October November 2011 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 Brian Ruane: A View from One Wall Street https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/brian-ruane-a-view-from-one-wall-street/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/brian-ruane-a-view-from-one-wall-street/#respond Sat, 01 Oct 2011 10:00:08 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=856 Read more..]]> Born in the U.S. and raised in Ireland, BNY Mellon’s Brian Ruane represents a new kind of Irish presence on Wall Street. His success is built on a sound understanding of financial practices on both sides of the Atlantic.

As Ireland emerges from its post Celtic Tiger hangover it is men like Brian Ruane who will be important to building new confidence in the structures there. His opinion is sought at the highest levels of government and academia.

In part, this is because he moves so easily between Ireland and America and has insight into both countries. Low-key but exuding a quiet confidence, Ruane has strong opinions on the need to be positive about Ireland, especially in difficult times.

Ruane and his wife, Dublin-born Anna Lynch, and their four kids, Sarah,  Emma, Jack and Ellie, were about to embark on a family summer vacation to Ireland soon after we spoke. It is a country he is very familiar with. Ruane was born in the U.S. and spent the early years of his life in Chicago before returning to Ireland with his father, who was born in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo, and mother, from Drumhaldry, Co. Longford.

He graduated from Coláiste Éanna, Rathfarnham, Dublin in 1982 and from The Chartered Association of Certified Accountants in the U.K. and Ireland in 1989 and the Zarb School of Business, New York in 1995. That year, he returned to America and began working in financial services on Wall Street. Unlike many of the Irish who came to America a few decades before him, when Ruane returned to the U.S. he was already highly educated, prepared and poised to enter the world of international financial services.

At only 45 years of age, Ruane has already achieved so much. He served as BNY Mellon’s executive vice president of Client Management, where he had responsibility for financial institution clients during the financial crisis, and was named CEO of BNY Mellon’s Alternative Investment Services in 2009. Earlier this year, he assumed his current role as CEO of BNY Mellon Alternative and Broker-Dealer Services.

In his new position he oversees BNY Mellon’s successful hedge fund services business – much of it based in Ireland – but also elsewhere in Europe, Asia and North America, including New York, Luxembourg, Poland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Wilmington, Delaware. Today, it is estimated that over 40% of the world’s hedge funds are serviced in Ireland, and BNY Mellon has a lion’s share. Its 1,800 staff members make it one of Ireland’s largest employers.

Despite the difficult economy, the hedge funds industry is experiencing strong growth there, and BNY Mellon is at the forefront.

As reported by the Irish Funds Industry Association (which, significantly, is in the process of opening offices in the U.S. and London), in 2010 the Irish funds industry experienced a record-breaking year, reaching an all-time high of €1.9 trillion – up €0.5 trillion from 2009 – and this after a noticeable retreat during the financial crisis in 2008.

Ireland, together with Luxembourg, is now one of the preferred locations for setting up and housing hedge funds, due to its respected regulatory environment. It is home to 63% of all European hedge funds and administers 43% of global hedge funds. This growth, as many industry analysts and executives have pointed out, is significantly greater than that experienced by other parts of the world.

Though Ireland is enjoying particularly abundant growth in the funds industry, Ruane points out that this is the global trend within the alternative investment services industry. Alternative investments (hedge funds, funds of hedge funds, private equity funds – essentially most investments other than stocks, bonds and cash) are on the rise again, with confidence instilled by new, post-credit-crisis regulations. As a whole, the industry now has more than $2.5 trillion in assets under management.

BNY Mellon is a leader in alternative investments services both globally and in Ireland, along with State Street, JP Morgan and Citi. The company, which was formed four years ago in a merger between The Bank of New York and Mellon Bank, has strong ties to Ireland – Thomas Mellon, the founder of Mellon Bank, was originally from Omagh, Co. Tyrone – and is equally rooted in American history: Bank of New York, the oldest bank in the United States, was founded in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton. Both Mellon and Hamilton went on to be U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in their respective times.

Over the past fifteen years, the company has had an increasingly strong presence in Ireland. Today it has more than 1,800 employees in Ireland, working in corporate trust, clearing, investment servicing, and alternative investment services.  Through its clearing arm, Pershing LLC, BNY Mellon is also a member of the Irish Stock Exchange and is an Irish regulated bank.

In BNY Mellon’s alternative investments branch, 550 of 1,600 global staff members are based in Ireland. Ruane describes the work done in Ireland as “a vital and growing part of our global footprint.” Ireland is not, he emphasizes, “a back office operation. It is an important business location in delivering the whole company to institutional clients. We have a strong country executive and management team, and extremely skilled employees. This is a big part of the success.”

Sitting in his office in the iconic One Wall Street building, Ruane explains his role and where he thinks the future lies for Ireland and his industry.

 

What are your views on the current state of the Irish economy?

My personal view is that many of the right building blocks are in place for economic recovery. The question is one of time. There are three big issues the economy is facing. One, unemployment levels are too high. Two, there is a need to re-capitalize the banking system. And three, the budget deficit.

All three of these issues are being addressed by the Irish government and its business leaders. In the funds services industry Ireland is experiencing a period of growth in employment levels and increased market share in the hedge fund industry. The Irish funds industry benefits from a highly regarded regulatory environment and a reputation for high quality staff and service levels.

 

These days, when most people think of Ireland, strength in the financial industry isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. Do you believe that is changing?

I think that in the fund services industry it is generally acknowledged that Ireland is quite strong.
BNY Mellon has been in Ireland for 15 years. We started off initially with a handful of staff and it has grown in line with our international business. So from our perspective we see it as a strong location to do business in Europe, an excellent place to recruit talented employees, supported by a good regulatory framework, and an equitable tax environment.

 

What are your responsibilities as CEO of BNY Mellon Alternative and Broker-Dealer Services?

I am fortunate to have responsibility for leading two businesses: alternative investment services, which was a start-up group seven years ago and is now one of our fastest growing investment servicing businesses, with $450 billion in assets under administration, and broker dealer services, one of our most well-established and well-regarded businesses. With broker dealer services, we provide government securities clearance and tri-party collateral management services to financial institutions and investors, facilitating financing transactions between investors and investment banks. This group manages $1.8 trillion in collateral daily.

With alternative investment services, we provide hedge fund administration, custody and banking services to hedge funds, private equity firms and their investors.

Both businesses place us at the center of the world’s capital markets, both in terms of how capital is being invested and how it gets accounted for.

 

What sort of growth has your industry, the alternative investment industry, experienced recently?

It is an industry that is continually evolving and growing. Alternative investment services initially began servicing hedge funds about seven years ago and has grown steadily, first in the U.S., then in Europe and more recently in Asia and Latin America, in particular Brazil…The core of our offering is accounting and independent verification of private equity and hedge funds, and it is this independent administration which, in my view, has helped make investors comfortable with investing in the alternative asset class. The alternative investment industry currently has in excess of $2.5 trillion assets under management and has been in existence for more than 30 years. The last few years post-credit-crisis have been characterized by the institutionalization of the industry, with some of the larger investment inflows coming from insurance companies, endowments, foundations and pension funds around the world, searching for investment return in a lower interest rate environment.

 

How has that growth been seen in Ireland?

With the growth of the alternatives industry, Ireland as a fund servicing center, together with Luxembourg, has become a major servicer of alternative asset managers based in Europe. BNY Mellon and other financial institutions have a significant presence in Ireland and Luxembourg. The Irish funds services industry, together with Ireland’s many fine universities and business schools, has done a great job of training people to accommodate this growth. Today, it is estimated that in excess of 40% of the world’s hedge funds are serviced in Ireland by close to 4,000 professionals.

 

How would you describe the way the funds industry has changed in Ireland in the years since the credit crisis? Where do we go from here?

There are a few things to consider. First, it’s important to remember that within the financial services industry and the area of funds services, Ireland is well-respected for its regulatory environment, and the financial crisis reinforced this view. For example, in 2008 many of the fund structures that got into difficulty were serviced in Ireland. They were resolved appropriately through the regulatory and legal framework, and investors found that reassuring and positive. Since that time there has been greater demand from investors for someone to independently verify the books and records and custody the underlying securities and cash. It has actually become central to how investment takes place. In my opinion, the trend toward third party hedge fund administration is essential to raising institutional capital.

 

And are you that third party?

Yes we are. The core business of our administration service is to provide third-party verification and reporting of the net asset value to investors and the manager. At the end of the financial year a fund’s audit firm does an audit. That combination – the services we provide the fund throughout the year plus the audit at the end of the year – have become central to how the industry is growing. It is a much more transparent environment than before the financial crisis.

 

You had a particularly good year in 2010; your percentages were way up. Do you see that as a sort of barometer for the future? Can you maintain that level of growth?

Firstly, BNY Mellon benefited post-credit-crisis from our strong financial standing. The ideal relationship for an institutional investor is to be able to hire an asset manager that can meet their return objectives, and to have their assets held and accounted for at a strong institution. That is what we do as an alternative investment services provider. We are that financial partner holding and accounting for assets through our custodial and administrative services capabilities.

In addition, last year the company acquired PNC’s well-regarded global investment services business, which added to our service offering. I think the combination of that acquisition with the business that we had been building over the last six years really catapulted us. Particularly in Europe.

There is also the macro trend that the alternative investment business is growing globally and I do think this trend is set to continue. I would attribute our specific growth to strong client service, product innovation and the quality of our staff.

 

How much time are you spending in Ireland?

I am there fairly often – at least once a quarter – as part of my need to travel to the key locations around the world where we have clients or staff, or both. I am in Europe every five to six weeks. Today I am probably spending more time in France, in Germany, in London, and Asia with clients and other key partners.

 

Do you think that growing up in both the U.S.and Ireland provided you with any special insight?

Yes. If I look at what I am most interested in, I do think it comes back to the culture. I am very interested in current affairs. In most families there is just a lot of discussion around news…So I was always interested in current affairs. And the other thing is that I have always been interested in history and geography. I think some of that is just coming from an island – you  tend to be interested in what is going on in the world. And I am obviously very accustomed to both cultures, which makes it easy. I think the American and the Irish cultural experience, particularly if you have family in both places, is very comfortable.

 

What brought you back to America in 1989?

My thought when I finished up school and qualified [as an accountant] was that I would work in London or New York in international services. It was always in the back of my mind and because I was from the U.S., it was natural to return. At the time I didn’t think that I would stay in New York as long as I did, but then I wouldn’t be the first that would say that.

What’s interesting is, there used to be a macroeconomic research journal called “The View From One Wall,” and as a young person I used to get that from a family friend. It is a coincidence that I ended up working in One Wall [Street].

What is the best career advice you were ever given?

Do what you love or what you enjoy. But if you can’t do what you love, then do what you can and create your own opportunity. Particularly for young graduates today, it is not that easy to get exactly what you want starting out.

 

What advice would you give to young people just starting out?

The number one thing is to be positive. It is difficult to be a new graduate, but there are places in the world where there are opportunities. I am always struck by the people who will open their mind to starting their careers in places such as Brazil or China. There is enough information about where industry is booming. There is also recognition that every student is in the same boat, so in many ways it is really understandable that people are finding it hard to get positions. I think I would probably go where the opportunity is.

 

Thank you, Brian Ruane.

 

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The First Word: The Spirit of America https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/the-spirit-of-america/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/the-spirit-of-america/#respond Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:59:09 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=914 Read more..]]> A letter from our Editor:

As I write this the world outside my window is peaceful. It’s Sunday so the construction that happens on weekdays is stopped and though I actually enjoy watching the men at work, doing manly stuff, digging and endlessly moving things about, I’m glad of the quiet. (New York is always reinventing itself. “Our country is so new that we watched it being built,” I once heard someone say).

The peace today is especially comforting because it’s 9/11 – the tenth anniversary. For weeks now the world has been remembering. Last night, I watched Commissioner Ray Kelly on TV hand out medals to the families of the police officers who lost their lives on that day; Patricia Smith, now a young tween of 12, picked up her mother’s medal. I watched a documentary on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, and listened to Mike O’Reilly say that he decided to become an ironworker after 9/11. His father had worked on the World Trade Center and he wanted to be part of the rebuilding effort. I read an article in today’s New York Times about the Irish in Rockaway and how hard they were hit. And I watched Tragedy and Triumph, a stirring account of the resilience of people in the financial sector in the aftermath of 9/11.

And I have my own memories.

One is of firefighter Tom Foley, so young, so good-looking, accepting our Top 100 award. I remember the way he stepped up to the microphone and said, “When anyone asks me, I just tell them I’m Irish.” I remember looking through the lists of those who died and finding his name.

We used to host our annual Wall Street 50 event at Windows on the World, on the top of Tower One. It was the ideal setting to toast the achievements of the Irish. Taking in the view of the sun setting over New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, you couldn’t help but reflect on those early Irish immigrants who had come over in hard times and whose descendants now sat at the top of the city.

I always felt a special relationship to the Twin Towers. It was where I took people when they came to New York. I was proud of the Irish laborers who helped build it. The complex was opened soon after I got here. The final building, 7 World Trade, was opened in 1985, the year we founded Irish America and began putting in print the story of the Irish in America.

At our last event at Windows on the World on July 11, 2001, I have a clear memory of saying good night to Joe Berry, CEO of Keefe Bruyette & Woods, and his wife, Evelyn. I watched them walk away, a middle-aged couple holding hands. “They are still in love,” I thought to myself.

They met at a high school graduation party. I read in Joe’s obituary in the Times.

Keefe Bruyette is one of three financial companies with strong Irish connections that Tragedy and Triumph focuses on. Sandler O’Neill, and Cantor Fitzgerald are the other two. All three companies suffered terrible losses, yet all have managed to regroup.

The University of Pennsylvania, in a study noted in Tragedy and Triumph, concluded that these companies, and Wall Street in general, rose again because of “the resiliency rooted in its character, and the moral purpose it demonstrated in the midst of crisis.” John Duffy, who took over as CEO of KBW, put it more simply. “The families had already lost probably the primary breadwinner; we didn’t want to tell them that the company was lost too,” he said.

Among the Wall Street 50 whom we honor in this issue are men and women who stepped up to cover the jobs of lost colleagues. They are by far the youngest group we have ever honored and they have a lot riding on their shoulders as the market confronts this troubled economic period. But they have history on their side.

Brian Ruane (read Sheila Langan’s “A View from One Wall Street”) is on the upper rungs of the ladder at BNY Mellon, the world’s largest resource for American and global depository receipts. The company founders go back to Alexander Hamilton (Bank of New York, 1784) and Thomas Mellon who opened T. Mellon & Sons bank in 1870. He nearly lost his estate in the economic depression of 1873 but he prevailed.

Mellon was born on a farm in County Tyrone and his story is a shining example of the story of the Irish in America as one of endurance and triumph against the odds.

We wish all of our honorees, Irish-born, first, second, third and fourth generation, every success. Look to your history and “beir bua.”

You will win out.

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Irish Eye on Hollywood: Upcoming Film Releases https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/irish-eye-on-hollywood-2/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/irish-eye-on-hollywood-2/#respond Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:58:06 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=916 Read more..]]>

One of the more highly-anticipated crime dramas of the new TV season is NBC’s Prime Suspect starring Maria Bello (A History of Violence, Coyote Ugly). Also starring in Prime Suspect is Irish-American actor Aidan Quinn (Michael Collins), seen recently in indy movies such as Sarah’s Key and Flipped, as well as Jonah Hex. Quinn plays Lt. Kevin Sweeney in Prime Suspect, which is a re-imagining of the acclaimed British series of the same name, which starred Helen Mirren.

Celebrated Irish actor Brían F. O’Byrne also stars in Prime Suspect as Detective Reg Duffy. O’Byrne was last seen on TV on the other side of the law, portraying a long-lost criminal cousin from Belfast on the brilliant Showtime drama Brotherhood. Bello herself plays an Irish American cop on Prime Suspect. Her character’s name is Jane Timoney, and her father, Desmond Timoney, also features prominently in the cast.

Former New York City police officer Mike Sheehan (who has also worked extensively as a TV news reporter) is serving as a writer and consultant for Prime Suspect, which premieres Thursday, September 22 at 10 p.m.

In another intriguing British/Irish/American TV project in the works, BBC America recently announced its first original scripted series. It is set in the rough-and-tumble world of New York’s Five Points during the Famine Era, and will follow an Irish immigrant cop. The show, which is not slated to air until next summer, is entitled Copper. Veteran TV writer/producer Tom Fontana (Oz, Homicide) is leading the writing-producing team behind Copper. No word on casting just yet.

Moving away from cop shows, there is the new thriller series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar on the CW network. Entitled Ringer, the show features Gellar as two troubled twin sisters. The Irish element of this show is not evident until you hear the main characters’ names: Bridget Cafferty and Siobhan Martin. (Siobhan also has a pal in the show named Gemma Gallagher.) It seems the girls have been at odds all of their lives. Bridget is a recovering alcoholic who has had run-ins with the mob. Siobhan, on the other hand, lives a life that seems downright boring. Just when Bridget gets herself into real trouble, her twin sister disappears in a boating mishap. So, Bridget goes ahead and assumes her sister’s identity. Only then does she discover that Siobhan’s life may not have been so boring after all. Ringer premieres September 13.

Dominic West, best known for playing Irish American detective Jimmy McNulty on HBO’s The Wire, recently starred in the much-hyped BBC America show The Hour. The six-part series looked at the behind-the-scenes drama at a groundbreaking news show in 1956. The setting, not to mention the dashing costumes, inevitably brought comparisons to Mad Men. West’s parents were Irish Catholic immigrants to Yorkshire. He also attended Trinity College, Dublin and lives in Ireland with his wife, Catherine FitzGerald, whom he married in Limerick in 2010. Look for West in the upcoming Rowan Atkinson James Bond spoof Johnny English Reborn and in the 2012 superhero-in-space flick John Carter, alongside Ciaran Hinds.

West’s career may be thriving, but some Irish fans may still be displeased that he played British marauder Oliver Cromwell in a 2008 TV movie. “My mum still won’t speak to me,” West told The Guardian a few years back. “And my missus, she’s not Catholic, but she is Irish. We’re getting married in Ireland just after it comes out, which means she’ll be going through town with Oliver Cromwell. That’ll go down a treat.”

Finally, on NBC, Anjelica Huston (who spent much of her youth in Ireland, with legendary filmmaker father John), and American Idol runner-up Katherine McPhee are slated to star in Smash, a new show about the making of a Broadway musical.

All of this new Irish TV enhances the already strong Hibernian presence on television. Fiona Shaw can currently be seen on the fourth season of HBO’s vampire show True Blood. The motorcycle gang show Sons of Anarchy has featured Ireland and Irish gangsters prominently. Denis Leary just wrapped up the acclaimed series Rescue Me. Then there’s CBS’s Blue Bloods, about a family of Irish cops in New York City, which returns for its second season on September 23. Among those involved in Blue Bloods is actress Bridget Moynihan as well as show producer Thomas Kelly, the best-selling Irish-American author of books such as Payback and Empire Rising.

Blue Bloods also features Donnie Wahlberg, brother of box office star Mark Wahlberg, who scored a knockout last year with his “Irish” Micky Ward biopic The Fighter. Now comes word that Mark is planning a sequel. Wahlberg has said he does not plan to go the Rocky route and do multiple sequels. It is true, however, that the movie made well over $100 million at the box office and did not even feature some of Ward’s best fights (including the epic bouts against Arturo Gatti).

Sligo-born actor Chris O’Dowd has gotten himself elected into one of the most prestigious (or at least lucrative) comedy troupes in the world: the Judd Apatow clan. O’Dowd (who also appeared in the raunchy comedies Dinner for Schmucks and Bridesmaids) will soon appear alongside Jason Segel and uber-babe Megan Fox in the film This is 40. Apatow, of course, is the comedic force behind recent comic gems such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Superbad. Early word is that This is 40 is a spinoff from one of Apatow’s other huge hits: Knocked Up starring Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen. This is 40 will catch up with several of that film’s characters further on down the road of married life with children.

As for Chris O’Dowd, after the Apatow flick, he is slated to appear in Friends with Kids alongside Bridesmaids co-star Kristen Wiig and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm.

Northern Irish thespian Stephen Rea (The Crying Game) has a supporting role in an intriguing historical drama due out in October called Blackthorn. The film is a revisionist look at Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who are believed to have been killed in a gunfight with Bolivian soldiers in 1908. In this film, Cassidy survived the battle and has been living in Bolivia. But he aches to see his family once more, so he heads home to the U.S. only to wind up in one more grand, possibly deadly, adventure. Blackthorn (which is the name Cassidy lives under in the film) also features Sam Shepherd (as Cassidy) and Eduardo Noriega.

Rea’s fellow Northern Irish character actor Ciaran Hinds is among the members of an impressive cast for the November spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy based on the famous book by John Le Carre. Gary Oldman, John Hurt and Colin Firth are also featured in the flick, which is about an intelligence officer who comes out of retirement when it seems that one of the top officers in the British Secret Intelligence Service is a Soviet spy. Though this flick seems very much an all-boys affair, it’s a screenplay by British-born Bridget O’Connor.

But if you prefer films targeted mainly at women, see Sarah Jessica Parker star alongside Pierce Brosnan in I Don’t Know How She Does It. Also featuring Kelsey Grammer, Greg Kinnear and Jane Curtin, I Don’t Know How She Does It deals with the problems of a career woman with a crazy schedule and children to raise.

And finally, from the “Want to feel old?” department, it has now been 20 years since U2 recorded its powerhouse album Achtung Baby. (Which means it’s been 25 years since the Dublin rockers released The Joshua Tree.) The creation of the 1991 album is the focus of the highly anticipated documentary From the Sky Down, which opened the Toronto International Film Festival in early September and was directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth). The film also might help the lads forget about a certain Broadway musical about a certain wall-crawling superhero about which certain critics have had a lot of negative things to say.

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Uncovering Irish History in Lowell, MA and Northern Ireland https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/uncovering-irish-history-in-lowell-ma-and-northern-ireland/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/uncovering-irish-history-in-lowell-ma-and-northern-ireland/#comments Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:57:45 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=919 Read more..]]> The Irish-American Heritage Archeological Program discovers Irish artifacts in Lowell, MA and Cosson, Co. Tyrone.

Students and archeological experts from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and Queen’s University, Belfast recently completed phase two of a four year archeological dig in the Massachusetts town, and expanded the project to include a site in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

The collaborative excavation, known as the Irish-American Heritage Archeological Program, focuses on the buried settlement of the first Irish immigrants in Lowell, located within the grounds of St. Patrick’s Church. The current church building is a reconstruction of the nineteenth century original, built atop the plot of the initial 1831 Irish settlement known as “The Acre.”

The first phase of the research study, led last year by archeological experts Dr. Colm Donnelly, Dr. Harry Welsh and Ronan McHugh of Queen’s University, Belfast, led to the recovery of 1350 artifacts from just two trenches in the churchyard.

With the help of six UMass Lowell students, the five-day excavation recovered rosary beads, clay tobacco pipes, shards of window glass, iron nails, and oyster shells. The artifacts were displayed in a joint exhibition at the UMass campus in 2010, organized by Dr. Frank Talty, Co-Director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Irish Partnerships. Talty told The Irish Emigrant, “These early Irish people established a community that survived discrimination and socio-economic limitations to become an integral part of Lowell’s development in the 19th century.”

Led by Co. Tyrone native Hugh Cummiskey, Irish settlers first arrived in Lowell in 1822 and initially called the settlement “New Dublin,” according to an 1831 news article in the Portsmouth Journal.

The immigrants were contracted to work on the expansion of canals that powered textile mills in the city. With work sites parallel to the Merrimack River, the labor was intensive and dangerous, and deaths from drownings and crushings were common. The early settlement consisted of about 100 cabins constructed from sods, mud and boards, each standing between seven and ten feet high. During and following the Famine, the town’s population increased as large numbers of Irish peasants immigrated to the area that would become modern-day Lowell, and the settlement grew to include schools, craftsmen and trading posts.

In the program’s second phase, the project expanded to include an archeological dig in Cossan, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, where the teams worked on the site known to be Cummiskey’s former homestead before his departure for the United States. Boston marriage records dating to 1821 helped experts locate the emigrant’s former home.

Further archeological research will also take place at the church in Lowell, on a recently rediscovered burial ground and on an additional northern wall in the buried settlement. Dr. Donnelly notes “At [the] time you didn’t get ordinary people writing down their records; that was for the politicians. So, instead we try to let the artifacts speak for them.” All of the artifacts found at both sites will be analyzed extensively in the months to come.

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Study in Ireland Fairs Come to Northeast https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/study-in-ireland-fairs-come-to-north-east/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/study-in-ireland-fairs-come-to-north-east/#respond Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:56:23 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=922 Read more..]]> A new initiative called Education Ireland asks American students to consider studying in Ireland.

Education Ireland, a new initiative of the Irish Government, is holding a series of “Study in Ireland” events in New York and Boston as part of their Fall Recruitment Week.

Increasingly more American students are choosing to study abroad in Ireland – 7,000 as of last year. Whether studying for a semester, a year, or a full degree, students are discovering the wide range of educational opportunities Ireland has to offer, from fine programs in the liberal arts to top courses in science and technology. Those who choose to study in Ireland full time can also avail of the Erasmus exchange program to gain access to colleges and universities across the European Union.

The first Study in Ireland fair will take place on the night of September 27th, from 7pm until 9pm at St. Barnabas High School in the Bronx. There, representatives from all of the major universities in Ireland, including Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, the National University of Ireland Maynooth and NUI Galway, will speak with prospective undergraduate and graduate students, as well as parents and college counsellors.

Additional fairs will be held at the Pearl River Library in Pearl River, NY on Wednesday the 28th, and at Boston’s Boston College High School on October 21st.

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Puck Fair: Ireland’sOldest Festival https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/puck-fair-irelands-oldest-festival/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/puck-fair-irelands-oldest-festival/#comments Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:55:38 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=925 Read more..]]> Every August since 1613 (or possibly earlier) the County Kerry town of Killorglin has given itself over to the idiosyncratic joys and celebration of the Puck Fair Festival, and this year was no exception. From August 10 – 12, Killorglin residents and visitors were granted the “Freedom of the Town” by the young Queen of Puck Fair and her goat companion, King Puck, and reveled in three days of entertainment, music, pageantry and unusual traditions.

The precise origins of the Puck Fair are unknown, but an August fair is said to have taken place in pre-Christian times to spur on a bountiful harvest. A favored version of the fair’s history claims that when Oliver Cromwell and his men were ravaging the area, a goat that had been separated from his herd found his way to Killorglin and his distressed presence alerted the townspeople that the Roundheads were close, giving them valuable time to prepare. In recognition, the festival always selects a wild male mountain goat from the surrounding Kerry mountains and crowns him King Puck.

On the first day of the festival, Gathering Day, a traditional horse fair, is held in the early morning hours. Then King Puck is paraded through the town in a lively procession to the main square where he meets his queen. The Queen of Puck Fair is a local school girl, selected for the role based on a short essay submitted about the fair. The 2011 Queen was Muireann Arthurs from Caragh Lake, Killorglin. On Gathering Day, she read the Puck Fair Proclamation in Irish, English, French and German, and the gathered crowd hailed its new king.

For many years, the local pubs were open all day and night for the duration of the festival. Though that is no longer the case, they do remain open until 3:00 a.m., so no festival-goer misses the chance to toast The Puck, as the goat king is also called.

The second day, Fair Day, is the heart of the festival. This year, as in other years, it drew vendors selling everything from jewelry to Jack Russell puppies. Other events included the annual Bonny Baby competition, an Irish storytelling workshop, and a chance to meet King Puck himself.

King Puck is relieved of his duties on the third day, Scattering Day. On the evening of August 12, the crowd gathered once again in the main square to salute the Queen and King, who paraded back through the streets. As always, the goat who was king was released back into the mountains, but the celebrations continued late into the night.

The fair attracts visitors and performers from all over Ireland and the world. This year, the acts included the Franzini Brothers, a pair of Irish Italian brothers from Kerry who performed their daring Cannonball Circus; the Joshua Tree, a U2 tribute band; and Fanfare Piston, a brass marching band from France.

This year, Puck Fair celebrates its 405th anniversary, and the festivities are sure to be epic. ♦

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A Diary for the Tweople, By the Tweople https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/a-diary-for-the-tweople-by-the-tweople/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/a-diary-for-the-tweople-by-the-tweople/#respond Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:54:39 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=933 Read more..]]> The two Irishmen behind Diary of the Tweople

There’s no denying the wonderfully wide (and sometimes weird) reach of Twitter – from messages from Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring, to live tweets of the Republican presidential debates, to to-the-minute updates concerning Kim Kardashian’s whereabouts. Since the social networking phenomenon was founded in 2006, it has attracted well over 200 million users, who sign-in routinely to post their 140-character messages. It was precisely the scope and popularity of Twitter that so  fascinated Gar Deady and Nigel Lane of Co. Kildare, Ireland, and led them to embark on a social media project called Diary of the Tweople.

Who are the “tweople?” The two Irishmen coined the phrase to describe the Twitter people. And hundreds of them – from Ireland and the U.S. to Australia and Russia – turned out via their computers and assorted wi-fi devices to participate in Lane and Deady’s Diary Day on June 3, submitting summaries of their days. “We had several excellent entries,” Gar told Irish America, “ranging from funny, to bizarre, to very serious. One entry simply said ‘Shaving when drunk… dangerous game!’ Another was from Justice for Magdalenes – a group of human rights activists and family members fighting for justice for the women who suffered abuse while living in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries. Their entry centered around waiting on a decision from the UN Committee Against Torture.”

Deady and Lane eventually whittled the entries down to 70, which have now been compiled into an e-book, complete with illustrations by Irish designer Rob Gale that incorporate the iconic Twitter bird. Diary of the Tweople, which is available online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and other e-book sellers, is more than an entertaining read, though. It’s a prime example of how social media is changing the way we record personal narratives. Each of the published entries contains a link to the author’s Twitter page, which allows readers to directly or indirectly follow-up with the writers. Thrilled with the results, Deady and Lane are already planning another Diary Day.

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Irish Artist of the Light Shines in New York https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/irish-artist-of-the-light-shines-in-new-york/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/irish-artist-of-the-light-shines-in-new-york/#respond Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:53:01 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=936 Read more..]]> Roisin Fitzpatrick to give solo exhibition at the Consulate General of Ireland in New York

For Irish artist Roisin Fitzpatrick, inspiration and light came from an experience most people would count among their darkest of days. In 2004, Fitzpatrick suffered from a brain hemorrhage – a sudden pain at the back of her head quickly became a near-death experience. As she lay very still in a hospital bed, fighting for her life, she turned to meditation in order to get herself through the pain and fear, rather than panicking about all of the unknowns. It was through this concentration, this focus on the present and the incredible energy she connected with, that the traumatic experience became a transformational one.

“I achieved total spiritual freedom,” Fitzpatrick recently told Irish America. “We run around in life, looking for joy and happiness, most often in places where it can never be found, as proven by the boom and bust of the Celtic Tiger. Paradoxically, it is all within us, all of the time.”

After making her miraculous recovery, Fitzpatrick, a native of Co. Wicklow who had previously put her degrees in business and international relations to work at the European Commission, United Nations and European Bank, decided to devote her life to sharing this energy with others through art. As “Artist of the Light,” her aim is to “assist people to connect with their highest potential, to live lives with a greater sense of joy, well-being, purpose and meaning.”

To communicate this energy, Fitzpatrick works with crystals, which beautifully reflect and refract light. She sews the crystals by hand onto sheets of white silk, creating intricate patterns based on nature, astronomy, pre-Celtic art forms such as Newgrange, and the Tautha de Dannan, the “people of the speckled light” from Celtic mythology.

Fitzpatrick described the response to her work as “phenomenal.” “Doors have opened for this art in ways I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.” A glance at her list of fans and supporters speaks to her wide appeal and profound affect: actress Roma Downey of Touched by an Angel and her husband, TV producer Mark Burnett were early supporters, as was mind-body expert, doctor and writer Deepak Chopra. Fitzpatrick’s art has also gained the attention of writer Marianne Williamson, philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman, hotelier John Fitzpatrick, and Irish golfer Christy O’Connor Jr., who recently purchased one of her works.

In addition, Roisin Fitzpatrick has enjoyed frequent exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic, from the Royal Dublin Society to galleries in Chelsea and SoHo. Up next is a solo exhibition at the Consulate General of Ireland in New York, running from October 3 – November 16.

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A Voyage of Rediscovery at the Dunbrody History Centre https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/a-voyage-of-rediscovery-the-irish-america-hall-of-fame-at-the-dunbrody-emigration-history-centre/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/a-voyage-of-rediscovery-the-irish-america-hall-of-fame-at-the-dunbrody-emigration-history-centre/#respond Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:52:59 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=940 Read more..]]> The Irish America Hall of Fame finds a home in New Ross, and brings the story of the Irish in America back to a place that served as a port of departure for many who braved the journey to North America during Famine times.

On a blustery July day, I descend the narrow ladder into the depths of the Dunbrody, an exact replica of a three-masted sailing ship that ferried thousands of Irish people across the Atlantic to New York and Quebec during the Famine years. I have often wondered what it would have been like to make that journey. Would I have had what it takes to survive the five-to-six-week passage? I know for sure that I wouldn’t have been much fun to travel with. I suffer acutely from motion sickness, so God help anyone who was sharing my berth.

I’m also a borderline claustrophobe. What strikes me as I stand at the bottom of the ladder surveying the lower deck, is how small the hold of the ship is. When you take away the crew’s quarters, the captain’s cabin, the cargo area, and the space for cabin passengers, you are left with the middle “steerage” section and it’s not that big.

Stacked bunks set up on both sides of this section measure six feet by six feet, which would be fine if it was for just one person. It wasn’t. An adult was allotted 18 inches of sleeping space, a child half of that. Whole families and their belongings were crowded into these bunks. There was no separation of men from women, single from married, and no privacy. A rudimentary toilet served the two first class cabins; the steerage passengers made do with a bucket. If the weather was good you were allowed on deck once a day for 30 minutes, if it was stormy, you were locked in below. Rations were meager; dry, hard bread was a staple. I would have had to be pretty desperate to get on such a ship. Most of the passengers on the Dunbrody were. They were escaping starvation and evictions – they had little choice but to leave.

The Dunbrody, moored now in New Ross, Co. Wexford, the port from which she sailed, was designed to carry 187 passengers, but we know from records that when she arrived at the quarantine station on Grosse Ile, in July 1847, she had 317 passengers on board. Four had already died – two old people, a young girl, and an infant. Three people were detained in quarantine. We don’t know if they recovered or are buried with the other 4,000-5,000 Irish who lie in mass graves on the island. The rest of the passengers continued on their way.

The Emigration History Centre

What the journey was like for these passengers, the scene on the quayside before they left, and their experiences on landing in the New World, are all stories explored in the new Emigration History Centre that has been built up around the Dunbrody. The archive of Graves & Sons, the shipping firm that built the original ship, is at the heart of the exhibition. Every passenger you hear or read about is based on a real person who made the journey. Actors in period costume bring you their stories, and audio and visuals help enhance the experience. Photographs from the 1800s – of logging camps in Canada and tenements of New York (the two ports of call for the Dunbrody were Quebec and New York) help us understand what life was like for the new immigrant.

The Irish America Hall of Fame, which was established by Irish America in 2010, occupies its own section and honors those immigrants and their descendants who made significant contributions to America. On July 8, Michael Flatley, himself a member of the Hall of Fame, was guest of honor at the opening ceremony.

“To be here is a very humbling experience,” he said, addressing the 400 or so gathered. “Standing in this magnificent structure, I’m reminded of all the tears that were shed right on this very spot. How many mothers cried right here?” he wondered. His own mother who emigrated from this area looked on. “When people said goodbye here and landed in the New World, they weren’t always welcomed with open arms. It was a hostile new world and many were greeted with signs that read ‘No Irish need apply.’ They didn’t sit around crying, they didn’t go on the dole – they fought, they worked and many of them came back as heroes. And this is something this center allows us to celebrate and acknowledge. It’s very important that we recognize not only the difficult times but also celebrate our achievements as a race,” he said.

I spoke to Michael after he toured the ship with his wife, Niamh, and their son, Michael St. James. He was visibly moved. “This place is not just important now. It will be important a hundred years from now that this history is recorded,” he said.

Sean Reidy, the man behind the Dunbrody and the Emigration Centre, is also the CEO of the JFK Trust, which promotes development in this area of the southeast. Back in 1991, the Trust was looking to build a heritage center in New Ross, and Sean had the idea of building a sailing ship that would reflect the maritime heritage and the emigration history of the port.

Implementing this idea was another matter. This was way before the other Famine ship, the Jeannie Johnson, was built, so there was no model on which to base his plan. But luck was on his side. A marine artist named Gary Fallon came forward with information about a ship called the Dunbrody. And David McBride, who had worked for the Graves Company, contributed boxes of the ship’s artifacts, including passenger lists, letters from the ship’s captain, and most important, the original bill of sale, which included the precise dimensions of the vessel. Thus, Naval architect Colin Mudie was able to build an exact replica.

Fáilte Ireland (the tourism development body) came through with a grant, and the ship was built and ready to launch in February, 2001. Jean Kennedy Smith (Ambassador to Ireland, 1993-98), who has family connections to New Ross, and then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern officiated at the christening ceremony.

Once the Dunbrody was open and attracting a good number of visitors, the Trust returned to the idea of expanding into a fully fledged emigration center. “We were able to tell part of the story but we wanted to do more,” Sean explains.

“We wanted to honor Irish Americans who had succeeded in the U.S., and the connection with Irish America magazine came at a time when we were developing the project, and we were delighted to implement it,” he continued.

At this time too, Fáilte Ireland was looking at existing projects that were successful but needed funding for upgrading. Sean received the news that additional funding was available late in 2010. He now faced the challenge of getting the center built and ready for the high tourist season. “On November 6, 2010, the ship was moved to dry dock and construction began. We managed to get it finished and have our opening on July 8,” he explained.

The new Centre was an immediate success. The opening received wide media attention, and the following weeks brought many visitors, including two Hall of Fame honorees.

On July 29, Maureen O’Hara, who now lives in Glengarriff, Co. Cork, arrived at the Centre in style – in an open-topped car. Fans lined the quayside to greet her. She stopped to sign autographs and copies of her memoir Tis Herself and once inside, guests were treated to a lively repartee between herself and broadcaster George Hook. The star’s early days in Hollywood, her late husband pilot Charlie Blair (the love of her life), the Maureen O’Hara Foundation, the Maureen O’Hara classic film festival, and the annual Maureen O’Hara Legacy and Excellence Awards dinner, which will take place in Bantry on October 1, and honor John Wayne’s son Patrick, were all discussed. “He was a family man, a good Catholic,” Maureen said of her Quiet Man co-star. Director John Ford was difficult to work for, but “he was brilliant.”

It was Ford who had chosen the classic song of exile, “The Lake Isle of Inisfree,” as the theme music for the movie, and in honor of Maureen, Gerard Farrelly, the son of late composer Dick Farrelly, was on hand to accompany Sinéad Stone in a haunting rendition, which moved the audience to tears.

Exiles and emigrants from this part of Ireland left an indelible mark on America, including John Barry who became the founder of the American Navy; James O’Neill, the actor and father of playwright Eugene O’Neill; and Patrick Kennedy who followed his sweetheart Bridget Murphy to Boston in 1849 and became the great-grandfather of President John F. Kennedy, who visited New Ross in June, 1963.

Another young man who left Wexford during Famine times was Michael Keough. The 20-year-old emigrated to America in the 1840s and settled in the prairies of northwest Iowa. It was on Michael’s farm that Donald Keough was born in 1926.

On September 15, Donald, whose career culminated in his being named president of Coca-Cola, made a private visit to the Dunbrody and the Irish America Hall of Fame. Fittingly, he was in Wexford to attend the opening of a new Coca-Cola bottling plant, which will bring much needed employment to the area.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Donald Keough to our visitor centre today as we dedicate the departure area of our exhibition to the memory and vision of Donald’s great-grandfather Michael Keough,” said Sean Reidy.

At his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York at the end of 2010, Donald paid homage to all those Irish who took their first brave steps into the unknown. “The real members of the Hall of Fame are the parents and grandparents and great-grandparents who had the courage to come here,” he said.

His visit to the Dunbrody brought the family story full circle – from shore to shore.

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Ten Years after 9/11 https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/ten-years-afer-911/ https://irishamerica.com/2011/10/ten-years-afer-911/#comments Sat, 01 Oct 2011 09:50:45 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=943 Read more..]]> An estimated 1,000 of the nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11 were of Irish descent or birth. On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, we look at the “living” memorials such as the scholarships and charities that have been established by the victims’ families.

Michael Lynch
Laying the foundation for peace

In the months following the 9/11 attacks, the Lynch family from the Bronx, New York, made the decision that they were going to help people. They had lost Michael Francis Lynch: son, brother, uncle and fiancé, one of the 343 firefighters who died during the rescue efforts. “We wanted to respond to evil by doing good for others,” said Michael’s father, Jack Lynch in an interview with Sheila Langan for Irish America. “We thought that was the best way to honor our son and brother. It’s what he would have wanted.”
In 2002, the family founded the Michael Lynch Memorial Foundation as a means “to help change the world, one person at a time by helping students of today become tomorrow’s stewards of peace and freedom.”

Since 2002, the foundation has granted 75 scholarships totaling over $1.6 million dollars to young adults who are children of firefighters or who lost a parent on 9/11 or in another national disaster. The foundation is largely family-run. Jack serves as the president; Michael’s sister-in-law, Lou Ann Eckert-Lynch, is in charge of the scholarship selection committee; and other family members oversee the foundation’s events and financial and legal concerns. The family works on a volunteer basis, and as Jack emphasized, they will “make sure it remains that way.” He added, “We plan to always take the higher road.”

More information on the foundation and its upcoming events can be found at www.mlynch.org

 

Lynn Tierney
A pillar of strength

On September 11, 2001, Lynn Tierney was one of the four Deputy Commissioners at the New York Fire Department. Upon hearing about the attacks she went to the World Trade Center to assist in rescue operations. She helped at the Command Post in the lobby of Tower One, and narrowly escaped injury by diving into a loading dock when the second tower went down.

Lynn was always a pillar of strength for the firefighters, as well as a welcome feminine touch to the mostly male crew.

She lost many who were near and dear to her on 9/11 and wrote many obituaries and eulogies for her colleagues.

Lynn moved on from her job at the Fire Department because it became too painful, but she continued to be involved. She collaborated with friend and former firefighter Lee Ielpi, and others, to create the September 11th Families Association. The Association connected those who lost family members and friends, and enabled them to go through the healing process together.

Out of the September 11th Association came the Tribute Center. Lynn served as president of the center, which opened in September 2006 and now serves 500,000 visitors a year. The Center strives to connect those who want to understand the impact of 9/11 with people who experienced it.

“At the very worst time in our history, I saw the very best in the people who responded,” Lynn said. “That whole day whether you lived or died was a matter of happenstance and a few feet. I have grasped how short life is and how precious and how you should live it purposefully every day.”

Today, Lynn is associate vice president of communications at the University of California Office. She remains close to her colleagues in New York Fire Department.

 

Tom Foley
“I just tell them ‘I’m Irish”

At 32, Tom Foley was already a ten-year veteran of the FDNY, when he died with Rescue 3 Company on 9/11. It was the job he dreamed of since childhood, when he would visit the Harlem firehouse of a family friend, Firefighter Bob Conroy.

“Tommy boy – that’s what I call him, ever since he’s a kid,” Conroy said, speaking to Brian Rohan for Irish America just days after 9/11. “I can still see Tommy boy running around the firehouse in Harlem, running around and getting filthy dirty. It’s all he ever wanted to do.”

As a firefighter, Foley had made many daring rescues. In 1999, he and Police Officer Romano Amleto went over the side of a high-rise building to rescue two construction workers whose scaffolding had collapsed. Descending by ropes, Foley and Amleto grabbed the men, safely bringing them to the ground.

In addition to being a firefighter, Tom made a name for himself as a rodeo rider (his interest in the cowboy lifestyle came from working on his grandfather’s farm in upstate New York. He was also a competitive power lifter, and found time to skydive. In 2000, People magazine featured Tom, who was born in the Bronx and grew up in West Nyack, as one of the sexiest men at work. He was also honored by Irish America in 2000 and he probably gave the shortest acceptance speech in the history of the awards. He shrugged, smiled, looked at the audience and said, “When anyone asks me, I just tell them ‘I’m Irish.’ ”

In the wake of 9/11Tom’s brother Danny Foley, who had followed his brother into the FDNY, made a promise to his family to retrieve his brother’s body and he did. “It took ten days, but a promise I made to my family was kept, when I brought Tommy home,” Danny said, addressing mourners at Tommy’s funeral at St. Anthony’s in Nanuet, New York.

The Firefighter Thomas J. Foley Foundation and the Firefighter Thomas J. Foley Memorial Scholarship Fund were established in 2001 to provide scholarships to dependent children of either an active or retired FDNY firefighters or officers. A documentary celebrating Tom’s life premiered this September. For information on the documentary and the foundation go to www.firefighterthomasjfoley.com

 

Collier Wimmer
A child who wanted to help

On September 4, 2001, Collier Wimmer of Winston-Salem, North Carolina turned nine. On September 11 she was in Disneyworld to celebrate her and her little brother’s birthdays. At 8:42 a.m., 2000 miles away, American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Collier’s mother, Ashley wished her children hadn’t seen the horrible images. “We had the TV on and since we were traveling, we couldn’t screen them from it. They saw a lot.”

And what Collier saw affected her. Like many school children across the country, she wanted to help in some way. She decided she would perform Irish step dancing in her front yard to raise money for the rescuers. A neighbor called the local newspaper and the ensuing photo caused quite a stir. It featured as picture of the week on MSNBC’s website and in Newsweek, and the response was “amazing and unbelievable,” according to Collier’s mother. “And not only locally. We’ve received checks from Washington State, Vermont, and Flordia. And just the sweetest notes.”

Ten years on, Collier is 19 and starting college at High Point University. When asked if in retrospect 9/11 made her more fearful or did it help galvanize her as she moved through her life, she said:

“There is always going to be scary things in the world; things we will always be afraid of. From the smallest spider to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but you should never let them stop you from moving forward. So in an odd, somewhat twisted way, the 9/11 attacks really galvanized me to move forward with my life; after all, this is the only life we’ve got, why waste it?”

Asked if Irish dance continues to be a positive influence in her life, Collier said: “Very much so! Irish dancing has taught me a lot of very important life lessons! I love Irish dancing! I know I will continue to dance throughout my life. Or at least I will try to.”

 

Moira Smith
She loved a crowd and a good time

Moira Smith was the only NYPD policewoman of 23 officers from the NYPD who perished on 9/11. She was last seen leading an injured Edward Nicholls, a broker at Aon Corporation to safety from the burning World Trade Center just before the collapse of the first tower.

Moira, whose maiden name was Reddy, grew up in Brooklyn. She was a cop at the 13th precinct in Manhattan. “She loved a crowd and a good time,” Keith Kelly wrote in Irish America
following the attack: “I learned of her as a mom, a wife, a woman who loved the water and a rabblerouser, a chancer who had run with the bulls in Spain, rode elephants in North Africa and skied the mountains in Jackson Hole,Wyoming.”

Moira’s memorial service was held on February 14, 2002, Valentine’s Day. It would have been her 39th birthday. It also marked the10-year anniversary of Moira’s first date with her future
husband, fellow officer James Smith. On February 13, 2002, the day before the memorial service, Officer Smith and the couple’s 2-year old daughter, Patricia, helped christen the Moira Smith, a NY Waterway high-speed ferry named in Moira’s honor. Speaking to those gathered for the occassion, Jim said, “On the side of the Moira Smith is a Clagdagh, an Irish symbol meaning Friendship, Loyalty, and Love. This design embodies what Moira means to us: a good Friend, a Loyal police officer and American, and the Love of our lives.”

In 2002, The Moira Smith Fund was created as a way to help college age women receive an education and better their lives. Thus far, The Moira Smith Fund has provided college scholarships to several exceptional young women, who might not have been able to attend college otherwise.
For more information and details on the annual Moira Smith Boat Cruise go to http://moirasmithfund.com

 

Wall Street
Rising from the ashes

Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage on the 101st-105th floors of One World Trade Center lost 658 employees, about two-thirds of its workforce. Marsh & McLennan, which occupied the North Tower of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 100, lost 295 workers including an employee who was a passenger on one of the high-jacked planes. Sixty contractors hired by the company also died in the attack including 21-year old Thomas Ashton, an electrician who had been on the job two days. Aon Corporation, an insurance brokerage firm located in the 92nd and 98th–105th floors of the South Tower, lost 176 of its 1,100 employees who were present on the day of the attacks. One who didn’t make it out was Tom Cosgrove a Vice President of Claims, and father of three, who called his wife Wendy to say he was leaving the building but never made it.

Of the 67 employees lost from Keefe Bruyette & Woods, two were former honorees among Irish America’s Wall Street 50 – Chairman & CEO Joe Berry and Executive Vice-President Joseph Lenihan. Another victim from the same firm, Chris Duffy, was the son of former Wall Street 50 honoree John Duffy.

Berry, Lenihan and the two Duffys were among those who attended Irish America’s Wall Street 50 reception on July 11, 2001, the event that was held annually at Windows of the World restaurant top of One World Trade Center. (The restaurant itself lost 75 workers and 93 guests, talking business over bagels and coffee).

Cantor Fitzgerald, now located in mid-town Manhattan, was able to get its trading markets back online within a week following the attacks. For five years following the attacks the company distributed 25 percent of the firm’s profits, an amount totaling $150 million, to families of employees who were killed in the attacks.

Marsh & McLennan responded in the wake of 9/11 by contributing $20 million to establish the MMC Relief Fund for families of lost colleagues. Employees and clients of the company contributed a further $5 million.

Aon established The Aon Memorial Education Fund to provide post-secondary education financial assistance to the dependent children of the Aon employees who were killed in the World Trade Center attacks. In addition, Aon committed $1 million to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center.

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods formed the Family Fund to support the families of employees lost in the attacks.

The family of Chris Duffy created The Chris Duffy Memorial Scholarship Fund Fordham Preparatory School, Bronx, New York. The family of Joseph Lenihan established the Joseph A. Lenihan Foundation for students at St. Thomas the Apostle and Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut.

In September 2001, the Joseph J. Berry Scholarship Fund was created to serve the student of Bishop Molloy High School in Briarwood, New York.

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