The First Word: Ties That Bind
“Nostalgia for Ireland sweeps over me often, not just when I’m working with an Irish cast. I love Ireland and I miss it very much.” – John Huston
We’ve had quite a year (at Irish America we measure time from March to March). In March 2011 we hosted our inaugural Hall of Fame luncheon in New York City, and later that year opened our Irish America Hall of Fame in New Ross, Co. Wexford. It was a defining moment for the magazine – a bringing back home the story of the American Irish – who they are, and what they had achieved. And the story continues in this issue with the profiles of our 2012 inductees, including architect Kevin Roche who graces our cover.
This issue is also chock full of Irish culture, heritage, music, and an added touch of glamour from a cast of Hollywood personalities, including Anjelica Huston whom I was especially pleased to interview because Irish America’s links to the Huston family go way back.
It was around this time of year in 1987 when a phone call from John Huston gave the Irish America team a much needed boost.
Money was tight. The economy was in the doldrums with 19 percent unemployment back home and Black Monday, the second worst stockmarket crash in history, looming in the U.S.
In short, it was a miserable time, and friends and family and advisors told us we were crazy to think that we could keep the magazine afloat. But John Huston was making the James Joyce short story “The Dead” into a movie and we somehow found the resources to send writer Tom English to visit the set in Los Angeles.
Tom returned with the news that Huston was going to call the office to do a follow-up interview. (I can still picture myself in that office, or what passed for an office — two desks and a paste-up table that we rented from David and Roberta, a nice Jewish couple who owned a graphics company.)
On the appointed day, I hovered near the phone wanting to be the one to pick up. I’ll never forget Huston’s voice on the other end of the line. The great old director was on oxygen all the time back then, but his voice sounded strong and deep as we chatted.
I was struck by the fact that he didn’t have an assistant put him through but had picked up the phone and called himself.
It really meant something that someone of Huston’s stature believed in us. It was the boost we needed, that I personally needed, to keep going.
Last year, when the Huston children donated their father’s papers to the University of Galway, that issue of Irish America with his image on the cover was part of the archive.
I couldn’t have been more proud.
Huston, who died a couple of months after his interview ran in the magazine, had a love affair with Ireland that lasted 20 years. His final lovelettter was The Dead, his last movie, which he made with the help of his children – his son Tony who wrote the screenplay and his daughter Anjelica who played Gretta Conroy and brought such sweet sadness to the role. It’s an exquisite piece of work, and a great gift to the Irish nation.
This year, we wanted to do something special to honor people like Huston and others who have done so much for Ireland, and so on July 4 the inaugural Irish America Day will take place in New Ross, Co. Wexford, and we will induct John Huston and several other great Irish Americans who have passed on into our Irish America Hall of Fame. Come and join the festivities. We promise that it will be a great celebration of the ties that bind our two countries.