The Irish Voice, a pioneering Irish American newspaper, concludes its print era — shifting its emphasis to the website IrishCentral.com
ON JULY 5, the Irish Voice went to print for the last time. The paper’s founder and publisher Niall O’Dowd said that all news and updates from now on will be on their website IrishCentral.com
Mr O’Dowd spoke about the closure to The Irish Post: “After 36 years, this week the last printed copy of The Irish Voice, the newspaper I founded in November of 1987, went to press. All news and updates going forward will be found on IrishCentral.com, founded by the Irish Voice in 2009.
“Surviving in print is very tough, but the Irish Legal 100, a very successful annual event with its own website, www.irishlegal100.com will for sure carry on every October.”
Niall O’Dowd gave the context of the closure: “From 2002 to 2020 revenue from newspapers has fallen to $22 billion from $46 billion according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
O’Dowd, now 70, originally from Tipperary, has become a high profile figure in Irish American circles, and during the peace process in Northern Ireland became an important player in helping facilitate negotiations.
He explained his aims in originally setting up The Irish Voice in America: “We set out to be simply a local paper that happened to be located in New York and, for many years, Boston. We aimed to cover a vibrant community, one centred around all of the new Irish arrivals to the U.S. in the 1980s and ‘90s – the vast majority undocumented – and we prospered, becoming the first Irish American newspaper to succeed since 1928.
“On the front page of our first issue was a poll of undocumented Irish immigrants voting on whether they would ever return home. The majority said they would not, and the Irish Voice became their voice.
“On the cover of our first issue was a young girl called Kathleen Flannelly, daughter of the still-going strong legendary radio host Adrian Flannelly, holding the Sam Maguire trophy, the cup presented to Ireland’s best football team every year.
“We also had a story about IRA stalwart Seamus Twomey who somehow had got his visa to come to America. Immigration, Northern Ireland and, of course, Irish sport and culture have remained touchstones for the Irish American community after all these years.”
Niall O’Dowd remains philosophical about the closure of the print edition of The Irish Voice: “Johannes Gutenberg built the first printing press in 1440, arguably one of the greatest achievements in the history of our world.
“Now we have the new Gutenberg, the internet, which has also utterly changed the world.
“The massive social media and online publications have simply overwhelmed the printing press.
“We made this decision also because of another reality: the Irish are mostly not coming to America anymore because we are pretty much blocked by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. That reality has been profound.
“There’s no denying, also, that Ireland is a vastly more prosperous country these past two decades, and the need to seek a new life in the U.S. isn’t nearly as urgent. Young Irish adventurers are seeking other options, including moves to places such as Canada and Australia where they can be almost instantly legal, and who can blame them?”
The Irish Voice’s contribution to the battle for Irish legalisation was to become heavily involved in the Morrison and Donnelly visa programmes for Ireland which resulted in more than 60,000 green cards.
These, and other issues affecting the Irish diaspora in America will still be covered on IrishCentral.com
Niall O’Dowd’s own column will also appear on the website.