On Saturday, June 27th, the Irish Community of the greater Phoenix area and Irish Network Phoenix joined forced help in the ongoing efforts to raise funds for the J1 Student Tragedy Fund, a great cause near and dear to the hearts of so many. Between the trivia game hosted by leader of the Phoenix Gaels, Janson Ryan and the raffle tickets sold to all those in attendance, $816 was raised , 100% of which has been donated to the J1 Tragedy Fund to helps the families of those affected by the tragedy in California. Additionally, local businesses donated over $700 worth of prizes and no one left without something in their hands. A HUGE thank you to Mully’s Touch of Ireland, Tim Finnegans, Fibber Magees, The Irish Wolfhound, Reading Ireland, Cookies in Bloom, and Mary Kallemeyn for their donations. The event was filmed for a CBS News segment, but we were later informed that it was bumped because of the storm coverage that night. Regardless, it’s just nice to know that they found the Irish community coming together to support each other in their time of need newsworthy.
For more information on Irish Network Phoenix, visit their website by clicking here.
‘Ireland in 1916 was. as it is now, a global island, a nation that both reflected and was engaged in the bigger international issues of the day’
The lead-up to the centenary of the 1916 Rising presents many opportunities to reflect on the diverse and complex history of this island. And thinking about the many strands of our national narrative is also an opportunity to look at our place in the wider world, then and now, and to consider the international dimension of events in Ireland a century ago.
The 1916 Rising took place within a global context of social and political change. This included the international labour movement in which the Scottish-born leader of the Rising, James Connolly, was involved. The campaign for women’s suffrage in Ireland, Britain and the United States, attracted the involvement of Countess Constance Markievicz and Margaret Skinnider. Human rights, which were so vociferously defended by Roger Casement in South America and Africa, also came to be articulated in the Proclamation of the Republic, which sought to guarantee “religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all”.
The Rising also reflected the instability of the then world imperial order, which was collapsing as the battlefields of the first World War witnessed carnage on an industrial scale. Indeed, the Rising occurred at a moment when, as WB Yeats observed, “things fall apart”. It also came to be a reference point for independence movements far beyond this island, in Africa, India and elsewhere in Asia.
The leaders of the Rising also drew inspiration from their own experiences abroad. Pádraig Pearse, a champion of the Irish language, had spent time in Flanders in 1905, to research minority languages there; and Joseph Mary Plunkett had studied Arabic and cultivated an interest in Orientalism. Perhaps most importantly, five of the seven signatories had spent periods of time in the United States, a country which, very significantly, is referred to in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. For the Rising’s leaders, connecting with Ireland’s “exiled children in America” was as important then as it is for us today.
Ireland in 1916 was, as it is now, a global island, a nation that both reflected and was engaged in the bigger international issues of the day. This is why I asked Ireland’s network of embassies and consulates to plan events which will engage our diaspora and friends abroad, as well as to present the Ireland of today to the world. And our diaspora and friends of Ireland around the world have already set to work with gusto.
The results of this planning can be seen in the Ireland 2016 Global and Diaspora Programme, which I will launch with Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Heather Humphreys in the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) in Dublin on Monday evening. It includes flagship events that will showcase the best of traditional and contemporary Ireland across the full range of the arts, including theatre, literature, music and dance.
These partnerships were already evident in one of first events of the Global and Diaspora Programme, the commemorations of the death of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa that took place in New York over this past weekend. (Monday, June 29th marks the actual anniversary of O’Donovan Rossa’s death.) The Irish Consulate, the GAA, the New York County Cork Association, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and many more groups, individuals and other friends of Ireland came together to remember O’Donovan Rossa and his place in our history and in the links between Ireland and the US.
Earlier this year, in May, the Irish Consulate in Hong Kong organised a screening of A Terrible Beauty, a feature-length docudrama set during the Easter Rising of 1916, atWah Yan College, a local secondary school. The event was enhanced by the presence of Fr Joseph Mallin, who taught at the school. Fr Mallin is the son of Michael Mallin, who was executed in May 1916, and is the last surviving child of any of the leaders of the Easter Rising. The RCSI, where we will launch the Ireland 2016 Global and Diaspora Programme this evening, was Michael Mallin’s post during the fighting in St Stephen’s Green.
The centrepiece of the commemorative events in the US will be Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture, a three-week festival, from May 16th to June 5th 2016 at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC . In London, classical musicians from across Ireland will perform at a concert in London’s Wigmore Hall in April 2016.
Young people and community groups from Edinburgh to Buenos Aires are also organising local events; academic institutions from UCD to Notre Dame are planning seminars and conferences; arts venues large and small will mount exhibitions for the general public; and the GAA, which is the very essence of a local organisation working in a global context, will promote wider participation in our national games.
The ferment of revival that influenced the leaders of the Rising had its source both in their local experience and their intellectual engagement in the wider world. In commemorating their achievements and marking their legacy, it is therefore entirely fitting that our programme provides an offering to the Irish diaspora and indeed all friends of Ireland throughout the world.
Charlie Flanagan is the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
To read the original article in the Irish Times on Monday, June 29, 2015 click here.
Years ago, as a young historian searching for an as yet untold story on which to write my doctoral dissertation, I came across some obscure reference about Irish famine immigrants to New Orleans. Predestined, I think, by my last name and a much-loved grandfather from Co Roscommon, I was intrigued by this footnote, and, after some investigation of the local universities, I bought a plane ticket to America’s most exotic city. I had never been there before and had an image in my head of ferocious hurricanes, alligator-infested swamps; legendary pirates; sultry Dixie jazz; elegant Creoles; mysterious voodoo; French and Spanish customs, and exquisite food all mixed together into a savoury cultural gumbo.
Where exactly the Irish fit in was really not so clear to me.
So I turned to the cabdriver, always a reliable source for fledgling historians, and asked him if he knew anything about Irish in New Orleans. I will never forget his reply. “Goil,” he said in this inimitable accent that, as I would soon learn, characterises the Irish New Orleanian, “we Irish’s everywhere in dis cidy,” and proceeded to give me an account of New Orleans Irish history, peppered with darling, sweetheart and other terms of endearment that usually no strange man would use towards a woman – except in Ireland. If my cabdriver was to be believed, I had hit pay dirt.
And, indeed, he had not embellished. Over the next quarter of a century, my life was filled – and it still is – with uncovering and teaching the history of the Irish in New Orleans. It is a story rich in adventure, human drama and sacrifice, compassion, great triumphs and celebrations. It is, in short, a testimony to a significant people.
The Irish were part of New Orleans’ history from the start. Records dating back to the colonial period already list Irish names. There were Murphys, McCarthys and O’Malleys here, although often with curiously un-Irish first names like Jean or Miguel or Santiago. These hardy fellows were merchant adventurers on the make or soldiers of fortune who had left Ireland during the eighteenth century to escape the increasingly oppressive penal laws and joined the militaries of Catholic France and Spain to protect the crowns’ far-flung dominions.
One of the more colourful ones serving the Spanish king was a military genius named Alejandro O’Reilly, who had been sent to the young colony of Nueva Orleans to restore order after the town’s residents had forcefully ejected the Spanish governor. O’Reilly and his Spanish and Irish-born troops entered the city with a bang – literally – and the pragmatic Irishman proceeded to quell the rebellion by hanging the leaders of the obstreperous citizenry and distributing their property to his Irish merchant friends who just happened to be along for the trip. Blessed with such good luck, several of them decided to stay, marry into local Creole families and create vast fortunes and legacies that resonate in New Orleans to this day.
Decades later, New Orleans, among the few Catholic cities in North America, became a port of call for refugees from the failed rebellion of 1798. As a port city with a vibrant, internationally connected economy, New Orleans was rich in opportunity and free from British oppression. And there were also a number of well established Irish in town who could offer welcome and help.
How early an Irish community became an identifiable presence (as far as the strict guidelines of historians are concerned) is evidenced by the first newspaper report of a St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17th, 1806. I take no small measure of pride in the fact that I discovered the authentic account of the 17 “official” toasts that were pronounced at this momentous occasion. Clearly, the city’s already well-established reputation for enthusiastic imbibement and the ancient Irish traditions surrounding this Saint’s feast day had found common ground.
The nascent Irish community prospered in the booming economy following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, as the port of New Orleans grew into the fourth largest port in the world. The Irish’s own magnificent St Patrick’s Church was built in 1833. By the mid-1850s, the Irish controlled the ocean-to-river vessel transport and were firmly embedded in every line of the city’s business and trade. In fact, New Orleans is home to the first public monument in the United States to honor a woman – the life-size statue of the great 19th century entrepreneur and philanthropist, Margaret Haughery, an illiterate, widowed immigrant from County Leitrim and life-long resident of the city. The Irish Tiger roared!
Annually, thousands of ocean-going vessels docked, sometimes eight deep, along the wharfs. Moving cargo from their holds onto steamboats to be distributed throughout the newly enlarged nation was a logistical enterprise of immense proportion. Vast resources, financial and human, were needed to keep this global economic hub humming. The Irish community continued to grow as word got back to Ireland that life was good in New Orleans.
It is an unfortunate truth that the growth of the Irish diaspora has come at great cost to the mother country, then and now. Like many other places around the globe, New Orleans, too, experienced a vast inflow of Irish Famine refugees. The passage from Liverpool to New Orleans cost as much as a ticket to New York; and, unlike the latter, New Orleans imposed no quarantine. Moreover, the region’s economy was booming at an unprecedented rate. King Cotton ruled. Jobs were aplenty and prosperity was hard work’s reward.
The Irish families of New Orleans opened their arms to these tens of thousands of Famine refugees, and together they built the foundations of the Irish New Orleans community that thrives to this day. In the decade preceding the Civil War, when the Irish made up over a quarter of the city’s population, this community, consisting to a large proportion of individuals and families who had to sell their possession to escape from the famine-ravaged home land, miraculously built five spectacular churches, as well as orphanages and parochial schools to serve its needs.
Today, the Irish New Orleans community is just as vibrant and energetic as it was over 150 years ago. We bow with pride to the old Irish families who have lived here since the early beginnings, and we continue to welcome new arrivals. We have Irish dance schools, Irish music, theatre and film festivals, a Gaelic football league, dozens of Irish pubs and restaurants, our St. Patrick’s Day toasts have vastly exceeded their modest origin and in 2012, the state legislature formally declared the month of March to be Louisiana’s official Irish month.
There are many more stories in my book, The Irish in New Orleans, and I have many more that are still to be put to paper. But in addition to the personal stories I have uncovered, I have also found a common identity that to this day connects the diaspora with its land of origin. In a larger sense, this book exemplifies an expansion of Irish national identity beyond the traditional geographical boundaries, one inclusive of its diaspora. Faced with the challenges of a global economy, the combined energies of old Ireland and its diaspora are bound to be as successful now as they were in the past.
The Irish in New Orleans is published by University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press
Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for the Diaspora, launches it at the Irish Whiskey Museum, Dublin, at 6.30pm on June 10th.
Laura D Kelley teaches history at Tulane University, New Orleans
To view the original article in the Irish Times, click here.
Over the past two days members of nine Irish Network USA chapters joined over 200 delegates from 17 countries in Dublin for the inaugural Global Irish Civic Forum.
Hosted by Minister Jimmy Deenihan and the Department of Foreign Affairs this forum was an opportunity for leaders from within the Irish community around the world to come together to speak about engaging the Irish Diaspora which is estimated to include 70 million people worldwide.
Panel discussions focused on topics such as Irish identity and heritage, reaching out to Irish citizens abroad, and challenges facing new emigrants. With several members asking questions from the floor, Steve Lenox moderating one of the panels that also included Nancy Wormington from Irish Network Kansas City and members playing key roles in the afternoon workshops, INUSA was front and center throughout this important event.
This forum was a great opportunity for INUSA to network and build relationships with organizations, from across the US and the globe, which share a common mission to engage the Irish community. The time in Dublin also gave us an opportunity to spend considerable time with decision makers in the Government to share our successes and to discuss our plans for future growth. INUSA was reassured that our relationships with the Irish Government and with the Irish Embassy and Consulates across the US are stronger than ever!
Finally, the Forum gave us an opportunity to invite our counterparts from around the globe to join us in continuing these conversations at our annual conference which will take place November 5-8 in Boston.
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Irish Network USA is pleased to announce once again the partner status with the New York-New Belfast Conference to take place June 4th and June 5th at Fordham University. There is an exciting line-up planned with many opportunities for those building links with US companies or with Belfast business, political and community leaders.
INUSA members can participate for the special partner rate of $90 for the entire conference – including the luncheon. For more on the conference and to register, please click NY-NB Conference 2015