“Ireland wasn’t as wealthy as it is today. But there was always a culture of giving back, and that’s something that was ingrained in me from the time I was a kid.” – Ronan Ryan
Happy Christmas to all our readers receiving this issue in the mail, it should be arriving in your mailboxes just in time.
And congratulations to all our Wall Street 50 honorees who we will be celebrating at our gala dinner on December 12. Some things have changed in the 20+ years since we began to explore the relationship between the steady ascent of the Irish in the financial sector. Our first list, published in 1998, had just one Irishborn person but today a whopping 47 percent of our 50 were born in Ireland.
What hasn’t changed over the years is the culture of giving that all our honorees exhibit.
You do us proud, especially at this time of year – and given the current state of the world – such generosity of spirit is especially needed. In our cover story, Ronan Ryan talks to Tom Deignan about his rise on Wall Street and how his experience getting there presented him with his next rewarding challenge – taking on the role of Chairman of GOAL, the Irish relief organization. No small job given that Ireland is the most generous country in the world per capita in terms of charitable giving.
It could be argued that the enhanced empathy of the Irish is part of their DNA, having grown up with such a troubled history, aspects of which we explore in this issue.
Kelly Candaele takes us back to the hungry years in his piece on the Lost Valley of Uggol, a remote landscape in the west of Ireland. Aidan Ryan climbs Knocknarae in Sligo and also stumbles into the past.
Emily Moriarty writes about bones found in Canada that belonged to Irish immigrants who had fled starvation only to die soon after reaching the port of Quebec.
It’s true that Irish immigrants of that era faced enormous challenges but despite the odds, they persevered, and their descendants went on to make incalculable contributions in politics, industry, organized labor, education, and as our honorees demonstrate, in the world of finance.
Other stories in this issue reflect the success we’ve enjoyed in literature and the arts. Rosemary Rogers writes about the famous Hollywood star of the 1940s [Eileen Evelyn] Greer Garson and her pleasure and pride in her Irish roots. Something we can all take pleasure and pride in – especially this time of year.
And illustrating the incredible drive immigrants put into raising their children up to a better life than the one they left behind, we bring you a Christmas story that takes place in the 1940s.
Jim Murphy writes that his parents, especially at Christmas, filled their Brooklyn apartment with laughter and music. They had both immigrated in the 1920s – his mom at 16 and his dad at 21 – and worked hard to keep their family of five children afloat and make sure they had access to education. Jim went on to be a professor of English and founding director of the Villanova Center of Irish Studies.
That’s what the American dream looks like.
agus Nollag Shona daoibh