Home Community Festivals Chicago Gaelic News / Aug. 2008

Chicago Gaelic News / Aug. 2008

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Pat Hennesseyby Pat Hennessey

Irish-American Swimmer Helps Break National Record

Young Irish-American swimmer Ed Hunt, with others in relay, helped to break the national record for this event at the Texas Age Group championship recently. Other swimmers were Seth Stubblefield, Cole Brewer and Zack Walters.

They posted a time of 7.05.66 to drop more than two seconds from the national age record for the 13-14 800 free relay. More than 50 Texas top teams competed.

This event has long been regarded as one of the premier events leading up to potential Olympic Games placing, so it was a very important win for the young swimmers. We wish them every success and no doubt we will be reading more about them in future.

Young Ed Hunt is the son of John Hunt Jr. and his charming wife who reside in Texas and we offer them our sincere congratulations. And of course young Ed is the pride and joy of our own John Hunt, Sr., legendary Irish Nationalist in the Chicago and Midwest area. Congratulations all around.

“The Brothers”

How many former “CBS” men and boys realize that the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers that gave us free quality education with a strong patriotic commitment to Ireland, as well as a Christian vision, was inspired by a relatively well-off Kilkenny man? He was Brother Edmund I. Rice, who was born during the complete English domination of Ireland, where the access to education was the main instrument of the Protestants. He was educated in a Hedge school, and attended Burrell College in Kilkenny city. He later settled in Waterford, where his uncle was a wealthy merchant.

Tragedy struck shortly after he married, leaving him with an invalid daughter. He was concerned about the unfortunate plight of Irish prisoners and helped in many ways.

He was also concerned by the crowds of young people who ran about the streets of Waterford, and decided to do something about it. After making sure that his daughter was in good hands with his family, he sold his business and opened his first school for poor homeless boys. Later, with the help of some friends from Callan, Co. Kilkenny where he was born, he opened his second school, Mount Sion, in Waterford city. In due course, the CBS tradition spread abroad to Britain, U.S., Africa, Australia and even Gibraltar; over 30 countries in all.

Love for Ireland, its culture, games, language, song, dance and music was always taught in CBS schools. I learned my hurling and national pride in Kilkenny city, CBS. For all his heroism and inspiration, Edmund Rice was beatified by Pope John II in 1996, and will hopefully be sainted someday. Readers are asked to pray for his canonization. One “miracle” has already been attributed to his intercession; one more is needed for sainthood. The prayer for a favour is, “O God, look graciously on your son, Edmund Rice and be pleased to grant many favours and graces through his intercession, so that all may know he now enjoys Eternal Life, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

Lots of Action at Gaelic Park

Lots of action, skill and stamina can be expected on the playing field of Gaelic Park during the month of August, with hurling and Camogie (Ladies hurling), Gaelic football teams, men and women, and juveniles competitions. Winning teams will represent Chicago in the North-American GAA playoff over the long weekend in September.
Champions in all codes will take on the best of other cities in the playoff. Last year Chicago won five titles, against including some “big ones”—Cuchillians in hurling and St. Brendans in football. St. Bridgets also captured the ladies senior football title.

The forced withdrawal of Harry Bolands in senior hurling and Wolfe Tones in senior football from competition this year was caused by the unfairness of the present U.S. Immigration laws which virtually excluded young Irishmen and women from coming here. Herculean efforts are being made all around to right this wrong and allow western Europeans, Irish, English, French and others to be given proper recognition in Visa selection, if for no other reason, than due to the mighty contribution of our earlier Irish ancestors in building and defending this great country.

As I have often written in this column, the problem dates back to the changing of the U.S Immigration laws in 1965, because of what President Harry Truman and Congress declared was discrimination against some countries. No doubt some discrimination was evident in the old National Quota System, which was adopted in 1920 and under which all of us who came here in the mid-forties entered the country legally.

But Congress failed to research all the angles in changing the old law, such as the Irish pattern of immigration, and all the new law did was to reverse the discrimination, therefore handicapping the Irish and other western Europeans. For example the new law was based on family unification. A good solid reason. But in the distribution of Visas the first year, 1967, the Irish only received a few hundred, whereas other countries with other patterns of immigration, brought in whole families, numbering in the thousands. And that’s the way it’s been since.

The American-Irish Immigration National Committee, of which I was Chicago chairman ,pointed out the wrong and the harm it would do. With the aid of other countries we got the Rodina bill passed in the House, but unfortunately it “died” in the senate. The bill “would not handicap countries like Ireland” and would allow a floor number of 10,000 Visas annually to the Irish and other western Europeans. The State Department and Congress made that promise, “No country will be handicapped.” Unfortunately, it was never kept. Had it been in effect over the years there would be very few, if any “undocumented Irish” today. The Irish received a fair amount of Visas in the 80’s but that was only part of what is due. The Irish Immigration Reform Movement should look into this unfairness; but they have their own way of doing things.

Benefit for Young Athlete

Please don’t forget the date for the fundraiser for the young Chicago athlete, Chris Doherty. He is the 12-year-old St. Symphoroso student on the southwest side of the city who developed Hodgkins Lymphoma. The date is Sunday, September 28, at Hawthorne Racecourse, 3501 So. Laramie in Stickney, 4-10pm.

You can help by sending a check payable to KICKIN4CHRIS, to Fifth-Third Bank, 5235 West 63rd. Street, Chicago, IL 60638, or visit www.kickn4chris.com for more information. Chris’s parents are John and Debbie Doherty and his grandparents are Jack Doherty, former Chicago fire hero and his charming wife, Christine.

Emigration to North America

Movement in great numbers to parts of the New World attracted many, especially Presbyterians from Ulster. There were large numbers of Irish in the Revolutionary armies. Four signatories of the American Declaration of Independence were of Irish birth while another nine were of Irish ancestry.

In the early 17th Century increasing numbers emigrated to the U.S. and Canada. The Great Famine of course accelerated emigration and approximately five million people left in the course of the century. They settled in many different states and cities especially Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. Their political and organizational skills enabled them to achieve control of the cities. They also spoke the language, which was helpful, as they became spokespersons for other ethnic groups. They won control of city administrations and left a notable mark on American political style.

Statistics indicate that over 40 million persons in the U.S. claim some Irish ancestry, and that 25% of this figure claim solely Irish ancestry. The states with the largest amount of Irish are California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Illinois (Chicago). Irish-Americans are found in all political areas, publishing, professional, health, law and many other professions.

Many Americans are of Irish descent, including former U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, with ties in Wexford, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, from Tipperary ancestry, Bill Clinton, Ulster, Mayor Richard Daley J. Daley and his son Richard M. Daley, Paul O’Dwyer, from Bolala, Co. Mayo, Frank Jordan of San Francisco and many others.

Irish emigrants began to arrive in Canada in the 18th century. Presently up to 30% are of Irish ancestry, being out-numbered by the British and French Canadians only. Many leading figures in Canadian politics in the 19th century were Irish born or of Irish descent including Thomas D’arcy McGee, in 1868 and more recently Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada.

The Irish have made significant contributions in the development of Australia from the first European settlement in 1788. Now up to 20% of the population is estimated to be Irish born or of Irish ancestry so that the country is named the most “Irish” country in the world, outside of the Emerald Isle itself.

In the early years they came as “Convicts” of the British. They immigrated to Australia mostly from Munster settling in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. The Irish left a rich legacy in every walk of Australian life. One of its Prime Ministers Paul Keating has relatives in Co. Galway. Irish Gaelic football is the forerunner of Australian Rules football and they contest a series with Ireland each year.

Over the years brave Irish priests and heroic nuns have brought the word of God to almost every country in the world as well as establishing medical facilities in many developing countries. For example Edmund Rice’s Christian Brothers and the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Beannact De ar an oibre (God Bless the good work.)

New Zealand and Latin America also welcomed Irish emigrants and in both countries they left a glorious legacy. The first Prime Minister of New Zealand was John Edward Fitzgerald and Captain Hobson from Waterford helped found the new state of New Zealand. In Latin America, a Mayoman, William Brown headed the first Argentinean Navy. Irishmen also played a prominent part in establishing Mexico City. �

 

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