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Sweet memories of Forest Hills in ’64

POSTED ON September 11th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

Beatles 1964

The Beatles in 1964. [LIBRARY OF CONGRESS]

A remembrance by Frances Scanlon, published in the Irish Echo, Aug. 27, 2014

Aug. 29:  just another date in time; maybe, maybe not.

A quick glance at any “This Day in History” listing for Aug. 29, 1964 will invariably note the presence of the Beatles on tour in New York. Similarly, 1958 will be highlighted as the birth date of Michael Jackson alongside the death of Eamon de Valera in 1975, not to be up-staged by Shays’ Rebellion, an armed uprising of Massachusetts farmers, in 1786.

Time is a fungible good, no doubt about it.

It’s also a funny thing, that intersection of memory and history – sometimes a sweet, sometimes a sour spot.

Assuredly on the night of Aug. 29, 1964, what living soul could have ever predicted that the Beatles would ironically perform their last concert before paying fans in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park exactly two years later to the date?

I believe some things take seemingly so long for actualization to us mere mortals if for no other good reason than to remind us that forever is a very short time in the lead-up to eternity.

For example, as a teenager engulfed in the heart-stammering throes of Beatle-mania in 1964, the night of Aug. 29 was longed for more than the release of Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins” and Mickey Mantle’s tying Babe Ruth’s career strikeout record (1,330), both of which came to pass on that weekend, as well.

Listen:  do you want to know a secret?

On Saturday night, Aug. 29, 1964, dressed in the innocence of imagination, with a sweater of expectation, penny loafers of unparalleled excitation and madras walking shorts of purity’s length, I was fetched and ferried in a Gold Cadillac, courtesy of the parent of my classmate, Elizabeth Fox, to the West Side Tennis Club, in Forest Hills, Queens.

Elizabeth and myself were embarking on a life changing experience: we knew it, were ready for it, and what a magical mystery ride indeed!

Within the intimacy of Forest Hills Stadium and 15,998 other screaming fans, we witnessed the Beatles perform their standard live set of 12 songs, including “All My Loving,” “She Loves You”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, in other words, everything we wanted to hear but couldn’t and didn’t really care as “A Hard Day’s Night” echoed in the reverb.

The fact that the opening acts, in order of appearance were: the Bill Black Combo, the Exciters, the Righteous Brothers and Jackie DeShannon phased us not, a nod to the heady legal intoxication that adolescence wrought, fueled by the unstoppable passion of desire realized.

But not quite and not so fast.

Elizabeth and myself needed a memento, not a trifle like a ticket stub or some such.  A collectible beyond all others – something that only we two might share with the Beatles, as well.

On the august grounds surrounding that living jukebox that very night we encountered a grounds keeper who instantly – upon recognizing that we were still in the grip of Beatles frenzy and in direct reply to our plaintive cry  “Is there anything we can take home?” – cautioned us to await his return.

In a lifetime of satiated desires none seeming took longer nor perhaps still more satisfying to our youthful eyes than what beckoned:  that kindly gentleman’s return with two pieces of cake from the larger sheet cake that the Beatles had just then enjoyed in the Tudor-style members-only 1913 clubhouse.

What Elizabeth and myself neither then appreciated nor knew experientially was that within the prior 24 hour time-frame, the Beatles had encountered Bob Dylan and cannabis, simultaneously, for the very first time in a hotel room at the Delmonico, after their Friday night’s performance at Forest Hills Stadium.

If that inhalation lived up to reputation, then any lingering residue might have sweetened the Beatles’ taste buds for that wee decorative party favor.

Elizabeth and myself declined the generous offer to immediately partake of the sweet and instead implored that guardian of our desire to return with the wee pastry enclosed in silver foil where it remained – courtesy of the indulgence of our respective parents – for exactly one year hence in the upper berth of our family refrigerators.

Even though “A Hard Day’s Night,” the 1964 black-and-white comedy film directed by Richard Lester was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Screenplay Best Score (Adaptation), for myself and Elizabeth, nothing could ever imitate the cinéma vérité of that very sweet day’s night, not then, not now, not ever.



Cultural center to build in historic area

POSTED ON September 3rd  - POSTED IN News & Views

Published in the Aug. 20, 2014, issue of the Irish Echo


The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company’s HQ

in Rondout (click on image for larger view).


By Peter McDermott

“It’s on almost hallowed ground,” so said writer Ed McCann. “The laborers walked up the hill there to get their wages.”

He was referring to the well-advanced plans to build the Irish Cultural Center Hudson Valley at 32 Abeel St., in the historic Rondout section of Kingston, N.Y.

The Irish story in the Hudson Valley goes back a full two centuries and few places were as evocative of the experience as the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company’s headquarters.

Only the foundation exists today, but next door the ICCHV will build its 15,000 square-foot space, its website says, “to serve as a testament to the contributions and sacrifices made by the Irish and Irish-Americans in helping to build New York State as well as to the success they achieved and the obstacles they overcame; To provide a warm and welcoming meeting place for all who want to share in this great Irish-American experience.”

McCann was asked to get involved and he did because he was impressed with ICCHV president Robert Carey’s vision that it can be a “mini-university of all things Irish.”

Said McCann: “It’s not going to a hall, something stodgy, a boys’ drinking club.

“It’s going to be a living, dynamic center, not a museum. It will be a rehearsal space; it will have music, and cooking classes,” he said. “For me, as a writer, it’s exciting that they’re creating a physical space where writers and artists can showcase their work.

“I hope it will be flexible enough not to rule out anything, like broadcasting or web casting or filmmaking,” McCann added.

He said that he hoped that the center could aspire to having a writer-in-residence program that would attract nationally known authors like Alice McDermott and Colum McCann.

When he moved to the Mid-Hudson Valley as a college student, McCann, who is from Broad Channel in Queens, New York City, said, “I knew that I had come home.”

He was told then that the region stretched from the “Tappan Zee to Albany.”

Paul Tully of the ICCHV said that the area had no cultural center. “You have to go north to Albany or south to New York City,” he said.

“There are so many areas in the arts that we felt the needs weren’t being met,” Tully added.

The project that originated with the Sullivan County AOH has paid off the property it bought three years ago, as well another across the street that will serve as a car park.

The website adds: “This site is a critical location for the Irish in the Hudson Valley. It was once dubbed ‘Little Dublin’ because our ancestors tirelessly labored there while building the country’s canals as well as communities based on faith and family.”

As for tracing those ancestors, “There will be access to genealogical research and documents. And a collection of critical documents and items reflecting the lives of the Irish-Americans will be developed.”

It adds: “The 15,000-square foot facility will be a well-rounded place to celebrate all aspects of Irish culture.

“Literature, song, poetry, dance, language, drama and story-telling will be embraced, examined and taught and the region’s active AOH Pipe and Drum Band and Honor Guard will finally have a place to call home.”

The Irish Cultural Center Hudson Valley will host a welcoming reception on Saturday, Aug. 30, for Ireland’s ambassador to the United States. It will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the SteelHouse Restaurant, 100 Rondout Landing, Kingston, N.Y. Anderson will also attend the Hooley on the Hudson in Kingston the same weekend.

Tully said: “We’re very happy that Ambassador Anderson is honoring us with her visit and that she’s showing her support for the Irish Cultural Center Hudson Valley.”

For more information contact Tully at






Irish gay group vows to continue campaign

POSTED ON September 3rd  - POSTED IN News & Views

By Ray O’Hanlon

The announcement that a gay marching group comprised of NBC employees will be allowed to march in the 2015 New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been welcomed by the Irish gay group Irish Queers.

But only to a degree.

The group, which has mounted a protest on Fifth Avenue during the parade for a number of years, has described the parade committee’s decision as a “small victory” but vowed to continue its fight to have an Irish gay group in the line of march.

Said Irish Queers in a statement: “Irish Queers – along with the scores of LGBT individuals, groups, and allies who have fought since 1991 for a parade that includes the whole Irish community – is learning about the change in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade at the same time as the rest of New York City and the Irish community. We welcome this cracking of the veneer of hate, but so far Irish LGBT groups are still not able to march in our community’s parades. The fight continues.

“This is a deal that was made behind closed doors between parade organizers and one of their last remaining sponsors, NBC. It allows NBC’s gay employees to march, but embarrassingly has not ended the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups. The parade organizers have said, astoundingly, that we ‘can apply’ in years to come.

“To the extent that parade organizers have changed their tune, it’s the result of Irish Queers’ many years of organizing, which led to last year’s refusal to march by Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Mayor de Blasio and others, the withdrawal of major corporate sponsors and escalating criticism of uniformed city workers marching in the Parade.

“We welcome this small victory, but our call remains the same – the parade must be open to Irish LGBT groups, not ‘in subsequent years’ but now. (We remember too well how parade organizers used fake waiting lists to bury our applications before.)

“The Irish community in Ireland and abroad is far more progressive than the parade committee, having abandoned the secretive power-mongering of the days when the Catholic Church held sway over politics. We still hope NYC will catch up. This has been a long, long journey and struggle. It is time for Irish LGBT people, marching under our own banner, to take our rightful place in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

Dolan to lead, gays to march

POSTED ON September 3rd  - POSTED IN News & Views

Dolan jpg

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan

By Ray O’Hanlon

Cardinal Timothy Dolan will lead the 2015 New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade and for the first time since 1991 the parade will include a gay marching contingent, though this time with the approval of the parade organizing committee.

In a statement released in advance of Cardinal Dolan’s formal elevation to lead the 254th march, the parade committee announced that a group made up of gay employees at the NBC television network would take its place in the parade line of march.

The statement said: “The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade has celebrated Irish culture, heritage, tradition, and the faith of St. Patrick since 1762. In its 252-year history, the parade has included individual marchers of every political and personal persuasion, including members of the gay community. Indeed, in recent years, we have encouraged all New Yorkers and gay participants to join with any of our 320 marching units as a symbol of our inclusiveness.

“At the same time, organizers have diligently worked to keep politics – of any kind – out of the Parade in order to preserve it as a single and unified cultural event.

Paradoxically, that ended up politicizing the Parade.  This grand cultural gem has become a target for politicization that it neither seeks nor wants because some groups could join the march but not march with their own banner.

“To address that and move forward, Parade organizers welcome the LGBT group, ‘Out@NBCUniversal’ to march in the 2015 NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade under its own banner.  WNBC TV has long been our broadcast partner in televising the NYC Patrick’s Day Parade around the nation.

“This change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics as it moves into its 253rd year, all the while remaining loyal to church teachings and the principles that have guided the parade committee for so many decades.”

OUT@NBCUniversal, according to a New York Post report, is “a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender affinity group at 30 Rock.”

The group will be the only gay marching unit in the 2015 parade but other gay groups will be eligible to apply for a place in future parades, the report stated.

It added that OUT@NBCUniversal had applied to be in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, this according to Craig Robinson, executive vice president and chief diversity officer at NBCUniversal.

“It wasn’t immediately clear why OUT@NBCUniversal was chosen or if there were any other openly gay groups that also applied,” the Post report stated.

“We welcome the parade committee’s decision to accept OUT@NBCUniversal’s application to march and enthusiastically embrace the gesture of inclusion,” Robinson said.

“Our employees, families and friends look forward to joining in this time-honored celebration of Irish culture and heritage,” he said.

A spokesman for the parade said that Cardinal Dolan was “very supportive” of including gay groups in the event.

Dolan will be the third cardinal archbishop to lead the parade since 1995 when the late Cardinal john O’Connor made parade history by being the first archbishop to lead the march up Fifth Avenue. Cardinal Edward Egan was the second archbishop to do so.

The last time a parade included a gay marching group marched in the parade was 1991 when the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization  marched with Mayor David Dinkins and members of AOH Division 7.

The rumbling row over the participation of a gay group marching under its own banner would cast a long shadow of the parade for a number of years afterwards and would lead to the Ancient Order of Hibernians relinquishing a controlling role and leading it to the independent parade committee.

Last year, newly elected New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, chose not to march because there was no gay group in the parade – as opposed to individual gay marchers who were never excluded from the march.

And in a blow to the parade effort in recent years to attract more needed corporate sponsorship and funding, Guinness withdrew its sponsorship from the parade.

Guinness officials layed a role in brokering the deal that brought OUT@NBCUniversal into the 2015 parade, reported.

At Last, An Oscar for Maureen

POSTED ON September 1st  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

Maureen OHara




By Ray O’Hanlon

It’s the news that her legions of fans around the world have been waiting for.
Actress Maureen O’Hara is to be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a life time achievement Oscar.
Admirers of the Dublin-born O’Hara, who is currently living in Idaho, have been campaigning for years to have her stellar career properly acknowledged by way of an academy award.
O’Hara, who is 94 and told the Echo in an interview a few years ago that she was determined to live until one hundred, will receive the award at the Academy’s 6th Annual Governors Awards in Hollywood on November 8.
“The Governors Awards allow us to reflect upon not the year in film, but the achievements of a lifetime,” said Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
The award, an Oscar statuette, is intended “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
O’Hara enjoyed a long and distinguished film career with movies such “How Green Was My Valley,” “Miracle on 34th Street” and of course the classic “The Quiet Man,” one of a number of films in which she starred opposite John Wayne.

It’s Kansas, but not as you know it

POSTED ON August 25th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

Find the PDF version here: Irish Echo August 20, 2014 page 9



By Evan Short

It’s a little known fact but Kansas City, Missouri, is a city with a huge Irish American heritage and a staggering 250,000 people living within its confines tracing a history back to the old country. So it’s no wonder then that the annual Kansas City Irish Fest (KCIF) is among the best attended Irish American festivals in the fifty states, with 90,000 people expected to attend the 2014 event from August 29-31. Although it has only been going around 11 years in its current guise, KCIF has been able to establish itself as one of the foremost events in Irish America. There is no one more proud of how far the KCIF has come in a short time than Craig Duke.

This year’s president was born in Belfast, and moved to the U.S. at the age of 23. He says becoming festival president has been a dream come true, and he is particularly looking forward to the Labor Day weekend’s events as the North of Ireland has been chosen as the festival theme for 2014.

“Every year we pick something to concentrate on that that would be from the Irish woman to sports, stuff like that. This year, with me being from Belfast, that was one thing I pushed on them, to try and emphasize Northern Ireland. “We are going to cover everything from medicine, science, industry, the Titanic, Massey Ferguson – people don’t realize the tractor was invented in Northern Ireland. Then you have the inflatable tire invented in Belfast by Dunlop, and writers like CS Lewis and Jonathan Swift.”

The jewel in the six counties showcase will be the DeLorean motor car, he says. “Stuff like that. People don’t realize it was made in Belfast.” The pride in Craig’s voice as he talks about the festival is evident.

Craig DukeAlthough he has a demanding day job, as Senior Deputy Chief of the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire  Department, the married father of two says the hours spent working on the festival are a joy. “That’s something I really enjoy. The KCIF has been going on 11 years. It started off as two smaller festivals in different parts of town, and then we thought we would do better if we joined forces and became one big one. “The new one, singular, now does more to expose people to the cultural side of Ireland.” Modern Ireland features to a greater extent that the fairy tale image of the country, he says. “Last year we opened up an area called the Cultural Café. We hooked up digitally with the Omagh Jazz Festival on the Internet. People were Skyping and able to questions – there’s a huge Irish contingency here.”

Keli O’Neill Wenzel from the KCIF organizing committee says the focus on contemporary Ireland helps to keep relationships going, as generations become further removed from their relatives who emigrated 150 years ago. “We want to hit on facts that are contemporary, and not just about history. We always have a lot of heritage and culture and genealogy which is very important, but one thing our festival is really trying to pick up on is more the contemporary, and Ireland today. “That’s so the younger folks are connecting. For example, I am a fifth generation, so it’s so far beyond me that it’s now more about  loving the culture as saying ‘that’s where I’m from.’” Craig says that this is how they are able to keep the young people engaged with the festival. “We are one of the biggest festivals in the States, but at 60 I’m the oldest on the board, the rest are all young people. That’s a big strength.” For more information visit

Galway hurlers end 25-year wait

POSTED ON August 21st  - POSTED IN News & Views

By Frank Bradycup

Galway 3-18

Long Island Gaels 2-15

As it is 25 years since their last triumph, the Galway hurling club in New York will be enjoying this particular win for many weeks to come after a splendid performance that saw them end that long wait in style in Gaelic Park on Sunday.
The Galway club have endured a tough time in recent years and certainly had to work for their championship win over a gallant Long Island Gaels side. In truth, though, the Tribesmen controlled this game for long periods and were certainly worth their 6-point winning margin.

The game started off at a blistering pace with Clara man Keith Hogan posting two long-range frees to put the Gaels two points ahead after three minutes. However, this was to be the last time the Gaels would lead the game and within three minutes Conor Cooney had the Tribesmen in front with a goal and a point in quick succession. Tadgh Haran posted another point for Galway before a Lee Chin point and a further brace from Cooney left Galway 1-06 to 0-2 points up after 15 minutes. Keith Hogan responded for the shell shocked Gaels with three further frees but he could do little to prevent the onslaught and by half time Galway had three further points from Cooney as well as scores from Brian Glynn, Robbie Jackson and Haran with only an additional Hogan free in reply for the Gaels to leave the half time score Long Island 0-6 Galway 1-11.

Eight points down at the half, the Gaels to their credit responded well in the second half and early scores from O’Dwyer and David Burke gave them a lifeline but it wasn’t to be with Tadgh Haran in particular in sensational form for John Kelly’s men posting 1-03 in the second half, his goal in particular leaving the game beyond doubt with 12 minutes still to play. Further Galway points from Jackson, Harte, Trevor Vaughan and a superb goal from Wexford man Lee Chin put the icing on the cake while the Gaels responded through points from Jack Skelly, Hogan, Conor Gough and Tadgh Slevin and consolation goals from Skelly and O’Dwyer reflected the effort the Gaels put in over the 60 minutes but it mattered little in the end as the game was all but over with 10 minutes to go.

For the Gaels there were too few big performances on the day though Keith Hogan, Skelly and Matt Keating did give their utmost to the cause. There were performances all over the field to pick from for the tribesmen with Brendan Bugler, Conor Cooney and Tadgh Haran the stars on show on the field Jackson, Chin and Cohen also made huge contributions but in this authors opinion the Most Valuable Person in the cause today was Clontusker’s own John Kelly without whom there would be no Galway hurling club given the Trojan work the man has put into the club over the last number of decades.

As the final whistle blew the emotion was clear for all to see and hear with a huge cheer from the crowd the biggest cheer reserved for the man himself, John Kelly the Stalwart of the the Galway hurling club who captain Robbie Jackson paid particular tribute to in his victory speech.

Galway: Richie Gaule, David Healy, Johnny Cohen, Aidan Harte (0-1) Brendan Bugler, Ciaran Hoyne, Liam Butler, Lee Chin (1-01) Robbie Jackson (0-2) Conor Cooney (1-05) Tadgh Haran (1-04) Brian Glynn (0-1) James Nolan (0-1) subs Aaron Farrell, Trevor Vaughan (0-1) Con Butler , Thomas Foley, Alan Joyce, Rob Lowery, Johnny Power, Gary Brownan.

Long Island Gaels: Ray Murray, Cian Morris, Luke Mullaly, Matt Keating, Conor Lynam, Barry Mulligan, Tadgh Callagahan, Conor Gough (0-1), Jack Shelly (1-1), Keith Hogan (0-8) David Kenny, David Burke (0-1) Ryan O’Dwyer (1-1). Subs Cian Hayes, Danny Breen, Danny Masterson, Jake McMahon, Cleon Murtagh, Tadgh Slevin.
With additional reporting by Simon Gillespie.

Fans look ahead to 2014/15 Premiership

POSTED ON August 14th  - POSTED IN News & Views

Stephen Boland, works for UPS; originally from Longford, supports Liverpool

stephen boland

We’ll miss Suarez. How can you not miss Suarez? But I don’t think he would had as brilliant a season at Liverpool this year as last. And the team have shown they can win without him. I think that Sterling will pick up a lot of the slack. We have some new players who will take time to adopt to the [Brendan] Rodgers system.

Manchester City are the team to beat. City are strong. They have the same players and have got the experience. United will improve, but I don’t see them in the top four yet. But they have the advantage of not having to compete in Europe. Arsenal will be closer.

John McKiernan, designer, Belfast Media Group, Northern Ireland; supports Arsenal

I think we’re going to be stronger than last season, with a top-3 finish. Theo Walcott returns and looks to be our top player. Olivier Giroud looks to continue to make a big difference for the team. The perfect signing for Arsenal this summer has been Alexis Sanchez. He has pace, skill, he can finish and is an all-around great player.

Terry Goodfellow, tech support at Amulet Hotkey; originally from Yeovil, England, supports Manchester United

I’m more optimistic than last season. But I’ve been reading reports that [manager Louis van Gaal] is getting rid of five or more key players, and until I know who those players are, I don’t know how optimistic. Rooney has performed very well in the games in America. The trouble is he’s so unpredictable.

I’d be happy with qualification for Europe for 2015/16 and also if they got some silverware, the F.A. Cup or the League Cup.

I’m a huge fan of [assistant manager] Ryan Giggs. It would be awesome if he became manager in a couple of years, because he’s spent his entire career at the club.

Kieran Quilligan, originally from Cork, supports West Ham United

Hopefully we’ll be around mid-table. Andy Carroll injuries do not help the situation, but Big Sam’s new signings might do the trick.

Mark Taylor, painter; originally from the city of Liverpool, supports Everton

The most important thing this summer was retaining the current squad. Having Coleman, Barkley, Baines, Stones and Martinez all signing extensions, plus adding Lukaku, Barry and Besic. We have a great balance of young and old containing some of the top young prospects in football.

This year I think a top-6 finish would be great considering the amount of money our rivals are spending. Especially our friendly neighbors. I may have a few dollars on Everton finishing above Liverpool, by the way. Mr. Rodgers doesn’t have a great record in the transfer market – Allen, Aspas, Borini to name a few.

If we can get off to a good start, Chealsea, Arsenal in our first three games then who knows? We may shock a few people. If our young players can kick on then and they continue to buy into Martinez philosophy, I think next season will be very interesting. Players to watch: Barklay, Lukaku and Stones are the obvious ones, but I think Besic may turn out to be a very astute signing.

Out of the other teams, you can’t look past Chelsea or Manchester City for the title.

Rosie Schaap, writes the “Drink” column for the New York Times Magazine; a New Yorker, supports Tottenham

Rosie Schaap (c) M. Sharkey


If it really is the hope that kills you, not the despair, I resolve to have no hope at all at the start of most Spurs seasons. Kafka helps: “There’s hope, but not for us.”

After the brief, unpleasant reign of Tim Sherwood, I welcome new manager Mauricio Pochettino and must put my faith in him to reenergize the club and develop a strategy that will help a team with plenty of individual talent but a shortage of cohesion perform better together. But after a half dozenmanagers in a decade, Spurs fans can’t help feeling a bit of manager fatigue. I hope he’ll be given the time and latitude to build.

And my worst fears: that we might lose our brilliant keeper, Hugo Lloris, and our other MVP, the creative, exciting midfielder Christian Eriksen, did not come to pass. So nix the Kafka. There are some glimmers of hope, but I’m not holding my breath for a top-4 finish.

Jay Mwamba, the Echo’s boxing and local soccer correspondent; originally from Zambia, supports Chelsea.

Has Jose Mourinho lost his mojo? That’s the question many a Chelsea fan was asking after the Blues’ gaffer ended his first season back at Stamford Bridge without a trophy last May. In my estimation, Mourinho completely lost the plot.

He griped over the lack of punch upfront and yet exiled and antagonized his most promising striker, Romelu Lukaku.  He similarly sidelined and then sold Juan Mata, Chelsea’s best player in the two previous seasons, while three other mainstays of past campaigns, John Obi Mikel, Ashley Cole and Ramires, equally fell out of favor.

The 2014-2015 season offers Mourinho a chance to make amends and he’s done a fair bit of business on the transfer market to suggest that.

The purchase of forward Diego Costa, who lit up La Liga with Atletico Madrid, last year, appears to be a significant upgrade upfront. There’s also the intriguing return of Chelsea great Didier Drogba which adds a sentimental touch to the forthcoming campaign.

In midfield, Cesc Fabregas’s acquisition, undoes the damage done by Mata’s unwise sell. The former Arsenal and Barcelona playmaker could turn out to be another Gianfranco Zola.

At the back, the return from loan of the outstanding Belgian shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois, one of the best goalies in the world today, should further cheer Blues fans.

Chelsea and Mourinho’s Premiership prospects couldn’t be better.

John Spinks, artist; originally from Newcastle (though born in Ennis), supports Newcastle United

Mike Ashley remains at the helm. The club is his cash cow. It’s his business, not his passion. To keep it viable and in the black they have to remain in the Premiership. The transfer activity can usually be likened to the purchase of unlabeled tins in the supermarket. However this season some of the tins have come with labels and there is a note of optimism.

Cabella, Riviere and de Jong are all seasoned pros, and the defender Janmaat had a good World Cup with Holland. There’s a slim chance that Joel Campbell who made such and the defender Janmaat had a good World Cup with Holland. There’s a slim chance that Joel Campbell who made such an impression for Costa Rica in the World Cup might be signed. We live in hope.

The squad has some continuity from last season and is reported to be “happy.”

As told to Peter McDermott



Exploring the New York Irish brand

POSTED ON August 14th  - POSTED IN News & Views

olivia barry

Olivia Barry has graduated with a master’s degree in professional

studies specializing in branding at the School of Visual Arts.


By Peter McDermott

Catherine Hamilton arrived in New York via an ocean liner and saw the World’s Fair of 1939. Actually, the West Cork woman really came to visit two daughters who were Dominican nuns, but on the trip took in the pavilion of the Irish Free State, which was selected by an international jury as the best at the event.

That’s just one episode in a 100-part project being done by her great-granddaughter Olivia Barry on Tumblr, the micro-blogging site.

“For 100 days, I will seek to uncover manifestations of Ireland/Irish in New York,” she wrote on Céad Léiriú ( “This will help me to build a story around my identity and what it means to be an Irish person living in New York.”

The project is concluding business from her master’s in professional studies at the School of Visual Arts. She and her 24 classmates last month officially graduated from the college’s Master’s in Branding program, which is taught by professionals in the field.

“The class was a diverse group,” said Barry, who is from Rathgar in Dublin. “Some had more of a design background and wanted more experience in branding. Some had a business background and wanted more experience in design.”

Barry did some work on branding when studying for her undergraduate degree in business and sociology at Trinity College Dublin. She kept up and developed her interest in it when working in corporate communications for various New York companies from 2009.

She said her intention had been to do a master’s degree at some stage, but it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the world of work last year.

It helped that the SVA master’s program in branding, established in 2011, was the first of its kind in the country.

“Because I was so interested in it,” she recalled, “that pushed me to go for it.”

For those, however, who want an easy definition of branding, there isn’t one. Indeed, one of Barry’s classmates elicited 100 pithy and not so pithy definitions from marketers, designers, strategists, writers and others.

For her own 100-episode project, Barry undertook to do a photograph with accompanying text each day. That proved somewhat optimistic, given the logistics. Still, she is up to 84, having started in April.

Writers from the 19th century’s Dion Boucicault to Colum McCann in the 21st are featured, as are business innovators from Alexander Turney Stewart to Ronan Ryan. Stewart, who was born in Lisburn in 1803, made his first New York trip to sell Belfast linen. When he returned, he built the city’s first department store. The Dubliner Ryan is a more recent arrival. The chief strategy officer and co-founder at IEX is featured in Michael Lewis’s recent book about high-frequency trading, “Flash Boys.”

Institutions as diverse as the Chipper Truck in Woodlawn and Glucksman Ireland House are part of the mix, too.

Several of her people entries are in sculpted form, such as those two near neighbors at Times Square, Fr. Francis P. Duffy and George M. Cohan. Additionally, sculptors themselves are also represented. One is Isamu Noguchi (1902 -1988), whose mother’s father, Thomas Gilmour, was from Coleraine; another is Patricia Cronin (born in Massachusetts in 1963). His “Red Cube” is on Broadway in Downtown Manhattan, while her “Memorial to a Marriage” can be found in Woodlawn Cemetery.

John Phillip Holland, the submarine engineer from Liscannor, Co. Clare, and Commodore Barry both get a mention, as does another John Barry, the great-grandfather of Céad Léiriú’s author. He was an agent for the White Star Line in Ballydehob, Co. Cork. One story that has come down through the generations is his sale of Titanic tickets to three young immigrant females. “Happily, all three survived the shipwreck,” Barry writes.

“I avoided anything too stereotypical,” she said when interviewed. A few pubs, for example, are there, but mainly because they have some other significance beyond the consumption of alcohol.

“I’ve a better understanding now of the impact that the Irish have had in New York,” Barry said. “The perception, here, is that it is a very positive one.”

She has found, too, that people with at least some Irish ancestry strongly identify with it.

“Americans really want to connect with you in that way,” she said.

Over the past year, Olivia Barry has been able to forge another type of bond.

“It was a really great experience meeting my fellow students,” she said. “We had that common interest in wanting to learn about branding.”

Some of those newly minted masters in professional studies are now in the market for jobs with companies that have a department working fulltime on branding, while others are seeking out companies whose business is branding.

“New York is a great place to be for that,” Barry said.

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Disaster strikes in crumbling system

POSTED ON August 8th  - POSTED IN News & Views

Darragh McKeon_credit to Ana Schecter

Darragh McKeon. PHOTO: ANA SCHECTER       


Page Turner / Edited by Peter McDermott

In a run-down Moscow apartment block, a 9-year-old piano prodigy practices silently to avoid disturbing the neighbors. In a factory, his aunt makes car parts, hiding her dissident past. In the hospital, a talented surgeon buries himself in his work. And in a village in Ukraine, a boy wakes up to a sky of deepest crimson. The scene is set in Darragh McKeon’s debut novel “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air.”

McKeon’s encounter as a teen with some young people who’d traveled 1,000 or so miles from the East – from a city most Westerners had never heard of before 1986 — led to something of an obsession. In adulthood, he spent years researching a subject that now features prominently in the book.

“It’s set in the USSR in the mid-1980s and is centered around the Chernobyl disaster,” he said. “It follows a group of people whose lives are falling apart as the Communist system crumbles around them.”

McKeon, who is from a farming background in the Irish Midlands, spent most of his 20s in the theatre director with companies as Rough Magic (Dublin), The Royal Court (London), The Young Vic (London) and Steppenwolf (Chicago).

His branching out has won approval. As they’ve done before, two of Ireland’s best established novelists are happy to introduce a new talent to the reading public. Colum McCann said McKeon’s debut “marks the beginning of a truly significant career,” while Colm Toibin praised it as a “daring and ambitious” novel that blends “historical epic and love story.”

Early U.S. reviewers also like what they’ve read. “McKeon’s thrilling narrative is matter-of-fact but emotionally powerful,” said the Library Review’s critic, “And his convincing characters depict precisely the perseverance of the human spirit in the darkest of times. A promising debut; highly recommended.”

In another starred review, Kirkus Review described “All That’s Solid Melts Into Air” as a “leisurely paced novel intended for those who like serious and thoughtful fiction.”

Darragh McKeon

Date of birth:  1979

Residence: New York

Published works: “All That is Solid Melts Into Air” (HarperCollins)


What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?

I write in an office near my apartment. I need a clean space, a window and silence.  Thankfully, I can read anywhere, so I can get a lot of research done when I’m out and about.


What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet” and take on board everything he says.


What book are you currently reading?

“Antarctica” by Claire Keegan.


Is there a book you wish you had written?

There are many, many I respect and value, but I wrote the book I wrote.


What book changed your life?

“Underworld” by Don DeLillo.


What is your favorite spot in Ireland?

Connemara. I lived there for a couple of years. It’s a place where time passes at a different pace.


You’re Irish if…

You want to be buried there.

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