Hall of Fame – 2013 – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Mon, 15 Jul 2019 20:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 Judy Collins https://irishamerica.com/2013/06/judy-collins-2/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/06/judy-collins-2/#respond Mon, 24 Jun 2013 17:19:36 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17656 Read more..]]> Judy Collins produced her first album in 1961 at the age of 22 and quickly ascended to become one of the most well-known and influential singers of the generation. Since, she has released over 40 records (six of which have gone gold), won a Grammy, written seven books, and stayed committed to her idea that music is a valuable and necessary form of activism.

Collins was born in Seattle in 1939 and moved with her family, first to Los Angeles, and finally Denver a decade later. There, her father ran a radio program for a local station and maintained high standards for his five children to learn about literature, world affairs, and music. Collins studied classical piano until the age of 14 when, after hearing the Irish ballad “The Gypsy Rover” on the radio, convinced her father to buy her a guitar. At 19, Collins married her first husband Pete Taylor and began performing in Denver bars to support them and their new son Clark while Pete was in college.

After graduating, Pete moved the family east so he could teach at the University of Connecticut. Judy’s songs became popular on the college radio station and eventually, she was drawn to the budding folk scene in New York City’s Greenwich Village where she gained wider acclaim playing in the neighborhood’s clubs and bars. Soon, Collins signed with Elektra Records, known for signing many early-60s protest singers, and released A Maid of Constant Sorrow in 1961, which included three Clancy Brothers standards, “A Bunch of Thyme,” “Bold Fenian Men” and “The Rising of the Moon.”

While her career was taking off, Collins interacted with all the names of the day. It was in fact working with the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem that got her the first record contract, singing Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” that won her her Grammy in 1968, and Leonard Cohen who convinced her to begin writing her own music.

Though she began her musical career in the Greenwich folk scene, by the end of the decade her musical range had expanded to include genres like pop, rock and roll, show tunes, and standards. Since, she has not been defined by any single style other than, perhaps, eclecticism. She has performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra and on the Muppet Show, she made the 18th century hymn “Amazing Grace” popular again, her version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” was hugely popular, and she appeared on the New York stage in the 1969 revival of Henrik Ibsen’s verse play Peer Gynt.

Throughout her career, Collins has also been a committed social activist and still believes in the power of music to effect social change. She was friendly with early Yippie leaders and was present at the founding of the Youth International party in Chicago in 1968 and testified on behalf of the Chicago Seven in 1969. She was a vocal supporter of civil rights and women’s right in the 60s and 70s, and traveled to the South to register black voters. Now, Collins is a representative for UNICEF campaigning against the use of landmines.

In 2000, Collins created her own label, Wildflower Records, to record her own music and support the work of other artists. For 40 years, she has lived in the same Upper West Side apartment with her husband, designer and artist Louis Nelson, whom she met in 1978.

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Bruce Morrison https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/bruce-morrison/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/bruce-morrison/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2013 22:08:04 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=15070 Read more..]]> For many Irish and Irish Americans, Bruce Morrison is best-known for pioneering the Immigration Reform Act of 1990, which increased the total visas granted by 200,000 and included 48,000 for Irish immigrants (now called the Morrison Visas); but this is just the best known of his work on Ireland.

Morrison, who was raised a Lutheran on Long Island, has not taken a straight course towards Irish causes. He has been at various times a lawyer, a lobbyist, a U.S. Congressman, a bank regulator as chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board, a grassroots campaigner, and a chemist, but what he will be most remembered for among the Irish community is his significant contribution to the peace process in the 1990s.

Morrison has long held justice for the overlooked as a top priority, though began his professional studies at MIT in chemistry. He graduated in three years and moved to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign to pursue a Master’s in organic chemistry. There, Morrison founded and chaired the Graduate Student Association and in a turn of pace was inspired to apply to Yale Law School . He graduated from Yale in 1973 after forging life-long friendships with classmates (including Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham) and went to work for the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, which provided legal aid to New Haven’s poor.

In 1982, Bruce shifted courses again, running as a Democrat in Connecticut’s third congressional district. He won and spent the next eight years in the U.S. House for Connecticut, focusing on humanitarian causes.

In 1983 he joined the Friends of Ireland, which counted among its members Tip O’Neill and Ted Kennedy, and in 1985 joined the Ad-Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs at the invitation of Richard Lawlor. In 1987 he took his first trip to Dublin and Belfast where he met with Irish and British officials, including Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams – with whom, at that point, the American government still refused to communicate.

Morrison left the House in 1991 to unsuccessfully bid for the Governor of Connecticut, but his defeat ultimately led to some of his most important Irish work. Traveling frequently to Ireland and the North, the former congressman became one of the Americans for a New Irish Agenda (ANIA), a group that included publisher Niall O’Dowd and fellow Hall of Fame honorees Chuck Feeney and Bill Flynn. Over the next few years, ANIA would continue to assist with negotiations, leading to the IRA ceasefires of 1994 and 1997, and, also in 1994, the U.S.’s decision to grant Gerry Adams a 48-hour visa , allowing him to attend a peace conference held by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.

He currently lives in Bethesda with his wife, Nancy, and their son, Drew, and still practices as an attorney as head of the Morrison Public Affairs Advocacy Group, which he founded in 2001 and provides strategic advice and representation to a range of clients, specializing in immigration.

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John Fitzpatrick https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/john-fitzpatrick-6/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/john-fitzpatrick-6/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2013 22:06:21 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=15067 Read more..]]> Fitzpatrick’s Manhattan, on 57th and Lexington, is de rigeur for Irish internationals staying in the city, and John Fitzpatrick has worked for that distinction. But despite owning a cumulative 27 floors and a castle as President and CEO of Fitzpatrick Hotel Group, North America, John is one of the most down to earth people you could meet.

As the second eldest of the five children of Paddy and Eithne Fitzpatrick, who owned three hotels across Ireland, John began his career by mowing the lawn at Killiney Castle Hotel in Co. Dublin during the summers when he was a teenager. Later he moved on to washing dishes in the hotel kitchen. From there, onto washing glasses, and, eventually, when he was 17, he got to mix drinks behind the bar, working every weekend while he was still in school.

After these initial experiences in the industry in Ireland, John enrolled in the prestigious hotel management course at the University of Las Vegas. After graduating, he worked at two Chicago hotels before returning to Ireland, where he did not stay for long. In 1990, Fitzpatrick, with his father’s blessing, began considering various American cities as potential hotel sites, eventually landing on New York and purchasing the building that would become Fitzpatrick’s Manhattan.

When the hotel opened in 1991, Albert Reynolds, who was then Taoiseach, stayed there. Then Mary Robinson, who at the time was President of Ireland, paid a visit. Then Gregory Peck choose Fitzpatrick’s. Soon, the hotel’s reputation was established. Seven years later, John opened another New York hotel, Fitzpatrick’s Grand Central, on 44th Street.

When John’s mother passed away in 1994, he founded The Eithne Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund in her honor. With the death of his father in 2001, the fund became the Eithne and Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund, whose mission is to “make a significant positive impact on the lives of those in need.” Among its current projects are the Integrated Education Fund, which strives to integrate the education system in Northern Ireland, and the Corrymeela Community, which promotes reconciliation across social, religious, and political divides in the North. In addition to these peace and reconciliation initiatives, the fund, which has raised $1.3 million to date, also supports Barretstown, a summer camp for seriously ill children.

In 2011, Fitzpatrick participated in RTÉ’s version of Secret Millionaire, traveling to the Muirhevnamor housing estate and Coxs Demense in Dundalk, Co. Louth, and at the end of the program gave away a total of €20,000 to the Craobh Rua Community House, €15,000 to senior citizen organization Cuidigh Linn, and €2,000 to O’Hanlon Park Boxing & Fitness Club. His donations were matched by the Eithne and Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund.

John has just been named Chairman of The American Ireland Fund and although he is the recipient of numerous other accolades (including an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II), it’s safe to say that the greatest reward for John Fitzpatrick, is the one he gets from giving back.

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Robert M. Devlin https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/robert-m-devlin/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/robert-m-devlin/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2013 22:04:28 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=15063 Read more..]]> At 72, Bob Devlin is chairman of Curragh Capital Partners, a New York-based investment firm that embodies his central values: family and heritage, highlighted by the dual facts of its Irish-inspired name and that the firm’s co-founder is his eldest son Michael.

Devlin’s great-grandfather, James, immigrated to the U.S. from Co. Donegal in 1848. Nearly a century later, Bob was born in Brooklyn to Norma Hall Devlin and John M. Devlin, whose career path from a clerk at an insurance firm to CEO of Ter Bush and Powell would provide a model of inspiration and success.

After graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1964, Bob entered the life insurance business with Mutual of New York. After living in almost every region of the U.S. with numerous companies, in 1995, Devlin was named president and CEO of American General Corporation. One year later, he was made chairman. Under Devlin’s leadership, AGC’s assets more than tripled, and in 2001 the company was acquired by American International Group, Inc. Devlin stepped down after the merger and founded Curragh Capital Partners in October of that year.

In addition to helming Curragh, Bob has served on the board of directors of ConocoPhillips, Cooper Industries, LKQ Corp., Discover Financial Services and Forethought Financial Group.  Devlin was chairman of the Tulane University’s endowment committee for six years and is a member of the Paul Tulane Society. He was also a trustee of Boston College, from which his sons Michael and Matthew both graduated, and is now a trustee associate. In 2004, he and his wife, Kate, were recognized by the college as Outstanding Parents of the Year.

Moreover, Devlin has been involved with numerous philanthropic efforts country-wide, including serving on the boards of the Muscular Dystrophy Chapter in upstate New York, the YMCAs in Sacramento and Nashville, the Houston Fine Arts Museum.

A significant number of the Devlins’ philanthropic projects have been connected to his Irish roots as well. He co-chaired the American Irish Historical Society with Liam Neeson and he and his family have supported the restoration of St. Mary’s, a church in Killybegs, and Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Barretstown, Co. Kildare.

Bob and Kate are the recipients of many awards, including the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award and, more recently, he and Kate were inducted into the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation Hall of Fame in recognition of their contribution to the fight to end domestic violence. He is also the recipient of one of the Ellis Island Medals of Honor for his business achievements and the AIHS’s Gold Medal.

Devlin told Irish America in a 2000 interview for the Business 100 issue that his parents taught him to “have a commitment and a high level of integrity to what you’re going to do and to really stick with it as well as you can.” It is evident this is exactly what he has done.

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Brian P. Burns https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/brian-p-burns/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/brian-p-burns/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2013 22:02:17 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=15060 Read more..]]> Brian P. Burns, grandson of an Irish immigrant, is a nationally regarded business executive, attorney and philanthropist. He is the chairman of BF Enterprises, Inc., a publicly owned real estate holding and development company.

The fifth of seven children born to John J. Burns and his wife, Alice, Brian traces his roots to County Kerry and is a graduate of The College of the Holy Cross and, at the age of 23, Harvard Law School.

In 1963, Brian was named the youngest director of the American Irish Foundation, which was established that year by then-President John F. Kennedy and Ireland’s President Eamon de Valera. As director, Brian had some major achievements. He was the leading fundraiser behind the effort to restore the world famous Marsh’s Library at St. Patrick’s Close in Dublin, the oldest public library in Ireland. He also founded an American Law Library at University College, Cork in honor of his late father, the Hon. John J. Burns.

Determined to increase the efficacy of the American Irish Foundation despite these successes, in the mid 1980s, Burns devised a plan to merge the American Ireland Foundation with the newly minted Ireland Fund, formed by Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tony O’Reilly, the Irish-born businessman who would become chairman of Heinz.

On March 17, 1986 the two organizations became The American Ireland Fund, and the merger was celebrated at the residence of the Irish Ambassador in Washington, D.C. with Ronald Reagan presiding over the signing ceremony. To date, The American Ireland Fund has raised over $430 million for projects that promote peace, culture and charity throughout the island of Ireland. Brian remains a lifetime trustee of the organization.

Additionally, Brian has established or donated significantly to many cultural and scholastic institutions. In 1986 he founded The Honorable John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College in memory of his father who was a prolific lawyer and Joseph P. Kennedy’s attorney and closest advisor. (In fact, Brian served as a key trustee to the Joseph P. Kennedy Trust from 1998-2010, and was one of the few non-family contributors to David Nasaw’s sweeping new biography of Joseph P. Kennedy, The Patriarch.)

Works from his renowned personal collection of Irish art have been exhibited at Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Yale Center of British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona. He was a principal benefactor of the first Irish Famine memorial in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was dedicated in July, 1997 by former Irish President Mary Robinson and in 2012 donated a key famine-era painting from his collection to Quinnipiac University’s Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum in Connecticut.

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Vice President Joe Biden https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/vice-president-joe-biden/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/03/vice-president-joe-biden/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2013 22:00:15 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=15051 Read more..]]> Born in the heavily Irish Pennsylvania town of Scranton, Vice President Joe Biden has been an elected public official for over 40 years. His reason for entering into politics? What he calls the “Irish ethic of loyalty” that comes from a family history of public service. “In my family, politics wasn’t a dirty word, it was about righting things that were wrong,” Biden says. It is no surprise that one of his political icons is Wolfe Tone, who Biden described in a past interview as Senator with Irish America as “the embodiment of some of the things that I think are the noblest of all.

“He was a Protestant who formed the United Irishmen. He had nothing to gain on the face of it but he sought to relieve the oppression of the Catholics caused by the penal laws.”

Vice President Biden’s political heritage goes back to his maternal great-grandfather, Edward F. Blewitt, who was the first Irish Catholic state senator in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth senate. Blewitt also co-founded the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Scranton, around 1908. There is still a plaque in existence in Scranton commemorating the foundation that bears his name.

Biden’s first memories of his Irish family center on his trips to his grandparents’ house where he encountered his Aunt Gertie’s terrifying stories of the Black and Tans (whom she’d never seen). Nonetheless, Biden says, when “she’d finish telling the stories, I’d sit there or lie in bed and think at the slightest noise, ‘they are coming up the stairs.’” By that time, the Bidens had relocated to Delaware.

Biden entered public service and was elected to the U.S. Senate just shy of his 30th birthday in 1972 as the junior senator from Delaware. Since then, he has earned widespread bipartisan respect for his tempered debating and reasonability when it came to making deals between Democrats and Republicans.

Since being elected alongside President Obama in 2008, Biden has risen in profile from a respected, low-profile inside man to one of the most publically popular politicians in recent memory. Recently he led the charge away from the fiscal cliff, working out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the eleventh hour, and is currently at the front of the gun control debate, defying conventional wisdom and actually gaining traction with his recommendations. So far, he has met with the NRA, Walmart, and most major gun constituencies, forcing a dialogue where none existed before.

As a child, Vice President Biden remembers being uneasy at Irish wakes, but now as an adult, he acknowledges that there is something uniquely Irish about maintaining hope in light of tragedy, that the Irish know “that to live is to be hurt, but we’re still not afraid to live.”

Click here to read renowned genealogist Megan Smolenyak’s article on Vice President Biden’s Irish roots

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