\"\"

A St. Patrick’s gift from the Irish nation to Breezy Point after Sandy - Irish leader Enda Kenny visits as embattled community fights back

\"\"

Enda Kenny (right) walks with Breezy Point locals viewing the destruction in the Rockaways caused by Superstorm Sandy (Photo:  James Higgins)
 Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny surveying damage after Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point,
Queens accompanied by local leaders (Photo: James Higgins)

The Breezy Point community in Queens turned out in their hundreds on Sunday morning at St. Thomas More Church to welcome Irish leader Enda Kenny and celebrate a Saint Patrick’s Day many present feared they would never see after the horrific events of Hurricane Sandy.

A cold wind whipped in off the Atlantic and Breezy was living up to its name as parishioners hurried inside to the  parochial church that has become the center of their recovery drive.

Despite the elements the plucky Irish community in one of the most Irish parishes in America were in joyous mood, buoyed by the presence of the Taoiseach and the Bishop of Brooklyn  Nicholas Dimarzio.

The bishop must have wondered if he was the only Italian left on Breezy amid a sea of  green-clad faithful but he paid fulsome praise to the community and to the Irish workers from outside who inspired by Irish consulate and Irish American organizations outreach had given up their time and talents to help restore Breezy.

About 1,500 Irish workers had shown up  on two separate weekends to help out all over the Rockaways. Many continue to return there.

In addition, a team of skilled workers from Ireland, put together by the Gaelic Players Association had single handedly restored the church gymnasium, a center  for youth activity.

Monsignor Michael Curran invited parishioners next door to that center,  the Monsignor Connolly Hall to celebrate with the Irish leader.

Once there, over tea and soda bread Prime Minister Enda Kenny delivered an impassioned speech about the solidarity felt in Ireland towards Breezy and other points in the Rockaways that had been damaged by Sandy.

As he pointed out, the very gymnasium they were in, with the  sparkling new floor, had been under several feet of water and had been  rebuilt by Irish athletes from the Gaelic Players Association with financial aid from  the Irish taxpayer.

His words made a deep impression on those present. It was clear that the Irish American community on Breezy would not forget that gesture of friendship which had come at a time of extraordinary hardship for them.

Kenny has been very impressive on this trip to  New York. As a rural representative from County Mayo he understands the emigrant and Irish American mentality very well and it showed in his ease and facility with those who lined up to meet him.

Earlier he had toured the devastated area and had seen at first hand the power of wind and wave when harnessed in a hurricane. It had obviously made a deep impression on him.

The Irish government under Kenny has made great strides in outreach to Irish America and Breezy Point typifies that approach. There is no question that it has paid off in terms of bonds created, goodwill enjoyed and future contacts for both sides of the Atlantic.

As St.Patrick’s stories go it didn’t have the drama of a parade or the glitz of a swanky dinner.
What it did have was a heartfelt emotion and a concrete contribution to solving one community’s agony. Irish America and Ireland should be very proud of that accomplishment.

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: