February March 2003 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Tue, 18 Jun 2019 17:06:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 The Sporting Life https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/the-sporting-life/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/the-sporting-life/#respond Tue, 11 Feb 2003 08:27:38 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40547 Read more..]]> From King Kelly to Mark McGuire, Ron Kaplan traces the Irish influence in baseball. 


Irish ballplayers have helped to shape baseball ever since the game took its first foundering steps on the playing fields of New York and New Jersey over 150 years ago. Their impact is still felt. While no official organ of the game keeps records of ethnicity, one only has to glance through one of the massive reference works, such as Total Baseball, to peruse the scores of Irish surnames that fill the players’ register.

Baseball was originally invented with the middle and upper class professionals in mind, a gentleman’s game and bonding ritual. But it wasn’t too long before testosterone took over and winning these games became the priority. “Ringers” — highly skilled (and surreptitiously paid) athletes outside the intended social circle — began to infiltrate ball clubs. Eventually, the façade of amateurism made way to the first professional teams, beginning with the Cincinnati Reds in 1869.

Baseball historian David Q. Voigt, in his opus America Through Baseball, writes that the game was “a primary vehicle of assimilation for immigrants into American society and a stepping stone for groups such as Irish-Americans…” In fact, that Irish influx helped create an anti-English backlash that reduced the popularity of cricket in the U.S. and helped solidify baseball as the “national game.”

According to Stephen Reiss, a history professor at Northeastern Illinois University and author of Touching Base: Professional Baseball and American Culture in the Progressive Era, the Irish came to America “with a manly athletic tradition and quickly became avid sports fans and athletes in their new country.” Unlike other immigrant groups, who demanded their children eschew frivolous pursuits (such as sports) to concentrate on getting an education, many Irish families encouraged their young men’s interests in pursuing athletic careers, grateful for the additional source of income.

Unfortunately, the anti-Irish, anti-Catholic sentiment prevalent in the mid-1800s carried over to the ballfield. Irish players were considered as rough, boisterous rabble, unwelcome in the gentlemen’s game. But as Benjamin G. Rader in Baseball: A History of America’s Game notes, by the end of the 19th century “the uninhibited, clamorous, working-class ethnic culture from which [Irish players] originated spilled over onto the diamond. Less self-restrained than the old-stock Protestant players, the Irish brought with them…far more physical and emotional expressiveness.”

This stereotype carried over into baseball, which had lost its pastiche of gentility. The new breed of athletes was loud, aggressive and frequently displayed anti-social behavior. Boarding houses and hotels where a visiting team might stay dissuaded the use of their facilities by adding “No Ballplayers” to whatever other prohibitions they had (such as “Irish need not apply”).

But by the 1880s, Irish immigrants and first-generation Irish-Americans made up between 33 and 41 percent of professional rosters, depending on which source you use. These numbers declined over the next 30 years as German- and Italian-American players became more prevalent. Of the more than 16,000 players to appear in the major leagues since 1876, 38 were born in Ireland while hundreds more have been of Irish descent.

Andy Leonard was the first Irish-born major leaguer. Born in County Cavan in 1846, he made his debut with the Washington Olympics of the old National Association just before his 25th birthday. He played more than 500 games with the Olympics, Boston Red Stockings, Boston Red Caps and the Cincinnati Reds, retiring with a career batting average of .299 while playing in both the infield and outfield.

Andy Leonard. (Photo Courtesy of Transcendental Graphics.)

Other native-born Irishmen who enjoyed relatively lengthy careers include Patsy Donovan, born in County Cork in 1865 and owner of a lifetime .301 batting average and more than 2,200 base hits; “Dirty Jack” Doyle (Killorglin, 1869), who drove in nearly 1,000 runs to go along with his .299 average over sixteen seasons; Tommy Bond (Granard, 1856), who won 234 games; and Tony Mullane (Cork, 1859), winner of 284 contests.

Patsy Donovan (Photo Courtesy of Transcendental Graphics.)

Michael “King” Kelly was a first-generation Irish-American baseballist and one of the first “superstars” of the game (although such a term had yet to be invented). He was a charming, handsome fellow with a personality that augured well for him away from the diamond. One year he made $2,000 for playing ball but another $3,000 for permission to use his photograph for the team publicity. He toured the vaudeville circuit in the off-season, augmenting his income in excess of $5,000. A song written in his honor — “Slide, Kelly, Slide” — was one of the most popular tunes of his day. He batted over .300 and used his superb running speed to steal at least 350 bases (records from those days are somewhat incomplete) during his 16-year career (1878-93). All this earned Kelly a place in baseball’s Valhalla, the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

The Baltimore Orioles were the bad boys of baseball in the late 1800s, doing whatever it took to win. In those days there was only one umpire to keep track of all the activity and he certainly had his hands full. The Orioles would often trip opposing base runners, grab at their uniforms or hide balls in the field to use in case of emergencies. Among the Irish contingent on that team were John McGraw, Wee Willie Keeler, Big Dan Brouthers, Hugh Jennings and Joe Kelley, all of whom are enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Ned Hanlon, the Orioles’ manager, is credited with refining many of the tactics and strategies that have become routine, such as the hit-and-run, the squeeze play and the “Baltimore chop.” He must have shown inspiring leadership since several of his crew went on to manage after their playing days came to an end, including McGraw, Kelley, Jennings, Miller Huggins and Wilbert Robinson.

Ned Hanlon (Photo Courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.)

Indeed, perhaps the biggest influence the Irish have had on the game has been in the dugout. In the first quarter of the 20th century, eleven of the sixteen major league managers had Irish roots. Principal among these were McGraw and Connie Mack, both sons of Irish immigrants. Mack, born Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy, banged around the minor leagues before catching on as a catcher with the Washington Nationals in 1886. He retired as an active player in 1896 and five years later acquired the Philadelphia Athletics, which he led as both manager and owner until 1951. Known as the “Tall Tactician,” the mild-mannered Mack never wore a uniform while managing the Athletics. He wasn’t allowed on the field so he used his son Earle, as his designee.

Connie Mack (Photo Courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.)

In contrast, McGraw, who lost his mother, stepsisters, and three sisters to diphtheria when he was twelve, and took to the road when he was 17 after a fight with his Irish immigrant father who had a propensity for drinking and brawling, was as feisty as they came. He started in baseball as a $40-a-month ballplayer and joined the New York Giants as player-manager in 1902. He led them to ten league championships and three World Series victories over the next 31 seasons. In 1901, while still with the Orioles, he denigrated Mack’s Athletics as a bunch of “white elephants.” Mack defiantly incorporated a white pachyderm in his team’s new logo and the A’s won the pennant that year.

John McGraw (Photo Courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.)

It is somewhat fitting that Mack and McGraw occupy the top two slots in all-time victories, with 3,731 and 2,763 wins respectively. Mack also lost more games than any other manager, with 3,948; McGraw drew the short straw in 1,948 contests.

Other Irish-American players of note: Mickey Cochrane, a catcher for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics, who was a winner both as a player and a manager;

Roger Bresnahan, a team-mate of McGraw’s, who invented shin guards for catchers and worked on early versions of today’s batting helmets;

Dan Brouthers, who at 6’2″ and well over 200 pounds, was literally a giant among men. He was the game’s “Babe Ruth” until the real Ruth came along;

Big Ed Delahanty, the best of five brothers to play professionally and a legendary figure because of the mysterious nature of his death, ostensibly in a fall from a moving train near Niagara Falls;

James Galvin, an extraordinary pitcher (361 wins) who earned the nickname “Pud” for “turning opposing batters into pudding”;

“Sliding” Billy Hamilton, one of the fastest men to ever play the game and perhaps the best player in the 1890s;

Tim Keefe, another 300+ game-winner from the 19th century;

Joe Cronin, a hard-hitting player/manager for the Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox who later served as president of the American League;

Joe Kelly, another member of those mischievous Orioles, who loved to hide extra balls in the high outfield grass to use in case of defensive emergencies;

“Iron Man” Joe McGinnity was known for his durability on the mound, but his nickname actually came from his off-season job — working in his father-in-law’s iron foundry;

Bid McPhee, an outstanding defensive second baseman who set the standard for future players at the position;

Kid Nichols, one of the top pitchers of the 1890s. He led the Boston Beaneaters (later the Atlanta Braves) to five pennants, winding up with 361 career victories;

“Orator” Jim O’Rourke. One legend has it that O’Rourke, a graduate of Yale, declined to drop the “O” as a prerequisite for signing his contract with the Protestant-owned Boston Red Stockings. “I would rather die than give up my father’s name,” he replied. “A million dollars would not tempt me.”

Ed Walsh, the last pitcher to win 40 games in a single season;

Mickey Welch spent the majority of his career with the New York Giants and won more than 30 games four times in his thirteen seasons;

Joe McCarthy made his name as manager of the powerhouse Yankees of the 1930s, winning six American League championships and six World Series between 1936 and 1943;

Bill McKechnie wasn’t much as a player in his 11-year career, but he earned his stripes as manager of four National League clubs over 24 seasons;

Jocko Conlon and Bill McGowan, long-time umpires who added color and integrity to the game;

Nolan Ryan, a more contemporary ballplayer who retired in 1993 after blowing away batters for over twenty years, finishing with a record for strikeouts (5,714) that might never be broken.

These gentlemen have one thing in common besides their heritage: they’re all members of the Hall of Fame.

No doubt Mark McGuire will soon be added to this list. The Bunyanesque slugger broke the single-season home run record in 1998, in an exciting battle with Sammy Sosa. The duel helped win back fans that were still smarting from the devastating strike of 1994-95. McGwire retired in 2001 with 583 home runs, good for sixth on the all-time list.

Derek Jeter, the perennial all-star shortstop for the New York Yankees, may also wind up with a Hall of Fame plaque; Jeter’s Irish heritage comes from his mother’s side.

Jeter’s cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, host several games at which they pay tribute to various ethnic groups. One of the livelier gatherings is Irish Heritage Night. Baseball in general should do more to remind fans of the great debt owed to the McGraws, the O’Rourkes and the Hanlons, who helped develop the game from small-time rural contests into a billion-dollar industry of the 21st century.  ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/the-sporting-life/feed/ 0 40547
Forever Hamill https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/forever-hamill/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/forever-hamill/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 09:00:45 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40049 Read more..]]> Pete Hamill, not unlike Cormac, the hero of his novel Forever, lives in the Five Points area of downtown Manhattan where the streets teem with immigrants just as they did back in the founding days of the city when Hamill’s hero emigrates from Northern Ireland. (On the day of our interview Hamill had yet to see Gangs of New York which is also set in the Five Points — see Editorial).

Hamill’s apartment, where we meet on the day after Thanksgiving, is a spacious loft filled with artwork and books that reflect his interests, and those of his wife, Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki. There is also a distinct Mexican influence. If New York City is Hamill’s first love, Mexico is definitely his second. It’s where he went to university on the GI Bill and studied to be an artist. This passion is reflected in his book on Mexican painter Diego Rivera, but New York is his town. It is the subject of many of his newspaper articles and his novels.

Born in 1935, the oldest of seven children to parents from Belfast, Hamill left school at 16 to work in the Brooklyn shipyards, then joined the Navy and educated himself not just by reading but by traveling.

He began writing for the New York Post in 1960, and has the distinction of having been editor-in-chief of both the Post and the New York Daily News. His work has been published in every major magazine including Esquire, New York, and the New York Times Magazine, and he is currently on the staff of the New Yorker.

Aside from his journalistic work, Hamill is also the author of eight novels (his 1997 novel Snow in August is enjoying renewed interest since being selected by Governor Bill Owens as the focus for Colorado’s “One Book, One State” program last year) — and a best-selling memoir, A Drinking Life.

Hamill, not unlike the hero of Forever, has mixed with many of the leading figures of his time, and dated beautiful women, including Shirley MacLaine and Jackie Kennedy. (He also wrote Why Sinatra Matters, an extended essay on the late singer whom he knew). But it is to his wife Fukiko to whom he dedicates his latest work.

A few blocks from Hamill’s apartment is the old Tweed Courthouse where Hamill was on the morning of Sept. 11th, at a board meeting of the Museum of the City of New York. His novel finished just the night before, he is looking forward to a celebratory luncheon with Fukiko.

<em>Jimmy Wechsler said, "Have you ever thought about becoming a newspaperman?" I said "Yeah." He says, "You want to try it?" I said, "Yeah."</em>

Jimmy Wechsler said, “Have you ever thought about becoming a newspaperman?” I said “Yeah.” He says, “You want to try it?” I said, “Yeah.”

In ten minutes the world changed and Hamill spent the next weeks writing about the aftermath of the attacks for the Daily News and other publications, and then retreated to Mexico where he realized that he had to rewrite his novel. “I couldn’t do a novel that starts in 1740 New York and leave out the greatest calamity in the city’s history.” The process took a year, as Hamill went over the manuscript “note for note.” Several factors already built into the story, one being that one of the main characters works in the Twin Towers, allowed him to take from his own experience of the attack and weave it into the novel so that it now ended on Sept. 11, 2001.

Hamill is currently working on another novel, and on an art book about the illustrator Thomas Nast who as well as leaving us the image of Santa that became universal, penned all those anti-Irish cartoons and was particularly scathing of Tammany Hall’s Boss Tweed.

Patricia Harty: Where did the idea for the novel Forever come from?

Pete Hamill: I was doing a book on Diego Rivera, the Mexican painter. And he has a wonderful mural — one of his last good paintings — it was done around 1947, and I had seen it in the 50’s when I was a student in Mexico, and I saw it again and it has all these characters from his own life — and I said “I’d love to do a novel like that.” You know, where you could have the heroes and villains and have as much affection for the villains as the heroes, because without the villains, there’s no heroes. And I thought “How the hell could I write a novel like that?” and the answer came almost immediately: “What if he could live forever?”

And you set it in New York City.

I think what I tried to do is answer the questions that we’d ask ourselves: If we could live forever, what would we do? We’d probably sit down and say, “You know, I’d like to learn about ten languages. I’d like to read Homer in the original. I’d like to truly know a place.” And if you had to be that person, there’s only one place in the world where you would want to be and that’s the city — the city is a living organism, so it’s always changing — it’s changed by men and women and everything else — it’s always a different place. And so if you had to live forever, to live in the city, as compared to Winesburg, Ohio, would be a consolation.

The scene of Irish indentured servants on the same ship as African slaves is poignant.

Yes. On the same ship. The reason they were buying the Irish indentureds down on Wall Street was to transport them South where they thought there were now too many blacks — they wanted to get more whites, so they sent a lot of the Irish down there.

<em>Pete Hamill as a student at Holy Name.</em>

Pete Hamill as a student at Holy Name.

And then, later in the century, when the cotton gin was invented just after the Revolution, slavery got so institutionalized, it took a war to break it apart. The only guy who stood up and said “Slavery’s a curse” was Franklin. There was a betrayal of the blacks who fought in the Revolution. The Tories did the same thing. They’d promise freedom to the blacks when the war ended, but on Evacuation Day, they sailed out of the harbor and took a bunch of them to Jamaica, where they were turned back into slaves.

I’d love to see a revival of Evacuation Day on November 25, when the last British ships sailed out of New York. It was a big holiday for a century, but all the anglophiles got rid of it at the end of the 19th century. They should revive it, because everywhere in the world there is trouble right now, the Brits were there first. In India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine, Cyprus — who was there first? Who was the cause of it all?

Do you think Irish Americans will be surprised at the parallel history of the Irish and the Africans?

At that and other things — not as Irish people but as Americans. For example, you couldn’t be a Catholic in this country or in any British colony. There was no Catholic Church until St. Peter’s opened downtown after the Revolution. Most American don’t know that.

I think they might be surprised to know that there was once a New York where there was no segregation. The Irish, the Africans and the Jews all banged up against each other and married each other — many of them in the Five Points.

And maybe they will be surprised at the story of John Diamond [Irish] and “Juba” Lane [African], having dance-offs in the Five Points and inventing tap dance. Dickens happened to stop by one night and saw Master Juba and wrote about it in his little book American Notes. One of the few things he liked about New York. And that’s how it ended up in Albert Hall.

Why do you think this common history is not more widely known?

It’s not taught. Part of the problem, for thirty years at least, has been with African American scholars who actually try to segregate black history, when in fact it was much more mixed in places like New York and New Orleans and San Francisco. We’re not individual metals — we’re an alloy. That’s why in New York by the Saturday after September 11, the place was working.

<em>Pete (right), his brother Tommy and sister Kathleen on an Easter Sunday in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.</em>

Pete (right), his brother Tommy and sister Kathleen on an Easter Sunday in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

You have been quoted as saying, “It’s not the falling down, it’s the getting up.”

We all get knocked down in life. If you don’t, you’re living as a hermit or something. It’s when you get up — how long it takes you, and what you do after you get up that’s important. And I was never prouder of being a New Yorker than that week after September 11. I saw all these Chinese women who work across the street in the sweat shops — when the cops and National Guard began to let pedestrians come through they streamed into the area, not because they said, “We want to show Bin Laden,” it was more like “I’ve got to feed my kids.” These are unbelievably tough — in the best sense — people. And that’s the mixture you see here all the time. I walk through Chinatown and I know it was Irish. I know that Mott Street was where the upper class Irish from the Five Points lived. And then the Irish were moving, and the Italians had it. And now it’s Chinese and that’s really New York.

So it’s a city that understands — its character is formed by people, by immigrants who had to give up a country — a language. People know how to get over things.

Boss Tweed comes across as a sympathetic character in your novel.

He’s the key guy in the 19th century for me. To start with, he was not Irish, he was Scottish, but he understood that the Irish were the key to any kind of political power in the city.

He was a supreme Machiavellian type in the sense that he had to play the cards dealt to him. Machiavelli’s great lesson was you had to live in the world as it is, not what it should be, or what it might be, or what some idealist tells you it should be. And part of that for Tweed was dealing with the upstate Republicans who were infinitely more corrupt than Democrats in the city. A lot of the stolen money — Tweed didn’t end up with much money when he died in prison — went to paying off the Republicans.

Let’s put it this way, if it was two in the morning, I’d rather be sitting up late with Tweed than any of the people who deceived him, and certainly, more than any of the politicians right now — imagine having to sit up all night with George Bush, or Tom DeLay, or Al Gore! I’d rather be with Tweed, because he’d make you laugh. He’d be entertaining. And he would tell you how things worked.

He was the last of an old way of doing things. The new guys were totally different. They knew how to avoid getting arrested — they knew how to do it legally.

So, I wanted to capture Tweed — though he’s not a major figure in the book, he sort of represents the 19th century — up to about 1875. Then you have the beginning of modern capitalism — for better or worse.

You’ve also written on the importance of JFK’s election for the Irish.

He was important because you had to get rid of that last vestige of the 19th century, which was the exclusion of Catholics from political power — not from politics, but from real power. As in the Al Smith case, although Al Smith was not all Irish — he was part Jewish, part Italian — he was the alloy before we ever thought about it that way, but he was opposed because he was a Catholic. And then, after Kennedy got elected, that was the end of it.

To me that was getting rid of the last prejudices in terms of the social acceptability of the Irish. And what it did was make possible Joe Lieberman running for office with very few people making much of a point about his Jewishness.

I do think that the acceptability of African Americans has lagged behind, and it’s the only remainder of the 19th century that has to be breached on a national level.

<em>Pete Hamill's parents Anne Devlin Hamill and Billy Hamill.</em>

Pete Hamill’s parents Anne Devlin Hamill and Billy Hamill.

Some would say that there’s this dynamic now that both the Irish and the African Americans are deserting the Democratic Party

I don’t think of it that way because to some extent, there is no Democratic party anymore, in the sense of it being a [political] party, rather than a kind of sentiment, or a line on the ballot. It’s not a functional party, in the sense that a political party should be a buffer between the government and the people. It should be there to say what’s needed. That’s what Tweed did. You know, Albany wouldn’t give us water in the Five Points until Tweed paid them off.

So I think that what you’re seeing with African Americans and Latinos, particularly — more with Latinos — is that they are ceasing to be Democrats. They’re walking away from a party that’s not there anymore — that doesn’t provide services, help you get jobs, help you get your kids into certain schools, or help you with a bail bond if your kid’s in trouble.

Part of that goes back all the way to Roosevelt. Once the New Deal came and began to provide services from the government — welfare and social security — they took away some of the things that the local Democratic leadership used to provide. A supreme irony.

So there’s an interesting theory fight now about whether the parties will reconstitute themselves in some way and create a mass base again, rather than being representatives for certain interests — the trade unions and so on. You may go to the big dance at the Democratic Club, or the Fourth of July picnic, but you don’t get a sense that there’s a vital involvement of local people in politics.

What are your thoughts on the current crisis in the Catholic Church?

First of all, I hope in our anger, we don’t throw out the basic, fundamental standards of proof. I’m sure if Paul O’Dwyer were alive he would be a defense attorney for an accused priest.

Clearly, Catholicism — and I’ve seen it a lot in Latin America, where it does really good work — is supposed to help the poor. But I think that once this Pope is gone, they have to give serious thought to reforms in the Catholic Church. You can’t have a bunch of guys all living together in some bizarre way in the middle of the modern world. They have to allow priests to marry, they have to allow women to become priests. If they did that, and started by reforming themselves to take the hypocrisy or the impossibility out of it — there would be a lot of good people that would be attracted to being priests.

<em>Pete and boxing champion Floyd Patterson at a party in Hamill's house in Park Slope, Brooklyn.</em>

Pete and boxing champion Floyd Patterson at a party in Hamill’s house in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

I’m not a believer, particularly, but they always say “There’s no such thing as an ex-Catholic, only retired Catholics,” because it gets into you when you’re a kid. I love the art the Church made and the music. When I was writing this novel, I listened to a lot of Gregorian chant — not because it reminded me of the church, but because formally it reminded me of how sentences should flow. So the music, the art, and the architecture is in addition to the word, not a detraction from the word. And I don’t think that should all go away and be turned into a museum.

What would you say was the key to your success in life?

I think the key thing in my life was my mother, because my father – whom I loved – was much more an Ulster man in his inability to express certain emotions. But my mother was better educated – she’d finished high school, which was a triumph for any woman in those days, but for a Catholic woman in Belfast it was amazing. And because her father had gone to sea, she understood that there was a wider world out there, which is why she loved New York when she got here.

She loved it because of its differences. And because of the way she was, I had that sense that everything was possible. It wasn’t absurd to say “I want to be a painter.” It was kind of nutty to my father. He thought that once I got that job in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a civil service job, I should stay there for life. But she thought that the whole point of this place was that you were not a prisoner of what your father or your grandfather did.

But the timing was important too, because I was ten when World War II ended, and that first five years after the war, New York was a wonderful town. All the GI’s were coming back, the ball players were coming back — there was a sense you could do anything. You could play for the Dodgers or you could write a book, be a lawyer, be anything. And the other aspect of it right after the war was that the GI Bill began to change the world that existed in 1940. And that meant that the sons of factory workers could go to Yale.

If there’s a third factor, and a lot of my fiction is about this — it’s the fact that I grew up in the last American generation shaped before television. So that the things that stimulated the imagination came from different sources: the movies once a week, the radio, which is much more like reading because it’s words and you create these little pictures actively in the mind, and reading. So there was some sense of language being an important part of growing up.

How did you become a journalist?

When I got back from the Navy, I applied to Columbia [University] and they rejected me because I never graduated from high school. But I could draw too, so that’s what took me to Mexico City to study art, and to the School of Visual Arts in New York.

<em>Hamill and his wife Fukiko Aoki.</em>

Hamill and his wife Fukiko Aoki.

But I still had this notion of being a newspaperman. I loved reading newspapers. I started when I was ten or eleven on the comic strips, and I found my way to the rest of the paper — and I loved it. I also had these notions about being a newspaperman that was shaped by the movies — Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, mixed in with An American in Paris and Joel McCrea in Foreign Correspondent — the sort of trench coat guys. But my start in the business came about entirely by accident. I wrote some letters to the New York Post which were published around late ’59, early 1960. And Jimmy Wechsler, who was the editor, was also in charge of the letters page because the Post had the world’s smallest staff. And he asked me to come in, and said, “Have you ever thought about becoming a newspaperman?” I said “Yeah.” He says, “You want to try it?” I said, “Yeah.”

I kept the day job at an art studio on 46th Street and I worked nights at the Post, when it was at 75 West Street, a couple blocks below what became the Trade Center. And there were some amazingly good craftsmen on a very small staff, so that I was able to do two or three stories at night, and I loved it more than anything I’d ever done.

To start with, there were seven New York newspapers so there was a lot of competition. Local television was still not quite there. Color television hadn’t happened yet. Nobody got paid enough money, that came later. But there was a sense of fun in the business. The newspaper helped put me in neighborhoods like Harlem, where there was a music scene. There was no blue-eyed-devil rhetoric or anything at the time, it was a lot easier to just go.

And Robert Wagner was mayor, so nobody cared about politics, and Eisenhower was president, and who cared? You know, politics — you didn’t do things because somebody was president. You did something because Jackson Pollock just walked in and threw a stool at somebody.

How did you meet Jackie Kennedy?

At the funeral for Bobby on the train, going to Arlington. I was there with Jose — Jose Torres [boxer]. I got to know her later.

Is that something you’d ever consider writing about?

No. It’s not just her. I wouldn’t talk about anyone I had a relationship with. I always liked that word “cad.” And I don’t think you should go around yapping. Each relationship — if it’s of any value at all — teaches you something.

Is it true that Bobby Kennedy had a letter from you urging him to run which was in his pocket when he was shot?

Oh, I don’t think so. Not when he was killed. I did write him a letter from Ireland, right after the Tet Offensive because my brother John got wounded. Saying that “You’ve got to do this.” I know that he did show that letter to different people.

I don’t even have a copy of it. The arguments in it, which were very emotional, and unpolitical in a sense – while I don’t think they were decisive, did have some effect on him – from everything the people around him told me – from Jeff Greenfield and Adam Walinsky and those guys. And he did, when he decided to run, send me a telegram saying, “I’ve taken your advice.” I did work for the campaign, briefly – for a couple of weeks – and didn’t like that part of it. He’s the only politician, at the time, I could’ve imagined working for. And Paul O’Dwyer later.

But, he did come to California. I was there at the Ambassador Hotel with him [when he was shot]. I never got that close to a politician again. I was close to Paul O’Dwyer but I’d never thought of him as a politician. I thought of him as a counselor for the defense.

That was the only time, after Bobby Kennedy got shot, I’ve ever had a writer’s block. I couldn’t write all that summer. I was living in California, Laguna Beach, with my then wife and my two daughters. And when all the hoop-la was over, we took a long trip into Mexico, and then back into Texas, where I had some friends in Austin, and back to New York, and then I saw Paul and he said “For Christ’s sakes, writer’s block? You’re too young to have a writer’s block.” And I said, “He’s probably right.”

And so I started working again, and I did some work for him. I was not really on staff or anything, but I wrote a few speeches, which he cheerfully ignored most of the time, being a man of good sense.

<em>Abe Hirschfeld, former owner of the</em> Post<em>, kisses Hamill, who spent a bizarre five-week stint in 1993 as editor while the tabloid fought for survival.</em>

Abe Hirschfeld, former owner of the Post, kisses Hamill, who spent a bizarre five-week stint in 1993 as editor while the tabloid fought for survival.

But 1968 was a strange year. I ended up covering the convention for New York Magazine, and the Olympics in Mexico, where a whole lot of people got shot just to put it on. So it was hard to get away from anything that year, starting with Martin Luther King’s assassination in April.

But the thing with Bobby, really — it still unsettles me. I’ll be watching television and they’ll flash on something about Bobby and I’ll feel it again. The same with Jack.

I wouldn’t watch the RFK docudrama or anything like that because I don’t want to dwell on it. It’s a long time ago. But it’s still disturbing because I really think the country would have been different. There’d have been no Nixon, no Watergate, you know, all kinds of things. It would’ve been different. I think the war would’ve ended a lot earlier, with a lot fewer deaths of Americans and Vietnamese. That’s what he wanted to do. And I think it was doable. Particularly after the Tet Offensive. What a year. The Tet Offensive in February, King in April, Bobby in June.

I don’t think it ever gets as bad as ’68 was. There was a real sense of society unraveling, of things being out of control. And we could learn the lesson of that, although it’s been cheerfully, sort of, dismissed now. But we should try to know what that was about — we ran against our own basic myths. We decided to be Goliath instead of David. But the lesson obviously hasn’t been learned — the Tonkin Gulf resolution [President Johnson ordered U.S. bombers to “retaliate” for a North Vietnamese torpedo attack that never happened] that Johnson used to pursue the war was just repeated with the Iraq resolution. People should know better. Don’t give presidents unlimited power. It’s not a healthy thing.

I also think that this administration is the most right-wing in my experience. More than Reagan. Reagan talked a right-wing line in his sort of amiable way, but he never really did much about it. This is scarier, because there’s no checks and balances. Bush has got the Supreme Court, he’s got the executive branch, and now he’s got the legislative branch. He’s liable to get whatever he wants. And we’re beginning to see it now, with things that have nothing to do with Iraq, and Al Queda and terrorism, and internment camps in Cuba — it’s things like “Oh, go logging, folks. Cut down whatever you want. We’ll solve forest fires — we’ll cut down the trees.” It’s that kind of stuff, where by the time somebody comes along that puts the brakes on, a lot of damage could be done.

I don’t think they [this administration] have much respect for civil liberties, because they’re frightened. They’re little frightened guys running the country. They talk of war because they’ve never been in one. The only guy that’s been in one is Powell. At least he was in Vietnam and got shot at. All these guys ducked it. So they can be brave. They can act like it’s the Packers and the Cowboys, instead of the real world, where people get their brains blown across the road by a rocket launcher. I think they’ll discover, if they go to war, that there are some things that you can’t bomb. You’re playing with all kinds of uncertain stuff. We’ve already lost 3,000 people. And we should be much smarter about this, and we’re not. We’re not doing well at all in the war on terror. It has soldiers in charge of it, instead of cops. I’d feel much better if Ray Kelly [Police Commissioner for NYC] was running it. The French cops and the Italian cops, and the German cops are doing a pretty good job. We’re not doing such a hot job.

I never get to the point where I say “I don’t want to have anything to do with this country.” Again, as in Vietnam, you can be in opposition because you love the country. You can say, “This is a better country than that.” ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/forever-hamill/feed/ 0 40049
The Journey to America https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/the-journey-to-america/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/the-journey-to-america/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 08:59:41 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40076 Read more..]]> This excerpt from Pete Hamill’s novel Forever takes place aboard a ship bound for New York.


Holding a lantern, Mr. Partridge showed Cormac the next deck, and for the first time he saw the deck of the emigrants. They lived in four rows of bunks hammered together from rough plank, with no bedding supplied by the ship, jackets serving as pillows, coats as blankets. All slept in their clothes. The only natural light came dripping down from the fore and aft hatchways, but in the orange light of Mr. Partridge’s lantern, faces peered at them in a wide-eyed way. A few old men stared at the deck, blinking, ignoring the light. Strapping young men tried to stretch, smoking from short earth-colored clay pipes, nodding, smiling, or throwing hostile glances at the visitors. Children scampered about, up one aisle, down another. Many women were seasick, their faces ghastly with the loss of control, and the air was stained by a mixture of vomit and shit. On that deck, they were all Irish.

A moment of silence greeted Cormac and Mr. Partridge and was broken by a man crooning in Irish from the shadows, a melody Cormac knew, a melancholy tale of a lover’s journey. Then dozens of them joined in, and someone produced a fiddle and began to play in counterpoint, and all of them were shaking heads about the loveless land that was vanishing behind them and then smiling about the magic land to which they were going. The land ahead, of course, was Tir na Nog. The land of eternal youth.

“They have no idea how far it is,” Mr. Partridge whispered. “They think crossing the Atlantic is like crossing the River Shannon. The educated ones know but won’t explain to the others. Afraid of what might happen, I suppose, afraid of despair, or riot. They’re almost all Presbyterians, the educated ones, fleeing the Church of Ireland and its endless bloody cruelties. But the ones singing in Irish, they’re real Irish, out of the hills and the bogs and the hungry towns. Most of them don’t speak English. And they’ve signed on as indentured servants. Poor buggers.”

He explained what an indentured servant was (for Cormac had never heard the words), and how these hungry Irish people, listening to the siren call of America, signed on. They pledged five to seven years of their lives, without pay, without schools, five years of labor for English planters in America, in exchange for their passage. They would be free of heartbreaking Ireland and the terrible hunger. The English were, of course, happy to see them go, particularly the Presbyterians, who were gifted at making trouble. In America, they’d work in the earthly paradise, and when the passage was worked off, they’d be free to live their lives.

“But except for knowing they’ll someday be free, they’re no different from the poor, bloody Africans. They’re owned, lad. D’ye understand me? Other men own them. And in America, the men who own them, who have them under contract, those men sell them, just the way they sell the Africans. Although on this ship, the Africans are in even worse shape than the Irish.”

“What Africans?”


With the fiddle playing behind them, and the Irish joining in their sad, hopeful song about Tir na Nog, Mr. Partridge moved down still another ladder, with Cormac behind him, descending into the bottom level of the ship. He told Cormac to mind his head, since the space was cramped, only four feet of room. In the lantern light Cormac saw the grillwork of a jail and beyond the timbered grille, the glistening forms of men. Black as coal. Black as midnight. Eyes stared at him and at Mr. Partridge. Eyes yellow in the light. Eyes sullen. Eyes angry. Mr. Partridge raised the lantern, said a polite hello (to no reply), and told Cormac that there were thirteen men in this fetid place, with its smell of swamp (as Cormac remembered the rotting Irish corpses in the river that made Thunder change his course). And there’s one woman, he added (citing the captain himself as his authority), a woman who claimed to be a princess. In the far corner of this small prison, there were lumpy shapes covered with rough blankets. Cormac thought: One of them must be the woman.

“It’s a dirty business,” Mr. Partridge said.  “But it’s England’s favorite business because it’s so easy. They buy Africans for three pounds from the Arab traders and sell them in New York for fifty pounds. So you’re looking at, what? Seven hundred pounds worth of living, breathing merchandise, lad.”

The pieces of living merchandise looked at Cormac, breathing lightly but saying nothing, asking nothing, expressing nothing except some muted, wordless, seething anger. In his mind, Cormac saw the shop on the Belfast quays, the shop of the slave trading company, and the earl’s face, and wondered if these human beings could be his property.

“Let’s get some air, lad,” Mr. Partridge said in a desperate way, holding a handkerchief to his nose.

They retraced their steps to the main deck. A clean wind was blowing, filling the sails and the swishing sound of the ship was louder as it cleaved through the Atlantic waters. But the clean wind couldn’t scour from Cormac’s mind as the images of the Africans and the Irish, jammed on their separate levels below his feet. The words of his father’s letter rose in him: I hope you will never oppress the Weak, that you will oppose human bondage in all its guises, that you will bend your Knee to no man. ♦

© Little Brown Publishers. Reprinted with permission.

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/the-journey-to-america/feed/ 0 40076
First Word: The Hands That Built America https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/first-word-the-hands-that-built-america/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/first-word-the-hands-that-built-america/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 08:58:13 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40108 Read more..]]> “Oh my love, it’s a long way we’ve come.”

– U2, “The Hands That Built America”


I’m glad I read Pete Hamill’s book Forever before I saw the movie Gangs of New York. While I enjoyed the movie, the real story of the Five Points and the beginnings of New York City, which really was the foundation of what America was to become, is far more interesting.

Hamill in his extraordinary novel takes in several hundred years of New York City history and a good chunk of Irish and African American history as well, and anyone who has seen Gangs should now read this tome of some 600 pages.

The real story is that the Draft Riots never erupted in the Five Points because Tweed and other politicians kept it out. Tweed actually tried to raise money so that the poor could buy themselves out of Lincoln’s draft law, which allowed rich men out of service by paying $300. And Bill the Butcher is based on a character who was dead years before the Draft Riots and whose territory was not in the Five Points anyway.

Hamill points all this out in a column he wrote for the Daily News. At the time of our interview (see page 34) he still hadn’t seen Gangs of New York. But in a December 18 review he wrote: “In spite of all the horrors of life in the Five Points, the movie seems to me to be a bum rap. The story of the gangs, and the 1863 Draft Riots, has been presented on film as a kind of baroque slasher movie, dripping with blood, glittery with knives and axes. The real story is a better one.”

The real story is indeed a far, far better one. Unfortunately, movies seem to be the entertainment of choice in the 21st century, and the danger is in not knowing what is and what is not historically correct.

While Gangs of New York has been nominated for five Golden Globes and seems a shoo-in as an Academy nominee — the movie Bloody Sunday, though it won awards at Cannes and Sundance and New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell designated it his number one movie pick of the year, is not an Oscar contender. Unfortunately, a little-known rule disallows it because it was shown on British television. Conspiracy theorists suspect a plot. Irish movies of a political nature such as Terry George’s Some Mother’s Son about the 1981 Hunger Strike, seem to disappear very quickly from public theaters. Let’s hope the same fate doesn’t befall Bloody Sunday.

No movie more deserves an Oscar. At the very least, all involved should get one of those Profile in Courage awards, which the Kennedy Library gives out annually. Paul Greengrass, the director, is a Brit who is not afraid to speak the truth about what happened on that terrible day in Derry in 1972 when 13 people were shot dead, and scores of civil rights marchers were injured, one so badly that he later died from his wounds.

Actor Jimmy Nesbitt, who is a Protestant (see interview page 58), took on the lead role even though the movie goes against the grain of his community. Nesbitt had the courage of his convictions and followed through. As did all of those involved in the making of the movie. Including Don Mullan whose book provided the background for the movie, the families of victims who took part in the movie, and the former British soldiers who signed on as actors. As Paul Greengrass said, “If Bloody Sunday can be a pebble in the wall of peace, we’ll feel that we’ve achieved something.”

We cannot let this movie slip away from the theaters. At the very least it’s a recognition of what both communities went through in Northern Ireland, and why a return to violence is not an option. As the movie closes, U2 sing the plaintive words: “How long must we sing this song?” from their song “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Hopefully, no more.

Now, a nomination for soundtrack for Gangs of New York I certainly wouldn’t oppose. It’s outstanding. Again, U2 is included. The movie, and U2’s “Hands That Built America,” also cause one to reflect on how far the Irish have come since their early days in New York:

“Oh my love, it’s a long way we’ve come.

From the freckled hills, to the steel and glass canyons.

From the stony fields, to hanging steel from the sky.

From digging in our pockets, for a reason not to say goodbye.

These are the hands that built America.

Last saw your face, in a water colour sky.

As sea birds argue, a long goodbye.

I took your kiss, on the spray of the new land star.

You gotta live with your dreams, don’t make them so hard,

And these are the hands that built America.

Of all of the promises, is this one we could keep?

Of all of the dreams, is this one still out of reach?

It’s early fall, there’s a cloud on the New York sky line.

Innocence, dragged across a yellow line.

These are the hands that built America.

Ahhhh, America.”

As Hamill wrote: “The story of the way the Five Points was created, turned into degraded horror, and then was erased is a New York tale worth telling. Those who survived it, and moved on, were brave, tough people.”


Mortas Cine. ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/first-word-the-hands-that-built-america/feed/ 0 40108
On Trial in Colombia https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/on-trial-in-colombia/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/on-trial-in-colombia/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 08:57:21 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40114 Read more..]]> The trial of three Irishmen in Colombia will resume on February 5 after a hearing in December ended in disarray. The so-called ‘Colombia Three’ — James Monaghan (56), Martin McCauley (40) and Niall Connolly (36) — are charged with assisting FARC rebels in a guerrilla campaign against the state government. The three men, all with links to Sinn Féin, have protested their innocence since their arrest at Bogota airport in August 2001.

They were initially accused of traveling on false passports and were arrested and detained for two days by a military unit. The men had reportedly visited a demilitarized zone in Colombia which was under FARC control at the time. The three maintain they visited as tourists and also to see first-hand the workings of the Colombian peace process. Prosecutors allege the men provided technical assistance to FARC rebels by explaining IRA bomb-making techniques. A forensic expert was called from the U.S. embassy to examine the trio for traces of explosives but there is no indication yet of whether any incriminating evidence was found.

February’s hearing follows a three-month adjournment in the case. A December hearing ended in farce when two defectors from FARC failed to show as witnesses for the prosecution. When proceedings opened, Judge Jairo Acosta read a deposition from one of the witnesses who said he feared for his life if he traveled by car to Bogota. The witness, Edwin Giovanny Rodriguez, is currently in detention on unspecified charges in Villavicencio, about an hour’s drive from the capital.

Defense lawyers demanded that Rodriguez be flown to court instead and Judge Acosta said he would put in a request to do so next time. However, when the second witness — named John Alexander Rodriguez — also failed to appear, the court was told that he was in a state witness protection program and could not be located in time for the hearing.

The three Irishmen also refused to attend the court on the grounds that they will not get a fair trial. Former President Pastrana has already declared them guilty. They are being held in La Modelo jail on the outskirts of Bogota, a prison with a notoriously violent reputation.

Art Agnew, Irish ambassador for the region, attended the December court as an observer. Three elected representatives also flew from Dublin to Bogota for the hearing but disorganization over procedure left them feeling it was a waste of time. “After spending a week here and talking to all the different sides in the Colombian situation I am very, very saddened, dismayed and disappointed by the judgement today in the court,” said Dublin TD (parliamentarian) Finian McGrath. “I found it unacceptable that the prosecution could not produce their witnesses despite the fact they had 54 days’ notice.

“I will be making my views known to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Colombia and I will also be giving a detailed report to the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Cowen and all the opposition parties.” ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/on-trial-in-colombia/feed/ 0 40114
Cardinal Meets Abuse Victims https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/cardinal-meets-abuse-victims/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/cardinal-meets-abuse-victims/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 08:56:22 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40120 Read more..]]> Desmond Connell, Archbishop of Dublin, met with victims of clerical sexual abuse in an attempt to defuse widespread anger with the Church’s handling of abuse cases.

Two victims, Marie Collins and Ken Reilly, had said they would organize a protest march to the archbishop’s residence and demand that he stand down. In response, Cardinal Connell invited them to discuss the situation and offered them a role in setting up the new Child Protection Service which is being established by the diocese to prevent known abusers gaining access to children within the Church.

In a significant turnaround the Cardinal also confirmed that the diocese was “cooperating fully” with police investigations into cases of child sexual abuse and that diocesan files on offending priests would be handed over to the gardai.

Following a five-hour meeting with the victims, the planned protest march was cancelled. “The Cardinal explained his position and what the diocese was doing,” said Ken Reilly afterwards. “He had also asked for our help. Today was the start of a process and we are looking to the future.” ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/cardinal-meets-abuse-victims/feed/ 0 40120
February Launch for Galway Hooker https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/february-launch-for-galway-hooker/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/february-launch-for-galway-hooker/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 08:55:25 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40127 Read more..]]> A transatlantic voyage with a difference is what Steven Mulkerrins has in mind. Now living in Chicago, the 40-year-old carpenter from Connemara is applying finishing touches to a traditional Irish boat – a 47-foot Galway hooker – so that he can fulfill his dream of sailing from America to Ireland in the craft.

“It will certainly be the first hooker to sail west to east with its owner and builder,” he told the Irish Times. “And I also intend to insure that it is the first Galway hooker to make it to the Great Lakes.”

The transatlantic voyage was first made in such a craft by sailor and explorer Paddy Barry, but Mulkerrins, who previously lived in Boston, has built his boat from scratch. He imported two large consignments of wood from Co. Wicklow so that he and co-builder John Flaherty could stay faithful to the exact detail of the original design.

If building what he calls his “bád mór” (big boat) goes according to schedule, “she’ll be ready for the water in February,” he enthuses. The 2000-mile journey from Chicago to the Hudson River may provide the boat’s maiden voyage, by which stage Mulkerrins and Flaherty will know how good she really is.

“By the time we have returned from that, and taken in a few races with classic boats in between, it will be too late to head for Galway,” he predicts. “We’ll be doing that leg in 2004.” ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/february-launch-for-galway-hooker/feed/ 0 40127
Search Begins for New US Ambassador https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/search-begins-for-new-us-ambassador/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/search-begins-for-new-us-ambassador/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 08:54:43 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40131 Read more..]]> President George W. Bush is expected to begin the search for a new ambassador to Ireland following the imminent departure of incumbent Richard Egan and his wife Maureen Fitzgerald. The outgoing ambassador tendered his resignation to President Bush after just 15 months in the job and his request to stand down sent shock waves throughout diplomatic circles considering he only presented his credentials to Irish President Mary McAleese in September 2001.

At a very early stage into his term of office he was thrown into the public limelight when he decided to attend the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (annual convention) shortly after the September 11 attacks. However despite occupying such a prominent diplomatic role he since maintained a relatively low profile. According to sources Egan did not particularly enjoy the heavy social schedule entailed at consular level.

The ambassador’s efforts at developing commercial links between Ireland and the U.S. and encouraging American investment earned him widespread recognition. A successful Massachusetts businessman, he is founder of the EMC Corporation, a computer data storage company. EMC has a manufacturing plant in Cork. ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/search-begins-for-new-us-ambassador/feed/ 0 40131
Jobless Figure Rises Steeply https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/jobless-figure-rises-steeply/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/jobless-figure-rises-steeply/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 08:53:23 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40135 Read more..]]> Despite the Republic of Ireland economy maintaining a respectable growth rate of 4.3 percent, figures for 2002 closed with the highest number of layoffs in over a decade. Published data from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment reveal that almost 25,000 people lost full-time jobs, the highest number since the mid-1980s.

Gloomy predictions from the Economic Social Research Institute forecast unemployment levels reaching five percent for 2003. Industrial Development Authority (IDA) spokesman Colm Donlon reported that the IT sector has taken a heavy knock. “The information technology sector is still in the doldrums worldwide,” he said. “But we are beginning to see signs of brightness on the horizon for the computer and network side.”

One of the most positive developments was Intel’s decision to go ahead with a $1.5 billion microchip fabrication plant in Leixlip, just outside Dublin. The mammoth project had been postponed but with plans given a green light the plant is expected to go into operation by the end of this year. Another boost was the decision of the MBNA credit card company to locate its European customer call center in Carrickon-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, creating an estimated 800 jobs.

Even with such outstanding success stories the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Central Bank are revising downwards their predictions for economic growth in 2003. Housing prices rose by 13 percent through 2002. With inflation projected at 5.1 percent there is widespread fear that difficult wage negotiations could lead to industrial unrest, particularly in the first half of the year.

“We have had a poor inflation performance since 1999 and there is no sign that things are getting better,” noted Dr. Michael Casey, assistant director-general of the Central Bank. “We must now talk about restoring competitiveness rather than trying to maintain it. The increase in costs has been well ahead for a long number of years,” he added, describing it as “a stark story.” ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/jobless-figure-rises-steeply/feed/ 0 40135
McAleese Injured in Skiing Accident https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/mcaleese-injured-in-skiing-accident/ https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/mcaleese-injured-in-skiing-accident/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2003 08:52:54 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40138 Read more..]]> President of Ireland Mary McAleese has been restricted to limited official engagements following a skiing accident in Austria on Christmas Eve. During a short vacation with her husband Martin and their three children, she fell when trying to board a ski lift on the resort slopes of Bad Hofgastein, near Salzburg. Her ankle bone shattered on impact and she received emergency surgery at a nearby hospital, during which two metal pins were inserted to rejoin the fractured bones.

The President spent three days– including Christmas Day – recovering in hospital and returned to Dublin on December 29. “Obviously she was very worried about what it meant for her movements and fulfilling her engagements in the next months,” said a spokesperson.

Although engagements at Aras an Uachtaráin – the President’s residence in Phoenix Park – would go ahead as scheduled, many of Mrs. McAleese’s public appearances have been cancelled. Her foot will remain in plaster for six weeks but doctors expressed satisfaction with the success of the operation. ♦

https://irishamerica.com/2003/02/mcaleese-injured-in-skiing-accident/feed/ 0 40138