Ireland House Oral History Collection

Heritage and ethnic studies are enhanced through the collection of historical data, documentation, and oral history. “Irish” has had multiple meanings and various degrees of relevancy for men and women living in the United States, depending upon whether the individual is an immigrant or removed by several generations from Ireland. Neverthless, who we think or say we are remains hugely important for the understanding of American history. Since 1995, in partnership with the Archives of Irish America, the central research initiative of Glucksman Ireland House, the Center for Irish Studies at New York University, has been an Oral History Project. Its goal is to record the experiences of a wide range of Irish Americans towards an understanding of the durability and elasticity of ethnic identity over time.

The principal interviewers are Dr. Linda Dowling Almeida, Dr. Marion R. Casey, and Dr. Miriam A. Nyhan. Special grant funding in 2008–2009 was generously provided by the Leon Lowenstein Foundation. An undergraduate course designed to teach oral history interviewing and documentation skills is offered by Glucksman Ireland House in the Fall semester; see
http://irelandhouse.fas.nyu.edu/page/oralhistoryproject

The interviews that form this collection are usually full life histories which are recorded using digital technology. These audio files are then archived and opened to researchers by appointment through NYU’s Division of Libraries. For further information, please contact irishamerica.archives@nyu.edu

To hear excerpts from the Ireland House Oral History Collection, click on any of the links below.

Interviews

B · C · D · F · G · H · J · K · L · M · O · Q · R · S

  1. B

    • Daniel Barry

      Daniel Barry

      (b. Queens, NY, 1958), an American journalist, currently writing for The New York Times. He is the eldest of four children to Eugene and Nora Barry. His mother emigrated from Ireland in the early 1950s.

    • Hilary Beirne

      Hilary Beirne

      (b. Boyle, Co. Roscommon, 1961), a science teacher who emigrated to New York in 1988. He is a longtime member of the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and the nephew of the late Frank Beirne.

    • Sean Benson

      (b. 1960), AXA technical specialist, one of the organizers of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement, former Executive Director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and a member of its board.

    • Jack Boucher

      Jack Boucher

      (b. 1938), a union bartender and Vietnam veteran, is the son of immigrants from Co. Leitrim and Co. Sligo. Raised in New York’s Washington Heights, he was a member of the youth gang the Jesters.

    • Jim Boylan

      Jim Boylan

      (b. 1941), the son of 1920s immigrants from Co. Monaghan, grew up in Harlem, New York and spent his career working in telecommunications.

    • Sergeant Edward Burns

      (b. 1937), Sgt. Burns is a former New York City police officer with strong New York City roots and Irish ancestry. He is the father of Ed Burns, Jr., director of The Brothers McMullen.

    • Edward Burns

      (b. 1968), is a writer, director, and actor who shot to fame in 1995 when his film, The Brothers McMullen, which he wrote, directed, and starred in, about three Irish American brothers coming of age on Long Island, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

    • Gabriel James Byrne

      Gabriel James Byrne

      (b. 1950, Dublin, Ireland)

  2. C

    • Bridget Cagney

      (b. 1937), retired program analyst for the Institute of International Education and member of “Point Thank You,” a post-9/11 support group in New York City.

    • Fr. Colm Campbell

      (b. 1935), Executive Director of the New York Irish Center in Long Island City, former Director of the Irish Apostolate USA, and former Director of Youth Services for the Diocese of Down and Connor in Northern Ireland.

    • Martina Carroll

      Martina Carroll

      is a native of Co. Mayo who emigrated to New York in the late 1940s. She married Bernard Carroll, who was the sexton of St. Patrick’s Cathedral for fifty-six years, and raised three children (including Patrick Carroll and Mary Carroll French) in Stuyvesant Town on the east side of Manhattan.

    • Patrick Carroll

      Patrick Carroll

      (b. 1965) is a Special Agent for the US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. He is the son of Martina Carroll.

    • Sister Noreen Casey

      Sr. Noreen Casey

      (b. Knocknagree, Co. Cork, 1920), a Missionary Franciscan Sister, spent her career in education and retired as a school principal in Savannah, Georgia.

    • Daniel Cassidy

      Daniel Cassidy

      (b. 1943, d. 2008), a musician, author, labor activist, and teacher, was the founder and co-director of the Irish Studies Program at the New College of California in San Francisco, CA. His book How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads won the American Book Award in 2007.

    • Cummin Clancy

      (b. Oughterard, Co. Galway, 1922) is an insurance broker with the firm of Clancy and Clancy Brokerage Ltd. in Garden City, New York. A former Olympic athlete (1948 Games in London), he is the founder of the Long Island Chapter of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

    • Liam Clancy

      Liam Clancy

      (b. Carrick-On-Suir, Co. Tipperary, 1935, d. Cork, Co. Cork, 2009), musician, vocalist, and youngest member of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, a folk supergroup which revolutionized Irish traditional music in the United States. He published his memoir The Mountain of the Women in 2001.

    • Marie Connolly

      Marie Connolly

      (b. New York, 1935), raised in Co. Longford from the age of two, she returned to Astoria, NY as a teenager in 1949. She later worked in admissions for the Berkeley School and the Wood School in Manhattan before raising three children on Long Island.

    • Terri Connolly Cook

      (b. 1942), retired fashion industry executive, grew up in the Mott Haven and Bedford Park sections of the Bronx, New York. The daughter of 1920s immigrants, she curated the 2008 photo exhibition “The Monaghan Society in New York” at the Monaghan County Museum in Ireland.

    • Frank Costello

      Frank Costello

      (b. 1955) is Director of Costello Associates in Belfast, a firm that promotes community development investment in Ireland and the U.S. Born in Newark, NJ, he attended boarding school at St. Mary’s College, Galway while a teenager, later earning a Ph.D. from Boston College in 1992. He is the author of The Irish Revolution and its Aftermath 1916–1923: Years of Revolt (2002).

    • Paul Crotty

      Paul Crotty

      (b. 1941), US District Court Justice for the Southern District of New York, was raised in Buffalo, NY. He is the grandson of immigrants from Co. Clare and a former partner in the law firm of Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine.

    • Noreen Culhane

      Noreen M. Culhane

      (born 1950), an Executive Vice President at the New York Stock Exchange and the 1970 New York Rose of Tralee

    • Fr. Daniel Cullen

      (b. Larne, Co. Antrim, 1920) served in the Society of African Missions (SMA) for more than sixty years. He worked in Liberia and then, for nineteen years, as a fundraiser for the SMA in the United States.

    • Sean Curran

      Sean Curran

      (b. 1961), a modern dancer and choreographer, is the son of 1950s immigrants. A former Irish step dancer and cast member of Stomp!, he founded the Sean Curran Company in New York in 1997.

  3. D

    • Kathleen Walsh D'Arcy

      Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy

      (b. 1948), a social worker, writer, and organizer of the St. Pat’s for All Parade in Queens (est. 2005), is the daughter of 1920s immigrants from Co. Offaly and Co. Tipperary. She co-edited two fiction collections by Irish women writers, Territories of the Voice (1990) and A Green and Mortal Sound (2001).

    • Tom Dennehy

      Tom Dennehy

      (b. Co. Cork, 1938), a bus driver, emigrated with his family to New Jersey in 1982. They had previously lived in England and Ireland.

    • Joan Dolan

      Joan Dolan

      (b. 1937), former McNiff dancer, founding member of the Bedford (NY) Ceili group, and wife of Irish traditional pianist Felix Dolan.

    • Vincent Dunn

      Vincent Dunn

      (b. 1935), a forty-two year veteran of the New York Fire Department who writes and lectures nationally on fire and firefighter safety.

  4. F

    • John Fallon

      John J. Fallon

      (b. 1919), retired principal of Bay Ridge High School and former president of the American Irish Teachers Association.

    • Charles Fanning

      Charles Fanning

      (b. 1942), Emeritus Professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale where he built a respected Irish Studies program, is the author of several works including The Irish Voice in America: Irish-American Fiction from the 1760s to the 1980s (1990) and Finley Peter Dunne and Mr. Dooley: The Chicago Years (2008). For 21 years, he taught at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts and spent two years as assistant to the chancellor of the University of Missouri, St. Louis. A descendant of Famine immigrants from Co. Monaghan, his maternal grandmother was from Co. Cork.

    • Mike Farragher

      (b. Jersey City, NJ, 1966)

    • John Feighery

      John Feighery

      (b. 1933), a printer, is the son of 1920s immigrants from Co. Offaly and Co. Tipperary. He is a member of the County Offaly Association as well as a volunteer coach and athletic director at his Bronx alma mater, Sacred Heart School, in Highbridge, NY.

    • James Flanagan

      James K. Flanagan

      (b. 1940), also known as Séamas Ó Flannagáin, is a poet and storyteller with roots in Co. Clare and Co. Roscommon. A native of Jersey City, NJ with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Notre Dame, he taught in Asbury Park and specialized in African-American literature.

    • Adrian Flannelly

      Adrian Flannelly

      (b. Co. Mayo, 1942), a broadcast journalist, community leader and promoter, is a founding Board Member of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, The Irish Repertory Theatre, and Ireland Chamber of Commerce USA (ICCUSA), as well as co-founder of Project Irish Outreach, Catholic Charities (Archdiocese of New York). He emigrated to New York in 1959 and has been broadcasting on local radio since the 1970s.

    • Thomas Fleming

      Thomas J. Fleming

      (b. 1927), historian and novelist whose many published works have won main selections for the Book-of-the-Month Club in both fiction and nonfiction, is third generation Irish American. His 1961 novel All Good Men and his 2005 memoir Mysteries of My Father recall his childhood in Jersey City, NJ and the politics of the Frank Hague machine.

    • Mary Carroll French

      Mary Carroll French

      (b. 1963), a lawyer, is a second generation Irish American and life-long resident of Stuyvesant Town on Manhattan’s east side. Her mother is Martina Carroll and her brother is Patrick Carroll.

  5. G

    • Ira Goldman

      Ira Goldman

      (b. 1938), a government administrator, has been active in various Irish American organizations. Although his stock is primarily Jewish, he also identifies himself as Irish and believes that he holds an ancestral link to Famine immigrants from Co. Donegal.

    • Sean Gormley

      (b. Dublin, 1964), an actor, film-maker and musician who wrote and directed the film Blackout (2006). A member of the Irish band, The Commitments, he emigrated to the U.S. with his American-born wife in 1997.

    • Fr. John Grange

      Fr. John Grange

      (b. 1940) has served the Archdiocese of New York as priest and pastor since 1966. The grandson of immigrants, he was raised South Bronx. His ministry has included assisting immigrants, particularly in the Puerto Rican community.

    • John Green

      John Green

      (b. Cootehill, Co. Cavan, 1945), a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice and a Vietnam veteran, he emigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1957.

    • Claire Grimes

      Claire Grimes

      (b. 1936), publisher of the Irish Echo newspaper, was raised in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, NY. With roots in Co. Westmeath and Co. Sligo, she married John Grimes, whom she succeeded as publisher after his premature death in 1987. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Famine, she commissioned Patrick Cassidy’s Famine Remembrance symphony and premiered it in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.

  6. H

    • Pete Hamill

      Pete Hamill

      (b. 1935), a novelist, essayist, journalist, and Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. Raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, the son of immigrants from Belfast, he was editor-in-chief of both the New York Post and the New York Daily News, and a columnist for both as well as for New York Newsday, the Village Voice, New York magazine and Esquire. In 1994 his memoir, A Drinking Life, was on the same New York Times best-seller list for 13 weeks.

    • Tom Hanley

      Tom Hanley

      (b. 1939), was born in Jersey City and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey where he attended Catholic schools until the seventh grade. He grew up in poverty and often resorted to shoplifting food and clothes as an adolescent to survive. When he was only 14 years old, he was given a role in the movie On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando and directed by Elia Kazan.

    • Catriona Hayes

      Catriona Hayes

      (b. Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry, 1974), a homemaker and a student nurse, emigrated to New York in 2000 after spending a period studying and working in London. She is married to Eddie Hayes.

    • Eddie Hayes

      Eddie Hayes

      (b. Co. Limerick, 1966), a narcotics detective with the New York Police Department, emigrated in 1989. After service with the U.S. Navy, he joined the NYPD in 1996. He is married to Catriona Hayes.

    • Thomas Hayes

      (b. Co. Limerick, 1925, d. San Francisco, 2010), emigrated to California in 1949 and in 1958 started his own business, Tom Hayes Plastering. He was a founding member of the All Ireland Social Club and the United Irish Cultural Club, as well as a longtime member of the San Francisco Gaelic Athletic Association. He was appointed a Director of the Bay Area Rapid Transit by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto in 1974. He is the father of the San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

    • Pat Hurley, 31 October 2007. Photo by Linda Dowling Almeida.

      Patrick Hurley

      (b. Wellington, New Zeland, 1962), a member of the New Irish generation who found himself in New York City in the 1980s as an “illegal” alien with few options to succeed in America without proper documentation. Along with a core group of partners, he helped to found the Irish Immigration Reform Movement in 1987 and lobbied successfully to change immigration law in the US with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990 HR-4300 which granted thousands of non-preference visas to immigrants considered unfairly disadvantaged by previous legislation, many of whom were Irish.

  7. J

    • Lisa Johnston

      Lisa Johnston

      (b. 1966), an immigration lawyer in private practice in Yonkers, NY, is the great-granddaughter of immigrants from Co. Donegal. She was an instrumental member of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement and is a board member of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.

  8. K

    • Don Kelly

      Donald Kelly

      (b. 1935), retired Senior Vice President of Emigrant Savings Bank and President of the Executive Committee of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.

    • Patrick Kelly

      Patrick J. Kelly

      (b. 1941), a neurosurgeon and Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. Third generation Irish raised in Lackawanna, New York, he pioneered Computer-Assisted Stereotactic Neurosurgery and founded the New York-based charity the Brain Tumor Foundation.

    • Ray Kelly

      Ray Kelly

      Ray Kelly (b. 1941) is Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (1992-1994; 2001-present). He is a Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Colonel, with advanced degrees from St. John's University, New York University and Harvard. As a second-generation Irish American with ties to Counties Cavan, Roscommon, and Longford, Kelly served as Grand Marshal of the 2010 New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade.

    • Sr. Theresa Kelly, R.S.M.

      (b. 1934), a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Mid-Atlantic Community who, after a long teaching career, retired as Principal of Our Lady of Refuge in East Flatbush, Brooklyn (NY).

    • Thomas Kelly

      (b. 1961), author of several books including Payback, The Rackets, and Empire Rising. Drawing on his working class background in New York City and New Jersey he writes about the Irish experience in the construction industry. Kelly put himself through school working as a sandhog digging Water Tunnel Number Three in New York, graduated from Fordham, earned a Masters degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and served as advance director for New York City Mayor David Dinkin’s reelection campaign in 1993 before retiring to write full time.

    • Peter T. King

      Peter T. King

      (b. 1944), Republican Congressman from Long Island and one of the architects of the Northern Ireland peace process in the 1990s.

    • Larry Kirwan

      (b. 1954, Ireland)

  9. L

    • Charles Laverty

      Charles A. Laverty

      (b. Moy, Co. Tyrone, 1930), a journalist and retired reserve member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, he emigrated to New York in 1948. Active in Irish Republican circles thereafter, he served as President of the New York Irish History Roundtable from 2003–2007.

    • Bobby Lavery

      (b. Belfast, Co. Antrim, 1948), a former political prisoner at Long Kesh and elected Sinn Fein representative for North Belfast, he emigrated with his American-born wife to San Francisco, CA in 2000. Before its demise, he worked in Development for the New College of California.

    • Thomas Lynch

      Thomas Lynch

      (b. 1948)

  10. M

    • Anne Maguire

      Anne Maguire

      (b. Dublin, Co. Dublin, 1962), an activist for gay/lesbian rights, emigrated to New York in 1987. She was a founder of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization and the New York Lesbian Avengers. Her memoir, Rock the Sham! The Irish Lesbian & Gay Organization’s Battle to March in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was published in 2006.

    • Pat Mahon

      Pat Mahon

      (b. 1958), a Bronx-born financial industry executive who lives in London. In 1973 he became the first American to win the All-Ireland button accordian championship. He continues to play music even as he travels the world for his career, including several years performing with an Irish band he formed while living in Tokyo.

    • Brian McAllister

      Brian A. McAllister

      (b. 1932), president of McAllister Towing & Transport, a tugboat firm operating on the Eastern seaboard but principally in New York harbor.

    • Sister Rita McCarthy

      Sr. Rita McCarthy

      (b. Lombardstown, Co. Cork, 1915), a Missionary Franciscan Sister, began her career in education at Our Lady of Peace, Brooklyn, in 1934. She retired as a school principal.

    • Alice McDermott

      Alice McDermott

      (b. 1953, Brooklyn, New York)

    • Stephen McFadden

      Stephen McFadden

      (b. 1942), co-owner of Ryan McFadden’s, a New York bar, is the son of emigrants from Co. Armagh and Co. Mayo immigrants.

    • Susan McKeown

      Susan McKeown

      (b. Terenure, Co. Dublin, 1967), a folk musician who has recorded over ten albums of traditional Irish, English, Scottish, and Jewish music. She emigrated to New York in 1990 and settled in Manhattan’s East Village. She has collaborated on major projects with Johnny Cunningham, Mabou Mines, and The Klezmatics, among others.

    • Jim McManus

      (b. 1934), grandnephew of the late Thomas McManus (“The McManus”), has overseen the McManus Midtown Democratic Association in Manhattan, New York since 1963. He has been a funeral director and an elected member of the New York State Assembly.

    • Mary McTaggart McMullan

      Mary McTaggart McMullan

      (b. Co. Derry, 1931), an active member of the County Derry Society of New York, emigrated in 1958 to join her soon-to-be-husband, John, who had immigrated five years earlier. Most of her career was spent working in the auto industry in sales and bookkeeping.

    • Sean Minihane

      Sean Minihane

      (b. Co. Cork, ), an Irish-born member of the New Irish generation of the 1980s and one of the founders of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement. Immigrating to New York in 1986, he quickly recognized the plight of his undocumented peers and helped lead the IIRM to lobby for and achieve legislative reform with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990 HR-4300. The law granted thousands of non-preference visas to immigrants considered disadvantaged by previous legislation, many of whom were Irish.

    • Frank Miskell

      Frank Miskell

      (b. 1954), a longshoreman in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey. The descendant of Famine immigrants, his family has worked the port of New York for generations.

    • Jim Mulvihill

      Jim Mulvihill

      (b. 1931) retired as Principal Investigator, Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York in 1995. The son of emigrants from Co. Kerry immigrants, he was also Master Paymaster of the Old Guard of the City of New York.

    • Sister Bernice Murphy

      Sr. Bernice Murphy

      (b. Castleisland, Co. Kerry, 1917), a Missionary Franciscan Sister, taught in Boston, Minnesota and Brooklyn after emigrating to the United States during World War II.

    • Jim Murphy

      Jim Murphy

      (b. 1960), senior executive producer of Good Morning America, ABC’s morning news show, is the son of immigrants and the brother of television news reporter, Mary Murphy.

    • Mary Murphy

      Mary Murphy

      (b. 1959), Emmy-award winning television reporter currently the weekend anchor of the CW11 News at Ten (New York) and correspondent for the “Fact Finders”, a crime investigative team consisting of herself and fellow reporter Peter Thorne on the CW-11, is the daughter of immigrants and the brother of Jim Murphy, senior executive producer of Good Morning America.

    • Sister Regina Murphy, S.C.

      Sr. Regina Murphy, S.C.

      (b. 1939), the property manager for the Sisters of Charity of New York and an advocate for corporate responsibility, fought hard to establish the McBride Principles.

  11. O

    • Mae O'Driscoll

      Mae O’Driscoll

      (b. 1939), retired Assistant Vice President of the facilities management department for J.P. Morgan Chase, one of the organizers of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement, and a Trustee and Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.

  12. Q

    • Marian Quinn

      Marian Quinn

      (b. 1964, Chicago, Illinois)

    • Peter Quinn

      Peter Quinn

      (b. 1947), a writer and self proclaimed BIC – Bronx Irish Catholic – whose roots date back to the famine generation. Peter began his career as a speech writer for New York State Governors Mario Cuomo and Hugh Carey, both Democrats, before moving on to become editorial director for Time, Inc. His first novel, The Banished Children of Eve, is set during the Draft Riots of 1863. Retired from the corporate world, Peter’s latest novel is The Man Who Never Returned about the infamous disappearance of New York State Supreme Court Judge Force Crater in the 1930s.

  13. R

    • James Rooney

      James E. Rooney

      (b. 1967), director of FirstLink at the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, Katz Graduate School of Business, and grandson of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney.

    • Father Gerald Ryan

      Fr. Gerald J. Ryan

      (b. 1920), pastor of St. Luke’s R.C. Church in the South Bronx and the longest serving pastor in the Archdiocese of New York.

  14. S

    • Eithne Golden Sax

      Eithne Golden Sax

      (b. 1919), retired multilingual translator for the United Nations, daughter of Irish nationalist organizer Peter Golden, and pupil of Irish republican author Ernie O’Malley.

    • Robert Scally

      Robert J. Scally

      (b. 1937), retired Professor of History, New York University and inaugural Director, Glucksman Ireland House, New York University.

    • John Sexton

      John E. Sexton

      (b. 1942), President of New York University and former Dean of its School of Law.

    • John Patrick Shanley

      John Patrick Shanley

      (b. 1950), writer and director best known for the screenplay for Moonstruck (1988), winner of a Best Screenplay Oscar, and Doubt: A Parable (2004), which won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for Best Play. He directed his own adaptation of the play on film, which garnered five Oscar nominations, including one for Best Adapted Screenplay.

    • Tommy Smyth

      Tommy Smyth

      (b. 1945), is an internationally recognized soccer analyst and sports broadcaster for ESPN and was the 2008 Grand Marshall of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

    • Treasa Goodwin Smyth

      Treasa Goodwin Smyth

      (b. 1960), a radio host of Ireland Calls on WVOX 1460 AM and wife of ESPN soccer analyst Tommy Smyth. An immigrant from County Cork who arrived in the United States in the 1980s, she raised her children as a single mom and put herself through nursing school by cleaning houses. Treasa was a member of Ireland’s national camogie team and continued to play the sport at Gaelic Park in the first years after she arrived New York.