The top 25 who made a difference - celebrating the Irish Voice’s 25th Anniversary


Irish Voice publisher NIALL O’DOWD looks at some of the notables who have done their part to ensure that the Irish American community thrives.

Since the Irish Voice was founded in 1987 there have been some constant themes in Irish America -- the continuing problems of immigration, the Irish American role in the Irish peace process, business success and philanthropy and the extraordinary Irish contribution to American culture and the arts.
Our list of the Top 25 reflects those themes as well as some others. It is a purely subjective list, not listed in any particular order. All 25 have contributed mightily to the health of our community as we face into the next 25 years.


Greatest networker and advocate for Ireland in America. He is the former president of Coca-Cola who played a huge role in establishing the Coca-Cola presence in Ireland. He is also a former chairman of the board at Notre Dame who brought a Notre Dame football game to Ireland and connected the two entities. Brought Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to Ireland for the first time. Now chairman of Allen and Company.


Kerry-born, former messenger boy on Wall Street who incredibly rose to the very top and now runs a hugely successful brokerage firm, Wall Street Access, but has never forgotten his Irish roots.
He’s massively supportive of Irish initiatives, most notably the peace process and immigration reform as well as investing in promising Irish start-ups and business ventures.


So many Irish business people in New York owe their start in business to Bill Burke, the Irish banker.
First with Bank of Ireland and now with Country Bank, Burke, a former grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade has always had an open door to Irish businesses small and large and helped launch many of the most successful Irish in New York.


Owner of FitzPatrick's hotels in Manhattan has been a tireless fundraiser for Irish charities including his own Paddy and Eithne FitzPatrick charity named after his parents which has raised millions for good causes.

Very active on the political front both as fundraiser and community activist, John is close friends with the Clintons and many other key political figures and never spares in his efforts to deliver on Irish issues.


Brian O’Dwyer is senior partner in the law firm of O’Dwyer and Bernstien, continuing the magnificent legacy of his father Paul O’Dwyer and Frank Durkan.

He’s close to both of the Clintons and a lifelong advocate for the Irish undocumented and peace in Northern Ireland. He is also chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens.


There is hardly a cause, from immigration reform to peace in Northern Ireland, that Mayo native Ciaran Staunton has not been involved in. He was a founder member in Boston of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement which led to the Donnelly and Morrison visa breakthroughs.

Later in New York he co-founded the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and played a key role in setting up the U.S. peace process initiative, most notably the Gerry Adams visa.


The Adrian Flannelly radio show has reached millions of Irish Americans over the years and continues to do so. An outspoken advocate for his community, Flannelly helped create the massive Irish push for Donnelly and Morrison visas and more recently he has played a ke y political role as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s trusted Irish advisor.

Aine Sheridan, long time producer of the show, has played a major role in bring the program to new media and made it America’s premier commercial Irish radio show and enterprise.


She’s the first female head of the American Ireland Fund and the Worldwide Irish Funds.
Brennan Glucksman has revitalized and modernized the organization, created a hugely successful youth wing and continues to break all fundraising records for the philanthropic group, which passed its $100 million goal recently.


Likely to be the first ever Irish and gay mayor of New York City. The flame haired Quinn has done incredible work for the Irish community, spearheading the drive as City Council president to create a landmark new Irish Arts Center building on the West Side and providing access and political support to scores of Irish organizations.


Dr. Kevin Cahill is one of the pre-eminent physicians of his era, but much more than that, as director general of the American Irish Historical Society he has overseen a massive refurbishment of the Fifth Avenue mansion which is America’s greatest Irish building.

Single handedly he kept the society alive through tough times and has helped preserve a massive historical and community resource for future generations.