June July 2015 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:56:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 Des Bishop Is Seriously Funny https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/des-bishop-is-seriously-funny/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/des-bishop-is-seriously-funny/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 03:00:01 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22004 Read more..]]> He grew up in Queens, went to high school in Ireland, spent a year in the Gaeltacht, two years in China, and just bought an apartment back in New York. And here is an incomplete list of things he has done stand-up sets or made RTÉ documentaries about: living on minimum wage, alcoholism, his father’s lung cancer, low-income housing, the state of the Irish language, the marginalization of the working class, his diagnosis and treatment for testicular cancer, and, most recently, learning Mandarin in China. Yeah.

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In March, Des Bishop was in New York performing his new show “Made in China,” a spinoff of his Breaking China documentary series which aired in Ireland last year. The show was playing at the Barrow Street Theater, an off-Broadway black-box style venue as cramped as it is quaint, located in the landmarked Greenwich House in the West Village, and known for being bold. So it wasn’t surprising when the lights dimmed for Bishop’s entrance, and a photoshopped image of Mao Zedong giving the audience the middle finger appeared projected on the backdrop. Or when the synth horns of Chinese hip hop began to play over the sound system. Or when Bishop finally emerged, rapping along in Mandarin, and got the audience to shout out the infectious single-word refrain with him. (His energy is contagious. He knows this, and plays it up.) Or even when he nailed the first punch line of the evening, feigning a shocked contentedness that he was able to make a group of white people shout the Chinese word for the male reproductive organ. And the audience ate it up.

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A week later, we’re walking down a street around the corner from the theater, and Bishop, though not dressed in the navy suit, white French cuff shirt, and floral tie he wears for the show, is talking with the same energy he does on stage – which is to say fast, manic, and with that specific 718 swagger only a working class white guy from Queens can have. And yes, he still has his accent, which gives a kind of old-world weariness and knowledge to everything he says.

We’re discussing his recent move back to the city. He hasn’t lived in New York permanently since 1990 and he’s joking that the only times he’s been back to his native Flushing for any amount of time have been to take care of his ailing parents. His father died in 2011, just a week after My Father Was Nearly James Bond, the documentary Bishop made on coming to terms with his father’s sudden diagnosis of terminal lung cancer, aired on RTÉ, and Bishop spent much of 2010 in New York.

This time, it’s his mother. And he’s trying to find a balance between the show (its first run in the U.S.), settling into Flushing again, finding caretakers, coordinating family time, and everything else that comes with having a family member in failing health. It’s taking a toll on him, and he says as much.

“But not for long!”

As soon as he says this, he does what he always does when he wants it to be clear, on stage or off: he just made a joke. (The night I saw “Made In China” contained a number of these moments, too.)

“I’m only kidding. Only kidding,” he says, putting his hand on his chest and leaning ever so slightly backwards, in earnest.

This is what Bishop does best – take the audience (or a profile writer) out of their sense of cultural safety with humor. But it’s also where responses can vary widely from show to show, and city to city. When I asked him about the audience response once we get to a café not far from Washington Square Park, he acknowledged New Yorkers were “just a little bit more polite,” which explains his “only kidding” tick that evening.

I almost take offense, and I’m not even from the city in the first place.

But he explains. New York is a diverse city, and maybe because of that “there’s an alarm that goes off in people’s heads a little quicker here than other places” when a comic does work that challenges stereotypes about other cultures.

“I guess the thing that’s hard to understand for people is I developed the show in China. These are jokes about Chinese people that Chinese people find funny. They’re observations about Chinese people that are not jokes about race. They’re jokes about the things that were happening around me,” he says.

“But I know that it’s hard for people to see it as something other than a joke about race. And there’s very few jokes in the show that rely on stereotypes, but a lot of comedy does rely on stereotypes and not all of it is inappropriate.”

In or out?: Bishop on the Great Wall of China. Before moving there, Bishop admits he knew nothing other than two cultural stereotypes: the famous photo of the man in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, and the kung fu movies he used to go see in Times Square. He is happy to have those images busted.

In or out?: Bishop on the Great Wall of China. Before moving there, Bishop admits he knew nothing other than two cultural stereotypes: the famous photo of the man in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, and the kung fu movies he used to go see in Times Square. He is happy to have those images busted.

The success of this work hinges on his ability to navigate the line between confession and astute observations of culture, often at the expense of widely known stereotypes and assumptions about cultural norms. This is a good thing. And he does it well, having honed what Corey Kilgannon, writing in The New York Times, calls his “caustic observational wit” over 25 years living in and joking about Ireland. But it’s not without its criticisms.

Prior to Breaking China, Bishop made a series called Under the Influence, which took an unforgiving look at the role alcohol plays in Irish cultural identity. The series, which also focused on Bishop’s own early struggles with alcoholism (he has been sober since 1995), generated a small controversy when it aired in Ireland, though Bishop was already in China at the time. (“Which was handy because a lot of people were angry.”)

Much of the criticism was leveled at Bishop himself, and came in the form of what he called “passive aggressive xenophobia.”

Basically, “people trying to say I’m not Irish and always putting me in this ‘he’s not Irish’ [category].”

That form of critique, he says, is easier to dismiss as trolling, because he’s comfortable with his sense of national identity. But he takes to heart the real criticisms of the topic of alcoholism the series stirred up.

“When I see people getting angry about that subject matter, I always think, well this is what you want, to a degree. You want people to be angry about it

because you are genuinely talking about a thing that’s difficult to hear. Challenging Irish people about how their identity is too linked to booze is difficult, and that’s the challenge in making a series like that. And it stands up,” he says.

“I take the genuine criticism and I’ll have a think about it, especially because that’s an issue thing,” Bishop says. “If I want to completely shut myself off from everything people don’t agree with, then that shows that I’m a bit narrow minded, that I’m not willing to learn more.”

Still, “When intelligent people dismiss you as non-Irish I always wonder where that’s coming from.”

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Bishop is 39 now, and grew up in Flushing at a time when the neighborhood was predominantly Irish and working class. But it was also a time, Bishop says, when “we were sold this idea that we were upper middle class” even though “everybody’s parents were blue collar.” It was a time in New York City when working for the city meant making a living wage, and he had a comfortable childhood.

“We all played on our own and we were all fine. Outside, unsupervised, our parents called us home,” he says.

“I think that it’s healthy. And you navigate your way around relationships and it’s not as involved. You had a bit more say in who you hung out with.

“I was raised in the more traditional Irish American way. A little bit of slapping going on,” he says, before clarifying that he thinks the current evolution of parenting is good, even if it is “a bit sanitized.”

“But this concept of thinking that evolution only brings positivity is naïve, because of course we’re going to find out that there’s consequences to this way too,” he adds. “But it’s fine, you know, trial and error.”

One of the biggest trials came during his freshman year at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens with people he’s asked me to call, simply, “the Italian American kids from Howard Beach who were a little bit connected.” No names. Never names.

One of these connected kids’ friends liked Bishop’s girlfriend, and the rest of the connected kids put pressure on him, as they say.

“So, I sort of fell afoul of those guys. Which was frightening, especially in 1989 into 1990. That was a high profile time. And there was a real energy around those guys in my school. It’s mostly about the fact that those guys had a lot of—” he pauses. “People sort of looked up to them. That was the neighborhood that it was.”

Was he bullied?

“Well, back in 1990, it wasn’t like I was being bullied, they would probably say that I was going through some ‘tough shit.’”

At the same time this was happening, Bishop was also in trouble a lot for joking around. He thinks it would have been “a relatively normal level for probably a bit hyperactive kid – not that crazy.” (For this, we will take him at his word, because Bishop, performing or not, is an exceptionally self-aware human being and isn’t one to shy away from talking about his past behavior.)

He also was starting to have some problems with alcohol, getting in trouble for drinking, and disengaging with school. He wasn’t a terrible student, but he didn’t enjoy it, and didn’t fit in with the other students. That’s the real reason he moved to Ireland in the middle of high school, he says, not alcohol.

“So when the idea came up to go to Ireland, which was suggested to me by a cousin, not by my parents, I jumped at it. And I was lucky, because I never felt like I fit into Queens really. I played the role, but I never fit into my neighborhood really. I went to the wrong school… particularly in terms of the vibe. There was a lot of tough guy stuff going on. And so I put on a show, but I was not a tough guy. So I was happy, you know, when all that shit went down, I was happy enough to get out.”

Rebels: Des Bishop with his father Mike at Croke Park after a Cork All-Ireland  hurling victory in 2004.

Des Bishop with his father Mike at Croke Park after a Cork All-Ireland hurling victory in 2004.

Bishop may not have been particularly acquiescent to the Queens tough guy stereotype, but he does still have his Queens confidence, and of course his accent, all of which set him apart when he moved to a Wexford boarding school at the beginning of the following school year.

“I liked being the unique character – the kid from Queens in a rural boarding school… and it was great because it was just everything you could want as a result – I got interested in school, I had great fun, I found it all really inspiring, [especially] Irish history.”

He ended up on the student council, and went to University College Cork, where he studied history and English and became interested in the Irish language.

This distinguished him from his contemporaries at UCC, according to Joe Lee, head of the department of modern history while Bishop was there (now director of Glucksman Ireland House at New York University), who remembers his “appreciation of, and love for, the Irish language at a time when it was fashionable for quite a number in his age group, even in Cork, to be dismissive of it.” Learning the language, and attaining fluency in it, would become the subject of his third series for RTÉ, In the Name of the Fada, for which he moved to the Gaeltacht for a year. It was this series which gave him national acclaim and fame, in a traditional sense (You can read Irish America’s first interview with him from 2008 – in Irish – online.) But back to his beginnings.

In his third year at UCC, he was friends with a guy who ran a comedy club in Cork (Bishop had been sober for two years and knew the guy from “not drinking,” he says) who would give him and his friends free tickets. They went all the time, and Bishop started competing in what were, essentially, one-liner contests where the audience voted for the winner.

One night, says Bishop, “I guess I just started talking for quite a while so [the emcee] was like, ‘That’s it. In two weeks time you’re doing a spot. Do twenty minutes.’” Most Irish comics start out with five to seven minutes. Bishop was in the deep end. But, two weeks later, he did it.

“I guess the beginning and the end were good. The middle was rubbish, but I guess it was good enough that it was a good experience.”

From there, he fell straight into it. He moved to Dublin that summer, worked to establish himself, and when he began his final year, he already had one foot out the door.

Comic duel: Des Bishop and fellow stand-up Tommy Tiernan compete in the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival soccer match in February, 2008.

“I was on the train most of my final year of college just going back up to Dublin as much as I could.” He finished with a 2.2 – a second class honors degree – and finds it hilarious that UCC recently gave him their Alumnus Award. (He told me in his speech he told the students that college is really about the extracurricular activities, because he knows he was an average student, “but the other stuff made me. Some of those relationships that I made in college still exist today.”)

He moved to Dublin immediately after graduation and a couple years later the head of development at RTÉ approached him to do a TV show about working and living on the minimum wage. The show, The Des Bishop Work Experience, was a reasonable success, and led to one of his most enduring friendships – with a Chinese immigrant who Bishop calls Seamus. They met while working at a Waterford Abrakebabra, and in 2004, Bishop went with him to China for the first time. Since then, he’d been thinking about doing a show in China.

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“You go to a place, you adapt, you learn about people, and then you find a way to sort of throw it back at them in a way that makes them laugh, you know? And then you find the bits that are universal.” Bishop is responding to a quote I’ve read him that he gave The New York Times about liking “messing with people’s identity.”

“You find the things about China, you find the things about Mount Vernon [a Protestant Belfast estate where he did stand-up workshops for his second series, Joy in the Hood], you find the things about working on minimum wage that aren’t just funny to the people who know what you’re going through. But when you show them, they’re also funny to everybody else, and hopefully informative. That’s kind of the formula.”

He really does love it, too. When In the Name of the Fada wrapped, he seriously considered moving to the west of Ireland full-time. But the next thing happened, and he moved on. So when the opportunity came for him to stay in China after Breaking China was done shooting, he jumped at it. He spent almost two years there, went on two TV dating shows (no luck), and now is trying to convince his girlfriend Shauna to move from China to Flushing with him. (“We get on great, but it’s a killer long distance. So it really depends on whether she wants to emigrate.”)

“I used to cycle around the first year living in China, finish school, go somewhere on my bike, I’d listen to Chinese hip hop on my headphones, and I just thought to myself like, ‘How did I end up here? How is this my life?’ It was just the freedom to wander around this other city and not know anybody and yet be so comfortable and so content in that scenario,” he says.

Really?

“Oh yea, so happy. I absolutely loved it. But who knows, there may be a psychiatrist or psychologist reading this article going ‘I’ll tell you what that is. That’s a serious condition that guy has.’” ♦

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First Word: High Notes https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/first-word-high-notes/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/first-word-high-notes/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 02:59:17 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22014 Read more..]]> One of the many highlights of our recent Hall of Fame lunch was Notre Dame’s president Rev. John Jenkins’s tribute to Don Keough, the late great Irish American who contributed so much to Ireland and Irish Studies. “Don loved everything Irish,” Jenkins said, “but he also insisted it can’t be all about Ireland, and challenged us to found the Keough School of Global Studies at Notre Dame, to open ourselves to all cultures, all peoples, all religions around the world.

“I do think that is a very Irish trait,” Rev. Jenkins continued, “[that the Irish], a people who have gone to all corners of the world, be a people that can sympathize with all peoples, all languages, all cultures.”

Many of our stories in this issue give truth to that concept. We bring you a first-hand account from an aid worker in Nepal, where the Irish organization Concern Worldwide is helping in the recovery effort following the devastating earthquake.

And we take you to Vietnam where Janet Noble, an Irish woman from Dublin, has transformed the lives of thousands of children.

Another heartwarming story takes us to Normandy where “Irish Dave,” a Belfast man, provides a welcome for WWII veterans returning to the site of the D-Day landing.

Our cover story too, has a global slant. Des Bishop, the renowned comedian / social commentator, has just returned from a two-year stay in China. The trip was just the latest in a series of efforts Des has made to measure the human environment, having previously spent time in marginalized communities in Dublin and Belfast.

Other stories too speak to the cross-culture connectiveness of the Irish, including a piece on the Willis family whose mix of Irish music, country and gospel has made them the focus of a hot new reality show, while a report on the group “This Is How We Fly” shows an amalgam of musicians, Irish and otherwise, who are producing a great world music sound.

But perhaps nowhere does the all-embracing nature of the Irish have a more lasting and life-altering effect than right here on the homefront where teachers, often the unsung heroes of the world, are introducing students to the best of our heritage.

This truth was brought home to me on March 27, when the Irish American Heritage & Culture Committee of the Department of Education, City of New York named me Irish Woman of the Year. (I can honestly say that no previous honor has meant as much to me.)

What makes this organization special is not just the pride these educators take in their Irish heritage, and the support they give one another, but their outreach into other communities through the students they encounter in their schools.

The Committee gives out annual prizes to students for oration and art, and this year’s honorees were on hand at Brooklyn Borough Hall to receive their prizes.

Proud parents from every imaginable ethnic group sat in the audience as their sons and daughters, whose names, read aloud, produced a kind of American music – Yazmine Hussein, Zhuo Biao Chai, Victoria Pysher, Raymes Kahalid, Christ

Augustin, Alana Todd, and Amina Asif – were called upon to receive their awards.

In a stirring moment, Emma Gomez, a student from the Bronx, who earned the top prize in oratory, gave a flawless rendition of a speech President Mary McAleese had given at the dedication of New York’s Irish Famine monument in July 2002.

The whole evening was an experience that reached deep into the fabric of American life and the Irish part in it. One that showed us in our best light. And one that those students will carry with them for the rest of their lives. I will too.

Mortas Cine. ♦

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World Irish Dance-Off https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/world-irish-dance-off/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/world-irish-dance-off/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 02:58:34 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22020 Read more..]]> Hairspray, fake wigs, and oodles of bling were on full display in front of 20,000 spectators for the 45th installment of the Irish World Dance Championships which took place in

Montreal at the Palais des Congres in April. It marked the first time the event took place on Canadian soil and proved to be a massive crowd pleasing event that saw more than 5,000 competitors put their feet to work in a dance-off of epic proportions. This was no mere dance hall recital, but an event that saw the best of the best from around the world give it their all as the

audience looked on in amazement.

The event is commonly referred to as the “Olympics of dance” as top dancers work as much as 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. The championship has been growing in both popularity and attendance every year since its founding. Dancers, both male and female, compete either individually or as teams and are accompanied by a band with live musicians.

The event proves beneficial not only for the dancers, but for the behind the scenes activities which involve finding the right shoes and the trials and tribulations of settling on a wig, some of which go for as much as $250.

This year the 17-time world title holders from Illinois, the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, had hoped to add number 18 to their ever-growing list. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite make it. But dancers Mackenzie Holland and Peter Dziak came in 7th and 8th place respectively – not bad for 5,000 competitors. ♦

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Ireland’s Action Plan for Jobs Brings Results https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/irelands-action-plan-for-jobs-brings-results/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/irelands-action-plan-for-jobs-brings-results/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 02:57:13 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22032 Read more..]]> In his April 28th Spring Economic Statement speech, Finance Minister Michael Noonan T.D. announced that Ireland currently has the fastest growing economy in Europe. He said that 95,000 new jobs have been created since 2012, with a record 20,000 being created last year.

The jobs are being created across a number of sectors including medical research.

Ciaran Murray, CEO of ICON (pictured above), announced plans at the end of January to create 200 jobs in a new Global Innovation.

Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, said ICON, the Dublin-based global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology industries, was “a great example” of what the Action Plan for Jobs is working to achieve.

Minister Noonan estimated that by 2017, outward migration will switch to inward migration and that 200,000 new jobs will be created by 2018 over and above the jobs replacing those lost during the downturn. Noonan continued, “There will be more people working in Ireland by 2020 than ever before.”

Despite these sanguine pronouncements, Noonan urged caution, reminding Ireland not to remake the mistakes that left her “on the verge of bankruptcy” five years ago. ♦

 

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News From Our Honorees https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/news-from-our-honorees/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/news-from-our-honorees/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 02:56:11 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22035 Read more..]]> Irish businessman and 2012 Irish America Business 100 Keynote Speaker Denis O’Brien has created a fellowship that will, on an annual basis, offer two Irish students a fully-funded master’s degree in business administration at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, where O’Brien himself earned his M.B.A. in 1982. The Denis O’Brien Fellowship is available to Irish citizens with exceptional academic or career achievements.

Denis O'Brien.

Denis O’Brien.

Thomas Moran, chairman of Mutual America and head of Concern Worldwide, U.S., has been named Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast. Moran, a native New Yorker with roots in Cavan and Fermanagh, received an Honorary Doctorate of Science in Economics from Queen’s in 2006 for his achievements in business and public service. As chancellor, Moran will be both an ambassador and advisor for Queen’s, and will also attend degree-conferring ceremonies. Moran was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2012.

Tom Moran.

Tom Moran.

And finally, the Kelly Cares Foundation’s 5th Annual Irish Eyes Gala took place at the JW Marriott Essex House, on Monday, March 16, 2015 in New York. Established in 2008 by Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly and his wife Paqui, the Kelly Cares Foundation has donated over $2 million to support causes locally, nationally and globally. They honored 2014 Irish America Hall of Fame inductees Stephen, Patti Ann, and Conor McDonald♦

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Dublin Mural to Gay Marriage https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/dublin-mural-to-gay-marriage/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/dublin-mural-to-gay-marriage/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 02:55:18 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22042 Read more..]]> A touchingly brave four-story mural of two men embracing was recently plastered on the side of a Dublin building on George Street. The black and white image is meant to be a “poignant representation of same sex love,” according to its painter, Joe Caslin. His image is a homage to marriage equality, an issue soon to be taken up in a May 22 referendum.

The mural is said to be inspired by Frederic William Burton’s “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs” which was voted Ireland’s favorite painting in a 2012 poll. Caslin’s image is similarly taking Dubliners’ hearts by storm with hundreds of selfies posted across the social media spectrum, support from celebrities and politicians, and with write-ups in The Irish Times and Buzzfeed. The mural has been so successful that Caslin is considering installing a second image of two women embracing, but a location has yet to be chosen. ♦

UPDATE: Since the mural was painted and this story ran in the June / July 2015 issue of Irish America, the mural has washed away in the rain. After a successful petition through Change.org to raise money to make the mural a permanent installation on George Street, the organizers released this statement:

After all the hard work of you lot, I’m afraid to say it’s been for nothing. Apparently, the mural was a little less sturdy than we originally thought. Due to heavy rain earlier today, half of the mural has been washed away. Don’t for a second let this deter you or feel like this was a wasted venture. This petition showed me 1 very important thing, The citizens of this country, and indeed this world, are some amazing people, who are not willing to sit down and take inequality of people as if it’s something deserved. You have all been incredible, I’m incredibly proud of where this has lead to, almost 45,000 signatures in a week! I’m sad to see this piece of art go, but there will be more! Thank you so much for joining me on this venture, I never would have expected an outpouring like this. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the many Cllrs, TD’s and Journalists for their support in this campaign.

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Michael Longley Given Freedom of the City in Belfast https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/michael-longley-given-freedom-of-the-city-in-belfast/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/michael-longley-given-freedom-of-the-city-in-belfast/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 02:54:50 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22048 Read more..]]> Michael Longley, poet, educator, and promoter of the arts, received the highest honor that one can receive from the Belfast City Council on March 23, 2015. The Freedom of the City title, much like the Key to the City awards given in American cities, is, according to Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon: “the city’s formal expression of the high regard, esteem, and affection in which our citizens universally hold an individual who has made an outstanding positive contribution to our city and its reputation,” and in Longley’s case:

“It is also Belfast’s greatest way of saying thank you to Michael, a citizen of such creativity, compassion, and unassuming grace.”

Amongst the distinguished figures who paid tribute to Longley at the ceremony, poets Frank Ormsby and Irish President Michael D. Higgins expressed admiration for Longley’s cultural and literary contributions. Higgins was keen to note that Longley, “so often in the vanguard,” had a less obvious but not insignificant influence in creating the social context for the Belfast Agreement.

“Even in the darkest days,” Higgins said, Longley and other artists “kept up an unbroken conversation, a common commitment to the humane and the decent, a common belief in the constructive and salvific power of the imagination as a human good.”

Amongst Longley’s manifold works are elegiac poems that confront the memory of the Troubles. Longley, who served on the city’s arts council for many years, also took the opportunity to remind

legislators of the importance of funding the arts and stressed that:

“Without the beautiful things, our society will die.” ♦

 

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NLI to Make 400,000 Parish Records Digitally Available https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/nli-to-make-400000-parish-records-digitally-available/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/nli-to-make-400000-parish-records-digitally-available/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 02:53:26 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22054 Read more..]]> The National Library of Ireland recently announced that it will be digitizing their parish records and providing free online access starting on July 8th. These records are considered the most important resource for researching Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census, and the NLI has referred to the digitization as the greatest ever genealogical project in the library’s history. The records date from the 1740s to the 1880s, cover over 1,000 parishes, and while they have been available on microfilm since the 1970s, this is the first time they will be available for free online.

To access these records, one would have had to visit the National Library in Dublin or pay a third-party researcher to do so. Fee Berry, who lives in the UK, expressed excitement at accessing the records to search for her grandmother, as the cost had prevented her from doing so in the past. Clara Doyle of Ireland Reaching Out echoed Berry’s sentiments, calling the website “a great advancement for those researching their Irish family history,” as people all over the world can soon research their Irish ancestors without leaving their homes. ♦

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The Grey Nuns at Quinnipiac https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/the-grey-nuns-at-quinnipiac/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/the-grey-nuns-at-quinnipiac/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 02:51:53 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22062 Read more..]]> A new exhibit on the Grey Nuns hosted by Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University opened April 1. A private event launching the exhibit took place on March 31 with the Canadian Consul General, Quebec Delegate to New England, and the Irish Consul General of New York all in attendance.

The long overdue exhibit shines a light on the untold number of English and French Canadians who provided charity and support for the thousands of immigrants who fled Ireland during the Famine. Foremost among them were the Sisters of Charity, who were more commonly referred to as the Grey Nuns. Theirs is a story of compassion and resolve during a time of great suffering and one which has been largely overlooked.

Barbara Jones, left, Consul General of Ireland, Marie-Claude Francoeur, Quebec Delegate to New England,Christine Kinealy,  John F. Prato, Consul General of Canada,  and Jason King toured the exhibit "Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger"  on display at the Arnold Bernhard Library on the Mount Carmel campus of Quinnipiac University. The exhibit opened to the public April 1, 2015.(Photograph by Johnathon Henninger / for Quinnipiac University)

Barbara Jones, left, Consul General of Ireland, Marie-Claude Francoeur, Quebec Delegate to New England,Christine Kinealy, John F. Prato, Consul General of Canada, and Jason King toured the exhibit “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” on display at the Arnold Bernhard Library on the Mount Carmel campus of Quinnipiac University. The exhibit opened to the public April 1, 2015. (Photograph by Johnathon Henninger / for Quinnipiac University)

The exhibition, “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger,” was a joint collaboration between Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute and professor of history, and Jason King, Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Moore Institute at Galway University, and the Arnold Bernhard Library. Kinealy said of the exhibit, “The story of the Grey Nuns, and of the other religious orders who helped the dying Irish immigrants, is one of kindness, compassion and true charity” adding “this is a remarkable story that deserves to be better known.” ♦

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The exhibition runs through March 18, 2016.

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Gallipoli Remembered https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/gallipoli-remembered/ https://irishamerica.com/2015/05/gallipoli-remembered/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 02:50:32 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=22066 Read more..]]> Consul General Barbara Jones laid a traditional Irish green laurel wreath to commemorate the more than 3,000 Irish serving with Allied forces who lost their lives during the WWI Gallipoli campaign. The Anzac Day dawn service, on the centenary of the Allied landing at Gallipoli on April 25, was held at the Vietnam War Memorial on Water Street in lower Manhattan.

Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorates the more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died in Gallipoli. ♦

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For complete coverage of the day’s events, see Patricia Harty’s Weekly Comment.

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