Life & Culture
Premium Irish Circle
Working in Ireland
Irish Name Register
Advice & Resources
Music & Songs
History & Archaeology
Heritage & Culture
News & Politics
Enter your e-mail address to receive our weekly e-Newsletter:
Irish Voice News
Street Sign for Durkan Campaign
November 19, 2008
By Cahir O’Doherty
AN Internet petition drive has been launched to have Elk Street in lower Manhattan renamed Frank Durkan Way in honor the legendary Irish attorney Frank Durkan.
In a letter to the city’s Community Board 1, a group of five well-known Irish Americans have stepped forward to commence the renaming process.
The five former members of the so-called “Fort Worth Five,” Ken Tierney, Tom Laffey, Matty Reilly, Danny Crawford and Paschal Morahan, strongly believe that Durkan should be immortalized as a patriot and friend of Ireland on the streets of New York.
In the early seventies Durkan successfully defended the five, who were accused at the time of a gunrunning operation between Mexico and Ireland in 1970. They were eventually freed when Justice William O. Douglas of the U.S. Supreme Court granted them bail in 1972.
In gratitude for Durkan’s work on their behalf and in recognition of the friendships that were struck up between them over the years, the five member team suggested that the lower Manhattan street be renamed in honor of the Irish lawyer, who served the Irish American community for more than four decades in every capacity imaginable through his work at the downtown firm O’Dwyer and Bernstien.
“Frank took the lead part in defending us years ago,” Matty Reilly told the Irish Voice. “From the word go he was a fine gentleman, concerned about your health and welfare and how you were doing. We always thought that we should do something so that his name would be remembered, to remind people what he has done for Irish men and women.”
After several discussions in Rory Dolan’s restaurant in Yonkers, the five settled on the idea of renaming a street in Manhattan’s business district where Durkan had his offices.
“That’s why we have started this campaign to have his street renamed. The street intersects with Paul O’Dwyer Way (another famous Irish American attorney and Frank Durkan’s uncle and mentor),” said Reilly.
Currently the five are in negotiations with contacts in City Hall to bring the idea to the attention of the City Council.
“We hope to get a council hearing or whatever it takes to bring this to conclusion. Hopefully that will happen within the next six months,” said Reilly.
Durkan was born in Co. Mayo on August 13, 1930 and immigrated to New York in 1947. In 1951, Durkan graduated from Columbia University. Following his graduation from New York Law School in 1953, Durkan went to work at his Uncle Paul’s law firm, O’Dwyer and Bernstien, where he handled a variety of civil and criminal matters.
During his 53-year-career, he became a pro bono defender for Irish Nationalists caught up in the struggle in Northern Ireland, and also for immigrants, the labor movement, police officers, firefighters and several notable authors. Durkan died on November 16, 2006.
Added Reilly, “We have a web petition up and running and we would welcome all who are interested to sign it and rename the street. As of today we have 35 signatures, and hopefully by the weekend we’ll have 1,035.”
To sign the petition visit
Share this story:
Add to del.icio.us
Email a friend
© IrishAbroad.com 2009
Terms of Service
Add To My Site
| Bookmark us! (CTRL-D)
Use the code snippet below to link back to this page:
<a href="http://www.irishabroad.com/news/irish-voice/news/Articles/frank-durkan-campaign191108.aspx">Street Sign for Durkan Campaign </a>