George Carlin, whose father was born in Donegal in 1888, died of heart failure on June 22. Born and raised in Manhattan, Carlin served in the Air Force before embarking on his comedy career as a radio DJ. In the 1960s he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and was a regular on Johnny Carson and other talk shows. In the 70’s he was arrested for his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine, which led to a Supreme Court decision forbidding obscene language on television. Carlin was also the host of the first Saturday Night Live show in 1975, and over his career released 23 comedy albums. He is survived by his wife Sally Wade, daughter Kelly, son-in-law Bob McCall, brother Patrick, and sister-in-law Marlene Carlin.
Legendary singer Ronnie Drew was laid to rest after succumbing to throat cancer in August. Best known as vocalist with The Dubliners, his passing was mourned by all who love Irish music and culture.
Ronnie Drew was born in Dun Laoghaire and after a stint teaching English in Spain he teamed up with Barney McKenna to play traditional sessions in O’Donoghue’s pub in Dublin. The duo were joined by Luke Kelly, John Sheehan and Ciarán Bourke to make up The Dubliners, a five-piece traditional band that enjoyed huge success at home and abroad. A friend and mentor of many contemporary musicians, Drew’s gravelly voice and unique delivery will live long in memory.
Thomas Flatley, a Massachusetts real estate icon and philanthropist, died on May 17. He arrived in New York from Ireland penniless and went on from his first job as a deli clerk in the Bronx to become a billionaire. Flatley’s death comes after a year of suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Flatley served in the Korean War before moving to Boston and founding the Flatley Company, the largest sole-proprietor business in the U.S. at the time. Flatley raised $2 million to build Boston’s Irish Famine Memorial and to establish the Famine Institute.
Upon Flatley’s death, Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen praised him as “an inspiration to countless Irish emigrants who followed this same route and who demonstrated similar courage and perseverance in the face of adversity and hardship.”
Thomas Flatley is survived by his wife Charlotte, five children and eighteen grandchildren.
Legendary TV sports journalist Jim McKay passed away on June 7 of natural causes at his horse farm in Monkton, Maryland, at age 86.
Born James McManus, Jim McKay worked for the Baltimore Evening Sun before transitioning to television as WMAR-TV’s sports reporter, writer, director, and producer. In 1961, McKay became the host of ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
During his time with ABC, McKay covered 12 Olympics, including the Games in Munich in 1972. McKay won two Emmys for his reporting on the Munich Massacre, and Walter Cronkite sent him a telegram that read: “Dear Jim. Today you honored yourself, your network and your industry.”
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Margaret Dempsey McManus, daughter Mary Guba, son Sean, and three grandchildren.
Irish journalist, author and broadcaster Nuala O’Faolain died on May 9. Daughter of journalist Terry O’Sullivan, O’Faolain worked for many years as a TV producer and a journalist with The Irish Times. In 1996, O’Faolain wrote Are You Somebody?, her memoir which became an international bestseller. She penned three more books: My Dream of You, Almost There and The Story of Chicago May.
In recent years, O’Faolain spent much of her time in New York, and was covering the presidential primaries when she was diagnosed with metatastic cancer. She died at age 68.
Tim Russert, one of America’s leading political journalists, died after suffering a heart attack on June 13. He was 58. Russert began hosting NBC’s most watched Sunday morning interview program Meet the Press in 1991, and was the show’s longest serving moderator. In addition, Russert anchored Tim Russert, a weekly interview program on CNBC. He was a contributing anchor for MSNBC, a regular for NBC’s Nightly News and The Today Show, and served as NBC News’ Washington Bureau Chief.
In 2004, Russert wrote the memoir Big Russ & Me, sharing the story of his WWII veteran father’s life and how it impacted on his own.
He is survived by his wife Maureen Orth, a writer for Vanity Fair magazine, and his son Luke.
Writer James Brady died at age 80 on January 26 after collapsing in his Manhattan home. He was best known for his accounts of the activities of New York’s power elite in his columns, and played a vital role in the creation of the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column, giving it its name as well as acting as its first editor. His publishing credits include a memoir about his experience in the Korean War as well as several other books about the Marines, a publishing memoir and several novels set in the Hamptons. Upon his return from Korea, Brady was hired as a business news reporter for Women’s Wear Daily, which he eventually returned to as its publisher and started its offshoot publication, W. Over his career, Brady served as the editor of New York magazine, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, and worked interviewing Hollywood celebrities for Parade magazine. He is survived by his wife, Florence Kelly, daughters Fiona and Susan, a brother, Tom Brady, and four grandchildren.