June July 2014 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Mon, 15 Jul 2019 20:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 On The Set with Norah O’Donnell https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/on-the-set-with-norah-odonnell/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/on-the-set-with-norah-odonnell/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 12:33:39 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19016 Read more..]]> Norah O’Donnell is the co-host of CBS This Morning, guest host on Face the Nation, and a 60 Minutes correspondent. This seasoned broadcaster has earned the moniker “tough but fair.”

Of course it helps Norah O’Donnell’s popularity that the camera loves her – she is tall and slim with perfect features, thick auburn hair, and big blue eyes. She’s also, as I found out when I visited her at the CBS studio on West 57th Street in early April, just plain nice. But the reason why O’Donnell is one of the top broadcasters on television is because she’s very good at her job. She’s a skillful interviewer who does her research and knows her stuff.

O’Donnell, 40, as of January, began her career working in print journalism, on a Capitol Hill newspaper called Roll Call. At 25, she was a full time contributing correspondent for MSNBC and NBC News.

As chief Washington correspondent for NBC, her on-the-spot reporting on 9/11 won her the Sigma Delta Chi Award, following which she traveled with then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to Afghanistan and other countries.

O’Donnell’s interview portfolio is a who’s who of political power players and world leaders. Her reputation is such that both Republicans and Democrats trust her. As a guest host of MSNBC’s Hardball, she proved that she could be tough but fair. And as part of the NBC News team, she received an Emmy for covering the 2008 election.

Chris Matthews, host of Hardball, said of O’Donnell, “Norah is the best communicator I know. She has the talent to connect with true excitement. I am sometimes in wonder at her readiness to nail a story, to get to the heart of what’s important. What a pro!”

Bill O’Reilly, whom O’Donnell interviewed on 60 Minutes, is equally complimentary: “Norah O’Donnell brings brains, beauty and feistiness to the forum. If she weren’t already Irish, we’d have to claim her anyway,” he says.

O’Donnell, who was the darling of NBC, (the late TV legend Tim Russert was also a friend and a fan – he chose the name of her youngest daughter), surprised everyone when she moved over to CBS in 2011; first as chief White House correspondent, and then, in July 2012, as co-anchor of CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Gayle King.

Coming up on the third anniversary of the switch to CBS, O’Donnell is happy with the move. In addition to the morning show, she fills in as guest host on Face the Nation and also contributes to 60 Minutes, where the opportunity to do the kind of in-depth investigative reporting that the esteemed CBS news magazine show excels at, is the fulfillment of a long held ambition.

O’Donnell is the whole package. She’s got brains, beauty, and a quick mind, but focus is perhaps the key ingredient in her makeup. She knows what she wants and goes for it. When she was a kid she used to sit on a bench in her bedroom and pretend to be Barbara Walters. At age 10 she was on television. In Seoul, South Korea where her father was stationed, she was part of a PBS-type show that was designed to teach kids to speak English. She would say little phrases in Korean and then in English.

Norah and her husband, Geoff Tracy, at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Off the set, O’Donnell is a busy mom to 6-year-old twins, Grace and Henry, and 5-year old Riley.

Norah’s husband, Geoff Tracy, is also Irish-American. The couple met at Georgetown University (from which Norah earned a B.A. in Philosophy and a masters in Liberal Arts), and have been together for 23 years. He’s a chef and restaurateur, and in 2010, they authored a book for parents titled Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler.

It’s clear to me that O’Donnell loves her work (as we chat, her eyes light up at the idea of a possible story she might cover), and she’s clearly no slacker. One recent March day after her CBS morning duties, she served as a guest speaker at a women’s conference in New York (a firm believer in empowering women, she sits on the board of directors for the International Women’s Media Foundation). Then she flew down to Washington, D.C. to be Mistress of Ceremonies for the American Ireland Fund Dinner (AIF), which she has done for seven years, and the next morning, she flew out to Texas to film a segment for 60 Minutes.

Loretta Brennan Glucksman, the longtime guiding angel of the AIF, said of O’Donnell, “A large part of Norah’s popularity is that she’s genuinely proud of her Irish heritage, and her whole wonderful family attends the [AIF] party. But it’s her incisive intelligence, ability to listen acutely, and innate fairness that have propelled her to the top of her profession. Her Irish charm doesn’t hurt a bit, of course.”

The American Ireland Fund dinner in Washington. From left: chairman of the fund John Fitzpatrick, Vice President Joe Biden, Norah O’Donnell, and Kieran McLoughlin, CEO of the fund.

And she looks marvelous. On the morning that we meet in her office, there is no evidence that she has been up since four a.m. She is wearing skinny white pants, a fuchsia colored top, and a pair of killer heels (there is much online interest in O’Donnell’s shoes). Her arms are incredibly toned. (A pair of 10 lb. weights sit near her desk). In one hand she holds a large take-out cup of tea, her beverage of choice – she takes it with milk, just as her grandmother would have done. Her other hand holds a copy of a speech that she gave to the Scranton Society of Irish Women in March 2011.
“I worked very hard on this speech,” she says, laughing. “When the idea of me as a dinner speaker was first proposed, Chris Matthews took me aside and said, ‘This is very, very important. It’s a really big deal, Norah, so take it seriously.’ And I did.”

Tell me about your Irish heritage.
Both sets of my parents are New Yorkers and have full Irish bloodlines. My mother’s parents are off the boat from Ireland. My grandfather Edward O’Kane was from Derry and my grandmother Mary Monaghan was from Belfast. I was named after Mary’s mother, Norah Murphy. As an Irish Catholic, the oldest of nine kids, Mary grew up in really tough circumstances. At 12, she worked in a linen factory in Belfast and later, by herself, she got on a boat and arrived in Ellis Island in 1930. Really the courage of my grandmother is truly remarkable. My mother went to the national archives in Washington, where all the entry books from Ellis Island are, and found my grandmother’s name and signature. What was her occupation? Hemstitcher. She had only $20 to her name when she landed. She got a job in Creedmore Psychiatric Hospital, as an attendant taking care of the mentally ill. She worked 12-hour shifts. My grandfather worked too – in maintenance. They had three kids and didn’t have a lot of money.

Norah’s grandmother Mary Monaghan in Queens, New York.

My mother grew up poor and said there were many nights she went to bed hungry, but my grandmother still found a way to send boxes of canned ham back to Ireland because she had eight brothers and sisters back there that she was taking care of.

And the O’Donnells?
My great-great-grandfather on my father’s maternal side came over and worked in the coal mines in Pennsylvania. I uncovered this fact when I was doing research for my speech to the women in Scranton. He had gone from Ireland to Scotland and came to Pennsylvania, which is how my grandmother Helen Morahan came to be born in Avoca, Pennsylvania in 1902. I’m named after her since I’m Norah Morahan O’Donnell. She later became a teacher and moved to New York, but her sister Mary McDermott lived right on Main Street in Avoca her whole life.

What’s remarkable about the Irish is that most European immigration to U.S. was by men, but with the Irish, in the 1920s and 30s, it was mostly women coming over to work as cooks and nannies. These Irish women were such pioneers.

What did exploring your Irish roots do for you?
For me, it was the discovery of sacrifice, and hard work and diligence. It’s not just the spirit of the Irish, it’s the determination to find something better.

I quoted W.B. Yeats in that speech in Scranton. He said, “Joy is of the will which labors, which overcomes obstacles, which knows triumph.” The joy that overcomes obstacles is really, in many ways, at the heart of my grandparent’s story.

Everybody says you’re so lucky to be Irish, but I think the Irish know they built that luck with a lot of hard work. And certainly, in the case with my ancestors, it was a very tough life. They had to leave Ireland because of no jobs. It was tough getting a foothold in America. It’s weird to think that just one generation ago, my mother didn’t have a lot of food on the table.

Tell me about your parents.
My mother, who, by the way, is now back in college, and at 67 is studying microbiology, won a scholarship to Fordham University and had plans to go to medical school when she met my father. She did not end up becoming a doctor because she was a freshmen and my dad a senior and they eventually got engaged and married and lived in the West Village near St. Vincent’s Hospital where my father was doing his internal medicine residency. Francis, my older brother, now lives in an apartment where out the window you can see the hospital where he was born. Sadly, it has since closed.

My dad was drafted into the army and stayed in for 30 years. They moved first to Washington, D.C. I was born in Walter Reed [Military Hospital]. Then they moved to Germany. My father went over first and my mom tells the story of landing in the airport in Germany and waiting for five hours with two kids – a baby, me, and my older brother – for my dad to show up. I can only imagine the conversation when he showed up.

We lived all over the world. I have a younger brother who was born in Germany. And then 10 years passed and we did a tour in Korea, and I have a younger sister who was born in Seoul. We loved it. We lived there for two years and traveled all over Asia.

Did you go to Georgetown because it was a Jesuit school?
I grew up Catholic and we went to church every Sunday. You always went even if you were sick. My older brother went to Harvard so it wasn’t that my parents insisted on a Jesuit college, but it was certainly part of the decision.

What I enjoyed was the emphasis on theology and philosophy. It wasn’t Catholic theology just the study of theology and philosophy, and they were required courses. I ended up becoming a philosophy major and my husband, who did not grow up Catholic, became a theology major, just because we were fascinated by the the study of it, and while neither of us are in those professions, it was a great liberal arts education.

Norah in the White House briefing room during her time as CBS News’ chief White House correspondent.

Did your philosophy and liberal arts education help you in your career?
My liberal arts education was about the joy of learning and fostering curiosity. Tom Friedman of the New York Times, speaking at Notre Dame, said whatever you learn in college you’re going to forget in a couple years. What you really want to encourage is the joy of learning, because in order to be successful in life you have to constantly keep up and keep learning things.

At Georgetown, it was an enlightening period for me having gone to a big high school in Texas. Living in Washington, D.C., was a great education.

You covered Pope Francis and the conclave. Did you meet him?
I haven’t met him, but I would like to meet him. My father is named Francis. My parents are devout Catholics and Eucharistic ministers. To them it is all about service. At the heart and beauty of Catholicism are the priests and nuns taking care of the poorest among us. My parents love Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston [who is part of the Vatican commission advising Pope Francis on sexual abuse policy].

The focus on the Catholic church has come to be on these great misdeeds that have taken place because there was abuse of children and there is absolutely no excuse for that. The church needed to recognize that it needed to reform, and it needs to heal. And for people who are Catholic, you hope that the mission, once you get rid of the sick priests, is to refocus on what is good in the church.  Focus on the weakest amongst us and the people who need us most, the poor around the world and the social services that the church provides. When I grew up Catholic, that was always the focus. And that seems to be Pope Francis’ mandate.

Do you think we do enough to help people here in the U.S.?
60 Minutes did a story about two nurse practitioners who provide free care for people in central Appalachia.

That’s what I love about CBS. We are committed to original reporting, great story telling, and hopefully we are doing the kinds of stories you won’t see elsewhere. That’s why I came to CBS. We are not snooty about news, but we are not focused on a lot of the celebrity news that you can find in the news magazines. We are trying to focus on stories that tell us something larger about the human condition and the country that we live in or the world that we live in. That’s in the great tradition of 60 Minutes. Jeff Fager is our executive producer and is also our chairman at CBS, and those values are what animate us every day and that’s why I love CBS. I grew up in a household where your values were supposed to drive your decision making and how you live your life, and at CBS the values of original reporting and great storytelling are what animate us everyday. Gayle is like that and Charlie is like that.

You seem to work very well with Gayle and Charlie.
Oh we do. Chemistry is so difficult to create and for us on the show it comes naturally. When I first joined Charlie and Gayle, it was like we had been friends for a very long time. Our format is unique in terms of morning shows. The traditional format is that one anchor is with one guest and then in the next segment goes to the other anchor with a different guest. In our interviews, all three of us participate. Like for instance, Dr. David Agus is on the show talking about new breast cancer research and Charlie, Gayle, and myself will all ask questions. So that requires being able to read my co-hosts and sometimes give and take based on their interest in the story. We are all very generous with one another. Sometimes one of us doesn’t get a question in, but we don’t argue. It makes it, for me, the best job I ever had. We are focused on great journalism, and I also work with really great people. You don’t normally get those two things together.

Norah with her mother, President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Do you have a favorite story from last year?
The story that really stuck with me, was Malala Yousafzai [the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban]. That was truly memorable. You hear her story, but then meeting her – this 16-year-old has such presence and courage. I asked, “Weren’t you afraid?” There were threats made on her life. She has to live in England now. She said“I may be afraid of ghosts and dragons, but I’m not afraid of the Taliban.” She meant it. This was not some line. She wants to be prime minister of Pakistan one day.

Malala encapsulates what is going to be the story of the 21st century, which is the story of the empowerment of women and girls around the world. And that’s not just because it’s a moral virtue or political decision, but it’s going to become an economic story.

Women are the great untapped economic potential in the world. If you talk about global purchasing power, global economic power, women are going to grow exponentially in the next decade. Every major company is focused on that too, and on the fact that since 1982 women have gotten 10 million more college degrees than men. That’s the Bureau of Labor statistics. Women are getting more PhDs, masters, more post graduate degrees. We have taken a hammer to the educational glass ceiling. So, the question is, given that there is equal opportunity for education, why has it not translated to women in leadership positions?

In 1995, at the UN Conference on Women in Beijing, when Hillary Clinton said “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” it was a moral issue. Now it’s an economic issue. Women make up 80 percent of consumer decisions. Based on who you’re looking at, we women decide what car to buy, what computers, and groceries. We buy our husbands’ socks and underwear too. We decide which house we are going to live in. Largely, women are the ones who make those decisions. And 40 percent are the breadwinners in the family. Our economic power is growing and it’s going to blossom into political power. We have to get over other stuff such as bias. That’s ones of the reasons I joined the International Women’s Media Foundation to help those women whose voices weren’t being heard.

Any advice for young women?
In my own career, one of the most important things I’ve done is to say exactly what I want to do. I knew early on I wanted to be a network correspondent. I wrote for a newspaper called Roll Call. I got on TV and thought, I want to be a network correspondent. I always tell people, know what you want to do. And I knew I wanted to be a network correspondent at 25. I covered the White House, covered Congress, covered the Pentagon. I traveled all over the world with presidents and Secretaries of Defense. Then I got married and had three kids. I had a deal to sign with NBC. I had a great job, but I wondered, am I really reaching my potential? And I thought, gosh, I really want to do 60 Minutes. That was a show I watched with my family. So I called my agent and said I really want to do 60 Minutes, and he said that’s great but everyone wants to do that. I told him to make the call anyway. So he called and Jeff Fager said he wanted to meet with me. And I met with Jeff and he said, we aren’t going to make you a 60 Minutes correspondent immediately, but would you like to be our chief White House correspondent and our principal substitute on Face the Nation, and if you pitch some pieces we like on 60 Minutes we can work on that?

So, you made it happen?
Yes, I created my own luck, just like my grandmother, Mary Monaghan.  ♦

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The First Word:A Visit to Irish America https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/the-first-worda-visit-to-irish-america/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/the-first-worda-visit-to-irish-america/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 12:30:05 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19059 Read more..]]> I’ve come to think of Irish America as an actual place unto itself, sort of like in an Irish fairytale where someone is magically transported to another world. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get to take a trip to that place without ever leaving American soil.

That’s how it was for me the week after Easter. It began when I took two friends, visitors from Northern Ireland, to the Irish Consulate in New York to see the Archbishop Hughes Exhibition, and ended two days later at the Consul General’s Residence, singing along to the Irish ballad “The Cliffs of Dooneen,” at a Comhaltas Ceoltóirí éireann event.

In between, I visited Breezy Point in Queens, where Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly performed the ribbon-cutting on the rebuilt Catholic Center, and  later, in Manhattan, I attended the Kelly Cares “Irish Eyes” dinner – the annual fundraiser for the foundation run by the coach and his wife Paqui.

All of this followed on the heels of a visit to CBS Studios to interview the brainy, beautiful, and so talented Norah O’Donnell for our cover story; and earlier, a long and delightful telephone conversation with actor Ed O’Neill, the star of Modern Family.

My encounters brought to mind my favorite and oft-quoted line from William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun: “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”

I learned that Norah O’Donnell finds inspiration in the legacy of her Irish grandmother who, at age 12, was working in a linen factory in Belfast. And how Ed O’Neill’s determination was honed by growing up in an Irish family in a steel mill town – his sense of humor was honed there, too.

The Archbishop Hughes Exhibition at the Irish Consulate was a reminder of the work of Irish nuns and priests who championed education in America. Hughes himself, who emigrated from Northern Ireland with his family in 1817, built a national system of parochial schools, hospitals and orphanages, that became a safety net for Irish immigrants who flooded New York during the famine years.

Meanwhile, my trip to Breezy Point, an Irish enclave on Long Island that was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, showed me a community where Irish pride is strong, neighbors stick together, and family, friends and faith are paramount. And where, thanks to money from Coach Kelly’s foundation and others, the very heart of the community – the Catholic Club, which has served the community since 1922 – is once again beating strong.

All in all, my foray into Irish America was thrilling, and it ended on the most tender of notes. The Consul General Noel Kilkenny and his wife Hanora, both being from Clare, have a special appreciation for traditional music. So, in celebration of the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Comhaltas Ceoltóirí éireann Convention, which took place in Parsippany, New Jersey, April 25-27, they opened their home to Irish and Irish-American musicians who were participating in the event.

Songs were sung – a beautiful rendition of “Carrigfergus” in Irish and “The Cliffs of Dooneen” – and tunes were played. There was even a dance or two. But it was a group of musicians from Pearl River, New York, who won my heart.

Watching these young Irish Americans, who had taken home the top prize in the Under-12s competition at the Fleadh Cheoil in Ireland two years ago, brought joy to my heart, and also gave me the added reassurance that Irish America is alive and well, and will continue on into the generations to come.

Mortas Cine.

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Does Paul Ryan Have Irish Amnesia? https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/does-paul-ryan-have-irish-amnesia/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/does-paul-ryan-have-irish-amnesia/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 12:28:51 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19062 Read more..]]> On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day last March, Timothy Egan’s column “Paul Ryan’s Irish Amnesia” appeared in The New York Times. Egan cited Sir Charles Trevelyan, the British assistant secretary to the Treasury, who had ordered relief works to be shut down during the height of the Famine. “Dependence on charity,” Trevelyan declared, “is not to be made an agreeable mode of life.”  While “there is no comparison between the de facto genocide that resulted from British policy, and conservative criticism of modern American poverty programs … you can’t help noticing the deep historic irony that finds a Tea Party favorite [Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)] and descendant of famine Irish using the same language that English Tories used to justify indifference to an epic tragedy,” Egan continued.

Comments about Egan’s piece flooded my in box, and so, with permission from those who participated in the debate, and in the interest of furthering the debate, we bring you the following.  – P.H.

 

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Paul Ryan haughtily declared this about poor children getting free government lunches: “What they are offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul.”

At least there’s one thing that Ryan is expert at: empty souls, apparently by contemplating his own.
It is beyond my comprehension that an American of Irish ancestry – who claims his family escaped to America because of the famine – could look at children in such a callous manner.

I don’t think there is a bigger sin than depriving the hungry of food. For those of you not familiar with the Irish Famine here’s a quick history lesson – there was NO famine. During the decade from 1840 to 1850 there was plenty of food and livestock produced – and exported – from Ireland to England and other countries. But there was blight on the potato, the main staple of the indigent rural Irish peasant.

Put in a stark statistic, one million starved to death and one and a half million immigrated, mostly to America, Paul Ryan’s ancestors among them.
– Dermot McEvoy

This Ryan is the same fellow who, in championing private initiative during the 2012 campaign, spoke of how his mother commuted to the college in Madison, Wisconsin. Lost on his withered Ayn Rayn soul was the fact that both the college and the road on which his sainted mother drove were paid for with public monies.
– Clyde Haberman

Blackguard!
– John Hamill

Ryan is that special sort known as a “gombeen man,” the Irishman who squeezed rents and trapped tenants in a web of debts, who lent money at usurious rates and foreclosed in a flash, a land-grabbing leech, a sometimes informer for the Crown, a man of propriety and piety who was the first at the communion rail every Sunday. Plus ça change …
– Peter Quinn

So many Tammany types in the early 20th Century were the children of Famine exiles, most prominently Charlie Murphy. (Richard Croker, who preceded Murphy as boss, actually was a Famine exile). These were the pols that made New York into a hothouse of social reform in the 1910s and 1920s. Big Tim Sullivan infuriated the Anglo-American reformers in New York because they did not accept the elitist argument that poverty was linked to lack of character and virtue. Sullivan once said: “I never ask a man about his past. I feed a man because he is hungry, not because he is good.”

That no-questions-asked approach to charity is a direct legacy of the Famine. And that knucklehead Paul Ryan hasn’t a clue.
– Terry Golway
Author of Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics.

History and hypocrisy always make a great cocktail and Mr. Ryan has had too many of them this St. Patrick’s Day.
– Jack Deacy

Can I demur and say a word in praise of the congressman? As founder of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, I hosted a lunch for Ryan in Washington.

I was deeply impressed by Ryan’s humanity on the issue of immigration, motivated in large part by his understanding of the hardships his forebears faced.

He was especially passionate on the DREAM act. He is consistently the major voice of reason in the GOP party on this issue.
– Niall O’Dowd

It’s good to have someone brook the consensus and give a contrary view. I’m not as au fait with U.S. politics, but from an Irish American point of view it is important to acknowledge that at this stage in Irish America, bi-partisan is important and will become even more so.
– Eamon Delaney

I think it’s pathetic for Egan to equate Trevelyan letting people starve to death with Ryan’s efforts to deal with failed welfare programs.

What he wrote was insulting to the memory of the Irish who suffered and died 160 years ago. The American Jewish community would not have tolerated such an historically inaccurate comparison, why do the Irish?
– Adrian Jones

What do you think of this debate? Leave us your comments below.

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Gerry Adams Arrested https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/gerry-adams-arrested/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/gerry-adams-arrested/#respond Mon, 19 May 2014 12:27:56 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19070 Read more..]]> Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was arrested in Northern Ireland on Wednesday, April 30, and held until the following Sunday night when he was released without charge.

Police cited new evidence from a Boston College Burns Library oral history project in which former IRA members apparently named Adams in connection with the kidnapping and killing of Jean McConville’s in 1972.

Adams has strenuously denied any involvement in McConville’s death and Sinn Fein and other supporters claimed that the arrest, and an extension order that allowed police to hold Adams for nearly 100 hours, was politically motivated and designed to damage Sinn Fein’s chances in the upcoming local and European elections in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

Mark Baggott, the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: “The arrest and questioning of Mr. Adams was legitimate and lawful and an independent judge subsequently decided that there were grounds for further detention.”

Boston College has now ended its oral history project on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The participants who spoke to researchers had understood that their testimony would remain secret until after their death. However, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (using the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) took the college to court, and a U.S. judge ordered the Burns Library to turn over the tapes of interviews with paramilitaries who had implicated Adams in the McConville abduction.

Adams told the Irish Voice that the Boston College Belfast Project was flawed from the beginning, and that all of those interviewed were hostile to Sinn Fein. “…I was not and am not aware of any Republican or members of Sinn Fein in support of the peace process who were approached by Anthony McIntyre to be interviewed.”

A spokesperson for BC, Jack Dunn, agreed with Adams, and said the biggest mistake made by librarian Bob O’Neill “was in hiring Ed Moloney, who ultimately hired Anthony McIntyre . . . He did not vet them enough.”

McIntyre conceded in an interview with RTE that perhaps only “two out of the 26 people he interviewed were not anti-Sinn Fein.

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President Higgins’s First State Visit to the Queen https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/president-higginss-first-state-visit-to-the-queen/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/president-higginss-first-state-visit-to-the-queen/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 12:26:02 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19072 Read more..]]> In April President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina made their first official state visit to Queen Elizabeth II – in fact the first official Irish state visit to the U.K. since the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Celebrated as a diplomatic success, the four-day visit included two banquets at Windsor Castle, the royal residence; a concert at Royal Albert Hall celebrating Irish culture; and a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Though the trip had its critics, both Irish and English, President Higgins implored everyone to “think of all the things we have in common.” He also insisted that the trip does not mean forcing reconciliation or white-washing the past, saying, “Proximity in fact hides the nuances that are there in both of our countries,” adding that Ireland would not “become involved in any amnesia about different events,” according to The Irish Times.

In a speech at the Windsor Castle banquet, the Queen emphasized similar points, referencing the success of her 2011 state visit to the Republic. “My visit to Ireland, and your visit this week, Mr President, show that we are walking together towards a brighter, more settled future. We will remember our past, but we shall no longer allow our past to ensnare our future. This is the greatest gift we can give to succeeding generations.”

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Tech Companies Expanding in Ireland https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/tech-companies-expanding-in-ireland/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/tech-companies-expanding-in-ireland/#respond Mon, 19 May 2014 12:25:27 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19076 Read more..]]> A new report on the technology sector in Ireland suggests that the industry is poised for continued growth over the coming year, with the majority of businesses planning on expanding within the next 12 months. The study, which was commissioned by Allied Irish Banks and carried out by Amárach Consulting in partnership with the Irish Internet and Software Associations, also found that more than three quarters of technology businesses in the Republic increased their profit margins over the last year.

AIB’s Head of Business Banking Ken Burke told RTÉ this demonstrates that “start-ups and SMEs in the technology sector are poised for major expansion and job creation,” while also making clear that the banks must do what they can to support that growth.

While the report mainly focused on smaller companies, big tech companies like Intel are also expanding. Over the last three years, Intel has invested $5 billion upgrading its Leixlip plant in Co. Kildare, which employs 4,500 people directly.

Intel has employed a workforce in Ireland for 25 years and to date has invested roughly $12.5 billion in the country, the largest private investment in the history of Ireland. Speaking on the announcement, Taoiseach Enda Kenny called it a “red letter day” for Ireland, according to The Irish Times. “Companies invest when they have confidence in the workforce.”

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All For the Love of Ewe https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/all-for-the-love-of-ewe/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/all-for-the-love-of-ewe/#respond Mon, 19 May 2014 12:23:34 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19083 Read more..]]> Break out your wool shears, the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing championship kicked off on a 25-acre plot of land in May in Gorey, Co. Wexford, marking the second time this event has been held in Ireland. Over 30,000 people were estimated to have attended the festivities, currently being billed as the “Olympics of Sheep Shearing” with shearers from all over the world looking to compete from: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Canada, the United States, Japan, Norway, Germany, and China. Less than one month before the event though, an additional 1,000 sheep were still needed. But Irish farmers from the North and South rallied to fill the deficit in time for championships in Gorey.

George Graham, chairman of the host committee and a former competitor in the event remained positive that more sheep will be found, telling The Irish Times, “Farmers are being very generous. We’ve got promises of help as far away as Donegal. People are very supportive.” On top of the free haircut, farmers were also offered bonus prices for wool, and free tickets and products for the event.

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The Truth of the Battle of Clontarf https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/the-truth-of-the-battle-of-clontarf/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/the-truth-of-the-battle-of-clontarf/#respond Mon, 19 May 2014 12:22:08 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19086 Read more..]]> A grudge rebellion or the medieval equivalent of the 1916 Rising? The world’s leading authorities on the Battle of Clontarf gathered in Trinity College Dublin on April 11, 2014 in a bid to establish the truth of what really happened at the battle as part of a major international conference to mark the 1000th anniversary of the conflict and the death of Brían Boru. A new website featuring interactive maps of the battle was also launched at the conference.

There are few more emblematic dates in Irish history than that of the Battle of Clontarf, fought on Good Friday, 1014, when the high-king Brían Boru lost his life in the hour of victory against his Scandinavian and Irish foes. Traditional interpretations remember the battle as the medieval equivalent of 1916 with Brían as the martyr hero who led his people to victory over their would-be heathen conquerors on Good Friday. But more recent interpretations have favored the view that the battle was little more than the culmination of a rebellion against Brían, the king of Munster, by the insubordinate king of Leinster and his Dublin associates.

Entitled Clontarf 1014-2014, the 16th Medieval Dublin Symposium organized by Trinity’s Department of History in partnership with Dublin City Council aimed to re-evaluate the role of Brían Boru in the light of the latest cutting-edge research including a reinvestigation of Brían’s ancestry to see where he fits into the DNA of the nation. The symposium also highlighted recent research on the subject of the high-kingship of Ireland and of the role of the Vikings in medieval Ireland.

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Expansion Project for Cliffs of Moher https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/expansion-project-for-cliffs-of-moher/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/expansion-project-for-cliffs-of-moher/#respond Mon, 19 May 2014 12:21:02 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19088 Read more..]]> Visitors to the Cliffs of Moher this summer will see a much-needed host of upgrades to their tourist experience thanks to a 550,000-euro plan announced in April. The improvements were spurred by the increased tourist numbers over the past three years. Since 2011, the Cliffs of Moher has seen more than a 33 percent growth in the numbers of visitors to the natural wonder, from about 722,000 three years ago to well over 960,000 in 2013.

The proposal, headed by the Dublin-based construction group Rockbrook Engineering, will see expansions to the indoor visitor experience that will improve “visitor interactivity,” and “bring some of the outdoor experience of the Cliffs inside into the dome area,” Katherine Webster, the director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience said in a statement.

Additionally, the plan calls for upgrades to both the car park and the bus lot in order to accommodate driving tourists, including improved availability for handicapped parking as well as eCharging stations for smart cars.
Mayor of Clare Joe Arkins expressed his excitement at the announcement, telling the local newspaper Clare People, “The Wild Atlantic Way presents significant opportunities for tourism development right along the western seaboard of Ireland with Clare prominently featured as part of the new touring route that stretches from Donegal to West Cork.”

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is one of three “Signature Discovery Points” in County Clare along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way, the others being the Bridges of Ross and Loop Head Lighthouse.

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One Quarter of Ireland Affected by Another’s Drinking https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/one-quarter-of-ireland-affected-by-anothers-drinking/ https://irishamerica.com/2014/05/one-quarter-of-ireland-affected-by-anothers-drinking/#respond Mon, 19 May 2014 12:20:14 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=19091 Read more..]]> New research has found that more than a quarter of the population is affected by someone else’s drinking habits. While alcohol consumption in Ireland has steadily fallen over the past decade, the study aimed to look not at those who imbibe, but to investigate greater societal impacts of their actions. “Alcohol’s Harm to Others in Ireland,” published in late March by Ireland’s Health Services Executive (HSE), focused on the effects of other people’s drinking in three separate settings – the family, the workplace, and the general population – across five separate indicators.

At least 28 percent of the population has experienced one of the following effects of someone else’s drinking, according to the study: family problems, being driven by a drunk driver, physical assault, money problems, and vandalization. The study also studied men and women separately and found that men are more likely to report assault while women are more likely to experience family problems due to another’s habits.

CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland Suzanne Costello argues that even though the results are not always publicly visible, “harms to others from alcohol can range from minor to serious harms and public order offenses, and is one of the primary causes of child welfare and protection issues in Ireland.”

The Irish Times also reported that problem alcohol consumption costs the exchequer 3.5 billion euros per year, or roughly three times the annual budget of the Department of Agriculture.  Kathryn D’Arcy, director of Ibec’s Alcohol Beverage Foundation of Ireland, told the Times that part of it may have to do with a culture of tolerance for overindulgence and believing alcohol problems to be individual rather than societal, which the study aims to refute. Highlighting the fact that alcohol consumption affects more than just imbibers themselves, the study argues that “problem alcohol use can no longer be framed exclusively in the realm of personal responsibility.”

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