2012 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
On March 14, 2012, Irish America magazine co-founders Niall O’Dowd and Patricia Harty inducted five new members into the Irish America Hall of Fame. The inductees for 2012 were Chairman of the American Ireland Fund, Loretta Brennan Glucksman; New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly; President of Quinnipiac University Dr. John L. Lahey; Chairman, President & CEO of Mutual of America and Chairman of Concern Worldwide US, Thomas Moran; and renowned architect Kevin Roche. The Irish America Hall of Fame, inaugurated in 2010, is housed at the Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross, County Wexford.
The guests celebrated, enjoying Concannon wine at the New York Yacht club in Manhattan. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd opened the ceremonies with the presentation of an award she received in 2009, the Irish Spirit Award. The 2012 recipients, Arthur and Barbara Gelb, co-authors of the definitive biography of Eugene O’Neil, reflected on their love of O’Neill as Dowd recalled their first meeting as rookies at the New York Times.
Loretta Brennan Glucksman, the first honoree to accept her House of Waterford Crystal Hall of Fame award, shared a moving poem Seamus Heaney had sent to her shortly after her husband Lew passed away in 2006. It touched on the special generosity they shared, and which she said was very much present in everyone in the room. She also shared the news that the American Ireland fund was close to raising the 100 million dollars it had set out to gather for projects in Ireland as part of its Promising Ireland campaign. The initial plan was to reach their goal by 2013, but the Fund now hopes to bring the campaign to a close by June.
Inductee Commissioner Ray Kelly dedicated the majority of his award acceptance speech to comment on the long legacy of Irish Americans in the police force and took the opportunity to celebrate two Irish-American police heroes in attendance. Detective Kevin Brennan survived a bullet wound to the head five weeks ago when he and two other officers from the Brooklyn Patrol Borough North’s anti crime unit responded to a call of shots fired in the Bushwick Housing projects. Detective Brennan pursued the suspect and was shot at point blank range. He miraculously survived, and was promoted to detective. Detective Kevin Herlihy had sustained three bullets in his arm a month ago, when he and three fellow officers were chasing a man suspected of critically shooting a young woman in the face. Detectives Brennan and Herlihy, who had both been recently promoted, were joined by their wives. They each received a standing ovation from the crowd, and were commended by the Commissioner for their great bravery.
Dr. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University in Hamden CT, spoke of the great work that his university is doing with the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, slated to open in September. With over 100 pieces by both contemporary artists and eminent painters and sculptors from the 19th and 20th centuries, the museum will house the world’s largest collection of art inspired by and commemorating the famine that plagued Ireland in the mid 1800s. He also reflected on how proud his grandfather, who emigrated from Knockglossmore in Co. Kerry, would be to know that his grandson’s name was in a Hall of Fame in Ireland.
Tom Moran, chairman, president and CEO of Mutual of America and Chairman of Concern Worldwide (U.S.), talked about the great work of Concern’s Irish founder, Fr. Aengus Finucane, and of how proud he is to be helping Concern carry on his great work.
The last honoree to speak was Kevin Roche, the architect famous for such landmarks as the Ford Foundation building in New York, Dublin’s Convention Center on the Liffey, the Museum of Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Memorial in downtown New York and over 40 years of on-going renovations on the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was joined by his wife, Jane, and son Eamonn, the eldest of their five children. Roche, who is 90, reflected on his childhood in Michaelstown, a small town in Co. Cork. For reasons he said he still couldn’t explain, he was interested in architecture from an early age, something people didn’t understand when there was a carpenter down the road who could build you anything you liked.
Tourism Ireland’s executive vice president for North America, Joe Byrne, shared a video that had been used to launch the agency’s new campaign, Jump Into Ireland, a few days earlier. He also shared a video announcing the launch of The Gathering, which aims to draw people from Ireland’s diaspora of over 70 million worldwide back to Ireland in the coming year for special events and festivals geared towards those of Irish heritage.
Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection, congratulated all of the honorees. She confirmed that Ireland is on the road to recovery, citing such positive milestones as PayPal’s recent announcement of 1,000 new jobs in Dundalk, and added that the diaspora would be of much help in the country’s continuing economic rehabilitation, particularly in the areas of business and tourism.
Emmy-Award winning actress Fionnula Flanagan introduced her niece, soprano Lisa Flanagan, who brought the luncheon to a close with her rendition of “Love’s Old Sweet Song,” an Irish song by James Molloy and G. Clifton Bingham famously used by James Joyce in Ulysses.
Attendees included Irish broadcaster and writer Ryan Turbidy; Dr. Garrett O’Connor, President Emeritus of California’s famous Betty Ford Institute; Consul General Noel Kilkenny; Irish Radio’s Adrian Flannelly; hotelier John Fitzpartrick; and many of Irish America’s recent Wall Street 50 and Business 100 honorees.
A special thank you to our sponsors: DUNBRODY FAMINE SHIP, MUTUAL OF AMERICA, THE COCA-COLA COMPANY, UCD MICHAEL SMURFIT GRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOL, HOUSE OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL,CONCANNON VINEYARD, CIE TOURS, TOURISM IRELAND, The AMERICAN IRELAND FUND and 1-800-FLOWERS.COM.
About the Hall of Fame: The Irish America Hall of Fame honors the extraordinary achievements of Irish-Americans leaders—from their significant accomplishments and contributions to American society, to their personal commitment to safeguarding their Irish heritage and the betterment of Ireland. The Hall of Fame is housed at the Dunbrody Emigration Center in New Ross, County Wexford.