Sophie Sweetman McConnell is a second generation Irish American whose paternal grandfather came to Minnesota in 1882 at the behest of his cousin, John, who had formed the Irish American Colonization Company to enable Irish to emigrate and take title to farm she had created on 20,000 acres he had bought in 1880.
In the early 1890s John became a member of the Irish Parliament representing Wicklow East. A decade later he was a co-founder and second president of Sinn Fein.
“My father inherited the family estate, Clohamon, in Wexford. Though he rarely visited Ireland after selling the estate in the 1950s, he was happy to allow me to use some of the money from the estate while I attended Trinity College Dublin,” says McConnell.
She spent most of her career in publishing as managing editor of two divisions of the Viking Press, mainly dealing with photography, design and art books. “My greatest pleasure was working closely with photographers such as Irving Penn, Andre Kertesz, and Malcolm Kirk. My last salaried job before retiring was Associate Director of the American Institute of Graphic Arts,” McConnell says.
She is the author of Metropolitan Jewelry, a book published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
McConnell earned a master’s in history from New York University with a thesis on the Catholic mercantile class of 18th and 19th century Ireland, basing most of her research on the history of my own family, who were major porter brewers during that period. “While doing my academic work, I was a founding member of GRIAN, which produced an annual conference for emerging scholars and published an annual academic journal, all with the sponsorship of Glucksman Ireland House. While at NYU, I was one of 30 students accepted into Notre Dame’s first summer program in Dublin for graduate students,” McConnell says. She is the chair of a Columbia County high school’s Taconic Hills Arts and Humanities Fund, and last year was appointed to the advisory board of Glucksman Ireland House.
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