June July 2004 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Mon, 22 Jul 2019 14:31:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 The Lessons of Division https://irishamerica.com/2017/07/the-lessons-of-division/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/07/the-lessons-of-division/#comments Fri, 07 Jul 2017 21:12:02 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31479 Read more..]]> This past March I traveled through Northern Ireland as part of a group of 19 students and administrators from New York University’s Gallatin School. We had come to Northern Ireland to gain a better understanding of human rights issues. What I gained an understanding of, however, was how large the gap had become between what I thought I knew and the reality of Northern Irish life.

Wandering Derry’s medieval walls, fellow group member Elizabeth Morrow and I stopped in front of a British Army surveillance tower that looked out over the nationalist Bogside community.

“This is unreal,” I said. “This is so wrong.”

Elizabeth thought for a moment. “You know,” she said. “The Army probably heard you say that.” As if on cue, the tower watchman waved to us.

Having been in Northern Ireland less than a week, we had not yet grown accustomed to feelings of being watched and of having to constantly watch ourselves.

I have since graduated from NYU with a degree in Irish Literature, and my education in Irish Studies was excellent. However it did not teach me to decipher the subtle codes of political discussions, or how to reconcile my support for nationalist causes with my abhorrence of violence. On Shankill Road, the barrel of a rifle trailed me from a mural. A sound appreciation of colonial theory did nothing to ease my anxiety.

Another major issue for which my education did not prepare me was the depth of discomfort among the people of color in our group while in Northern Ireland. The tone was set by a local in Downpatrick. When asked what programs the town’s St. Patrick Centre offered for immigrants and minorities, we were told that the center did not offer programs for people of color. Minorities simply aren’t a factor in the community. Especially after learning of recent anti-immigrant violence in Belfast, the message for many people of color in our group was that they were not welcome.

Some of them came to Ireland prepared to feel this ostracism. Many of our members had already experienced racism from Irish-Americans. The fact that Irish-Americans have developed a reputation for being a particularly racist group is an issue that is rarely analyzed in our communities. My immediate reaction to this assertion was that I had never personally contributed to the problem, but perhaps I wasn’t being honest with myself. No matter how much Irish-Americans cling to our history as a colonized people, in 2004, we are part of the majority, and, possibly, part of the problem.

Perhaps we should take to heart the experience of Gallatin administrator Jigna Bhagat. A woman of Indian heritage, Jigna was among those who felt uncomfortable in Northern Ireland. In Derry, however, we learned of the struggle of dissenters imprisoned by the British. Many experiences of Northern Irish political prisoners are similar to those of Indian political prisoners, such as forced feeding while on hunger strike. This link between being Indian and being Irish came as a revelation to Jigna. “I could never again see Irish people as simply white,” she said.

What alarmed us most about Northern Ireland was the hyperpoliticized atmosphere. We visited Derry’s Bogside and stood where Bloody Sunday had occurred. On St. Patrick’s Day, a car bomb planted by loyalists outside a nightclub near our hostel in Belfast was discovered and detonated by security services. No one was harmed, but the proximity was frightening. It was also exhilarating — an admission that shames me. This suffering, these life-defining politics, is what we demand from Ireland. Political strife and struggle have always been Irish exports for American consumption. The ability to escape from it is one of the factors that make us Irish-American, rather than Irish.

Returning to Dublin was a major shift in tone; despite the rhetoric that the island is a unified entity, it was clear that the Republic was happy to be far from the North’s turmoil, culturally if not physically. On a late night cab ride from the Brazen Head pub, I told the driver that we had been in Northern Ireland, and asked him what people in the Republic thought of the situation. In the universally blunt style of cab drivers he said, “Ah, we don’t give a shit.” Though a single comment cannot speak for an entire nation, his contented disconnect evidenced that the distance between Derry and Dublin was far greater than mere kilometers.

In Belfast’s Crown Liquor Saloon, I spoke with a local man about life in the city since the Good Friday Agreement. At the end of the night, he leaned over and whispered in my ear. “No one’s dying anymore,” he said. “That’s the victory.” ♦

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Roots: The Hogans, Logans and Cogans https://irishamerica.com/2017/07/roots-the-hogans-logans-and-cogans/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/07/roots-the-hogans-logans-and-cogans/#respond Fri, 07 Jul 2017 13:35:32 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31462 Read more..]]> Although these surnames sound alike, the similarities end there. The Hogans are a Dalcassian family. Hogan comes from the Irish word óg meaning young. In Irish mythology, the land of eternal youth is called Tir Na nÓg. The Irish name of Hogan, Ó’hÓgáin, denotes that they are ancestors of Ogan, who was a direct descendant of Brian Boru, the last great High King of Ireland who defeated the Vikings in 1014 A.D.

The name is prevalent in Ireland, one of the 100 most common surnames. It has a strong presence in the Counties of Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary, near Nenagh, where one of the ancient clan chiefs had a castle called Ardcrony. The original “O” is almost never used by modern members of the clan.

Some of the well-known Irish Hogans include John Hogan, (1800-1858) a prominent Irish sculptor whose works are on view at many sites in Dublin and Cork as well as on the European continent. A famous Daniel O’Connell statue of his stands in Limerick. Patrick Hogan (1891-1936) was the first minister for agriculture in the Irish Free State. He was widely hailed for introducing reform legislation on land ownership and agricultural production. “Galloping Hogan” was one of the heroes of Patrick Salsfield’s daring assault on an English ammunition train at Ballyneety in 1690.

In entertainment, Australian actor Paul Hogan (1939) is a producer and star of the successful Crocodile Dundee film series, and American Hulk Hogan (1953), whose birth name is Terry Gene Bollea, is an actor and former wrestler with the Worldwide Wrestling Federation (WWF), a wildly popular TV show during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Of course, who could forget the popular show Hogan’s Heroes, based on Col. Hogan, a wisecracking POW? And two members of the Irish band The Cranberries are from the Hogan clan, brothers Noel (1971) and Michael Hogan (1973).

Ben Hogan (1912-1997) was a professional golfer whose Irish connection started with his place of birth — Dublin, Texas. He was a PGA champion and four-time U.S. Open champion. His claim to fame is that he is the only golfer to have won the U.S. Open, British Open and Masters all in the same year in 1953.

J.P. Ted’s, the luxury shoe maker, has a division called Hogan that sells high-end footwear and accessories. There is also a place called Ballyhogan near Dysart in County Clare and a Hogan’s Pass near Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.

Logan has more complicated origins. The Logans of the Northern counties are generally of Scottish stock. Many of them came to Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century. In the counties of Galway and Westmeath there are Logans whose names are derived from the Irish O’Loughan, which is also anglicized as Lohan, like American teen movie queen, Lindsay Lohan (1986). The name has also been subject to an absurd anglicization because of the similarity of the name to the Irish word, lacha, meaning duck.

Some famous Logans include County Antrim man James Logan (1674-1751), an associate of William Penn who held several high positions in Pennsylvania government, and Lt. General Edward Lawrence Logan (1875-1939) who was a fixture in Massachusetts state politics and for whom Logan International Airport in Boston is named.

The name Cogan comes from Milo de Cogan, who was one of the original Norman invaders of Ireland and the right-hand man of the leader Strongbow. As a reward for his service, de Cogan was given large tracts of land in Cork. However, he never gained full control of the lands and was eventually killed by Celts in 1182. As a result, the name had various incarnations in latter years, from Gogan and Goggin to Coogan. Cogan is still prominent in areas of County Cork today. Award-winning Irish author and historian Tim Pat Coogan has written extensively on Irish history, including a biography of Michael Collins and Wherever Green is Worn: The Story of the Irish Diaspora. ♦

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Maureen O’Hara: “The Greatest Guy” https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/maureen-ohara-the-greatest-guy-2/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/maureen-ohara-the-greatest-guy-2/#respond Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:59:34 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31389 Read more..]]> Maureen O’Hara is in fine fettle despite having a slight cold. It’s the day after St. Patrick’s Day and she’s ensconced in a suite at the New York Athletic Cub. This bastion of maleness — the NYAC has only allowed women members since the late ’70’s — is exactly where you would expect to find O’Hara, who at 83 has lost none of her feistiness.

Known for her remarkable beauty and her fiery screen persona, O’Hara, the star of 60 movies, came to Hollywood when she was still a teenager, and almost immediately, as she reveals in her new autobiography, ‘Tis Herself she clashed with the men who ran the movie business. In her own words, “I acted, punched, swashbuckled, and shot my way through an absurdly masculine profession…. As a woman, I’m proud to say that I stood toe-to-toe with the best of them.”

Born Maureen FitzSimmons in County Dublin in 1920, one of six children, O’Hara began acting at age six with the encouragement of her parents. Her father was a football player, her mother an actress and singer. At 16 she joined the famed Abbey Players, and was discovered shortly thereafter by the actor Charles Laughton who took her to London and changed her name to O’Hara.

She made her first movie, Jamaica Inn, with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock also wanted her to star in Rebecca, but she was filming Hunchback of Notre Dame and director William Dieterle refused to change his filming schedule to accommodate O’Hara.

Soon after O’Hara’s arrival in Hollywood she was “sold” to RKO. With little choice over the movies she made, she admits that she made three duds with RKO. She fought against, but did not always succeed, being cast as the pretty female. “Hollywood would never allow my talent to triumph over my face,” is one of the bon mots she offers in ‘Tis Herself.

It was director John Ford who gave her a chance to prove herself a great actress. Their first movie together, How Green Was My Valley, won a total of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In all she made five movies with Ford, who used her as his muse for The Quiet Man. She is remarkably frank in ‘Tis Herself, about her relationship with the brilliant but troubled director, and with John Wayne, who found in O’Hara not just the ideal leading lady but a pal. In fact, he called her “the greatest guy.”

O’Hara is also frank about her marriages. She reveals that her first, to George Brown, who later became the father of publishing titan Tina Brown, was unconsummated. And that her second, to Will Price, which produced her daughter Bronwyn, was troubled and deeply destructive. She eventually found happiness in her third marriage, to aviation pioneer Charlie Blair. The first pilot to fly a passenger plane non-stop from Ireland to New York, Blair ran a seaplane company in St. Croix. When he died in a suspicious plane crash, O’Hara took over as president of the airline. Her successful fight to have her husband, who she believes worked for the C.I.A., buried in Arlington with full military honors, is also recounted in her book.

Not one to back down from a fight, O’Hara also chronicles her defamation suit against the magazine Confidential. It was the first time an actor won a suit against a tabloid. She also struck a blow for her countrymen when she took out American citizenship but refused to cite British as her former allegiance because she was a citizen of Ireland. Her courageous stand soon caused a change in the proceedings, and shortly thereafter natives of Ireland were no longer identified as British in the naturalization process.

Extremely proud of her Irish heritage, O’Hara served as grand marshal of the 1999 New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As she walked up Fifth Avenue the crowd called out “Mary Kate” to her — the name of the character she played in The Quiet Man.

Patricia Harty: Why do you think The Quiet Man is still so popular and has such an effect on Irish Americans in particular?

Maureen O’Hara: Not just Irish Americans, it has a particular effect for Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, American, Canadians, and South Americans. Everybody in the world loves it because it is a story that could have happened in the countryside of any country. It’s a simple, warm, touching, wonderful story about family and all the squabbles that happen in families. It’s so true to life.

The making of the film was a family affair, wasn’t it?

Yes. John Ford’s daughter was the cutter, his brother in-law was the first assistant director, his brother was the second assistant. Barry Fitzgerald played his role and his brother Arthur Shields played the priest. There were me, my brother Charlie, my brother Jimmy, John Wayne and all of his kids, who were the kids on the cart with me, and Victor McLaglen’s son, who was another second assistant director.

You actually ruptured your disc on that movie in the dragging scene.

Yes. But I didn’t have the operation until a few years later. I had a great surgeon and he made me wear a brace for six months. I was not permitted to take it off. And I’ve had no problem since. Look at all the stunts I did after surgery. The only stunt I never did was ride — if I got up on a horse I automatically fell off. Not like my sister, who was the first woman to win the Emperor’s Cup in Japan in dressage

If you were to sum up John Wayne in a sentence…

Such a fine man is very hard to sum up in one sentence. He was a decent, fine, wonderful man. He loved his family, adored his kids and was very loyal to his friends. He never let a friend down even if it meant putting himself in danger. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe a person like John Wayne.

Didn’t he have some Irish ancestry?

Yes. His name was Michael Marian Morrison.

Director John Ford was quite abusive and, in fact, as you reveal in your book, he even socked you one time.

You have to realize that he was very abusive to almost every actor who ever worked for him. Every stunt man, every mechanic and every lighting man. He was abusive if it suited him and what he was after. I used to watch him sometimes and think, “Oh, he is doing that on purpose. He’s after something.” On the set we used to call that “being in the barrel” and every day somebody would be in the barrel. But very few people ever walked out on him. Henry Fonda was one of the few, and that stuntman who became a star, Ben Johnson, walked out on him and wouldn’t work for him again.

But still you worked for him. Why?

He was a genius. He was the finest director any of us ever worked with, and we were proud to work with him and work for him. We realized that he was abusive and bad-tempered and awful but we accepted it and forgave him, and we wondered what his problem was really. And I think his problem was that he wasn’t entirely satisfied with his own life. He wanted to be born in Ireland. He wanted to be a military hero in Ireland’s problems. He wanted to be a military hero in the world’s problems.

So you went into it knowing that it was going to be torture, but that the outcome would be worth it.

Yes. But sometimes it was terrible. One day on Rio Grande he was being so awful to John Wayne, just belittling and terrible, and Wayne just stood there with his head down and took it. I thought “Give it to him. Sock him in the jaw.” But Wayne didn’t. I couldn’t stand it. I had to say, “I’m awful sorry, may I go to the bathroom?” I would go there to throw up.

He was abusive to you, yet he wrote you love letters.

You’ve got to realize that the things he did to me had to do with the picture he was doing and my character. He hated my character or he loved my character. When he did a script he totally immersed himself in both the female and male characters and they would inhabit his dreams. And I think the letters that he wrote to me when I was in Australia [and Ford was in Ireland making preparations for The Quiet Man] were to Mary Kate Danaher, not Maureen O’Hara.

You handled it very well. You could have said, “Look at these letters, what’s going on?”

I thought of showing them to Mary, his wife, and I then I thought no, that would be foolish, because that would only get her all upset.

And he would make you have these phony conversations with him in Irish.

Oh yes, totally phony. He didn’t speak it at all. One time we were at a big affair in honor of himself, and President Nixon and his wife were there. Ford insisted that Mary sit on one side of him and I on the other. We were sitting there and Ford said to me that we were going to pretend we were speaking in Gaelic. He said, you just keep saying, “seadh, seadh” [yes, yes].

I did what he asked — you have to realize that you couldn’t say no to him. The president finally leaned over and asked “What are you two doing?” and Ford said, “We are speaking in our native language.”

You still have a hint of Irish in your voice.

Well, I am Irish. So that’s it. But I don’t have to worry about it anymore. Making a movie you have someone — usually the script clerk — who says “watch such and such a word so you don’t betray the character you are playing.” I don’t have to worry now.

You don’t have to be Maureen O’Hara anymore.


You say in your book that the publicity department really created Maureen O’Hara.

Not just Maureen O’Hara, any actor who was under contract to a studio — a seven-year contract — as we mostly were — the lucky ones. The publicity people are ordered by the studio to see to it that your name is in the paper every day. So they have to think up a lot of phony stories. One time I read that I’d been bitten by a spider, and it never happened at all. But they had to do that. It had to be something that got printed in the paper, so that your name was kept before the public.

The suit that you brought and won against Confidential over a story that you were necking in the back seat of a theater. That was the first suit of its kind.

Yes, I got mad and I went to my parish priest and told him what I wanted to do and he said, “Maureen, you are wrong. We know the truth and that’s all that matters. Don’t do it.” But I went ahead and did it.

I was in Spain making a movie for Columbia studios [at the time of the supposed incident], so I couldn’t have been in Hollywood. All I did was show the judge my passport as proof.

You were a woman ahead of your time in a male-dominated industry. Was it hard?

But I was accepted as a guy! John Wayne said I was the greatest guy he ever knew.

But you were the property of the studio — so you didn’t always have control over what you wanted to do.

Oh, we all were. Anyone under a seven year contract. We were the property of the studio and they felt that we had to do what they told us to do. And if you refused they had the right to suspend you. And suspending you meant putting you off salary and they put you off salary for the duration of the time it took to replace you, shoot the movie and finish it. So there was a long time when you got no salary and you were not permitted to work for any other company anywhere in the world. That makes it kind of difficult to pay your grocery bill.

You really had to do the movies they wanted you to do.

Yes. Once in a while you would stick to your guns and say no. But you had to have enough saved to pay the bills for the time you were going to be off salary.

Because you really did not make that much money.

Oh no, we didn’t. People don’t realize that. But then, money had a different value in that time. But it still was terrible. When I made Hunchback of Notre Dame I was paid a British salary because I was under contract to Laughton. He loaned me to RKO Studios and I received eighty-eight dollars a week.

The first time I ever worked in Ireland I made a pound a week and I was typing tags for bags of wet laundry, and the first time I worked on radio for Radio Eireann, I made a pound a week.

You had a really supportive family. It was unusual at that time in Ireland for parents to encourage their children to go into the arts.

Oh God, yes. I worked in connection with theater since I was six. Our mother was an operatic contralto. My sister Peg was a wonderful soprano. My sister Florrie worked in theater and made movies. My sister Margo’s first love was horses — jumping, competing and dressage. And my brother Charlie studied law and was also in the Abbey Theatre and produced many plays in London, and Jimmy, my younger brother, the baby, was also in theater. So we were a theatrical family. I used to do my homework at the back of the stage at The Gaiety Theatre on the top of Grafton Street when mummy was singing.

It must have been difficult for you when you had to spend those seven years in the U.S. and you couldn’t go back to Ireland.

We couldn’t go back because of the war. And then one day we were told that all foreigners could go back to the country they came from. So I was at the airport within a minute and on my way back home, and when I arrived in Dublin it was such a thrill to be back with my brother and sisters and mother and father. And a couple of days later a message came from 20th Century Fox that I was to get back immediately because I was going to star in a film called Miracle on 34th Street.

Which is of course another classic.

And I was furious and I wasn’t going to go. I was going to risk everything. And then, I thought “no,” I’ve got too many bills to pay, I better go. And then when I read the script I realized it was such a warm, wonderful family story I was lucky to be cast in it.

I also loved How Green Was My Valley, about the Welsh coal-mining town.

That is one of the classic pictures of the world. And a wonderful story is that when it played in Wales, the Welsh choir got on the boat to Holyhead and went to our house in Dublin and serenaded my family. I’d love to have been there but I wasn’t.

Another Ford movie that is a classic is The Long Gray Line.

Yes. It’s based on Marty Maher who used to train the Army cadets. He used to come down to the set almost every day and give me a big hug and a kiss. He’d tell John Ford to leave me alone, and Ford would say why? and he’d say, because she’s my wife [in the film]. He was an old, old man, a charming, lovely old man.

And Tyrone Power played Maher?

He was absolutely charming. He was named for County Tyrone. And so were his father and grandfather who were also actors.

You made your first film, Jamaica Inn, with Hitchcock. What was he like?

A charming, kind, gracious, wonderful man.

Tell me about meeting Che Guevara.

It was when we were making Our Man in Havana in Cuba. Che Guevara used to come every evening to the hotel we all stayed in for his go-to-bed cup of coffee or go-to-bed whatever. He would sit and talk to me about Ireland. That was his only conversation — Ireland and the battles. He knew everything about Ireland — every mountain road. And he wore the tam like the rebels used to wear in Ireland. He always wore that tam. Finally one day I said to him, “How does a man from Argentina know all this about Ireland?” He laughed and he said, “My name is really Che Guevara Lynch.”

His grandmother, Anna Isabel Lynch, was born in County Galway. He must have learned at his granny’s or his mother’s knee, because he knew everything about Ireland.

Have you enjoyed your life in the movies?

Yes. I haven’t always done exactly the pictures I wanted to do. But I think God has blessed me and I’ve had a wonderful life.

And from the time you were little you knew you wanted to be on the stage.

Yes. When I was six I did a thing at school — when they were changing the scenery, I went out in front and recited poetry. My mother was at one of those [performances] with her accompanist, a lady called Hayden from the next street over from us in Dublin, and she said to my mother, “That girl should be in drama school.” And my mother then sent me to drama school.

Do you miss the stage?

Yes. I was a theater snob. And I thought movies were beneath me. I wanted to be the top dramatic theatrical artist in the theater, but I had no control over that. The other swept in and swept me away.

Would you say the love of your life was your husband Charlie Blair?

Yes. He flew the first land plane with passengers and mail non-stop from the United States to Shannon. And the plane he went over the pole with is in the Smithsonian, and another of his planes is in a New England museum.

He flew the last seaplane out of Foynes and closed that airport. He dipped his wings to say goodbye to Foynes, arrived in New York, got a couple of hours sleep and flew the first land plane into Shannon. He was adored in Foynes. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “My dad was the boatman who used to take all the passengers out to the seaplanes.”

You took over Antilles Air Boats, his airline in St. Croix, when he died. Do you still have a home in St. Croix?

Yes, St. Croix, West Cork, and Scottsdale, Arizona. But the house [the family home] in Dublin is sold. About six months ago.

Does that make you sad?

Yes, but I’ve been so happy in so many years in Glengariff [West Cork].

And you do an annual golf tournament there.

Yes, the end of June and we are now in our 21st years. And then in August. I do the Foynes Flying Boat Museum.

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

Well, there are a couple of things I wouldn’t do, but I wouldn’t change my life. I think I would sing more than I did. But my career just came like a flood and swept over me and I didn’t get to finish things I really wanted to do. I really, really wanted to sing. I would love to have sung just one opera. Though my voice was a little too high, I would have loved to sing Carmen.

Maybe I would have been more involved in sports. I would have written more, but I would still go for a dramatic career, because that was what I wanted, that was what I planned and that’s what I got.

Do you think actresses today are facing the same problems as you did when the studios just wanted you to do “pretty girl” parts?

I think the problem today is that they are being asked to take their clothes off, and they’ve got to have the courage to say no and believe in themselves.

What’s next?

Staying alive. And of course if some fantastic script came along it would be great. ♦


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the June/July 2004 issue of Irish America magazine. 

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First Word: Mother Courage https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/first-word-mother-courage/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/first-word-mother-courage/#respond Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:58:04 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31394 Read more..]]> As we look at the stories in this issue, we see that the strength of our nation comes from different places.

In Lynn Tierney’s “Mothers United,” a tale of quiet courage and hope, we come to understand that the heroes are not just those who were lost, but those who survived. Reading how four women — three of whom lost their firefighter husbands in the Father’s Day Fire of June 2001, and the fourth, who lost her husband on 9/11 — have found the strength to carry on and focus on their children’s future, is truly inspiring.

In person, Tara, Mary, Anne and Denise are warm, funny, passionate, and attractive women who don’t consider themselves to be heroes. As Tara asks, “How don’t you go on?”

Perhaps some of that tenacity is Irish. I’d like to believe it is. The ancient mythology of Ireland features many powerful women and there’s a fair amount of Maeve and Deirdre that gets carried down. Irish and Irish-American women have become leaders in health care, education, unions, public service (Denise was recently elected to the legislature), and of course, the arts. Often forgotten is the contribution actress Maureen O’Hara made to the advancement of women. She is strong and outspoken in everything she does, not only in her performances, but also as an advocate for the rights of women.

“The Old Irish Neighborhood,” by Michael Scanlon is another of our stories that features a strong Irish woman and brings to mind the many sacrifices Irish servant girls made for their families over the years. Michael’s mother arrived in New York City as a teenager. She had ambitions of becoming a nurse, but instead, like so many other women of that era, she struggled just to survive. Whatever meager money she made went to support her family at home and bring over her brother and sister to America.

The “strong Irish mother” is a recurring theme in Irish America. Many of those interviewed over the past 20 years credit their mother or grandmother with being the primary influence in their lives. Corporate titan Jack Welch said of his mother, “She was everything. She taught me `play to win, but know how to lose.'” Writer Pete Hamill also credits his mother and said, “The key thing in my life was my mother. She understood that there was a wider world out there. I had the sense that everything was possible.” Gregory Peck spoke lovingly to Irish America of his Irish immigrant grandmother who was widowed when his father was just an infant: “She had a lot of courage. She traveled as a saleslady, sold lady’s underthings, corsets and such, and made a success of it…she was able to help put my father through college.” NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw said, “My toughness comes from my mother’s side. It’s the Irish in me.”

And it’s not just “the boys” ruminating about their mothers. Best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark, who took to writing as a means to support her five young children when her husband died, wrote of her mother (a Bungalow girl — Rockaway Beach circa 1912): “All her life she was to personify the best of her Irish heritage — a warm and generous heart, undauntable faith in her God, unswerving allegiance to the Democratic Party, heroic resiliency in trouble and always, always, an unquenchable sense of humor.”

I’ve been privileged to know many such women in my life, especially my own mother. And certainly, during the course of our “Mothers United” story I witnessed firsthand the quiet, determined courage and unquenchable love of life that is embodied in Tara, Mary, Denise, and Anne. In sharing their stories with us, they give us hope, and prove, as Pete Hamill said of the extraordinary resilience shown by people after 9/11, “It’s not the knocking down. It’s the getting up.”

Happy Mother’s Day. ♦

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Sinn Féin and PUP Angry Over New Report https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/sinn-fein-and-pup-angry-over-new-report/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/sinn-fein-and-pup-angry-over-new-report/#respond Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:57:16 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31397 Read more..]]> On April 20, 2004, Paul Murphy, Secretary of State of Northern Ireland, announced that the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) had recommended monetary sanctions upon Sinn Féin for the alleged abduction of a dissident Republican by the IRA and on the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) for its connection to the Ulster Volunteer Force, a loyalist paramilitary group.

Angry Sinn Féin leaders called the report “scurrilous” and vowed to fight the fines.

The IMC recommended that £120,000 be taken from Sinn Féin’s allotted Assembly allowance. The IMC also recommended that £27,000 be taken from the much smaller PUP, whose Assembly member, David Ervine, vowed “never again to meet with the IMC.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that the IMC was “in clear breach of the Good Friday Agreement.”

The IMC was created by the British and Irish governments — independent of the Good Friday Agreement — at the request of Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble. The IMC concluded that expulsion from the Assembly was the preferred punishment for Sinn Féin and the PUP, but because the power-sharing government is suspended, the financial sanctions were the next best option.

Ironically, Sinn Féin and the PUP are the two parties who are pro-Agreement. The Ulster Defense Association, which is responsible for some 12 recent murders, continues to go unpunished. The IMC report follows the release of the Cory report, which found collusion between the British government and loyalist paramilitaries. ♦

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Tara’s Future in Jeopardy https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/taras-future-in-jeopardy/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/taras-future-in-jeopardy/#respond Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:56:24 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31400 Read more..]]> The construction of a motorway in County Meath has historians, archaeologists, politicians and others up in arms. The proposed M3 toll road will run through the Tara Skryne Valley, which the protestors argue is a part of the Hill of Tara National Monument. The Hill of Tara was a central ceremonial, burial and royal area in pagan times, and it dates back to 4000 B.C. The highest king in Ireland reigned from Tara, and today it is still considered a sacred place to the Irish.

The Save Tara campaign has gathered large international attention to the issue. Nonetheless, the construction is moving ahead, and test trenching, the initial phase of building, began March 22 with full excavation slated for September.

A group of experts on the history, archaeology and cultural importance of Tara — including an economist — presented their case to thwart construction to The Dáil (Irish Parliament) on April 28. They argued that although the proponents of the motorway claim that only three sites of historical significance will be affected, in fact, almost 30 will be disturbed. They also believe that the project will be delayed and run over budget due to the time and care in digging up the historic site. In addition, the roadwork would have a negative affect on tourism to Tara.

However, the Save Tara campaigners do agree that the traffic in the area is a problem and that something must be done to relieve the congestion. They recommend expanding the existing road, building a motorway somewhere other than Tara or reopening the railroad line in the area.

Vincent Salafia, a lawyer and the public relations officer of the Save Tara campaign, said to Irish America, “At the end of the day our message is: Look, you [the proponents of the motorway] made a mistake. But you have to go back and fix this one. Otherwise, this will be one of the biggest mistakes this country has ever made.” ♦

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O’Cealleagh Wins Deportation Case https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/ocealleagh-wins-deportation-case/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/ocealleagh-wins-deportation-case/#respond Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:55:28 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31404 Read more..]]> Sean O’Cealleagh (also spelled Kelly), a U.S. Greencard holder since 2001, has won his deportation case following a Los Angeles immigration trial that revisited a murder he was convicted of in Northern Ireland. In 1990, O’Cealleagh was found guilty by a British Diplock [non-jury] Court for aiding and abetting the murder of two British soldiers in 1988 in West Belfast. O’Cealleagh has always maintained that he was innocent of this crime. He was later released under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and he immigrated to the U.S. in 1999.

O’Cealleagh was detained by immigration officers at the Los Angeles airport on February 25, 2004 upon his return from a visit to Northern Ireland. FBI agents interrogated him and accused him of having knowledge of dealings with the I.R.A. and Al Qaeda.

O’Cealleagh’s case then went to trial, and on April 23, 2004, Los Angeles Judge Rose Peters ruled that he was allowed to stay in the U.S. She declared his previous arrest, conviction and imprisonment in Northern Ireland as political in nature. The U.S. government, on behalf of the British government, is planning to appeal the decision and continue its attempts to deport him. His supporters were irate that even after the U.S. ruling, he was still incarcerated in L.A. for reasons that were unclear at the time of press. ♦

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Cory Report Released https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/cory-report-released/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/cory-report-released/#respond Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:54:29 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31407 Read more..]]> The British Government published edited versions of the reports by retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory declaring that there was British and Loyalist collusion in the murder cases in Northern Ireland of Patrick Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright. The British Government announced that public inquiries will be held into cases of Nelson, Hamill and Wright, as recommended by Judge Cory. Further inquiries into the murder of Patrick Finucane were omitted, on the grounds of a pending criminal case.

Following the release of the report on April 1, 2004, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble claimed that there is a link between the murdered lawyer and IRA paramilitaries. Trimble’s accusation met with strong opposition from the Irish government and Irish-American organizations.

Finucane was shot in front of his wife and children, and the family has been requesting a public inquiry for the past 14 years. His widow, Geraldine, said, “The campaign for a public inquiry will also continue. Justice Cory’s report confirms that there was a State policy of targeting and assassination. The public should read the details in his report. It is unbelievable, but the official documents that he examined show that it is all true.”

Richard Ryan, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United Nations, made a statement at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in April on the Cory reports and commented on the delayed inquiry into the murder of Finucane and Nelson — the other lawyer who was murdered.

Ryan stated, “My Government also expressed disappointment at the decision of the British Government to delay action on the Judge’s recommendation that a public inquiry be established quickly into the circumstances of the murder of Finucane. Judge Cory came to the conclusion that this may be one of those rare situations where a public inquiry will be of greater benefit to the community than prosecutions. This is a view that my Government shares.”

Judge Cory will appear before the Commission on Security and Co-operation in Europe on May 5, 2004 in Washington, D.C. ♦

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U.S./U.K. Extradition Treaty https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/u-s-u-k-extradition-treaty/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/u-s-u-k-extradition-treaty/#comments Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:53:45 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31410 Read more..]]> The Extradition Treaty between the United States and Great Britain made its introduction into the United States Senate on April 19. 2004.

The Committee on Foreign Relations received it by unanimous consent, thus removing the injunction of secrecy surrounding it. Even though its existence had been denied by leading officials, most Irish-American activists were aware of the Treaty and the implications it could have for American citizens, as well as on Irish immigrants living in the United States.

Major Irish-American organizations such as the Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC) are opposed to the Treaty signed by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and U.K. Home Secretary David Blunkett. Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law pointed out, “It attempts to remove the political offense exception and allows for extradition even if no U.S. federal law is violated. It eliminates the need for the United Kingdom to show facts sufficient to prove the person requested is guilty of the crime charged — mere unsupported allegations are sufficient. It also allows for provisional arrest and detention for 60 days upon request by the United Kingdom and seizure of assets.”

Boyle concluded. “This treaty is a British dagger pointed at the heart of Irish America. It subjects U.S. citizens to extradition based solely on unproven allegations by the British government. Any American active in Irish affairs faces potential detention, and transportation to the United Kingdom, without any proof of guilt, and without judicial review. Never before in its history has the U.S. government subjected the liberty of its citizens to the whims of a foreign government.”

The IAUC is calling interested Irish-Americans to call their U.S. Senators at 202-224-3121 regarding the Treaty before it is ratified. ♦

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Smoking Ban in Full Force https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/smoking-ban-in-full-force/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/06/smoking-ban-in-full-force/#respond Tue, 01 Jun 2004 13:52:19 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=31412 Read more..]]> On March 29, 2004 Ireland became the first country in the European Union to ban smoking in workplaces, including all restaurants and pubs. Although some smokers and the Irish Vintners Federation, a trade group representing pub owners, had opposed the ban, it has taken effect and largely been obeyed by patrons.

Even in rural pubs, customers are taking the law seriously, which was not expected. Tony McCann, owner of McCann’s in Doolin, County Clare, said, “The ban enforced itself, we didn’t have a problem enforcing it. People have accepted it.” He added that the ban has had little negative impact on his business. “We have a lot of tourists and they prefer not to have smoke in our restaurant. But the local pubs that don’t have tourists or food — they are more affected,” he said. McCann confirmed that his staff preferred to not have smoke in the restaurant and pub and that “the general feeling is that that ban is working very well.”

The ban, which was spearheaded by Ireland’s Health Minister Mícheál Martin, was supported by the public before it came into effect. Approximately 60 percent of those surveyed backed the ban. Many smokers viewed the ban as an opportunity for them to follow the growing trend to quit. In a recent poll, 25 percent of Irish people said they smoke, down from 31 percent in 1998.

Before it was introduced, there was very little effective opposition to the ban. The case for civil liberties — or the right to smoke — was barely mentioned in the debate. Additionally, the Vintners Association failed to rally support to oppose the ban. Said Simon Clark, the director of Forest, a UK-based organization that defends the rights of smokers, “We kept out of the Irish debate because we didn’t want to influence the debate from London. But in hindsight, it was a mistake. The Vintners did too little too late.” He added that the Vintners are not popular in Ireland, as most people think that alcohol is overpriced, and therefore the public was reluctant to support the trade group’s position on smoking.

Ireland was inundated with media attention during the first days of the ban, and the new law has had ripple effects throughout Europe. Norway will be the next E.U. country to introduce an indoor smoking ban in June, marking the potential for a domino affect across the Union. But Clark says that this is highly unlikely, pointing out that particularly in Portugal, Spain and Italy, smoking is still a popular activity with little groundswell for a ban.

It is still too early to determine if the ban’s enforcement may become more lax over time. Overall, the transition to smoke-free eating and drinking establishments has been a smooth one. The Irish Times has reported that Martin will now turn his attention to curbing binge-drinking, which will arguably be a tougher health issue to tackle. ♦

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