December January 2006 Issue – Irish America Irish America Magazine Mon, 15 Jul 2019 20:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 82361074 In Memory of Donal Geaney Wed, 01 Nov 2006 14:19:04 +0000 Read more..]]> Donal Geaney, former CEO and chairman of Elan, passed away on October 7 after a long illness. Born and raised in Clontarf, North County Dublin, Geaney’s father and grandfather were noted entrepreneurs who ran a wholesale business.

After graduating from Trinity College with a business degree he spent 14 years working as an accountant with SKC. During this time he met Donald Panoz, a West Virginian who founded Elan in Ireland in 1969. Panoz made Geaney executive vice president of the company in 1987. On January 1, 1995 Geaney became Chief Executive and the following year, after Panoz’s retirement, he became Chairman as well. During his 17 years with the company he turned Elan from a small enterprise with $2 million turnover into the largest company quoted on the Irish stock exchange, worth 24.5 billion.

A former Business 100 honoree, Geaney was also chairman of the Shannon-based Irish Aviation Authority, a director of Bank of Ireland and chairman of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) whose assets total over 14 billion. Geaney, who was 54 years old, is survived by his wife Anne and three sons. ♦

]]> 0 30535
A Winning Pedigree: Tom Brady Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:59:51 +0000 Read more..]]> Tom Brady is more than an athlete, he is an American icon. Through the support of his loving family and his own will and determination, Brady won an unprecedented three Super Bowls before the age of 30. More importantly, he’s done it with a touch of class.



It is a nondescript fall morning in Foxboro, Massachusetts, aside from the wispy fog that has yet to be burned away. From inside Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, this haze serves as a veil, barely hiding the 60,000 red and blue vacant seats. The emptiness of this modern coliseum is intimidating. Each seat represents a football fan, one whose dreams are painted with the home team’s colors. Those that live life from Sunday to Sunday, within the hash marks of America’s beautiful fall.

There are always hopes that your team will acquire “the next one” to come in and change the face and pace of your program. For the New England Patriots, this acquisition came in the form of a slightly hyped quarterback out of the University of Michigan, in the obscure sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

Enter Tom Brady, a 6-foot-4 pocketpasser with a shotgun for an arm and a smile that goes for days. He was just a blip on the NFL’s radar, but when preparation collided with opportunity a year later, Brady became a hero.

Brady entered the 2001-’02 season as the backup to seasoned veteran Drew Bledsoe. In the second week of the season, the Patriots were playing the New York Jets, when the history of the franchise changed with one hit. Jets linebacker Mo Lewis broke through the Patriots’ offensive line and demolished Bledsoe. The hit left him reeling and it was later discovered that he had sheared a blood vessel in his chest.

What happened next is forever etched in the sacred lore of New England athletics.

Brady, at 22, came in and won over the hearts of the doubting fans. Those that had written off the season were enamored by this kid’s miraculous start and went on to watch as he led their team from 0-2 to the playoffs. With his sure-handed guidance in control of the team’s performance, he took New England’s football team to the Super Bowl and won it for the first time in franchise history.

Over the next three years, he would win two more and become the face of the Patriots’ dynasty. In an area that had not seen a professional championship in years, Brady was forcing New Englanders to believe.

Brady’s story began 3,100 miles away from the towering blue gates of Gillette Stadium, in the city of San Mateo, California, a suburb near San Francisco. Tom, affectionately known then and now as “Tommy,” was the youngest of four children and the only son of Tom and Galynn Brady.

Tom’s three sisters, Maureen, Nancy, and Julie were stellar athletes and each was ultra-competitive in her respective sport. Maureen was an all-American softball player, Nancy was at the top of her class in basketball, and Julie was one of the best soccer players in the area. Needless to say, the Bradys were a competitive family, one that strove for victory and suffered with every loss, no matter the sport or the participant.

Brady directs his team in a victory over Philadelphia in Super Bowl XXXIX on Sunday, February 6, 2005, in Jacksonville, FL. (Photo: Lionel Hahn / Abaca Press)


“It’s fun to get the maximum ability out of your being, that’s where the fun comes from. The fun comes from getting every available ounce of ability out of your body,” says Brady’s father, Tom Sr., who coached his kids throughout their pre-teen years and cultivated their winning attitude. Galynn was the team mom and made sure her children were taken care of on and off the field. Every day saw another set of athletic responsibilities: who had to be at what field and what time was kickoff?

“We tried to get them into a lot of things like guitar, piano, gymnastics, or whatever, yet they always gravitated towards sports,” Brady’s father says. “We love sports, both my wife and I. It almost became a family affair, my wife became the team mother and I’d coach.”

The competition didn’t stop with organized sports. Within their neighborhood the Brady kids were constantly around a slew of children of all ages, and played pickup games with their friends.

During these pre-high school years, football wasn’t even on Brady’s radar. His parents wouldn’t let him play and Tom spent most of his time cultivating his baseball game.

“We didn’t really support [football] because we had been told that it wasn’t a good idea because kids’ bones are developing and you don’t always get good coaching,” Brady Sr. says. “We figured he would do what he wanted when he got to high school.”

Tommy shined on the baseball field and proved to be a solid, power-hitting catcher. Choosing his position was facilitated by pedigree. When Brady Sr. was younger he was a solid catcher who was scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates

Father and son would spend several days a week at the batting cages; Tommy would work on defense while his father would hit him pop-flies and groundballs. It was a bonding experience, one that combined hard work with the tight-knit relationship a father has with his son.

The family would always do things together and lived in a state of loving competition. The Bradys would go to football games every fall, always the San Francisco 49ers. They only had a few tickets so not everyone could go to each game. Tom made sure he was at most of them, though, as there was something about football that made him happy.

Tom enrolled in Junipero Serra Catholic High School, an all-boys school six blocks away from his home. As soon as he could he began playing football, but quickly learned just how much work he would have to put in to even get on the field.

Brady was the backup quarterback for his junior varsity team and watched as his squad went 0-8, never scoring a touchdown. It was evident that it wasn’t gong to be easy so Tom practiced incessantly, training during the off-season and attending football camps in the summer.

Brady in his 1995 Junipero Serra Catholic yearbook photo. He was seen as “one of the guys” despite his football player status and stellar grades. (Photo courtesy of Junipero Serra Catholic High School)


“He wasn’t even worthy to get on the field for an 0-8 team,” Tom Sr. says with a laugh. “He really worked hard after that, he really wanted to be the starting quarterback his sophomore year, and after working hard he got the position.”

Even as a starter, playing in the football-saturated state of California did not mean instant glory. Serra was a moderate team playing some of the best teams in the country. Brady never even “sniffed” the league title, as his father says, and endured three sub-par seasons. But he loved the camaraderie of football and the team-oriented play that wasn’t as prevalent on the baseball diamond. If Brady was going to win, he wanted it to be with his team; if they lost, he took it to heart.

This sentiment still rings true today.

“We’ve had a pretty good approach for a while. We don’t intend on changing it anytime soon. We have a lot of confidence as a team. We have a lot of confidence as players and coaches that we’re doing the right thing. We don’t always play the way we wish we would.” Brady says about his teammates on the Patriots, “I think we have a great group of guys that love to work hard. We’re looking for solutions. That’s what we’re all about”

Off the field, Tom was continually working hard to hone his game. He would participate in the training regimen the team set, but took it upon himself to get better when no One was watching.

“In addition to our program, which he participated in completely, he spent additional time and energy just trying to make himself a better athlete and he still does that to this day,” Tom’s high school coach Tom McKenzie says. “He had a jump-rope regimen that he wrote on a piece of binder paper and we started using it his senior year.”

Junipero Serra football continues to use this same routine.

In addition to his performance on the field, Brady was a stellar student, accumulating a 3.5 average during his time at Serra. Even though he was near the top of his class and was a highly touted athlete, Tommy was always just “one of the guys,” according to his guidance counselor Russ Bertetta.

When the time came to choose a college, Brady was recruited by some of the best teams on the West Coast. Teams like USC, UCLA, and California were knocking at Brady’s door and it was almost certain that he was going to stay close to home. Then from the other side of the country, the University of Michigan joined the mix and Brady had a serious decision to make.

Brady during a visit to his old high school, Brady takes time to pose with two young fans. (Photo courtesy of Junipero Serra Catholic High School)


Tommy was asked to travel all the way to Ann Arbor on a recruiting trip, and when he came back he had little doubt about his future. The Michigan Hall of Fame, the illustrious football history, and the 100,000-seat stadium known as “The Big House” made him want to finally leave home.

Brady would have been guaranteed playing time at Cal; at Michigan, however, there was a list of six quarterbacks vying for the team’s most coveted position. Brady wanted the challenge and threw himself into a situation where he might learn what it was like to no longer be the best.

“He had to make his own decision, it wasn’t a decision we could make for him,” Tom Sr. says. “It wasn’t an easy decision, nor was his experience at Michigan easy, but he always measured up to it.”

When anyone goes away to college, they learn a good deal about themselves. It is an experience which evokes your deepest fears, all while you begin to understand who you are and what you are capable of doing. Brady was in the same position at Michigan, except now he was trying to do it without his family six blocks away. He was without his rock, and it was time to grow up.

During those college years, Tom’s family would show up well before kickoff to watch him warm up, the only time he would get on the field. His sisters would all wear his jersey and cheer for their little brother.

“You’re just excited that he’s on the team,” Julie says. “We were the only three girls wearing his jersey. It was really neat because nobody knew who he was. Today you go anywhere and you see everybody in all different races and cultures wearing his jersey.”

Tom Sr. remembers Tommy’s first play as a college quarterback against UCLA in 1996. He jokes that the first pass was a touchdown. It was, except it went to the wrong team, as a UCLA linebacker intercepted the ball and ran it back for a touchdown. The Bradys sat and listened to the boos, hurting as they watched their Tommy fail in front of 100,000 angry Wolverine fans.

“You know what it’s like to have 100,000 people go quiet and say,’Brady, you suck!’ We just died,” Tom Sr. says.

Even after his first start, a loss to Notre Dame in 1998, Brady was ready to own up to the defeat. “I felt comfortable today. It is just a shame that we played our hearts out there today and we still lost,” Brady said. “A loss like this just tears our hearts out.”

Brady runs onto the field for warmups prior to Super Bowl XXXVI, Sunday, February 3, 2002, in New Orleans. (Photo: Bob Breidenbach / Providence Journal)


During Tom’s final two years at Michigan, he excelled and proved to be one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. He began to mature and used his unparalleled work ethic to win over coaches and fans alike as he led Michigan to an Orange Bowl victory over Auburn his senior year.

After his final game for Michigan, several scouts told the Bradys that Tom was an easy third-round pick in the upcoming draft. He was a big time playmaker playing on the biggest stage in college football and would certainly catch the eye of several NFL scouts.

Unfortunately for Tommy, the scouting report couldn’t have been more wrong.

On Saturday, the first day of the draft, Tom went out to play golf with his father to cut some of the tension. The rest of the family stayed home, watching every pick, praying that he would be chosen.

The next day, as Tom sat with his family and watched, each pick was a crushing blow to his ego.

“Every time they called a different name, it was like someone slit your wrists,” Tom Sr. says. “It’s a killer, because I saw what my son went through.”

By the end of the fifth round, Tom went upstairs to watch the draft by himself. When it got to the sixth round he got up, went downstairs with a baseball bat and told his family, “I need to go for a walk.” His father says, “I was worried about all the cars in the neighborhood.”

A few minutes, and no vehicular damages later, Brady walked into the living room just in time to see that he was picked by the New England Patriots as the last pick of the sixth round.

“We were just happy he got drafted,” Julie says.

Now, five years removed from that painful day, Brady (26) is an all-star and a legend. He has proved time and time again that he is more than a flash in the pan. He is a leader and a good one at that. He has taken his team to three Super Bowls, winning each one. In a time where contracts and money rule success, Brady and the Patriots have bought into the age-old recipe for winning: teamwork and patience.

At the beginning of this season, Brady was once again faced with a series of issues that made his job more difficult. He lost Charlie Weis, the former Patriots offensive coordinator, to Notre Dame. The Patriots have gone through a laundry list of trades, injuries and acquisitions that has changed the continuity of the program.

After a demoralizing loss at the hands of the San Diego Chargers, football critics began to count the Patriots out and chalked up 2005/’06 as a rebuilding year in Foxboro. However, when faced with this question, Brady responds with confidence.

“We won three of the last four Super Bowls and I think we realize what we’re all about. We realize the character and toughness of this team,” Brady says. “If people want to write us off, that’s fine — go for it — but I don’t think that’s the wisest thing to do. I think we have too many guys with too much character.”

This is the mentality that has broken down physical barriers in the past. It’s the personality of someone who, above all, refuses to lose. There is something about Brady that makes him easy to overlook from afar. Maybe it’s because he’s quiet and doesn’t insist upon respect. Perhaps that’s the reason why he’s earned it.

“When asked about his Irish heritage at a press conference, Tom is a bit taken by surprise. He is used to questions about the next game, his life, and his health. He thinks about it for a second and looks at the crowd of reporters who are equally perplexed about the question.

“I have to be cued up for this one.” Brady says to the tune of laughter in the room, “Well, my father is all Irish and I’m half Irish. I’ve seen the family tree. I actually had to do a family tree when I was younger. I don’t know, I wish I had a better answer.”

Tom’s father laughs when he hears his son’s reaction and explains that his greatgrandfather and great-grandmother were both immigrants from Ireland during the Potato Famine. His great-grandfather was from County Cavan and his great-grandmother from County Cork.

Everything about the Bradys indicates a family that stresses hard work and dedication to excellence. Even as Tom makes his way through the history books and slowly solidifies his position as a Hall of Famer, he remains modest, always putting his family and the team first.

In a day and age where excellence is attained and flaunted, Brady remains an icon. Earlier in the season, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick claimed that he, Vick, was the best quarterback in the NFL. When Brady is questioned about this statement he simply smiles and retains a sense of class that is seldom witnessed in professional athletics.

“There are a lot of great players. I don’t rank them. There’s a lot of ways to get it done. My strengths are different from Michael Vick’s,” Brady says with a grin. “The idea of comparing those [strengths] is hard for me because I realize how difficult it is for me to get it done.”

The press conference is adjourned and Brady goes back to the locker room where he can be around his second family, his teammates. It’s time to put on the pads, lace up the cleats and carry the hopes of New Englanders on his back. All the while he looks back to his supportive family and presses on.

Just outside the front gates of Gillette Stadium there is a square stone tablet with a bronze map of New England protruding from the middle. It is a metallic representation of Brady’s kingdom, the original states of America where tradition dies hard and heroes live forever. ♦


Bob McGovern is a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he received his degree in journalism. While at UMass, Bob was a sports writer and the sports editor for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, New England’s largest college daily newspaper. He covered eight different teams and helped publish The Score, a yearly sports magazine put out by the Collegian.

]]> 1 30473
First Word: Seeds of Hope Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:58:13 +0000 Read more..]]> I can still see the collection box with its picture of a black child and an Irish missionary priest. I can’t remember if we were saving their souls from damnation or their bodies from starvation. One sister says she remembers it as starvation, another says it was definitely souls.

Growing up in Ireland, Africa was in our consciousness from a very early age. We were encouraged to give our precious few pennies to the “black babies.” The Irish Famine was very close to us too. It wasn’t much talked about – it was more like a haunting.

I remember the teacher telling us, “they had to eat grass” and in my child’s eye picturing a young girl with green drool around her mouth. As a kid I used to ask myself, how could they have let us starve? As an adult reading about Africa, a certain sense of helplessness ensues. What can one do? The entire continent seems rife with AIDS and on the edge of starvation.

Recently, I took a trip to Southern Sudan with Concern, the worldwide relief organization that was founded in Ireland in 1968, in response to the famine in Biafra.

After 21 years of civil war, resulting crop destruction, and poor harvests, the population of Southern Sudan is barely sustaining itself. I saw malnourished children and worn-faced mothers, with no running water and no electricity. Such food supplements that are given to the children by Concern often get shared with family members. What little is to be had is also shared with other relatives. Now that a tentative peace agreement is in place in Sudan, thousands who were uprooted by war are returning, and putting a further strain on the food supply.

I met one woman returnee who had walked for ten days to get home. She was accompanied by her granddaughter. They have nothing but the clothes they are wearing. Their home is a mud hut – all the homes are mud huts.

Women have a particularly hard time here – they do the majority of the work, yet they have no rights over property, or more important, their bodies.

What will become of the granddaughter? I wonder. Will she end up as the fourth wife of some sub chief? For sure she is facing a hard life, with few if any choices, and no access to healthcare or education.

There is little about this part of Sudan that gives one hope. And yet…

We took a trip upriver – a muddy, swollen stretch of water that completely disappears in the dry season – and after walking for some time in the bush flanked by sorry looking fields of sorghum, we came upon an extraordinary sight: two beautifully laid out gardens of onion beds and tomato plants, crudely enclosed by a hand-hewn fence made of tree branches.

Concern had provided seeds and garden tools to a cooperative of ten women who made one garden. They then shared their tools and knowledge with a group of women returnees and helped them to plant a garden.

Seeing these simple, but life-sustaining gardens, I realized that the problem is never too big that you can’t make a start. “It’s never hopeless And one person can make a difference,” says Siobhan Walsh, the U.S. director of Concern Worldwide.

Fresh from my experience in Sudan I went to a lecture sponsored by Glucksman Ireland House at New York University. Musician and political activist, U2’s Bono, introduced Columbia University’s Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the author of The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time.

Sachs, who talked about the huge problems faced by Africa, said, “It’s part of the DNA of the Irish to help.” Eileen Naughton, President of Time magazine, whom I interview in this issue, concurs. “When you think about this little country [Ireland], it has put forth some interesting people on this earth,” she says.

As we go to press Naughton is giving the welcoming address at the TIME Summit on Global Health. “It’s not about the despair of the condition but the hopefulness and places in the world where individuals are making a difference,” she says.

We are proud of the many on our Business 100 are also involved in making a difference.

Mortas Cine. ♦

]]> 0 30478
News From Ireland Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:57:02 +0000 Read more..]]> Recent news pieces of Irish and Irish American interest.


Sean Óg Is a Winner

The captain of the Cork hurling team, Sean Óg ÓhAilpín, is an inspiration in more ways than one.

Captain Sean Óg ÓhAilpín’s Cork hurling team defended its All-Ireland crown on September 11, after an enthralling encounter with Galway.

After dusting himself off and accepting the Liam McCarthy Cup, Sean Óg delivered his victory speech in perfect Irish. The speech began with the line, “Is mór an bóthar o Fiji go Corcaigh agus is mór an bóthar o Core go Pairc an Crocaigh.” This translates, “It’s a long road from Fiji to Cork and a long road from Cork to Croke Park.”

The revered GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh captured the Cork captain best when he said, “Sean Óg ÓhAilpín: his father’s from Fermanagh, his mother’s from Fiji, neither a hurling stronghold.”

Sean Óg’s mother Emeli comes from Rotuma in Fiji. She met and married Sean Óg’s father Sean and they have four sons, Sean Óg, Setanta, Teu and Aisake (two sons named after their Irish heritage and two named after their Fijian background). Sean Óg spent the first 10 years of his life in Sydney before the family moved to Cork. A dual footballer and hurler, ÓhAilpín won his third All-Ireland hurling medal this year. His winning speech was a throwback to a time when it was the norm for speeches to be made in Irish and not, unfortunately these days the exception.

Sinn Féin were so impressed with the clean-cut Gaelgoir that they tried to persuade him to run as a candidate in the forthcoming general election but ÓhAilpín declined, saying he wanted to concentrate on his sporting and professional responsibilities.

In other Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) news, the GAA will have to rethink the future of the international rules series.

The Irish team, boasting names such as the aforementioned Sean Óg ÓhAilpín, team captain Padraig Joyce and five of the triumphant Tyrone football team, came off second best against the Australian players in recent games in Melbourne and Perth.

Australia defeated Ireland comprehensively by 163 to 106 points in this two-match series, which combines Aussie Rules football with Gaelic football. However, the second match in Melbourne was seriously marred by a litany of dangerous tackling and fist-fighting off the ball, culminating when Australian captain Chris Johnson was sent off for assaulting Tyrone’s Philip Jordan.

Team manager Pete McGrath accepted being beaten by a superior team but condemned the behavior which throws the whole future of the hybrid game into question. “I can’t say strongly enough that what happened out there in certain instances is unacceptable in any sport,” he said. “It goes outside the parameters, putting life and limb at serious risk.” Following the debacle that incensed Irish players and supporters, many are now following Tyrone boss Mickey Harte’s call that the whole experiment should be scrapped.

Dublin Journalist Freed in Iraq

Ahmed Chalabi, the deputy prime minister of Iraq, played a role in the release of Dublin journalist Rory Carroll. The 33-year-old reporter was abducted in Baghdad while covering Saddam Hussein’s televised trial for The Guardian newspaper. He was held for 36 hours but following intense diplomatic efforts between Dublin, London and Baghdad his captors released him unharmed.

“I don’t know who took me,” said Carroll, who added he had been treated “reasonably well” throughout his ordeal. Nobody claimed responsibility for the kidnap but in a time when abduction is an everyday occurrence in Iraq, local criminal gangs are suspected. The correspondent returned to Dublin afterwards but intimated he would like to return to his post in Baghdad. His father Joe Carroll is former U.S. correspondent for the Irish Times.

Slow Progress Despite IRA Compliance

The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) reported “encouraging” signs that IRA had complied with a July 28 declaration that it would cease paramilitary operations.

The IMA’s report covers the March-August 2005 period and notes a very dramatic fall in IRA activity. The Commission described the downturn as “potentially very significant” but conceded that its next assessment in January will indicate how steady this progress actually may be.

In contrast, loyalist paramilitaries, such as the UVF, LVF and UDA — and dissident republicans (Real IRA and Continuity IRA) — now present the main threat to peace in Northern Ireland. It is against this backdrop that (British) government travel allowances to Sinn Féin, in the sum of £700,000 have been restored by Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain.

Unionist parties have been skeptical of the IMC findings and have also questioned positive soundings from the decommissioning body. “The IRA have proven in the past that they can tactically turn their violence off and on,” responded North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party. “It is clear that the Provisional IRA has much, much more to do to prove that it really has given up all forms of terror and criminality for good.”

Unionists were equally unenthusiastic when Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern announced in Dublin that the traditional 1916 Easter Parade will resume next year. The parade, which had been discontinued in 1970, will bring the Irish Army down O’Connell Street past the General Post Office (GPO), original headquarters of the 1916 Rising.

“The Irish people need to reclaim the spirit of 1916, which is not the property of those who have abused and debased the title of republicanism,” said Ahern, adding that the Irish Army is “the only legitimate army of the Irish people.”

The move was seen as an attempt by Fianna Fáil to reclaim its republican identity on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the Rising. Supported by coalition partners the Progressive Democrats, reinstating the parade also reflects government concern that Sinn Féin will make further electoral gains at the next general election south of the border.

Irish Soccer Boss Axed

Ireland soccer manager Brian Kerr was released by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) following the team’s failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. Kerr’s last game in charge was against Switzerland in Dublin. Ireland needed to beat the Swiss to have any chance of making the finals but a poor display ended in a scoreless draw, dashing any remaining hopes of qualification.

The 52-year-old Dubliner had come under increased pressure after tactical setbacks against Israel, a home defeat to France and a spiritless performance in Cyprus. Kerr succeeded Mick McCarthy as manager of the Irish team, and his ability to coax estranged former Irish captain Roy Keane back into international football earned him widespread praise.

However, failure to qualify for two successive championships led to the FAI’s decision not to renew his contract after 33 months. Prior to the FAI announcement Kerr appeared on the Late Late Show, a popular TV talk show, to present his case. On hearing the news that he was being stood down he expressed that he was “deeply saddened…that I am not being given the opportunity to continue my work with the senior national team.”

Adding that he felt the decision was “shortsighted,” he had yet to consider his options. “I intend to take some time to consider the next step in my career but I do intend to remain involved in professional football.”

The FAI will now undertake to find a replacement. Derry-born Martin O’Neill, a former Northern Ireland captain and ex-manager of Glasgow Celtic, was tipped as a successor but on a recent visit to Dublin he said he was not interested in taking over.

Outcry Over Reports on Lawlor Death

The funeral of former Fianna Fail minister Liam Lawlor took place in Dublin following a fatal car crash in Moscow. The disgraced politician, who spent three spells in Mountjoy Prison for obstructing a public inquiry into corruption, was in a hired car that lost control on the outskirts of Moscow. The Russian driver was also killed. A second passenger, Lawlor’s legal secretary Julia Kushnir, escaped with minor injuries and shock. No other car was involved.

As one of the leading players in the Flood Tribunal — the state’s ongoing investigation into corruption in planning procedures — Lawlor’s reputation was greatly tainted as a figure who used his political office for personal gain. The former public representative has property interests in Eastern Europe and had just arrived in Moscow on business from Prague when the accident occurred.

As news of the fatal crash reached Dublin just prior to publication of Ireland’s Sunday newspapers, Lawlor’s demise was rashly reported in salacious rumor. It was alleged that the politician was in the company of a teenage prostitute when the car went out of control. Julia Kushnir, 33, a Ukrainian national, is a legal assistant who had worked as an interpreter with Lawlor and other foreign investors.

Editors at the Sunday Independent and Sunday Tribune in Dublin apologized unreservedly to the Lawlor family for their newspapers’ coverage of the crash. The London-based Observer also admitted to error. Their Moscow correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, who had been contacted by the Sunday Independent in connection with the story, insisted that it was a police source who first suggested the presence of a prostitute. “I rang an official police spokesperson and relayed only the content of three conversations with this same person to their (Sunday Independent) newsdesk, stressing at one point that it was only a possibility the girl was a prostitute.”

The Lawlor family has reacted angrily to the way the story was handled. Despite Liam Lawlor’s diminished political record, the affair has also prompted calls for a press council to be set up to ensure greater accuracy and integrity in Irish journalism.

News in Short

CHURCH leaders apologized publicly to victims of sexual abuse following publication of a long-awaited report into 40 years of abuse in the Co. Wexford diocese of Ferns. The report identified 26 priests but only named six — as guilty of abusing children and was highly critical of two bishops — Donal Herlihy and Brendan Comiskey — for failing to intervene when they were made aware of what was going on. Over 100 individuals gave explicit testimony to the Ferns Report, detailing how they were repeatedly victimized by local priests. The scale of abuse and the way in which it was allowed to continue has left the Catholic Church spiraling from adverse publicity yet again. The Ferns Report was commissioned by the Minister of Health in 2003 and despite genuine efforts by Bishop Eamonn Walsh, who succeeded Bishop Comiskey, to deal with the issue, it is doubtful that the Catholic Church will ever regain its previous status in Irish society…

FORMER government minister Jim McDaid was fined 750 and disqualified from driving for two years after being convicted of dangerous driving. Following the incident he was found to have consumed over three times the legal limit of alcohol. On the steps of Naas District Court he told reporters, “For me to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle in my condition was a disgrace. It is something that I will never forget — or indeed, regretfully, never be allowed to forget.” McDaid was once minister of state with responsibility for road safety…

DESPITE the release from jail of five men (known as The Rossport Five) who campaigned against an onshore gas refinery in north Co. Mayo, the 900 million project remains deadlocked over safety fears. Shell E&P Ireland, who launched the project, plans to pipe gas from the Corrib field offshore to a proposed refinery seven miles inland. The gas would be transported via a high-pressure pipeline passing near residents’ homes in the area. Residents feel this puts them in danger in the event of accident and have campaigned to relocate the refinery offshore. Construction of the controversial pipeline has since been stalled because the company did not have legal permission to build it. The government has demanded that the pipeline be dismantled pending further studies…

DONEGAL publican Frank Shortt was awarded damages of 1.93 million for wrongful conviction. The case taken against Shortt arose from charges that he allowed drug dealing in his nightclub at Inishowen, County Donegal. He was imprisoned for 27 months but a subsequent investigation by the Morris Tribunal revealed that his conviction was based on evidence fabricated by gardai in Buncrana. The case spanned 12 years and lawyers for Shortt, now 70, claimed their client was “destroyed” by what transpired. Frank Shortt and his wife Sally expressed disappointment with the court award “in the light of all that has happened.” The family may yet appeal the compensation figure…

NORTHERN Ireland is to follow Dublin’s initiative on banning smoking in public places. The smoking ban will take effect in 2007 but the Minister for Health in Belfast has yet to finalize whether the ban will be partial or complete.

Since legislation became law in the Republic last April researchers report a decrease in respiratory illnesses among bar staff. “I think the smoking ban has had quite significant health implications,” concluded Dr. Shane Allwright of Trinity College Dublin…

THE last surviving Irish veterans of the International Brigade who served in the Spanish Civil War attended a ceremony in Dublin to commemorate those who fought against fascism. Bob Doyle (89) and Michael O’Riordan (88) were welcomed by President Mary McAleese before laying a wreath outside Liberty Hall. ♦

]]> 0 30481
Auction Brings Rare Kennedy Collection to New York Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:56:20 +0000 Read more..]]> Forty-two years after his public assassination, Americans continue their love affair with one of the most famous Irish Americans of all time, John F. Kennedy. Since his death and the death of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, there have been countless auctions of Kennedy memorabilia.

An auction starting on December 15 in the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City promises to be one of the biggest. Arlan Ettinger of Guernsey Auction house will preside over the sale.

The collection for this auction was acquired from the late Robert L. White, a former cleaning supplies salesman who managed to collect over 350,000 items of Kennedy memorabilia. He died in 2003 at the age of 54.

White lived most of his life in Maryland, where he became interested in the Kennedy memorabilia. He struck up a friendship with Kennedy’s former secretary, Evelyn Lincoln.

Throughout the years that he knew her, he bought items from her for his personal collection. When she died in 1995, she left him the rest of her collection.

“Robert White’s whole psyche was to be a collector. Other than his wife and children, his life was Kennedy and this collection and going to antiques shows where he could enlarge this collection,” Ettinger recently told The New York Times.

In July, it was announced that thousands of the items in White’s collection would go to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, while other items would go to the National Archives.

The collection for the auction includes some unusual items amongst the typical Kennedy memorabilia. As with most Kennedy auctions, there will be a rocking chair which was on the second floor of the White House in the Kennedys’ private quarters. The collection also includes flags which flew on the presidential vehicle when Kennedy was assassinated.

Amongst the rare items is a coffee cup from Kennedy’s campaign which reads “coffee with Kennedy.” When the cup is auctioned, it will be depicted as “used” since someone had drunk out of it and kept it. The collection also features a piece of paper from the presidential debates which said “Let’s get this country moving again,” and some White House stationery which he doodled on during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Many of the items will be expected to sell into the six figures. However, when White put some items on auction in 1996, he was “appalled” by prices that went into the million dollar range. ♦

]]> 0 30484
Pub Moves to Reagan Library Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:56:04 +0000 Read more..]]> The Ronald Reagan Pub of Ballyporeen, County Tipperary opened at its new location, The Ronald Reagan Library in Simi, California on October 22.

President Reagan’s great-grandfather emigrated from Ballyporeen during the 1800s, and on his 1984 trip to Ireland the President visited the area, stopping in at the pub. The President not only enjoyed a pint of Smithwicks but he also held a cabinet meeting in the pub’s lounge. Soon after the visit, the owners John and Mary O’Farrell, renamed the pub The Ronald Reagan Pub.

The pub had been in the O’Farrell family for over two hundred years until Frederick Ryan, a former Reagan advisor, made a “pilgrimage” to see it, and on behalf of the Reagan Library bought it from the O’Farrells for what he said was a “very considerate” price and the O’Farrells say was less than £100,000.

The pub’s entire contents, including cabinets, furniture and all the bottles and glasses (even the glass held by Nancy Reagan during the visit), were moved to the liibrary and installed in an exhibit directly under the nose of Reagan’s Air Force I jet. The exhibit also includes Reagan’s Marine I helicopter, parade limousine and a deactivated nuclear warhead.

The O’Farrells were on hand to pull the first pints at the pub’s reopening. “Needless to say, we were extremely pleased,” said Mary O’Farrell. ♦

]]> 0 30488
IRA Scrapbook Sold on E-Bay Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:55:51 +0000 Read more..]]> One never knows what you are going to find at a car boot sale, as was the case with one particular sale in Reno, Nevada late September, when a collector came across a scrapbook of pictures and letters commemorating the life of IRA soldier Frank Ryan.

Ryan was born in County Limerick, Ireland in 1902. He fought for the Irish Republican Army as well as being a founding member of the Republican Congress. A Communist supporter, Ryan was an avid left-wing publisher and established two presses, the Cooperative Press and Liberty Press. He volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Seriously wounded at the battle of Jarama in February 1937, he returned to Ireland to recover only to go back to Spain as adjutant under General Jose Miaja. During the offensive of Aragon, Ryan was captured and given over to the Italians, who sentenced him to death. His sentence was changed to 30 years but he escaped and was abducted into Germany in 1940. In 1944 Ryan died of a stroke in Dresden.

The scrapbook was bought at the car boot sale for less than 20 dollars and was re-auctioned on E-Bay for 1,100 dollars. Thomas DuChamp, a coin collector and owner of the book said that his son first found it at the Reno auction. “He’d never heard of Frank Ryan and he just bought it because it was old and there were a lot of pictures and letters in it.” Thomas was especially excited to find a photo of Frank Ryan and Ernest Hemingway together in Spain (pictured above, left), only to discover later that it wasn’t worth much monetarily. DuChamp contacted a few Irish historical societies, but he says that there was little interest in the book. ♦

]]> 0 30491
Bono and Sachs at NYU Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:54:48 +0000 Read more..]]> Glucksman Ireland House — New York University (NYU), presented its inaugural Daniel Patrick Moynihan Lecture on October 5.

Musician and political activist U2’s Bono introduced Columbia University’s Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the author of the bestselling book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time.

Bono, whose intensive lobbying of politicians all over the world recently helped force a promise from wealthy nations to cancel $100 billion worth of poor countries’ debt, acknowledged Sachs as his mentor. “It’s a long time since I’ve been a warm-up act, but on this occasion I am happy I am,” he told the audience. He said Sachs, whose class he attended at Harvard, “sees the faces through the spreadsheets.

“He sees statistics not as numbers on a page, but as figures of real people’s lives,” said Bono, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. “He certainly could teach me what I didn’t know but what I felt, which was that all the arguments against debt relief were bullshit.”

Sachs, for his part, acknowledged Bono’s campaign, noting in particular his ability to get politicians of differing ideologies to work together for a noble cause.

“The big problem in America is we became afraid of the poor — afraid they will drag you down,” Sachs said, adding, “They don’t want your handouts, they want a little bit of help to save themselves and their children.”

He invited students to learn the way he learned “to go out and see it” for themselves. “Once you do that,” he said, “you can never be the same.

“We are the first generation in history [able] to see the end of extreme poverty on our planet,” he counseled. “We have to do it because if we don’t do it, we will so diminish the value of life that we will put our children at risk.”

The Moynihan lecture series was established by Glucksman Ireland House to commemorate the late senator’s contribution to political and economic affairs around the world throughout his career.

Loretta Brennan Glucksman, founder and Chairperson of Glucksman Ireland House, said: “Senator Moynihan was an exceptional statesman, scholar and Irish-American and a standard bearer for making a positive difference…. He was a great man, a great thinker, a man of great principle, a great American and a great Irishman. We are proud to have this opportunity to honor his memory in such an appropriate manner with the generous participation of Bono and Professor Sachs — two people who in their own right are helping to define the world we live in today and shape the world we will live in tomorrow.”

The lecture, the first in what will be an annual event, took place at the Jack H. Skirball Center for The Performing Arts at New York University, with over 800 people in attendance. ♦

]]> 0 30495
John O’Hurley: Artiste Extraordinaire Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:33:59 +0000 Read more..]]> John O’Hurley, one of America’s most versatile actors, businessman, musician and even show host, is probably best known for his portrayal of the eccentric and humorous J. Peterman on Seinfield, one of America’s best known and loved sitcoms of the 1990’s.

Even though O’Hurley is best known for acting in sitcoms, feature films and lending his voice to cartoon characters, he has now ventured into the new medium of television, reality game shows. Now, O’Hurley can add winning a nationally televised dance competition to his long list of accomplishments.

Over the summer, O’Hurley competed in the hit ABC show, Dancing With The Stars O’Hurley was one of six celebrities featured on the breakthrough hit of the summer. Each celebrity was paired up with a professional dancer and they would choreograph a dance for each new episode. The audience and the judges’ scores were combined in order to figure out who would be eliminated the next week. Dancing With The Stars was a spin-off of the international hit show, Strictly Come Dancing.

O’Hurley and his partner Charlotte won the final dance-off allowing them to receive the coveted trophy. They had to perform several different dances such as the Cha Cha, Fox Trot and the Waltz.

In addition to his TV work, O’Hurley is very dedicated to his charity work and golfing. During his spare time he has been seen golfing in different tournaments such as the Celebrity Players Tour and he has lent his name to charities such as Golfers Against Cancer and the Child Development Institute.

Ever multi-talented, O’Hurley will next turn his hand to playing the suave lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago on Broadway beginning January 16th. He will perform opposite Robin Givens’ Roxie Hart in a run to continue until the end of March. ♦

]]> 0 30498
Life’s Good for Survivor Winner Thu, 01 Dec 2005 14:32:14 +0000 Read more..]]> Life has certainly changed for New York City fireman, Survivor: Palau winner Tom Westman, 41 (Irish America cover story Aug/Sept).

After winning a million dollars on the hit CBS show last summer, Westman officially hung his jacket up and retired from the FDNY after 20 years of service.

Recently named by TV Guide as one of TV’s Sexiest Men, Westman, 41, signed on with Caribbean Joe clothing and products, and will be featured in the label’s 2006 ad campaign in magazines and billboards across the United States.

In September, Westman hosted a preview of the latest installment of the Survivor series, introducing the next crop of castaways. Later in the month he was spotted acting as coanchor on CBS 2’s live broadcast of The Tunnel to the Towers Run on September 25. The run is an annual event following in the footsteps of Firefighter Stephen Siller, who on September 11, 2001, ran through the Brooklyn/Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers to help in the rescue efforts.

In other television appearances Westman was recently on Martha where he taught her how to make Jambalaya. “I had a great time,” he laughs.

The family is thriving on the change of pace. “We are all doing well,” he admits. They continue to be involved with the AG Bell Association, which works to improve the lives of the hearing impaired. Westman’s daughter Meghan, nine, contacted pneumococal meningitis at 18 months and was left profoundly deaf, but thanks to a hearing implant she can lead a normal life. Westman uses his celebrity for the good of the association and became more involved as a spokesperson. “I continue to support hearing related issues through my role as spokesman for AG Bell Association, and we are all heading down to Disney World in February. I will be the keynote speaker at a Cochlear Corporation (which manufactures hearing implants) convention,” he says.

Westman, who has also been working with disabled veterans, was a participant at a Marine Corps celebrity golf tournament in Camp Lejuene North Carolina in October. “That event raised money to support returning veterans who have suffered life changing disabilities,” he explained. He also continues to be involved with his fellow firefighters and was the keynote speaker at the International Association of Firefighters health and safety conference in Honolulu in October. “Nice work if you can get it,” he laughs. ♦

]]> 0 30500