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Kirwan & Turner ride again

POSTED ON April 16th  - POSTED IN Arts, Arts & Leisure, News & Views

Larry Kirwan.


By Peter McDermott
Pierce Turner will be joined by his former singing partner Larry Kirwan for one special number tomorrow night (Friday, April 17) at the Donaghy Theatre, Irish Arts Center in Manhattan.

Turner will also be on stage at the venue on Saturday night for a show he calls “Why use two words when 10 will do,” which is also the tentative title of a memoir he’s currently writing.

His story-telling will inevitably bring in the tale of two boys of Wexford who set out for fame and fortune in New York City in the 1970s. They evolved into the Major Thinkers and, among other achievements, came out with an album called “Absolutely and Completely.”

“It’s actually very emotional to finally sit and listen to the music of Turner & Kirwan of Wexford,” Kirwan told the Echo. “Pierce and I were total idealists. We only wrote and played whatever we thought was really good – no concessions to commerciality. That’s what makes some of these songs timeless.”

Kirwan added: “It will be a blast to be onstage at the Irish Arts Center Friday night revisiting the title track of our album, ‘Absolutely and Completely’.”

He has been busier than ever since the fall retirement of Black 47, the extremely popular band he’d fronted since its formation in 1989. Today, (Thursday, April 16), he will perform his one-man show “Foster in the Five Points,” Bergen Community College, Paramus, N.J. at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (Tickets and information at

And next week, Kirwan will officially launch his “A History of Irish Music,” which promises to tell that extraordinary story “from Medieval Wexford to Midtown Manhattan.”

Meantime, Turner will be joined for this weekend’s shows by Fred Parcells, a Black 47 alumnus, and the singers of Avon Faire.

Turner will take the story from the time he was a Catholic schoolboy and classically-trained musician in Wexford Town to his New York adventures with Kirwan, which included being taken under the wing of folk giant Pete Seeger. When they branched out to separate careers, Turner worked with one of America’s leading composers, Philip Glass, who produced his first solo album. He has also shared the stage with Regina Spektor, Patti Smith, and Iggy Pop.

His music has won critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, with for instance, New York Magazine calling him “one of this city’s great gems.”

For information about Larry Kirwan, go to Pierce Turner’s website is For tickets to the Irish Arts Center shows:

O’Brien funds Boston College fellowship

POSTED ON April 15th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Denis O’Brien.

By Ray O’Hanlon

Irish businessman Denis O’Brien has established a fellowship at Boston College that will provide two Irish students annually with a fully-funded master’s degree in business administration at the college’s Carroll School of Management in Chestnut Hill.

O’Brien, chairman and principal shareholder of Digicel Group, one of the world’s leading cellular companies, and owner and board member of Communicorp, Ireland’s largest media holding company, has, according to a release, created the Denis O’Brien Fellowship at Boston College to provide an opportunity for aspiring business leaders from Ireland to obtain a world-class graduate education at a premier American university.

O’Brien graduated from Boston College with an MBA in corporate finance in 1982, the release stated.

And it added: The O’Brien Fellowship will cover the full cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, books and living expenses for the duration of the MBA program, as well as international travel to and from Boston. The candidates for the fellowship must be Irish citizens of exceptional academic and/or career achievement, who possess the high personal and professional standards of the program’s namesake.

“Boston College and Ireland have had a long and illustrious association,” said O’Brien.

“I am delighted to continue this with a Scholarship Program for two Irish nationals to have the opportunity to pursue a two-year MBA program in management at Boston College,” he added.

Andy Boynton, dean of the Carroll School of Management, thanked O’Brien for establishing the fellowship.

“We are honored that Denis has created the O’Brien Fellowship at Boston College, as it will provide an invaluable opportunity for Irish students who want to pursue an MBA at one of the top business schools in the United States,” Boynton said.

“He is a person who has brought acclaim to his alma mater as a student, global business leader and generous alumnus. We are grateful for his support.”

Ranked fourth among business schools in the United States by Bloomberg/BusinessWeek, Boston College’s Carroll School of Management is internationally regarded for its graduate programs in entrepreneurial and asset management, corporate finance, marketing and accounting.

The MBA program, said the BC release, attracts top students from diverse backgrounds and experiences who work closely with Boston College faculty in a program that combines sequenced course work with experiential learning. Its alumni are among the top leaders in the corporate, non-profit and finance world.

The release added: “Outside of his extensive business interests, O’Brien chaired the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland, which featured teams from 160 countries and more than 30,000 volunteers, in the first-ever games held outside of the United States.

“O’Brien is also a director on the U.S. Board of Concern Worldwide and a member of the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

“In addition, he is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. Based in Dublin, Frontline works to ensure that the standards set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted in 1998, are known, respected and adhered to worldwide.

“He also established The Iris O’Brien Foundation to identify and assist projects in Ireland and abroad that aim to alleviate disadvantaged communities.”
O’Brien holds a BA degree from University College Dublin, which also honored him with an honorary degree in 2006.

Details on the O’Brien Fellowship are at:

Lee, a man for all people

POSTED ON April 14th  - POSTED IN Arts, News & Views

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Beck Lee, right, with Brendan Coyle, star of “Downton Abbey.” [Click on image for a larger picture.]

By Orla O’Sullivan

Who knows, Beck Lee may someday add Cork’s Everyman theatre to the list of those he represents. He’s certainly an advocate for all.

Lee is the publicist for the annual Irish theatre festival, Origin’s 1st Irish, yet any Irish connection is well buried in Lee’s roots, which go back 12 generations in the States on his father’s “WASP side” and three on his Italian mother’s.

Nor has he a drop of Jewish blood, yet he is, in his own words, “one of the most active representatives for Jewish theatre in New York” and was instrumental in re-establishing Yiddish as a relevant and dynamic medium for telling stories on stage.

Last year he helped the New Yiddish Rep bring “Waiting for Godot” in Yiddish to a Beckett festival in Northern Ireland, then back to New York to participate in Origin’s 1st Irish.

Lee has helped see 1st Irish — the only annual showcase of Irish theatre in the States— grow from humble origins in 2007 to an event very widely reviewed, including, invariably by the New York Times, the high bar. Lee got involved by chance when someone doing design for 1st Irish mentioned him to festival founder George Heslin.

This month Lee himself is the story. He’s having a reading of “Subprime,” his first play in 15 years, at an industry gathering in Gramercy Park on April 20 and 21. Appropriately, it takes place in the landmark home where a fundraiser was held last summer to launch the Yiddish Godot.

“What? Me? I don’t have a publicist,” Lee joked, when contacted by the Echo. Yet, he is the story in more ways than one.

What began as Lee and his wife, Andrea Iten Lee, joking in bed about their neighbors became a test of their own marriage. “My wife and I conceived the story and I started writing it. The process of writing the play brought a lot to the surface.

“Our marriage eerily shadowed the play, without it being autobiographical,” Lee said. Themes such as marital denial about finances resonated for the real-life couple. Fortunately, their six-year union “survived the shock depicted in the play,” he said.

“Subprime” was described as “Virginia Woolf with cell phones” by Marvin Himelfarb of Fox News, a friend of Lee’s who attended an earlier reading. This will be the third and, Lee hopes, last reading before a staging.

The play’s tagline is: “Two Minneapolis couples travel to the Big Apple for a weekend getaway nobody can afford.” It was written a year after the 2008 financial crisis, rooted in subprime mortgage lending.

Minneapolis is Lee’s adopted home. In contrast to all the blow-in, wannabe New Yorkers, Lee grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, but recently “crossed the line” by getting a Minnesota driving license and registering to vote there. His wife and son live there and Lee commutes from New York.

Yet, Lee’s fondness for cream suits and for bow ties on special occasions, coupled with a slightly distracted, congenial air, suggests a Southern gentleman or university professor before Midwesterner.

His own university career was in the Northeast at Wesleyan. He curtailed his expectations of being a famous playwright “within weeks of graduation” in 1982, when he began a stint as an advertising copywriter. A career as a theatre publicist followed. Working with the renowned Broadway producer Arthur Cantor, was tantamount to “a post-doctoral education in theatre PR,” Lee said. He opened his own agency within two years, Media Blitz, established in 1994.

He circled back to playwriting by chance with “Subprime,” of which he said, “I’m now on the frontier of a commercial production.”

Quality actors have supported the work, he added, with Tony nominee Annaleigh Ashford (“Kinky Boots”) having read last time and Alison Wright, a British actor currently on the cable show “The Americans,” to read later this month.

Irish American Democrats back Hillary

POSTED ON April 14th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

Stella jpg

By Ray O’Hanlon

Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t Irish American per se, but that matters for naught as far as the lobby group Irish American Democrats is concerned.

IAD said in a statement that Sunday’s announcement by Hillary Clinton that she is running for president was “exciting news for all Americans and for Ireland and Irish Americans in particular.”

“As Irish American Democrats we welcome the announcement,” the statement said.

The statement of welcome, while not actually using the word “endorse,” does effectively read as an endorsement of Clinton’s candidacy, and one issued just hours after it was unveiled in a tweet and online video.

And it leaves no apparent room for endorsing possible rivals to Clinton for the Democratic nomination – even though the most prominent name being mentioned in reports right now is in fact an Irish American: former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.

The IAD statement, issued jointly by the group’s Washington, D.C.-based president, Stella O’Leary, and New York-based vice president, Brian O’Dwyer, said at the outset that Hillary Clinton needed no introduction to Irish America.

“Few would take issue with the claim that there would be no peace in Northern Ireland, fragile as it may be, without the direct involvement of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton,” the statement said.

“We, along with many others, worked with President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton on the Northern Ireland peace process that commenced with the granting of a visa to Gerry Adams, and culminated in the Good Friday agreement.

“Many would claim that the peace was inevitable, but it was not,” added the statement, which pointed to the historical distrust that had to be overcome.
And it continued: “Initially, the parties would not even acknowledge each other’s existence. We worked with First Lady Hillary Clinton and her Vital Voices campaign, enlisting Northern Ireland women, from both sides of the divide, to pressure the negotiators to compromise. Even today the situation in Northern Ireland remains tense and no candidate is more qualified, or committed, than Hillary Clinton to help us sustain that fragile peace.”
The statement does not only deal with the North, but also focuses on immigration and looks to a possible Clinton presidency for solutions to the current immigration impasse.
“This election, however, is not just about repaying debts, but also about looking to the future,” it stated.

And it continued: “Unjust United States immigration laws are in dire need of fixing. Irish America is so adversely affected by the provisions of the present laws that they are tantamount to a sign on the border ‘Irish need not apply.’

“Thousands of Irish are living in the shadows because of these unjust and cruel laws. American corporations are being deprived of the considerable gifts that the graduates of Irish universities are willing and able to provide.

“Despite the almost universal consensus that the immigration policies of the United States are badly broken, no action has been taken to fix the law.

Having visited Ireland numerous times as First Lady, as Senator, and as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is well aware of the hardships these laws impose on Irish families, on both sides of the Atlantic.

“She will make it a priority to enact comprehensive immigration reform, in particular she is fully supportive of President Obama’s executive action that will allow many of our undocumented to remain in the United States to work and lead productive lives.

“We, as Irish American Democrats, will, throughout this campaign, do our best to ensure that Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States.

“Her presidency will strengthen the bonds that exist between Ireland and America and will immeasurably help the struggling middle class to achieve equitable wage parity.

“She will break new ground as the first female President of America. Her presidency will benefit not only Ireland and Irish Americans, but will benefit all America. We are proud to support her.”

A new Irish comity for Capitol Hill

POSTED ON April 13th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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By Ray O’Hanlon

With a nod to a former time when political rivals Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill could debate, argue, shoot the breeze and conduct the nation’s business, a group of Washington, D.C. staffers have formed a new group that speaks of their lineage – even as they hope it will encourage civil speaking.

“Hill Irish” proclaims itself as is non-partisan, non-political, non-denominational and non-profit and a membership organization open to current and former congressional staff of Irish descent.
“Our objective is to return the Hill to the days of comity and to do this through our Irish roots. We will be educating our members about their Irishness and exposing them to the many blessings we of Irish ancestry share in music, culture, dance, literature, travel, food, sports and history,” said Hill Irish founder and spokesman, Keith Carney.
Carney grew up in New York but has been based in Washington, D.C. for 35 years. His family is from New England with its Irish roots in Cork.
Hill Irish is holding a launch reception this Friday, April 17.
Carney, who runs a broadcast news organization on the Hill called FedNet (it provides daily radio/TV coverage of Floor debates, press conferences and hearings) worked as a staffer on the Hill back in the mid-1980s designing computer systems for the Senate.
“When I first worked on Capitol Hill, and until recent times, there was a very congenial atmosphere. People could actually socialize and use their personal relationships to reach across the aisle and get things done.
“In the past five plus years working on the Hill has become so partisan, almost venomous between the Democrats and Republicans, and the staff has become very entrenched to the point of gridlock,” he said.
And he continued: “I ran into Susan O’Neill, daughter of Speaker Tip O’Neill, at an event in Washington about a year ago and I expressed to her that I truly missed the days her father was the Speaker of the House.
“She agreed, and felt that there are very few staff making their work on the Hill a true career anymore. Tip O’Neill was a man who used his Irish heritage as a tool to get things done, as did Ronald Reagan.
“These two, opposites in nearly every way, one a Catholic Democrat and the other a Protestant Republican, forged a friendship and a working relationship based upon their common Irish roots.
“This is the comity I am trying to bring back to the staff. Many of the current and former staff that I speak with about Hill Irish are excited to get involved. They too see the need for better social interaction on the Hill, and being Irish is a great way to start.”
Membership requirements are simple, according to Carney.
“You have to be a current or former congressional staffer, and you have to have Irish lineage.”
Hill Irish plan to hold a few large events a year and, according to a release, lots of smaller events depending on the interest of members.
“My philosophy is to provide information and outlets on getting in touch with your Irish heritage, and then let our members be as Irish as they want to be,” Carney said

Sixties as seen from Madison Avenue

POSTED ON April 1st  - POSTED IN News & Views

mad men

Roger Sterling (played by John Slattery), left, and Dan Draper (Jon Hamm) in a scene from “Mad Men,” which enters its last phase on Sunday night with the first of seven concluding episodes. FRANK OCKENFELS/AMC

Between the Lines / By Peter McDermott

Elaborate ad campaigns these days are short on inspiration. At least that seems the case viewing the digital-age start-ups that try to get the word out in New York subway cars. I’m pretty sure their concepts wouldn’t pass muster with Don Draper – the creative director in “Mad Men,” which the current TV Guide says is “widely hailed as one of the greatest dramas in television history.”

As it happens, Don is on posters in subway stations that declare “The End of an Era.” That refers to the concluding half of the staggered final season, which begins on Sunday night on AMC. It’s also a reference to the end of the 1960s.

The first episode (broadcast on July 19, 2007) is set in the first weeks of 1960, and soon it emerges that the agency Sterling Cooper might have a shot at doing some work for Vice President Nixon’s bid for the White House.

The agency’s top people throw around some ideas in anticipation of being asked. Draper, who is played by Jon Hamm, suggests emphasizing Nixon’s hardscrabble childhood and his all-American (read: rural Protestant) background in contrast to his likely opponent, a nouveau-riche “recent immigrant.” The guys, though, and they are all male at this point, agree they could not use the rumors that the leading Democrat likes women, a lot, as it would surely help him.

Sexual seductiveness and charm, which the ad men admire and attempt to employ at every given opportunity, are certainly not Nixonian traits. Don Draper, however, has a lot in common with the future 37th president, beyond the fact that his real name is also Dick: he had his own rotten childhood out in the sticks, is a self-made man and is a natural loner who resorts to the bottle when things are going against him. And like the California pol, he’s enigmatic and perhaps even unknowable.

Nixon was finally elected president in 1968, and in the latter half of 1969, when these last episodes are set, he’s at the high point of his career. Of course, he was sidelined for most of the 1960s, the “Mad Men” decade that Matthew Weiner and his fellow producers worked hard to get right. They succeeded brilliantly, although by playing it safe enough, as I argued last year (in a piece about the bar P.J. Clarke’s relationship to the show). Nothing comes from left field; there are few surprises for those who know the history of the decade.

One might add that we’ve never really gotten to hear about how regular people felt about the industry in this era. Quite late in the day, one character jokingly says, if I may paraphrase from memory: “So my daughter is in advertising; that doesn’t make me a bad person.”

It’s a sentiment that recalls the French publicist of genius Jacques Séguéla, who in 1980 approached all the likely major contenders in the presidential election due the following spring. Only Francois Mitterand, the ultimate winner, got back to him with an offer of work. It was an unlikely match: the Socialist candidate was an aloof intellectual, with an austere demeanor befitting his provincial bourgeois Catholic roots, while the flamboyant Séguéla rode around in a pink Rolls-Royce and had recently written a bestselling memoir, “Don’t Tell My Mother I’m in Advertising: She Thinks I’m Working as a Pianist in a Brothel.”

This brings to mind a 2006 interview I did with actor Kevin McCarthy, then 92, who was generally most remembered as the star of the sci-fi classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” That 1956 film was based on a novel by a conservative, Jack Finney, but the filmmakers, as well as McCarthy himself, were left-liberals. People have since debated what, if any, was the message of the movie? What turned the victims into soulless “pod people”? But McCarthy maintained, like his friend the director Don Siegel, that it was never intended as a political allegory. If it had a target, he told me, it was “Madison Avenue advertising executives.”

Early on in “Mad Men,” Don Draper coolly defends his job in a couple of scenes with Greenwich Village bohemians. The issue comes up again in a later season when his second wife, the aspiring actress Megan, brings him to an off-Broadway production involving friends of hers. This time he must sit in silence as the play takes some apparent swipes at Madison Avenue. Afterwards, Megan tries to calm a furious Don by arguing that the play was a critique of consumerism in general, rather than advertising in particular.

But McCarthy’s recollection and Séguéla’s book title seemed to indicate that there was a period, perhaps beginning with the rise of television in the 1950s through at least the ‘70s, when people felt the advertising industry had a demonic power all its own. It drove consumerism; it wasn’t its mere instrument. It manufactured wants and needs.

In “Mad Men,” that critique comes from artists and counter-cultural types. It might have been interesting to hear it from a religious leader or an educator or even some working folks on the subway. Still, that’s not a big complaint as a magnificent TV series enters the final stretch.


New life for ‘darkly comic masterpiece’

POSTED ON April 1st  - POSTED IN News & Views

Page Turner / Edited by Peter McDermott

Alan Titley

When asked by the Echo what his latest book, “The Dirty Dust,” is about, Alan Titley said: “It’s about 320 pages long.”

But then he helpfully elaborated: “It is a novel about the wonderful bitchiness and savage petty hatreds of rural Ireland. All the characters are dead, but continue their feuds and fights and hatreds under the clay. All inhuman life is there. It is as wonderful as life and as real as the grave. It is both savage and funny, which are closely related.”

Of course, he was actually praising someone else: Máirtín Ó Cadhain, the author of the original, the Irish-language classic “Cré na Cille.”

It’s been left to others to hail the translator and his work.

Seamus Deane, for instance, said: “Alan Titley’s translation has the idiomatic speed and eagerness of the original. It has a composer’s grasp of tempo and of thematic signature. It is finally through it that we begin to see the nature of O Cadháin’s achievement. Now, with Titley’s wonderful translation, the great novel lives again.”

What the London Sunday Times reviewer Adam Lively called a “darkly comic masterpiece,” with its “exhilaratingly free-wheeling celebration of all that is worst in human nature,” has been, according to John Banville, “locked away from non-Irish speakers for too long.”

Banville added that Titley, the former professor of Irish at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, and Professor of Modern Irish at UCC, “was just the man to put it into English, and I welcome this wonderfully vigorous translation.”

Titley, who “has seen a goodly part of the world [and] wants to see more,” will be in New York for “The Dirty Dust” events during the last week of April.


Alan Titley

Date of birth: June 28, 1947

Place of birth: Cork City.

Spouse: Mary

Children: Gavan, Keelan, Aoife, Brona, Fergal.

Residence: Glasnevin, Dublin.

Published works: Six novels in Irish, three collections of stories, plays and poetry. In English “Parabolas” (Lagan Press, Belfast), a collection of stories, “A Short History of Gaelic Culture” (O’Brien Press, Dublin), “Nailing Theses: selected essays” (Lagan Press, Belfast).

What is your writing routine?

Sometimes this, sometimes that and sometimes the other. Depends entirely what needs to be done. A lot of writing takes place in the head, and this goes on all the time, even when in slumber deep.

Are there ideal conditions?

I was always used to children outside my door, laughing, talking, squabbling, cracking one another up, so I got used to noise and the patter of humanity. Silence kills me, so human noise, not the radio or the TV, is a great stimulus.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Just put one word in front of another. Then another sentence ahead of that. Then build a paragraph, then a page, then a chapter. Then another one. Keep going till you come to the end. And then, whatever criticism is made of you, take it to your heart, listen to it, and make all those faults and quibbles bigger and worser and awfuller, because that is what makes you you, and not some other dull workshopped dude.

Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.

“The Island of Second Sight” by Albert Vigoleis Thelen; “Autobiography” John Cowper Powys; and “An Béal Bocht/ ‘The Poor Mouth’, Myles na gCopaleen/ Flann O’Brien.

What book are you currently reading?

“Selected Poems” of Yannis Ritsos; Paul Preston’s “The Spanish Holocaust”; Anamlón Bliana,” the diaries of Seán Ó Ríordáin, edited by Tadhg Ó Dúshláine; and “Memory of Fire” by Eduardo Galeano, constantly.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

“The Little Red Book” by Mao Tse Tung, as it was a huge world-wide bestseller.

Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.

Fargher’s “English-Manx Dictionary.”

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?

The guy who wrote ‘The Book of the Apocalypse’ in the New Testament, just to ask him what drugs he was on at the time.

 What book changed your life?

One of the “Rupert the Bear” books. I could read independently for the first time!

What is your favorite spot in Ireland?

Croke Park when Cork win the All-Ireland hurling championship.

You’re Irish if…..

The first question you ask another Irish person whom you meet abroad, even in Ulan Bator, or Tierra del Fuego, is “Where are you from?” And then, you reach for your battery of prejudices and batten down the hatches accordingly.

book cover

Ireland: it’s all about the light

POSTED ON March 27th  - POSTED IN News & Views

Page Turner / Edited by Peter McDermott

Another book of photographs of Ireland? Leslie Conron Carola’s short answer might be “Why not?” But her latest collaboration with leading Irish art historian and archeologist Peter Harbison focuses on a dimension that hasn’t perhaps gotten as much as attention as it deserves.

“Ireland: A Luminous Beauty,” said Carola, is a “look at Ireland and its extraordinary ever-changing, wind-blown, reflective island light through layers of time, a light that shines, reflects, and inspires.

“Stone Age builders knew to orient their structures to maximize the light for visibility and to utilize the seasonal light for phenomenal effects,” she added. “One of the first great pieces of architecture — the 5,000-year-old Newgrange passage-tomb which predates the pyramids of Egypt by more than 500 years – is oriented toward the rising sun at the winter’s solstice on Dec. 21, offering an extraordinary 17-minute light show ushering dawn’s light into the darkest recesses of the tomb.

“The two tallest stones at the front of Drombeg, one of the best-loved stone circles gracing the landscape in County Clare, frame an entrance leading to a point on the horizon where the sun sets on the winter solstice; other stone circles – their very shapes link them to the sun – point toward the midsummer sunrise on the horizon,” Carola said Carola, a long-time writer, editor and independent book producer. “The position of the ancient structures in the landscape heightens our observation and response to the surrounding light. From the icons and artifacts of the ancient world to the textural, colorful contrasts of the natural world and the imagination and style of the cultivated world we journey to one of the most beautiful places in the world.

“Lucky for me I was born into a book-and-music-loving family. Maybe that’s a nature-nurture discussion,” she said. “A frequent comment from my father when I was a child was ‘See it clearly. Take your time. Don’t just look. See it. See it with your mind’s eye.’ And that is how books take shape for me, most often from a very simple idea.

“The evolution of an illustrated book from concept to finished product is an exhilarating journey, one filled with seemingly endless questions, the answers to which provide fodder for more thought and questions,” Carola said. “The visual and text dialogue carry their own weight, running parallel and weaving in and around each other when appropriate, each one supporting and pushing the other. An exciting and stimulating challenge; theatre itself.”


Leslie Conron Carola

Place of birth: Newport, R.I.

Spouse: Robert Carola

Children: Maria Carola, Matthew Carola

Residence: Westport, Conn.

Published works: “Ireland: A Luminous Beauty”; “The Irish: A Treasury Of Art And Literature”; “Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Magic”;   “Wrapped With Style”;   “Irish Folk Tales”; “Magenta Style Paper Magic”;   “Creative Techniques For Stylish Cards Tags, Boxes, And More.”

 What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?  

 Sometimes I scribble random ideas in a notebook to return to later. Other times I work on my computer with a fairly fleshed-out thought, or at least a progression of ideas. It depends on the project. In the early stages I love to have music playing—mostly Mozart.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers:            

Don’t be afraid to start. Small ideas grow into big ones. Slow down and let it happen. Do it.

Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.

It’s interesting to me to see the books I’ve listed here. They confirm my fascination with a sense of place. These are stories of time and place (quite varied places) as much as of the people inhabiting the places. They all implore us to slow down, observe, reflect. And I’ve named four. Difficult to eliminate one of them now that they are here on the list.

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen; “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy; “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “The Sea” by John Banville.

Is there a book you wish you had written?            

 A Mozart biography because I could listen all day to his music whole-heartedly and whole-headily concentrating and responding to it viscerally without feeling it was distracting me from work, but contributing to it necessarily. A joy.

Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.

“Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson. A wonderful example of the use of authorial devices and imagination.

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?

Shakespeare, so I could find out who he really was.

What book are you currently reading?  

“Norah Webster” by Colm Tóibín. Extraordinary. What a stunning book.

What book changed your life?

“To the Actor by Michael Chekhov. Studying theater in college and specifically acting, this book on mastering the process of training your body as a creative instrument was electrifying. The practical work of a series of focused exercises made us more involved, aware, thoughtful and stronger as performers and as individuals. It was a lesson in finding and defining one’s own creative imagination, taking the time to see and express what is beyond the surface.

A few years later at my first interview for a job in publishing, the interview was interrupted by an editor who came in carrying this book. I waited for a brief pause in the editor’s concerned conversation with her boss and then said. “That is one of my favorite books. I didn’t realize you published it.” I think they had just bought the rights and were reissuing the book. They asked why I liked it. I went on and on about how exciting it was to have such practical information for a creative process especially for young actors and all creative people. And they just stared at me. I got the job.

What is your favorite spot in Ireland?    

I don’t think I have just one. I wouldn’t want to limit the choices since I have not seen every spot in Ireland. I love Connemara, Kerry and the sea, the town of Kenmare, Ballymaloe in Cork, Wexford, Trinity College, Dublin. And more.

You’re Irish if…  

you know that the best way to start any conversation is with a cuppa tea. And a Guinness might be a good way to top it off.



It’s a long long way from Clare to here…..

POSTED ON March 19th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

Lorcan Shannon NYC February 2015 Photo; James Higgins © 2015





by Áine Ní Shionnaigh

Lyrics that perhaps pass through Lorcan Shannon’s mind as he zigzags his way out of the morning madness of Grand Central and traverses a bustling Byrant Park to his new office ‘The Law Offices of Lorcan Shannon’ high up on the 39th floor of a midtown skyscraper that accommodates more persons than his native Co Clare.

Lorcan was born and raised in Doolin, a charming small seaside village on the northwest coast of County Clare on Irelands Wild Atlantic Way. Set against the rugged Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by the spectacular bare limestone landscape of the Burren, Doolin is renowned the world over as a place of breathtaking beauty and is a haven for traditional music.

Lorcan is a graduate of National University of Ireland, Galway and Duke University School of Law. He holds a Bachelor of Law (LL.B) and a Master of Laws (LL.M). He is also admitted to practice law in the State of New York and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Speaking about the launch of his new business, he stated “I’m delighted to announce the opening of my Law Offices here in New York. I have been practicing in Immigration Law for 5 years so it felt appropriate at this time to open my own firm. I am really looking forward to being able to continue to provide for my clients at my new location. We deal with applications from all over the US and the Irish community are always are the heart of our business, so we are thrilled to be able to continue our personalized service under the advocacy of the Law Offices of Lorcan Shannon”.

Lorcan has joined a long tradition of renowned Irish lawyers, many of them from the West of Ireland, making their mark here in NYC. When I meet Lorcan, he displays that typical West of Ireland trait, on the surface, an extremely laid back relaxed attitude which fails to conceal a sharpness of intellect, knowledge and an eagerness and ability to solve the most complex issues that I have encountered previously.  He is without doubt one to watch.

Law and the quest for fairness and rights is a tradition of the Irish which has been enhanced and embedded in tradition by successive generations going back to the Brehon laws. The name Brehon derives it’s name from the Irish word Breitheamh which is derived from Breith, meaning “judgement”. The Brehon Laws of Ireland are among are the oldest known European laws. The Brehons of ancient Ireland were wise men of the family who memorized and applied the laws to settle disputes among members of the family. They are the compilations of generations of learned Irish. The Tudor lawyer John Davies described the Irish people with respect to their laws: “There is no people under the sun that doth love equal and indifferent (impartial) justice better than the Irish, or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof…”

The Law Offices of Lorcan Shannon, a boutique immigration law practice based in New York City, officially opened last week. The full service immigration firm offers a personalized approach on all immigration matters countrywide in order to guide clients through the immigration process. The expertise of the office will encompass non-immigrant and immigrant visa solutions for clients from various industries and backgrounds and will specialize in providing immigration counsel to entrepreneurs, investors, specialized employees and multinational managers from a range of industries as well as artists, performers and athletes.

The Law Offices of Lorcan Shannon has also formed a strategic partnership with boutique commercial litigation law firm, John Murphy & Associates. Mr. Shannon is Of Counsel to John Murphy & Associates and provides expert immigration advice to an array of corporate clients on behalf of the firm. Like the Law Offices of Lorcan Shannon, John Murphy & Associates combines cutting edge expertise with transparency and personal service.

The Law Offices of Lorcan Shannon will routinely provide expert advice and assistance on O-1, E-2, E-3, L, H-1B, H-3, J-1, F-1, K, TN, and B visas, as well as immigrant visas. Mr. Shannon regularily gives talks and seminars on visa options to the Irish Community around the State of New York at various locations including the Irish Consulate. He will also be attending the Select USA Investment Summit in Washington DC this March to give advice on immigration matters.

The Law Offices of Lorcan Shannon are located at 1450 Broadway, 39th Floor, New York, NY 10018. Please contact Ph: 646 237 7262 or see  for further assistance on all immigration matters.


Teideal: Is bealach fada fada ó Chláir go dtí seo … ..

B’fheidir go dteann na focail seo trí aigne Lorcan Sionainne nuair ata sé ar a bhealach amach as Staisiun Grand Central agus trasnaíonn se thar Byrant Páirc Byrant chuig a oifig nua ‘Oifigí Dlí Lorcáin Sionainne’ ard suas ar an urlár 42ú de foirgneamh ard ait ina bfhuil dócha níos mó daoine ná a dúchais gContae an Chláir.

Rugadh agus tógadh Lorcan i Dúlainn, sráidbhaile cois farraige a fheictear beag ar chósta thiar thuaidh Chontae an Chláir in Éireann. Socraithe in aghaidh an Aigéan Atlantach garbh agus timpeallaithe ag an tírdhreach aolchloiche iontach lom na Boirne, tá Dúlainn cáiliul ar fud an domhain mar áit áilleacht thar bharr agus is tearmann é do cheol traidisiúnta.

Is Lorcán céimí de chuid Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh agus Ollscoil Scoil Dlí Duke. Tá Baitsiléir Dlí (LL.B) agus Máistir Dlíthe (LL.M) aige. Tá sé abalta dlí a chleachtadh sa Stát Nua-Eabhrac agus is ball den Eagraiocht Dlíodóirí Inimirce e. Ag labhairt mar gheall ar seoladh a ghnó nua, dúirt sé “Tá mé thar a bheith sásta a fhógairt go bhfuil oscailt mo Oifigí Dlí anseo i Nua-Eabhrac. Bhí mé ag cleachtadh i Dlí Inimirce feadh cuig bliana agus bhraith sé oiriúnach ag an am seo a oscailt mo ghnó féin. Tá mé ag súil go mór le bheith in ann leanúint ar aghaidh a chur ar fáil do mo chliaint ar mo shuíomh nua. Déileálfaimid le hiarratais ó gach cearn den Stát Aontaithe agus an pobal Éireannach atá i gcónaí i gcroílár ár ngnó, mar sin tá athas an domhain orainn a bheith in ann leanúint ar aghaidh lenár seirbhís phearsantaithe faoi abhcóideachta na n-Oifigí Dlí Lorcáin Sionainne “. 

Glacann Lorcan páirt den traidisiún fada dlíodóirí cáiliul na hÉireann, go leor acu ó Iarthar na hÉireann, ag déanamh a rian anseo i Nua Eabhraic. Nuair a bhuailim le Lorcan, léiríonn sé an trait tipiciúil sin o Iarthar na hÉireann, ar an dromchla, dearcadh ‘laid-back’ ach roimh an dromchla sin ta intleacht gear aige agus ta eolas agus díocas agus an cumas ceisteanna a réiteach is casta go bhfuil mé a bhíonn roimhe seo . Tá sé gan amhras ar ‘cheann chun féachaint.’

Is é an dlí agus tóraíocht ar cothroime agus ar chearta traidisiún na hÉireann atá feabhsaithe agus leabaithe i traidisiún ag na glúnta a chéile ag dul ar ais go dtí na dlíthe Brehon. An t-ainm Brehon, eascraíonn an t-ainm ón bhfocal Gaeilge Breitheamh atá díorthaithe ó Breith, a chiallaíonn “breithiúnas”. Is iad na Dlíthe Brehon na hÉireann i measc na dlíthe is sine i Eorpach ar eolas. B’iad na fhéineachais na hÉireann ársa fir ciallmhar an teaghlaigh a chruthu na dlíthe chun díospóidí a réiteach i measc bhaill den teaghlach. Is iad chnuasach na nglún de fhoghlaim na Gaeilge. Rinne an dlíodóir Tudor, John Davies, cur síos ar mhuintir na hÉireann i leith a gcuid dlíthe: “Níl aon duine faoi na gréine a doth grá cothrom agus ceartas níos fearr ná an Ghaeilge, nó eile níos fearr sásta leis a fhorghníomhú …”

D’oscail na hOifigí Dlí Lorcáin Sionainne, cleachtas dlí inimirce siopa atá bunaithe i Nua-Eabhrac, an tseachtain seo caite. Cuireann an comhlacht inimirce seirbhís iomlán cúrsaí an cur chuige pearsanta ar gach inimirce na tíre d’fhonn do chliaint a threorú tríd an bpróiseas inimirce. Beidh an saineolas na hoifige a chuimsiú neamh-inimirceach agus réitigh víosa inimirceach do chliaint ó na tionscail agus ó chúlraí éagsúla agus beidh speisialtóireacht i soláthar comhairle inimirce do fiontraithe, infheisteoirí, fostaithe speisialaithe agus bainisteoirí ilnáisiúnta ó raon tionscal chomh maith le healaíontóirí, taibheoirí agus lúthchleasaithe.

The long and winding avenue

POSTED ON March 13th  - POSTED IN News & Views

The New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been making headlines since its birth 254 years ago. But the last twenty-five parades, while in the news for numerous reasons, have generated a consistent story associated with the argument over whether or not to include a gay and lesbian group with an identifying banner in the line of march. The story opens in 1991, a distant year that, given recent headlines, seems to be not so far in the past after all.

Mary Holt Moore was the second woman grand marshal but the 230th parade would also be remembered for the attempt by the newly emerged Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization to secure a place in the line of march. The group was turned down by parade organizers but invited to march by a division of AOH members. The parade was marred by the behavior of some spectators who threw beer cans, coins and other objects at New York Mayor David Dinkins, members of AOH Div. 7 and ILGO, who were marching together as one unit. Some parade organizers turned their backs on ILGO and their fellow marchers as they reached the Fifth Avenue official reviewing stand. Rifts within the Hibernians and between the parade committee and the Hibernian leadership, were becoming visible. By June, relations between the AOH leadership and parade organizers deteriorated to the point that the parade committee chairman, Frank Beirne, was suspended from the order, and thus the parade committee, for refusing to cooperate with an AOH State Board inquiry.

The battle over the shape and future of the parade reached the courts and there was talk of an AOH split, and even two parades. The New York State Board eventually secured the parade permit, but, as part of an agreement between itself and the County Board, the actual running of the parade was left to the County Board which had sued the State Board in court. As part of the agreement, parade chairman Beirne agreed to relinquish his chairmanship.
The Hibernians had more than an internal rift to deal with as they faced a federal lawsuit brought by New York City and ILGO resulting from the decision to exclude the gay group from the 231st parade. In the end, a federal judge declined to intervene and the parade stepped off in a snow shower headed by Grand Marshal Connie Doolan. Before the parade, ILGO staged its own march on part of Fifth Avenue, with the city’s permission.

“Parade War Getting Nasty” was a front page headline in the Irish Echo six weeks before the 232nd march. New York City gave the parade permit to a recently formed group of Hibernians, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc. This group supported ILGO’s inclusion in the line of march. The move infuriated the AOH leadership to the point that the AOH national president, George Clough, called for a Hibernian boycott of the parade. Fearing a “partitioned” parade, the ILGO-backing committee withdrew, thus leaving the field to the traditional parade committee that was linked to the AOH New York County Board. With only days to go before the parade, this group secured the parade permit in a federal court battle against the New York City Human Rights Commission. ILGO threatened a counter-march down Fifth Avenue and former parade committee chairman Frank Beirne, now being described as parade “coordinator,” called for marchers walking in the parade up the avenue to pray and carry rosary beads. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly banned the ILGO march, but the group protested nevertheless and 230 members and supporters were arrested. The parade stepped out in the rain without a grand marshal, but was headed by eleven people who would otherwise have been the grand marshal’s aides.

Popular Queens Rep. Tom Manton was chosen as grand marshal for the 233rd consecutive parade. Manton’s elevation was announced by new parade committee chairman, John Dunleavy, even after other potential grand marshals were gearing up for an election. There were rumbles of discontent from parade-affiliated groups, most especially Emerald Societies, who were unhappy with a process that appeared to be now more of a selection than an election.
The parade itself passed into history in cold, clear weather. More than one hundred ILGO members were arrested after a street protest at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Cardinal John O’Connor, in a homily at the pre-parade Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, denied that the decision to bar ILGO from marching under its own banner was divisive or bigoted. “If it is a disgrace to be Irish, or a disgrace to be Catholic, I am proud to stand before you in disgrace,” he told the packed congregation.

Cardinal O’Connor made parade history as the first Archbishop of New York to lead the parade as grand marshal. Parade chairman Dunleavy promised “one of the greatest parades ever” and indeed there was something of a new spring in the parade step in the aftermath of the IRA calling a cease-fire the previous August. ILGO went to court in an effort to protest its exclusion along the entire parade route. This time the group was opposed by New York City on public order grounds. U.S. District Court Judge John F. Keenan ruled that ILGO had the right to proclaim its sexuality and Irish heritage, but that such a right was not absolute. Barred from the parade route, ILGO again protested at 42nd Street and 91 members were arrested. Cardinal O’Connor led the 234th parade in brilliant sunshine.

Oh what a difference a year made. The 235th parade stepped out against the backdrop of a renewed IRA campaign and, in response to the renewed violence, organizers dedicated the parade to peace in Ireland. Appropriately, the parade was headed by Grand Marshal Bill Flynn, who had risen to prominence in as a member of the Irish American peace delegation to the North. ILGO went to federal court again, failed to secure entry to the parade route in order to protest, and then staged what was now an annual protest at 42nd and Fifth. Forty-three were arrested.

One hundred years after feuding Hibernians ended a split and mounted one parade, an air of unanimity descended on the 236th parade, which was dedicated to the victims of the Great Hunger in Ireland. With Dr. John Lahey leading the parade as grand marshal, a minute’s silence descended on Fifth Avenue in memory of those countless victims. With the exception of a news helicopter overhead, that silence was absolute. ILGO again protested and made the point that their protest, like the parade, was now “consecutive” In their case, the seventh consecutive.

A row erupted over the selection of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds as grand marshal. A number of individuals and parade-affiliated groups were angry over the fact that Reynolds was from outside the U.S. Some claimed that he was not even a Hibernian, though the parade committee said that he was. Reynolds led the 237th parade under sunny skies and the “Pikemen” of 1798 were remembered from one end of the line of march – which included Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness – to the other. The line of march, published free in the Echo for over 40 years, was not forthcoming from the parade committee prior to the parade; neither was an explanation for its denial. ILGO, meanwhile, staged protest number eight. There were 14 arrests.

A calm year by recent standards. Actress Maureen O’Hara turned out to be one of the most popular grand marshals of all time judging by crowd reaction along Fifth Avenue during the 238TH parade. ILGO was not so impressed by nostalgia and staged its annual protest. Seventeen were arrested. The Irish American weekly papers were again without the line of march.

A new millennium for everybody was a tenth anniversary for ILGO. The group moved its street protest uptown to 59th Street to mark ten years of exclusion from the parade. Hundreds took part in the protest and about 70 were arrested. Down Fifth Avenue, however, the majority of people were noting an absence and a presence. The absence was that of an ailing Cardinal O’Connor from the reviewing stand outside St. Patrick’s. The presence was that of First Lady and New York Senate candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who marched in the parade to as many boos as cheers. The 239th parade was led by Grand Marshal Dr. Kevin Cahill under snowy skies and again the line of march was denied the Irish weeklies.

The 240th parade, now being run by the Bill Flynn-headed St. Patrick’s Day Parade Corporation, this according to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee, turned out to be the calm interlude before yet another storm. A growing showdown between the Hibernian national and state leadership and parade organizers was long-fingered until after the parade which was led by Grand Marshal Edward Malloy, and, following the death of Cardinal O’Connor, reviewed for the first time by Cardinal Edward Egan. ILGO stayed off Fifth Avenue this time, preferring to camp alongside the parade route a couple of blocks north of St. Patrick’s. The Echo, helped by marching groups in the parade, printed a line of march of its own. The parade passed without major incident. However, within weeks, differences between the Hibernian leadership and parade organizers over matters such as the permit and finances erupted into full public view with the national and state leadership moving to cut all ties with both the parade committee and corporation.

It was a case of rainy skies but rain holding. The parade itself seemed to be on a similar knife edge but this was not entirely due to the gay marching issue, indeed far from it as this was the first parade after 9/11. Cardinal Edward Egan became the second archbishop to step off as grand marshal and his spiritual power was matched by the political with the likes of Michael Bloomberg, George Pataki, Rudolph Giuliani, Hugh Carey, ED Koch, now Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman Joe Crowley taking to the avenue. Rep. Crowley marched in memory of his cousin, firefighter John Moran. Irish President Mary McAleese was on the reviewing stand. The gay marching issue was in the shade but two groups protested. At 54th and 5th fifty ILGO members rallied under the banner “All our heroes gay and straight.” At 59th and 5th fifty members of a new group, Irish Queers held a silent black flag protest aimed at Bloomberg who had said he would not march in exclusionary parades. Firefighters had wanted a fire truck to lead the parade but the parade committee said no. ILGO had banners with fire trucks on them stating “they won’t let us in either. This parade would be especially remembered for the 343 flags, signifying the FDNY dead of 9/11 carried by probationary firefighters. At one point the entire parade turned to face south to where the world trade towers had stood only months before. There was a minute’s silence that all present will never forget

A warm sunny day, 62 degrees, though under the clouds of war. The Fighting 69th seemed to be marching with extra urgency. President Bush was to address the nation that evening about Iraq. The grand marshal was James O’Connor of the Ford Motor Company. Mayor Bloomberg and Police commissioner Ray Kelly marched as did other political luminaries including George Pataki, James McGreevy, Ed Koch, and Rudy Giuliani. There was a protest staged by ILGO but it was relatively low key. The parade dedicated to five deceased chairmen of the parade committee including the now deceased Francis Beirne who had stood against the first efforts of ILGO to march in the parade under its own banner back in 1991.

There was snow, though the conditions were better than the day before. The grand marshal was Tommy Gleason who began his parade by calling out “For G Company, 23rd” – a reference to his World War II Marine Corps comrades. One participant in the parade was named Sam Maguire, not a person but the All Ireland trophy. The Echo duly reported: “The exclusion of gay groups marching under their own banner is not the visible hot potato it was a few years ago. The ILGO was not noticeable in this parade though the group’s place on the sideline was taken by the kindred organization, Irish Queers. A small band of IQ protestors took up position opposite the Plaza Hotel and gave interviews to reporters in search of a line that wasn’t based on green paint, or the white weather.”

The 244th parade was headed by grand marshal Denis Kelleher. The 69th was away in Iraq so just a few members marched backed up by members of the famed regiment’s veterans’ corps. Many members of the FDNY wore Green Berets in defiance of a departmental order. It was a rather Irish day weather-wise, with a winter morning followed by a spring afternoon. Irish Queers held a St. Patrick’s Eve demonstration outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a “Black Flag” protest on parade route.

The fighting 69th was back in town “wounded but unbowed” as a report put it. The members of “Taskforce Wolfhound,” drawn from New York and Louisiana, marched proudly to loud applause and cheering. The grand marshal was Timothy Rooney. The weather forecast was dire but the day was fine. Irish Queers protested and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn mounted a “button boycott.” Quinn, herself gay, had wanted to march with a lapel button in support of gay rights, but this idea was rejected by parade organizers.

There was a lot of snow and slush on the avenue after a bad day before the parade but the march itself went off on a sunny though chilly day. The biggest flap was between firefighters and parade organizers over the former’s place in line of march. Firefighters, mostly FDNY members, were moved back in the line of march after New Orleans firefighters the year before had unfurled a banner thanking FDNY for post-Hurricane Katrina help. The parade committee said the parade had been held up for 35 minutes as a result. The grand marshal was former Boston mayor Ray Flynn. The New York City Council paraded without Speaker Christine Quinn who was marching in Dublin. Irish Queers again protested the denial of a chance to march under their own banner.

Fine weather greeted marchers led by grand marshal Tommy Smyth. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was named in the line of march but he had quit the governorship by the time the parade was just a couple of hours old. New Jersey stand in governor Richard Codey stepped in to host the traditional governor’s breakfast at the Waldorf. Mayor Bloomberg ended up skipping the parade as he headed for Albany and the swearing in of new governor, David Paterson. Commissioner Ray Kelly led the city’s representation in the parade. Irish Queers protested at IQ at 57th St. but given the day that was in it their protest attracted less attention than previous years.

It was a case of blue skies over the green line in a parade led by grand marshal Michael Gibbons. The 69th, who had been away again, this time in Afghanistan, were back home. Mayor Michael Bloomberg marched as did New York Governor David Paterson. The Echo reported that Irish gay activists staged what is now “their hardy annual protest on 57th St. and Fifth Avenue. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the council itself stayed away.

The parade, the 249th consecutive, stepped off in warm sunshine. The parade route still stretched from 44th to 86th Streets but the city was signaling that it wanted a shortened parade route. The grand marshal was Ray Kelly. Ever a man of action, on his way to Mass at St. Patrick’s – the first to be celebrated by new archbishop, Timothy Dolan – he tended to a woman knocked down by a bicycle. The weather brought out huge crowds. Irish Queers mounted their picket just north and across the avenue from St. Patrick’s. Speaker Quinn and the City Council continued their boycott.

A landmark parade, the 250th consecutive. Grand Marshal Mary Higgins Clark led the way in a horse-drawn carriage under sunny skies. As had been the case for twenty years there were gay activists at the 250th protesting their banner-topped exclusion from the parade.

A sunny and warm day greeted the grand marshal, Francis X. Comerford. The parade was dedicated by the organizing committee to the nation’s veterans, now returning in significant numbers from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The parade was reviewed by Archbishop Dolan, now in his cardinal’s red hat. The route was shorter, ending at 79th and 5th but this prompted argument because the end fell shy of the American Irish Historical Society. Irish queers mounted their annual protest. Speaker Quinn and the city council were again absent.

Another one of those Irish days, though this time a dry morning was followed by a snowy afternoon. The grand marshal was Al Smith IV. Taoiseach Enda
Kenny marched with United Irish Counties. Michael Bloomberg, Andrew Cuomo, Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Peter King all marched. Christine Quinn, now a mayoral candidate, stayed away again. Irish Queers staged their traditional picket. Congressional sequester cuts meant that army brass, including the Chairman of the Joints chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, has to skip the parade.

The parade took place in frigid conditions. Grand Marshal Jack Ahern, who was ailing, took to the parade route in a vintage car. New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio and the City Council stayed away, and sponsors Guinness and Heineken pulled out at the last minute as a result of a reinvigorated row over the exclusion of a gay banner from the parade. De Blasio, however, did attend Mass at St. Patrick’s. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton marched as did Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Irish Queers staged their protest.

The 2015 parade, at the time of writing, will include a gay group marching under its own banner for the first time and parade sponsors, not least Guinness, have renewed support. But Mayor de Blasio and the City Council are not expected to march because the invited gay group, made up of NBC employees, is not, in their view, representative enough of the Irish and Irish American community. Irish Queers is planning to protest. So after 25 parades featuring an annual standoff over the matter of an identifiable gay marching group, there has been progress and change, enough for some, not enough for others.

Compiled by Ray O’Hanlon

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