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Irish American tech group spreads wings with angel investment

POSTED ON August 10th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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MAD MAN: New York Digital Irish founder, Feargall Kenny, outside the Madison Avenue offices of his recruitment company Glenborn.

By Mairtin O’Muilleoir
letters@irishecho.com

LikeCharity, a Dublin company seeking investment in the U.S., has won the support of an Irish American technology network which has just made its first “angel” investment.

Set up originally as a meeting place for Irish Americans working in the tech sector, the New York Digital Irish has now spun-off an investment group dubbed the Irish Diaspora Angels.

And their debut investment has gone to Dublin-based start-up LikeCharity, which delivers marketing campaigns for not-for-profits.

Network founder Feargall Kenny, whose Glenborn e-commerce recruitment company is based on Madison Avenue, says the investment group was a logical next step for the Digital Irish.

“We have about a thousand members in the New York Digital Irish,” says Kenny, “and every two months we bring four start-ups from Ireland, north and south, to present to a Big Apple audience.

“To date, we’ve had about seventy companies through and we’ve managed to make thousands of introductions which hopefully have helped them move to the next stage.

“But since we were always being asked about funding, we thought it was time to bring together those in the Digital Irish who wanted to go a little further and invest in the start-ups coming before us. We teamed up with serial entrepreneur, angel investor and fellow Irishman David Beatty, and thus was born Irish Diaspora Angels.”

Adds Dubliner Kenny, who came here 21 years ago and stayed courtesy of the Morrison Visa program: “We’ve created an affinity group of Irish American and Irish expat accredited investors who are willing to make angel investments in great opportunities which have already been vetted in Ireland.

“If our angel investors lose their money — and they will work hard to ensure these companies succeed — they still know that they have helped create a bunch of jobs in Irish firms and made introductions here which could prove crucial for these exciting young companies.”

LikeCharity founder Tadhg O’Toole has given the heaven-sent investment the thumbs-up: “LikeCharity is delighted to have secured investment from the Irish Diaspora Angels,” he said.

“In addition to investment, the introductions and insights into the U.S. market are invaluable to us right now.”

You can find out more online about the New York Digital Irish at http://www.ny.digital.irish and the Irish Diaspora Angels at
https://irishdiasporaangels.proseeder.com/site/displayPage.do?siteId=1372475894708&pageId=3102.

U.S. pilgrims flying to Knock this weekend

POSTED ON August 7th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan

By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan steps into the role of head pilgrim this weekend when he leads as many as 200 fellow pilgrims to the Knock Marian Shrine in County Mayo.

And the pilgrims will be making their east bound journey on an Aer Lingus plane which will make the airline’s first flight from New York’s JFK to Knock airport, referred to more often these days as Ireland West Airport.

“This is significant. It’s a big breakthrough,” said New York radio broadcaster Adrian Flannelly.
“It is significant because the cardinal is not just flying in to say Mass but is staying with the pilgrims for the entire nine days,” Flannelly said.

Also flying will be New York attorney and immigration reform advocate, Brian O’Dwyer.
For both Flannelly and O’Dwyer it will be a homecoming.

Flannelly is a Mayo native and O’Dwyer a first generation American with family roots in the county who acts as an ambassador for Mayo in the U.S.

Flannelly said that in addition to the purely religious aspects of the journey, Cardinal Dolan will be taking time to see something of Ireland, not least portions of the Wild Atlantic Way.

In that regard, he said, the pilgrimage would serve to cast light on the West of Ireland and its many attractions.

“It’s very exciting,” Flannelly said of the pilgrimage.

Cardinal Dolan will open this year’s national novena at Knock on Friday, August 14 with Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady Queen of Ireland.

The pilgrims will return to New York two days later.

In addition to the Aer Lingus flight being a first, the visit will also be the first official chartered pilgrimage to Ireland’s national Marian shrine from anywhere and the first diocesan pilgrimage from the archdiocese of New York to the Marian shrine.

The parish priest at Knock, Fr. Richard Gibbons, described the announcement of the New York pilgrimage as “a very important and historic step for the promotion of Knock,” the Irish Times reported.

He said that Ireland West Airport was built specifically to welcome pilgrims to Knock Shrine, as well as to develop the economic life of the West. “Monsignor James Horan, I’m sure, would be very proud,” he said of the onetime parish priest of Knock whose vision of an international airport, when it became real, was seen by many as being little short of miraculous.
Pope John Paul II, Now Saint John Paul, dedication the Knock Basilica during his 1979 visit to Ireland.

“Knock Shrine holds a special place in the hearts of our diaspora and, in the Catholic tradition, pilgrimage plays a significant role in renewing people’s faith and we are delighted to facilitate that,” Father Gibbons said.

During the pilgrimage, Cardinal Dolan will say Mass in the Chapel of the Apparition on Sunday August 9.

He will celebrate a morning liturgy the following day in Lough Derg, an island sanctuary dedicated to St. Patrick that the pilgrims will reach by boat.

August 11 and 12 will feature stops at the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and the Lakes of Killarney in Kerry.

Cardinal Dolan will celebrate Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney.

On August 13, pilgrims will undertake a day trip to the Dingle Peninsula that will feature an outdoor liturgy at a Mass Rock site.

The centerpiece of the pilgrimage, the Mass that will open the national novena, will take place the following day.

Irish Navy again rescues hundreds of migrants

POSTED ON August 6th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Migrants in rescue rafts waiting to be taken aboard the LE Niamh. Irish Defense Forces photo.

By Irish Echo Staff
letters@irishecho.com

The Irish Naval Service has again found itself in the front line of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

The LE Niamh yesterday rushed to the scene of a capsizing fishing boat off the coast of Libya.

And today the Niamh arrived in Palermo, Sicily with 367 people on board, one of them being a one-year-old baby girl.

It is feared that as many as 200 people may have drowned when the boat tipped over, apparently after people on board rushed to one side of it after rescue ships were spotted.

Only a relatively few bodies have been recovered thus far.

In a message posted online, the Irish Naval Service stated: “Our crew on the LÉ NIAMH had a difficult day yesterday, with the recovery, in tragic circumstances, of 14 deceased persons amongst the hundreds they had saved.

“As they make their way this evening to a port of safety, we want them to know that we understand and appreciate the sheer effort required of them to accomplish the mission. Sad work, LÉ Niamh, but good work.”

The rescue effort was being reported worldwide.

The Chicago Tribune reported that a fishing boat carrying an estimated 600 migrants capsized.

Reported the Tribune: “The Irish naval vessel Le Niamh was one of several ships requested by the Italian coast guard to speed to the rescue of the overturned boat shortly before noon, Irish Captain Donal Gallagher told The Associated Press by phone.

“Gallagher said that according to preliminary reports some 150 migrants were spotted in the water after the smugglers’ boat, which was estimated to have been carrying 600 migrants, overturned. ‘An Italian (military) helicopter has dropped additional life rafts’ into the sea, Gallagher said.

Also involved in the rescue were an Italian vessel and a boat operated by Doctors Without Borders.

Added the report: “Fleeing war, persecution and poverty, the migrants travel overland for weeks or months from sub-Saharan Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia to reach Libya. There they set sail in flimsy motorized rubber dinghies or rickety old fishing boats. When the boats have problems, someone aboard contacts the coast guard by satellite phone requesting rescue. Other boats in distress are spotted by Triton air surveillance.

Most of the migrants hope to find asylum, relatives or jobs, mainly in northern Europe.”

As many as 2000 have died so far this year attempting to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe.

CNN reported Ireland’s defense minister, Simon Coveney, as saying: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost their lives, the survivors and the rescuers for whom this is an extremely difficult operation.”

According to the Irish Naval Service the LÉ Niamh was tasked to the rescue at 8 a.m. Irish time by the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre which estimated that 600 people were on board the stricken fishing vessel.

The Niamh arrived at the scene 110 kilometers north-west of Tripoli at 11.45 a.m. and deployed two rhibs (rigid hull inflatable boats) either side of the vessel; however the vessel capsized.

The LÉ Niamh (LÉ stands for Long Éireannach or “Irish Ship”) was joined at the scene by the Medécins Sans Frontiére ship Dignity One and a number of helicopters including Italian military aircraft.
The Niamh was sent to the Mediterranean a month ago to replace the LÉ Eithne.

Up to yesterday’s mission Niamh had rescued 1,280 migrants from vessels off the North African coast.

It can be grim work. Last week, the Niamh’s crew recovered 14 bodies from a barge west of Tripoli during one of its missions.

iHOPE Special Olympics 2015

POSTED ON August 5th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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Sarah Jane Donohue with her therapist Dr. Nia Mensah

By Áine Ní Shionnaigh 

letters@irishecho.com

iHOPE Special Olympics 2015

“If I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt” reads the conclusion of the Special Olympics athletes’ oath. Bravery is at the core of the Special Olympics movement. The athlete’s bravery is central. Equally importantly however, is their parent’s bravery. Our world, although it pretends not to, is totally biased towards outward appearance. Perfection is the ultimate goal. Imperfections must be perfected, whatever the cost. To expose children who are ‘imperfect’ in the eyes of the world takes tremendous courage. I was gifted with this courage on Thursday and Friday last when Grace Anne took to the hallways of her school, www.ihopenyc.org, to compete in the Summer Olympics in her gait trainer and on her bike.

Ironically when one is a parent of a child with special needs, special occasions and events usually pose more of a challenge and are sometimes easier avoided. A few months ago when Dr. Nia Mensah, Physical Therapist, came bounding into the office with the idea of an iHOPE Summer Olympics, I expressed excitement outwardly but inwardly a little knot had started to form. As the event drew closer, I found myself getting caught up in the growing excitement and decided to face the challenge head on and am so glad I did.

At the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony at iHOPE on Thursday last, there was a palpable sense of occasion and anticipation, parents, grandparents and iHOPE staff all gathered to celebrate their children. A staff member, Maria Garzon sang ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ followed by a student parade and the ‘Carrying of the Torch’ by one of our students, Anthony Dixon. The games took place from 1.00pm to 4.00pm both days and included: a vision game of Stack Them Up, Knock Them Down, Scoot the Boot, Sports Fishing, Ladybug Race, Hope Hoops, Volley Ball, Bubble Smash, followed by the more serious Timed Power Wheelchair Obstacle Course, Cycling and a 50 meter dash in gait trainers.

Experiencing Grace Anne participate in the iHOPE Summer Olympics changes the way other people may perceive her in the world. Grace Anne has a great deal to offer the world. Although I have one of the most beautiful, happiest children, I often have to cloak myself against the looks of pity, the endless comments: ‘I could never do that’, ‘what a shame, she could have been…’, ‘you are great, I could never cope with that’, ‘God won’t give you a cross you can’t carry’. Being the parent of a child with a disability extends the parameters beyond the place to which most people can relate so they feel the need to ‘console’ which is not what parents of children with special needs want. They want to celebrate their achievements which is what we did last week at iHOPE.

Grace Anne has taught me the real meaning of unconditional love, happiness, perseverance and determination. She is a cute, clever, red haired, blue eyed, freckle faced little girl who was born with a happy fighting spirit and is tuned into a better quality frequency than the rest of us. Because of her reaction to the iHOPE Summer Olympics, I now feel obliged to share Grace Anne more with the world, she’s too precious to keep to myself. I need to share her happiness, perseverance and determination with the world at large.

I feel when people come in contact with our children here at iHOPE, their perceptions change drastically. The greatest thing I can do is to change the hearts and minds of people without disabilities so that they will realize the great value of these children and not feel pity for them and their parents.

Grace Anne’s amazing school: iHOPE, the International Academy of Hope, www.ihopenyc.org, which has succeeded in giving back hope to Grace Anne and I and countless other children. iHOPE has the chance to change the lives of children that everyone else has given up on. Its purpose is to give hope to special children and their families and that it does. I now believe iHOPE can give back hope to the community outside and give a richer meaning to others lives. To see an atmosphere that takes equality seriously, please schedule a visit to iHOPE here in NYC where you will meet many children that had been given up on previously, come to life, smile, talk, shout, sing, participate, attract attention for the right reasons. Step into iHOPE and root for Hope, Equality and our common humanity. My contact details are with the editor.

There are too many people to thank individually, a heartfelt thanks to everyone in iHOPE for everything that led to two amazing days of Summer Olympics. I have never seen our children so happy. Thank you to our Founder, Patrick Donohue, a proud Irish American whose vision and stamina has led to the founding of the first school in NYC solely for treating children with brain injuries. Groundbreaking in its treatment and approach, iHOPE is becoming a model of excellence for treating children with brain injuries across the US and indeed across the globe. Go raibh maith agat Padraig agus maith thu.

“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. (Victor Frankl, A Man’s Search for Meaning).

NINA was reality, not just a myth

POSTED ON August 4th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

Is “No Irish Need Apply” historical fact or myth?

There is an argument, but we’re backing Rebecca.

The Daily Beast reported recently that the Internet had been buzzing about how discrimination against the Irish was a myth.

“All it took was a high schooler to prove them wrong,” the DB reported.

The report stated; “Rebecca Fried had no intention of preserving the record of a persecuted people whose strife was ready to be permanently written off in the eyes of history as exaggerated, imagined, or even invented. That’s because Rebecca was too busy trying to get through the 8th grade.”

Rebecca’s work focused on a 2002 paper by University of Illinois-Chicago history professor, Richard J. Jensen.

It was entitled “No Irish Need Apply: A Myth of Victimization.”

Wrote Jensen at the time: “Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming ‘Help Wanted—No Irish Need Apply!’ No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent.”

According to The Daily Beast report, Jensen’s view picked up traction over the last decade, but seemed to reach an unexpected fever pitch in the last few months.

Rebecca set about tamping down the fever.

According to DB, Rebecca never set out to prove the Jensen thesis wrong. She was just interested in an article her dad, Michael, brought home from work one day.

“Just for the fun of it, I started to run a few quick searches on an online newspaper database that I found on Google,” said Rebecca.

“I was really surprised when I started finding examples of NINA ads in old 19th-century newspapers pretty quickly.”

Rebecca’s curiosity was piqued. The more she dug, the more she dug up that pointed to the grim reality of the “No Irish Need Apply” phenomenon in the 19th century and into the 20th.

“I showed my dad right away when I started finding these NINA ads. We just didn’t know whether this was already widely known and, if it wasn’t, whether it would be viewed as a topic worth considering for publication,” Rebecca said.

She was about to be encouraged in the matter of publishing.

Enter Kerby Miller, recently retired professor of history at the University of Missouri.

“He’s written everything from Guggenheim-funded books about the 18th-century Irish to the PBS documentary Out of Ireland with Paul Wagner. In 1986, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for history,” the DB report stated.

Miller is also well known in Irish America as something of an academic dean when it comes to the history of Irish immigration.

Miller had been an early critic of the Jensen position, one he viewed as being revisionist.

“From the first, my responses to Jensen’s claims had been strongly negative, as were those of a few other scholars, but, for various reasons, most historians, social scientists, journalists, et cetera accepted or even embraced Jensen’s arguments,” he told The Daily Beast.

Miller had been trying to “bat down” the conclusions in Jensen’s paper for 13 years.

He told DB that he knew something was fishy from the outset. First of all, he had seen the (NINA) advertisements years ago – well before something like Google Scholar made them easy to search for – as a graduate student at UC Berkeley in the 1970s. But something else tipped him off.

“Even more suspicious is that it seemed to fit into a political or ideological framework, in addition to his own writing, which was obviously polemically bent,” he said referring to Jensen who paper ended thus: “Some Americans feared the Irish because of their religion, their use of violence, and their threat to democratic elections. By the Civil War these fears had subsided and there were no efforts to exclude Irish immigrants. The Irish worked in gangs in job sites they could control by force. The NINA slogan told them they had to stick together against the Protestant Enemy, in terms of jobs and politics. The NINA myth justified physical assaults, and persisted because it aided ethnic solidarity. After 1940 the solidarity faded away, yet NINA remained as a powerful memory.”

Miller said he wrote to Jensen at one point to contest his stance.

“Jensen’s email response to my criticisms was that they were to be expected because I was an Irish-American and a Catholic,” says Miller.

“In fact, as I responded to him, I am neither.”

Miller, according to DB, said he realized it might be an unwinnable fight when he went to New Zealand to present some work and was “bombarded” with questions as to why he didn’t believe Jensen.

“I hadn’t realized how extraordinarily dominant Jensen’s argument had become. I don’t know if that says something about the hierarchy of power in academia, or the others who accepted it because they bought into this revisionist interpretation.”

Miller could name other scholars who questioned Jensen’s motives. He even tried to talk some of them into writing about it.

“They knew from their own research, or strongly suspected, that Jensen’s arguments were wrong or fallacious. They were just too busy (to refute it) or preferred not to.”

Rebecca was busy. But not too busy.

“We didn’t know who to contact, but we saw that Professor Jensen’s article cited Professor Miller as someone who had erroneously believed in NINA, so we thought he might be a good person to try,” She told DB

“And he was obviously an expert in this area.”

“They contacted me on the first of May. All I did was fill them in on the story,” Miller told the Irish Echo while referring to the Frieds.

As it turned out, the story from Miller’s perspective would dovetail with Rebecca’s.

Continued the DB report: Miller opened up Rebecca’s thesis. He quickly realized all of the academics too busy to take on Jensen couldn’t have done it better than a 14-year-old.

Rebecca said that Miller then helped her and her father walk through what a scholarly article should look like.

And so it transpired that on July 4, when the very best of America is celebrated, Rebecca Fried presented to the world, and the Oxford Journal of Social History: “No Irish Need Deny: Evidence for the Historicity of NINA Restrictions in Advertisements and Signs.”

The Journal was the same publication where Jensen’s position was first revealed to the word.

“The article concludes that Jensen’s thesis about the highly limited extent of NINA postings requires revision, and that the earlier view of historians generally accepting the widespread reality of the NINA phenomenon is better supported by the currently available evidence,” Rebecca wrote in her abstract.

After a report in IrishCentral.com, Jensen congratulated Rebecca for her scholarship in the comments section, but took issue with her conclusion.

“I’m the PhD who wrote the original article. I’m delighted a high school student worked so hard and wrote so well. No, she did not claim to find a single window sign anywhere in the USA.”

Not the case, responded Rebecca, who is a student at the Sidwell Friends School in the nation’s capital.

“I do have to say that the article does in fact list a number of posted physical NINA signs, not just newspaper ads. Pages 6-7 catalogue a number of the signs,” she wrote.

Continued the DB report: “Jensen retorted with a numerical list of all of the ‘No Irish Need Apply’ signs he encountered in her essay—ending with, “That’s very rare. In Chicago, only 3 ads in over 50 years. How rare can you get?”

“Then, ever politely, Fried dropped the hammer.”

She wrote Jensen: “Thanks again for the response. This discussion is really fun for me, and I appreciate the opportunity to have it. Let me make one last point and then I promise I will shut up and give you the last word if you want it. You began this conversation by stating that the article ‘did not claim to find a single window sign anywhere in the USA.’ I think we now agree at least that this is not correct.”

She stated that even if it were 15 recorded instances per year or 1,500—the signs existed, the persecution was real, and discrimination of the Irish was not an imagined feeling, but a reality difficult to both express and quantify.

“NINA sign would be just as offensive and memorable to Irish-American and other viewers whether it was for a job, an apartment, a social club, a ‘freedom pole,’ or anything else,” she wrote.

“I’ll conclude by sincerely thanking you again for interacting with me on this. It is a real honor and I appreciate it.”

Later, Rebecca said she regretted how her comments came out, saying she “may have come off as insufficiently respectful.”

“He (Jensen) has been doing scholarly work for decades before I was born, and the last thing I want to do was show disrespect for him and his work,”

Kerby Miller wasn’t worried.

“I have the utmost admiration and respect for her. I really just want to be in the background of this. Rebecca is the hero,” he said.

Since Rebecca came out with her paper she has, somewhat ironically, joined Jensen in the Wikipedia “No Irish Need Apply” entry.

The entry reads in part: “Historians have hotly debated the issue of anti-Irish job discrimination in the United States. Some insist that the ‘No Irish need apply’ signs were common, but one scholar, Richard Jensen, argues that anti-Irish job discrimination was not a significant factor in the United States, these signs and print advertisements being most commonly posted by the limited number of early 19th-century English immigrants to the United States who shared the prejudices of their homeland.

“Subsequent research by Rebecca A. Fried, a high school student from Washington D.C. discovered numerous instances of the restriction used in advertisements for many different types of positions, including ‘clerks at stores and hotels, bartenders, farm workers, house painters, hog butchers, coachmen, bookkeepers, blackers, workers at lumber yards, upholsterers, bakers, gilders, tailors, and papier mache workers, among others.’ While the greatest number of NINA instances occurred in the 1840s, Fried found evidence for its continued use throughout the subsequent century, with the most recent dating to 1909 in Butte, Montana.”

Game, set and match to Rebecca.

Of course, and despite Rebecca’s tussle with Jensen, Irish Americans who take a keen interest in history have never doubted that the phenomenon of “NINA” was all too often a fact of life for their ancestors.

In recent years there has been one particularly striking example pulled from the mists of time – not one to do with signs in store windows, but rather a case in which the weapon employed against the Irish was not just a lead pencil but, in some instance, a lead bullet.

Rebecca, now that she has plunged into the Irish American story, would doubtless be interested in a tragic tale set not all that far from her D.C. home.

That would be the story of Duffy’s Cut.

Reigniting a good cause – with ice

POSTED ON July 31st  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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It’s as simple as tipping and shivering

By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

You can’t argue with the timing.

A bucket of ice is just the ticket with the temperatures reaching for the 90s.

With this in mind, and a lot more of course, Empire City Casino CEO, Timothy J. Rooney, and Ice Bucket Challenge originator, Pat Quinn, will be teaming up this Sunday, August 2, to reignite the social media phenomenon.

And the public is invited to gather trackside at Empire City Casino’s Yonkers Raceway for the renewed Ice Bucket Challenge to benefit ALS research. Pre-registration can be carried out at www.YonkersNY.gov.

‎ In August 2014, ‎Pat Quinn of Yonkers, and Pete Frates of Boston, both ALS patients, co-founded the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The effort became a global phenomenon with more than 17 million videos of people taking the challenge being posted on Facebook last year.

Sunday will see the re-launch of the challenge and Quinn is being joined in the bucket tipping by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, and City Council President Liam McLaughlin.

Quinn will lead all the participants in a simultaneous ice bucket challenge at 2 p.m.

The idea is to reignite – if that’s possible with ice – the viral social media movement through the month of August.

The first 1,000 participants on Sunday will receive a free 2015 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge t-shirt courtesy of Empire City Casino.

To participate, a person dumps a bucket of ice and water over his or her head, challenges three friends to either do the same, donate to the ALS charity of their choice, or both.

To date, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has generated more than $220 million in donations for ALS-oriented nonprofits.

Many of those donations have been allocated to support new ALS research, increased advocacy, and expanded and improved local care and services for people diagnosed with ALS, their families and care providers.

“Pat Quinn’s fight and determination to combat this horrible disease has been nothing short of inspirational,” said Mayor Spano.

“With Pat as our fearless leader, the City of Yonkers hopes to recharge the energy we all felt last summer as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge. We encourage any and all to join us on August 2nd so we can continue to make strides in finding a cure to ALS.”

“We are excited and proud to be involved in such an important effort,” said Tim Rooney, president and CEO of Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway. “Having lost my uncle, Fr. Silas Rooney, to this disease my family is all too familiar with its devastating effects. Efforts to raise awareness and research funds are vital and must continue.”

“Yonkers is proud to host to the re-launch of the ALS ice bucket challenge,” City Council President McLaughlin said.

“Pat Quinn, the Quinn family and our friends at Empire City and Home Depot have done so much to make this event a success which will set the bar for raising awareness about ALS nationwide. Pat has courageously and selflessly turned his battle with ALS into one of the largest movements this world has ever seen. We are proud to join him in that effort.”

Pat Quinn said: “I am beyond grateful for the continued support from Mayor Mike Spano, City Council President Liam McLaughlin, and the entire City of Yonkers.

“Last summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge brought new hope and a unified sense of fight to ALS patients all over the world. I’m extremely proud to know ‘Quinn for the Win’ and Yonkers were a major catalyst in making this happen.

“We are now living by the mantra, ‘Every August Until A Cure.’ Although last summer did wonders for our battle, we still have no treatment. We still have no cure.”

Quinn urged anyone who could make it on Sunday to turn up at the raceway and take part.
“Not only will it be fun, you will be a part of something special,” he said.

Anyone interested in registering to participate in Sunday’s Ice Bucket Challenge at Empire City Casino is being urged to do so at www.yonkersny.gov. Participants will be provided a bucket donated by Home Depot, ice and water. The afternoon also will feature music and family-friendly entertainment.
Donations are not required to participate. But proceeds from the event will be donated to “Quinn for the Win,” a not-for-profit ALS organization.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.
With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients begin to suffer from muscle weakness and muscle atrophy. They can lose the ability to easily handle simple tasks like shaving or buttoning a shirt. In the later stages of the disease, patients may become completely paralyzed. ALS is still a disease with no known cure.

Pat Quinn, who is 32, was diagnosed with ALS in March 2013. For more information, visit www.yonkersny.gov, www.quinn4thewin.com and www.facebook.com/Quinnforthewin.

Mystery of the I-95 Shillelagh

POSTED ON July 30th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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The I-95 shillelagh awaits its owner

By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

It can only be hoped that the owner was driving on Interstate 95 and not walking beside it.

But if driving, the owner rapidly put miles between himself, or perhaps herself, and a well-used shillelagh.

Jerry McParland was driving what may well be the busiest highway on the planet.

He was returning from Florida to New York with his wife Donna when he pulled into a rest stop somewhere in the Carolinas, perhaps South Carolina but maybe North Carolina.

Either way, he remembers the stop less for its precise location than what he found in it.

“It was there in the ground, in a parking space, a walking stick,” Jerry told the Echo.

“And I looked at it again and realized that it wasn’t just any old walking stick, but a shillelagh,” he said.

Jerry, whose New York home is in Long Beach, Long Island, is, like many Irish Americans, well familiar with the famed Irish Blackthorn walking stick which, in former times, was often used for tasks other than perambulation.

Jerry and his wife checked around the rest stop for the owner, but nobody claimed the shillelagh.

So they brought it back to New York and contacted the Echo hoping that, like them, the owner might be a reader, or that a reader might know someone who recently misplaced a shillelagh on a journey north, or south, along I-95.

“It has a distinguishing characteristic,” said Jerry of the lost shillelagh.

This characteristic is in addition to a strap at the holding end visible in the photo above.

Jerry is keeping that additional characteristic secret so as to make sure that if anyone gets in touch claiming the stick he can be sure the person is indeed the owner.

“I’m hoping that the owner, or someone who knows the owner, reads this and can get the shillelagh back,” he said.

The owner, or anyone who think they might know the owner, can contact the Echo at (212) 482-4818.

McGuinness, Villiers in U.S. as North crisis simmers

POSTED ON July 29th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

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North Secretary Theresa Villiers.

By Anthony Neeson
asneeson@irishecho.com

It looks like it will be a case of he said, she said.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness is in the United States this week to seek support for a resolution to the crisis threatening the political institutions in Northern Ireland.

The Deputy First Minister arrived on Tuesday for meetings with the congressional Friends of Ireland on Capitol Hill, the State Department and other senior administration officials.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers is also in the U.S. and in a series of meetings is expected to counter the message being disseminated by McGuinness.

Speaking ahead of his talks, Mr. McGuinness said the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, which have underpinned the peace process for almost two decades, are facing crisis.

“This is an extremely grave situation and I would urge all those with a stake in this process to make every effort to find a resolution which secures the power-sharing administration,” he said.

“In order to redress this crisis, we require an imaginative and innovative solution, which recognizes the particular challenges faced by our administration. That means ensuring the institutions are politically and economically viable and able to meet the needs of a society emerging from a long and bitter conflict.

“To date, that has not been forthcoming from the British government and they need to be persuaded that a new approach is required.

“It is my hope that the U.S. administration, which has been a key ally since the inception of the peace process, can help convince the British government of the gravity of the current situation and to end their current approach which threatens to undermine the incredible progress we have made.”

Villiers, by contrast, will be insisting American pressure should be directed at Sinn Féin to accept reduced budget cuts.

And Stormont Finance Minister, Arlene Foster, has also criticized Sinn Féin warning that there would be “a real crisis” in the political process if the party doesn’t concede on welfare cutbacks.

The DUP minister said McGuinness was “wasting his time” on his U.S. mission.

Foster said her message to McGuinness was: “sort it out and get on with governing Northern Ireland in a responsible fashion.”

The Irish Times, meanwhile, summed the situation up with the headline: “Villiers and McGuinness in US PR battle over political deadlock.”

Story-telling via multiple media

POSTED ON July 29th  - POSTED IN Arts & Leisure, News

Salon Diary / By Bernadette Cullen

ryan

Ryan Winter Cahill.

PHOTO BY CAT DWYER

A large and supportive crowd turned out for the July 21 IAW&A Salon at the Cell, which featured presentations in several media: prose, drama, poetry, video, dance and music.

First up, Sean Carlson has previously shared early glimpses from his first book, a yet-untitled narrative of emigration through a family story from Ireland to London and the Bronx. Tonight, he showed another side of his writing with an essay about the East Village from a series he’s writing about New York.

Ray Lindie read from his 1985-set screenplay, “Mad Dogs of August,” with characters involved with Noraid, the IRA and NYPD.

Actress Ryan Winter Cahill gave a lovely dramatic reading of Tom Mahon’s “That That Keeps Us Alive”.  The short narrative is from the viewpoint of a young woman who is forced by war from her home in the Middle East, which action forces her to leave behind the man she loves.

Newcomer Kathleen O’Sullivan presented two videos of the neighborhood she grew up in, i.e., upper Manhattan, on Isham Street in Inwood.  Having the story in ibook and audio book form already, Kathleen is experimenting with translating the story into video form.

Brendan Costello, a creative writing professor at City College, read a short piece/memoir about the day his father told him that he was gay. The fact that the young Brendan, then 16, already suspected his father’s sexuality, added a poignancy to the moment between father and son.

Two Brooklyn-based actors, Taylor Rynski and Jason LaCombe, acted out a scene from Marina Neary‘s play, “The Last Fenian,” a historical tragicomedy scheduled for filming in August. Set in 1910 Ireland, “The Last Fenian” tells the story of an Irish nationalist whose sons end up on the opposite sides of the barricades.

Mary Tierney, Ron Ryan, and Larry Fleischman led the audience on a raucously delightful trip in the one-act play, “The Best Cup of Coffee.”  Mary played the proprietor, a proud woman whose reputation rests on her making the perfect cup of coffee — anywhere. That day two strangers, who are driving around the country sampling coffees to determine which is the most perfect, pull up at her cafe.

Tony Pena read four poems, giving each poem an impassioned Pena-style rendition. The poems were a mix of heartbreak, history, and humor.

Russell Brown presented two dance videos he has completed. Both of which had the lovely feel of sharing that true dance always invites.

John McDonagh performed another piece from his one man play “Cabtivist.”  A comedic and sometimes heartbreaking look at the world through the eyes of a New York City cabdriver, McDonagh focused this vignette on his brush with fame on Fox TV.

Completing the episode he began sharing at the July 7th IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia, John Kearns read an excerpt from his novel in progress, “Worlds. After spending an afternoon eating beignetts and mufulettas and drinking beer in the French Quarter,   Paul Logan continues his gluttonous day at an official dinner for the Catholic schoolteachers’ convention he is attending.

Tom Mahon read the first chapter of a children’s book he wrote, which was inspired by his son’s fascination with Bigfoot. Jamie, a young boy, wakes to his grandfather’s dog barking. He follows it to the barn, where they discover a strange animal covered in hair and no bigger than Jamie.

Marni Rice, chanteuse-accordioniste-composer presented a vintage French Chanson from the 1930’s entitled “L’Etranger” (“The Foreigner”), about a woman who meets a mysterious man in a train station on a rainy night. It was followed by an original instrumental composition, “The Tango of 106th Street,” and closing the Salon with an Irish ballad, “My Bonnie Boy,” from the Sarah Makem songbook.

The IAW&A meeting for all members will take place tomorrow, Thursday, July 30 at 6 p.m. at the Irish Consulate.  Email IASalon@hotmail.com to reserve your spot.

The next IAW&A Salon will be on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at Bar Thalia at 7 p.m.  We are switching to first Wednesdays of the month for August, September, and October.  We’ll have the space to ourselves — and that’s not trivial.

Catherine Burns laid to rest in her native county

POSTED ON July 28th  - POSTED IN News, News & Views

Reburial jpg
Fr. Benny Fee praying at the grave in Clonoe, County Tyrone

By Ray O’Hanlon
rohanlon@irishecho.com

Catherine Burns is this week at rest in her native County Tyrone.

Her remains had been flown to Ireland by Dr. William Watson, one of the leaders of the Duffy’s Cut excavation project in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

She is the second of the more than fifty Duffy’s Cut victims to be given a reburial in Ireland, the other being Donegal native John Ruddy.

Burns was just 29 when she died at Duffy’s Cut in 1832.

The cause of death was likely cholera, though murder at the hands of nativist gangs was also a possible cause.

Her resting place was unmarked and forgotten until Dr. Watson and his team from Immaculata University began work on the site in 2003.

“It was remarkable in all ways. Fr. Benny Fee said Mass and there was a great turnout for the reburial,” Dr. Watson told the Echo.

“It’s miraculous. This whole thing’s miraculous. I was sitting in the church and it was kind of like an outer body experience. I couldn’t believe it was happening. The choir, the sermon, the trappings of the mass, the whole community out. It’s just overwhelming,” he earlier told reporters covering the reburial.

He praised the effort by Clonoe Parish and the crowd that turned out for the funeral.
“This is incredible. It’s a lot of people, and good people,” he said.

According to a report in the Belfast Telegraph, it was not known exactly where in County Tyrone that Catherine Burns was from. But Fr. Fee, Clonoe’s parish priest, said that “all of Tyrone belongs to Catherine Burns.”

The young immigrant’s remains were carried into the chapel by three women from the parish who are also called Catherine, along with a researcher from the Duffy’s Cut Project.

According to the report, during his sermon, Fr. Fee said it was an “awesome privilege” for the people of Tyrone to welcome Catherine Burns home.

He said she had set off for America because she had “no other choice”, adding: “she could stay at home and starve or she could gamble on taking the ship across the broad Atlantic and with a bit of luck, catch the tail of the American dream.”

Catherine’s square box-shaped coffin was buried beneath the Tall Cross of Clonoe, a few meters from the parochial house where a Tyrone flag was flying next to an American flag.

Catherine Burns had sailed to America on the John Stamp out of Derry. Others of who would become known the Duffy’s Cut Irish were on board the ship.

In the summer of 1832, 57 Irish laborers died while building the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad between Malvern and Frazer, not far from Philadelphia and at a site that, in recent years, became known to the wider world as Duffy’s Cut.

Duffy’s Cut is on land immediately adjacent to a railroad track used by SEPTA and AMTRAK.

From before the start of the excavation work, Dr. Watson and his colleagues believed that the deaths were caused not just by cholera, the reason reported at the time, but by murderous attacks carried out by local nativist and know nothing gangs.

Remains unearthed during the years of the Duffy’s Cut excavation have confirmed this view.
By no means all the Duffy’s Cut dead have been accounted for.

Dr. Watson and his team are now preparing to extract core samples for an estimated fifty men buried in a mass grave at the site, just yards from the railroad track.

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