\"Senator

Senator Chuck Schumer and a group of Rockaway, NY firefighters celebrated the heroics of the Breezy Point community with Guinness and the Irish Voice. Photo by: Nuala Purcell

Guinness, Senator Schumer raise a glass to Hurricane Sandy heroes for St. Paddy’s Day

\"Senator

Senator Chuck Schumer and a group of Rockaway, NY firefighters celebrated the heroics of the Breezy Point community with Guinness and the Irish Voice. Photo by: Nuala Purcell

They came in their hundreds last night to the Colony Theater in Breezy Point, home to one of the largest Irish communities in America.

The town lived up to its name, with a southeast wind raging outside in a late winter fury, but inside all was warm.

The Guinness company and the Irish Voice, our sister publication, were along for a St. Patrick’s celebration like no other, remembering the heroes of Hurricane Sandy, which almost demolished this seaside community back in October 2012.

Also along was Senator Charles Schumer, the third most powerful senator in Washington but a man who deeply prizes his local roots and remembered fondly his days in Congress representing this district.

Irish Deputy Consul General Peter Ryan put it best when he told the hundreds present that Breezy and its problems might be out of the headlines but folks would never forget what they experienced and the courage the community showed on that awful October day in 2012.

Deputy Consul General Peter Ryan with local heroes of Breezy Point, NY a the celebration hosted by Guinness and the Irish Voice.

The headlines about Breezy and Rockaway that week and for months after were of a community stricken to it very roots, with real fear whether they could rebuild again.

Amidst all the carnage and wreckage there were hero stories too, and it was many of those from the three firehouses, from the security officers and NYPD, from the sanitation men and from the ordinary people who were remembered last night.

Brendan Gallagner, Ed Shevlin and more local firefighters and heroes at the Guinness and Irish Voice celebration in Breezy Point, NY.

Ed Shevlin from nearby Rockaway, a heroic sanitation worker who is a wonderful story all of his own as a Gaelic scholar and writer, put it best.

“We will never forget that storm and it makes us so proud to see that others have not forgotten us either.”

Tim Devlin, a Tyrone native who has been a sterling force for good in the community since those dark days, extolled the incredible spirit in Breezy these days.

“We got to know each other in the worst of times like we never thought we would get to know each other. What we found was strength, community, even love. Now in the better times we are more united than ever.“

Celebrating the Hurricane Sandy heroes of local firefighters and community members of Breezy Point with Guinness and the Irish Voice.

For Ruairi Twomey from Guinness, Breezy Point fit perfectly into the narrative of “made of more,” community courage and involvement which Guinness is extolling.

While other beer companies are happy to sponsor keg nights, Guinness have embarked on a striking series of community outreach efforts.

“These people are heroes and we are delighted to be part of this tribute,” he said as the bagpipes skirled and drumbeats rolled in the background. “This is community at its best.”

It was a point both Peter Ryan and Senator Schumer touched on. The Irish dancers, the music, the “craic” was a celebration of the best of the Irish in America.

Peter Ryan spoke of the Meitheal, the Irish name for neighbors coming together and how Breezy Point exemplified it.

Ryan is a local hero having played a huge role in bringing hundreds of Irish down to Rockaway and Breezy to help out and galvanizing Irish government support.

Celebrating the Breezy Point, NY heroes of Hurricane Sandy with Chuck Schumer, the GAA, Guinness and the Irish Voice.

Senator Schumer dwelled on the deep roots of the Breezy Point and Rockaway folk and how it would take more than a superstorm to stop them.

Schumer was introduced as the successor to Irish leaders in Congress, who have now passed from the scene.

He said though he was a Jewish guy from Brooklyn he was happy to lead the fight for Breezy and for immigration reform and the Irish.

“You can ask me why but it is because the Irish are good for America, that’s why….they have given back, they have committed, they have been a massive source for good for this great country.”

Collie Mathers, GAA Director General Pauric Duffy, Deputy Consul General Peter Ryan and Brendan Gallagher celebrate the Breezy Point, NY heroes of Hurricane Sandy with Guinness and the Irish Voice.

The evening started with music and Irish dancing, followed by pipers then speeches and then the arrival of the senator, fresh from Washington and passing a bill limiting increases in fire and flood insurance that will benefit Breezy Point residents.

It was St. Patrick’s season and it was a celebration like no other across the North American continent this Irish weekend.

The Irish of Breezy and Rockaway have endured and will continue to do so. The message from Breezy, like it was from Boston where the Irish played a huge role after the marathon bombing, was the same. Boston strong, Breezy Strong.

It was a privilege to be there to witness it.

Niall O'Dowd, publisher of IrishCentral, the IrishVoice, and Irish America magazine at the celebration of Breezy Point, NY's heroes of Hurricane Sandy.

COMMENTS

Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:


Already have an account ?

For Newsletter Subscribers – Draw for 1 Prize on December 31st.

Prize: Your Piece of Ireland – a Square of Land in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, Ireland

More details here (or you can buy a little piece of Ireland directly): http://bit.ly/1zew9ox

Terms & Conditions

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.


Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: