Past Events

Below are Past Events of the
New York Irish History Roundtable.

The Unstoppable Irish

The Unstoppable Irish

On Saturday, Nov. 9, author and singer Dan Milner will join us for an entertaining and unique presentation focusing on the integration of Irish people into the mainstream of New York City life during the hundred years following 1783—and on how the songs and music of Irish New Yorkers reveal that historical progress. Joining this program as Discussant will be Robert W. Snyder, a specialist in New York history and professor of American Studies at Rutgers University.

The Irish have been in New York City since the 17th century, but their progress to full participation in the city would not be achieved until nearly two centuries later. What was this progress like? How can we trace it? Fortunately we have answers from scholar and singer, Dan Milner. At this unique Roundtable program, Dan Milner will discuss the changing fortunes of New York’s Irish Catholics, starting with the evacuation of British military forces in late 1783 and concluding one hundred years later with the initial term of the city’s first Catholic mayor, William R. Grace. During that century, Irish New Yorkers rose in uneven progression from being dismissed and feared foreigners to finally taking their part as constituents in the city’s life.

Dan will present evidence that the Catholic Irish of New York came into equal membership within the city’s populace rather than being assimilated into the dominant culture. He will demonstrate that the same Hibernian psyche that had rejected abandonment of Gaelic Catholic life in Ireland continued in New York, resulting in a community that remained largely intact culturally. A key aspect of this entertaining and lively talk will be use of song, in combination with period news reports and existing scholarship, to develop a fuller picture of the Catholic Irish struggle in New York. Products of a highly verbal and passionately musical people, such Irish songs provide special insights into the popularly held attitudes and beliefs of the integration epoch.

Save the Date
The Unstoppable Irish
Saturday, Nov.9, 2019 at 2 p.m.
McCloskey Meeting Room
Parish House
Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
263 Mulberry Street, Manhattan
Reception to follow
Suggested donation $5

Irish Women Of Action

Protestors Tearing British Flag

On Saturday, April 13, the New York Irish History Roundtable will present a unique program on “Irish Women of Action,” associated with New York, who devoted much of their lives to major social changes like Irish independence, relief for the impoverished, and achievement of women’s rights. This special panel brings together experts on the topic, and will begin at 2 p.m. in the McCloskey meeting room in the parish house of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral at 263 Mulberry Street in Manhattan. Members are strongly urged to arrive early because space is limited.

For years Irish New Yorkers supported struggles in Ireland for reform and independence. Historians in the past have described actions taken by the New York Irish, focusing on contributions by men and, to a lesser extent, by women. But recent research into the activities of Irish women in New York has revealed new information about their activities on behalf of change in Ireland…and within the United States. This Roundtable program focuses on four of these Irish Women of Action—Gertrude Kelly, Marguerite Moore, Mary Jane Irwin, and Alice Comiskey.

Dr. Gertrude Kelly

Dr. Gertrude Kelly was born in Carrick-on-Suir on the Tipperary/Waterford border in 1862. She studied medicine in New York City, graduating in 1884 and opening her medical practice in Manhattan. For most of her life, she remained actively involved in Irish efforts for independence by publishing articles, speaking on issues, and organizing demonstrations and work actions. And she fought for causes supporting assistance to poor women and urban families. She played vital roles in the Ladies’ Land League. In 1914, she founded the American chapter of Cumann na mBan in New York City’s McAlpin Hotel.

Presenter: Miriam Nyhan Grey. Miriam Nyhan Grey is Director of Graduate Studies for the MA in Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House. She is the editor of Ireland’s Allies: America & the 1916 Easter Uprising, and host of “This Irish American Life” on WNYE 91.5FM, Saturdays 9 a.m.. Her article on Dr. Gertrude Kelly’s founding of the American chapter of Cumann na mBan was published in 2016.

Mary Jane Irwin

Mary Jane Irwin O’Donovan Rossa was born in Co. Cork in 1845. As a young woman, she joined the Young Ireland Movement and married rebel O’Donovan Rossa in 1864. She wrote for the Fenian newspaper, The Irish People, and collected funds supporting families of incarcerated Fenians. After emigrating to America, she continued writing and speaking on issues of Irish independence. She was a vital part of Clan na Gael and wrote for the Gaelic American. Her final poem was “In Memory of Padraig Pearse.”

Presenter: Williams Rossa Cole. Williams Rossa Cole has been producing and directing documentaries for over 15 years. Early on, he began working on the life of his great-grandfather, the Irish patriot Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. The result was his documentary Rebel Rossa, which premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh. Williams Cole is now engaged in a new documentary, this one about his great-grandmother, Mary Jane Irwin, wife of O’Donovan Rossa.

Marguerite Moore

Marguerite Moore was born in Co. Waterford in 1849. At an early age she became a supporter of the Land League and public speaker on behalf of the needs of Irish tenant farmers and assistance for families victimized by eviction. Because of her views and membership in the Ladies Land League, she was imprisoned in Tullamore Jail. Following immigration to America, she campaigned on behalf of Irish nationalism and took up causes associated with women’s rights and the wages and conditions of labor in the United States. Her actions on behalf of Irish independence continued into the 1920s.

Presenter: Elizabeth Lee Hodges. Elizabeth Hodges is a Master’s student in the Irish Studies Department at New York University. She obtained her BA in History from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is currently an educator at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Elizabeth’s area of study focuses on transnational Irish women’s history, immigrant history in the Lower East Side, as well as women’s activist history.

Alice Comiskey

Alice Carragher Comiskey was born in 1887 in Co. Monaghan, the eleventh of twelve children. She arrived in New York with her widowed mother in 1898. She became active in Irish associations, with her name frequently appearing in the city’s Irish newspapers. She and her sister, Lily, became founding members of the New York chapter of Cumann na mBan, for which she served as treasurer. In 1920 she and her sister agreed to a request to take the aging John Devoy into their home, where he lived until his death in 1928. She remained active on behalf of Ireland for the rest of her life, in organizing the Irish Race Convention in 1947 and running the American League for an Undivided Ireland in the 1950s.

Presenter & Panel Chairperson: Maureen O. Murphy. Maureen Murphy is Professor Emerita at Hofstra University where she has been Professor of Curriculum and Teaching, Director of the Secondary English programs and co-Director of the undergraduate Irish Studies minor. She was the Director of the Great Irish Famine Curriculum Project, is a past president of the American Conference for Irish Studies, and a past chair of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures. She has written more than 100 articles and book chapters and delivered more than 300 lectures in eighteen countries.

Save The Date:
Irish Women Of Action
April 13, 2019, 2–4 p.m.
McCloskey Meeting Room, Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
263 Mulberry Street, Manhattan
Reception to follow
Suggested donation: $5

Members are strongly urged to arrive early. Space is limited.

A Special Visit To Mc Sorley’s

The Historic McSorley's Pub

On Saturday October 27th at 10 a.m. New York historian, author and Educator, Geoffrey Cobb will talk about the long and colorful history of this New York landmark and institution. Mr. Cobb recently wrote about the history of this special “Ale House” in Canada’s History. His article discussed the McSorley family history, the pub’s admission of women in 1970, and the many historical figures who have imbibed over the generations in this unique place. He will bring this rich expertise to an intriguing presentation right in the place itself, at McSorley’s Old Ale House, near Third Avenue at 15 East Seventh Street in the East Village. NOTE: This is an exclusive visit for Roundtable members. Proceedings start at 10 A.M.

Rebel Rossa

On Saturday, Dec.1 at 2 p.m., film maker Williams Cole, great-grandson of O’Donovan Rossa, will present a revealing program and film-showing on the life and times of the 19th-century Irish patriot, and New Yorker. Williams Cole, accomplished documentary producer and director, will introduce and discuss his documentary, Rebel Rossa. A reception will follow. Join us… Continue Reading

Water And Ice: The Irish Victims

On Saturday, March 3 at 2 p.m., historian Art Mattson will tell the story of terrible shipwrecks in the 1830s that resulted in the deaths of over 200 immigrants just outside the port of New York. Most victims were Irish, many of them women and children drawn to the freedoms and expanding opportunities in America. They… Continue Reading

A Girl From Queens

On Saturday, May 12 at 2 p.m., author Eileen Markey will discuss the life—and death—of Sister Maura Clarke, M.M., whose brutal assault and murder at the hands of Salvadorian soldiers in 1980 became the source of international news and years of debate over America’s Cold War policy in Latin America. Who was Maura Clarke, and… Continue Reading

Launt Thompson: Enduring Success

On Saturday, December 2, writer and Roundtable member Michael Burke will discuss Launt Thompson, the Irish-American sculptor who rapidly rose to fame and accomplishment in the United States in the years following the American Civil War. Thompson’s success, however, was dramatically jolted at one of its highpoints and Thompson died in a state asylum. The… Continue Reading

Building Bridges

In the mid-1800s, Irish Catholics arrived in the U.S. in dramatic numbers. They were often confronted with severe and ugly discrimination, and they reacted in various ways. One such reaction—uncommon in its time—was that of Fr. Sylvester Malone. To hear more about this unique man, join us and Geoffrey Cobb on Saturday, May 6 at… Continue Reading

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