Events – Irish America Irish America Magazine Mon, 15 Jul 2019 20:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 82361074 Railroad with Irish Roots Turns 150 Wed, 01 May 2019 07:45:33 +0000 Read more..]]> The 150th anniversary of connecting the First Transcontinental Railroad was commemorated in a two-day celebration in a remote spot in the Utah desert called Promontory Point, where the final spikes connecting the track’s east and west branches were hammered into place on May 10, 1869. The railroad was six years in the making, with the physical labor conducted largely by Irish and Chinese immigrants.

Irish Ambassador to the United States Dan Mulhall was a special guest at the commemoration, which honored specifically the manual workers that constructed the railway, with the Irish contribution numbering approximately 10,000 men.

Ambassador Dan Mulhall toasting the Irish laborers who helped build the railroad.

“Theirs was a magnificent contribution to the making of modern America,” said Ambassador Mulhall, speaking at a dinner that the Hibernian Society of Utah hosted to mark the occasion. “Those railroad workers were drawn from the six million Irish immigrants who crossed the Atlantic between 1840 and 1900, escaping from famine and seeking better lives for themselves and their families. They and their descendants became part of the fabric of modern America,” he said.

The ambassador toasted all the laborers whose efforts were a significant step in making a fiercely intimidating and dangerous land mass traversable, which brought the country closer together in both travel and communication.

The Last Spike, painting by Thomas Hill (1881).

The iconic railway was constructed by two separate companies: the Union Pacific company moving inland from the east, and Central Pacific from the west. The arduous labor earned an average monthly wage for the Irish of about $45, while the monthly wage for a Chinese worker averaged about $30, an unfathomably low rate by today’s standards, especially considering the tremendous effort that led to productivity as high as laying 10 miles of track in a single day.  ♦

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Irish Film Institute Unveils Century-Old Footage Wed, 01 May 2019 07:44:09 +0000 Read more..]]> The Irish Film Institute (IFI) was at the Consulate General of Ireland in New York in April to launch its Irish Independence Film Collection, a culturally significant compilation of newsreel material from the early 20th century.

With over 150 films in total, the footage, which features Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera, and Queen Victoria to name a few, gives fascinating glimpses into life in Ireland from 1900-1930, as it entered and endured a period of great conflict in its history. It releases a prolific look into the lives of those fighting for independence a century ago.

Because the only footage of the pivotal events during this period, which include the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, and the Civil War, was filmed by non-Irish news agencies, it has been held abroad ever since. Much of it was not available to the public since it was initially screened as newsreels in cinemas at the time, which adds to the significance of this distribution to digital platforms where anyone and everyone can access it.

The video, much of which was in bad repair, was collected from sources around the world, including the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Painstakingly restored, it includes Queen Victoria’s visit to Dublin in 1900, King George and Queen Mary’s visit to Dublin in 1911, Irish crowds welcoming home Countess Constance Markievicz after her release from prison, Éamon de Valera visiting Boston in 1919, Terence MacSwiney’s funeral in Cork in 1920, and Michael Collins addressing a large crowd after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Decades before the 1950’s widespread adoption of television, newsreels like these were the only source of onscreen news available to the public, allowing them to see what was happening in their country, as opposed to reading about it.

“During this decade of centenaries, it’s particularly important that we reevaluate how events in Ireland were presented to the general public: the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, the Civil War,” said Ciara Chambers, lecturer in contemporary film and media at University College Cork.

Mary Reed, Ross Keane, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Ciarán Madden, and Jackie Davis.

“This is our history,” said Ross Keane, CEO and Director of the Irish Film Institute, at the New York launch. “These are some of the most important events of the birth of our nation, brought together for the very first time.

“To see real footage of real history of real people, living out our shared story is something that needs to be treasured, preserved, and never forgotten,” he said.

The Irish Film Institute provides audiences throughout Ireland with access to the finest independent Irish and international cinema, preserves and promotes Ireland’s moving image heritage, and provides opportunities for audiences of all ages and backgrounds to learn and critically engage with film. The Independence Film Collection can be viewed for free on IFI’s online platform, the IFI Player.

In his speech at the Irish Consulate, Keane said, “I would really appreciate people helping to spread the word about the IFI and our work in preserving Irish culture and heritage, so please find links to the video from the night.” He also asked people to support the IFI through the American Friends of the Arts in Ireland (


Watch some of the newsreels below, and find more at


Éamon de Valera in Boston


Civil War in Ireland


The Irish Independence Featurette


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Irish American Partnership Grants $10,000 in Honor of Michael Dowling Wed, 01 May 2019 07:42:20 +0000 Read more..]]> The Irish American Partnership announced a special grant of $10,000 to Ahalin National School in County Limerick during its annual New York Business Leaders Breakfast on April 10, 2019, in honor of Limerick native Michael J. Dowling, who is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest integrated health care system in New York State.

Tommy Dwyer of Clune Construction and Michael Clune, chairman of the Irish American Partnership. Mike Clune presents Michael Dowling with a check for Ahalin National School.

Dowling delivered a keynote address to an engaged audience, which comprised over 160 leaders in healthcare, construction, media, technology, finance, and legal services. “Education, for me, has been the key to whatever success I have had,” said Dowling, who also highlighted the partnership’s vital work in supporting education and community development across Ireland, adding, “This organization is relatively small, but your impact is huge. You are changing lives and that is extremely, extremely important.”

“The grants that you give to schools today, to the kids to broaden their perspectives, give them this idea that there are other things out there. You know that there are kids that will succeed and be leaders in the future, and take on responsibilities that otherwise may never be possible.”

The CEO of the Irish American Partnership, Mary Sugrue, said, “It is our privilege to support Michael Dowling’s former primary school in County Limerick. With this gift, the school will begin a musical instrument loan scheme for its students, creating a more inclusive environment where all students can enjoy the benefits of learning a musical instrument.”

Consul General of Ireland New York Ciarán Madden, Head of the New York Office of the Northern Ireland Bureau Lorraine Turner, and former Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson were also in attendance.

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The Ireland Funds Gala Wed, 01 May 2019 07:41:29 +0000 Read more..]]> The Ireland Funds 44th annual New York Gala raised over $2.3 million for Irish charities and causes. Actress Saoirse Ronan, Verizon’s Ronan Dunne, and Bridgewater Associates’ Eileen K. Murray were honored at the 2019 gala, which was held at Chelsea Pier New York on May 2.

“Tonight’s gala is such a testament to the unwavering bonds between New York and Ireland,” said John Fitzpatrick, chairman of The Ireland Funds America. “This annual gathering is so much more than just a celebration. It is a chance for our supporters to express their care for Ireland through philanthropic partnership with the Ireland Funds. Thanks to them, we are able to identify and invest in outstanding Irish organizations that strengthen the island of Ireland. We are immensely grateful to our supporters and tonight is a great opportunity to say thank you.”  ♦

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Makem & Clancy Together Again Wed, 01 May 2019 07:40:48 +0000 Read more..]]> On Tuesday April 16, 2019, Dónal Clancy and Rory Makem performed in a special concert at the Tommy Makem Arts and Community Centre (TMAC) in Keady, County Armagh. The center is just a stone’s throw from the Makem homestead where their fathers, Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem, met for the very first time 64 years ago.

Tommy died in 2007 and Liam in 2009, but they live on in the music they created together. (Their last appearance on stage together was at Irish America’s Irish of the Century dinner in late 1999).

Fans and musicians gather at TMAC for an evening of music and reflection.

The duo’s sons, Dónal and Rory, are themselves acclaimed musicians and singers with several years of performing at sold-out venues across the U.S. and Canada, as well as England, Scotland, and Ireland. The April 16 event was a very special evening of music and reflection, as the sons shared stories of their fathers’ illustrious musical careers and joined with other musicians in singing the great ballads and folk songs that the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, the most popular Irishmen in America in the 1960s, had made famous.  ♦


For information about TMAC, call +44 28 3752 1810 or  email

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Music and Merriment at Irish America’s 2019 Hall of Fame Fri, 22 Mar 2019 20:29:41 +0000 Read more..]]> On Thursday, March 14, hundreds gathered in the Cotillion Room of the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan for Irish America magazine’s 10th annual Hall of Fame luncheon. This year’s inductees were lawyer, public servant, and peacemaker John C. Dearie; broadcaster Adrian Flannelly; Academy Award-winning director Terry George; Irish Repertory Theatre founders Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly; Grammy Award-winning musician Arturo O’Farrill; and NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. Each inductee received a Waterford Crystal Lismore bowl.

The event began with a cocktail reception in the Regency Room, where the honorees and guests mingled and took photos with Irish America founders Patricia Harty and Niall O’Dowd.

At noon, the inductees and guests made their way into the adjoining Cotillion Room and were seated. Niall O’Dowd welcomed everyone and introduced Adrian Flannelly, host of The Adrian Flannelly Show, which has been on the air for the last 50 years. Flannelly acknowledged his cousin Brian O’Dwyer, the prominent lawyer, immigration lobbyist, and Grand Marshal of New York City’s 2019 St. Patrick’s Day parade, as well as other family members who were in attendance, and he thanked his wife, Aine Sheridan, saying she was “the person who actually made the radio show a success. She refuses to be associated with 50 years of broadcasting because she claims she wasn’t born at that time.

Adrian Flannelly speaks to the group gathered in the Cotillion Room for the 2019 Hall of Fame inductions.

He added: “What Irish America magazine brought to America is a miracle in itself, and trust me when I say that when Niall and Trish Harty arrived in this town here with even roaming out the concept of a glossy magazine, I thought to myself, ‘God, this is something I would absolutely love to be associated with.’ It’s terrific, and I’m very, very, very grateful and honored to get this award from what has brought Irish America up several notches to the top rung. Again, congratulations.”

Flannelly also congratulated fellow inductee John C. Dearie, who spent 25 years as his cohost of the radio program.

Co-founder and editor-in-chief of Irish America magazine Patricia Harty, who introduced NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. O’Neill expressed his great pride in being the grandson of four Irish emigrants. He recognized his mother, Helen, and prompted a round of applause for her raising seven kids. He joked, “Growing up, I was number four at a time when I wasn’t really sure if she knew what my name was, but that’s okay.”

“I certainly wouldn’t be standing up here if it wasn’t for the 54,000 men and women of the New York City Police Department,” said O’Neill, “and the thousands of people that have come before us. NYC was transformed, and it wasn’t transformed by magic.”

Harty then introduced a special guest, Grammy winner Judy Collins, who sang her song “Dreamers” followed by “Danny Boy.”

Following Collins, the next inductee to speak was Afro-Cuban jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill, who expressed his honor in being among the other inductees, saying, “I was deeply surprised to be informed of this induction. To find myself in the company of Commissioner O’Neill – not behind bars – Adrian Flannelly – not on the air – Ciarán O’Reilly, Charlotte Moore, and Terry George – and not in the audience! John C. Dearie and not in litigation is a huge surprise and an honor. Their achievements and accolades are the stuff of legend.”

He added: “We O’Farrills like the idea of being confusing. We like being many things: Irish, German, Mexican, Cuban, jazz, classical, Latin, New Yorker – but citizens of the world, as is the predilection of the Irish…I am grateful to immigrants and the vitality that they bring to the shores that they land on. I am thrilled to know that wherever we go we initiate dialogue and bring about change.” O’Farrill then played a one-of-a-kind rendition of “Danny Boy” on the grand piano.

Folk songstress Judy Collins poses with jazz musician and new inductee Arturo O’Farrill after each performed their own renditions of “Danny Boy.”

Harty invited everyone to enjoy their lunch as the main course was set. Later, as dessert was served, singer Niamh Hyland and guitarist Shu Nakamura performed “Fields of Gold.” Harty then introduced Consul General Ciarán Madden, who reflected, “Of all the things the Irish have brought to America – the music, the literature, the dance – the one that stands out above all, I think, is public service.”

The next inductees to speak were Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly, who together founded the Irish Repertory Theatre 30 years ago. “Most days,” said O’Reilly, “the glamor of running a theater company has to do with the minutiae of fixing a broken toilet or running out for lozenges for the actor who has gotten bronchitis, or getting on the phone to persuade an agent that his movie star client would become an even bigger star if he were to act at Irish Rep for no money. And then comes a day like today, when Irish America calls us and we get to put on a suit and tie and put on airs and come to the Pierre Hotel and mix with police commissioners and Academy and Grammy Award-winners.”

Moore then took to the microphone, saying, “If all life is a circle, this honor today is significant for me. My ancestors left County Wexford in another century, landed on these shores and made their way west to Kentucky and southern Illinois to work in the coal mines. They left with little in their pockets, but their blood was plush with heritage… It’s been a privilege to honor the heritage of a country that’s produced the finest playwrights in any language. The fact that my name will hang in the Hall of Fame in New Ross, County Wexford, is deeply meaningful to me.”

After that, O’Dowd introduced John C. Dearie, who called on Irish Americans to be more hands-on with Irish issues, saying, “What we need to do is get the CEOs and leaders in all the fields of cultures in our country – the Irish presence – to be more involved in not only the search for peace in Northern Ireland, but for the support of all of these other issues: immigration, the McGuinness Principles, the concern about Brexit and what it means for the Good Friday Agreement. That’s our challenge. Our challenge is to get activation and motivation.”

Finally, O’Dowd introduced Oscar-winning director of films such as Hotel Rwanda and In the Name of the Father, Terry George. “This room epitomizes America – Irish America,” said George, “what happened to me and what’s great about both our countries. Because gathered here is just the epitome of decency, hope, luck, and talent… This is the land of hope, the land of dreamers. I couldn’t even have dreamed the possibility of this. Clearly, my mother didn’t when she said I should get another job.”

Prominent director and new inductee Terry George shows off his trophy, which he told the group he planned to fill with fresh flowers every day.

He added: “I try to transmit the great sense of justice, humanism, passion, and caring that our nation has, to transmit that into literature and into a movement, that we can lay the foundation for generations to come to say that they can be great Irish Americans, that they can be great citizens of the world.”

Niamh Hyland and Shu Nakamura closed out the presentation, performing “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Inductees and guests finished their desserts and mingled more before departing, taking the newest issue of Irish America on their way out.

The Hall of Fame is located in Ireland aboard the Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross, County Wexford. Founded in 2010 in celebration of Irish America magazine’s 25th anniversary, the Irish America Hall of Fame honors the extraordinary achievements of Irish-American leaders, from their significant accomplishments and contributions to American society to the personal commitment to safeguarding their Irish heritage and the betterment of Ireland.  ♦


For more information on our Hall of Fame and other events, contact Maggie Holland at or Mary Gallagher at

See slideshow below for more photos of the Hall of Fame!

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Celebrating thePast and Present Fri, 21 Dec 2018 20:26:30 +0000 Read more..]]> Niamh Hyland sang “Silent Night” in Irish, and a hush fell over the room – a splendid room with tall windows, looking out over Central Park.

So often at Irish events, music is the thread that holds it all together, acting as the link to the ancestors across the generations, and this occasion was no different.

It was December 12, and some 250 Irish and Irish Americans were gathered for the annual Business 100 luncheon honoring Irish and Irish-American executives.

It was a grand occasion that drew people from around the country; from California to St. Louis, from Philadelphia to Boston; and across the generations from fifth- to Irish-born, each honoree with his or her own memory of someone meaningful in their lives who had encouraged them to never give up on themselves.


The splendor of the Metropolitan Club, decked out in its Christmas finery, gave me pause. Earlier, as Niamh, from County Leitrim, and her guitarist, Shu Nakamura, who was born in Japan, did their pre-lunch sound check, I looked out the window of the ballroom.

From the height of the third floor, I could see over the horse and carriage drivers into the park. I was reminded that there was once a thriving village in Central Park called Seneca. Founded in 1825 by African Americans, the village flourished, and by the 1840s it included Irish and German immigrants.

The village midwife was Irish, a fact that struck a chord with me when I first read about Seneca in an article submitted to Irish America. I think of her helping to birth babies who would grow up to fight in the Civil War and travel beyond the confines of New York, building this great nation.

Alas, as with many Irish stories, there is a sad note. Seneca was destroyed, its villagers scattered to make way for Central Park.

I’ve heard the phrase “the great scattering” used in the context of the Irish diaspora, for indeed, we were scattered to the four corners of the world by conflict and starvation.

But, as with all great Irish gatherings, the focus on this occasion was celebrating life, and success, with a nod to past generations who helped make that success possible.

Eileen McDonnell, the chairman and CEO of life insurance giant Penn Mutual, gave an evocative keynote address that paid homage to her grandparents, all four of whom had immigrated from Ireland, and one of whom (her grandfather), was a musician from County Clare.

Her words reminded us that earlier generations, who made the journey across the ocean and across the land, to find work in mining camps and dig canals, didn’t have much in the way of material goods, but that they carried their music with them.

And on this grand occasion, Niamh’s soaring voice, paired with Shu’s guitar notes, provided a soulful connection to the ancestors. And, both being immigrants, they reminded us of our nation’s melting-pot heritage.

Beautiful.  ♦

For more on Niamh Hyland, including her new album, “Live to Love”, see:

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Fitzpatrick Memorial Golf Tournament Sat, 01 Sep 2018 06:40:59 +0000 Read more..]]> The Eithne & Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund held its 25th Annual Golf Tournament in May at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club, one of the United States’ most prestigious golf courses, located in Scarborough, NY.

Well-known hotelier John Fitzpatrick, pictured third from left in the above photo, founded the Eithne & Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund in 1993 in memory of his late parents to honor the charitable spirit they demonstrated throughout their lives. Since its inception, the fund has raised $4 million for a variety of worthy causes in both Ireland and the United States. Some of these include the Barretstown Camp, the Integrated Education Fund, the Mary Robinson Library, and the New York Irish Center. The fund’s latest project was the O’Hanlon Park Boxing Club in Dundalk, which just reopened in a spacious new facility that will be used by over 200 children and adults daily. This is just the latest of the fund’s accomplishments in its 25 years of working together to help those in need.

This year’s event raised over $380,000 and was attended by a variety of Irish public figures, including the Irish Ambassador to the United Nations Geraldine Byrne Nason, former Irish Soccer manager, Mick McCarthy, actor Matt McCoy, and Irish golf pro Eamonn Darcy. ♦ Maggie Holland

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Women of Concern Annual Luncheon Sat, 01 Sep 2018 06:39:11 +0000 Read more..]]> The Women of Concern Annual Luncheon was held on Thursday, June 21 at the Pierre Hotel, with two very worthy honorees, Aine Brazil, Vice Chairman of Thornton Tomasetti, and William Moore, Executive Director of the Eleanor Crook Foundation. Aine, who was born in County Galway, is a leading structural engineer on such projects as the Hudson Yards development on the west side of Manhattan. William is stewarding the rapid growth of the Eleanor Crook Foundation’s resources through nutrition advocacy in numerous countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, and Nigeria.

Concern board member, and guest speaker, Jumana Culligan with her family.

This year’s event was particularly special, marking Concern’s 50th year as an organization tackling extreme poverty on a global level. ♦

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Irish Repertory Theatre Gala Honors Sat, 01 Sep 2018 06:38:29 +0000 Read more..]]> The Irish Repertory Theatre began its 30th-anniversary season honoring Tina Sainti Flaherty, the author, philanthropist, and businesswoman, at its annual gala on June 4 at the Town Hall in N.Y.C. Broadway stars, such as Jeremy Irons and Melissa Errico, backed by a live orchestra and a full chorus, celebrated the life and music of Alan Jay Lerner on the centenary of his birth, with long time favorites from Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, Gigi, My Fair Lady, and other hit shows. The performance was followed by dinner at Bryant Park Grill. The Irish Repertory Theatre, located at 132 W 22nd St, New York, N.Y., was founded by Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly in 1988. ♦

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