Honor Their Heroes
INTERESTING to note the guests at the Cumann Na Saoirse Irish Freedom
Committee dinner on Friday, January 27 at the Astoria Manor in Queens.
This dinner is the closest equivalent to the dissident Republican Oscars.
And the honorees are:
Mary Holt Moore, the second female grand marshal of the New York City
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, who will receive the Pearl Flannery award,
named after the wife of the late founder of Cumann Na Saoirse Michael
Flannery, who was also founder of Irish Northern Aid, started Cumann Na
Saoirse because of his opposition to the peace process. The blurb notes
that Mary’s grand uncle, John Kevin O’Reilly wrote, “Wrap
the Green Flag Around Me Boys” and fought in the GPO in 1916.
Our next honoree does not appear to have such a close Irish connection.
Karen Ingentron Lewis is being honored apparently because she is the wife
of Al “Grandpa” Lewis from The Munsters television show, who
was himself honored a few years ago.
Karen’s work on Irish issues is a trifle light, it seems, from her
resume, but hey, the wife of one of the Munsters is bound to be a celebrity,
right? “Page Six,” anyone?
The third honoree is a bit surprising. Larry Kirwan of Black 47 will receive
the Michael Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award. Kirwan is also an accomplished
playwright and writer, but quite how he got mixed up with Cumann Na Saoirse
is not clear from his biography.
All in all a great night, full of the kind of people who will set Ireland
free from the center to the sea any day now. No ifs, ands or buts.
Kerry to Derry
leader John Hume will host the former Democratic presidential candidate
Senator John Kerry in Co. Derry this Saturday.
Hume is also professor in the Tip O’Neill chair of peace studies
at the University of Ulster at Magee, and he invited Kerry to deliver
the first of this year’s O’Neill lectures.
Hume still has unrivaled contacts in the U.S., and he will always be remembered
here as the man who first began to create links between Washington and
politicians back home.
Through the years Hume has been responsible for bringing some of the biggest
names in world politics to Derry. Previously, he has welcomed former President
Bill Clinton, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern, former European
Commission President Romano Prodi, Senator Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary-General
In a statement Hume said, “I am delighted to welcome Senator John
Kerry to Derry. The Tip O’Neill Lecture is always a major event
for Northern Ireland and I have no doubt that John Kerry will be well
It will certainly do Kerry no harm to visit Ireland. He still has ambitions
to run again for the White House, so touching base with the Irish American
constituency will do him no harm at all.
Will Adams Get Fundraising?
THE big question already
being asked is whether Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams will get his fundraising
visa stamped to come to the U.S. around St. Patrick’s Day, given
the fact that he was refused fundraising rights during his proposed visit
Sinn Fein have traditionally used St. Patrick’s Day as a major occasion
for the party to get out and about in America, and fundraising has been
a major aspect of the trips. Indeed, in the past Sinn Fein have had as
many as six or seven reps from coast to coast during the period.
It is important to note that there is no possibility of Sinn Fein members
being refused visas. Rather it is the fundraising issue that is at stake.
Given that the last ban hardly helped matters, it seems likely that
this time the powers that be in the Bush administration will change their
minds and allow it this time.
Bruton, Adams, May Meet
GERRY Adams is
set to address St. John’s University students on March 14 in New
York, and there is a nice symmetry to that given the incredible amounts
of Irish Americans who have graduated from there over the years, including
civil rights legend and Mayo-born Paul O’Dwyer, one of Adams’
Adams is also expected at the Washington dinner of the American Ireland
Fund on March 16. Doubtless he may run into former Taoiseach John Bruton,
now EU ambassador to the U.S.
Bruton earned fame or infamy, depending on your point of view, with an
elongated and very harsh attack on Adams from the podium at this dinner
when he was taoiseach a few years back.
There will also be a morning reception on St. Patrick’s Day for
the Northern Irish and Irish party leaders, plus a meeting between Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern and President Bush. ‘All in all it promises to be an
interesting St. Patrick’s season, as new efforts to get the peace
process underway will take place.
A Great Irishman Passes
THIS column would be remiss if it did not note the passing of Kevin O’Sullivan,
a great Irish American who died on January 9 at Mount Sinai hospital in
Manhattan. Kevin, the son of Kerry parents, resided in Long Island, and
huge crowds turned up for his wake and funeral.
Kevin was always a committed supporter of Irish causes, but his real legacy
is in the O’Sullivan Children Foundation. If you ever turn on PBS
you will see so many programs, especially those for kids, funded by the
Kevin’s extraordinary philanthropy had a sad origin. Three of his
own four children, Kevin, Colleen and Terence, predeceased him at a young
Kevin was a huge hit in the media world. He rose from modest circumstances
to become president of ABC Films and ABC International Television. In
1973 he acquired the rights of ABC films (including the all time hit Dallas)
to create a worldwide television distribution company.
Kevin was a committed Irish American who was always available to help
out on Irish issues. We have a particularly strong memory of sitting with
him at the White House some years back when Bill Clinton was hosting an
event for the Irish.
Kevin, like all of us, was bursting with pride that at last the Irish
had been made welcome in the most important venue of all. May he rest