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“Martin McGuinness: The Man I Knew”

Author, journalist and broadcaster Jude Collins visited the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center in Philadelphia Sunday to give a talk on his new book, Martin McGuinness: The Man I Knew (Mercier Press).

The book is a collection of interviews with prominent figures in recent Northern Irish history, all reflecting on the late Martin McGuinness, prominent Irish republican Sinn Féin politician, a warrior turned peacemaker, who became deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

McGuiness died in 2017.

Among those interviewed are prominent unionists, including Eileen Paisley (widow of Ian Paisley), Michael McGimpsey and John McAllister, peace talks chairman U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, and friends and allies such as Gerry Adams and Martina Anderson.

Was McGuinness, as some thought, a terrorist who somehow became a different man? Or was he, as others believed, always the same man—a man who never wavered in his pursuit of the same goal but who, when the time came, simply embraced a new approach?

Collins digs deep to find the answers to this and many other questions. He sat with us for a brief interview preceding his talk.

Here’s what he had to say.

News, People, Photos

More Than 250 Walked From Darkness Into Light

The Sharpie-written notes on the “Banner of Hope” offered the answer to the question, “Why did you get up at 3 in the morning to do a 5K in the rain?”

“In loving memory of my dear Lori. Love you. This one’s for you.”

“In memory of Paddy, Love, Brigid.”

“Missing you always!” This tiny message appeared under a drawing of a yellow butterfly whose artist added a smudge of orange and two tiny antennae with care.

Some left lists of names; Sinead. Johnny. Keiran. Wee Pat. Eddie.

All of them, messages to people who died by their own hand.

More than 250 people gathered outside Lloyd Hall on Kelly Drive at the top of Boathouse Row starting at 3 AM last Saturday to participate in the “Darkness Into Light” 5K to benefit Pieta House, an Irish organization that provides free counseling to those considering suicide or self-harm. Fox29’s Bob Kelly hosted the opening ceremonies and helped rally the runners and walkers who were already soaked by the persistent drizzle. Continue Reading

News, Photos

A Solemn Remembrance of 1916

With solemn ceremony and rousing speeches, Philadelphia’s Irish community celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Sunday, April 24, the lost battle that led to the ultimate victory of Irish independence.

The event started in the blazing sunshine at The Irish Memorial, where a number of local dignitaries, including State Rep. Mike Driscoll and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon spoke. Using only an index card for reference, Irish-born Patsy Kelly, told the history of the uprising, in which about 1200 armed Irish men and women seized buildings in Dublin, launched by the reading of The Proclamation by Irish teacher Padraig Pearse.

That document, which proclaimed Ireland a free republic belonging to the Irish people, was read later at Independence Hall, first in English by Regina Mullen Bocchino and Dierdre Mullen, the granddaughters of Joseph McGarrity, a Philadelphia-based businessman from Tyrone who was considered the financier of the rebellion, and then in Irish by Temple University cardiologist Brian O Murchu, MD. Continue Reading

News, People, Photos

Meet the New Philadelphia Rose of Tralee

The 26-year-old executive director of a Philadelphia nonprofit serving homeless veterans was crowned the 2016 Philadelphia Rose of Tralee on Saturday night at the Radnor Hotel. The event was emceed by CBS3 consumer reporter Jim Donovan.

The latest Rose, Brigid Gallagher, has the inside scoop on what she’s in for this year. Her older sister, Colleen, was the 2007 Philly Rose. The two wrote and illustrated a children’s book and, along with running the Philadelphia Veterans’ House, Brigid Gallagher is completing her masters of art therapy and counseling at Drexel University. A graduate of West Chester University with a degree in graphic design and psychology, The new Rose is a marathoner and one of the newest members of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the oldest Irish organization in the US, located in Philadelphia, which recently opened its membership to women.

Brigid is the middle sister of seven girls—so there may be more Gallagher Roses to come. Continue Reading

History, News

Gravesite Remarks by Monaghan Councillor Sean Conlon

Sinn Fein member Sean Conlon, who spent part of his childhood in Delaware County, graciously shared with irishphiladelphia.com the remarks he made at the grave of Luke Dillon at the Easter Rising Ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon.

A chairde,
It is an honour for me to be here, on the occasion of the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising and stand with true friends of Ireland, and advocates for her liberation, to commemorate the contribution and sacrifices of Ireland’s patriot men and women associated with the Rising, and in all campaigns of resistance waged against the foreign occupation of our homeland. Today here at Holy Cross Cemetery, we invoke in particular, the memory of those who resided in the Philadelphia region, and that despite the distance of separation and communication, remained firm in dauntless spirit, and action, in supporting the efforts of their comrades in Ireland.
Since our last assembling here twelve months ago, we reflect on loved ones who have would regularly have attended events such as this commemoration or other opportunities to raise the flag for Ireland and her total independence. As a fellow activist who I recall in years when I lived in this area is the name of Tommy Flynn, along with the name of Sean Rocks, who as a member of the Breen family, is also especially missed today. Continue Reading

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Poignant Easter Rising Ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery

The annual Easter Rising ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery on April 3 took on special poignancy this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Dublin battle between Irish revolutionaries and British soldiers that played a pivotal role in the birth of the Irish Republic in 1922.

Members of the families of three prominent Irish freedom fighters who are buried in the Yeadon cemetery took part in the ceremonies, which included rifle salutes by the Pennslvania 69th Irish Volunteers re-enactors, speeches by Sinn Fein’s Sean Conlon, the Monaghan town councillor who spent part of his childhood in Delaware County; Judyann Gillespie McCarthy of the local 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration Committee, and Tyrone native and historian, Patsy Kelly. Continue Reading

News, People

“Darkness Into Light” Launches in Philadelphia

Jim Reardon of Havertown was there because of Christmas 1976, the day he returned to his Dublin home after visiting friends to learn that it wasn’t because of a card game—“we were a great house for cards,” he says—that the house was teeming with people in the middle of the night. Reardon’s father had been found dead. Laid off after 50 years at the same job, he committed suicide.

Siobhan Towey Regan of Glenside was there was there for her cousin, a young man in his 20s, who also killed himself.

Joan Freeman of Dublin was there because of her sister, Catherine. A 54-year-old mother of four, she too died by her own hand. Continue Reading

News

As Ireland Honors the Heroes of 1916, Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums Will Be There

Arriving to a water cannon salute from the Northern Ireland Fire Service, the Philadelphia Police & Fire Pipes & Drums band is on the ground in Ireland, and getting set for the thrill of a lifetime.

Philly Police and Fire is the only foreign band invited to take part in one of the official commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising, to be held Easter Monday in Ashbourne, County Meath.

Thirty members of the band, all cops and firefighters, are making the trip, said Philly paramedic Mark O’Donnell, the band master, music director and pipe major, in an interview Thursday, just a few hours before the band’s departure out of Newark. Continue Reading