Iowa Irish Launch Campaign
IRISH American Democrats will launch their Iowa campaign for Senator Hillary Clinton at the Historical Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, home of an historic Irish settlement, on Friday, November 9.
As usual, the chairwoman of Irish American Democrats, Stella O'Leary, has done an extraordinary job in rounding up the troops for an event that may well feature the former first lady.
Winterset is in Madison County -- yes, that Madison County - where millions of American women lost their heart to Clint Eastwood in the movie The Bridges of Madison County based on the best-selling book.
Also on hand at the Historical Museum will be Congressmen Richie Neal and Joe Crowley to officially launch the campaign where the first votes will be cast in January.
Because Iowa is a caucus state, the numbers who vote are much less. Thus, the gathering in Iowa of Irish supporters for Clinton will be closely watched. Organizers say a large crowd is expected in the Irish heartland of the state.
Starting in 1852, the Irish settled in Madison and Warren counties, close to Des Moines, Iowa. Although most Irish Famine emigrants settled in urban areas, these Irish were farmers.
Iowa was then a new state and the government sold farmland at low prices, encouraging many to leave other states and relocate to Iowa. They settled mostly north of North River and in time they built a log church and named it St. Patrick's.
First they were attended by missionary priests, but in time their sons became priests and served at St. Patrick's Church.
These Irish settlers were described by James Gillespie in an article in the Madison County Historical Journal in 1907 as "industrious and prosperous, and as to honesty, few will say they have been cheated by an Irish man. Cheerful hospitality can be found among the Irish settlers and their descendants and as freely given as on any part of the globe."
In 1979 Pope John Paul II celebrated an outdoor Mass at the site of St. Patrick's Church, Madison County. Many Iowans remember him preaching on a hill in a cow pasture amid a crowd of 250,000 Iowans on a chilly, windy day in October 1979.
He was visiting the heartland of America lured by a letter from a simple farmer.
Dems for Dinner
AFTER the Iowa meeting the Irish will also be out in force at the Jefferson Jackson dinner held the following night in Des Moines. The dinner is the largest event held by the Democratic Party in the state, and with the election soon at hand no doubt interest will be at fever pitch. Up to 8,000 people are expected to attend.
The event will feature speeches by Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, former Senator John Edwards and Governor Bill Richardson. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will serve as the master of ceremonies.
"The Iowa Democratic Party is honored to have our presidential candidates speaking at our largest event of the year. We are also excited that Speaker Pelosi will serve as our emcee," said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Scott Brennan.