7 December 2006
1 hour, 4 minutes, 40 seconds
Ireland House Oral History Collection, Archives of Irish America, New York University
Noreen M. Culhane (b. Bronx, New York, 1950), an Executive Vice President at the New York Stock Exchange, is the eldest of seven children born to James and Maria Ann Culhane, both immigrants from near Ballylongford in northern County Kerry, Ireland. She was the 1970 New York Rose of Tralee and as such traveled to Ireland to participate in the Festival of Kerry.
Educated in Bronx Catholic schools, Culhane attended St. Frances de Chantal in Throggs Neck, the parish to which her family belonged, the Academy of Mount St. Ursula in East Morrisania, and the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale where she majored in English Literature and graduated with the class of 1972.
After college, Culhane worked for five years as an elementary school teacher at St. Anthony’s on Nepperhan and Squire Avenues in Yonkers (Westchester County), New York, studying at night for a master’s degree in special education at the nearby College of New Rochelle. In 1977 she made a career change, joining IBM and within two years had been assigned to a branch office in the Financial District of Manhattan. When IBM underwent reorganization in 1982, Culhane was promoted to a branch manager responsible for the company’s telecommunications industry. Culhane worked in sales at IBM for twenty years and ran the securities industry within its financial services vertical. While at IBM, she pursued further education and completed the Advanced Management program at Harvard University.
In March 1997 Noreen Culhane was offered and accepted the position of senior vice president in sales and client services for the New York Stock Exchange group. At the time of this interview, she was an Executive Vice President, managing Business Development, Client Service, Marketing and Sales Support, Initial Public Offerings and Structured Products. She is responsible for drawing in and serving new companies around the globe interested in listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
A member of the Economic Club of New York, Noreen Culhane serves on the BMCC Foundation Board of Directors which supports the City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College. In 2006 her community service work earned her the Youth Opportunity Award from Inwood House, an organization focused on providing education to youths and preventing teenage pregnancy. An avid golfer, Culhane and her family frequently travel to Ireland.
Excerpt No. 1
September 11, 2001 at the New York Stock ExchangeDisc 1, 41:10–42:50
Transcription of Excerpt No. 1
MC: What about your memories of 9/11? Where were you? Were you in the building?
NC: Mmm Hmm. I was here. I was actually in this office. I was in this office before I moved across the hall. I was here. And actually what happened was I had someone in here with me, and all this paper started flying by the window, big computer printouts, that kind of thing. And I thought – and it was quarter of nine in the morning, and I thought, “What is going on?” And I said to Robin Weiss, who was the woman who was in here, I said, “Where is that coming from?” Because I couldn’t quite get to the window from here. She was sitting over there. So she went out and looked up and said, “Nowhere. It seems to be coming out of the sky.” Because I thought it was way too early for a ticker tape parade – and what ticker tape parade? There were no police barriers up this morning. It’s odd. Anyway, I had the television on, but I had it on mute and CNBC was on, and of course by then they were beginning to show the World Trade Center. And one of the fellows who worked for me came running around the corner and said, “A plane flew into the World Trade Center.” And I said out loud to Robin, she often remarks that I said, “This is a terrorist attack.” Because I just knew – I mean I fly all the time, nobody flies over Manhattan. You fly up and down the East River, or the Hudson River, or over Queens, but you don’t fly over the middle of Manhattan. And I could see that the hole in the trade towers was a gaping hole. And then sort of while we were sitting here – and you know, I went out to see – we have, one of the responsibilities is market watch so anything that would be impactful to the opening of trading, whether it’s specific stock related or just more generally related is our responsibility. And then I looked up and, of course, the second plane went into the building, and it was clear then what it was.
Excerpt No. 2
A Culhane family reunion in Killelton, Co. KerryDisc 1, 56:44–58:41
Transcription of Excerpt No. 2
NC: My grandmother, the whole first day I was there [in Co. Kerry, Ireland, summer of 1969], well both of us were there.
MC: She was still alive?
NC: Oh yes, my grandmother was alive, absolutely, my father’s mother. Crying, crying, crying, because we were here, and what a blessing we were here. She, you know, hadn’t seen my father since he left. And I was so mad at him. I said [to myself], what is wrong with him? He could come over by himself and see her. So when I got home, I said, “Dad, you have to go. You just can’t not go. This is your mother.” So anyway – this is a long, roundabout – we got into this discussion. He said, “Well, you know, I have seven children – yada yada yada.” And, you know this Rose of Tralee thing?
MC: Mmm hmm.
NC: So he said, “Well, if you win the Rose of Tralee, I’ll go. You know, like, be the New York Rose of Tralee [then] I’ll go to Ireland and I’ll take everybody.” And I said, “I have no interest in being the Rose of Tralee.” But I thought to myself – I couldn’t get my grandmother out of my mind. So, I thought, well, OK. So I went into this thing and I became the New York Rose of Tralee. Yeah, in 1970. So he had to keep his end of the bargain, and he had to come, so they all came.
MC: Oh, that was a big deal!
NC: So we had a big reunion in Kerry. Everybody had a ball. They were all in Killelton. The Kerryman came and took pictures of them and they had parties. And was I there? No. I was in whatever hotel in Tralee, with this Rose of Tralee thing. I don’t know, that wasn’t fair. In the end – so I got to see all the pictures. I mean, they came in at night and I saw them while I was there, but I was not at the parties. I was at a totally different thing. And I said, “Somehow this didn’t quite work out the way I envisioned.” But anyway, that was 1970, so that was thirty-six years ago. That was a long time ago. But it was a lot of fun, I mean, that was fun in itself; I just was a little bummed out that I was not at the big reunion and the big party and I wasn’t there when he returned. I was still in New York – I was working right up to the bitter end until I had to go over for the Rose of Tralee thing. So, they were all there having a ball. And you know, I just thought, “No good deed goes unrewarded.”
- Lorraine Saxton [LS]
- Marion R. Casey [MC]
- Noreen M. Culhane, 7 December 2006. Photo by Marion R. Casey.