Birds. Overnight success was a long time coming for Michael, and when it did alight, just over four years ago, everything changed really fast. After causing an international sensation playing a mesmeric Bobby Sands in the low budget feature Hunger, for which he lost 30 lbs, Michael Fassbender went from being a jobbing actor and part-time barman in

Above: Michael Fassbender as David, an android, in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

Fassbender’s plate this year is every bit as diverse. He stars in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the long-awaited $200m prequel to Alien; he’s doing another arthouse movie with Steve McQueen, Ten Years a Slave, about a freed slave who is

London to one of the most sought after leading men in Hollywood. “I haven’t had much time to think about it, to be honest,” he says, giving me that sideways, impish grin. “When I was working behind the bar and doing any

sort of odd jobs, the idea that I could actually make a living from this was like a dream. To be in a position to be working with all the big names that I have like Tarantino, Cronenberg, Soderbergh, Jarmusch, Scott, it’s kind of unreal.” Fame brings many perks, but these days Fassbender (35) is very low key about those he chooses to enjoy and how he spends the currency of celebrity. Falling out of nightclubs and dating starlets has never been his thing, especially not since he broke out as a star. As someone who loves motorbikes and cars, road trips with his dad and his friends are where he gets his kicks, easily avoiding the other clichés of fame like the plague. “I did go to Monaco to the Grand Prix recently and because of the position I’m in, I was allowed to stand beside Michael Schumacher in his car on the grid – that was pretty amazing and something of a childhood dream. I’ve been a fan of motor racing for 20 years. Other than that, I keep it pretty basic. Nothing has really changed in my everyday routine. It’s always about telling the story well that matters to me – the fame that goes with it is not enjoyable to me.” Fassbender has lived in London since he moved there at 19, to study drama at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He’d had a steady career for several years in British television before Hunger in 2008, for which he won numerous accolades, including a Best Actor nomi-

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nation in the European Film Awards. The following year, at Cannes, he stood out in two contrasting roles: as a magnetic philanderer in Andrea Arnold’s Jury Prize-winning Fish Tank and as Lt. Archie Hickox – a delightful caricature of a World War II British army officer – in Quentin Tarantino’s delirious fantasy Inglorious Basterds. Shrewd choices of action roles in Centurion and Jonah Hex (both 2010) led to an amazing twelve months. In 2011, Fassbender first established himself as a Hollywood star in his role as the brooding, compelling Mr. Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s magnificent Jane

Eyre. Then he took on an extraordinary range of other leading roles: Magneto in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class (in which he coolly evoked a young Ian McKellan); Carl Gustav Jung in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method; and an Irish rogue posing as a British spy in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, in which he spectacularly wrecks a room at the Shelbourne hotel in Dublin, in a to-thedeath battle with the Amazonian American wrestling star Gina Carano. But the crowning achievement of last year was his second feature for McQueen, Shame, an unsparing portrait of a wretched, damaged, self-loathing sex addict in New York, a performance that sealed Fassbender’s status as a major star willing to risk (and reveal) all. The almost unanimous acclaim from American critics was in contrast to the attitude of the Oscar voters, who snubbed 38 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

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Fassbender come nomination time in favor of worthy but less ambitious performances. It was hard to recall an actor who could incarnate so many styles with such complete conviction and succeed. Fassbender is an improbable thing: an unforgettable chameleon, a man who can dominate the screen in myriad ways but who you can walk past on the street without noticing. London was also where his parents, Adele, from Larne in County Antrim, and Josef, from Heidelberg, first met. Michael was born in Germany, where he lived until the age of two, when the family relocated to Killarney and opened a

He credits both of his parents, and their cultural backgrounds, with granting him different strengths. “The Germans have a good work ethic, so I’ve inherited some of that. Then Ireland, for such a small nation we really love the arts and story telling, and there’s a great mix of the two in me. My mother loved cinema and introduced me to many films and actors, which made me want to pursue this profession. I have her to thank for that. I suppose the German side wants to keep everything in control, and the Irish side wants to wreak havoc!” Although he could have his pick of women (or men), Fassbender is mostly single these days, content to focus the bulk of his energy on all the great work coming his way. He’s briefly dated a few co-stars (Zoë Kravitz from XMen and Nicole Behaire from Shame) and has been receiving very strong public overtures from Charlize Theron (who was involved for over a decade with another Irishman, Stuart Townsend), but his true love and mistress these days is the work. It’s as though the hungry years trying to break out as a star have made him appreciate how easy it is to get distracted Clockwise from above: Michael Fassbender in his breakout role as hunger striker Bobby Sands in Hunger – he’s by the trinkets and entourages smoking a rolled up page from the bible. As Magneto in that come with fame, and how X-Men First Class. With Carey Mulligan in Steve quickly these come and go. McQueen’s Shame. Opposite page: Fassbender in the Fassbender already knows what 2010 action flick Centurion. he likes. restaurant, The West End House, which “I find women attractive in all shapes they still run. He has a sister, Catherine, and sizes and although it’s a bit of a who works as a neuropsychologist and cliché, what’s attractive is someone with whom he is particularly close. who’s confident and doesn’t mind showDid his parents’ culinary skills carry ing elements of themselves that society over to him? “I do enjoy cooking and I might consider weak or making a fool of can cook the basic things. I’m definitely themselves. Eating what you like to eat, not afraid to go into the kitchen,” he says, that’s much more attractive. It’s a prison grinning. “Obviously I grew up around to be constantly worrying about what that sort of world, so it’s not something others think of you and wondering if you that scares me. My dad would probably are coming across as attractive or intersay I should be cooking a lot more, esting or socially popular. because I haven’t been doing much for the “My home is in London. I love anipast few years. He gave me a Jamie Oliver mals and would love to have a dog, but cookbook recently – now there’s a man the nature of my work means I’d have to who should be Prime Minister for all the put it into a kennel and put it through positivity he brings into the world!” quarantine and all that sort of thing and it At home in Killarney, the house was really wouldn’t be fair to the animal.” bilingual and today he is almost as comWhen Fassbender talks about the fortable speaking German as he is many big names he has recently been English, something which was put to use courted by, he never fails to mention his in Inglourious Basterds. drama teacher at St. Brendan’s College in


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Killarney, who, along with Steve McQueen, he credits with getting him where he is today. “I was very average at school and I didn’t really excel at anything. I thought ‘OK, I should do law.’ The idea of the showmanship connected to that appealed to me, but I’m a slow reader, so I didn’t think I would have gotten through the volume of material or gotten the results that would have gotten me into university. Then, I thought of architecture, but I failed my technical drawing exam. Journalism was another thing that appealed to me, especially war journalism. I thought it would be interesting to see the front line rather than just what’s filtered through.

“Then Ireland, for such a small nation we really love the arts and story telling, and there’s a great mix of the two in me. My mother loved cinema and introduced me to many films and actors, which made me want to pursue this profession. I have her to thank for that.” “But then Donie Courtney, who’s a past pupil of St. Brendan’s, went to the Gaiety School of Acting and he came back and set up one of these comedy and drama workshop classes. I did one or two of these and I was like ‘God, this feels right.’ I really felt like this was a medium that I could express myself in and all these people in my head could finally find a place!” The training he did with Courtney led him to produce his first play in Killarney, which he tells me today is still the thing he’s proudest of in all his accomplishments. “I did a stage play of Reservoir Dogs when I was 18 in Killarney after I’d got in Bric Rua, the theatre company which Donie had created. It was the first professional theatre company in Killarney. We did puppet theatre and panto and I watched Donie like a hawk for the six months I spent with him. Then I went off on my own and did a production of Reservoir Dogs, which I also produced and played Mr. Pink. I learned so much from that experience, especially that there’s nothing wrong with falling on

your face while you’re trying to learn.” Winning awards and kudos left, right and center (with the exception of an Oscar), Fassbender seems untouched right now, but he admits to being a bit non-plussed by all the fuss. “It feels kinda strange,” he acknowledges with a shake of his head. “I remember when I first went to Los Angeles, I was 24 and they thought I was 35. The agent who took me to a television show didn’t believe me and I had to show her my driver’s license to prove I was 24. I quite enjoy the lines on my forehead and the lines on my face, because that’s my life. That’s my history and I like to see it in other people. This wrinkle is down to some girl that broke my heart and I don’t want to escape it in any way.” He chuckles again and shakes his head at how silly it all is, at the impermanence in life that we keep forgetting about. “The problem is, we feel a lot of pressure about looking silly or appearing weak, whatever that means, or being a failure. You have to keep saying in your head: what’s the worst that can happen?

I’m trying to tell a story – what’s the worst that can happen? You fall flat on your face, then hopefully you get back up again and go for it again and try something else. We’re all going to die one day. I’m stealing that off of Steve [McQueen]; it’s what he’d say when he ordered me to take my clothes off. ‘WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE ONE DAY!’ “I try not to take myself too seriously. When my best friend in Killarney, Emerson Johnson, and I were in school together and we’d bunk off at lunchtime sometimes, I’d always be really nervous, but I remember he used to say ‘what’ll it matter in 100 years’ time?’ and he’s right. If you can relieve yourself of that pressure and not take yourself too seriously, then you can afford to look like a bit of an idiot. I think I am quite immature, or maybe just childlike.” Given the uncertain nature of his chosen profession, I wonder how far ahead he tries to look when thinking about work and where it might lead him. “I try not to plan too much, because when I do it usually ends up a mess. I don’t have a strategy for dealing with fame, because none of it really interests me. I can really say that honestly. Ten years ago, I would have been attracted and seduced by all of the things that come with fame, but it doesn’t interest me at all anymore. I consider myself lucky to have achieved what I have and that a lot of great film makers want to work with me. That’s plenty and more than enough for me to deal with. I spent a lot of time out of work. Now I’m trying to make hay IA while the sun is shining.” AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 39


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Running Rings Around the

As Britain hosts the Summer Olympic Games in London, Roger D. McGrath writes about 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.

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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, saying simply that “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 action, 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. Helplessly watching the latest British suppression of Irish nationalism 42 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

put the Irish Americans at a fever pitch. On July 13, King Edward 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 that 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 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 world-record hammer thrower and New York City cop, Matthew J. McGrath. When they approached the royal box, the County Tipperary-born McGrath, a sixfoot, 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 worldrecord 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


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Empire Left to right: Martin Sheridan in the discus throw in 1908 Olympics in London; The Irish Whales: John Flanagan, Martin Sheridan and James Mitchell; Wyndham Halswelle, who ran against himself. Below: James E. Sullivan.

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 “metric mile” or 1500-meter race 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. The first heat of the 1500-meter event

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 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. He set an Olympic record in doing so. 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 and his teammate, John J. Flanagan of the Irish American Athletic Club were expected to dominate. McGrath was the world-record holder and Flanagan the reigning Olympic champion. Flanagan, like McGrath, was an Irish-born New York cop. The lead seesawed back and forth, with first McGrath, despite an injured leg, and then Flanagan breaking the Olympic record. Flanagan ultimately wound up with the gold medal and McGrath the silver. The bronze went to Canadian Irishman 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 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 AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 43


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broad jump. In three Olympic games, the Irish-born Sheridan won five gold medals, three silver medals, 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 Dennis Horgan of Ireland took second. Horgan was a 37-year-old New York City cop, who retired from the force after being severely injured trying to break up a brawl in 1907. Considering his injuries and his age, few thought he would ever compete again, let alone win an Olympic medal. While American Irishmen were bring-

ing home the gold in the track-and-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 insure 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 managed to qualify two runners, Theodore Just and Ian FairbairnCrawford, 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 Mel Sheppard, the American finalist. At the sound of the starter’s gun FairbairnCrawford 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 wither44 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

ing kick that destroyed the field. FairbairnCrawford dropped out and just finished, well back in the pack. Sheppard’s winning time set a new world record. The same day another member of the Irish American Athletic Club was winning the high jump. Harry F. Porter easily cleared the 6’5 5/8” mark to set an Olympic record and then had the bar raised to 6’6” in an effort to break Michael F. Sweeney’s world record of 6’5 5/8”, set in New York City in 1895. Porter just brushed the bar off. Second place went to the Irish champion Cornelius Leahy, but his points went to Britain.

not only won but also set a world record. 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 with five points or less. 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 trackand-field events. British newspapers were daily publishing increasingly virulent attacks on the

Left to right: Photos from the 1908 Olympics in London. Matt McGrath, Tipperary-born, holding 56lb weight; Bobby Kerr, born in Fermanagh, competed for Canada; John Flanagan, born in Limerick, posing with 16lb hammer weight. McGrath and Flanagan were on the American team.

The next day Britain had something to cheer about when Reginald E. Walker of South Africa won the 100-meter sprint 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 14’ 6”, 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, Charles J. Bacon of the Irish American Athletic Club

Americans. U.S. team coach Mike Murphy was worried. The day after Bacon’s worldrecord win in the 400-meter hurdles, the final in the 400-meter race 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 that 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


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held on to second and Halswelle, the Carpenter drift wide but make neither a Englishman, came in third. Or so it diagonal run nor throw elbows. “I thought seemed; British officials began yelling Halswelle lost his head,” said Ewry. “He foul and claimed that when Carpenter had the option of going either on the drifted wide coming out of the final turn, inside or the outside of Carpenter, but he had interfered with Halswelle. apparently could not make up his mind After a short delay, the British officials, what to do.” declared the race void. As the New York Carpenter said much the same thing. “I Times reported: “A great British cheer certainly ran wide, as I have done every broke out, and continued for several mintime I have been on the track. Halswelle utes, men who could not under any cirhad lots of room to pass me on either side. cumstances have seen the incident crying We just raced him off his feet and he ‘Foul!’ louder than those sitting opposite could not stand the pace.” the spot where the alleged foul was said to When the race was rerun, have taken place, and who, seeing Halswelle was the only participant. Halswelle taking a wide turn, thought it a Robbins and Taylor had refused to mistake in judgment, as he has 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 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 Johnny Hayes, born in New York to Irish parents so. In what it claimed was “a fair and from Co. Tipperary, nears the finish line in the impartial account” of the race, the marathon. Above right: Hayes’ gold medal. Times said that Carpenter ran “diagonally” across the track and “elbowed” run unless Carpenter was allowed to comHalswelle. Moreover, this was a “definite pete also. Halswelle’s “winning” time was and carefully thought-out plan.” Other nearly two seconds slower than London newspapers made the Times Carpenter’s. Halswelle had his gold account look reserved. medal, but the American Olympic comIt didn’t matter that none of the British mittee gave special medals to Carpenter reporters had been close enough to the and Robbins – for first and second place. action to really describe it accurately – if While the battle over the 400-meter any of them had any such intention in the race was raging, the 200-meter final was first place. There had been an eyewitness held. Irish-born Canadian Robert Kerr standing just inside the track on the final won by inches over Bobby Doughen, a turn, however, Ray Ewry of the New York New York City schoolboy and member of Athletic Club, who had won both the the Irish America Athletic Club. In 1909 standing high jump and the standing Kerr returned to Ireland – his family had broad jump, was standing at the final turn immigrated to Canada when he was seven when the alleged foul occurred. He saw – and fulfilled his dream of competing for

his native land in an international event. 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 pull-off 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. British 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 19year-old son of Irish immigrants 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 AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 45


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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, Hayes, very fresh and strong, was closing rapidly on both of them. As the Olympic stadium at Shepherd’s Bush came into view, Hayes, the youngest man in the race, strode easily past Hefferon, the oldest. 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. He had, in the vernacular of marathoners, 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 46 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

The first modern Olympian: James Brendan Connolly, born in South Boston to parents from the Aran Islands, pictured at the 1896 Olympics.

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. Meanwhile, 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 a formal protest from the United States and several hours before the British admitted that Pietri had been illegally aided and was, therefore, disqualified. That night Johnny Hayes and James Brendan Connolly, sat in a London hotel sipping beers until 2:00 a.m.. Connolly, the product of a South Boston Irish immigrant family, was an Olympic champion himself. In fact he was the first champion of the modern 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. Out 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 high-jump 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 he was at IA the height of his popularity.” Editor’s Note: A version of this story first appeared in Irish America, September 1988.


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PHOTOS: COURTESY LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

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Michael Dougherty in later life.

An Irishman’s Civil Michael Dougherty, a young Irish soldier in the American including the horrendous conditions endured By Sean Cronin

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ichael Dougherty, born in Falcarragh, County Donegal, on May 10, 1844, immigrated to America with his family at the age of 15 and went to work as a “Boots” in a Philadelphia hotel. On April 12, 1861, the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter, South Carolina, a federal arsenal, and the Civil War began. Michael Dougherty was only 21 months in America. He joined the second Irish Dragoons, an all-Irish battalion, which became part of the 13th Pennsylvania cavalry, and fought at Antietam in 1862, and at Cedar Creek, Winchester, Strasburg, Middletown and Fisher’s Hill in 1863. On February 26, 1863, Dougherty was scouting in the Shenandoah Valley,

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Virginia, when a Confederate raiding party appeared, turned about when they saw the Union cavalry, and lured them into an ambush. After a hand-to-hand engagement lasting an hour, in the course of which his horse was shot from under him, Michael Dougherty and 50 of his comrades became prisoners. They were taken to Richmond and held for three months, after which they were exchanged for Confederate prisoners held by the Union forces. Dougherty, by now a seasoned soldier, returned to his regiment. He distinguished himself as a dispatch rider at the Battle of Winchester in June 1863, riding with dispatches from regimental commander Colonel Michael Kirwan to General Mulroy’s headquarters, for which he was decorated for bravery. On October 12, 1863, at Jefferson, Virginia, at 4 a.m., Dougherty spotted a

Confederate cavalry moving through the Union lines. He didn’t know it, but this was the advance guard of General Robert E. Lee’s army. Dougherty called for volunteers and opened fire. Seven Confederates died. The citation that accompanied Dougherty’s Medal of Honor reads: “This soldier, at the head of a detachment of his company, dashed across an open field exposed to a deadly fire from the enemy and succeeded in dislodging them from an unoccupied house, which he and his comrades defended for several hours against repeated attacks, thus preventing the enemy from flanking the position of the Union forces.” Dougherty scribbled in his dispatch rider’s notebook in a clear hand: “At 5 p.m. we were overpowered, cut off from the division and 127 of our regiment, among whom was your humble servant,


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Photos, left to right: A group of veteran Union soldiers imprisoned during the Civil War in various Confederate prisons, including Andersonville and Libby. An emaciated Federal prisoner, returned from prison, standing, full-length, nude. Reading of the death warrant of Henry Wirz, former Commander of Confederate Prison at Andersonville, who was executed by hanging in Washington, D.C. Photos: Courtesy Library of Congress.

War Diary Civil War, kept a diary of his experiences, in Confederate prison camps. were compelled to surrender. All the prisoners were dismounted. The enemy proved to be the advance of General Lee’s army. Remained prisoner at Jefferson all night.” For the next 23 months, as he moved from prison camp to prison camp in the South, Michael Dougherty kept his notebook hidden from his captors. He jotted down scraps of information that interested him until the notebook was full. Of the 127 Union soldiers taken prisoner with him, he was the sole survivor. One hundred and twenty-two of his comrades died in the notorious Andersonville, Georgia prison, whose commander Captain Henry Wirz, was tried and convicted of murder after the war and executed in Washington, D.C., on November 10, 1865. There are no literary devices or flourishes in Michael Dougherty’s account of

life in Southern prison camps during the American Civil War. The style is dispatch-rider functional. He disliked the South and its inhabitants, and occasionally used his limited space to express indignation. He says of one prison: “The very name of Libby has become synonymous with that of terror. It carries tyranny and oppression in its simple sound. . . Fierce hate and revenge range supreme here, and consequently there is wrought out a system of discipline which produces a condition such as we might expect when the discordant elements of beings range unchecked, and we are surprised to find the culmination reached in almost fiendish expression.” The starving prisoners “would do almost anything to get something to eat.” The nights were so cold “men were obliged to walk the whole night to keep from freezing.” After two months he

wrote: “I believe I am 25 pounds lighter. When I came in here I was clean and in good health. Now I am in poor health and I am sorry to say dirty and my rags are full of vermin.” Andersonville was crowded and filthy. The prisoners had no shoes and slept on straw. They suffered from scurvy, diarrhea, dysentery and gangrene. On February 26, 1864, he recorded: “Prisoners getting sick fast. Four deaths yesterday. A great many can hardly walk to the swamp.” They were in the open. To keep off the rain they stretched old blankets over poles. “Ten died yesterday and last night,” Dougherty wrote. “What a sight. We are pretty-looking soldiers now.” On August 23, 1864, 127 prisoners died. One-quarter of the 45,613 prisoners who entered Andersonville did not leave it alive. AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 49


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Prisoners were murdered by their comrades. “Considerable fighting and stealing among prisoners,” Dougherty wrote on April 6, 1864. “It is not safe for one to have a dollar or an overcoat, for you would be waylaid and killed, if necessary, to gain possession of the coveted articles. . . Deaths are on the increase all the time: from 25 to 40 dropping off a day. The sun is quite warm now. God help us if they keep us in filth during this hot weather.”

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etween April 9-12, 1864, 300 Andersonville prisoners died. Many were killed by sentries. “Wirz gave orders to the guards that if any prisoner approaches the dead-line, shoot him on the spot. And if a crowd congregates near the entrance for the artillery to open fire on them.” May 4, 1864: “Six men shot within the last week. A Yankee made believe he was dead last night and allowed himself to be carried out to the dead house on a stretcher, and was laid alongside the dead. I hope the fellow will get inside our lines but very few escape the bloodhounds.”

B

Connecticut and the other from a New York regiment; so you see the Irish are the most loyal.” A comrade later discussed loyalty with Dougherty. “We had a talk over the excitement caused by the appeal to the Irish; he says McNeill is no true Irishman or he would not try to degrade Ireland and her people by making such a proposition.” The last entry is dated December 10, 1864: “I feel no better. My diary is full; it is too bad but cannot get any more. Goodbye all; I did not think it would hold out so long when I commenced. “Yours sufferingly, Michael Dougherty, Co. B, 13th PA. Volunteer Cavalry. Confederate State Military Prison Hospital.”

“All the Irish who could walk were called to the gate this afternoon by a Colonel McNeill of the 10th Tennessee (Rebel) Regiment, to see if any of them would take the oath to join the rebel service. Not an Irishman enlisted . . . so you see the Irish are the most loyal.” May 13: “John Moore of my company died today. About 50 prisoners today from Dalton. They say Dalton is in the hands of our army and that Sherman is marching on Atlanta. The average deaths for the last week has been about 50 per day.” November 13: “All the Irish who could walk were called to the gate this afternoon by a Colonel McNeill of the 10th Tennessee (Rebel) Regiment, to see if any of them would take the oath to join the rebel service. Not an Irishman enlisted but two Yankees did, one from

ougherty survived. He left Andersonville on April 12, 1865, heard of the assassination of President Lincoln on the 20th – “Our boys furious over the sad news, saying it

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“I feel no better. My diary is full; it is too bad but cannot get any more. Goodbye all; I did not think it would hold out so long when I commenced.” 50 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012


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is a rebel plot” – and on April 22nd with 4,000 other former prisoners, boarded two ships at Vicksburg on the Mississippi River for St. Louis. Dougherty’s vessel, the Sultana, was heavily overloaded with 2,500 passengers. For four days they moved slowly up the great river. On the night of April 27, there was an explosion (“one of the four boilers burst and the vessel cut in two,” Dougherty calmly recorded). The ship caught fire, the “cabins burned like tinder.” Dougherty jumped into the river and swam ashore – notebook intact. Only 900 passengers survived. Michael Dougherty was 21 when he returned to Bristol, Pennsylvania, where he lived for another 65 years until his death in February 1930, at the age of 86. He married Rose Magee and together they had nine children – six daughters and three sons. He worked at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, and became a city councilman and a distinguished figure in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. On the 50th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg he was asked to tell of his experiences in Andersonville. He de-clined. Instead, he told of the night attack which ended in his second captivity and a Medal of Honor which, for

Photos, left to right: Commissioned officers of the 19th Iowa Infantry after their exchange as prisoners of war in New Orleans. Doctors examining a Federal prisoner returned from prison. Andersonville Prison, August 17, 1864 – Southwest view of stockade showing the dead-line. The explosion of the steamer Sultana, April 18, 1868.

some unexplained reason, he did not get for more than 33 years after the event, “We fought as long as we had any ammunition,” he said. Michael Dougherty is buried with his wife, Rose, who died in 1906, in St. Mark’s Catholic Cemetery, Bristol. His Union Army cap and notebook are in the Medal of Honor archives at Valley Forge.

His diary, which was published in 1908, reveals a stern, upright man who did his duty for his adopted country and sought no reward for doing it. IA Ed. Note: This article was first published in in Irish America, May 1986. At that time, Sean Cronin was the Washington correspondent for the Irish Times. He has since passed.

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{roots} By Sheila Langan

The Fantastic Flanagans

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he surname Flanagan and its variants, which include O’Flanagan, Flanigan, Flannigan, and the less common Flenigen, number among the most popular in Ireland. All derive from the surname’s original Irish form, O’Flannagain, likely stemming from the Irish word flann, meaning “reddish” or “ruddy.” The O’Flannagain clan originated in Connacht, from the same line as the royal O’Connor family, and held hereditary claim to the post of steward to the Kings of Connacht. The O’Flannagains dwelled mainly near Elphin, Co. Roscommon, though others with the name lived in Offaly and northwest Fermanagh. Today the surname is most often found in counties Roscommon, Clare, Galway and Mayo. The Flanagan coat of arms features an oak tree and an armor-clad hand holding a flaming sword. The oak symbolizes strength and stability, while the full green border – fairly uncommon – Fionnula is a sign of honorable or Flanagan military appointment. The raised arm and sword represent loyalty, readiness and honor. Appropriately, the motto is Certavi et vici, “I have fought and conquered.” Over the centuries, Flanagans have excelled in a variety of fields, in Ireland and abroad. In Ireland, early Flanagans of note included Donough O’Flanagan (d. 1308), Bishop of Elphin; James Roderick Flanagan (1814–1900), a prolific scholar of Irish life; and Theophilus O’Flanagan (1760–1818), who was active in the early Gaelic revival movement. Among the most famous Flanagans is Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan (b. 1941), who was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame on July 4. A star of film, television and theater, Flanagan was born and raised in Dublin and studied acting at the Abbey Theatre. In 1968 she made her Broadway debut in Brian Friel’s Lovers. In film, Flanagan can be seen in such gems as Some Mother’s Son, The Others and The Guard. She is a familiar

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face in many American TV shows and series, including Lost, Brotherhood, and Rich Man, Poor Man (for which she won an Emmy). Fellow Flanagans have made a name for themselves in acting. Pauline Flanagan (1925–2003), an Irish-born actress, had a long stage career in New York and London. She won an Olivier Award in 2001 and held a recurring role on the IrishAmerican soap opera Ryan’s Hope. Crista Flanagan (b. 1976), a comedic actress, was a cast member of MADtv from 2005–2009. She most recently appeared in

John Flanagan

Shalane Flanagan

Father Flanagan

Mad Men as nice but inept secretary Lois Sadler. Tommy Flanagan (b. 1965) is a Scottish actor best known for his work as villains in a number of action flicks and TV shows including Sin City and Smokin’ Aces. He is currently a cast member on the TV series Sons of Anarchy. Another Irish Flanagan who made a lasting impact on America is Father Edward J. Flanagan (1886–1948), the Roscommon native who established the famous Boys Town orphanage in Nebraska. Founded upon Fr. Flanagan’s

belief that kindness, hard work and a supportive home environment could work wonders in a child’s life, the home eventually expanded into a much larger complex, which is today home to boys, girls and families in need of help. Fr. Flanagan was recently named a Servant of God, which sets him on the path to canonization. Most Americans carry the legacy of Irish-American sculptor John Flanagan (1865–1952) in their wallets and pockets. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Flanagan apprenticed with a number of prominent sculptors, including Irishborn Augustus St. Gaudens. In addition to the Rotunda Clock sculpture (1896) in the Library of Congress, his most enduring legacy is the Washington U.S. Quarter, which he completed in 1932. His initials, J.F., can be found under George Washington’s profile on the obverse side of the coin. John Flanagan (1873–1938) was a three-time Olympic gold medalist in the hammer throw, who represented the U.S. at the 1900, 1904 and 1908 Olympics. Born in Limerick, he immigrated in 1896, already holding the hammer throw world record. He joined the Irish-American Athletic Club of Celtic Park, New York, and worked with the New York City Police. At the 1908 London Olympics, Flanagan beat his own world record with a distance of 170 feet, 4.5 inches. Irish-American distance runner Shalane Flanagan (b. 1981) is headed to the 2012 London Olympics, where she will represent Team U.S.A in the marathon. Born in Colorado and raised in Massachusetts, Flanagan attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she won consecutive national cross country titles before turning professional in 2004. She took home the bronze in the Women’s 10,000 meter race at the 2008 Olympics, and finished second in the 2010 NYC Marathon. At the 2012 U.S. Olympics Trials Marathon in Texas, Flanagan won with a time of 2:25:38, setting a new event IA record.


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PHOTO BY KIT DEFEVER

Through Life Ninety-one years old and still as vivacious as ever, Irish-American Teresa McLaughlin shares her life story and her secrets to living well. The second installment in a new series on inspiring Irish-American seniors. By Catherine Davis

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eresa “Terry” McLaughlin is doing something right. At 91, she receives frequent reminders that she’s still a man magnet, but it would be truer to say simply that she is magnetic; no qualifiers necessary. Maybe it’s the subtle way she has of smiling. Maybe it’s that she radiates an aura of inner peace and joy, as so many strangers-from-across-the-room have sworn to her she does. Or, who knows, maybe it’s just that she dresses

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well. Whatever the reason, this former professional dancer and current greatgrandmother of eight – like the earthy, golden hue she’s worn for her visit to Irish America – is unassuming, but only at first. Born on May 3, 1921, in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn to Catholic parents, Terry Carl always had a confidence about her. The youngest of five, she quickly took on the role of entertainer. “When I was a little girl, they used to call me Tootsie,” she says, smiling. “I used to

imitate Charlie Chaplin, with my father’s derby. I’d come downstairs with the cane and everything, make my mother laugh.” Her mother, Elizabeth Bridgette O’Connor, encouraged her, paying for lessons in tap and Irish step dancing. Elizabeth had distant roots stretching back to a town called Greysteel in Faughanvale, Co Derry, where the O’Connor family once owned a pub and general store. “As a kid, my mother had ideas of me going places,” Terry explains. But her mother wasn’t the only


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one dreaming big – Terry, too, had her sights set high, only her goals were a bit more specific. “I’m going to be a professional dancer and have ten children,” she would tell her friends in Brooklyn. It turns out Terry wasn’t imagining, so much as she was prophesizing. She auditioned for Earl Lindsay right out of high school, and earned a spot in his review. At just 18 years old, Terry was living her dream as a professional dancer, performing at the Lotus Club in Washington, DC. For two years, she continued to perform with Lindsay’s review. But during a visit home for rehearsals, she discovered that her father, William,

exclaims, then laughs, “Oh, I had a lot of fun.” Terry was 25 when she and two of her friends, on their way home from a bridal shower, stopped in at a local pub for a beer. There, an embarrassing mishap involving inadequately labeled restroom doors resulted in a chance meeting between Terry and Navy vet Vincent McLaughlin – whom she would marry just six months later. He and his two friends joined the women for a drink, and “There was just something about him, a kindness,” she says, to which she was drawn. As fate would have it, Terry’s friends paired off with, and also eventu-

Left to right: Terry as a young woman; with her husband, Vincent, in 1949; posing on a New York City rooftop.

who worked for the Daily News, was sick with worry about her. “He didn’t want to tell me. He wanted me to continue with what I wanted to do,” she explains. “He used to call me his ‘pet.’ I was his baby.” But after seeing what her being away was doing to him, Terry felt she couldn’t in good conscience continue with a lifestyle that would take her so far away from her family. She traded in her career as a dancer for a job in bookkeeping at Grace Line (part of W. R. Grace & Co). “I used to meet [Peter Grace] at the water machine on the seventh floor!” she

ally married, Vincent’s companions. A widower with a three-year-old daughter, Vincent offered Terry a considerably different life to the one she had been leading. Vincent (whose greatuncle, Hugh McLaughlin, was a politician, and played an important role in the creation of Prospect Park and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge) was also from Brooklyn, and that’s where the newlyweds stayed for their first several years of marriage. However, soon after the couple’s third child was born, the McLaughlins, now with four young chil-

dren, moved to a farm in Waterford, Connecticut. So, in her early 30’s, this fashionable young woman from Brooklyn was raising young children in a country house with only cows and chickens for company; the nearest neighbor over a mile away. Like her mother, Terry encouraged her children to express themselves creatively. Once a week, she and the kids would perform a Talent Night for Vincent, who worked as a traveling salesman and was home only on weekends. How did she keep from going stir crazy? “Oh, I’d talk to the hens!” she replies. Perhaps the real answer, then, is that she didn’t keep from going stir crazy. “One morning, I went into the coop and saw an egg lying there, and this hen was up walking around. I said, ‘Get over there, you’re supposed to be sitting on that egg,’ and so help me, it went over – sat down on the egg!” Terry chuckles, “I used to have more fun with them.” In fact, there were so many hens on Vincent and Terry’s farm that she decided to make a small side-business selling eggs. “I put up a sign on the trellis, ‘60 cents a dozen.’ And I’d ask them to please bring back their boxes, because you know, I didn’t have a lot of boxes. And they would. When my husband came home, he was surprised.” Suddenly Terry’s story begins to sound oddly familiar: Early show business aspirations. Comical accidents. Living-room variety shows. A young family from New York City moving to a farm in Connecticut. The mother scheming to sell eggs, her husband in the dark about it. All this happened on I Love Lucy! And, hold on, didn’t Lucy once dress up as Charlie Chaplin, too? Terry concedes to a measure of resemblance between her own life and that of a certain Lucille Esmeralda McGillicuddy Ricardo. Of course, there are differences. Her husband was not from Cuba. And AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 55


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Terry, unlike the fictional Lucy, came to confront a kind of adversity that would have felt very much out of place on the light-hearted sitcom. In 1960, the couple moved to a larger house in Merrick, Long Island, to accommodate their growing family. But in 1964, just six months after their tenth child was born, Vincent went into the hospital for an operation, and died from an overdose of anesthesia. Suddenly a 42year-old widow with ten children to raise on her own, Terry found herself “in a daze.” For a year I couldn’t go up to the bedroom. I slept on the couch. Never would I have made it without my faith. I prayed, ‘I can’t do it alone,’” she reflects.“But, you know, no matter how bad situations are, you get through them.” Vincent died not long after President Kennedy was assassinated, and Terry looked to

Jackie Kennedy for strength and inspiration. Terry made her bed every morning, and did her best to make sure all her children were taken care of. As if the new economic strain was not enough of a challenge, Terry also faced the overwhelming concern over how she could protect her many children. One afternoon, she was alone with just her youngest child and one of her teenage sons who was sick with the flu when an intruder forced his way into their home with a gun. The man told her to get on the floor, and instead of complying, “I said, ‘No,’” she explains rather 56 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

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friend and neighbor, Ed, said after reading about the incident, “I’d never fight a gun.” To this day, she has no reply, other than “I’m Irish.” The few moments of peace Terry was able to enjoy during this period of heartache and worry were found at a local pub called The Hearthstone, where she would sometimes join friends to relax and dance for a couple of precious hours. She eventually sold the Merrick house and moved to an apartment in New Hyde Park, where she worked as a bank teller until she finally retired and moved in with her daughter Teresa and her family in Florida. These days, she spends about half the year visiting her other nine children (Rosemary, Paul, Irene, Laura, Vincent, Kenneth, Christina, Virginia and Richard), and along with them, her nineteen grandchildren and eight greatgrandchildren. PHOTO BY KIT DEFEVER But, back to the story about selling eggs, I urge Terry. Vincent was surprised, yes, but was he good-surprised, or was he Ricky-Ricardo-surprised? She laughs again, “He was very happy!” And, of course, he had every reason to be happy. Because if Terry has only one actual thing in common with this ridiculous television character to whom I insist on comparing her, it’s a similarly dogged refusal to allow unfortunate Clockwise from top: circumstances, and life’s Terry with her daughter Irene; Terry, unrelenting unpredictability, center, with all her children and sons and daughters in law, in the early ’80s; to ever diminish her optimism, or her Terry – the life of the party – doing the ability to find humor in the moment. Twist with her husband Vincent. Perhaps this is what people are picking matter-of-factly. “And I fought him, I up on when they find themselves inexplifought him. I fought him because I had cably drawn to her. “I think it’s because I just lost my husband. And what ran love people,” she muses, “and when you through my head was, ‘My children will love something, it comes right back at be orphans.’ And I fought, I just fought.” you.” Police told her she had done the right I don’t know much about auras, but thing, that the man was not expecting her I’m inclined to say that Terry’s is a warm to put up a struggle, and got frightened constant glow. Less like sunshine, and IA when she did. “My God, Terry,” her more like the Sun itself.


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The First Lady of

Irish Crime

Tana French’s bestselling crime novels keep readers in suspense and mark this actress-turned-author as an astute observer of Irish life. Interview by Tom Deignan

he has been dubbed “the First Lady of Irish Crime,” drawing comparisons to Patricia Cornwell and even Agatha Christie. And yet, if Tana French had not moved to a new apartment a few years back, her literary career might never have gotten off the ground. “I needed a day job,” French explained during a recent phone interview, from her home in Dublin, before she embarked on an American tour for her latest thriller, Broken Harbor (Viking). “I found work at an archeological dig site,” said French, who at the time was between acting gigs. While working, it struck her that this archeological site might be a wonderful place for children to play. But she was also struck by another, more disturbing thought. “What if three children went in to play and only one came out?” The idea was so powerful to French that she wrote it down on a scrap of paper – and then, more or less, forgot about the whole thing. That is, until she was later packing up to move and found the slip of paper. “That’s what became In the Woods,” exclaims French.

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A Memorable Debut In the Woods (2007) was one of the most memorable Irish literary debuts in recent history. It was a runaway best-seller and won numerous awards, including the Edgar Award for best debut novel. In the Woods revolves around a 12-year-old Dublin boy named Adam Ryan, who becomes a media sensation when he and two friends go to play in the titular woods, 58 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

but only Adam emerges. He is bloody and quivering and has no memory of what exactly happened to his friends, who are presumed dead. Adam (who changes his name to Rob to separate himself from the sensational crime) goes on to become a Dublin detective, and is asked to investigate an all-toosimilar crime: the murder of another 12year-old at the very site where Adam/Rob was found shaking and bleeding all those years ago. Complicating the investigation, aside from Detective Ryan’s past, is his relationship with his partner, Cassie Maddox, which alternates between professional and romantic. All of this gives French plenty of emotional and psychological, not to mention criminal, material to work with. Readers and critics alike raved over In the Woods. Booklist dubbed it “a superior novel about cops, murder, memory, relationships, and modern Ireland. . .booming economically and fixated on the shabbiest aspects of American popular culture.” Publishers Weekly praised French for expertly walking “the line between police procedural and psychological thriller,” and added that “Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered

children and repressed childhood trauma.” Kirkus Reviews said In the Woods was “a readable, non-formulaic police procedural with a twist. It’s ultimately the confession of a damaged man.”

A Gruesome Murder Two more best sellers followed: The Likeness, which revolved around Cassie Maddox, Detective Ryan’s partner in In the Woods; and Faithful Place, which followed Frank Mackey, a character in The Likeness. Not surprisingly, French’s new novel, Broken Harbor, allows a peripheral character from The Likeness – a rigid, rulebound associate of Frank Mackey’s, named Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy – to take center stage. Mick and his partner Richie have been asked to investigate a gruesome murder scene at Broken Harbor, a half-developed “luxury” neighborhood that has languished since Ireland’s economic boom went bust. The entire Spain family has been assaulted, leaving the two young children as well as their father dead. The mother is hospitalized in critical condition. During the course of the investigation, we learn that Kennedy and his own family have a past in Broken Harbor, having spent time there when they were kids. Ultimately,


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Scorcher must work to solve the Spain family killings, handle his fragile sister, and resolve conflicts within himself, all while coming to terms with 21st-century Ireland, where the Celtic Tiger is a distant memory whose brief life and painful death still loom large in the Irish landscape. “Ireland is a very young country that has been very poor,” French says, when asked to discuss how the economic collapse has affected the Irish. “You’re talking about a country where it’s been burned into our consciousness that you must own your own land,” she adds, referring to past horrors perpetrated by English landlords. Indeed, the real estate bust looms over the characters in Broken Harbor just as the clash of past and present loomed over In the Woods, where battles were fought when a proposed highway was slated to run through an ancient burial site. French has rightly earned a reputation as not only a brilliant writer of psychological thrillers, but also as an astute chronicler of modern Ireland. Interesting, then, that French was not born in Ireland.

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According to French, the differences between acting and writing are not so stark. “Acting is excellent training for writing,” she says. “I was preparing to become a writer while I was acting, without knowing it. What I’m supposed to be doing [as an actress] is seeing the play or the world through one character’s eyes, through his needs, biases and preconceptions.” French and Breatnach had their first child two years ago, which is why it took French a little bit longer to write Broken Harbor. Of course, there is another reason: French does not write short books. All four of her books have weighed in at the 400–500 page length.

An International Childhood French was actually born in Vermont. Her father, an Irish American with roots in Galway, worked in international economic development, so she spent time in a wide range of countries, including Italy and Malawi. But when she started spending time in Ireland as a teenager, she knew she’d found a special place. “We were coming back [to Ireland] for summers when I was a teenager. I started to think, ‘I like this place, I like the people, I like the sense of humor.’ ” She adds: “I think at 14 or 15, it was sinking in that this was actually – and it seems a little cheeky to say this – but it is where I felt at home.” Ultimately, Ireland “seemed like a natural place to go to college.” French studied acting at Trinity, and met her Dublin-born husband, actor Anthony Breatnach. French notes that the economic peril currently facing so many Irish families could easily have hit her own. “My generation were encouraged to go out and buy those houses,” French says, before adding – fortunately, as it turns out – that the incomes of two up-and-coming actors didn’t quite provide the funds necessary to invest in Irish real estate during the boom years.

been through, your eye comes off the ball. You get weak. Next thing you know you can’t get out of bed in the morning because you can’t face going to work, and I have trouble seeing how that does anyone any good. I put my time and energy into bringing answers, not hugs and hot chocolates.” But Kennedy’s hard exterior slowly crumbles as demands on his personal and professional life mount. Interestingly, Tana French’s rise to prominence comes just as the world is discovering a host of famous Irish crime writers, including Michael and John Connolly, Ken Bruen, Adrian McKinty and Benjamin Black (John Banville’s pen name). “There have been many reasons noted for the current explosion in Irish crime fiction,” Declan Hughes writes in his excellent recent book, Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Fiction in the 21st Century. Hughes credits “the work of authors such as Maeve Binchy, Roddy Doyle and Marian Keyes, writers who stepped out of the long shadow cast by the Irish literary tradition. . .to prove that an appetite existed for stories that were more relevant to the day-to-day concerns of a whole new generation of readers.”

A “Sucker for Beautiful Writing”

“Everyone – including me – would be delighted [if she wrote shorter books],” French admits. “I don’t have ideas that seem to fit into the length. Those are not the ideas that pop up.”

No “Hugs and Hot Chocolate” Scorcher Kennedy is yet another brilliant creation, a no-nonsense investigator considered among the best in the murder squad. “I don’t feel sorry for anyone I run across via work,” Kennedy says at one point. “Pity is fun, it lets you have a great wank about what a wonderful guy you are, but it does bugger-all good to the people you’re feeling sorry for. The second you start getting gooey about what they’ve

As for French, she believes the distinction between “literary” and “popular” fiction is blurring. “The borderline is not as fixed as it used to be,” she says. “Crime books almost inevitably deal with what’s in the national consciousness. I don’t go out to deliberately explore social issues (but) crime is always dealing with the most high-stakes thing in any society.” Up next for French, after her American reading tour, is another mystery. She will return to the character Stephen Moran from Faithful Place. As a writer, French says she always knew she would be drawn to the thriller genre. “We have a fascination with mysteries. I think that’s one of the things that make us human,” she says. “We’re more attracted to mystery than to anything else.” And though she took a detour into acting, writing was always in French’s blood. “My father read ‘The Wind in the Willows’ to me when I was six,” she says. “I’ve been a sucker for beautiful writing ever since.” IA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 59


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{what are you like?} By Patricia Harty

Fionnula Flanagan A

star of both the screen and the stage, Fionnula Flanagan was born in Dublin in 1941. She was raised speaking both English and Irish, and studied acting at the renowned Abbey Theatre. In 1968 she made her Broadway debut playing Maggie in Brian Friel’s Lovers. During the U.S. tour of Lovers she met her husband, Dublin-born psychiatrist Dr. Garrett O’Connor, and the couple made their home in Los Angeles. In film, Fionnula has triumphed in an abundance of scene-stealing roles in such gems as Some Mother’s Son, The Others, Waking Ned Devine, and The Guard. A familiar face in many American television shows including Star Trek, Lost, Brotherhood, and Rich Man, Poor Man (for which she won an Emmy), Flanagan has also established herself as one of the eminent portrayers of James Joyce’s female characters. She first played Gerty MacDowell in the 1967 film of Ulysses, and went on to play Molly Bloom in the 1973 Broadway production of Ulysses in Nighttown and again in James Joyce’s Women, Flanagan’s one woman show which she also adapted for the screen. For the past 20 years she has performed Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at Manhattan’s Symphony Space on Bloomsday, June 16th.

What is your idea of a perfect day? Staying in bed on a wet day – sleeping. Your greatest extravagance? My Lexus two-seater sports car. To what do you attribute your long and successful marriage to Garrett? The fact that I’m away on location a lot. Your favorite place in Ireland? Connemara. Anywhere in the West – Donegal and Mayo – there is something magical and sacred about Croagh Patrick. I think there is a reason, probably pre-Christian, why it became a sacred place. Are you Irish or American? I’m Irish and always will be, but America has taught me so much. Maybe it’s here in the U.S. that we find a healing, for in the broader melting pot we get to look at some of these self-destructive attributes that we bring to bear upon our own quarrels and begin to solve them in ways other than just splitting apart. What trait do you deplore in yourself? I have a short fuse. What trait do you deplore in others? Cruelty. What event most changed you? Sobriety. That was 27 years ago. I don’t 60 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

think I ever showed up drunk or stoned on the set, but I would show up angry and resentful, frightened and addled in interviews. Until I got clean I couldn’t take control of my life in a way that was either spiritually meaningful or healthy. I talk about it only because I think there are many women out there who are suffering similarly, ashamed to seek help. It doesn’t have to be that way. Favorite quote? My mother used to say, “Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam,” which translates as “A country without a language is a nation without a soul.” Secret love? The Irish language. I spent six weeks in the West of Ireland during the filming of an Irish TV series called Paddywhackery and it was so joyful to hear it spoken all around me. Favorite project of the moment? I serve on the board of the Galway Picture Palace, an art house film venue, sorely needed, which we are building in the center of Galway, a project conceived and driven by Lelia Doolan, former Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre and first Chair of the Irish Film Board. Lelia is an amazing leader – knowledgeable, visionary, courageous, and, fortunately for the Galway Picture Palace, an unstoppable force of nature.

Favorite author? James Joyce. Nobody can touch him. When I was growing up I thought Joyce was a good friend of my parents, because they were always saying, “Joyce said this, Joyce said that.” When I was finally old enough to read Joyce for myself, the characters were like old friends. What’s your take on Irish women? I think Irish women are strong as horses, incredibly loyal and for the most part, funny, witty, bright and optimistic in the face of devastating reality. What don’t people get about the Irish? People think we are such great talkers, but there is so much silence in Ireland about certain issues. What don’t people get about you? That I’m a political junky. I find myself glued to the set as the upcoming American election rolls around. Favorite gripe? People who describe as “unskilled labor” the poor Irish immigrants who came here and helped build America. These were people who, far from being unskilled, knew how to build roads and stone walls that still endure, thatch a roof, harvest turf for heating, make baskets, card wool and make clothes and raise their families on tiny acreage under the most adverse and punitive


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conditions. They had immeasurable skills which were not required or were held in contempt in the urban jungles of the New World. Anything you would do over? I wish I had done more at the time of the Hunger Strike. When I saw the film [Some Mother’s Son] completed, the thing that came to me so strongly was that while I had contributed a few dollars whenever I was asked and I signed petitions, I should have dropped everything and gone and stood outside the prison gate and made my voice heard, because this event in our history was so appalling and people are still feeling the fallout from it in the North. Some would label you a republican. I have been labeled many things, good and bad – a disgraceful divorcée (before it was legal in Ireland), an atheist, a communist, an anarchist, a pain in the ass and a national treasure. Where do you go to think? I like looking out the window, especially a window on a train or a bus.

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Movie you will watch again and again? The Third Man. Favorite line from a movie? “We’ll always have Paris,” from Casablanca, because we all have our own Paris. Favorite movie score? Bill Whelan’s marvelous score for Some Mother’s Son. It’s haunting and I think it is used beautifully. Your favorite sound? Bells. Favorite meal? Anything Catalonian. Though bacon and cabbage with potatoes and butter are a hot second. What are you working on? I just finished an Irish/Catalonian movie – a romantic comedy filmed in Catalonia and Ireland. What’s next? I’m dong the narration, in Irish and in English, for a documentary called Lon

sa Speir (Lunch in the Sky) on the famous 1932 photograph of New York construction workers, several of whom were Irish, having lunch on a crossbeam during the building of Rockefeller Center. And I’m in a new TV series called Defiance for the SciFi channel. Actor you would like to work with? Stephen Rae – again. Best advice anyone ever gave you? Eat your cabbage and get plenty of sleep. Biggest fear? Going blind and never falling in love again. Favorite thing you own? My dog, Betty. Favorite leisure activity? Walking my dog, Betty. How would you like to be remembered? The words on my tombstone would read: “She was a prince.” AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 61


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Silent Master Rudolph Valentino, June Mathis and Rex Ingram on the set of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

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By Bill Grantham here would have been no shortage of Irishmen who came ashore in New York that June day from the RMS Baltic – the Belfast-built liner that carried up to 3,000 passengers on the regular route from Liverpool to Cobh to New York. Just one page of the passenger manifest for June 25, 1911 shows arriving passengers from all over the country – from Bantry and Cork, Clonakilty and Galway, from Lurgan in the north, and one particular passenger from Co. Offaly with fifty dollars in his pocket: a 19-year-old, just short of six feet tall, with black hair and gray eyes, named Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock. The only thing that would have made him stand out was his very handsome face, which would one day decorate international magazine covers and publicity shots. But as he set out from New York to New Haven, Connecticut for a clerk’s job on the railroad, he was just another anonymous Irishman, the latest arrival

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among the millions that for decades had come to make their name in America. Except that this one did make his name: within fifteen years, the clergyman’s son from Kinnitty would be Rex Ingram, one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, maker of blockbuster hits of the silent era, discoverer of the great Rudolph Valentino, married for life to one of the movies’ most beautiful stars, and a celebrity in his own right, with his name burnished above the titles of his films: “A REX INGRAM PRODUCTION.” But his star would burn out as quickly as it had ascended. Rex Ingram was the first major Irish film director (an older Dubliner, Herbert Brenon, had a substantial career and even received an Oscar nomination, but was never really in Rex’s league). Except among movie aficionados, his name had largely been forgotten, possibly because he only made one film after the talkies came in. The big silent directors who survived into the talking picture era – John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock (no relation to Rex), Cecil B DeMille, King Vidor – earned their place in the film pantheon for the entirety of their careers. But silent-only directors like Rex Ingram drifted into obscurity as the popular taste for their films declined. More recently, though, the tides of fame have turned. Large-scale restorations of great silent films – among them, Rex Ingram portrait, with autograph from Rex to Bill Lynch: “from a harp to a harp.”

Rex’s 1921 blockbuster The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – have demonstrated the incredible flair and virtuosity of the silent masters. At the same time, the public’s imagination has been stimulated by modern imaginings of the pre-talking era, most notably in this year’s Oscar-winning The Artist and in Martin Scorsese’s loving tribute to silent movies, Hugo. The Irish film scholar Ruth Barton of Trinity College Dublin is working on a major Ingram biography. The National Library of Ireland is preparing a Rex exhibition based on the priceless collection donated to it by the late film scholar Liam O’Leary. And the Irish Film Board has provided seed money to a team of filmmakers (full disclosure: including myself) to produce a feature documentary on the great man. His time seems to have come again. After a few months working for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, Rex signed up at his local university – Yale – to study sculpture. He was a talented artist, whose teacher was the celebrated Lee Lawrie (creator of the great Atlas outside Rockefeller Center in New York). But the burgeoning film business, then mainly based in and around New York, had greater appeal to the young Rex, barely out of his teens. He met the Edison family through a Yale pal, and dropped out of school to take a job at the famous Edison Studios in the Bronx. As an artist, he drew titles and painted sets and portraits. But he was also given a shot at other jobs – first writing scripts and then performing on screen. He looked great but was not really an actor, although that did not prevent him from appearing in a large number of films for Edison and the Vitagraph company. After a stint at Fox writing more scripts, he was hired in 1916, at the age of 25, but a veteran of dozens of movies, to be a director for Carl Laemmle’s Universal Film Manufacturing Company. After Rex made a couple of films at Universal’s studios in New Jersey, Laemmle transferred him to the new epicenter of the business in Hollywood, California, where Rex directed six more pictures for the combative mogul. Unfortunately, Rex was combative himself, and had been since his schooldays. While he could be a knight in shining armor, fearlessly entering combat on behalf of a person who he viewed as wronged or slighted, he could also pick the wrong fights, as he found at Universal. He clashed with Laemmle and was fired, although, after a hard spell in the wilderness, he was allowed to come back, thanks to the influence of the Waterford-born Universal executive Pat Powers. By the beginning of 1920, still only 27, he was hired as a director by the Metro studios for $600 (more than $7,000 today) a week. This was where Rex’s career began to take off. Rex did not leave his ability to make trouble for himself behind at Universal, where his crew knew him as the “crazy Irishman.” But Metro paired him with the great cameraman John Seitz – who went on to shoot such clas-

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sics as Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard – and a great partnership was formed. Rex was a demanding perfectionist who was known to grab paint and touch up sets even at the height of his fame. Seitz was a painstaking artist who understood the science as well as the art of filmmaking and who strove to give Ingram exactly the visual texture that inspired his painterly inner eye. Rex also had his share of luck. When he joined Metro, it was a small studio making inexpensive films at around $20,000 a pop. But its wealthy new owner, Marcus Loew, had bigger ambitions. Through the efforts of June Mathis, the visionary head of Metro’s script department, the studio paid $20,000 to buy just the movie rights to a runaway anti-war bestselling novel, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from its Spanish author, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. Loew poured in one million dollars – equal to the cost of 50 of the studio’s regular movies – to make the film. Mathis wrote the script and brought in Ingram to direct. Ingram went to work, building huge sets around Los Angeles, including a French village complete with a castle that is spectacularly blown up by a German assault during a reenactment of the Battle of the Marne. The vast panorama of the novel – from Buenos Aires to Paris, from Lourdes to the battlefields of the First World War – was meticulously recreated on film. But the spectacular elements of

ful film of 1921 and gave Loew an ample return on his huge risk. It also made Ingram a directing superstar. Of Rex’s work the playwright Robert Sherwood wrote, “the grandiose posturing of D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille appear pale and artificial in the light of this new production.” Rex had a free hand at Metro for his future pictures. And he had another hand as well, that of his leading lady, Alice Terry, whom he married later that year. Alice was very pretty, with an elfin

major leading ladies of her time. And, once married to Rex, the two became yoked in the public consciousness as a celebrity couple, photographed together, appearing in magazine spreads and newspaper articles, posing for postcards and publicity shots. All the while, Alice flourished as the beautiful heroine of Rex’s continuing successes for Metro, in popular costume dramas such as The Prisoner of Zenda and Scaramouche. But Rex just couldn’t stop picking fights, most notably with Marcus Loew’s

Four Horseman was the most successful film of 1921 and gave Loew an ample return on his huge risk. It also made Ingram a directing superstar. the picture supported a human story of love, loss and redemption against the background of catastrophic, devastating warfare. Its most sensational success was Mathis’ and Rex’s astonishing discovery, an Italian bit part player and former taxi dancer named Rudolph Valentino, whose sinuous, lascivious performance of the tango in an Argentine dive turned him into an instant international star. Four Horseman was the most success-

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face and big eyes. Her features had the expressiveness that was essential to a silent movie star. And she was Irish; her father, Martin Taaffe, was from Kildare before moving to the USA. After his early death, Alice’s mother moved the family to California, where Alice worked in small jobs in the movie business before Ingram spotted her, becoming her champion. After her role as Marguerite in Four Horsemen, she became one of the

new partner in the merged MetroGoldwyn-Mayer studios, Louis B. Mayer. Even though Mayer respected Ingram, Rex was unable to contain his loathing of the man who was his boss. When Mayer offered Rex the plum directing job of the 1920s – the mega-budget biblical blockbuster Ben Hur – Ingram made so many unreasonable demands that Mayer gave up and hired someone else. Ben Hur, under the direction of Fred Niblo, became


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one of the most successful films in movie history. Instead, Rex and Alice headed for France. He had made one film there, The Arab in Nice, and believed that if he returned to France, he could maintain control of his films, free of studio interference. His next big project, Mare Nostrum was another hit novel by the author of Four Horsemen, Vicente Blanco Ibáñez, a melodramatic tale of war, espionage, love and intrigue set in the Mediterranean during World War I. In adapting it, Ingram was the usual uncompromising perfectionist. The production, shot in France, Italy and Spain, lasted 15 months. One scene was filmed 185 times. Russian extras were required repeatedly to plunge into the Mediterranean – very cold despite its reputation – warmed by nips of vodka until they could take no more. Hundreds of octopuses died to achieve a single shot. Huge amounts of film were discarded. Although the released film was shorter than Ingram had intended, it was once again warmly received by the critics. In Dublin, the Evening Herald said that it was “easily the finest picture that has been released this year.” As the result of a series of complex deals involving MGM, Ingram found himself the owner of the Victorine

Studios, with ambitious plans to page: Alice permanent coronary problems. Terry in build Hollywood on the Riviera. Pavement. He returned to Hollywood in He and Terry received the great Above: The 1936 and settled down with Alice and the good in Nice. He directed cast of Four again – they had been separated The Magician, a sensational Horsemen of for two years. After World War the Apocalypse, thriller based on a novel by W. with Rex II, he traveled back to North Somerset Maugham, and The Ingram giving Africa to recover his art collecGarden of Allah, about a trappist directions. tion, which had been deposited in monk in North Africa who abanCairo. During an arduous jourdons his vows and marries, only ney, he suffered repeated heart to return to the monastery at the movie’s attacks. Returning home, he set out on end. Although it was another critical and more travels and became sicker, also commercial success, MGM decided to catching malaria in Mexico. He died in end its contract with Ingram. His closest 1950, aged 57. associates had already returned to Despite the virtual eclipse of his Hollywood. Ingram continued to make career, Ingram’s star never completely films in Nice, but his relationship with waned. The great director David Lean his business partners deteriorated, and he (Lawrence of Arabia) cited Rex as a key engaged in prolonged and unsuccessful influence. Another great filmmaker, litigation with them. He and Alice both Michael Powell (The Red Shoes), who found the arrival of sound films uncongot his first job working on The genial. After a couple of attempts at talkMagician, revered him. And when ing pictures, Ingram brought his cinema Martin Scorsese was reimagining the career to an end in 1932. He was just 39. silent era in Hugo, he played back The Ingram’s energies did not dissipate Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in his however. His love of North Africa led to editing room for inspiration. These direcextensive travel in the region, and an tors all echo the view of the legendary apparent conversion to Islam. He moved Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production chief to Cairo and accumulated a large collecDore Schary who, when asked to name tion of Arab art. He returned to sculpthe great pioneer Hollywood directors, ture. He took up writing, publishing two replied “D. W. Griffith, Rex Ingram, novels. However, sickness that occurred Cecil B. DeMille, and Erich von IA during his spell in Egypt left him with Stroheim – in that order.”

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When Boston Hosted the

World’s Biggest Music Festival for Peace For 18 days in the summer of 1872, an Irish-born impresario led the largest concert in history.

By Michael Quinlin

S

ome 20,000 singers and 2,000 musicians from around the world descended on Boston to participate in the World Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival, which ran from Bunker Hill Day to the Fourth of July, 1872. They performed in various ensembles and also en masse, to convey the joy, solace and inspiration that music brings, and to express a profound relief, even if temporary, that there was peace in the world. The man behind the festival was Patrick S. Gilmore, a gifted cornetist, bandleader and impresario who had devoted his life to the audacious dream that music had the power to change the world; that it could be used as an instrument of peace. Gilmore was born in Ballygar, Galway on December 25, 1829 and learned music from military bands stationed in Athlone. He immigrated to Boston in 1849 and was a successful bandleader through the 1850s. He was a band master in the Union Army during the Civil War, and learned firsthand the transformative power of music, playing for the troops on both sides of the conflict. In fact, Gilmore had already organized monster concerts to celebrate peace in the nation: in New Orleans in 1865 and Boston’s National Peace Jubilee in 1869. So in 1871, with the ending of Europe’s bloody and bitter Franco-Prussian War, Gilmore was inspired to stage a world peace jubilee. He visited Europe’s capital cities and royal courts, imploring presidents and kings to send their finest musicians to Boston. Gilmore described his event as “a union of all nations in harmony, to sing, as never before, the hymn of the angels: peace on earth, and good will towards all men.” Ever persuasive and earnest, Gilmore prevailed upon Europe’s ancient adversaries. Britain agreed to send the Grenadier Guards and France the La Garde Republicaine. From Germany, King 66 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012


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Wilhelm I sent the Kaiser Franz Regiment. In unofficial anthem, “Angel of Peace,” with words America, the U.S. Marine Band, along with by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. local choral groups, opera companies, and Most of the audience loved it, even the town brass bands from seventeen states skeptical New York press. “Old men, forgeteagerly signed up to perform at the Jubilee. ful of rheumatism, rose to their feet and In spring 1872, Boston contractors stamped up and down in wild frenzy,” the began building a massive, temporary colNew York Herald reported after opening iseum in the Back Bay, Boston’s fledgday. Not everyone was so enthused – ling new neighborhood. It was built on certain Bostonians considered it crass vacant railroad land, close to where the and loud. The Jubilee was, after all, the Back Bay Train Station and Copley largest gathering of musicians in Square stand today. The coliseum, recorded history. described as a steel-workers masterpiece, But Gilmore was praised throughout was 550 x 350 feet, larger than a football the land, and he spent the final twenty field, made to hold 60,000 spectators and years of his life touring with the Gilmore 22,000 musicians. Inside, the stage was Band, throughout Europe and across the fashioned as an amphitheater, with balUnited States. He died in 1892 while on conies 75 feet deep. tour in St. Louis, and is buried at Calvary Boston was abuzz as opening day Cemetery in Queens, New York. approached. Seven hundred painters, roofers Decades later, people still talked about three and carpenters put finishing touches on the colisehigh points of the World Peace Jubilee: um, nicknamed the Temple of Peace. Marching bands • Johann Strauss, the Austrian waltz king, made his American debut at the Jubilee, having met paraded on Boston Common. Musicians dashed around Above: Johann Opposite Gilmore in Vienna the previous summer. Strauss contown with their sheet music, while school children Strauss. page: Patrick ducted his famous waltz, “The Beautiful Blue practiced in classrooms and church halls. Visitors Gilmore, the Danube,” to thunderous applause, and composed a began pouring into the city by train, boat and horse car- Irish-born bandJubilee Waltz for the occasion. So popular was riage from across the nation. Hotels were filled, restau- leader and music impreStrauss that his wife reportedly sold locks of his hair rants were bustling. Offices shut down to join the cele- sario behind as souvenirs to female fans. bration. Boston’s World President Ulysses S. Grant, who had been at the 1869 Peace Jubilee and • The Fisk Jubilee Singers, a group of black college students from Fisk University in Nashville, perJubilee, announced he was attending, causing his pres- International Music Festival. formed at the Jubilee, “sending the audience into a idential opponent Horace Greeley to also show up. rapture of boisterous enthusiasm” for its rendition of “Mine Dozens of senators, congressmen, governors from as far away as Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord.” An Kansas descended upon Boston, along with ministers from impressed President Grant invited them to perform at the White Turkey, Ecuador and the Netherlands. And finally the big day House later that year, helping to launch a singing ensemble that arrived. flourishes today. “The sun was bright and the sky was blue. The parks and cemeteries studding the place were robed in richest green, and • The unlikely stars of the Jubilee were 100 men from the Boston Fire Department, resplendent in red shirts and white the streets teemed with a population in holiday attire and brimsuspenders, who were enlisted to pound 100 anvils to accompaming with holiday sentiments,” a newspaper reported about ny the singers of The Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. opening day. Even the weather had cooperated. As the firemen clanged their hammers in unison, cannons outIn the end, it was the music that had people talking. side the coliseum were firing and all of Boston’s church bells Gilmore’s practice as a bandleader was to mix classical and popwere ringing as the orchestra of 2,000 reached a crescendo ular music at his concerts, to democratize the enjoyment of unheard of in the world. music for American audiences. So Bach, Mendelsohn, Mozart The World Peace Jubilee was significant for another reason: and Handel were featured, with sacred hymns like “Hallelujah” for one brief shining moment in human history, an army of from The Messiah, “To God on High” and “Gloria.” Irish songs IA musicians had prevailed. like “The Last Rose of Summer” received hearty encores and so did Gilmore’s own song, “When Johnny Comes Marching Michael Quinlin is president of Boston Irish Tourism Association Home.” “The Star Spangled Banner” was played daily along and author of Irish Boston. with popular hymns like “Rock of Ages” and the Festival’s AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 67


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{music}

The Luthier Irish guitar makers are rare, and George Lowden, the man behind Lowden Guitars, is the best of them. Here, he tells Tara Dougherty about the beginnings of his craft and the future for Lowden Guitars.

uthier is certainly not the word one might hear an Irish child say is their dream profession. In fact, luthiere, or the crafting of stringed instruments, mainly guitar and lute, has been a nearly nonexistent art form in Ireland for centuries. Even today the term “Irish guitar maker” is certain to turn a head or two in a music shop. With no opportunity to apprentice and armed only with books about guitar making, Belfast-born George Lowden came to the decision as a young man to become just that – an Irish luthier. Lowden Guitars are now sold in specialty guitar shops from France to Colorado to Dublin, and are played by legends like Eric Clapton, who showed his off during a Grammy performance in 1997. The brand is a favorite of Irish musicians Foy Vance and Damien Rice, whose rather worn guitar is something of an icon among his fan base. George Lowden grew up in Bangor, County Down and launched at age ten what was meant to be a hobby of guitar building, with the help of a friend and his father, a boat builder. The first two guitars had fishing line for strings. In his early 68 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

twenties, George revisited the craft, this time armed with a bit more information. After some trial and error, and decades of dedication, he has continued to grow his business and craft. Lowden Guitars has become a favorite brand of players throughout the world, and while opportunities to move production to large factories arose on numerous occasions through the years, Lowden has remained a small business dedicated to customer service and making the best tools for musicians. George’s attitude toward luthiere is a breath of fresh air to Right: Eric Clapton plays a Lowden at the 1997 Grammys. Below: Damien Rice.

musicians. He recognizes not only the need for diligent attention to detail but also the potential of luthiere as an art form. Constant innovation and exploration has driven Lowden to produce gorgeous, personal instruments. With labels signed by George inside each guitar, there is a relationship between maker and buyer that sets Lowden Guitars apart. In true Irish fashion, Lowden Guitars is very much a family affair: George’s wife, Florence, and sons work for the company. Now, taking on apprentices of his own, George shows no intention of slowing down. I caught up with him via email as he traveled to promote the guitars in Japan and Singapore.

How did you become interested in being a luthier? Is there a tradition of musicians in your family? There is no musical tradition in my family to my knowledge, but I was very interested in music as a teenager and listened to Cream; Yardbirds; Chicago; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; James


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Taylor; the original Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green etc. From this I heard about an English guitar maker called Tony Zemaitis and that sparked my interest.

Were you an apprentice? No, there was no opportunity to apprentice in Ireland at that time. I bought a small home-published book, Build Your Own Folk Guitar, by another English luthier called John Bailie, and I began with that. Back then there was no internet, and researching anything was very difficult so a book was the only way to start. Because of my naivete I learned the hard way, myself, in my own newly created workshop. That’s a very good way to learn because you have to learn by your mistakes and you are not afraid to try crazy things a more experienced luthier would not try. So even my early guitars were original and unique, even if not so good. However, I kept learning and improving my woodworking skills and kept experimenting with the design, and by 1976 I had developed the combination of internal voicing and structural integrity from my A-frame and “Dolphin profile” bracing. These two design aspects along with many other less significant attributes combined to give my guitars their distinctive tonal responsiveness.

Could you tell me a bit about the process itself? How do you choose wood for the soundboard, back and sides? Do you have a particular sound in mind for the instrument or is it a guessand-check process? Designing and building guitars is a matter of the wood choice first, the design second and the workmanship third. Choosing the wood is becoming more and more difficult, and I now have built up relationships with specialist wood suppliers who know what I want and try to fulfill my expectations. I like soundboards from very old spruce, redwood and cedar trees (often from trees which have fallen down naturally), with a slow growth pattern that creates stiff straight-grained soundboards with a very light weight. Usually when I tap the wood there is a certain high frequency bell-like tap tone, which I look for always. I can tell from the appearance of the wood, including the prominence of the medullary rays, whether the tap tone is likely to be spectacular or not. Then the soundboard and soundboard strutting material both have to be split rather than sawn. When wood is split, the split line follows the grain direction naturally, whereas when it is sawn there is no guar-

antee that the sawn line will be parallel to the grain. This is important for two reasons – first, because if the wood fibers are very long (as in the split line) the transfer of sound is fast and efficient, and second, because wood that is split is stronger than wood that does not have long parallel grain. For back and sides I choose hard, very fine-textured wood such as Brazilian rosewood (only very old wood is now available, as new rosewood is not permitted to be cut down) or African Blackwood or Honduras rosewood, and finally American Claro or Bastogne walnut. All give slightly different tonal responses and I will often advise players which might suit them best according to their playing style. Design is also very important. Nowadays many acoustic brands copy older American brands, and some try to make the guitars better, but with the traditional design. In my case, I have designed my own guitars and continue to try and develop the design further and further. This is mainly a matter of building into the guitar a lot of structural integrity with a low-weight/high strength ratio and enhancing the energy produced by the strings and bridge in such a way as to ensure as large an area of the soundboard possible is involved. The main AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 69


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thing is to try and ensure that all the individual elements of the design work together to create a truly responsive guitar – capable of great subtlety on the one hand and very powerful on the other. Workmanship is equally important and ensures that the instrument has long-term integrity, and also that there are no unplanned stresses in the guitar. If you just ensure structural integrity but neglect to make sure that all joints are an easy, natural fit, then the guitar will sound tight and not responsive enough. I use a combination of Japanese hand tools with razor-sharp cutting edges to help me achieve this in an economical time frame. I learned from the Japanese a certain depth of concentration, which allows you to work very fast and to an extremely high standard at the same time.

Once you began making the guitars, how did your business first take off? A friend of mine, Alistair Burke, was a student in France back then and unknown to me he took my guitar around to some guitar stores in Paris. The main one called me up and ordered six guitars... and wanted to buy six guitars a month from me. Then a shop in Geneva saw the guitars and they began to sell them as well, and it just built from there.

What is it about Lowden Guitars that you strive to make different from other brands? I (along with every guitar maker today) have several hundred years of stringed instrument building tradition to benefit from and I value that very much. But I also try to add my ideas to this tradition in some way, to perhaps benefit guitar makers in the future. I try to make my guitars very, very responsive and do not compromise on workmanship or attention to detail in the design. The guitars have to be easy to play as well, and most of all they have to inspire the musicians to create new music! I have had musicians let me know that once they got one of my guitars it renewed their enthusiasm and interest in playing all over again, and that means a lot to me

Throughout the years, you’ve resisted several opportunities to make Lowden a much larger factory brand. Why? I suppose there are two reasons: 70 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

George Lowden in his workshop.

1) A larger company means more people building the guitars, and I feel it is important not to mechanize the process too much. Controlling the quality of the guitars becomes much more difficult – this problem can be seen in many larger company’s guitars. This is may be why larger companies tend to rely on computer-controlled machines, which are more reliable than people (but some of the soul has gone!). 2) Once you build a large company you are in the position where you have to “feed that machine” – i.e. you have to make decisions based upon making that larger company ‘successful’ in commercial terms. This can restrict your freedom, and in many cases you have to make decisions you would not ordinarily make. Even sometimes you would feel like ‘the machine is running me.’ So actually the size of the company is not the only important thing – rather, it is also controlling the speed of growth so that you can retain your freedom. Not easy to do!

Your instruments are played by some incredible and world-renowned musicians. Is there one or more in particular that you are proud to say plays a Lowden? It’s difficult to pick out a particular musician because there are so many who I appreciate a lot, but if I could mention a few they would be Pierre Bensusan, Richard Thompson, Thomas Leeb and Alex DeGrassi (all four fantastic worldclass innovative guitar players). But also better known musicians and players like Paul Brady, and of course it was a partic-

ular pleasure for me to see Eric Clapton playing his Lowden when he received his Grammy award and played “If I Could Change the World.” He also used his Lowden to record his two acoustic albums Reptile and Pilgrim.

As both a businessman and a craftsman, what would you say is your ultimate motivation? As a businessman – to build a commercially strong long-term guitar brand where everyone who is concerned with the business as a supplier, customer or employee feels respected and appreciated and very proud to be involved with the business. As a craftsman – to be able to continue to innovate and develop new and better guitar designs which are capable of inspiring musicians more and more.

Would you describe Lowden Guitars as a family business? More and more, it seems! I have two of my sons working with me in the guitar making. My wife, Florence, also works full time in marketing along with my daughter-in-law, Lara. Very soon my son-in-law will begin to work within the business as well. So, it is developing as a family business and as long as everyone within the business, whether family or not, enjoys working there, then that will be good for the future.

What are your goals for the future for the Lowden brand? IA To improve the guitars continuously. so


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{music reviews} By Tara Dougherty

CONTEMPORARY Glen Hansard • Rhythm and Repose t is almost hard to believe that, with decades of successful records, an Oscar and a Tony, it was only this year that Glen Hansard (of Once fame) released his first solo album. Rhythm and Repose is an earnest and vivid collection from the Irish songwriter known for his work with bands The Frames and The Swell Season. Given Hansard’s previous work and the weighty label of “singer songwriter,” this solo effort was anticipated to be an acoustic collection, softer if predictable. That, however, is not Rhythm and Repose. Masterfully produced by Thomas Bartlett, the album is a combination of vulnerable folk, playful ditties and powerful explosions of song. And while these are Hansard’s first steps on his own, his style and arrangements echo back to the familiar Frames slow build and the guttural scream that Hansard is famous for. Rhythm and Repose is like a long journey at sea, peaceful and sun-filled one moment, the next a thrashing hurricane. In “Birds of Sorrow” Hansard evokes the latter, beginning with a whisper of vocals that explodes into his signature howl. “Talking with the Wolves” brings the lovely familiar sound of Marketa Irglova’s vocals, and for a moment feels like a follow-up to the Swell Season. Much of the album builds on Hansard’s previous work, and while it may be a solo debut, it is not a departure from the sound that Hansard has cultivated for years.

I

FOLK Len Graham & Brían Ó hAirt • In Two Minds en Graham and Brían Ó hAirt have teamed up for a very unique collection of duets titled In Two Minds. Graham has long been a staple of the Celtic folk community, boasting an astounding repertoire of ballads and folk songs. Ó hAirt is more of a newcomer, with some

L

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decent buzz around his band, Bua. Ó hAirt has become the young champion of unaccompanied singing, the style which dominates most of In Two Minds. While some familiar and popular Irish folk tunes make their way onto the record, the experienced and learned vocalists also include some rare treats of songs they learned from friends, songs whose age and authors are unknown. One such mystery tune, “One Morning in May,” showcases the best of the duo’s harmonies – soft and airy. It’s a quiet summer day album. A brave move for both singers is that the majority of the album is unaccompanied vocals. With some guest appearances of flutes and Irish dancing feet for rhythm, the album is a bit of a love letter to the lost arts of both the Celtic duet and the a cappella song form. It’s a bold but sweet album with a truly original collection that is both timeless and fresh.

TRADITIONAL Donall Donnelly • Tremolo his solo project, Tremolo, masterminded by Tyrone fiddler Donall Donnelly, is a fantastic album packed with personality and energy. Fortunately, the album has led to the formation of a band of the same name, consisting of four master players. The album itself is a wonderful combination of experienced finesse and youthful energy. “Julia’s Jigs” is a prime example of Donnelly’s musical personality: rambunctious and playful. To shake up the traditional collection, Donnelly includes “Mi Sueño,” a Mexican folk song that blends well into the album as a whole, while injecting a welcome variety to the sound. Throughout Tremolo, Donnelly’s arrangements take few risks, but what he accomplishes within the standard trad format is exhilarating. Already receiving buzz around the new band, Donnelly proves he not only has the ear of a polished player, but also the personality to create a distinct and memorable sound. Tremolo will definitely be a band to watch as Donnelly channels his talent into the future of the ensemble.

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{ review of books}

Recently published books of Irish and Irish-American interest.

Recommended:

Summer Mysteries The Lost Years

ary Higgins Clark’s latest novel, The Lost Years, is a mystery-suspense exploring the topics of brain-altering illness (a Higgins Clark favorite) and Biblical scholasticism (a new one). The story centers around the shooting and death of a retired professor. A letter, supposedly written by Jesus Christ, which was stolen from the Vatican in the 1400s, is the item of intrigue that may have inspired the murder. The professor’s jealous wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is the prime suspect. The couple’s 28-year-old daughter, Mariah, is the hero of the story. As such, she carries the burden of solving her father’s murder and of clearing her mother’s name. “Mariah, I’m so sorry. I can’t believe it. It seems so sudden,” a mourner laments in the opening pages. Well, yes, the man was shot. That would seem sudden. Immediately, this mourner becomes a potential culprit. The fun with a mystery like this is in trying to get one step ahead of the story. Mary Higgins Clark is the master of her genre. She knows it well, and instead of lapsing into predictability or letting the plot become convoluted, she expertly leads the audience through the twists and turns, allowing us just close enough to her thought process that we feel we’re on the right track, yet maintaining enough distance that we’re never quite able to see where we’re being led.

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– Catherine Davis (Simon & Schuster / $26.99 / 292 pages)

The Gods of Gotham

y 1845, many cities, including Paris, London, Philadelphia, Boston and even Richmond, Virginia, had police forces. New York, then a burgeoning metropolis growing more crowded and lawless each day, did not. Gods of Gotham, the second novel from actress turned author Lyndsay Faye, centers on the earliest days of the NYPD, then

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called the “copper stars,” a reference to the crudely hammered badges pinned to their chests. Timothy Wilde, Faye’s upstanding, quick and likeable hero, is among the first of New York’s finest, but he’s a reluctant recruit – nudged into the force by his older brother, Valentine, a newly-minted police captain and strong arm for the local Democrats. A series of truly unsettling discoveries – the corpse of a child with a cross hacked into his torso; a kinchin-mab (flash speak for child prostitute) running terrified through the streets, covered in someone’s blood – sparks Timothy’s passion for his new line of work. The discovery of a mass-grave in the forest on the outskirts of the city (now Twenty-Eighth Street) with the bodies of nineteen similarly mutilated children makes him determined to find the murderer. The case, far more than a cut-anddried whodunit, is deeply tangled with religion and local politics: the killer is targeting Irish Catholic children from the brothels. Faye conducted extensive research for Gods of Gotham, and it shows – in both the colorful historical details and her larger, convincing grasp of life in 1840s New York. Her portrayals of the Five Points, Battery Park, the Sixth Ward, plucky newsboys, and figures like George Washington Matsell (founder of the New York Police) are vivid and transporting, and her liberal use of flash speak, the long-forgotten idiom preferred by the criminal underclass of the era, is precise. At the same time, her attention to the dire conditions and extreme discrimination faced by the masses of Irish immigrants – an account that goes far beyond the No Irish Need Apply signs – will strike an emotional chord with Irish-American readers. As for the mystery, Faye’s plot twists are superb. She gives you the satisfaction of implicating everyone you suspect, but in ways you never see coming. – Sheila Langan (Amy Einhorn Books / $25.95 / 414 pages)

Fiction

Long Time, No See

estmeath native Dermot Healy’s highly anticipated fourth novel Long Time, No See, revolves around the residents of a small coastal town in Northwest Ireland, and is narrated from the perspective of a young man known to neighbors as “Mister Psyche.” Recently finished with school, Mister Psyche, whose real name is Phillip, spends his days doing odd jobs around the town and running errands for his testy uncle, Joejoe. That Healy also writes plays is obvious. He thrusts us into the world of his novel without any backstory at all, providing explanations through conversational dialogue and through the characters’ various idiosyncrasies. That Healy writes poetry is also obvious. Dialogue is not indicated by quotation marks. Instead it is woven into Mister Psyche’s narration, which has no set form. Healy purposefully makes it difficult to tell which words are Mister Psyche’s exposition, which are his internal thoughts, and which are being spoken out loud – and by whom. It’s tempting to call this technique impressionist, but scenes are so conversationally realistic – often excruciatingly so – that the result is actually closer to something out of French New Wave cinema than it is to any Monet. The best artists use their medium to do what can’t be done in any other. Healy obviously has a deep appreciation for the novel. He shows us that it can recreate the experience of subjective day-to-day living in a way unlike any other art form. “Me body was sort of a ghost. Coming behind me,” muses Joejoe’s disembodied voice, during a blackout. “But I knew from the beginning that the mind was there.” For all its monotony, Long Time, No See is a wonderful expression of the life of a mind, in a body, in a very small town.

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– Catherine Davis (Viking / $27.95 / 438 pages)

The Cottage at Glass Beach

ora Cunningham seems to have it all: a handsome husband who happens to be the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts, two daughters

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and a beautiful home. But everything is not perfect, and when her husband’s affair becomes headline news, Nora flees the press and the uncertainty of her future, returning to the place of her birth – Burke Island, Maine. Nora hopes the island will be able to answer questions about her past and the mysterious disappearance of her mother, Maeve, over three decades ago. However, as time passes, the island offers more questions than answers. Were the rumors about her mother’s origins true? Did she really disappear, or did she abandon Nora and her father? And who is Owen Kavanagh – a shipwrecked fisherman or a selkie-like figure from Irish folklore, summoned by Nora’s tears falling into the sea? The Cottage at Glass Beach is a story of rediscovering oneself, of confronting demons and of new beginnings. It is also full of Irish folklore, which you will love if you’re familiar with the myths and tales. The novel is also beset with ambiguity: what seem to be pivotal themes of the plotline slowly wisp away like the fog on the sea. For example, the question of what happened to Nora’s mother, one of the main reasons for returning to the island, is never really answered. The same goes for Owen Kavanagh – is he man or magic? Overlooking these slight conflicts, The Cottage at Glass Beach is an enjoyable read. Barbieri’s poetic descriptions of memories and nature are exquisite. But what really wins out in the end is the unbending bond and love shared between mother and daughter despite all trials and tears.

experiences of young women religious during a time fraught with social change and transformations within the Church. It’s also a powerful account of the joys and strains of immigration – of finding one’s feet in a new place, but missing home and family. The most remarkable thing about Call of the Lark – Mulligan's first book – is her ability to both recall and gorgeously render the little details from the past that make all the difference for the reader. From the first chapter, which begins with Mulligan attending her first funeral as a new postulant (“Our laced-up, lowheeled shoes, not yet broken in, clipclopped on the cobblestone pavement as we lined up two-by-two.”), to a more distant memory of her mother's hands (“If there were such a thing as a blue tree, the twigs on its branches would be the veins that bulged on my mother's chapped hands.”), her descriptive power emerges as a great strength. Mulligan, as Call of the Lark chronicles, has worn many hats throughout her life. She can now add accomplished memoirist to her list of achievements.

– Michelle Meagher (Harper Collins / $24.99 / 306 pages)

here did Irish dancing come from? In Rínce, Gretchen Gannon gives the its origin a mystical spin, in a long-ago feud between the faeries and mortals of the village Rínce, named after the Irish word for dance. The villagers and the faeries have been feuding ever since the faeries brought bad luck upon the humans in retaliation for chopping down fairy trees. In order to instill peace, King Ronan and the Fairy King Declan declared a monthly festival of dancing and merriment, which brings the two communities togeth-

Memoir

Call of the Lark

eading Maura Mulligan’s deeply felt memoir, Call of the Lark, one word kept coming to mind: generous. In telling her story from childhood on her parents’ farm in Co. Mayo to her life in the U.S. with – and later without – the Franciscan nuns, Mulligan has delved fearlessly into her past. The result is a series of beautiful and honest glimpses into not only Mulligan's journey, but also life in 1940s and ’50s rural Ireland, 1960s New York, and the

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– Sheila Langan (Greenpoint Press / $20.00 / 260 pages)

Children’s Books: Rínce: The Fairytale of Irish Dance

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er. When King Declan proposes unifying the two groups even further with the wedding of his son, Finn, to King Ronan’s daughter, Delia, at the next Fairy Ring Festival, Ronan agrees, but then develops a plan to sabotage the match: if he tells Delia, a beautiful dancer, to dance with her arms straight by her sides, perhaps Finn won’t choose her as the best dancer and his future queen. But after a chance meeting between Delia and Finn before the festival, it becomes clear that the two are meant to be together. Will King Ronan’s plan spoil everything, or will it actually make Delia’s dancing even more spectacular? With vibrant, whimsical illustrations by Don Vanderbeek, Rínce is sure to delight all young dancers and leave them even more proud of and excited about their art. – Sheila Langan (Outskirts Press / $20.95 / 34 pages)

Best-Loved Irish Legends

s re-told here by Eithne Massey, Best-Loved Irish Legends is a compact story-book full of tales from long, long ago, passed down from generation to generation. With language and descriptions geared towards a much younger crowd, the tales are engaging and enjoyable, with warm narratives that handle any violence or bawdiness appropriately for the age group. The book also offers help with the pronunciation of the sometimes hard to pronounce names of the characters, which is very helpful while reading. The illustrations are vivid and charming, and wonderfully portray “The Salmon of Knowledge, How Cu Chulainn Got His Name,” “The King with Donkey’s Ears,” “Oisin” and more. It’s a quick and easy read for children who are just beginning to read by themselves and are intrigued by Ireland’s mythology. It is also perfect for story time with the little ones. And if you yourself are a just learning about these age-old tales, Best-Loved Irish Legends is a great place IA to start.

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– Michelle Meagher (O’Brien Press / $7.95 / 64 pages) AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 75


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{sláinte} By Edythe Preet

Land of a

Thousand Welcomes How the tradition of hospitality to strangers has its roots in an ancient law.

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or more than a thousand years Ireland was regulated by the Brehon Laws. Here are a few of my favorite examples. If a person was stung by one of a beekeeper’s bees, the injured party was owed a portion of the hive’s honey. Yum! If a woman’s husband went off wandering and stayed away too long, the marriage could be declared null and void, and the woman could lay claim to all of their mutual property. Sweet. If one man’s bull sired a calf on a neighbor’s cow, the neighbor could keep the calf. How bovine lineage was proved in the days before DNA tracing is beyond me.

unknown, as the root word oigi actually means ‘stranger.’ This hospitality included food, drink, a bed, and entertainment. No prying questions could be asked of the guest, and once hospitality was accepted, the visitor was obliged to refrain from any violence or quarrel in the house. Monetary payment was never expected, but exchanges of traveling tales, poetry and songs were welcome. Refusal to offer hospitality was not only a sure road to an embarrassing reputation, it was illegal and a fine could be levied on the offending household. Old Irish literature tells of one nobleman’s fall from grace for having committed that indiscretion. King Bres, who is said to have been halfFomorian and half-Tuatha de Danaan, ruled for seven years and during that time no one ever received hospitality in his court. When he treated the illustrious poet Cairbre in so rude a manner, the bard composed such a scathing satire about Bres that the king was forced to give up his kingdom and flee to the land of his Fomorian father. The Brehon Law’s hospitality proviso applied to all whether rich or poor, but to minimize the burden on families each local Ri (chieftain) established bruideans (public houses) within his territory and appointed briugus to administer them. Being a briugu was a position of high honor that brought with it not only prestige and wealth but numerous privileges as well. A bruigu could have as many servants as a king and enjoyed the same protections. A tract of land large enough to keep the bruidean supplied with provisions was entrusted to the briugu’s stewardship and it required excellent management skills. A typical bruidean sat at a major crossroad. It had PHOTOGRAPH BY NUTAN doors on all four sides with each being manned Rusheen Lodge, County Clare. around the clock to insure that no one would pass by Admittedly, not all of the Brehon Code was so equitable. For without receiving an invitation to enter, rest and be refreshed. instance: children of the ruling class received cream and honey Torches lit the location at night so it could not be missed. There with their porridge, while children from less wealthy households were explicit stipulations about the provisions that should be on went without. hand at all times. Three uncooked red meats had to be available But one Brehon Law – hospitality – became so ingrained in for cooking and three cooked meats or meat stews had to be Irish culture it is no accident that it has become as synonymous ready to be served. As not only travelers, but also their entire retwith Ireland as ‘forty shades of green’. Tourism brochures proinues were included in the open door policy, prime livestock had claim: Cead mile failte! A thousand Welcomes! Many a souvenir to be available for slaughter should they be needed. A bruidean tea towel reads: Bid thy guests welcome though they come at could have as many as two hundred animals grazing on its land, any hour. one hundred beds and one hundred servants. Under Brehon Law, all households were obliged to provide In his seminal manuscript of 1634, Foras Feasa ar Eirinn (litsome measure of oigidecht (hospitality) to travelers, even if erally Foundation of Knowledge on Ireland but known as

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History of Ireland) the Irish priest, historian and poet Seathrun Ceitinn (Geoffrey Keating) traced the history of Ireland from the creation of the world until the Norman 12th century invasion of the island. In telling of Erin’s hospitality tradition, Keating wrote that at one time there were more than 400 bruideans in Ireland and that six were so large they could be used for asylum in times of war. Bruideans and the position of briugu existed as part of Irish culture from ancient times through the 16th century. In 1576, one particularly famous (some say infamous) Irish personage was refused hospitality by a nobleman with dire result. The slighted party was Grainne Ni Mhaille. Grace O’Malley. Ireland’s Pirate Queen. Some accounts say Grace had been to visit Elizabeth, others that she was returning from a trading voyage. Where she had been matters little. When Granuaile and her fleet returned to Ireland, they dropped anchor in Howth Harbor north of Dublin to replenish supplies before sailing around the north coast to their home in County Mayo. Spent from having been many days at sea, and there being no bruidean in the vicinity, Grace hied herself to the nearest castle to request a meal. But the door was

locked, and the Lord of Howth refused her entry. This was a serious violation of the Brehon Law. Furious with the Lord’s disregard of the mandate, Grace stormed back to her ship. Along the way she chanced upon the nobleman’s son, Christopher. Seizing him, Grace took the boy aboard her ship and sailed back to her home on County Mayo’s Clew Bay. When the Lord learned of the abduction, he hurried to Connaught and offered to pay any price for his son’s safe return. Grace scorned his offer of ransom. Instead, she demanded that in exchange for the boy the gates of Howth Castle would never again be closed to anyone who sought hospitality and a place would forevermore be set at the Lord’s own table just in case a hungry traveler might happen by. For more than four centuries the promise has been faithfully kept. Any traveler to modern Ireland is bound to find a warm and gracious reception there. From fine 5-star hotels and lovely manor houses to quaint country B&B’s and local pubs, the Irish well deserve their ‘Land of A Thousand Welcomes’ reputation. The Brehon Laws may have receded into the pages of history, but the hospitality to strangers they required has remained an endurIA ing and endearing element of Irish tradition. Sláinte!

RECIPES Note: Meat, stewed in a cauldron or braised in a black iron pot over a turf fire, would have been perfect bruidean meals as both methods require hours of cooking. Since potatoes were not introduced to Ireland until the late 16th century, when bruideans began to fade from the scene, they do not appear in the following recipes.

Lamb Stew With Barley 2 1⁄2 3 1 4 1

pounds lamb, cut in small pieces ounces pearl barley large onion, sliced medium carrots, sliced medium turnip or rutabaga, sliced salt and pepper 2 tablespoons parsley, minced

Place lamb in a large soup pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim off any froth, then add all the ingredients except the parsley. Boil again, then reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Before serving, garnish thickly with parsley. Makes 4-5 servings. (Irish Traditional Food – Theodora Fitzgibbon)

Beef Braised With Beer 2 2 3 1 2

tablespoons olive oil bay leaves pounds stewing beef, cut in chunks large onion, sliced tablespoons flour, seasoned w/ salt & pepper 1 ⁄2 cup Beer or Guinness salt and pepper 8 ounces carrots, sliced 1 tablespoon parsley, minced

Ideally this dish is cooked from start to finish in an ovenproof casserole. Heat the oil with the bay leaves. Add the beef and brown quickly. Push aside and add the onion and just soften it. Sprinkle with the flour and let it brown, then add the beer and enough water to barely cover. Season well with salt and pepper, then add the carrots. Bring to a boil, then cover and braise in a 325F degree oven for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Check during cooking to see if the liquid is drying up, and if so add a little more liquid. After cooking for suggested time, check for tenderness, and if necessary continue cooking a little longer. Before serving sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4-5 servings. (Irish Traditional Food – Theodora Fitzgibbon)

Brown Soda Bread Note: In medieval times, stews were frequently not served in bowls but ladled over thick slabs of bread called ‘trenchers’ that were placed on wood platters. 8 8 1 3 2 1 1

ounces white flour ounces wholemeal flour teaspoon baking soda teaspoons baking powder teaspoons salt egg, beaten pint buttermilk beaten egg yolk for glaze

Sift together the flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Mix the buttermilk and beaten egg and stir in. Mix, then knead on a floured surface for a few minutes until smooth. Shape by hand into a round flat cake and put on a greased baking sheet. Make a deep cross on the round, brush with beaten egg yolk, and bake in a 375F degree preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. (Irish Traditional Food – Theodora Fitzgibbon)

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{crossword} By Darina Molloy

ACROSS 1 A new _____ sweeps clean (5) 5 (& 46 across, & 49 across, & 2 down) This song rang out in Poland during Ireland’s brief Euro foray (3) 7 _____ as nice (5) 10 (& 45 across) Marketplace and meeting location in Boston since 1742 (7) 11 A short morning (1, 1) 13 See 15 across (11) 15 (& 13 across) Organization founded in 1823 by Daniel O’Connell and Richard Lalor Shiel (8) 19 European Commission (1,1) 20 Roster or schedule (4) 21 See 24 across (4) 22 (& 12 down) Debut novelist and granddaughter of Mary Lavin (8) 23 See 6 down (8) 24 (& 21 across) Dragon Tattoo actress lined up for Brooklyn lead (6) 25 See 42 across (5) 27 Not off (2) 29 Margaret Thatcher was apparently one of these ladies (4) 30 (& 33 down, & 37 across) Ireland’s only triple-gold Olympic medalist in swimming (8) 33 Award-winning Thai restaurant in Dublin (4) 34 This state’s capital is Bismarck (1,1) 37 See 30 across (2, 5) 39 Contemplative prayer broadcast on RTE radio and television daily (7) 40 The dog in The Wizard of Oz (4) 42 (& 25 across) NY-based Irish paper celebrates 25 years in print (5) 44 Inland county bordered by six other counties (5) 45 See 10 across (4) 46 (& 49 across & 2 down) See 5 across (6) 48 See 30 down (4) 49 See 5 across (7)

DOWN 1 A device used to restrict or assist body movement (5) 2 (& 49 across) See 5 across (2) 3 A mother by any other name (2)

4 See 38 down (8) 6 (& 23 across) This 50th International event was held in Dublin in June (11) 8 Early Marian Keyes novel and cooling summer fruit (10) 9 (& 43 down) Defeat at hands of these two countries ended Ireland’s Euro 2012 hopes (7) 12 See 22 across (3, 5) 14 Read lightly (4) 16 Old-fashioned have (4) 17 A memorable Father Ted episode featured a competition for these girls (6) 18 Popular chocolate bar with ad slogan: ‘Thank ____ it’s Friday’ (8) 24 Actress Saoirse ______ (5) 25 Promise (3) 26 (& 41 down) Country Girls author (4) 28 The name of this county translates as ‘the grey hill ridge’ (7) 30 (& 48 across) NYT columnist and author (7)

Win a subscription to Irish America magazine Please send your completed crossword puzzle to Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001, to arrive no later than September 5, 2012. A winner will be drawn from among all correct entries. If there are no correct solutions, the prize will be awarded for the completed puzzle which comes closest in the opinion of our staff. Winner’s name will be published along with the solution in our next issue. Xerox copies are acceptable. Winner of the JUNE / JULY Crossword: Jane Melville, Alpena, MI. 78 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012

31 Garden implement (3) 32 Sixth century saint associated with County Kildare (6) 33 See 30 across (5) 35 It has more beaches than any other Irish county (7) 36 Flame-haired carriers of Olympic flame in Ireland (7) 38 (& 4 down) This Roscommon-born priest, founder of Boystown, is being put forward for canonization (6) 41 See 26 down (1,5) 43 See 9 down (5) 46 Forward can be abbreviated to this (1,1) 47 Forms part of Freud’s model of the psyche (2)

June / July Solution


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{the last word} By Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness

A Historic Handshake on

The Road to Reconciliation The day after his groundbreaking handshake with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness delivered the following speech (which has been condensed for publication) at a Sinn Féin event in Westminster. Though he describes the handshake as political, highly significant and very symbolic, McGuinness doesn’t believe that the journey to true reconciliation is over.

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here have been many momentous and indeed historical moments which have marked my 40 years in struggle. Some have been highly political, others have been highly significant and some have been highly symbolic. Yesterday’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth in Belfast embraced all of these things. It was a meeting which, although short in length, can, I believe, have much longer effects on defining a new relationship between Britain and Ireland and between the Irish people themselves. It was not a meeting that came about as a result of a few weeks or a few months work. It came about as the result of decades of work constructing the Irish Peace Process, involving very many people in very many roles. And I wish to pay tribute to all of those, from Presidents to Taoisigh to Prime Ministers, from politicians to church and community leaders and ordinary people up and down Ireland, who placed building a new future ahead of fighting old battles. Britain’s involvement in Irish affairs has been marked by colonialism, plantation, division and partition. It has been bad for Ireland and her people and bad for Britain and her people. We have been left to deal with that legacy. It is a legacy that has contaminated normal politics and normal relations between our islands for generations. It gave rise to the conditions which fostered inequality, division and conflict. Second class citizenship for nationalists in the North was underwritten by successive British governments. For 40 years my life has been about changing all of that. Massive progress has been made. We have transformed society in the North. But that transformation has

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come at a heavy price on all sides. Over 3,000 people lost their lives in the course of the conflict. Many more suffered injury and loss. Every single violent act was evidence of a failure of politics and a failure of British policy in Ireland. We are emerging from a conflict that resulted in lives being lost and families being devastated. I genuinely regret every single life that was lost during that conflict and today I want every family who lost a loved one to know that your pain is not being ignored and I am willing to work with others to find a way to deal with our past so that we can complete our journey to true reconciliation. I hear some commentators talk about the Good Friday Agreement being reached back in 1998, and following a successful completion of an Assembly mandate that the Peace Process has come to a conclusion. I do not share this view, it is wrong and it is a mistake. The task of building National Reconciliation is as much a part of the Peace Process as anything that has gone before. I am up for the challenge and I welcome the opportunity for us to have a public conversation about how we deal with our past. That conversation will not be easy and the challenges will be great. However, I believe that with dialogue and trust we can develop a process that all of us can support and accept. But national reconciliation will not be built on a shaky foundation of people questioning the legitimacy of positions adopted over the course of the conflict or by attempts to demean or denigrate those who were involved in it. National reconciliation will be built on the firm foundation of mutual respect and decisive actions. That is the context within which I met Queen Elizabeth this week. I was, in a very pointed, deliberate and

symbolic way, offering the hand of friendship to unionists through the person of Queen Elizabeth, for which many unionists have a deep affinity. It is an offer I hope many will accept in the same spirit it was offered. Unfortunately, to date the British state has refused to even acknowledge its role as a combatant in the conflict. That position is no longer tenable as we move forward. It is insulting to victims of events like Bloody Sunday in my own city where 14 people were killed, and it is insulting to people’s intelligence. It is also excluding the British state from assisting a genuine process of national reconciliation in Ireland. A process which, though embryonic, is nevertheless under way. There are issues that have not been brought to a conclusion, specifically the issue of the legacy of the conflict. The British government has a big role to play in that. Many people in the North who are big supporters of the peace process are hurt. Just last week relatives of those killed in the Ballymurphy massacre were told by the British Secretary of State Owen Patterson that they would not have the type of inquiry that they were looking for, the kind of investigation that they wanted, into the deaths of their loved ones by the British Army. Likewise the British commitment at Weston Park for an inquiry into the murder of Human Rights lawyer Pat Finucane has not been implemented. The government in London needs to stop obstructing these matters. Indeed in recent times this British government has made a series of stupid and unhelpful decisions, including the revocation of the license of Marian Price and the continuing imprisonment of Martin Corey on the same basis. People may be shocked to discover that Peter Robinson and


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myself have met American President Barack Obama more times than we have met David Cameron in our role as First and Deputy First Ministers. This lack of engagement by David Cameron is a serious mistake and may provide a rationale for some of the damaging decisions made by Owen Patterson during his tenure at the Northern Ireland Office. I am absolutely committed to the achievement of a New Republic in Ireland. I believe that the Good Friday Agreement offers us a clear democratic roadmap to get there. Under that agreement the Government of Ireland Act was repealed and the British government have committed to legislating for Irish unity in the event of a 50 plus one result in a border poll. I also realize that the Ireland of 1922 is not the Ireland of 2012. But that does not mean that the current British government does not have an obligation to deal with the legacy of previous governments’ failures with regard to Ireland. If you continue to ignore an inherited problem you become part of the problem itself. I would argue that the British people and their elected representatives need to become persuaders for constitutional change in the future. Because that is the real future for Ireland – a united country at peace with itself and at peace with Britain. A society based on respect and equality. And leading a debate on the future of the Union in England will become a central part of the work being undertaken in the future by Sinn Féin MPs elected to Westminster. And as we roll out our united Ireland agenda, my actions this week give unionists and indeed others a glimpse of how we as republican leaders would behave in such a united Ireland. I respect unionists and I respect their identity. All I ask in return is respect for my Irishness and my Irish republican identity. It is an entirely legitimate position to argue for Irish freedom and independence. Sinn Féin are absolutely committed to pursuing this objective through peaceful and democratic means. It is also an entire-

ly legitimate position for people in England to actively support this position. The problems between Ireland and Britain have not yet been resolved. But we now operate in a new context of compromise, agreement and peace. Dialogue has replaced conflict. Respect has replaced mistrust. What I want to see develop now and in the time ahead is a relationship based on equality and respect between our two islands for the first time in our history. For that to happen we will need new thinking. We will need new ideas. We will

Irish government policy, not merely an aspiration goal. Everything we do as political leaders must at all times be about underpinning the peace process. And that includes our approach to the summer months and the marching season. And even at this stage I would encourage the Loyal Orders to bear this in mind when they file for parades through areas they know they are not welcome. I welcome the upcoming visit of the Orange Order to the Oireachtas [Irish Parliament], but they need to end their position of refusing dialogue with Sinn Féin or nationalist residents. I would ask them to look at the events of the past week and seriously debate how they are going to step forward and make their contribution to a lasting peace in the coming weeks. We have a complex and very difficult historical relationship between our two islands. The trick is to learn from it rather than be constrained by it. I am up for the big challenge of redefining that relationship in the wake of this week’s historic events. But in the same way as you cannot make peace on your own, you cannot build reconciliation without participation. Over the next decade we will commemorate the centenaries of many of the seminal moments that have defined modern Anglo-Irish relations. It would be very easy for each of us to select our versions of that history and celebrate and commemorate that with little regard to other events and other versions and indeed the legacy of that entire period. We cannot make that mistake. These events will offer a unique opportunity to not just remember but to learn. Not just to commemorate but to understand. Our children – be they in Ireland or in Britain – deserve a better future than we have had past. A future marked by respect and equality in place of conflict and suspicion. I believe that we can get there. I believe that the future demands it. It is my intention that this week’s event becomes a key building block in that new relationship and that new beginning. IA

Our children – be they in Ireland

or in Britain – deserve a better future than we have had past. A future marked by respect and equality in place of conflict and suspicion. I believe that we can get there. I believe that the future demands it. need new political realities to dawn. That will not happen if the British government continues to cling to old certainties born from a different era and a different time. The partition of Ireland is an outdated relic of the past – a symbol of political failure. Is supporting partition really what a modern, forward-looking British government should be doing in the year 2012? I don’t think so. I have said before that the 1916 Easter Rising marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire and that the Good Friday Agreement marks the beginning of the end of the union as we know it. Now is the time for a new fresh approach to Irish-British relations. That is a challenge for everyone. It is a challenge for every one of you in this room. It is also a challenge for the Irish government. For too long, successive Irish governments have paid lip service to partition. They have tolerated the division of our country and people which has resulted in Ireland as a nation not reaching our full potential. In future, ending partition, and national reunification, need to become

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012 IRISH AMERICA 81


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{photo album} Family Pictures

Denny-Fitz and Hanna

O

ur grandfather Dennis O’Connor was born in 1864 near the town of Abbeyfeale, in County Limerick. He and his 10 siblings were raised in a four-room cottage on a small farm bordering the River Feale. Dennis and his younger brother Michael immigrated to America in 1888. They stepped off a Rock Island freight train near the small town of Grayson, Missouri to begin their lives in America as farm laborers. Two older brothers, Daniel and Patrick, had previously immigrated to America in 1880. Later on, Dennis secretly courted Johanna “Hanna” Fitzgerald, the daughter of a large landowner and stockman. They eloped and were married (photo) on February 8, 1897 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in St. Joseph, Missouri. From then on Dennis was known among the Irish as “Denny-Fitz”. Johanna Fitzgerald, our grandmother, was born in Ohio in 1874 and a few years later moved with her family to rural northwest Missouri. Both of her parents, Thomas Fitzgerald and Mary Ann Fitzsimmons, were born in County Limerick, Ireland and immigrated to America with their families in the early 1860’s. Thomas and Mary Ann met in Ohio and were married in 1872. Denny-Fitz and Johanna had 10 children. The O’Connor family attended Mass and parish functions at St. Munchin’s Catholic Church in Cameron, Missouri. Coincidentally, the

Catholic Church in Cameron is named after Saint Munchin, a 7th century Bishop of Limerick, and it is one of only two churches in the world bearing that name; the other being St. Munchin’s in Limerick County, Ireland. Thus, the O’Connor family continued its special ties to County Limerick.

Dennis O’Connor and Johana “Hanna” Fitzgerald, 1897.

The O’Connor farming and livestock operation was very successful during the first three decades of the 20th century. Sadly, Dennis lost his beloved “Hanna” in 1930 and most of his landholdings during the Great Depression. Dennis died in 1937 at the original family homestead. As with most Irish immigrants, Dennis and Johanna’s greatest legacy is their American descendants. Their two daughters joined the Order of the Sisters of Mercy and their eight sons went on to become farmers and businessmen. The later generations consist of 32 grandchildren, 98 great-grandchildren and IA over 200 great-great-grandchildren. Martha Smithart, Liberty, Missouri and Carroll O’Connor, Castle Rock, Colorado

Please send photographs along with your name, address, phone number, and a brief description, to Sheila Langan at Irish America, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. If photos are irreplaceable, please send a good quality reproduction or e-mail the picture at 300 dpi resolution to submit@irishamerica. No photocopies, please. We will pay $65 for each submission that we select. 82 IRISH AMERICA AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2012


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Irish America August/September 2012