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



The former Connecticut congressman made it possible for tens of thousands of Irish to emigrate legally to the United States via his Morrison visa legislation.

In addition he played a major role in securing the support of President Clinton for the Irish American initiative, which led to a visa for Gerry Adams and a huge breakthrough in the peace process.


Vice Chair of the Irish Arts Center in New York, Turley has spearheaded a hugely ambitious and ultimately successful effort to create a massive new Irish Arts Center which has already secured over $20 million in funding.
She has also succeeded in linking both Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson to the center, both of whom have taken an active role in ensuring its success.


The president of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut is a former grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day in New York, but more importantly, will open North America’s first Irish Famine Museum this fall. Lahey has created an amazing on campus Irish presence at his university and has put Quinnipiac on the map for millions of Irish Americans.


Founder of Irish American Democrats, the Washington-based O’Leary has played a huge role in creating an Irish dimension for Democratic Party politics and is a very successful fundraiser for Irish American candidates. Personally very close to both Clintons, O’Leary single-handedly put together the Clinton Center in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.


Irish Repertory Theater founders Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly are dynamos, bringing the very best of Irish theater to New York City on a year-round basis at their Chelsea headquarters.
The Irish Rep opened in September 1988 with a production of The Plough and The Stars.  The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout wrote that the Irish Rep is “one of the finest theater companies in America.”


One of the great philanthropists and business leaders in the Irish American community. Moran is CEO and president of Mutual of America and Chairman of Concern Worldwide.  Moran has played a massive role in increasing knowledge about the dire crisis in the Third World through his role at Concern, and he also played an outstanding role in providing access to the U.S. for Northern Irish political leaders.


Founder of Structure Tone, one of New York’s great construction success stories which is now a worldwide company.  Tyrone-born Donaghy has also played a leading role in the U.S. part in the Irish peace process. He is a committed support of Sinn Fein and annually hosts a major dinner for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. Donaghy also strongly supported immigration reform groups and has employed Irish numbering in the thousands.


The “secret billionaire” who gave all his billions away remains one of the most admired people in America and a runner up for Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 2000.
With roots in Fermanagh, the New Jersey-born Feeney has given back in spades to Ireland investing hundreds of millions through his Atlantic Philanthropies. He also played a key role in U.S. involvement in the Irish peace process, and was a key player in allowing Sinn Fein to set up an office in Washington, D.C., one of the conditions for an IRA ceasefire.


Flynn is chairman emeritus of Mutual of America insurance company and a highly successful businessman. He was a key mover in focusing Irish Americans on peace in Northern Ireland.
Through his organization, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, he provided the forum for Gerry Adams and many other speakers to appear before American audiences for the first time. He was one of the first to see an opportunity for U.S. intervention, and he was responsible for the invitation that allowed Adams to come to the U.S. in 1994.


Minihane and Hurley were co-founders of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement in the 1980s, which won legislation to legalize tens of thousands of Irish citizens.  The Cork natives succeeded in winning the Donnelly and Morrison visa programs in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Minihane and Hurley galvanized a huge swathe of Irish America to help in their cause and set the stage for the Irish American political clout that followed on Northern Ireland.


The Long Island Congressman was the most outspoken major politician on Northern Ireland for decades and was very close to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.  President Reagan refused to meet with him at a Long Island event as a result.
King was on hand to greet Adams when he arrived at Kennedy Airport on his historic visit in 1994.  He is also a former grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.