Ireland House Oral History Collection

Bridget Cagney

Bridget Osborne Cagney, 8 November 2006. Photo by Marion R. Casey.

Created/Published:

8 November 2006

3 hours, 16 minutes

Preferred Citation:

Ireland House Oral History Collection, Archives of Irish America, New York University

Biographical Note:

Bridget M. Cagney (b. Cork City, Ireland, 1937) is the daughter of William Osborne, originally from Galbally, Co. Limerick, and Nancy Moloney from Aherlow, Co. Tipperary. Bridget’s mother had traveled to America in 1930 and worked for a hair product company on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York, with her two sisters; she returned to Ireland in 1935. In 1936, William Osborne and Nancy Moloney eloped and moved to the city of Cork; Bridget is the eldest of their six children. Her father worked in the Ford Motor Company factory in both Cork and Dagenham, East London, England until after World War II, when he found employment as a bus driver in Cork City.

Bridget Osborne attended primary school from 1942-1949 at Christ the King Convent, which was run by Presentation Sisters, in Turner’s Cross, Cork City. She went to secondary school at the Presentation Convent on Douglas Street from 1949-1953. At the age of 16, Bridget left school in order to help out her family by working at Gill and Company, a bakery on Princes Street, Cork. In 1957, she started employment at Woodford Bourne, a gourmet shop on Patrick Street, Cork. From 1958-1963 she went to work for Irish Steel Holdings in Haulbowline, Co. Cork as a secretary. In addition to her employment, Bridget went to night school, from 1953-1958, to learn short-hand, business typing, and accounting. In 1959, Bridget met Jim Cagney at a University College Cork [UCC] dance; they were married in 1963 and moved to Foynes, Co. Limerick, to be near Jim’s employment. He had obtained degrees in Chemistry and Experimental Physics from UCC in 1960, then found work at Southern Chemicals, located in Askeaton, Co. Limerick, from 1961-1966.

Bridget and Jim Cagney left Ireland in the summer of 1967, on one of the last voyages of the RMS Queen Elizabeth, arriving in New York City on July 4th, 1967 and soon settling in Sunnyside, Queens. From 1967-1969, Bridget worked for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company on 34th Street in Manhattan, as a secretary to the production manager Alfred Luciani. In 1969, she obtained a position at the Institute of International Education [IEE], located at United Nations Plaza in Manhattan. Bridget first worked in its Fulbright Program as a secretarial assistant; then in 1971 she moved to the Arts Program to work as a program analyst. She retired in August 2000 after thirty-one years. Jim Cagney pursued a career as a chemist working with adhesives for various companies in the New York metropolitan area.

After a successful recovery from cancer in the 1980s, Bridget Cagney went back to school. In 1987, while keeping her job at IEE, she enrolled in Marymount Manhattan College. She double majored in English and Arts Management and in 1993 earned a B.A. in English. In 1994 she received a certificate in drug and alcohol abuse counseling and also began her graduate education at New York University, from which she received an M.A in Education and Theatre in 1998.

Following the events of September 11th, 2001, Bridget and Jim Cagney joined volunteers at “Point Thank You”, in a spontaneous effort by civilians to stand by Ground Zero and thank recovery workers. She stood at the site, located on Christopher Street and the West Side Highway, every night until recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site formally ended on May 30th, 2002.

At the time of this interview, Bridget and her husband were both retired and involved as volunteers with September Space and the World Cares Center, as well as helping out various causes for the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, and parishes around their Sunnyside, Queens home.

Click on image to enlarge.

  1. Jim and Bridget Cagney, 8 November 2006. Photo by Marion R. Casey.
  2. Passport photo of Bridget Cagney, circa 1970s. Courtesy of Bridget Cagney.
  3. At “Point Thank You” in December 2001. Photo by Judith Sapountzakis, courtesy of Bridget Cagney.
  4. >At “Point Thank You” in December 2001. Photo by Ting-Li Wang for <em>The New York Times</em>, December 26, 2001. Clipping courtesy of Bridget Cagney.
  5. The 2002 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. Jim Cagney holds the “Point Thank You” sign on the left while Bridget Cagney holds the large “Thank You” sign center. Photo by Scott Spencer, courtesy of Glucksman Ireland House, New York University.
  6. At “Point Thank You” on May 30, 2002. Photo by Charlotte O’Donnell for <em>The Villager</em>, June 5, 2002. Clipping courtesy of Bridget Cagney.

Interviewers:

Photo Credit:

  1. Jim and Bridget Cagney, 8 November 2006. Photo by Marion R. Casey.
  2. Passport photo of Bridget Cagney, circa 1970s. Courtesy of Bridget Cagney.
  3. At “Point Thank You” in December 2001. Photo by Judith Sapountzakis, courtesy of Bridget Cagney.
  4. >At “Point Thank You” in December 2001. Photo by Ting-Li Wang for The New York Times, December 26, 2001. Clipping courtesy of Bridget Cagney.
  5. The 2002 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. Jim Cagney holds the “Point Thank You” sign on the left while Bridget Cagney holds the large “Thank You” sign center. Photo by Scott Spencer, courtesy of Glucksman Ireland House, New York University.
  6. At “Point Thank You” on May 30, 2002. Photo by Charlotte O’Donnell for The Villager, June 5, 2002. Clipping courtesy of Bridget Cagney.