The Irish America Hall of Fame officially opens in Ireland - PHOTOS


PHOTOS - The Irish America Hall of Fame photo gallery

The Irish America Hall of Fame is officially inaugurated in Wexford today with Irish Tourism Minister Leo Varadekar doing the honors along with inductee Michael Flatley.

The Irish America Magazine Hall of Fame is located near the shore where John F.Kennedy’s family left Ireland for the New World. The inductees were inaugurated into the Hall of Fame by Irish America magazine at an event in New York recently. Keynote speaker at the event was President Bill Clinton

Former Coca Cola president Don Keough was the first person inducted last year. The 2011 class will be inducted along with him today.

The Hall of Fame is housed in The National Centre for Emigration History in New Ross, Co Wexford,

Located on the quay side of the River Barrow next to the popular tall ship Dunbrody, which commemorates the Great Famine, the €2.6 million interactive centre features a state-of-the-art exhibition on the story of Irish emigration, plus a genealogical resource for visitors hoping to trace their Irish heritage.

According to the New Ross Standard, the new purpose built visitor centre will also allow the visitor travel on an historical thought provoking one way sea going journey in famine times.

The experience begins Quayside with the authentic recreation of the New Ross of the 1840s. Here the passenger will join fellow travellers paying for their journey. Various audio and visual displays capture the atmosphere of a passenger stepping on board Dunbrody and setting sail for the New World, America.

On board the authentically recreated ship, passengers will encounter re-actors telling their stories. The passenger then arrives in North America where here the emigrant witnesses the impact Irish emigrants have had on American life and culture.

The centre piece of this exhibition is the Irish America Hall of Fame, which is being developed in collaboration with Niall O'Dowd and Patricia Harty of Irish America Magazine.

PHOTOS - The Irish America Hall of Fame photo gallery

The 2011 honorees are:

Doctor Kevin Cahill

Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. has been  a driving force in humanitarian assistance and relief efforts across the globe for more than 45 years and a leading specialist in tropical medicine.

Physician, teacher, activist, diplomat, and advocate, Cahill is the director of the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs, president of the Center for International Health and Cooperation and a University Professor at Fordham University. He serves as the director of the Tropical Disease Center at Lenox Hill Hospital, and has done extensive research and aid work in Africa, Latin America, and the Near and Far East. He is professor of International Humanitarian Affairs at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, senior consultant to the United Nations Health Service, and president-general of the American-Irish Historical Society.

Bill Clinton

As a major supporter of the Irish peace process, Bill Clinton moved mountains.  The 42nd President of the United States took the strongest position on Irish issues ever taken by an American president. In 1994, he granted a visa to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, fulfilling a campaign promise and stating “the U.S.  cannot miss this rare opportunity for our country to participate in the peace process.”

Then in November, 1995, President Clinton became the first sitting American president to visit Northern Ireland.

Mary Higgins Clark

Higgins Clark is one of the most admired and popular writers alive today – her novels frequently top the best-selling charts. She is also one of the highest paid authors. Each of her 42 books has been a bestseller in the United States and various European countries.

Proud of her Irish American roots she was the Grand Marshall at New York’s 250th St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Charles Feeney

Charles “Chuck” Feeney has amassed billions of dollars in wealth. However he prefers to give it all away while he is still alive, Feeney wants to better the lives of people around the world in the here and now.