As we celebrate our 35th year we are indeed thankful to still be publishing despite the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the media business and indeed, almost every other business as well.
We have you, the patient reader, and you the supportive Irish American business world, to thank for keeping our publication marching forward, looking ahead and miraculously intact.
When we launched Irish America in New York in 1985 with luminaries such as Maureen O’Hara, Ed Koch, Pete Hamill and Paul O’Dwyer present, we had a thirst and a passion to tell the story of the Irish from the Famine ships and American Civil War to the heights of Wall Street and the White House.
I firmly believe we have succeeded. Amazingly the two founders, Patricia Harty and myself, are still in situ and Patricia drives the vision with insight and commitment that has played a huge role in our success.
In that respect, it is indeed timely that as we crest our 35th year, the next president of the United States will be an Irish Catholic, one with close ties to this magazine. Joe Biden, as our profile in this issue makes clear wears his Gaelic heritage on his sleeve and is arguably the most pro-Irish president in history. (Let’s face it JFK was an Anglophile!)
We first interviewed him in 1987 when he was a mostly unknown senator from the tiny state of Delaware, one with a strange last name but one that fit when you think he had to “bide” his time spending 40 years in politics before reaching the Oval Office.
But in that interview he immediately flagged his abiding interest in Ireland whether it was his admiration for United Irishman leader Wolfe Tone or recounting fondly his many visits to the Emerald Isle and his string of relatives the length of your arm from Ireland who claimed him. Little wonder his first joking words to Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin when the taoiseach invited him to Ireland was “just try and stop me.”
He honored us with his presence at our 2013 Irish America Hall of Fame as our lead honoree. His words that day were as unselfish as the man himself has been in his determination to help others, especially those grappling with personal tragedy.
In his Hall of Fame speech he talked about the necessity for the Irish to discover the new generations of immigrant Americans striving to grab that foothold the Irish did post-famine. His message to us was inclusion not exclusion. After four years of scandalous and racists vilification of immigrants his words resonate even more loudly today.
He faces mammoth tasks when he assumes office. When we founded Irish America magazine we could hardly have foreseen a plague coming over us, one to rival anything Albert Camus dreamed up in his classic work of the same name.
Camus’ plague is about the powerlessness of human beings in the face of a great wave of infectious disease. Before the invention of the vaccine we were no further along than the precautions taken during the 1918 epidemic.
The difference between Camus and real life however, is hope, that thing with feathers as Emily Dickinson referred to it (she was referring to birds who sing and warble no matter the times, good or bad), has somehow come seeping through the cracks and the prophets of doom are silenced by the success in creating several vaccines.
So we march on with hope in our hearts and a small spring in our steps. We at Irish America magazine have adjusted to the new circumstances which is why we are so delighted to be able to present the 35th anniversary issue, plagues be damned.
We owe it to so many people that we are, in the words of that catchy pop song, “still standing.” I look forward to speaking to you again on our 50th anniversary in 2036.
Fag an Bealach (Clear the Way.)♦