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New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and her sister Peggy flank IrishCentral/Irish Voice/Irish America founding publisher Niall O’Dowd

Irish America magazine: 25 years and growing

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New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and her sister Peggy flank IrishCentral/Irish Voice/Irish America founding publisher Niall O’Dowd

Irish America magazine, our sister publication, celebrated 25 years in style last week.

We started all those years ago with a cover story that featured five leading Irish Americans - Tip O’Neill, Ronald Reagan, John McEnroe, Maureen O’Hara and Ted Kennedy.

In the interim we have profiled thousands of Irish from many diverse fields, which remains to this day the only successfully published Irish American magazine in history.

Among the highlights down the years were President Bill Clinton accepting our award as Irish American of the Year for his work on the Northern Irish peace process in 1996, and Hillary Clinton accepting the award in 2002.

The great Gregory Peck attended our Irish of the Century award ceremony in 2000. Maureen O'Hara, Brooke Shields and Liam Neeson are other star-studded names who have attended our events.

Year in and year out we have chronicled the life of a community that has grown in influence and accomplishment almost every year.

In retrospect it is now clear that the 1980 census announcing that there were 44 million Americans of Irish descent was a watershed moment for our community. Along with John F. Kennedy being elected the first Irish Catholic president in1960, it signaled a new era and a new epoch for this generation of Irish.

As a result the magazine has thrived since it was founded. Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator John McCain are both past winners of our top award.

We have created the Top 100 Irish Americans, the Legal 100, the Business 100, the Wall Street 50 and many other events that have generated great Irish networks of influence.

As our great supporter Donald Keough, chairman of Allen and Company and former president of Coca-Cola has said, “If Irish America magazine did not exist we would have to invent it.”

So there was lots to celebrate. With 150 of our closest friends and family in tow we went to "Finian's Rainbow," the new smash show on Broadway, and then on to the famed Sardi’s restaurant for a post-show reception.

Among those joining us were New York Times writers Maureen Dowd, Jim Dwyer and Dan Barry, “Ironweed” author and Pulitzer Prize winning author William Kennedy and Keith Kelly of the New York Post. 

Also there were the great actors Milo O’Shea and Malachy McCourt. Irish Consul General Niall Burgess represented the Irish government.

The cast of "Finian's Rainbow," including Jim Norton, one of the greatest Irish actors of his age, came along to Sardi’s. It is a wonderful show, well worth going to. It is for young and old alike and the play, improbable story line and all, works with incredible effectiveness.

Coca-Cola sponsored the night and have been bedrock supporters of Irish America for over two decades. Turlough McConnell, our director of special events, organized a great night, and singer Cathie Ryan performed some wonderful Irish airs. Niall O'Leary, a well known Irish dancer, performed some impromptu steps to keep us all on our toes.

Well I'm glad we invented the magazine. Founding editor Patricia Harty paid due tribute to all who had helped launch the ship 25 years ago and the staff who keep it afloat today.

Here’s to the next 25. As founding publisher I could not have been happier.

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