April May 2009 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:56:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 Kevin Cahill: A Healer on a Global Mission https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/kevin-cahill-a-healer-on-a-global-mission/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/kevin-cahill-a-healer-on-a-global-mission/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2009 12:00:21 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8141 Read more..]]> A TV mini-series could be made about the adventures Dr. Kevin Cahill has had in the various countries he has worked in. (After his wife died in 2004, he calculated that he had worked in 65 countries. She had been to 45 of them with him.)

On a number of occasions, his life was in danger. Caught up in the civil war in southern Sudan in the late 1960s, he received a telegram that – mistakenly, as it turned out – told him that his wife had had a miscarriage. To try to get to a Morse code facility at the Ethiopian border 60 miles away, he sailed up the Sobat River, where he was shot at several times. And in Beirut in 1982, after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, he was “damn near killed by both sides.”

Dr. Cahill, who is 72, has been a colossal force in the world of humanitarianism for many years. His CV is 25 pages long: he is currently the president of the Center for Humanitarian Health and Co-operation in New York City; the director of the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University (from which he graduated in 1957); the director of the Tropical Disease Center at Lenox Hill Hospital;  chief medical advisor to the president of the United Nations General Assembly; and president of the American-Irish Historical Society.

He also tells me about a “more unusual title” he is particularly proud of: Uachtarain, Cumann-Luachra (the president of the Luachra Club, a historical society based in Sliabh Luachra, a region in Co. Kerry). Sliabh Luachra contains the town of Rathmore where Dr. Cahill’s grandfather was born.

Dr. Cahill wouldn’t tell me about some of the famous people he has treated over the years, aside from very general references, citing patient confidentiality. But the list includes Pope John Paul II; Fidel Castro; Cardinals Spellman, Cook and O’Connor of New York; Leonard Bernstein; as well as every secretary-general of the United Nations (with the exception of the incumbent) since U Thant, who took office in 1961. Today, Dr. Cahill counts Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the secretary-general from 1992-1997, as a good friend.

One wall of his office on Fifth Avenue is papered with degrees and awards – he has 27 honorary degrees on the last count, and numerous awards. In all, he has written or edited 35 books and more than 200 articles, on subjects such as tropical disease, health and foreign policy, as well as the occasional meditation on Irish literature.

The doctor, who has five sons and eight grandchildren, first visited Ireland when he was thirteen. “I used to go back more often,” he explained. “But I’ve always stayed in very close touch.”

His grandfather came to the U.S. and became a policeman. He moved through the force from mounted horse corps, to street patrol, to captain, to eventually becoming the NYPD’s first director of the communications center, where he supervised a handful of Morse code operators in a single, sparse room. (A picture of his grandfather in that room lies in Dr. Cahill’s office so that he will never forget “from where I am sprung.”)

The family settled in Edenwald, the Bronx. His father went on to medical school – the day he died, Dr. Cahill himself entered Cornell Medical School. Although he was awarded a medical school scholarship, there was no extra money for room, board or books. So he worked as a chemistry lab technician several nights a week from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and then went to class from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In 1959, he won a Lehman traveling fellow to the Far East. In India, he worked with a then “unknown Albanian nun in her Hospice for the Dying.” The world would know her in later years as Mother Teresa. Throughout rural Asia, he saw “death and disease on a vast scale,” and “returned completely and forever changed.” Dr. Cahill was drafted into the navy, a posting which saw him and his wife, Kate – they first met when they were fourteen, and he realized he was in love with her two years later – move to Egypt. They lived there for two years and it was here their son, Sean, was born.

Many countries – and appointments in medical schools around the world – would follow.

In 1982 he visited Beirut, which had been invaded by Israel. After returning, he wrote in The New York Times of Israeli bulldozers wiping away evidence that “Palestinian camps, once home for tens of thousands of families, even existed.”

Before our interview in February, he was due to go to Gaza as part of a mission with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. After he returned, I asked him if he felt a sense of déjà vu. “You could replace the name ‘Beirut’ with ‘Palestine,’” he said.

Dr. Cahill wrote a report on Gaza, as part of his job as chief humanitarian advisor to the president of the U.N. General Assembly. He shared with Irish America a draft copy of the report. “Gaza this week displayed all of the facets of Dante’s Inferno,” he wrote. “Military controls are imposed with a grinding force and overt disdain that is clearly intended to crush the human dignity of a still proud people.”

He noted the huge disparity of casualties sustained on each side: according to the World Health Organization, 1,366 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, and 14 Israelis. “These are not data of a war, but of one-sided slaughter,” he wrote.

On U.S. support of Israel, Dr. Cahill said: “But there was no escape from the fact that this was a war using American weapons of incredible air power and precision guided missiles against the home made rockets, gasoline bombs and rocks that are the major weapons of long oppressed peoples.”

Dr. Cahill also condemned the economic blockade of Gaza, writing, “The fundamental evils of continued forced isolation and economic strangulation have finally come to the fore. American congressmen visiting Gaza in the past week were unable to hide their shock at the levels of destruction.”

I also asked him about Somalia, a country he had visited every year for 35 years, beginning in 1962. Does it depress him that Somalia has not seen the lives of its people improve in over four decades? “Somalia is an example of a country that I was there for when it was born and I was there when it died,” he said. “It’s had no real functional schools since 1992. It’s an appalling story because it was really a very wonderful place when I first went there.”

A consistent theme that arises with Dr. Cahill over the course of our interview is his unswerving belief in the ability of healthcare professionals to transcend boundaries. “Medicine is that rare discipline that permits almost instant acceptability by all sides in a conflict,” he wrote following his 1982 Beirut trip.

In Nicaragua, where he has a house, he recalls doing humanitarian work in 1972, following a major earthquake in Managua. At one point he shared a tent with General Somoza, the Nicaraguan dictator. But he would also become good friends with the Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, one of the leaders of the Sandinistas, the group that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. (Today, d’Escoto is the president of the U.N. General Assembly.)

“During the 1970s, a lot of the meetings for the revolution were held in our living room. And yet Somoza knew I knew these people, and they knew that I knew Somoza. And neither one ever asked me about the other. I just thought that that’s what medicine can afford, when you don’t violate confidence or anything.”

He was able to use this gift in relation to Ireland, especially after he was appointed chairman of the tropical diseases department of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin in 1969. (Today he is professor of humanitarian affairs at the college.) “I’ve always been very interested in the role of health as a common ground,” he explained. “I would go up to Northern Ireland every year and lecture. The College of Surgeons became my Irish base.”

Another consistent theme with Dr. Cahill is the role his wife, Kate, played in shaping his career. Although she was not a physician or a health worker, she was his “indispensable partner,” his “moral compass” on his trips abroad. She also offered him strong encouragement in his writing. “I can still hear her saying,” he has written, “‘ If you don’t do something – write something, give an interview, take the heat if necessary — then your silence is adding to the problems of those left behind.’”

Finally, as our interview drew to a close, Dr. Cahill pointed to a carving lost among the drawings, manuscripts and medical instruments that competed for my attention, a small simple figure, with the words “Torture is Barbaric.”
Knowing that he had seen some true horrors, I asked him if he was ever traumatized by his experiences. There was no trace of bitterness or anger in his voice when he replied that while he saw some horrific things, he also saw many things which reinforced – rather than shattered – his faith in humanity.

Last year, in a commencement address, he told the graduate students of The College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Massachusetts, “Amid the fetid stenches of Indian urban decay, I mainly recall the strong aroma of exotic spices. I closed my eyes but usually saw saffron robes rather than soiled rags . . . I have been caught behind the lines in armed conflicts, and seen senseless slaughter from Beirut to Managua, and all across the scarred landscape of modern Africa. Somehow in the twisted wreckage of war, and in the squalor of refugee camps, the incredible beauty of humanity prevailed for me.”

Conn Corrigan is the assistant editor of the website, IrishCentral. A native of Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, he has written for The New York Sun, The New York Observer, The New York Post and The Advocate, as well as a number of Irish publications, including The Dubliner, The Belfast Telegraph and The Sunday Business Post. He also contributes regularly to The Irish Times, and has degrees from Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Birkbeck College at the University of London, and Columbia University.

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The First Word: Celebrating the Far-Flung Irish https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/the-first-word-celebrating-the-far-flung-irish/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/the-first-word-celebrating-the-far-flung-irish/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:59:13 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8143 Read more..]]> When I was young, a visit by two Frenchmen caused great excitement in our house.

They were distant cousins – descendants of Oliver Harty who was born in Knockainey, Knocklong, County Limerick in 1746 and left for France as a lad of sixteen.

Like many young Irishmen who had lucrative careers in continental armies since the 16th century, Oliver left for France in 1762 to serve as a cadet in Berwick’s Irish Regiment, attached to the French Army.  Three of his maternal uncles (the Sheas) were at the time officers in the Irish Brigade.

Oliver distinguished himself as a soldier. He was decorated by Louis XVI with the Order of Saint Louis, and after the Revolution, took part in various  Napoleonic campaigns, and was created Baron de Pierrebourg (Alsace) by Napoleon.

While my father was delighted to have a Baron in the family, the news that Oliver had sailed into Bantry Bay with Wolfe Tone as part of the French attempt to rout the British in 1796 was even more impressive. The invasion failed but Oliver evaded capture and made it back to France, to his wife, Anne Marie de Grenveld, two sons and a daughter. Thus began the French branch of the Harty family tree.

Oliver’s great-grandson, Patrice Harty de Pierrebourg, had a keen interest in genealogy and wrote a biography of his illustrious ancestor, which is how Patrice’s grandsons came to make that visit to Ireland in the 1950s.

Over the years our two families kept in occasional touch. A look through my memento box   upturned a French wedding invitation of some time back, a more recent letter from one of the men who had visited us, who “remembered my father well,”  and a photograph of Albane, a French cousin I pen-palled with when I was a teenager.

I wasn’t much of a letter-writer and  my French was terrible, so Albane and  I soon stopped writing. My mother, on the other hand, kept up a running correspondence with all my father’s relations as well as her own.  As I was growing up, our never-met cousins in Australia, Hawaii, and various parts of England were known to us through photographs and letters.

They were all very much in my mind as we put together this Global 100 issue.

We are a far-flung people, and it was exciting to explore the Irish threads that color the mosaic of so many countries; to discover a champion surfer in Australia with Irish roots, and a Polo player in Argentina, and to consider the backstory of their immigrant ancestors. It was a first digging away at the topsoil of a huge story that encompasses some 70 million Irish around the world.

It was also a nod to a new web venture that we are undertaking called  IrishCentral.com, which will be a truly global site; one that we hope will become a meeting place for the Irish around the world – where long-lost relatives will reconnect and new friendships will be forged; a place where the far-flung Irish from every corner of the globe can get together and share their version of the wonderful story that is our heritage.
Enjoy this issue and think about connecting up with your own relatives, wherever they may be.

Mortas Cine.

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GAA Marks Its 125th Birthday https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/gaa-marks-its-125th-birthday/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/gaa-marks-its-125th-birthday/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:58:00 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8126 Read more..]]> The Gaelic Athletic Association staged a spectacular fireworks dis- play at Croke Park in Dublin to commemorate its 125th anniversary since being founded in 1884 in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Association president Nicky Brennan rejected criticism that the 500,000-euro spectacle was inappropriate in a time of economic hardship.

“In the past we have been criticized for not doing enough with our match presentations,” he said. “There is a lot of gloom around the country but perhaps this can be a detachment from that. It’s a match with a show wrapped around it, high- lighting that the GAA is now vibrant and 125 years old.”

While the razzmatazz follow- ing the Dublin/Tyrone football match at Croke Park was greeted enthusiastically by over 80,000 fans, the Association has been unable to resolve the bitter dis- pute between Cork’s senior hurl- ing panel and current manager Gerald McCarthy. Thousands of hurling fans marched through Cork City, in support of the play- ers and it remains highly unlikely that last year’s team will line out again under McCarthy, who is backed by the Cork county board.

In the meantime the manager has fielded a makeshift selection to play out Cork’s fixtures in the National Hurling League. Showing solidarity with the hurling players, Cork senior footballers also indicated they would refuse to play in this year’s Munster championship if the hurling dispute was not resolved.

Nationally at club level, the All- Ireland club championships will be held on St. Patrick’s Day. Galway hurling champions Portumna are favored to beat De La Salle of Waterford, while Armagh’s Crossmaglen Rangers take on Kilmacud Crokes of Dublin in the foot- ball decider.

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IrishCentral Launches Global Site https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/irishcentral-launches-global-site/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/irishcentral-launches-global-site/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:56:56 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8131 Read more..]]> The goal of IrishCentral.com is nothing less than putting a nation’s heritage online for the first time, and to reach the 70 million people around the world who identify themselves as Irish. It is a spectacularly ambitious mission that we hope will grab headlines around the world as easily as it has drawn prominent investors to its side in record time,” says Kevin Hayes, General Manager of IrishCentral.com, the new global  Irish site set to launch on March 15.

IrishCentral was founded by Niall O’Dowd, also founder, with Patricia Harty, of Irish America magazine and the Irish Voice. “This global Irish site has been the obvious next step for us at Irish America and Irish Voice,” he said. “We have seen the extraordinary growth in interest in Irish heritage, not just in America, but wherever the Irish settled. We intend to try and capture that momentum.”
Hayes is confident that the new site will succeed. “It is the right idea at the right time. Most websites are in search of an audience; as one of our investors said, ‘You have an audience searching for a website.’”

The managers, investors and staff of IrishCentral are veteran journalists, prominent businessmen, accomplished technology experts, and leaders from many traditional and creative fields who have been drawn to the project because they know it is groundbreaking and will make history.

“We are hoping to do what has never been done before: use the power of the Internet to unite a nation and its far-flung children, giving them a home they have an inner picture of and an almost-mystical connection to – but do not truly know. Perhaps better than this: As they traverse this speed-of-light, international bridge, they will meet a family they didn’t know,” says Hayes.

Before giant corporations from around the world found their pots of gold in Ireland, it was often said that the nation’s leading export was its children. Now the seed breed and new generations of the offspring of those children can return to their heritage online.

Hayes says IrishCentral will be a website that taps into this wellspring on many levels, providing the latest news, sports, entertainment and business coverage to this far-flung audience, as well as creating a huge, vibrant online community.

“The hope is the world’s Irish will meet others who share their particular interests, create family galleries and personal clan pages, upload their own pictures and videos, send in their own news stories, study their clan’s roots, look for real estate and employment, find the Irish lad or lass of their dreams, and even share their favorite jokes. Best-of-breed software will help this giant online family quickly find and connect them with others who share their roots, their interests, who’ll enjoy their photo galleries, videos, recipes – and even people who’ll give them a good argument why Tyrone has the best football team in Ireland,” says Hayes.

“Social networking like this is supposedly something new – but for 25 years, our print publications have been building what is now a powerful and influential social network of leading Irish-Americans through events such as the Top 100, Business 100 Legal 100, and Silicon Valley Leaders,” said O’Dowd. “This is a natural next step to extend the network.

“Digitizing the Diaspora is a daunting task, but one which we will accomplish through a thought-out and determined plan based upon our years of success as publishers of Irish America magazine, and the Irish Voice and Home & Away newspapers, as well as with the leadership of a team of expert technical and content experts, for whom success is standard operating procedure,” he said.
“We want to reach out to the Diaspora to tell and to listen, to learn and to be taught, to tell a joke and to hear a joke – to communicate. This is the true power of the Web.

“The hope is we will build it, and the Diaspora will come,” said Hayes.

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The Coke Side of Life https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/the-coke-side-of-life/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/the-coke-side-of-life/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:55:09 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8134 Read more..]]> How one Coca-Cola ad gave an Irish America reader a very pleasant surprise.

The photo at right depicts Anne Marie Nevins and Joseph Michael Kenney on their honeymoon in Ireland in 1932. The image may be familiar to readers as it has often been featured in the Coca-Cola ads on the back cover of Irish America. Anne and Joe’s daughter Mary had no idea that the photo was on the back cover of the magazine, which her husband had subscribed to for years.

Their granddaughter Diane tells the story of when her aunt Mary made the discovery: “The day my uncle’s magazine arrived in the mail, my aunt had it stacked with the rest of the envelopes. She set the stack down on the table, and stopped in her tracks. There, smiling up at her, were her parents. The magazine was face-down in the stack and the envelopes shifted just enough for her to see their picture.”

Soon after Mary saw the picture, the family scrambled to find more copies of the magazine. Tommy, another of Anne and Joe’s grandchildren, visited a kiosk at Grand Central Station where he bought every copy. The following day, his cousin, Diane’s sister, went to the same kiosk only to be told “Some guy came and bought all the Irish Americas yesterday.” That guy, it turns out, was her own cousin.

Anne Marie Nevins and Joseph Michael Kenney were both first-generation Irish-Americans, born in New York City in 1897 and 1898 respectively. Anne’s mother, Bridget Finan Nevins from County Sligo, emigrated at the age of sixteen. Joe’s mother was Mary Lane (Leane) from Kerry.

When the couple met, Joe was a young World War I veteran and widower with two children, Mary and Jerry, and Anne was working as a private secretary. They were married on June 1, 1932 and honeymooned in Ireland. At the time, the International Eucharistic Congress of the Catholic Church was being held in Ireland and they were able to attend some of the ceremonies as well as visit a few pubs.
“At one pub they stopped in, Pop complained that his beer was too warm, so the bartender added some ice cubes to it,” Diane says. “That wasn’t exactly what Pop wanted, but there you go. At the time in Ireland, beer and ale were served without the benefit of refrigeration!”
Anne and Joe later had three children of their own, Joanne, Joe Jr. (Bud) and Peg. Joe worked as Deputy Chief Clerk of the New York State Supreme Court in Jamaica, New York. He died at the age of 69, shortly after retiring. Anne lived in the family house in Flushing, New York until her death at age 83.

Jerry, two-time Hawaii Iron Man Triathlon champion, is survived by two children. Bud is survived by two children and eight grandchildren.

Mary, now 84, is married with one son and three grandchildren. Joanne has six children and nine grandchildren to boast of. She is retired at the age of 75. Peg, now 72, and husband Ralph have retired to Marco Island, Florida. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren.
Though the Kenney family now has homes spanning the country from Phoenix to San Jose, the family ties remain strong. Diane says, “Anne and Joe’s children were fortunate to start their adult, married lives living in close proximity to one another. That gave us grandchildren the opportunity to develop close relationships which still exist today.”

In 1999, over 100 members of the Kenney family gathered for a reunion at Lake George, New York. Anne and Joe’s daughter Joanne observed, “The far-flung aunts, uncles and cousins all seemed to resemble one another. It was great!”

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Irish Eye on Hollywood https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/irish-eye-on-hollywood-8/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/irish-eye-on-hollywood-8/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:54:47 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8137 Read more..]]> Now that Liam Neeson has done the Hollywood blockbuster thing with his very big, very violent hit Taken, he can return to the kinds of movies which have made him such a respected actor.

Neeson is currently out shopping Five Minutes of Heaven, a drama about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. This, of course, is a very personal issue for Neeson who was born in Ballymena, Antrim, in the North.

Five Minutes of Heaven, which also stars acclaimed Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday), is a character-driven story about events after the most violent years of the Troubles have passed. In the film, two men struggle to deal with a murder that happened many years earlier.

Five Minutes of Heaven is currently making the rounds on the film festival circuit, and received raves (as well as awards) at the Sundance Film Festival.  According to Internet reports, Neeson had not watched the completed film until Sundance – meaning he had to watch his performance for the first time along with hundreds of other folks in a crowded

Asked what it was like, he said: “I wouldn’t use the word ‘fun.’ It’s strange – it’s kind of like giving birth. I hadn’t seen the complete film and to see it with 200 other people is a wee bit nerve-wracking. You work on something for quite a long period and then you see it and there’s stuff you can’t change.  And you’re seeing it with a roomful of strangers too. It’s kind of a very odd, unique feeling.”

Five Minutes of Heaven was written by Guy Hibbert, who also wrote the gripping 2004 Northern Ireland film Omagh.

The twisted saga of Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish mob has already inspired numerous movies and TV shows. For example, The Departed starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson featured an aging, Bulger-esque mob boss as well as FBI agents who spent their down time working for gangsters. Then there is Showtime’s excellent series Brotherhood, about two New England Irish brothers, one a politician and the other a criminal.

As chance would have it, Whitey Bulger’s brother, Billy, was a leader in the Massachusetts state legislature.

So, having danced around the Bulger saga, Irish director Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father, In America) is now tackling the story directly. Sheridan will direct, and co-write the screenplay for a movie based on the book Black Mass, which is the definitive account of Bulger’s rise and fall, and the ways it was hard to tell the cops from the crooks in Boston.
Filming is expected to begin later in 2009. No word on casting decisions just yet.

Black Mass (written by Gerard O’Neill and Dick Lehr) explores the rise of Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang (which ran drugs and, on one memorable occasion, guns for the Irish Republican Army) and how the criminal life lured in even FBI agents such as John Connolly, who grew up with Bulger. Bulger remains on the run and on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

“This is a story of a corrupt system and about how an angry guy became the second most wanted man after Bin Laden,” Sheridan told Daily Variety.

Irish-American Queens native Amy Ryan has at least three movies coming out in 2009, with another prestigious project about to begin shooting.

Look for Ryan (best known for her Oscar-nominated turn as the troubled Southie Mom in Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone) in Bob Funk, The Missing Person and Green Zone. The film also stars Matt Damon (who portrayed another Boston Irish-American in Good Will Hunting) and was directed by Paul Greengrass, whose many credits include the Northern Ireland docudrama Bloody Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ryan is about to begin shooting Jack Goes Boating, a film which will mark the directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman, fresh off his Oscar-nominated role as a Bronx Irish priest in Doubt.

Heath Ledger’s role as The Joker in The Dark Knight was hailed by many, in part because it was believed to be the last time we would see the actor, who died in January of 2008.

But Ledger was actually shooting The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus when he died. Director Terry Gilliam later asked numerous Hollywood A-listers to help complete the film, which will be out later this year. Among the actors who will be seen as stand-ins for Ledger is Dublin star Colin Farrell. Jude Law will also appear in the film. Gilliam is the Monty Python alum and visionary director behind such films as Brazil, Time Bandits and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Later, Farrell will team up with teenaged Irish acting prodigy Saoirse Ronan as well as Ed Harris to begin shooting The Way Back, a World War II drama from director Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show).

After his big-time buzz at the Oscars, Sean Penn’s next project is Tree of Life, which also stars Brad Pitt and Irish actress Fiona Shaw. Tree of Life is an updated spin on the fountain of youth myth. The characters in the film strive to locate the titular tree in the belief that it will give them everlasting life. Expect this to be an unorthodox film, as it is being directed by Terrence Malick, who directed Colin Farrell in The New World as well as other critical faves such as The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven and Badlands.

Cork native Fiona Shaw is best known for her stage work, including memorable collaborations with Deborah Warner. However, she has also been appearing in many movies in recent years, including several of the blockbuster Harry Potter movies.
Tree of Life is currently in post-production and should be released by the end of the year.

If there are people out there who mistakenly believe the famous troubled poet Dylan Thomas was Irish (he was actually Welsh), they must pay close attention to The Edge of Love – a film due out in March about Thomas and his wife Caitlin MacNamara, who did have Irish roots.  Cork star Cillian Murphy plays the poet whose life came to a sad end at The White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village.

The Edge of Love also features Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller and Matthew Rhys and was directed by John Maybury.

If there is an actress working today with a more Irish name than Siobhan Fallon Hogan, then you are most likely to see her on TG4, the Irish language TV station.

Hogan, however, is a native of Syracuse, New York, who has slowly but surely built a solid career, appearing regularly on TV stalwarts such as Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live, before moving on to movie roles in blockbusters such as Men in Black and (most recently) the Renée Zellweger-Harry Connick Jr. comedy New in Town (out on DVD).

Hogan (a graduate of Catholic University), initially turned down the New in Town role.  It would have required this mother of three to fly across country with one day’s notice. But once Hogan read the script, she ended up landing the part – which, she says, appealed to her devout Catholicism.

“Being that I was raised in the Catholic faith, I am very careful about what I choose. I’ve turned down a lot of projects that . . . could have helped me a lot financially, and I’ve quit shows because of where they were going and because I feel like I have to be a role model for my kids. So when I got this script, it was unbelievable to me,” she recently said.

Speaking of famous Irish names, how does Oona Chaplin roll off the tongue? Yes, this is indeed Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter, but the young actress’s Irish connection goes far beyond her mythic first name. Charlie Chaplin, of course, married the daughter of acclaimed Irish-American playwright Eugene O’Neill (even though O’Neill’s daughter, also named Oona, was half Chaplin’s age).

These days, the young Oona O’Neill is trying to get an acting career going. She recently appeared in an Italian film entitled Imago Mortis. It was quite a family effort for young Oona, because also appearing was her mother, Geraldine Chaplin, a screen veteran who has appeared in classic films such as Doctor Zhivago, and remains a busy actress.

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The History of the Clancy Brothers https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/the-history-of-the-clancy-brothers/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/the-history-of-the-clancy-brothers/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:54:05 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8145 Read more..]]> As Liam Clancy remembers it, being asked to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show did not seem like a big deal.

“We just did not understand the significance,” he told Irish America in a recent interview, during a publicity tour to promote a brilliant rerelease of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem performing live at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1963.

Two years before that historic performance, as Clancy recalls, they were a group of slightly shady characters best known in that bohemian redoubt, Greenwich Village.

“Irish-Americans weren’t really interested in us,” said Liam, the youngest of the Clancy brothers. “Pete Seeger played with us. A lot of people said: ‘They’ve got a Communist up there.’ So most of our audience were folkies and liberal Jews.”

That all changed in March of 1961. The Clancys and Makem had already moved uptown to the Blue Angel on East 55th Street, a more respectable establishment frequented by TV talent scouts.

Sure enough, the Irish musicians impressed one of Ed Sullivan’s scouts. The quartet later showed up at the Sullivan show studio for a Sunday rehearsal, only to be told that the evening’s scheduled headliner, Pearl Bailey, had bowed out.

Could the Irish men perhaps substitute?

That night, 80 million Americans from Boston to L.A. heard the revolutionary sounds of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem – the performance lasted a record-breaking 16 minutes.

“It was like getting a blessing from the Pope,” recalled Liam with a laugh.

Two years later came the historic concert at Carnegie Hall, where they cracked jokes about the new Irish Catholic president and earned loud applause simply by mentioning the IRA.

Clearly, something momentous had changed in Irish America.

With their Aran sweaters, tin whistles and banjos, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem might seem to be the quintessential Irish trad artists. But they were, in many ways, a radical departure, who then went on to change Irish-American culture. How did they arrive at their unique musical sound? Why did some Irish-Americans consider them threatening?  And how did they fit into an extraordinary moment in musical history, crossing paths with the likes of Bob Dylan?

The Clancy brothers – Paddy, Tom, Bobby and Liam – were born into a musical family of nine children in Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary.  Paddy and Tom served in Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II before immigrating to Toronto, Canada.  After crossing the border and living in Cleveland, Ohio for a spell, the duo moved to New York City, where they planned to work as actors. They had some success on the stage and screen, but also felt the need to raise a little money. So they turned to an art form that came so naturally to them: music. Particularly memorable were some of their “midnight special” performances in the early 1950s at the Cherry Lane Theatre, where they were joined by their brother Bobby, who had also served in the RAF and traveled widely in Europe before ending up in New York.

As luck (or fate) would have it, New York in the mid-1950s was turning into a breeding ground for a new kind of folk movement.

It was in the mid-1950s that Liam, the youngest brother, joined Tom and Paddy in New York when Bobby returned home to Ireland to take over his father’s insurance business. Liam too wanted to act, but he had also spent time performing, as well as studying and collecting the traditional music of Ireland.  During his travels, Liam had become familiar with a particularly talented musician from Armagh  — Tommy Makem.

Many members of the Makem family had made their way to the U.S., to work in the textile mills of Dover, New Hampshire. Tommy did the same. He was injured on the job, however, and so joined the three Clancy brothers in New York.

When it came time to record their first album, The Rising of the Moon, in the Bronx apartment of a young folklorist with the fine Irish name of Kenny Goldstein, they turned to a reliable formula: songs about drinking and Irish rebels. But it was clear from the beginning they were also breaking from the past.

Not only did the quartet avoid sentimental ballads, they also infused traditional Irish songs of rebellion and revelry with strands of fast-paced American folk, the improvisational feel of jazz and even the banter of cutting-edge beat poets and comedians.

The result was something familiar, yet very different. As the 1960s dawned, the group had a following, but nothing like mainstream success.

Maybe it was the unique style of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Maybe, with one of their own in the White House, Irish-Americans were ready for a new kind of Irish music.

Or maybe it was the sweaters.

As legend has it, the Clancys’ mother Johanna sent over four thick, white Aran sweaters so the boys could stave off New York’s winter chill. Now, Makem and the Clancys may not have been willing to play the stage Irish card. But their manager, Marty Erlichman, knew that if this act was going to hit the big time, they would have to appeal to some degree to Irish-American traditionalists.

Either way, when the quartet hit the stage on The Ed Sullivan Show, they became at least as well known for their sweaters as for their tunes.
But on the recently released recording, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem In Person at Carnegie Hall: The Complete 1963 Concert, something more than fashion or even music shines through. This recording captures the boys at the top of their game, but it also captures a unique moment in American history.

Between tunes, Makem gleefully cracks jokes about JFK – “big bad John in the White House” – as well as the American establishment.
“Hail Mary, full of grace –- the Masons are in second place!” Makem cracks.

Then there is the hilarious tune, “Mr. Moses Ri – Tooral – I Ay,” about a Jewish-Irish merchant who is arrested for posting a sign with his name written in Hebrew -– which is swiftly mistaken for Irish Gaelic by an ambitious British police officer.
“The song was written not so much to show the love between the Irish and the Jews so much as to show the stupidity of the British,” Makem cracks.

Finally, introducing the rebel ballad, “The Patriot Game,” a mention of the Irish Republican Army -– which, in 1963, had not yet earned the mythic status it later would when the Troubles heated up in the late 1960s -– earns lusty applause.
Loud applause for a guerilla army defined as terroristic by the British? This is not exactly what you’d expect at Carnegie Hall.  But this is the new world the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem helped create.

Following Ed Sullivan and Carnegie Hall, it might seem as if The Clancys and Tommy Makem were suddenly famous. They even performed for JFK himself in 1963.  But they were overnight sensations well over a decade in the making.

Along the way, they became famous in Greenwich Village pubs such as The White Horse as well as their “home away from home” (as Liam puts it) The Lion’s Head. Pete Hamill, Frank McCourt and so many others made The Lion’s Head the famous “bar for drinkers with writing problems.”

Along the way, Bob Dylan became a huge admirer of the Clancys, particularly Liam. At The White Horse, Dylan and Liam would imitate the other’s, uh, unique singing style. It’s great to have this Carnegie Hall recording, but a real treasure would be to hear Dylan imitating Liam, and vice versa, on “Eileen Aroon.”

In the end, the Clancys found a way to both change, and absorb, American musical styles. Thus, their work is truly Irish and American.
Meanwhile, it was not just Irish-Americans who were initially surprised by their work.

As Liam told Irish America: “Irish people in Ireland were surprised. They’d never heard these songs this way.”

When rock ’n’ roll eclipsed folk music in the late 1960s, the Clancys often went their separate ways. After a year’s notice, Tommy Makem left the group in 1969 to pursue a solo career. Bobby Clancy came back to fill his spot for a while and the four Clancy Brothers, sometimes with the addition of the two Furey Brothers, performed together on-and-off for the next couple of years. Tom found a lucrative career acting on TV, and Paddy devoted more time to his farm back in Ireland.

In 1975 Liam and Tommy Makem reunited to form Makem and Clancy, performing in numerous concerts and recording several albums as a duo, until 1988. The other three brothers united with their sister’s son Robbie O’Connell and went on to perform as The Clancy Brothers and Robbie O’Connell, spending several months in America each year.

In 1984, Makem & Clancy’s manager, Maurice Cassidy, brought the original foursome together for a concert at Avery Fisher Hall  in New York City – the show sold out all 3,000 seats in a week.

In May of 1990, Tom Clancy died at the age of 66; his brother Paddy died eight years later. Tommy Makem passed away in 2007.

But the Clancy Brothers’ legacy is alive and well in the 21st century. Liam not only has the Carnegie Hall show to promote. He also has a new documentary film, The Life and Times of Liam Clancy, as well as a new album, The Wheels of Life.

He continues to tour the world, with no thoughts of retiring.

“You can’t retire from living,” says the 74-year-old with a laugh.

The Carnegie Hall Concert was previously released in abbreviated versions. This new release, The Legacy Edition, includes the entire concert.

UPDATE: Liam Clancy passed away in December, 2009, at age 74.

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Those We Lost https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/those-we-lost-10/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/those-we-lost-10/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:53:08 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8150 Read more..]]> George Carlin
George Carlin, whose father was born in Donegal in 1888, died of heart failure on June 22. Born and raised in Manhattan, Carlin served in the Air Force before embarking on his comedy career as a radio DJ. In the 1960s he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and was a regular on Johnny Carson and other talk shows. In the 70’s he was arrested for his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine, which led to a Supreme Court decision forbidding obscene language on television. Carlin was also the host of the first Saturday Night Live show in 1975, and over his career released 23 comedy albums. He is survived by his wife Sally Wade, daughter Kelly, son-in-law Bob McCall, brother Patrick, and sister-in-law Marlene Carlin.

Ronnie Drew
Legendary singer Ronnie Drew was laid to rest after succumbing to throat cancer in August. Best known as vocalist with The Dubliners, his passing was mourned by all who love Irish music and culture.
Ronnie Drew was born in Dun Laoghaire and after a stint teaching English in Spain he teamed up with Barney McKenna to play traditional sessions in O’Donoghue’s pub in Dublin. The duo were joined by Luke Kelly, John Sheehan and Ciarán Bourke to make up The Dubliners, a five-piece traditional band that enjoyed huge success at home and abroad. A friend and mentor of many contemporary musicians, Drew’s gravelly voice and unique delivery will live long in memory.

Thomas Flatley
Thomas Flatley, a Massachusetts real estate icon and philanthropist, died on May 17. He arrived in New York from Ireland penniless and went on from his first job as a deli clerk in the Bronx to become a billionaire. Flatley’s death comes after a year of suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Flatley served in the Korean War before moving to Boston and founding the Flatley Company, the largest sole-proprietor business in the U.S. at the time. Flatley raised $2 million to build Boston’s Irish Famine Memorial and to establish the Famine Institute.
Upon Flatley’s death, Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen praised him as “an inspiration to countless Irish emigrants who followed this same route and who demonstrated similar courage and perseverance in the face of adversity and hardship.”
Thomas Flatley is survived by his wife Charlotte, five children and eighteen grandchildren.

Jim McKay
Legendary TV sports journalist Jim McKay passed away on June 7 of natural causes at his horse farm in Monkton, Maryland, at age 86.
Born James McManus, Jim McKay worked for the Baltimore Evening Sun before transitioning to television as WMAR-TV’s sports reporter, writer, director, and producer. In 1961, McKay became the host of ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
During his time with ABC, McKay covered 12 Olympics, including the Games in Munich in 1972. McKay won two Emmys for his reporting on the Munich Massacre, and Walter Cronkite sent him a telegram that read: “Dear Jim. Today you honored yourself, your network and your industry.”
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Margaret Dempsey McManus, daughter Mary Guba, son Sean, and three grandchildren.

Nuala O’Faolain
Irish journalist, author and broadcaster Nuala O’Faolain died on May 9.  Daughter of journalist Terry O’Sullivan, O’Faolain worked for many years as a TV producer and a journalist with The Irish Times. In 1996, O’Faolain wrote Are You Somebody?, her memoir which became an international bestseller.  She penned three more books: My Dream of You, Almost There and The Story of Chicago May.
In recent years, O’Faolain spent much of her time in New York, and was covering the presidential primaries when she was diagnosed with metatastic cancer. She died at age 68.

Tim Russert
Tim Russert, one of America’s leading political journalists, died after suffering a heart attack on June 13. He was 58. Russert began hosting NBC’s most watched Sunday morning interview program Meet the Press in 1991, and was the show’s longest serving moderator. In addition, Russert anchored Tim Russert, a weekly interview program on CNBC. He was a contributing anchor for MSNBC, a regular for NBC’s Nightly News and The Today Show, and served as NBC News’ Washington Bureau Chief.
In 2004, Russert wrote the memoir Big Russ & Me, sharing the story of his WWII veteran father’s life and how it impacted on his own.
He is survived by his wife Maureen Orth, a writer for Vanity Fair magazine, and his son Luke.

James Brady
Writer James Brady died at age 80 on January 26 after collapsing in his Manhattan home. He was best known for his accounts of the activities of New York’s power elite in his columns, and played a vital role in the creation of the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column, giving it its name as well as acting as its first editor. His publishing credits include a memoir about his experience in the Korean War as well as several other books about the Marines, a publishing memoir and several novels set in the Hamptons. Upon his return from Korea, Brady was hired as a business news reporter for Women’s Wear Daily, which he eventually returned to as its publisher and started its offshoot publication, W. Over his career, Brady served as the editor of New York magazine, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, and worked interviewing Hollywood celebrities for Parade magazine. He is survived by his wife, Florence Kelly, daughters Fiona and Susan, a brother, Tom Brady, and four grandchildren.

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Ulster Scots at Stone Mountain Highland Games https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/ulster-scots-at-stone-mountain-highland-games/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/ulster-scots-at-stone-mountain-highland-games/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:52:55 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8156 Read more..]]> For 38 years, Stone Mountain Park, northeast of Atlanta, Georgia, fills with the sounds of bagpipes, fiddles and harps during the third weekend in October for the Stone Mountain Highland Games and Scottish Festival.  Expect thousands of Scots to don their family tartans for this year’s festival  October 16-18.  Last year the Ulster Scots were there in full force; their pavilion was the festival’s showstopper and offered ways to track Scots-Irish connections to Northern Ireland.

Among the Ulster Scots present was Billy Kennedy, author and editor of The Ulster Scot. “Of all the strains of Irish immigrant heritage in the United States,” says Kennedy, “the Scots-Irish culture is perhaps more distinctive and deeply rooted than many realize.  Today’s Scots-Irish or Ulster Scots are direct descendants of those who emigrated from the north of Ireland or the province of Ulster in the 18th century.  For over 300 years, Scots-Irish influences have found expression in various ways throughout the United States.

“As early as the 1630s, shortly after the voyage of the Mayflower, the mainly Presbyterian Ulster Scots reached North America in wooden ships that somehow managed to endure the wrath of the Atlantic.  The early Scots-Irish settlers, who had originally moved from lowland Scotland to Ulster in the 17th century, assimilated into American life and left an enduring legacy.”

Kennedy has written extensively—including in the Oct./Nov. 2007 issue of Irish America—on the impressive imprint left by three centuries of Scots-Irish immigration. During the 18th century, more than 200,000 Scots-Irish fled economic deprivation and religious persecution by the British to make a new life in America.  After crossing mountains, cutting through forests and surviving Native American tribal attacks, they founded frontier townships and forged a civilization on the western frontier.  They laid the foundation for a structured society in the cities and towns of 18th-century America that valued home, church and school.

The Scots-Irish have a reputation for being the first to start and the last to quit. Three centuries later, these qualities remain central to the American psyche.  According to the 2000 census, 56 percent of the estimated 44 million Americans with Irish heritage can trace roots back to the 18th-century movement from Ulster.  Though the Scots-Irish are scattered across America,  their influence is most evident in the eastern half of the country. Kennedy catalogues the numbers of Ulster place names in the United States:  There are 18 American towns named Belfast; seven Derrys, nine Antrims, 16 Tyrones; four Hillsboroughs.  In 12 states there are 12 Milfords—plus Coleraine in Massachusetts and Dungannon in Virginia!

The story is one of greatness as well as sheer numbers.  Descendants of these 18th-century Ulster settlers include 17 American presidents. The ancestral cottage of Andrew Jackson is located at Boneybefore, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim.   Chester A. Arthur also hails from County Antrim, while County Tyrone boasts the ancestral residences of Ulysses Grant and Woodrow Wilson.  Other presidents with Ulster family links include James Knox Polk, Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and both Presidents Bush.

Beyond the White House, Scots-Irish heritage is common to Vice-President John C. Calhoun; frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Kit Carson; Texas governor Sam Houston; Samuel Langhorne Clemens (the author Mark Twain); poet Edgar Allan Poe; agricultural inventor Cyrus McCormick; songwriter Stephen Collins Foster; land surveyor William Clark; astronauts Neil Armstrong, James Irwin and Edward H. White, and American Civil War generals Thomas Jonathan ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, J. E. B. Stuart, George Brinton McClellan, Joseph Eggleston Johnston and Ambrose Everett Burnside.

Three of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in the north of Ireland. Others with direct family links included Edward Rutledge and Thomas McKean. John Dunlap, printer of the Declaration of Independence, came from Strabane, Co. Tyrone.

Today, the rich Scots-Irish inheritance is evident in all aspects of American life.  Mutual interests in culture and historical research on aspects of the Scots-Irish diaspora are maintained through shared educational programs and projects.  Towns in the United States and Northern Ireland which are officially twinned include La Grange (Georgia) with Craigavon (Co. Armagh); Moorhead (Kentucky) with Ballymena (Co. Antrim); Clover (South Carolina) with Larne (Co. Antrim) and Drumore (Pennsylvania) with Dromore (Co. Down). Belfast has also had a capital city twinning arrangement with Nashville (same population of 500,000).  Derry, the North’s second largest city, also has close economic and social ties with Boston, as does Newry with Pittsburgh.

Each year, more Americans visit Northern Ireland.  Whether they come on business or on vacation, or to do genealogical research, the cordial reception they get inevitably makes them want to return.

The growth of tourism in Northern Ireland is illustrated by the success of the Belle Isle Castle Estate & Cookery School in County Fermanagh. The 400-acre estate on Lough Erne is owned by the 5th Duke of Abercorn, James Hamilton.  He was Tourism Ireland-sponsored keynote visitor to the Stone Mountain Games and the keynote speaker at Irish America’s Stars of the South event at the Commerce Club in Atlanta.
The annual Stars of the South dinner celebrates the best and brightest Irish Americans in the Southern U.S. and also hails Northern Ireland’s links to the Scots-Irish.  Previous honorees have included philanthropists, artists, business leaders, charity workers and volunteers; members of the service industry and armed forces; members of police and fire departments, and members of academia.

This year over 200 luminaries were in attendance. Don Keough, former president of Coca-Cola and now chairman of Allen and Company, accepted a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.  James Hamilton, the Duke of Abercorn – a peerage that dates back to 1603 – said that he was delighted to be keynote speaker at the Stars of the South dinner.  “I enjoyed sharing my insights on the extraordinary progress that has been made in Ireland’s hospitality industry in the field of culinary excellence.  This splendid event is a sparkling celebration of the bonds of heritage and kinship that Ireland shares with America’s South.”

Joe Byrne, Executive Vice President in the United States for Tourism Ireland based in New York, said “Tourism Ireland is pleased to participate as a sponsor of the Stone Mountain Festival and at Irish America magazine’s Stars of the South Awards Dinner.  We know that Ireland has experienced strong growth in visitor numbers from many of the states in the southeast of the U.S.  We believe that sponsorships such as this contribute in a meaningful way to building future tourism traffic growth to Ireland from this important region.”

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Roots: The Famous Flynns https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/roots-the-famous-flynns/ https://irishamerica.com/2009/04/roots-the-famous-flynns/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:51:36 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=8159 Read more..]]> Flynn, or O Floinn in Irish, is high on the list of the most popular names in Ireland. It is derived from the Gaelic personal name Flann, which, when applied to a person, connotes a ruddy complexion. The name can be traced throughout Ireland, but is more frequently found in the south around Cork and Waterford and in the north in Counties Roscommon, Leitrim and Cavan.

The Flynns from County Cork separated themselves into two main factions; one living at Ardagh Castle between Skibbereen and Baltimore while the second were once lords of Muskerrylinn, until they were forced east by the McCarthy clan.

The clan’s northern counterparts situated in Kiltullagh and Kilkeevin in County Roscommon were erenaghs, in charge of maintaining lands and collecting taxes in the Parishes of St. Dochonna near Boyle, and the Parish at Errew by Lough Conn. The Flynns also owned land in South Armagh; here they were the senior branch of the Clanna Rury of Ulidia and traced their lineage all the way back to Colla Uais, King of Ireland in the fourth century.

Flynns have always been prominent in the religious world; in 1255, Fiacha O’Flynn became Archbishop of Tuam and, in 1820, Reverend Jeremiah O’Flynn played an instrumental role in sending the first Catholic missionaries to Australia. Modern members of the clan are still active in the religious field; Harry Flynn is the Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a position he has held since 1995.

Flynn descendants are also medaled soldiers, with two members of the clan receiving Medals of Honor during the Civil War.  Sergeant James E Flynn of the 6th Missouri Infantry was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in the charge of the volunteer storming party at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Sergeant Christopher Flynn of the 14th Connecticut Infantry received the award after he captured the flag of the 52nd North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg.

A soldier in a different sense, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was a labor leader, activist and feminist. At the age of 16, Elizabeth gave her first political speech on “What Socialism Will Do for Women,” and though she was expelled from high school as a result, the speech set off a long career in the field of social activism. From 1907 until 1916, she became involved in the International Workers of the World, organizing campaigns for factory workers, restaurant employees and miners. Elizabeth was so passionate about her work that during this period she was arrested on ten different occasions.  She was also a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and an avid supporter of the Birth Control Movement and Women’s Suffrage.

In the field of science and technology, James Robert “Jim” Flynn (born 1934 in Chicago), as a professor of political studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, researched the year-after-year rise of IQ scores in all parts of the world, giving us the term “the Flynn effect.”
Meanwhile on the sports field, another famous Flynn tore up the tracks in the 1980s. Irish mile great Ray Flynn, who ran 89 sub-4-minute miles, now owns and operates Flynn Sports Management, a firm that represents a number of top American runners.

The phrase “in like Flynn” is attributed by some to American politician and lawyer  Edward J. Flynn — “Boss” Flynn (1891-1953), who was a campaign manager for the Democratic Party during FDR’s presidency. Flynn’s machine in the South Bronx in New York was so successful at winning elections that his candidates seemed to get into office automatically.

One of the more famous contemporary Flynns in politics is former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, who was elected as Boston’s 52nd mayor in 1984 and served until 1993.  A devout Catholic, Flynn was appointed by President Clinton as the American Ambassador to the Holy See.  He held this position from 1993 until 1997 and currently is the National Chairman of Catholic Citizenship, a group he started in 2004.
Members of the Flynn family have also crossed the divide from the political world to the literary.  John T. Flynn became one of the premier American political commentators during his career as a journalist in the 1920’s and 30’s.  In the early 30’s Flynn was an avid supporter of FDR during his initial bid for the presidency; however, Flynn split from Roosevelt in 1936 due to differing opinions on FDR’s New Deal.  He went on to become a founding member of the America First Committee, which opposed Roosevelt’s foreign policy.  A more contemporary political writer is Vince Flynn, who has written six New York Times best-sellers since 1998.

One of the clan’s most flamboyant members was actor Errol Flynn, who owing to his seductive powers, is also an alternative candidate for the expression “in like Flynn.” A swashbuckler both on and off the silver screen, he was immortalized in films like The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sun Also Rises. In 2004, Flynn was portrayed by Jude Law in the Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator. A more modern-day actor with a connection to the Flynn clan is Lara Flynn Boyle, the attractive actress who made a name for herself on the drama series Twin Peaks and the Emmy Award-winning show The Practice.

Flynns also made their way in the world of music. The renowned jazz pianist Frank Emilio Flynn (1921-2001) was born to Digna Maria and Francis Joseph Flynn in Havana, Cuba. In the business sphere, Irish-American William Flynn is Mutual of America’s Chairman Emeritus and the first Irish-American chairman of the NCAFP (National Committee on American Foreign Policy). Flynn received the National Committee’s first Initiative for Peace Award in 1997 for his work in promoting peace in Northern Ireland. He was this magazine’s Irish American of the Year in 1995 and was also honored as one of Irish America’s Irish of the Century.

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