More than 300 people attended the event, which featured a black tie dinner, award ceremony and live music, drama readings and video presentations. NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern was the evening’s emcee.
It was a magical night of remembering and honoring as the audience viewed a poignant and telling video representing the tale of the Irish in America from the American Revolution to the present day. The purpose of the Irish American Hall of Fame is to tell the story of the impact of the Irish in America. The evening accomplished that and more.
Among the highlights of the night were readings from the Eugene O’Neill plays, The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey into Night by veteran Chicago actors from the Seanachai Theater, Steve Pickering and Kevin Theis. The award for Eugene O’Neill was accepted by Preston Whiteway, Executive Director, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, who will display the award at the Eugene O’Neill Museum.
Chief Francis O’Neill needed no introduction to the primarily Chicago-based audience and his music was celebrated by a performance by internationally-recognized traditional Irish musicians, Sean Cleland, Jimmy Keane and Brendan McKinney. Chief O’Neill’s award was accepted by Brendan McKinney, owner of Chief O’Neill’s Pub in Chicago.
Irish Consul General, Hon. Martin Rouine, gave a heart-warming introduction for Maureen O’Hara and the audience was surprised with a personal video acceptance of the award by Ms. O’Hara, who currently resides in Ireland.
The Rev. Patrick Francis Healy, SJ, born to an Irish-born plantation owner and bi-racial slave, who rose to become president of Georgetown University, was honored by Rev. Brian Paulson, Rector of Loyola University Chicago’s Jesuit Community and a Georgetown alum. Fr. Healy’s award was accepted by his great grand nephew, Dr. Thomas Riley, Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at North Dakota State University.
Henry Coyle, a professional boxer from Geesala, Co. Mayo, who currently resides in Chicago, charmed the audience with tales of growing up in Ireland and admiring Jack Dempsey and telling amusing anecdotes from Dempsey’s life. Dempsey’s award will be given to his daughter, Barbara Dempsey Phillips of New York City.
Henry Ford’s impact on business and industry is known worldwide. But Edsel B. Ford II, great grandson of Ford, educated the audience on the impact the Ford Motor Company had on the Irish economy back in the 1920s and how proud Ford was of his Irish heritage. Edsel Ford accepted the award on behalf of his great-grandfather via a specially recorded video from the Ford family home in Michigan. Ford’s award was presented by Thomas Cashman of the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago, the American Ireland Fund and CME Group in Chicago.
Inductees in the public service category needed no introduction but were recognized with great fanfare. Senator George Mitchell of Maine and most recently President Barack Obama’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, could not attend but accepted his award via letter which was read by Dr. Adar Cohen, Mitchell Scholar, Director of the Civic Leadership Foundation and member of the faculty in DePaul University’s Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies Program. President John F. Kennedy was recognized by a special video presentation sent to the Hall of Fame by the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. Finally, Mayor Richard J. Daley was introduced by Hon. Richard Devine, former Cook County State’s Attorney. Accepting the award on behalf of her father, Patricia Daley Martino remembered his twinkling blue eyes, his strong faith and his dedication to his beloved City of Chicago.
Bringing down the house toward the end of the evening was Sr. Rosemary Connelly, Executive Director of Misericordia Heart of Mercy. In addition to reflecting on what it has meant to her to be able to serve the developmentally disabled through her works at Misericordia for the last 40 years, Sr. Rosemary reminisced about her childhood growing up on the west side of Chicago. She stated how proud her parents, who hailed from Co. Mayo, would be to see her receiving this induction into the Irish American Hall of Fame. Concluding her remarks, Sr. Rosemary said, “We are promised two things in life: a life worth living and to live forever. If you get a better offer, take it!” The crowd roared with laughter and enthusiasm.
Robert McNamara, President of the Irish American Heritage Center, remarked on the evening, “it was successful beyond our wildest dreams and it will truly be a legacy for future generations.”
Nominations for the 2012 class of the Irish American Hall of Fame will open in July.
Last Updated on Friday, 02 March 2012 00:28
Nomination & Selection Process
Open Nomination Process – anyone may nominate a candidate. Create an online nomination form to include name of nominee, category and brief description of reason for nomination/candidate worthiness.
Screening Process – The Hall of Fame Governing Body along with a specially-selected, diverse group of individuals from across a wide range of disciplines, including those covered by the award categories, will review and vet all nominations and select a slate of candidates to put forth in an election.
Voting Body – a national body of distinguished individuals representing academia, government, and Irish-affiliated organizations from around the United States will be requested to vote on the slate of candidates presented by the Screening Committee
July 11, 2014 – Nominations open
September 15, 2014 – Nominations close
February 2015 – Winners Announced
April, 2015 – Awards Gala
Tuesday, 01 June 2010 17:32
Individuals nominated for the Irish American Hall of Fame must have a record of accomplishment in one or more of the award categories.
Arts & Humanities (to include Music, Dance, Theatre, Film, Literature & Visual Arts)
Business & Industry
Public Service (to include Government, Military, Politics, Community Service & Social Justice)