October November 2013 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Thu, 18 Apr 2019 19:22:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 Keeping the Faith: Jim O’Donnell https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/keeping-the-faith-jim-odonnell/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/keeping-the-faith-jim-odonnell/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 22:00:20 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17362 Read more..]]> WALL STREET 50 KEYNOTE INTERVIEW

With his strong foundation in family and faith, Citi’s Head of Investor Sales and Relationship Management inspires confidence and provides a different perspective on Wall Street.

Anyone who thinks banking is a soulless profession has never met Jim O’Donnell.

Raised in Seaford, Long Island, one of four children of a financial services executive and a career nurse, O’Donnell became successful early and quickly. But his rise was by no means linear. In fact, many of his greatest achievements have been determined by a number of unexpected but ultimately important risks that demonstrate a quiet self-knowledge, a thirst for answers and a strong foundation of belief.

He was the first student from his high school to get accepted by Harvard, but chose to go to Princeton instead, impressed by the sense of community. A comparative religion major with thoughts of joining the priesthood, he jumped at a chance to join Merrill Lynch’s corporate internship program straight out of college. After traveling to London on an assignment, instead of returning to New York to complete the internship program, he accepted a position at the London office, beginning a ten-year stint abroad. When, at a mere thirty-six-years of age, he was CEO of HSBC’s securities and global equities businesses, dividing his time between London and New York, he chose to trade in his tie for a clerical collar and resigned to join a seminary. Eighteen months later, certain that, while he was very devout, the priesthood was not for him, O’Donnell left and returned to the world of banking, determined to both do well for himself and do good in the world.

In person, O’Donnell, 51, is so jovial and relaxed you’d never immediately guess his story has quite so many layers. Tall (though not as tall as his 6’7” great-grandfather from Co. Kerry) and ruggedly good looking, O’Donnell is the kind of person who’s just as at ease in the boardroom as he is at the pub with friends. When we sat down to chat in his office on the 4th floor of the Citi headquarters at 390 Greenwich Street, his hearty laugh filled the room as he shared stories about his first trip to Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day 1984, and he was by equal turns solemn and contemplative as he discussed the things that are most important to him: his family, faith and Irish heritage.

He’s also passionate about his profession and the financial industry, and the questions asked by so many about its character and value in the wake of the financial crisis are questions he has also thought long and hard about. “Some people think it’s so insular,” he said, “but what I’ve learned about the markets is that you have to understand what’s happening in the world overall. You have to know what’s going on with the economy, with the employment rate, with the housing market. With how a world event – a natural disaster, a conflict, or something positive – will impact everything else. It’s a tremendous learning curve every day.

“People have also asked me, how could you care about religion and work on Wall Street? But I love this industry and the people who work in it,” he affirmed. “They’re some of the most generous, caring people I have ever met, with a real understanding of the phrase ‘To whomever much is given, of him much will be required.’”

It is partly thanks to his faith that O’Donnell got his start in finance. In 1983, through the church at Princeton, O’Donnell met Bill Schreyer, then the head of Merrill Lynch. One day after mass, with the end of Jim’s senior year approaching, the two spoke about his plans for the future. Schreyer wound up offering O’Donnell, who was president of his class, a spot in Merrill Lynch’s corporate internship program, making him the eleventh intern in what was supposed to be a group of ten.

It was an invaluable opportunity, and Jim had to hit the ground running. “I got there and I realized all of my colleagues were business administration, finance and economic majors,” he recalled, “so the first couple of days in the orientation and training program was a real ‘OSM’ – I didn’t know a lot of the terminology so I had to learn the language, and it was a lot of scrambling and studying. You don’t see too many religion majors on Wall Street.”

Still, Jim’s background in comparative religion provided him with an outlook and broad understanding that served him well when he started out and continues to shape his approach. “Studying religion from a secular perspective (not a theological or doctrinal perspective) was the best thing I ever did, because I learned that it’s a big, wide world,” he said. “Throughout the history of humanity, nothing has affected our history more than religion. Whether in art, in architecture, or world history – and especially conflicts, even to this day, they’re often about religion. Yet when you get to the essence and the heart of what religion is, it’s beauty and sacredness and teachings of love, mercy, goodness and kindness. It gave me tremendous respect, acceptance and understanding,” he added, “so while you definitely can’t bring religion into the workplace, it’s important to have a set of ethics to live by.”

Jim also had another advantage starting out – finance was in his genes. His father, James O’Donnell II, had a long and accomplished Wall Street career. He worked at Equitable Life, then at Merrill Lynch, and then became one of the authors of the first Series 7 exam, formally titled the General Securities Representative Exam, which anyone who wants to become a registered representative on Wall Street has to take. He later became president of a securities training company that prepared people for the Series 7, and after retiring started his own business, Global Training and Development, which focused on emerging markets around the world, such as Bangladesh, Tunisia, and Vietnam, and helped them to develop examination processes for their securities and exchanges.

Jim’s mother, Jeanne, also provided a model for hard work and perseverance. A nurse, she went back to school to earn her master’s in nursing when Jim was young, and then worked for years as an elementary school nurse, only retiring two years ago at 73.

“I respect my dad’s entrepreneurship and work ethic; my mom’s determination in going back to school,” he said. “From them, I only know one speed, which is if you’re going to do something, make sure you do it well.”

And that’s the speed at which O’Donnell has run for his entire career. Making his father proud, he passed the Series 7 with flying colors, missing only one out of 250 questions. Starting out at Merrill Lynch, he worked for Bob McCann, a past Wall Street 50 Keynote and current CEO of UBS Group Americas and Wealth Management Americas, an experience Jim described as “phenomenal.” When the opportunity arose for one of the Merrill Lynch corporate interns to help out with implementing a new CMA (Cash Management Accounts) program for the European market, O’Donnell volunteered and in January of 1984 he went to London for a few months. Instead of returning to New York and the internship program, he accepted a job in the London office’s European equities business as an equity sales trader, doing both US equities and international equities. There he worked under a man named Terry Hurley, who he described as “a big, tough Chicago Irishman. He was incredibly principled, all about doing your work, being honest and taking the time to learn the mechanics and keep a clear record.”

Jim recalled one pivotal moment when a colleague in another office asked him to buy 25,000 shares in a certain stock, but when the price moved $2 against him later that day, he maintained that he had told Jim to sell. “Here I am, this 22-year-old kid, so scared,” he said, “and Terry goes ‘let me see your sheets. So he flips through them and sees that I had a B written down next to the order, just like he taught me, and he says to the guy, ‘There’s no way you told him to sell.’ Terry backed me, and that showed me how incredibly important integrity and ethics are, but also how important it is to make sure you’re on your game.”

O’Donnell loved London, where he would end up spending the formative years of his career and early adulthood. “If you spend your 20s and early 30s in one city, it’s important. It became home,” he reflected. “My first few years there I couldn’t really afford it; I could just go to the pubs and eat meat pies and have a few pints. I played on a rugby team called the Stock Exchange Stags. But it’s such a great stepping-stone to all of Europe.”

Two months after arriving in London, he visited Ireland for the first time, which resulted in the first of many great stories. “I was an Irish American in London in 1984, and I thought to myself, there’s no way I can spend St. Patrick’s Day here. So I got on a plane, flew to Dublin and stayed in the Shelbourne,” he remembered. “The concierge sent me to O’Donoghue’s pub off of St. Stephen’s Green, and I was so excited to have my first Guinness in Ireland. So I sit down at the bar with my pint and there are a bunch of guys about my age and one of them says to me, ‘You think you can drink, you Americans, but we can drink you under the table.’ Back then I was a pretty big beer drinker, so I just said, ‘No, I really don’t think you can, but cheers, happy St. Patrick’s Day.’ And he goes ‘Are you challenging me?’” Fourteen pints later (thirteen to win, one in celebration), O’Donnell left the bar.

In the years since he has been to Dublin over a dozen times, and looks forward (“Especially after this,” he said) to visiting Tralee and Galway to trace his family roots. His paternal grandmother’s family, the Manions, hailed from Roundstone, Co. Galway, while his father’s father had family in Kildare, Co. Naas and Tralee, Co. Kerry.

After rising in the ranks at Merrill Lynch in London, O’Donnell joined Drexel Burnham Lambert to run their international sales and trading operation for equities, and moved back to New York  to manage their global sales trading effort. Shortly before the firm filed for bankruptcy in 1990, O’Donnell returned to London with NatWest Bank, to manage their equity business in Europe. “Hindsight being 20/20, I think Tim Ferguson [who was then CEO of NatWest Securities Global] took a huge leap of faith in hiring me,” he reflected. “I was a twenty-eight-year-old kid, an exuberant American with experience managing 50 or so people, suddenly managing 1,000 people at a very traditional British firm. I had some great senior partners who were more senior than I was though they were reporting to me – and who frankly could have buried me – but by being honest and respectful we ended up creating a really strong team.”

While at NatWest he was approached by HSBC to become CEO of HSBC James Capel, their global securities business. Shortly after starting, he was asked to also become CEO of their global equities business. “It was a challenging job, and I was over-stretched” he said candidly. “I was 36, in charge of 5,000 people around the world, and running both U.S. equities and fixed income, and the global equities franchise.”

It was at this point that some of the lingering questions about the direction of his life took center stage. “During dinner and a couple of drinks with friends we would have these great conversations about life and the world, as good Irish people do, and I kept thinking ‘Well, I’m not married, maybe I really should explore whether I should have become a priest?’ One of my friends said, ‘You always talk about it, why don’t you just do it?’ So I decided that if I didn’t try it I would never know if it was my calling.” He left HSBC and applied for a spot in a seminary.

This career change was an uncommon one to say the least and garnered the attention of the media. The New York Times described him as “known for his worldly success in a series of high-power, high-pay jobs in the financial world,” and The Independent pointed out that as a priest in New York he would “take home a salary of less than £6,000 a year, less than 1 per cent of what he was earning on Wall Street.” After transitioning out of HSBC and James Capel, Jim moved back to New York, began studying for the priesthood, and joined the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception on Long Island, which has since merged with other religious institutions in the area.

“It was a greater transition than I ever could have imagined,” he said solemnly. “I  probably made a mistake in not insisting I go to a seminary for older vocations. Immaculate Conception had great people – a really caring and loving staff and priests and nuns – but I was 37, a former CEO, and I had lived in the world. All my classmates were 21 and just out of college. So it was a real challenge.”

The hardest part, though, was the instinct he felt to question things, to say “Yes, but what about this?” While he was thrilled to be studying to become a priest in an institution he loved, he realized that he couldn’t see eye to eye with the Church on all of its teachings. “I have tremendous respect and reverence for the Church, and I will always consider myself a Catholic,” he said, “but my social beliefs developed through time and experience and are very different today. My views on celibacy, on women in the priesthood, on birth control, on same sex marriage, on annulments, they’re just different. I respected and continue to respect the Church’s views, but I also realized that there was no way I could be a priest.”

Coming to terms with this was a tremendous personal struggle. “I had always been somebody who had great faith in listening to authority, always agreeing,” Jim explained. “Today I still believe in respecting authority, but you also have a responsibility to be truthful and transparent in your own views and beliefs, and if you don’t do that then you are failing yourself.”

It took time, but rather than seeing the experience as a failure, he came to recognize it as a necessary decision on his part and a sign of the wisdom and forbearance of the Church. “Was there disappointment and anger? Of course there was. But it made me a stronger person, and I now look at it as one of the best things I ever did. People said ‘Well, you failed.’  But one of the reasons why I respect the Church so much is because in the Formation process you’re supposed to reflect on whether this path is right for you. So as opposed to failing, I actually think the Formation process worked incredibly well for me. It was a few years before I could see it this way, but what became clear was that it wouldn’t have been the right decision for me, but it was the right decision to find out. And I have no regrets about that.”

After eighteen months out of the business, O’Donnell returned to finance. “It was like putting on my favorite suit and feeling comfortable again,” he said, smiling. He went back to London, working as a managing director and deputy head of equities in Europe for Salomon Smith Barney, and then as the head of Citigroup’s European equities business.

Jim has been with Citi for close to fifteen years now, and he’s in good company. “It’s by far the best firm I’ve ever worked with,” he enthused. “My boss, Jamie Forese, and I had a conversation a while back about how to describe the culture of Citi, and he said ‘the difference is we allow you to be who you are,’ and that to me says it all.” A number of his colleagues, including Citi’s CAO Don Callahan and head of Equities Americas Dan Keegan are past or current Wall Street 50 honorees. Citi has had a presence in Ireland since 1965 – it was one of the first foreign banks to open an office in Ireland – and today employs 2,200 in Dublin. In Northern Ireland, Citi employs close to 1,000 people in Belfast at the Titanic Quarter campus.

A few years after joining Citi in 1999, O’Donnell relocated to New York to serve as head of U.S. equities. In 2007, in the early days of the financial crisis, Forese promoted him to co-head of global investor sales and relationship management. Two months later on December 27, after a few days of chest pains, O’Donnell underwent emergency double bypass surgery to clear two blockages in his arteries. After five months recovering and a new esteem for diet and exercise, he returned to Citi. “They [doctors] encourage you to go back when you’re younger and I’m glad I did because I was able to experience one of the most difficult and interesting moments in U.S. financial history,” he said – Bear Sterns had just gone under and Lehman Brothers was about to.

He soon took over in his current role as head of investor sales and relationship management. Five years later, he has a clean bill of health and continues to be enthusiastic about the work he does with Citi’s sales teams, clients, investors and buying partners, traveling around the world for close to five months out of every year.

He is also well attuned to the shift in attitude and atmosphere that has taken place over the last few years as the new financial regulations are implemented. “Transparency in the way you operate your business is critical; strong risk management is essential. Being truly client-centric and open with customers, making sure you do all you can to deliver for them as opposed to just yourself and the firm is critical,” he said. “As we say, the business has become a job. Nobody wants to see what happened in the past happen again. Today there’s much more attention to detail and we’re much more questioning of things. At the same time, we have to have real respect for the rules.”

Over the past fourteen years, O’Donnell has also come to terms with the conflict that troubled him throughout his early days in the industry: how to reconcile doing good with making money. The idea may induce a few eye rolls, but it’s a classic case of Irish guilt – feeling bad about being successful and wanting to do something to atone.

When he returned to finance from the seminary, he realized that it is possible to make money and do good, and that in fact, one can help out considerably with the other. “Let’s be honest,” he said, “in addition to the people who are out in the field, the world needs people to write checks and make donations, people to get involved, and that’s part of why I respect my colleagues on Wall Street so much – for all the good work that they do.”

Though he described himself as “a small fry” in comparison, Jim’s philanthropy and generosity are very notable. Each year he sponsors a number of scholarships that allow kids from underprivileged areas to attend Catholic schools. “A dear friend of mine, Joanne O’Brien, who has worked with many Catholic schools on Long Island, convinced me it was an important thing to do,” he said. “I give the scholarships anonymously, but you get letters from these kids and their stories are just unbelievable. Many of them come from challenged homes, or have a parent who died or lost their job and the whole family is struggling to get by. Then you see the kids go through high school and some of them get full scholarships to great colleges. I’m okay with them not knowing who I am – it’s a change a life, change the world type of thing.”

Thanks to his friend Buzzy Geduld, CEO of Cougar Trading and former partner in the legendary Wall Street trading house Herzog Heine Geduld, O’Donnell became involved with the Friar’s Club, the fraternal group for comedy and the arts (and host of the hilarious celebrity roasts) in New York. “I love it there!” he said with delight. “It kind of fits with my personality – it’s irreverent, it can be bawdy at times, and they have this phrase: ‘We only roast the ones we love.’ It means we can all make fun of each other, but we’re also totally accepting.”

O’Donnell is on the board of the Friar’s Foundation, the club’s charitable arm, and in 2012 was named Friar of the Year for his work with The Gift of Laughter program, which brings comedy to wounded veterans and their families. When we spoke, he had also recently been elected to the club’s board of governors.

“The Friars strike a good balance,” he reflected, “and I hope I do too. I aim to be both someone who works hard and someone who’s fun. “One of the things I respect so much about my faith, my family history and heritage,” he continued, “is that the Irish diaspora has done so much for the world and particularly the United States and New York. Whether they were politicians or nuns or cops or firemen or on Wall Street [O’Donnell has all of the above in his family] they had to work hard to set up roots in this country. But they did it all with this tremendous exuberance for life that’s been key to everything.”

With his palpable exuberance for life, his strong moral compass, and great insight into the world of finance and beyond, it’s safe to say that there are many great things still to come from Jim O’Donnell.

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The First Word: Faugh A Ballagh https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/the-first-word-faugh-a-ballagh/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/the-first-word-faugh-a-ballagh/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:59:48 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17379 Read more..]]> “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
– William Faulkner,  from Requiem for a Nun (1950)

Irish America’s impact on the history of America is well established, as the articles in this issue will attest.  From titans of industry such as the silver king John Mackay, to the boxer John Morrissey, who was behind the fabled racecourse at Saratoga Springs, and on to today’s “Wall Street 50”  honorees, who are at the top of their game in the financial industry.

Suffice to say, America wouldn’t be America without the Irish. From Notre Dame football to the White House; from Hollywood to Wall Street, the Irish American experience is all-encompassing. But there are stories that still need to be told of ordinary men and women on whose brave shoulders we stand. And often times serendipity plays a part in bringing these stories to light.

As the anniversary of the American Civil War is upon us, we turn our attention once more to the feats of young men, brave in battle, who carved out a place for the Irish in America.

While the broader story of the Irish Brigade, and the Fighting 69th, is well-known, many of the individual stories have gotten lost in time.

And so it was that this particular period in American history was on my mind when I stopped into Paddy Reilly’s bar to catch a session on a recent Thursday evening. There I had an encounter that convinced me that the stories of our ancestors reveal themselves at just the right moment.

Though the musicians were first-class, my mind kept wandering back to a piece I was editing on the Fighting 69th, whose famous battle cry was “Faugh a Ballagh” (Clear the Way). A Google search had turned up 55 Irish-born Civil War soldiers who were recipients of the Medal of Honor, but there was scant information, just name and rank, and no mention of their birthplace in Ireland.

Had Col. James Tierney introduced himself on any other evening at Paddy Reilly’s, I might not have been paying attention. But the colonel, as it turned out, was a member of the 69th and had for many years been the regiment’s historian. The fact that his father was from Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, my home town, seemed an uncanny coincidence, but when he went on to tell me that Private Timothy Donoghue, 69th Infantry, the first Irish-born Civil War soldier to receive the Medal of  Honor, was also from Nenagh, I was speechless.

I was still processing this serendipitous encounter, when the colonel introduced his son Dennis, also with the 69th, who was just back from Afghanistan.

Meeting Dennis and his father, brought the story of the 69th regiment full circle – past to present – and served as a reminder that our place in this nation’s history was hard won, and is still being earned.

It is through stories that we come to know the ingredients that make us who we are. It’s important too, that these stories get passed down to the children, so that they know they have in their DNA the ability to be brave should troubles come their way.

Those Civil War soldiers “cleared the way” not just on the battlefield; they laid foundations on which later generations would build. Yet, they could not have imagined the heights to which our Wall Street 50 honorees would scale. These men and women, who we honor as much for their community activism as for their financial acumen, are an inspiration. None more so than Sheila Langan’s cover story subject Citi bank’s Jim O’Donnell.

When it comes to Wall Street, Jim says: “The world needs people to write checks and make donations, people to get involved, and that’s part of why I respect my colleagues on Wall Street so much – for all the good work that they do.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

And so the story of the Irish in America continues with a new generation picking up the banner and “clearing the way” as they shape the culture, history and destinies of the two countries that share our allegiance.

I salute you all.

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Bog Body from Laois Officially World’s Oldest https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/bog-body-from-laois-officially-worlds-oldest/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/bog-body-from-laois-officially-worlds-oldest/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:58:58 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17416 Read more..]]> The naturally mummified body of a young adult male found in the Cúl na Móna bog in Cashel, Co. Laois is officially the oldest fleshed human remains ever discovered in the world. It dates back roughly 4,000 years, or 700 years before Egypt’s Tutankhamun.

The body, discovered in 2011 by a Bord na Móna worker, was originally presumed to be that of a young Iron Age female and estimated to be about as old as other “bog bodies” (c. 500 BC – AD 400). But recently released radiocarbon dating results have dated the body to the early Bronze Age.

Eamonn Kelly, the keeper of Irish antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland said that they took three separate samples, which were sent to two different labs, and all of the results came back at 2000 BC.

Moreover, because of blade wounds on the body’s back and a broken arm, Kelly believes the body was royal-born and sacrificed as part of a ritual ceremony. Kelly and his fellow researchers believe it is not unlikely such bodies belong to “kings that failed in their kingship and were been sacrificed as a consequence,”  he told the Independent.

The discovery of the age of the body means that much more can be studied about the relationship of Bronze Age Ireland to later millennia. “It seems to be the same type of ritual that we’ve observed in later Iron Age finds. What’s surprising here is that it’s so much earlier,” Kelly said.

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U.S. Congressmen Visit Ireland to Discuss Undocumented https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/u-s-congressmen-visit-ireland-to-discuss-undocumented/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/u-s-congressmen-visit-ireland-to-discuss-undocumented/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:57:33 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17422 Read more..]]> On the heels of the U.S. Senate’s passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June, 12 congressmen traveled to Ireland in early August to meet with Fine Gael TD Pat Breen about the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants currently living in the United States.

Breen, who is chairman of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, is scheduled to lead a delegation of Irish politicians to Washington, D.C. in September to lobby congressional representatives on immigration reform in advance of the House vote.

An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, six million of whom are Mexican, and roughly 40% of whom entered the United States through a legal port of entry but stayed after their visas had expired, according to PRI’s The World. Though less than half of one percent of undocumented immigrants are Irish, Breen put the figure in individual terms for The Journal.

“Sadly, it’s not uncommon at Irish funerals to see somebody holding up a smart phone or tablet so that an undocumented son or daughter or brother or sister in the U.S. can connect in a small way with the funeral of their loved one.”

Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, however, criticized Leinster House’s involvement with the U.S. immigration reform debate, wondering in a recently-published article in the Irish quarterly review Studies, whether it was not “hypocritical in seeking to have the status of perhaps 50,000 ‘undocumented’ Irish citizens, living and working illegally in the U.S., regularized, while at the same time adopting measures which make it quite uninviting to seek asylum in Ireland.”

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Rosie Hackett’s Memorial Bridge https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/rosie-hacketts-memorial-bridge/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/rosie-hacketts-memorial-bridge/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:56:37 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17426 Read more..]]> The nephew of trade unionist Rosie Hackett has said she would be “giggling quietly to herself” if she knew that Dublin’s newest bridge, which spans the Liffey over Marlborough Street, had been named in her honor.

“She’d be slightly embarrassed about it, but she’d also be very proud,” John Gray, Rosie’s nephew, said speaking on the radio show  “Morning Ireland.”

Rosie, a founding member of the Irish Women Workers’ Union, was involved in the 1913 Dublin Lockout, and the Irish Citizen Army during the 1916 Rising.

It is the first time that a bridge over the Liffey, immortalized by James Joyce as the muse Anna Livia Plurabelle, has been named for a woman.

The Dublin Lock-out, the most significant industrial dispute in Irish history, lasted from August 26, 1913 to January 18, 1914. Central to the strike was the  right to unionize. Workers were forced to labor up to 17 hours a day, and were at the mercy of their employers, who blacklisted them if they tried to unionize.

William Martin Murphy who, among other interests, was the chairman of the Dublin United Tramway Company, was particularly opposed to unionizing workers and saw Jim Larkin, who set up the General Workers’ Union (ITGWU), as a dangerous revolutionary.

Presiding over a meeting of 300 other employers, Murphy, and the group determined to take on the ITGWU. On August 15, Murphy dismissed 40 workers he suspected of being union members and dismissed 300 more the following week. Thus began the strike, with employers locking out workers and employing scab labor from Britain.

Guinness was the one notable employer that did not lock out its workers, even though 400 of its employees were union members. But some 20,000 other Dublin workers took part in the strike. As they were already the poorest paid workers in Europe, the dispute drove them to the edge of starvation, but they refused to break the strike.

Rosie Hackett was very active in the ITGWU. As a co-founder (with Jim Larkin’s sister Delia) of the Irish Women Workers’ Union, she had organized the 1911 women workers strike at Dublin’s Jacob’s biscuit factory.

Rosie’s nephew also said that although she was small in stature, she had a big character: “If she seen [sic] something that was wrong, she’d do something to right it. Not just for her sake, but primarily for others.”

The new bridge, which is costing an estimated €13 million, is due to open in February.

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Texas Rose Rounds Up the Votes https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/texas-rose-rounds-up-the-votes/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/texas-rose-rounds-up-the-votes/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:55:01 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17431 Read more..]]> The winner of the 2013 Rose of Tralee International Festival is 25-year-old Dallas, Texas native Haley O’Sullivan. Teary-eyed and overjoyed, Haley, who beat 31 other contestants from around the world on August 20 said: “Everyone was so fabulous, I can’t believe this is happening.”

An American Ireland Fund Young Leader, Haley is a 2010 graduate of the University of Arizona with an honors degree in elementary education. After teaching for one year she changed careers and now serves as a marketing coordinator for an industrial chemical company. Haley is also passionate about fitness. She is a member of Dallas’ GAA club, the Fion Mac Cumhaills, where she plays midfield on the ladies Gaelic football team.

The new Rose, whose relations hail from Longford and Cork, received a Newbridge Silverware tiara, the Rose trophy, a world travel prize worth €25,000 and a year’s driving in a brand new Kia pro_cee’d.

Haley may have won the title but New Orleans Rose Molly Molloy Gamble stole the show when, in the first ever on-stage marriage proposal the the 54-year-long festival has experienced, Kyle Catlett, 23, asked a stunned Molly for her hand. She could hardly keep her composure as her boyfriend bent down on one knee.  After a repetitive chorus of “no’s” (clearly caused by shock) Molly said “yes,” to the delight of the packed dome and the half million viewers at home.

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IrishCentral.com and WorldIrish.com Join Forces https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/irishcentral-com-and-worldirish-com-join-forces/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/irishcentral-com-and-worldirish-com-join-forces/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:54:38 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17436 Read more..]]> Irish America’s sister publication IrishCentral.com and WorldIrish.com, the two largest Irish diaspora sites, announced a decision to merge on September 2. The new entity, which will operate as IrishCentral.com, will have offices in New York and Dublin and will have over 2 million unique visitors. The merger takes effect from September 15.

Wold Irish was founded in 2011 by John McColgan, who, with his wife, Moya Doherty, produced and directed Riverdance. “We are delighted to join with John McColgan and the team at WorldIrish,” IrishCentral founder Niall O’Dowd said. “We believe the potential to create a super site  for the Irish is very real.” McColgan serve as a director/ advisor to the new entity.

“John has proven through Riverdance and WorldIrish that he has a deep and important understanding of the Irish diaspora, and he has never been afraid to put voice to that vision. We look forward to working with his vision at IrishCentral,” O’Dowd added.

John McColgan said “This is a truly exciting opportunity for WorldIrish to grow and develop under the IrishCentral.com brand.”

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The Connector: Terry Clune https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/the-connector-terry-clune/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/the-connector-terry-clune/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:53:52 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17440 Read more..]]> Terry Clune is on a mission to turn the economy around by connecting the Irish on a global level.

The Italian tourists seemed lost, stopped at the top of Dawson Street with a curious look in their eye as the August sun came up on St Stephen’s Green.

An appointment at businessman Terry Clune’s office was calling from around the corner but the elderly couple, map in hand, appeared in need of a little direction.

The pair did indeed need some helpful guidance. They had already walked past their hotel in the fashionable Dublin 2 quarter, they just didn’t know it. The connection with local knowledge was made and they were sent happily on their way to bed and board at La Stampa.

The chance encounter turned out to be the perfect analogy for the conversation that followed as Clune, a Wicklow man now resident in Kilkenny, explained how the ConnectIreland concept he is funding and leading can help to turn the Irish economy around.

As Bill Clinton once said: “half the world is Irish and the other half wants to be.” ConnectIreland offers a conduit between those in business seeking to expand into Europe and those villages and towns in Ireland looking to reduce the unemployment in an economy picking itself up off the canvas post-Celtic Tiger.

Introduced by Taxback founder Clune, a former Irish Entrepreneur of the Year, at the 2011 Global Economic Forum think-tank in the government’s Farmleigh Estate, ConnectIreland is a concept that promises to create employment and boost an economy on the rebound by asking anyone who cares about Ireland to keep their eyes and ears open to opportunity.

Terry Clune is a man with a story to tell and a country to sell. His life changed forever thanks to a Guinness sports bag and a chance meeting in the elevator of a German tax office back in his student days at Trinity College.

A poor university student (his words not mine), he was more entrepreneur than scholar even in the early 90s when following bands like the Waterboys and In Tua Nua around Ireland, and promoting discos and events, was more attractive than studying business and economics.

Germany first called this son of a Wicklow farmer to its shores in 1993 and the boss of the plastics factory who hired him was impressed with his work ethic and application, so impressed that Clune struck a deal with him. He would bring 110 Irish students back to the same plant for summer work the following year – for a fee.

Dispatched by his charges to try and claim some of their tax back from the local authority at the end of that summer, Clune hit a brick wall at first. “I stood in front of the taxman with my dreadlocks and my dirty jeans, leather jacket and my Doc Martens and I must have been a sight,” explains the Taxback founder.

“He explained that our documents were in order, that our taxes were all paid and there were no rebates available. I went back to my students with the news and they told me out straight to try again.

“Second time around, another guy had a look at the P45s and mumbled something about some of us underpaying our tax. That’s when I decided to leave the building. I was in the lift on the way back to reception with all the documents in my Guinness sports holdall when the lift stopped and this giant of a man, impeccably dressed in the best suit imaginable, got in. He looked at me, first in shock and horror, and then he saw my Guinness bag. A smile came over his face and he asked me if I was from Ireland. When I said I was indeed Irish, he remarked that he was just back from a cycling holiday in Cork and Kerry and he had loved it.

“The Guinness bag made the connection with Ireland and it changed my life. He told me his name was Horst and he was the boss of the tax office. He asked what he could do to help me. I explained how I was trying to claim some tax back for over a hundred student workers from Ireland and in that instant my life changed forever.

“He brought some of his officials down to the foyer, we worked there for two hours and I left knowing exactly how the process worked to get our German taxes back. The only reason that happened for me was because of the Guinness bag. We all have connections that we don’t realize. That can be really useful if we only know how to use them.”

Terry Clune has made the most of that chance meeting with a German tax boss. He had already established his Taxback company in his mother’s kitchen before he finished his degree course at Trinity. An office followed on Dublin’s Aston Quay, beside the student travel body USIT who organize working holidays for Irish kids all across the globe.

The location offered Terry Clune’s fledgling business a stream of prospective clients on tap. A contract to sort the tax affairs of the thousands of Irish students who work in America on J1 visas every year soon followed. An Irish success story was up and running before the degree was landed.

The dreadlocks went before he began a trial as a trainee accountant with Price WaterhouseCooper, an experience that lasted all of two days.
(His mother has the dreadlocks stored in a sealed bag at the family home near Avoca where they await a public appearance).

Taxback won Deloitte Ireland’s Gold Standard company award winner in 2013, and is now one of the great hopes of Irish business with almost a thousand employees worldwide, 200 of whom are in Dublin and Kilkenny.

Its success across 94 countries, where it helps the biggest corporations reclaim tax and VAT, has allowed Clune to fund ConnectIreland to the tune of almost $4 million in the first year as it helps to fuel the Irish government’s Action Plan for Jobs.

Endorsed by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and luminaries from all walks of life including Martin Sheen, Donald Keough, Martin Naughton, Wilbur Ross, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, business mogul Denis O’Brien, Goldman Sachs chairman Peter Sutherland, actress Saoirse Ronan and Irish dance king Michael Flatley, ConnectIreland is all about connections and introductions to foreign firms looking to Europe, and working with the IDA and the Irish government to create jobs.

Connectors who make the introductions receive a reward for every job that is created, two years after the job becomes a reality. It’s a win-win situation for all concerned.

The Kieran Leavy story is typical of the ConnectIreland experience. A security firm owner in the Midlands town of Portarlington, Kieran met some American executives from the Michigan based Magni Group in the bar after a game of golf in the Heritage, a Seve Ballesteros design, just outside Portlaoise.

Over a pint of Guinness and a sociable chat, he discovered they were on their way to the Czech Republic to finalize plans to establish a Europe base there. Thanks to his strong association with Ireland’s national sport’s governing body, the GAA, Kieran was aware of the ConnectIreland opportunity.

He introduced Magni Group Managing Director Ted Berry, a direct descendant of an Irishman who left for America during the Famine, to ConnectIreland and the rest of the story will become history when the Magni Group introduce 50 jobs to Portarlington in September 2014 when their $20 million plant is completed, the first Direct Foreign Investment in the town in 26 years. Kieran Leavy will receive over $100,000 as a reward for bringing the Magni jobs to Ireland. He is not alone.

Meath auctioneer Hugh Morris introduced the Mafic group to the town of Kells where they will employ 70 people and many more in ancillary services.

Terry Clune knows there are more jobs to come in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Now a father of four and happily resident in Kilkenny where he loves nothing more than hurling with his kids at the James Stephens Club, chess addict Terry is as passionate about Ireland as he is about ConnectIreland.

“When the world economy improves – and even a bad economics student knows the graph will go up again – Ireland will be best placed to take advantage of the improvement,” he says emphatically.

“We want to make use of that. We want the introductions to companies to give them that message, to tell them why four of the top five internet companies in the world have their European HQ in Dublin, why nine out of the top 10 global pharmaceutical corporations are already here.

“Ireland is the place to do business. We understand the American culture, we speak the language. We are in the Eurozone and we are committed to the Eurozone.

“American companies in Britain are reporting in dollars, working in sterling and selling into Europe in Euros. We offer a two currency solution and a gateway to the biggest market in the world, a market valued at $32 trillion.

“There are many American companies, not just the multi-nationals, who will look to expand into that market and Ireland is the perfect place for their European base. Anyone who cares about Ireland may have connections to those companies. All we need is to know about it.

“We will reward those who supply the information and allow us to make the pitch. The average reward is $20,000, at $2,000 a job. We have GAA clubs in Ireland looking to make introductions to pay for hurling walls. We have a community in Kerry looking to bring jobs to their town and a finder’s fee to pay for a lifeboat that is badly needed.

“Our target is 5,000 jobs over the first five years of ConnectIreland. We will have created 750 jobs by the end of year one and I know from ongoing talks that there are more to come. We are in dialogue with 250 companies worldwide. They say there are 40 million people of Irish extraction in America alone. If only 5,000 of them help us to find one company each that could produce 250,000 jobs and end Ireland’s unemployment issue.

“Imagine that. It could be the doorman of a company, or a secretary, or a cleaner who hears something and makes the
connection.”

“We are talking to taxi drivers and limo drivers in Dublin, hotel doormen across Ireland, golf operators bringing Americans in to play our great links courses. They all have connections and connections can lead to jobs. We’re not asking companies to ‘please give us some jobs.’ We are asking them to listen to our pitch and let us sell Ireland to them.

“Every Christmas I travel through Dublin Airport and I see the parents welcoming their children home from abroad and then sending them on their way again after the holidays. It’s the saddest sight in the world and those parents feel helpless and powerless. But they have power, they have connections. And we can make those connections work.

Terry Clune and his wife Kate tried living in a number of towns and cities in Ireland for a week before they settled on Kilkenny as the perfect place to raise their four kids. Clune describes it as a “town of winners.”

Within his first week in town, Terry met the Kilkenny hurling boss Brian Cody, the most decorated manager in the ancient and great game, and he made an amazing discovery that inspired the ConnectIreland concept.

“I was speaking at an event in Kilkenny about how businesses can fight their way out of recession and expand in these tough times, and I asked the audience if they had connections and relatives in business abroad. The oldest lady in the room, a woman in her mid 70s, put her hand up and said that she was the last descendant left in Callan from the Candler family who had gone to America in 1820 and founded Coca-Cola with two other families in 1896.

“That fascinated me, and when I got talking to my neighbor about the connection, he told me how the man who designed the White House, James Hoban, was born only down the road from that woman’s homestead, and how Walt Disney’s family came from eight miles away as the crow flies. That’s when the idea of Connect-Ireland was born. That’s the power of the connections we have.

“We all have connections that can really work for Ireland, if we think about it. If you care about Ireland, then make the connection with us. That’s all we ask.”

More information on ConnectIreland is available at www.connectireland.com.

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Valentia Island’s Buried Treasure https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/valentia-islands-buried-treasure/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/valentia-islands-buried-treasure/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:52:04 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17446 Read more..]]> Buried treasure on a remote Irish island, the descendants of a 13th-century Knight and a 19th century American entrepreneur – and the birth of the modern communications industry.

It’s not the plot of some barely-believable potboiler, but the real-life back story behind a bid to have the small island of Valentia – off the coast of south west Ireland – recognized formally as one of the wonders of the industrial world.

Valentia is the point at which, in 1866, Europe and the North American continent were linked for the first time via a permanent, fully-functioning telecommunications cable. The underwater wire stretched almost 2,000 miles (3,200k) from Valentia to the delightfully-named Heart’s Content in Newfoundland.

Attempts in 1857 and 1858 to create a communications bridge between Europe and the North American continent had proved costly failures. But the successful laying of the 1866 cable ushered in a world of near-instant communication.

It meant that a message that would have taken ten days to cross the Atlantic by boat, could be received in London or Paris within hours of being transmitted from New York.

The new cable successfully laid by the Great Eastern – the largest ship in the world in 1866 – wasn’t cheap to use, but it was fast, it was reliable and, most importantly, it worked.

Suddenly the world was a smaller, more connected place. Suddenly the instant communication we now consider one of the hallmarks of the modern world was a reality. The old world of Europe and the new world of North America were, effectively, plugged in.

Field’s Atlantic Telegraph Company ultimately opened the way for the development of other networks that further connected the world. Eighteen years later, for example, John William Mackay’s Commercial Cable Company successfully laid a cable from Canso in Nova Scotia to Waterville, also in County Kerry – just 25 miles from where the 1866 cable came ashore.

But it was Field’s Valentia project that established beyond doubt that submarine cable was an achievable goal.

“The world changed in Valentia,” says Professor Al Gillespie, an expert in international heritage sites. “It became a world of telecommunications.”

According to Gillespie, a New Zealand academic and rapporteur for the World Heritage Convention, Valentia’s role in the birth of modern communications marks the island as worthy of recognition as a UNESCO heritage site – alongside world-famous historical landmarks like the Cornwall and Devon Mining Landscape in the U.K., and Canada’s Rideau Canal.

He says Valentia Island is sitting on “buried treasure” – a site of potentially worldwide historical importance.

History and heritage on this scale, as officially designated by UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – guarantees international interest and respect. But it’s a status that’s more than academic. World Heritage Status automatically hoists a location onto the radar of international tourism. And in Ireland, where tourism is one of the country’s most important industries, that’s potentially a very big deal indeed.

It’s one of the reasons why, last June, Valentia Island hosted its first ever Trans Atlantic Communications and Light Gathering, an event designed to celebrate and highlight the island’s historic contribution to the development of modern communications. Ireland’s Minister for Arts and Heritage Jimmy Deenihan, was joined at the official Gathering event by Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Loyola Hearn and U.S. Chargé d’affaires John Hennessy Niland, amongst others. Their presence provided a sense that Valentia’s bid to acquire world heritage status has, notionally at least, a political and governmental thumbs-up.

But the event was marked by a remarkable meeting that was significant in a way far beyond mundane politics or the nitty gritty of acquiring UNESCO recognition. That weekend on Valentia, history did what it isn’t supposed to do – it repeated itself.

In the 1850s and ’60s, Massachusetts-born businessman Cyrus Field had led the attempts to bridge the communications gap between Europe and north America.

It was essentially his vision and ambition that had driven the entire transatlantic cable development.

He didn’t work alone, of course. And as the project progressed on Valentia, it caught the interest of Sir Maurice Fitzgerald, the Knight of Kerry – a local landowner and holder of a hereditary knighthood with its origins in the 13th century. The Knight became an early and enthusiastic backer of the cable project and became firm friends with Field.

Fast forward to June 2013. At the Transatlantic Communications and Light Gathering, the Knight of Kerry’s great-great grandson, Sir Adrian Fitzgerald, and Cyrus Field IV, the great-great grandson of the original Cyrus Field, did what their famous ancestors had done a century and a half previously – they meet on Valentia and become firm friends.

“It was a remarkable occasion,” said Cyrus Field IV, a lawyer who lives on Shaw Island, off the coast of Washington state.

“I feel privileged that I was invited to this event on Valentia to walk in the footsteps of Cyrus and celebrate his achievements.

“But to have the opportunity to meet and get to know the man whose life, like my own, is linked through history to the cable and Valentia Island, was a special, unforgettable experience.

“When we met and shook hands – two men whose ancestors were really central to the cable’s success on Valentia – it was an unforgettable experience that will remain forever with both of us,” he said.

Field said the role of Valentia in the development of modern communications is indisputable, and a story that should be recognized worldwide.

“This is my first visit to Ireland and to Valentia Island. My incredible experience here tells me that the island and the story of the transatlantic cable is worth telling around the world. It’s a heritage worth recognizing and acknowledging,” he said.

Meanwhile, at around the time that Cyrus Field IV and the current Knight of Kerry were meeting, Professor Al Gillespie was having what he called his “Indiana Jones day”. It involved a hunt through some of Valentia Island’s beautiful spots in search of buried treasure.

And in a development that could be significant in any future bid by the island for UNESCO’s heritage status, he says he found what he was looking for. The treasure – the site at which the first transatlantic cable message was received on Valentia in 1866 – is now buried beneath a site known locally as the Slate Yard. If the island’s bid for heritage status is developed and receives the imprimatur of UNESCO, the site could be transformed into a world-recognized location that would move it far beyond the status of the Slate Yard.

“Valentia is sitting on buried treasure,” Gillespie said. “The treasure is in the Slate Yard. It’s time Valentia, and Ireland, realize the potentially huge resource they have  on their doorstep.

“Most countries would give their eye teeth for a site like this.”

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Kelly Twins Participate in Space Study https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/kelly-twins-participate-in-space-study/ https://irishamerica.com/2013/09/kelly-twins-participate-in-space-study/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:51:10 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=17451 Read more..]]> Irish-American identical twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly have volunteered for an observational study to determine the effects of space travel on human genetics.

Scott, who has spent 180 days in space, including a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station in 2011, is scheduled to blast off again in 2015 for a record-breaking year-long stay. Mark, who went on his final flight commanding the Shuttle Endeavor in 2011, has spent a total of 54 days in space, in 50 different aircrafts. He retired from NASA to help his wife, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, recover from the critical wounds she sustained during the January 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona.

By the time Scott Kelly returns from the ISS in 2016, he will have clocked 540 days in space – 10 times as many as his twin. This gave the Kelly brothers the idea that they could be useful observational subjects for NASA, providing researchers with a unique opportunity to learn more about how space travel and microgravity affect the human body. They pitched the idea to NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP), which recently invited the scientific community to submit proposals for investigation.

“The way we wrote the proposal is, essentially, anything that researchers think is relevant to understanding the genomics and proteomics and metabolomics and other ‘omics’ that can be deduced from a study of one astronaut in flight and one astronaut who is retired and not flying and living the good life in Albuquerque,” said John Charles, chief of the HRP’s International Science Office.

Scott is slated to launch in March 2015, a month after the twins’ 50th birthday.

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