This year marks the Irish Voice's first ever Education 100 list, the inaugural effort to begin to quantify the Irish commitment to excellence in education in the United States.
It joins our other lists compiled for this publication and our sister magazine Irish America. The Top 100, Business 100, Wall Street 50, Legal 100 and Most Influential Women have all become long-term examples of Irish achievements in many fields. Now the Education 100 list joins them.
The Irish created much of modern America. Politics in its current format was as much a creation of Tammany Hall as any other institution where the downtrodden of the day applied their political muscle to rising up and grabbing a share of power.
Much of what Tammany Hall did has been criticized, but it gave the Famine-tossed Irish a place to start, a home to belong to and a dream to live.
They wrested control from the robber barons who had run New York and many large cities like fiefdoms. The barons protested the Irish were corrupt, but the corruption of the little man was always dwarfed by the sweetheart deals the pillars of society were putting together for themselves
Likewise when it comes to the Catholic religion, it was the Irish who shaped the great archdioceses (no non-Irish prelate has ever been chosen in New York to this day), and the Irish parishioners built and supported the churches across the country wherever they took root, penny by penny.
If you view the beautiful stained glass windows in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York you will see they were donated by the dollars of thousands of hard working Irish emigrants who ensured their spiritual home would be the envy of all.
The Irish donated one other great institution to America -- the Catholic school system which has stood the test of time, and nowadays is considered on a par with any other educational system in the world.
Likewise, Catholic third level colleges were overwhelmingly set up and run by Irish nuns, brothers and priests. The University of Notre Dame is, of course, the most famous example, but elsewhere great institutions like Fordham University in New York, Boston College in Boston and Loyola in Chicago represented a great opportunity for generations of Irish and other Catholic ethnics who were snubbed by the Ivy League colleges to get a great education.
The Irish are wonderful educators, as our first ever Education 100 list proves. They are natural teachers, individuals who are unselfish in motive and who love giving back to younger generations.
The list could have been three or four times as long, and there will be no problem adding new names to the list every year. We are indeed proud that we have been able to identify and acknowledge so many Irish who have put such extraordinary effort into educating generations of Americans form coast to coast.
We know that there will be some who will quibble, argue that some worthy names have been omitted. We look forward to your comments and stress that this is the first time ever such a list has been compiled.
To all who have made it, hearty congratulations.