The Irish Face in America
Julia McNamara and Jim Smith's poignant look at what it means to be Irish-American.
First publication date: September 15, 2004
Cover: Hardback and Paperback
Purchase Online: Amazon
The book profiles a vibrant cross section of Irish Americans and their contributions to every aspect of society. Several well-known figures are included: film stars Martin Sheen, Ed Burns, and Bridget Moynahan; Riverdancefounder Michael Flatley; television personality and producer Merv Griffin; and pro golfer Mark O'Meara among them. The stories span all ages and walks of life, and capture the richness and heritage of the Irish-American experience in cities as diverse as Boston, Massachusetts; New Orleans, Louisiana; South Bend, Indiana; and Oahu, Hawaii. Also featured are writers, firefighters, college students, performers, politicians, astronauts, and athletes. Providing a framework for these portraits of Irish-American life are longer essays by mystery writers Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, T. J. Golway (coauthor of The Irish in America), Patricia Harty (editor of Irish America magazine), and former Coca-Cola president Don Keough. These insightful essays explore the question of what it is to be an Irish American-a subculture with enormous pride in its heritage, deeply rooted in tradition and culture yet utterly modern and ever changing.
A short excerpt from Peter Quinn's passage in the book:
"The way I see it, Irishness isn't a matter of blood or chromosomes or genetic inheritance. The essence of being Irish is the stories you absorb as a child, the ceaseless stream of words flowing through your brain from the first moment of unconscious perception, words sung, spoken, strung together in poems, speeches, prayers, games, and curses. My parents were the children of Irish immigrants. They came of age in New York in the 1920's, and their love of language – a love they passed on to their children – was a helix of metropolitan America and rural Ireland, the two blended in a martini of urban gin and immigrant vermouth..."