Exclusive interview with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Ireland of the Welcomes speaks to the highest ranking military officer in the USA who is a proud Irish man also
In his most personal interview to date Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey speaks exclusively to Ireland of the Welcomes about his Irish ancestry, speaking the cùpla focal and his love of all things Irish.
Born and raised in Bayonne, New Jersey he hails from good Irish stock on all sides, his grandparents were all born in Ireland ‘My grandparents, all four of them, were born in Ireland and came over in the period post the Irish Civil War (which ended in 1923) one of them came from Sligo, one from Donegal, one from County Mayo, one from Roscommon’
A frequent visitor to Ireland and in particular Mayo, the birthplace of his maternal grandmother, he is probably the only Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who can speak Irish ‘My grandmother brought me over to Ireland. From the time I turned probably seven, she took me over several times in the summer, put me in Irish school to learn how to speak a little Gaelic’ His visits to Ireland reinforced his connection and feelings about his heritage ‘I remember how closely linked (was my) sense of being Irish and Catholic. Those two things were always kind of “part and parcel” of each other in some way’
He admits he has a passion for Irish music and is known for his near encyclopedic knowledge of it ‘People accuse me of being kind of a walking library of Irish music, and I am. I’ve studied it. I’ve sung it. I’ve been interested in it for my entire life. And that’s both the traditional ballads as well as the rebel songs.Irish poetry, playwrights and novelists are an interest also having studied literature at Duke University. ‘My master’s degree at Duke University was in English literature, writ large, but my focus area for my thesis was the Irish Renaissance, which ran from about 1898 up through 1922. Yeats and Joyce and George Bernard Shaw and John Millington Synge, that’s who I studied. And I did that so I could link together these disparate threads in my life – music and literature’
A military man, a scholar but most of all a proud Irish –American, General Martin E. Dempsey would probably be as comfortable chatting about Irish music, literature and movies as he is planning military manoeuvres. His love of all things Irish and his pride in his Irish heritage are immediately evident.
‘To have been granted an interview that is so personal by the General Martin E. Dempsey, the highest ranking officer in the US Military is very meaningful for Ireland of the Welcomes. We learn how General Dempsey’s Irish heritage has helped shape him into the man he is today’ commented Sean Carberry, editor, Ireland of the Welcomes.
General Martin E. Dempsey is the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, a body which has 1.5 million serving members. He serves as the principal military advisor to the President which means his responsibilities are tremendous, but he always appears calm and relaxed and as anyone who knows him will say, he always has time for a song, preferably an Irish one.
Read his deeply personal and exclusive interview in the current issue of Ireland of the Welcomes on sale now.