Failte Irish American Hall of Fame

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2019 Inductees

Arts & Humanities:

Pat Roche

A Chicago dancing legend, Pat's influence was crucial in the development of Irish dancing not only in Chicago, but worldwide.After immigrating to Chicago from County Clare, Roche started his public life as emcee at the Irish Village at the Century of Progress at the 1934 Chicago World's Fair. He organized the Harp & Shamrock Orchestra which provided music for the dancers performing at the Village. Both Roche and his dancers performed and his popularity grew as a result of his style.In the early 1940's he traveled with his dancers to national folk festivals in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and to feiseanna in New York. During the 1950's and 60's they traveled to Boston, Cleveland, Toronto, and Detroit -- at least one out-of-town feis every year. It was not until he inaugurated the Chicago Feis in 1945 that a consistently sponsored competition occurred that was national in scope.

Roche is a founding member and past president of the Irish Dancing Teachers Commission of America, the forerunner of the current Irish Dancing Teachers Association of North America.  Because of his consistent contributions to the development of Irish dance in Chicago and North America for over fifty years, Pat was awarded a T.C.R.G., teacher certification, by An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha (The Irish Dancing Commission) in Dublin in 1984. Most dancers from Chicago, including Michael Flatley and Mark Howard, founder of Trinity Irish Dancers, can trace their dance lineage to Pat Roche.

Business & Industry:

James J. O'Connor

James J. O'Connor is retired chairman and CEO of Unicom Corporation and its subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison Company, where he was employed for 35 years. In 1986, at the request of Chicago's Cardinal Bernardin, O'Connor andother businessmen founded the Big Shoulders Fund, a charity to support inner-city Catholic schools, and O'Connor has served as co-chairman since then. The fund assists 93 schools and more than 24,000 students -- the majority of whom live at or below the poverty level.

Recognized for his business acumen and civic leadership, O'Connor has been tapped to serve on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards. He was president of the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago in the early 1970s and has been on the board for 50+ years. O'Connor is president of The 100 Club of Chicago and past chairman and honorary director of the Chicago Division of the American Cancer Society, honorary trustee of the Committee for Economic Development and honorary director and former chairman of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.

Public Service:

Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day was an American journalist and activist who worked social justice causes through the prism of the Catholic Church. After her conversion to Catholicism in 1927, she co-founded The Catholic Worker in 1933, a newspaper promoting Catholic teachings, serving as its editor. She and fellow activist Peter Maurin establish the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf, which continues to this day.

Day also helped establish special homes to help those in need. In her writings, Day described her conversion to Catholicism as well her experiences as an activist. Pope Francis included her in a short list of exemplary Americans, together with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thomas Merton, in his address before the United States Congress. Concerning canonization, however, she is quoted as saying "Don't call me a saint...I don't want to be dismissed that easily." Nonetheless, the Church has opened the cause for Day's possible canonization, which was accepted by the Holy See for investigation.

Senator John McCain

John Sidney McCain III (August 1936 - August 2018) was an American statesman and military officer. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and was commissioned into the United States Navy. He became a naval aviator and flew ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. While on a bombing mission during Operation Rolling Thunder over Hanoi in October 1967, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics.

He served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and in 1987 he entered the U.S. Senate where he served until his death.  He was the Republican nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain also had a media reputation as a "maverick" for his willingness to disagree with his party on certain issues. He made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually resulted in passage of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. He was also known for his work in the 1990s to restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and for his belief that the Iraq War should have been fought to a successful conclusion. He chaired the Senate Commerce Committee and opposed pork barrel spending. He belonged to the bipartisan "Gang of 14" which played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nominations.


Jack O'Callahan

Jack O'Callahan graduated from Boston Latin School in 1975 and then attended Boston University from 1975-1979 where he was a team captain during the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons and was named All-East twice, All-New England and All America, team MVP twice, Beanpot MVP, NCAA tournament MVP, and Cochrane award winner twice. He also played for Team USA at the 1979 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament in Moscow.

The year after he graduated, O'Callahan was selected to represent the USA in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Three days before the Olympics, in an exhibition match against the Soviet Union, O'Callahan injured his left knee. This forced him out of the opening game against Sweden at the Olympics. He returned for the famous "Miracle on Ice" game against the Soviet Union in the first game of the medal round. He currently does work on behalf of the Blackhawk Alumni Association and is a member of the American Ireland Fund Chicago Regional Advisory Board. He is Senior Managing Director at Ziegler Capital Management in Chicago.


Rev. L. Scott Donahue

Rev. L. Scott Donahue is president and CEO of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. Known affectionately as "Father Scott" by his parish faithful at St. Robert Bellarmine on Chicago's Northwest Side, and to the donors, coworkers and children of Chicago's Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, he exemplifies the proud tradition of the Irish Americans who have left a lasting imprint on this great country through their loyal service to their fellow citizens.

In addition to his parish ministry of three decades, Father Scott oversees the mission of Mercy Home, which permanently impacts the lives and futures of up to 134 young people who live there at any point during the year, and hundreds more through its life-saving referral, mentoring and aftercare services. The children whose lives have been changed over the years by the enterprise that Father Scott directs continue to go on to great personal success and to positively impact the lives of so many others. Father Scott's humble and compassionate ministry to society's most vulnerable members-abused, neglected and troubled children-has had a ripple effect that is and will be felt far and wide.


Mother Mary Gerald Barry, O.P.

Mother Mary Gerald Barry, O.P  (March 1881 -  November 1961) was the Prioress General of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Adrian Michigan from 1933 until 1961. Under her leadership, that congregation of women religious grew from 800 members to over 2,000. The congregation staffed schools throughout the United States and also administrated hospitals in California. In her 28 years as prioress general, the order opened three hospitals and 69 parochial schools throughout the country as well as the Colegio Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republican. She was responsible for the education of approximately 100,000 students in 189 elementary and secondary Catholic schools in the United States and the Caribbean and supervised 197 houses of teaching sisters across the country.

Born in the west of Ireland in County Clare, she was known for her "sparkling Irish wit" and unshakeable determination. A leader for the education of women, her own congregation established a House of Studies in Washington, D.C. for advanced education of its members. Recognized by the Vatican, Mother Gerald was the first to head the Leadership Conference of Religious Superiors of Women. She established high schools for girls in Detroit, Michigan; Wilmette, Illinois and a college for women in Miami, Florida.


Kathleen "Kay" McNulty Mauchly

Kathleen "Kay" McNulty Mauchly (February 1921 - April 2006) was an Irish-American computer programmer and one of the six original programmers of the first general-purpose electronic digital computer.  A 1942 graduate of Chestnut Hill College for Women, McNulty was one of only a few mathematics majors in a class of 92 women. Upon graduating, she responded to a U.S. Civil Service ad looking for women with degrees in mathematics at Ballistic Research Laboratory and was hired as a "human computer" to calculate ballistics trajectories used for artillery firing tables.

When the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC) was developed for the purpose of performing these same ballistics calculations, McNulty was selected as one of its first programmers. She later worked on the software design for computers including the BINAC and UNIVAC I. She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 1997. In July 2017, Dublin City University honored her by naming its computing building after her.

2019 Hometown Hero

Fiona McEntee, McEntee Law Group

Fiona McEntee is the Founding & Managing Attorney of McEntee Law Group,  a firm dedicated exclusively to handling U.S. immigration matters. As a proud Irish immigrant and U.S. citizen, McEntee has dedicated her 10+ years of practice to the

advancement of immigrants' rights for individuals, families and businesses. A fearless immigration lawyer, her advocacy efforts for immigrants range from regularly giving interviews to suing the Administration in federal court in relation tothe controversial Travel Ban. A mother of two young children, McEntee zealously represents immigrant children and parents who face innumerate obstacles in emigrating to the United States.

She is nationally recognized for her expertise in immigration law. She has been selected for the ISBA's 2018 Elmer Gertz Award; the 2017 Illinois Super Lawyer List, Rising Star; the Irish Legal Top 100; and the Irish Echo's 40 Under 40. She regularly provides immigration-specific commentary live on MSNBC, CBS, and RTE TV and Radio. She has represented many prominent Irish musicians, including The Boomtown Rats, Clannad and The Coronas. In addition to her legal practice, McEntee created Blowtique in 2012, the city's first hair salon dedicated solely to blow-dries.

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