Weekly Comment: Irish American Writers & Artists Celebrate Patricia Harty (Photos)

Patricia Harty, co-founder and editor in chief of Irish America, receives the Eugene O'Neill Lifetime Achievement Award from Ireland's Consul General of New York Barbara Jones and IAW&A Vice President Mary Pat Kelly. All photos by James Higgins.

By Irish America Staff
October 23, 2015

On Monday, October 19, Irish American Writers and Artists celebrated the Eugene O’Neill Awards at the Manhattan Club in New York, honoring Irish America co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Patricia Harty with the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award. Scored turned up to celebrate Harty’s legacy in the Irish American community, and her 30 years as editor of this magazine, including Larry Kirwan, Pete Hamill, John Patrick Shanley, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, and Ireland’s Consul General to New York Barbara Jones, all of whom paid their respects at the podium before Harty delivered the keynote speech of the evening.

“She has done her share of reminding us what we have inherited,” Pete Hamill said, remarking on the long legacy of the magazine as giving voice to the Irish ancestors who came before and the cultural legacy they bestowed on their descendants.

The evening was moderated by IAW&A vice president Mary Pat Kelly, who co-presented Harty with the crystal award, along with Consul General Barbara Jones.

“She has been too good, she has done too much, she has worked too hard,” playwright John Patrick Shanley remarked of her publishing efforts, and her work building a contemporary, national community of Irish Americans. He also joked that Harty is, in fact, too good, adding that she would have to do some thing to “blot her copybook,” in order to make her biography more interesting for those writing it, like run for politics – as a republican.

Irish soprano Mary Deady performed at the event as well, singing “Song for Ireland,” and “I Happen to Like New York.”

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Loretta Brennan Glucksman also spoke at the event, detailing Harty’s ability to get the story of Irish America before anyone else, and referencing a 1991 article about what would become New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House four years later.

Harty, speaking of the journey many Irish in America take, diagnosed the Irish American story as overcoming hardship. “Out of great tragedy can come genius,” she said, referring specifically to the family of Eugene O’Neill, whose father, James (profiled in the most recent issue of Irish America), was born in Ballyneal, County Kilkenny as the Famine began and fled Ireland at age 5 with his family. She went on to say that there is only one just one wall of the O’Neill homestead in Ballyneal standing, and argued for its status as a protected landmark, saying something needs to be done, like adding a glass wall around it and a sign that tells of its importance to the family legacy of one of Irish America’s greatest playwrights.

Patricia O’Neill  at the remaining wall of the O’Neill homestead in Co. Kilkenny.

Patricia O’Neill at the remaining wall of the O’Neill homestead in Co. Kilkenny.

As Irish America marks our 30th year in print this year, Harty also reflected on the past three decades of work, from beginning in a room no larger than the platform she spoke from to waiting for a phone call from legendary director John Huston.

Among those gathered for the occasion also included Robert Downey, Sr. and his wife Rosemary Rogers, who heads our “Wild Irish Women” column, award-winning novelist Peter Quinn, TV star Michael Murphy, and actor, author, and raconteur Malachy McCourt, who closed out the evening by leading a version of “Will You Go Lassie.”

Established in 2009, the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award has become an esteemed annual event, honoring the accomplishments of a writer, actor, musician, or cultural institution that has sustained a body of work that best exemplifies the level of integrity maintained by O’Neill. Harty joins an impressive group of Eugene O’Neill honorees, including playwright John Patrick Shanley, winner of the Academy Award, Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize, actor Brian Dennehy whose awards include two Tonys and a Golden Globe, writer and journalist Pete Hamill, and Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly whose Irish Repertory Theatre has been cited by The Wall Street Journal for it’s “unfailingly consistent excellence.” ♦

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