First Word

June 27, 2020

There’s a little Irish in everything. I drive my friends a bit crazy, with my “Just a dab will do yah,” interjections. Someone mentions Derek Jeter, and I say “his mother is Irish” (Dorothy Connor.)  Mariah Carey wins an award, I say, “I have a nice note from her on being named a Top 100 Irish American. Her mother is Patricia Hickey.” It goes on, and on. 

The theory that the Irish married into other ethnic groups more than any other ethnic group, has some credence. Peter Quinn in “The Future of Irish America,” a piece that we published in May 2000, noted that the New York Times Magazine had recently run “a double-page of photographs of American girls and boys whose multi-ethnic, multi-racial background defied any easy characterization – a level of mongrelization that is continuing to gather steam, to the consternation of radical purists of various persuasions. The most common identity shared in this depiction of ethnic fusion – which may one day rise to the level of racial meltdown – was Irish.”

It’s a wonderful piece of writing by Peter, in which he discusses among other things, the then popular book, How the Irish Became White.

As the poet Tennyson once wrote, “I am part of all I have met.”

In other stories, the sad news that the memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment, honoring African Americans who fought in the Civil War, was defiled by graffiti, sent me to Irish America’s archives for an article on the monument’s sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Born in Dublin, to an Irish mother and a French father, Saint-Gaudens grew up in New York City. He is perhaps the most celebrated of the Civil War artists, but there were others with Irish roots who also contributed monumental work, as you will read in this piece by Michael Quinlin.

In another piece from our archives, we bring you the inside story on the woman who is married to Supreme Court Justice John Roberts (who recently voted on the side of the Dreamers). Jane, a fellow lawyer, who has a strong connection to her Irish immigrant ancestors, is profiled by Niall O’Dowd.

The amazing career of labor leader Sean McGarvey, who is passionate about diversifying the American labor force to include minorities, veterans, women, and former prisoners, is covered in a recent Hall of Fame interview.

Meanwhile, as you idle away at your computers, spare a thought for John McCarthy the Father of Artificial Intelligence. The story of the computer scientist, born in Boston to an Irish father and a Jewish mother, is brought to you by Ray Cavanaugh.

Read about “Chicago May,” another great Wild Irish Woman brought to you by Rosemary Rogers. In sports we bring you a baseball Hall of Fame story on Mickey Welch the son of Irish immigrants from Tipperary, also from Ray Cavanaugh. We remember “Mr. 500, pitcher Mike McCormick who recently passed; and, in a story by Marilyn Cole Lownes, we celebrate  “The Champ” Jack Dempsey, who would have been 125 years of age this past June 24th.

And we bring you something to dream about in our travel piece on the Irish Gaeltacht. When next you can take flight, make sure Ireland is one of your first stops.

Enjoy these stories, let us know your thoughts, and visit our archives – over 20 years of Irish America – at Irishamerica.com.

Mórtas Cine

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