Is it really 25 years ago that the pressmen at the Evergreen Printing plant in Belmar, New Jersey pressed the button and started the presses on Volume 1 Number 1 of the Irish Voice?
I remember my mother and brother were there, and my best friend Eddie Holt and a bottle of champagne and a very late night....
I remember the first issue with its bold headline "We’ll Never Return” based on a survey of young Irish undocumented who had washed up on America’s shores.
Some things never change, even after 25 years.
In that issue we featured little Kathleen Flannelly, daughter of a great friend, Adrian Flannelly, sitting in the Sam Maguire Cup, the trophy for the All-Ireland football champions.
Now she’s an accomplished lawyer, a woman of the world. Was that really 25 years ago?
There was John Spain and Cormac MacConnell, and they are still there all these years later charting the goings on in Ireland, urban and rural, and they too must feel that déjà vu moment with Ireland in bad shape again and the political class failing the people.
A strange memory, shortly before our first issue when a new fangled machine arrived in the office. It was a fax machine, and we all gaped in wonderment as the front page of The Irish Times came crackling over the wires. The Internet was still a pipedream.
Good and bad moments crowd in. The day Debbie McGoldrick, an Irish Echo refugee, took over as editor of Irish Voice and whipped the paper into shape for once and for all is among the best.
Among the worst, the suicide of a young Irish construction worker in the Bronx who hung himself after being mercilessly exploited by his own.
The best -- Merrifield Madness, when thousands of Irish descended on a Virginia post office in October of 1991 to mail their Morrison visa applications in a night to remember.
Best again -- sitting in the stands at Giants Stadium as Ireland beat Italy in a World Cup shocker in 1994.
Worst -- the news story that someone had placed an innocuous classified ad with us looking for a few strong men. It turned out he wanted them in order to murder his wife. Incredible but true.
Best -- waking up on a freezing morning one January to learn that the Clinton White House, over the objections of the British State Department, CIA, FBI, etc. had given a visa to the U.S. for Gerry Adams.
Best -- standing in the center of Belfast as hundreds of thousands chanted the name of Bill Clinton as the American president, unbelievably, visited the city.
Worst -- reading of the incredible tragedy of Phoebe Prince, a little Irish girl bullied to death when she moved to Massachusetts. She took her own life in 2010.
Best -- President Clinton attending our event at the Plaza Hotel as Irish American of the Year. Standing at the traveling White House podium introducing him was a surreal experience. At times like that you really do feel you have made it in America.
Worst -- writing my toughest ever column on the tragic death of my beautiful nephew Rory Staunton, who died needlessly of a bacterial infection at age 12 in April. It does not come tougher than that.
Best -- getting to meet you, the Irish Voice readers in so many places over so many years and hearing your feedback, good and bad, on what we do.
And to all those advertisers who have supported us over the years – thanks again. You made this Irish emigrant’s dreams come true.