October November 2004 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Tue, 18 Jun 2019 17:06:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 Head in the Clouds https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/head-in-the-clouds/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/head-in-the-clouds/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:59:45 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=39994 Read more..]]> Tom O’Neill talks to Hollywood heartthrob Stuart Townsend about his newfound stardom and his latest movie with Charlize Theron.


The common perception might be that when you have a very hot, Academy Award-winning actress like, say, Charlize Theron, and she does a follow-up picture to the film that won her an Oscar (Monster) and it just so happens to co-star her, well, less familiar – but extremely good-looking – actor boyfriend: say, Dublin’s own Stuart Townsend, that, well, the newly empowered star might have thrown her weight around a little to get the up-and-comer his role. Not so when it comes to Townsend, a scrappy, theater-trained son of a Howth golf pro, who earned his ticket out of Ireland with an award-winning performance in a play he co-wrote for the Gaiety Theatre.

Dublin-born up-and-coming actor Stuart Townsend. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics).

Monster was already in the can and being readied for release last September when the script Townsend committed to a year earlier landed on his girlfriend’s – and his – doorstep. Granted, it was her John Hancock that finally put the project in turnaround, but it was his picture first, and at his urging that she agreed to do it. Theron, who had already appeared with the 31-year-old actor four years earlier in Trapped (where they met and fell in love), liked the idea of playing opposite her beau again, and lost the 30 pounds she’d packed on for Monster to become “Gilda,” the hedonistic American heiress who falls for “Guy,” an Irish-born idealist in the World War II drama Head in the Clouds.

Scheduled for a September 17 release, Clouds also stars Spanish actress Penelope Cruz as the third wheel in a complicated – and very sexy – triangular relationship. It’s an interesting choice for the real-life lovers, especially considering the fate of another well-known Hollywood couple’s disastrous back-to-back flops earlier this year. Acknowledging the risk of working with his high-profile girlfriend so soon after their original pairing in 2002’s Trapped, a kidnapping drama, the amiable Townsend chuckles and says, “We’d wanted to work together again, but you want to do the right stuff. You don’t want to end up doing Gigli II.”

While Theron is definitely in the same ball park – at least cinematically – as J-Lo, Townsend still needs to hit a few homers to join Ben Affleck’s ranks. But he’s certainly stepping up to the plate. After establishing himself as a sultry, moody presence in a string of U.K. independents like Trojan Eddie (1996), Shooting Fish (1997), and Wonderland (1999), Townsend broke out in America in the critically underwhelming, but big cult hit, Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned (2002). Displaying the gutsy nerve of his rugged Irish upbringing (he was an amateur boxer before he turned to acting), Townsend leapt into the role of the sexy Vampire Lestat that was created by Tom Cruise in the film’s prequel, 1994’s Interview With the Vampire. While the film was better known for the tragedy that befell Townsend’s leading lady, Aaliyah (killed in a plane crash shortly before the film’s release), it established him as a figure to be reckoned with in Hollywood as well as the U.K.

As the vampire Lestat with Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned, 2002. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics).

That same year he had other leading lady problems – and rewards – when he arrived in Vancouver to make Trapped. While he politely declines to discuss the actress he had to share most of his scenes with – the formidable Courtney Love – his grimace at the mere mention of her name sufficiently renders true the rumors of Love’s disruptive behavior on the set. Ask him about his other leading lady on the film though, and he positively beams. The two became lovers during the three-month shoot of Trapped, and, at its conclusion, Townsend sent for his things in London and never looked back.

Townsend’s seemingly charmed life has had only one notable setback, but it’s a doozy. In October 1999, he arrived in New Zealand to play the role of the leader of a band of elves, dwarves, and hobbits seeking to reclaim the lost kingdom of Middle Earth. One week after the cameras rolled, however, he was fired from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (for “creative differences”) and replaced by Viggo Mortensen, who entered the pantheon of celluloid heroes as Aragorn, heir to the throne of Gondor, in the enormously successful trilogy. It’s another subject Townsend shies away from, but he does reveal for the first time that reluctant star Mortensen (who famously shuns publicity and other trappings of Hollywood) wrote him an “amazing letter” afterward that eased the pain a little. But in the same way his countenance gave him away at the mention of a former not-so pleasant leading lady, his body language changes noticeably when asked what it was like to sit in the front row at the Oscars and watch the movie win nearly every award – including Best Picture and Director.

Townsend, wearing blue jeans, a faded t-shirt, and a quick-and-ready grin, is utterly anonymous this afternoon at Patrick’s Roadhouse, a honky-tonk food and music joint on the Pacific Coast Highway, just a few miles south of Malibu, where he and Theron share one of their two Los Angeles homes. Arriving between lunch and dinner servings, he has to charm the manager to open up the outdoor patio (so he can smoke) and, when he encounters some resistance, doesn’t attempt any movie-star maneuvers to seal the deal. Did the manager recognize him, I ask as we sit down to a late breakfast of French toast, coffee and cigarettes. “No way!” he says, with a laugh, and then a quick glance up to see if his interrogator is taking the piss out of him.

Had the interview occurred last winter, around the time the girlfriend was carting him around from award show to award show to help her carry home the endless supply of trophies, he almost certainly would’ve been recognized, particularly after the Oscar broadcast when he nearly stole the show in his defiantly white tuxedo – the talk of the fashionistas in the post-show wrap-ups. Ask Townsend about his bold sartorial move and he blushes, for the first of what will be many times.

TO: Okay, whose idea was the ice cream suit? Yours?

ST: No!

TO: The girlfriend’s?

ST: No! I think it was the stylist. I said, “Oh, all right, I’ll go for it.” [Laughs] The white suit!

TO: Stains at the end of the night?

ST: Oh, probably, yeah.

TO: Besides hearing Charlize’s name read as Best Actress, what was your favorite moment of the night?

ST: There was one really nice moment, before we left for the show. We had about 40 people at the house, and I had a couple of people from Ireland, we were all just getting ready. Everyone was taking photos, and drinking champagne. That was quite a moment.

TO: I know you don’t like to talk about Lord of the Rings, but it must have been tough to be in the front row when the entire cast of the movie bounded on stage to collect the Oscar for Best Picture.

ST: It was weird. It was an odd situation, to be there right in front of them, but I have no hard feelings. I clapped. I thought, “I’ll clap for these people. They did make good movies, and now it’s done.” It was closure for me in a way.

TO: Was it doubly weird because you’d just watched your girlfriend get the Best Actress Oscar?

ST: It was funny because it was a night that could have been really hard, but I had the best night ever. That’s what was really nice about it. Celebrating my girlfriend winning an Oscar.

TO: Has the girlfriend’s sudden rise in fame caused any changes in your relationship?

ST: It doesn’t change our relationship. A lot of people have this idea that you can’t go anywhere and the fact is we go everywhere. The only thing is, when you’re living in L.A., there’s a tendency to have a lot of paparazzi around – and there has been a bit of paparazzi recently, but it doesn’t affect us. We’re not going to stay indoors and hide from it. Pretty much what we do hasn’t changed. Occasionally we get bothered by paparazzi, and we just deal with it.

In the bathtub with girlfriend Charlize Theron in Head in the Clouds. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics).

TO: Who’s harder on you guys, the Irish, British or American tabloids?

ST: Ireland is grand. The British are just like rabid, foaming dogs. Some of the Europeans and Italians are bad. When we were in France it was pretty intense, but the funny thing is if you go there to promote a movie, say, spend three days in France or Italy, then the press are going to be on you. But if we go there for a holiday, no one knows we’re there. So no one bothers you. It’s okay if you’re doing a few days press, it’s fine. You’re just working anyway.

TO: Do you ever have to call your family in Ireland to tell them something in the tabloids isn’t true?

ST: Not really. The biggest rumor that goes around about us is that we’re getting married and that is a very good rumor to have because it could be a lot worse. I’m sure there’s going to be times when it’s going to be, like, I was seen with so-and-so, or she was seen with so-and-so, and there’s nothing you can do. We’ve been together three-and-a-half years and everyone knows we’re madly in love. It’s never nice, but we’ve been really lucky. Touch wood.

TO: In your new film, Head in the Clouds, your character is asked his nationality and he answers, `On paper, I’m British, but I don’t believe in countries much.’ Is that how you feel about your Ireland?

ST: It is, yeah. I don’t believe in nationalities.

TO: Do you feel dislocated from Ireland?

ST: No, not dislocated. In a funny way my relationship with Ireland has changed. When I was 12, my bags were hypothetically packed. I wanted to get out. I grew up in a small village and I disliked the begrudgery, the narrow-mindedness, the gossip. I just wanted to get to a big city. I left when I was 23. At that stage I really hated Ireland. I wanted to never go back and I burnt down my bridges. Then, when I was 26 — and I still hated Ireland — I went back to do a film, spent three months there and completely reconnected with my old friends. I met a lot of new people in that time, too. So weirdly enough, in the five years since, I’ve grown to have a great relationship with Ireland. I love going back. Love seeing the people there. I don’t ever really want to live there again, but I love going back.

TO: Is there an Irish expat community in Los Angeles that you’re a part of?

ST: I never really hung out with Irish people. Like, if I went to New York, I never went to Irish bars. I never did that thing, but I know a few Irish people here. What’s amazing is that the people I met here, my closest friends, were all introduced to me through Irish connections. That’s why I love L.A., because I’ve got some really great people here. I don’t think any of them are in the film business. They’re all very different types of people and they were all introduced to me through Irish friends who knew them. I came here and they were like, “You got to hook up with so-and-so.” That’s great because a lot of people I know here also know all my friends in Ireland.

TO: Before coming to L.A. you lived in London for five years, how was that?

Townsend in Resurrection Man, 1998. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics).

ST: London’s a very funny place. When I arrived in London, racism against Irish people was sort of dying out, but, if I had gone to London 10 or 15 years before, I would have been a paddy or a mick. I found it very lonely because English people have this rigid class system and if they can’t define you within that class system, they don’t know what to make of you. A lot of people didn’t know what box to put me in because I’m Irish and I didn’t go to public or private school. I didn’t fit into their boxes. London is a very lonely place. It’s hard to meet people. I met some great people, but it took me a long time.

TO: Are both your parents Irish?

ST: No, my Mum’s Irish and my Dad’s English, so I have that whole other thing going on as well. It’s weird, because if you’ve got an Irish mother and an English father, it means you never feel really comfortable in Ireland, and you never feel really comfortable in England either. But I grew up in Ireland and I think where you grow up leaves the imprint.

TO: Did your folks have any inkling you’d become an actor?

ST: They had no idea! I was lucky in one way. My mum was a really fantastic artist and she got into Dublin’s best art school [but] her parents wouldn’t let her go. They were staunch Catholics and art school was full of drugs and boys. There was just no way. So she vowed that whatever I, or any of her children, wanted to do, they could do. Which was weird because when I said I wanted to be an actor they both went, “Oh, no!” But they’d made that promise. My dad was like, “It’s just a phase,” but my mum was like, “Oh, God!” She was kind of in an art scene and she knew actors and she was worried. I went to drama school and I remember she went and asked the teachers one day, “Is he any good?” She was always worried about it.

TO: What did they tell her?

ST: [Bursts out laughing] I don’t know! I have no idea, but it wasn’t that bad because she didn’t say, “Stop right now!” I did three plays after coming out of drama school. The first two were a bit of a disaster, but the third was a really great play called True Lies. We [the cast] actually wrote it and it took on this huge life. It became the biggest hit in the Dublin theater. We had people like Bono and Seamus Heaney coming every night, so it was really exciting. It ended up going to the Bush Theater in London and it won the Stuart Parker Award for best play, so it was a really big thing. When she saw that it was great…[voice trails off]. She saw the play and afterward she came up and said “I’m not worried anymore.” That was great. She died shortly after, so it was kind of the last thing she saw me do. It was great because at least she got to that place in her head, “Oh, he’s all right.” She knew I was serious about it at that stage.

With Kate Hudson in About Adam, 2000. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics).

TO: Does your dad come to L.A. and hang out at the house in the Hollywood hills with you and Charlize?

ST: He does and every year we go away on holidays for Christmas, like literally 25 or 30 of us.

TO: And does Charlize go along?

ST: Oh, yeah and her family. This year we’re trying to do 50 of us.

TO: Where you going?

ST: [Smiles] Can’t tell.

TO: A warm climate?

ST: Yeah, we always try and go somewhere beachy. Somewhere the Europeans can go and have a sit on the beach. We’ve done the Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii, it’s a big thing, because you get to see everybody.

TO: Who organizes it?

ST: It’s pretty much always us – me and Charlize.

TO: Sounds like it could be a bigger production than making a movie, just coordinating everyone’s schedules, booking flights, getting the rooms.

ST: It’s tricky, pretty tricky.

TO: I wasn’t going to ask the marriage question, but if you’re traveling with her family and enjoying it and she’s doing the same with your family, you’ve surmounted the biggest obstacle to marriage: liking each others’ families.

ST: Yeah, right! Getting over the whole mother-in-law hump. Marriage is such a funny thing because everyone automatically assumes, “Oh, you’ll get married.” It’s interesting, I mean, I don’t discount marriage, but it’s not something I’m rushing to do. I think a lot of people get married for something to do, and I never want to do that. It’s not a priority in my life at the moment. Maybe one day, but later. If we love each other, that’s the most important thing, not if you’re married. If you trust each other. Trust is more important than marriage to me.

TO: And kids?

ST: Kids? I don’t know. It’s the same kind of thing. If it happened tomorrow, I’d be delighted and if it doesn’t happen tomorrow, I’m fine with that.

TO: And she feels the same way?

ST: Yeah. We don’t have those pressures of like [gruff man’s voice], “Hey babe, come on, we got to get married!” or [whiney woman’s voice] “Oh, honey, I really want a kid.” We’re young and we’re just enjoying ourselves. Whatever happens, happens.

TO: Do you remember your first impression of Charlize when you met on Trapped?

ST: It’s funny, actually. The first time I met her was in a read-through with the cast and I was a little overwhelmed because we were in the room with tons of people. We sat beside each other and I honestly really didn’t take that much notice, maybe because we were working. Kevin Bacon was there, Courtney Love, the director, producers, assistants. There were so many people. All I remember is Charlize had a dog with her and I remember thinking, “Oh, there’s the mad lady with the dog!” But then that night we went out to dinner with the director and I arrived a little early, and she arrived a little early, and she just looked like a million dollars. I went, “Whoa! Who is this girl?” It was funny because I guess there had been so much going on at the reading I hadn’t really taken stock of her and then suddenly the pressure was off, we were going to dinner, and I looked at her and went, “Wow!” This was the first time I had really seen her in a way.

TO: Remember what she was wearing?

ST: It was like a black dress. She just looked really…[sighs]. When she glams up it’s ridiculous. She can look so hot. She’s a goddess, man, a total goddess. That night we had so much fun. I was just smitten after that.

TO: Did she bring the dog to the dinner?

ST: [Laughs] No!

TO: Was it one of those little ones?

ST: Yeah, one of those little ones.

TO: Like a white poodle with pink ribbons?

ST: No, it wasn’t a poodle, thank God! A poodle might have been a deal breaker.

TO: You’ve played Irish characters in both films opposite Charlize, in fact in almost every film you’ve done so far. Do you have a favorite Irish actor?

ST: Richard Harris. I did my first film with him and I’ve never really been star struck, but I was star struck meeting him. He really was larger than life. A giant of a man. I’ve never met someone who had so much power and danger in him — and charisma. And great stories, man.

TO: Did you get to spend a lot of time with him?

ST: No, but the time I did was just fantastic. We went out one night and had a few Guinness and it was just – it was my first film and I was sitting there, like, wow, that was my big moment. I also liked Gabriel Byrne and I got to work with him as well. That was another big honor. He came to our acting school 12 years ago and I was out that day and I’ll never forget coming in the next day and everyone’s like, “Gabriel Byrne came in!!” And all the girls are like [in high-pitched squeal], “Oh, he’s gorgeous!” And I remember going, “God, I missed that! Shit! I’d loved to have met him.” So it was great, years later, to actually do a movie with him.

TO: You also worked with Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Were you there the day he got in the fight with the director?

ST: [Laughs] Which one?

TO: The one that came to blows.

ST: You know, what’s weird is I never saw any of that. The director supposedly blew up almost every day and I never, ever saw it. I’d always hear these rumors about this, that and the other, and I never saw it. I wasn’t on set when they had a big fight, but I remember Sean Connery coming back after, and he seemed a little bit flustered. There was always that stuff going on, but I never saw any of it.

Townsend in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 2003. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics).

TO: Is Sir Sean tough?

ST: He was 74, but he’s still a big fella and he’s Sean Connery! I wouldn’t fight with him because he’s Sean Connery! [Laughs] Bit of respect. The guy’s been around, he’s a legend.

TO: Well, you’ve been around a few of these guys. Who’d win in a fight, Sir Sean or Sir Anthony Hopkins?

ST: Wow, I think Sir Sean would win. Although the first rule is never mess with the little guy. If you’re in a fight, and there’s a little guy and a big guy, always go for the big guy.

TO: How about a fight between Sir Sean and Sir Ben Kingsley?

ST: Yeah, see what I mean? There’s the rule.

TO: Then how about Sir Ben and Sir Elton John?

ST: Oh, I think Elton would lose. I think Sir Ben would bounce him around like a beach ball. But I tell you, I’d pay some money to see that fight.

TO: Charlize or Courtney Love?

ST: Oh, God! I think Charlize, she’s tough, man! She’s a farm girl. The mother and her have wrestling contests.

TO: No!

ST: Oh, yeah! And she still can’t beat the mum. I tell you, I wouldn’t mess with the mum. She’s, like, full on.

TO: Do they get down on all fours?

ST: Oh, full on. They’re all over the place! I have some glorious photos of the two of them.

TO: You’re joking! How about videos?

ST: No, but brilliant photos. Once, in Paris, there was, like, Charlize, her mum, the assistant and the stylist all wrestling! I was taking photographs!

TO: Four women? In Paris?

ST: Yeah, and her mother was on top of all of them! They’re great fun, they’re just full of life, man. Charlize says, `The day I can beat my Mom is the day I’m my own person.’ But it’s never going to happen. South Africans are tough. They’re very similar to Irish people. When I first brought Charlize over to Ireland we went to this pub, Mulligan’s, it’s where I bring everyone. There’s great Guinness there. And we’re sitting in the pub, and all the girls were like [mimics loud, boisterous women] `Yaaaay! Yap, yap, yap!’ Really loud, and I’ll never forget it, she was just amazed. She said, “Wow, this reminds me of South Africa where the women are so loud.” Over here everyone’s so self-conscious. Everyone’s looking at everyone. No one can step out of line. Whereas in Ireland it’s much more raucous and boisterous. And it’s like that in South Africa and she loved that. People are just themselves, shouting and screaming and doing everything at once, you know? ♦

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The First Word: The Irish Way https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/the-first-word-the-irish-way/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/the-first-word-the-irish-way/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:58:14 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40048 Read more..]]> “Eoin was never afraid to aim high. He played a seminal role in creating the transatlantic scholarly conversation that is Irish studies today, and he believed in his vision at a time when almost no one shared his dreams.” – James Rogers, Director, Center for Irish Studies, University of Saint Thomas.


With the passing of Eoin McKiernan, 89, (see October / November 2004’s Last Word column) we reflect on his rich legacy that lay in his love of Ireland.

No one was more knowledgeable on Ireland or Irish America than Eoin. For many years – until the beginning of the year 2000 – he penned the Last Word column for this magazine. He wrote about politics and history, literature and language, of great events and everyday incidents that marked our passage. He told us stories of great heroes and reminded us of anniversaries such as that of Irish rebel John Devoy (September marking his birth and death), and brought to our attention those lesser-known champions that he admired. One such person was the linguist Jeremiah Curtin (the son of Irish immigrants and the first Wisconsinite to earn a degree from Harvard College), who he said “recognized language as the treasury, the transmitter, the myth maker and molder of societies.”

I was lucky to know Eoin as a mentor and a friend.

Increasingly, towards the end of his life, he began to see the Irish language as a vital component in the survival of our culture and he cautioned us to preserve it. “A smaller nation sharing a language with a much larger nation will dance to the tune of the larger one,” he wrote in his final magazine column (February / March 2000).

To Eoin, the Irish language (Gaeilge) was an essential part of our makeup. He must have been disappointed at the end of his life that Gaeilge is not recognized as an official language in the European Union. But he was surely cheered at the great debate its status has caused in Ireland.

The son of an Irish mother and a first-generation father, Eoin came early to the stories of Ireland. He especially loved County Clare, that place, rich in traditional music and song, from whence his mother came.

The immigrants of that era passed on the music and stories to their sons and daughters so that they might teach them to their children. In this way the land they loved, but were unlikely to see again, was kept alive in the hearts and minds of future generations. (I would have liked to have one last conversation with Eoin about my visit to Prince Edward Island [see travel piece “A Postcard from Prince Edward Island”] and its thriving traditional music scene, which was passed down in this way.)

Concerned that the oral tradition was being lost as Irish Americans assimilated, Eoin used the technology of the present to create dozens of public television programs celebrating Irish artists and history. In 1962 he founded the Irish Cultural Institute, and awarded grants to Irish writers, composers, artists, and Irish language endeavors.

And because he himself was profoundly moved by a trip to Ireland when he was 15 years old, he founded The Irish Way, a summer program for American high school students. By bringing them to Ireland and immersing them in its culture, he hoped to keep alive the flame in future generations. And he was successful.

Not only did his students learn about Ireland, they taught their parents and made return trips with their families. Today the Irish Cultural Institute is alive and well, as is the Irish Way Program. And when we look at Irish America, we see all the Irish Studies courses now being offered at universities and colleges across the states. And in all this Eoin McKiernan lives on – true pioneer and eternal flame. ♦

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News: Kilkenny Rose Wins in Tralee https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-kilkenny-rose-wins-in-tralee/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-kilkenny-rose-wins-in-tralee/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:57:43 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40064 Read more..]]> Kilkenny Rose Orla O’Shea emerged as winner of the 46th International Rose of Tralee Festival. The 20-year-old teacher was voted ahead of 27 competitors hailing from Ireland, Europe, America and Australia to claim the silver crown. She dedicated her achievement to her mother who died four years ago from cancer. “She made me what I am today,” said the emotional winner, who graduated this summer from university with a Bachelor in Education degree.

The Rose of Tralee began in 1968 but after a very successful period it suffered in recent years from high running costs and declining public interest. Faced with possible bankruptcy, organizers of the traditional style pageant have revamped the festival as part of a five-year plan aimed at expanding “Rose Centers” across America and Europe. Support from local business also proved crucial to saving the event from financial ruin.

“All in all we think the festival has gone very well,” enthused managing director Anthony O’Gara, relieved that the festival has bounced back from the brink of closure and is now looking ahead to widening its international appeal. ♦

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News: Joe Cahill Laid to Rest https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-joe-cahill-laid-to-rest/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-joe-cahill-laid-to-rest/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:56:40 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40068 Read more..]]> Joe Cahill, former I.R.A. chief of staff, died on July 23 at his Andersonstown home in Belfast after a short illness. The 84-year-old was buried after a huge funeral cortege carried his remains to the Republican plot at Milltown Cemetery. Cahill was honorary vice-president of Sinn Féin, and the party’s current president Gerry Adams paid homage to his friend at the graveside.

In 1942, Cahill was involved in an I.R.A. operation that resulted in the death of a policeman. All six members of the unit were arrested but only one, Tom Williams, was sentenced to death. Sentences for the other five, including Cahill, were commuted to life imprisonment.

He was released in 1949 and returned to active service with the I.R.A. Eight years later he was interned until the early 1960’s, at which stage he became disillusioned with the Republican movement. However, the sectarian bias of the Northern state and a spate of attacks against Catholics brought him back into politics. Cahill became a central figure in organizing military resistance to British rule by establishing the Provisional I.R.A. He made frequent visits to the U.S. to raise funds from Irish-American supporters and campaigned to have Tom Williams reinterred at the Milltown Cemetery. When the I.R.A. declared its ceasefire in 1994, the former chief of staff was instrumental in securing key support from Irish-American sympathizers.

Cahill’s health deteriorated in recent years due to cancer and a heart condition. He also contracted asbestosis while working in Belfast shipyards through the 1950’s. Significantly, the remains of his former comrade Williams were transferred to Milltown two years ago in a high-profile ceremony. A tricolor was placed over Williams’ coffin for the occasion, and fittingly, the same tricolor was used at Cahill’s funeral.

He is survived by his wife Annie and their seven children. ♦

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News: Big Rise in Traffic at Knock Airport https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-big-rise-in-traffic-at-knock-airport/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-big-rise-in-traffic-at-knock-airport/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:55:05 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40071 Read more..]]> Knock Airport, the brainchild of the late Monsignor James Horan, has proved critics wrong by reporting a dramatic increase in passenger numbers this year. The airport, built in a County Mayo bogland, recorded 200,000 passengers in 2002. Figures for 2004 are estimated to have doubled with a notable rise in charter flight business.

Despite being ridiculed by many commentators when Monsignor Horan first promoted the idea, Knock has surpassed its target as a service primarily for emigrant traffic to and from Britain. Serving a catchment area from the midlands and the west of Ireland as far as Donegal, the airport now operates flights to 25 destinations in Europe. Recent additions include tours to South Africa.

“People can literally have their lunch in Mayo and be in Lanzarote in time for evening tea,” says Liam Scollan, chief executive at the airport. “The most repeated comment we get is that it takes the stress out of traveling. And people are even more grateful when they are returning at the end of a holiday, when they just want to get home as quickly as possible.” ♦

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News: Show Jumping Win Lifts Irish Gloom https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-show-jumping-win-lifts-irish-gloom/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-show-jumping-win-lifts-irish-gloom/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:54:53 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40081 Read more..]]> Cian O’Connor jumped for gold at the equestrian events in Athens to send the Irish tricolor aloft for the first time in the Olympic Games. The 24-year-old County Meath show jumper won the individual event with a magnificent clear round on Waterford Crystal to defeat defending world champion Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil.

O’Connor’s epic performance provided welcome relief from one of the most disappointing Irish team displays ever at an Olympic Games. Until the show jumping win Ireland failed to rate in a variety of events and Cork sprinter Cathal Lombard was suspended for failing an EPO drugs test before the Games even began.

In Lombard’s absence a total of 49 Irish athletes attended the Games and, while public expectations of medals were relatively low, the biggest hopes of a top-three finish rested in equestrian, rowing, walking, and boxing events. Outside O’Connor, however, most Irish participants performed below their best and found themselves out of the reckoning long before the main events were underway. As each competitor fell by the wayside, Irish fans had little to cheer about.

Sonia O’Sullivan, competing in her fourth Olympic Games, qualified for the final of the 5,000 meters, but was bitterly disappointed to finish last. “I think I’ve had my day,” she said despondently afterwards, hinting that her farewell to the Olympics might signal an end to her illustrious track career.

If the Cobh athlete was off-form, other Irish participants experienced a mixture of below-par performances as well as plain bad luck. Gillian O’Sullivan, a real prospect in the 20 km walk, was forced to withdraw from Athens with a hip injury, so she did not take part. Another casualty was 50 km walker Jamie Costin, who was seriously injured in a car crash before his event. The 27-year-old athlete was flown home to Dublin amid fears were that a spinal injury sustained in the accident could threaten his athletic career. ♦

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News: An Overlooked Atlantis https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/an-overlooked-atlantis/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/an-overlooked-atlantis/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:53:46 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40087 Read more..]]> According to Swedish scientist Ulf Erlingsson, the mythical sunken island of Atlantis was actually Ireland. He bases his assertion on the geographical details described by Plato in 360 B.C., linking it to the story of Dogger Bank, a shoal off the coast of England that was sunk by a tidal wave in 6,000 B.C. Erlingsson describes his theory in his upcoming book Atlantis from a Geographer’s Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land♦

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News: Major Financial Cuts at Aer Lingus https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-major-financial-cuts-at-aer-lingus/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-major-financial-cuts-at-aer-lingus/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:52:17 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40091 Read more..]]> Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline, is cutting costs in response to mounting financial difficulties. It is set to slash its workforce in an attempt to compete as a low-cost operator. The proposed redundancy package would reduce staff by a total of 1,325 jobs. Under terms agreed with trade unions, employees will be offered a generous severance package, with minimum payments of 40,000 euros and individual payments of nine weeks’ pay for each year of service.

Should the take-up go as expected, the package will cost the airline a total of 80 million euro. “It is an innovative, imaginative program,” said chief executive Willie Walsh, adding that the company had to react to commercial realities in the European and transatlantic market.

In related news, the airline has recently announced that beginning in January, it will no longer transport the bodies of Irish citizens who died in the U.K. and mainland Europe back home. The money-saving move has elicited criticism from the religious community, as well as Irish Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) which has described the change in policy as “retrograde.”

Each year, Aer Lingus has transported the remains of nearly 1,200 Irish citizens who died abroad. According to IAFD spokesperson, Gus Nicholas, Aer Lingus has been effective in providing this valuable service. “It is a traumatic enough time for grieving families without the inevitable delays this decision is going to cause,” he commented.

Aer Lingus has come under increased pressure from low-fare airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet, particularly on the busy Dublin-London route. ♦

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News: Hospitals Admit Selling Organs https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-hospitals-admit-selling-organs/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/news-hospitals-admit-selling-organs/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:51:35 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40095 Read more..]]> A number of hospitals in Ireland admitted they had taken glands without consent during post-mortem examinations of patients during the 1980s. The practice, which appears to have been widespread, involved the sale or donation of glands to pharmaceutical companies engaged in the manufacture of human growth hormones.

A spokesman for Temple Street Hospital for children confirmed that 246 pituitary glands had been collected at the hospital between 1979 and 1985. Parents were not consulted about removing the glands. The same practice occurred at hospitals all over the country, and revelations of procedures taking place without consent have drawn an angry response from bereaved parents.

Fionnuala O’Reilly, chairperson of the Parents for Justice group, said there was evidence of “wholesale” export of organs and glands for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products. However, spokespersons at various hospitals and health boards insist that body parts were supplied at no financial gain. They say the provision of glands was to assist medical research into hormone deficiency. The practice ceased around 1986 when scientists developed techniques to grow hormones artificially.

Three years ago the government set up the Dunne Inquiry to examine hospital practice in Ireland on the sale of organs taken from deceased children. The Inquiry has yet to complete its investigations. ♦

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News: Fresh Talks to Kick-Start Assembly https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/fresh-talks-to-kick-start-assembly/ https://irishamerica.com/2004/10/fresh-talks-to-kick-start-assembly/#respond Fri, 01 Oct 2004 06:50:27 +0000 https://irishamerica.com/?p=40106 Read more..]]> Political parties in Northern Ireland are gearing up for September talks in England at Leeds Castle in an effort to restore the dissolved Northern Ireland Assembly. Arms decommissioning, policing, and demilitarization are again expected to top the agenda, and although there is little sign of where a breakthrough can be made, pre-talks overtures from the main parties – the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin – have been relatively positive.

Writing in the Irish Times, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams set a conciliatory tone. “I think political unionism uses the I.R.A. and the issue of I.R.A. arms as an excuse,” he suggested, adding, “I think Republicans need to be prepared to remove that as an excuse.”

In response, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson intimated his party would be prepared to work at execution with Sinn Féin on the sensitive issues of policing and justice. “Many people recognized the immense difficulty in reaching agreement when the two main parties representing the two sections of the community are the DUP and Sinn Féin,” he said. “Yet this reality is a fact of political life that cannot be wished away. Whatever path we seek to lay out must face this reality.

“At the present time I do not believe that nationalists would have sufficient confidence in a DUP policing and justice minister, and, as I see it, the unionist community would certainly not tolerate a Sinn Féin minister in that post.”

Paul Murphy, Northern Secretary, welcomed both contributions. “Some of the statements which have been made have been very encouraging, and the fact is, while there has been some difficulty over marches, it has certainly not been as bad as in the past.”

The language of both parties suggested to him “a seriousness among all parties coming to the table that they want to address all the issues and want devolution restored.”

The talks at Leeds are scheduled to begin on September 16. ♦

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