1. John F. Kennedy. The greatest Irish American of all who finished the ‘No Irish Need Apply” era and brought the Irish to the forefront in American life.
2. Michael Collins. I know, I know, the myth, the legend, but the sheer audacity of how he outmaneuvered the British forces during the War of Independence makes him a genius.
3. Jimmy Cagney. He created the original Irish tough guy from the neighborhood persona, a real spitfire on and off the screen.
4. James Joyce. “The Dead” is the greatest short story ever written. I can’t get through Finnegans Wake, hardly got the joke with Ulysses, but the early writing is exquisite!
5. Maud Gonne. What did she have to turn the greatest Irish poet WB Yeats into a lapdog whimpering at her heels? What a muse and an Irish revolutionary.
6. W.B. Yeats. Just how did you forge the rhymes and rhythms that are so incredibly evocative and brilliant?
7.General Phil Sheridan. An unsung hero of the Civil War, Cavan born, or so they think. A mixed record, he later went on to attack the Indians but a true soldier.
8. Ronald Reagan. I saw him in the White House once about six feet away, but never met him. As much influence on the Republicans as Kennedy had on the Democrats.
9. Edna O’Brien. Yes I’m cheating, we’ve met, but she told profound truths about the lies and secrets of Irish life a generation before they were discovered.
10. Henry Ford. The son of an Irish immigrant. He changed the world more profoundly than any politician or prince.
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