Tom Deignan

Tom Deignan

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. He is the author of Irish American: Coming to America.

6 Responses to “Tom Deignan”

  1. Tom-thanks for the plug for our film, OUR IRISH COUSINS, shoot me an address and I will send you a DVD.
    Mike Houlihan

  2. Mary Lee Cunningham-Giblin says:

    Thank you so much for your article last week about the cancellation of “Copper” – it was so greatly appreciated! Many fans are still trying to get the show back on the air, and your article was a true inspiration to all of us. I am still in shock that such a great show was cancelled, and your article gave voice to many in conveying the disbelief. Thank you again.

    Lee Giblin

  3. URL says:

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  4. Ray McKenna says:

    Tom, I’m researching a fellow named Henry J. Duff (abt 1808-7/9/1891). He was a leader of the Irish community in Rhode Island before leaving, eventually moving to Brooklyn by 1860. He was a prolific writer. I have been trying to find info on him in Brooklyn. If you can suggest any leads I would be most appreciative. He was not an ancestor of mine, just a man I admire. I want to get his story out to the world.
    Thank you.
    Ray

  5. Jim Glover says:

    Tom, I remember the Lion’s head back in 1964 when I was living in the village South of the Lion’s Head and I recall Eric Darling talked about it and it was on the West Side before it moved farther uptown, Does anyone know the street Address back in 1964?

    Thanks, Jim

  6. Hi, Tom,

    My idea was to seek your help in placing this accidental Sidewalks column I wrote. I sent it in to Irish Central and have heard zilch. But now that I see you’ve got all this Jersey stuff as well as the Irish stuff, hey, we’re even more simpatico. I’m in Malachy McCourt’s rogue chapter of the AOH, you should come to one of our open mikes.

    Anyway, here’s the thing I’m trying to place in Irish Central.’

    The New York Sublime: Running into Colum McCann and Colm Toiben On the Sidewalk

    I spotted the Irish writer Colum McCann on Sixth Avenue in the West Village. He was talking to an older man on a corner further down the street. This was in 2009 or 2010 when his novel “Let the Great World Spin” had just won the National Book Award. The guy he was talking to looked familiar.

    I figured if I was going to make a fool of myself with a celebrity on the streets of New York again, I should at least not butt into an ongoing conversation of his.

    I lingered in the middle of the block. When Colum and his pal separated, I let him take a few strides north on Sixth Avenue, before I intercepted him.

    I said his name, stuck out my hand, and introduced myself. I said I’d loved “Let The Great World Spin.”

    “Thanks, thanks. Do you know who that was?” He motioned toward the guy he’d been talking to, now heading away from us.

    I took a guess, which wasn’t the hardest guess in the world, but wasn’t as sure an id for me as Colum had been.

    “Doctorow?”

    “Yeah, how about that. Just ran into him on the street. New York is the greatest city in the world.”

    I agreed with Colum on that. I was thinking that when your book has won the National Book Award and everybody in town is talking about it, New York probably does seem like a great place.

    Colum said he’d be happy to talk to me a bit, but his son was playing soccer at Chelsea Piers and he had to pick him up. He suggested that we talk while we walked toward the Hudson, where the sports facility is. So that’s what we did.

    I ran into Colm Toibin last month when I was walking up the hill on West 116th Street from Riverside Park and the Hudson River. I’d been playing tennis in the park at 119th Street. I was with two pals from the courts, each of us carrying or wearing a backpack with a couple of racquets sticking out.

    I was leaning forward, ploughing up the hill, blabbing about something with my buddies. When I saw Colm Toiben coming toward us down the street on my left, I straightened right up. I wouldn’t have been any less flabbergasted if instead of the Irish writer, I’d seen Elvis or had been one of the peasant children at Fatima.

    I said, “Hey, Colm” and stuck my hand out. He shook it and looked at me like “Is this somebody I know?”

    I told him my name and said I was a reader. But that sounded like I was announcing that I can read, so I added that I was a fan of his.

    My friends kept walking up 116th St.

    Colm asked me if I was coming up from the Hudson River, which is further down the hill past the courts.

    I said, “Yeah.”

    He asked me if I played tennis down there in the winter.

    “Yeah.”

    Then, thinking that maybe he was interested in tennis, I told him if he ever wanted to play, he should give me a call.

    “Right, right, but do you play down there in the depth of winter in January and February?”

    “Yeah, that’s the best time, it’s the least crowded.”

    The truth is that macho outdoor tennis player that I am, the depths of winter in New York aren’t the perfect setting for tennis.

    I gave Colm my card and said if he ever wanted to play tennis in Riverside Park to let me know.

    We said goodbye and I caught up with my friends.

    I couldn’t figure out why Colm was so excited about being outdoors or playing tennis in the winter in Riverside Park. Then, two days later I came across an item that explained it.

    In a recent interview in the Guardian, Colm said, “What the sunset looks like on the Hudson, in the winter, you get this really extraordinary red, and if there’s ice on the river, it looks like the American sublime.”

    I learned Colm was probably referring to a Wallace Stevens poem by that name. I’ve seen that light myself. It was first pointed out to me by another visitor to New York. But I wouldn’t say, ice on the river or not, it is only a red light, however spectacular. There’s a bit of purple in it.

    I think if you are talking about winter light in New York, the purple shouldn’t be overlooked. I am available to lobby for its inclusion in any passage on the subject either Irish novelist may be composing.

    I’m also willing to discuss it with people, Irish or American, with other first names.

    One of the reasons it was easy to spot both Irish writers on the crowded streets of New York, is that I go to a lot of readings.

    I heard both McCann and Toibin read together once on Orchard Street. They have a little routine about why their version of the first name they share is the correctly spelled one.

    If you ever run into either of them in New York, Dublin or elsewhere, you could ask them about it.

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