The week that was in it

Posted by Niall O'Dowd at 3/22/2009 9:38 AM EDT

Sunday: We’ve launched! At the American Irish Historical Society in New York Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen doing the honors. Also present Roma Downey, her husband Mark Burnett, founder of ‘Survivor, ’ Northern Ireland’s First Minister Martin McGuinness, Irish Foreign Minster Micheal Martin “The Billionaire who gave it all away” Chuck Feeney, Maureen Dowd from The New York Times and her sister Peggy.
Also there Vanessa Redgrave, mother of Natasha Richardson. Who could have imagined that within a week she would be back at this location for the wake of her beautiful daughter?

Monday: Lead-up to hard launch of Irishcentral for St. Patrick’s Day. That night we get a tip from an Irish source in Montreal that is almost unbelievable. Natasha Richardson, Vanessa’s daughter, is near death after a skiing accident. We go live early and break the story to the world. First a publicist denies it. All hell breaks loose. Are we sure, are we certain, are we definite the story is right? Yes we are.

Tuesday: The Web site is creaking under the weight of hundreds of thousands of visitors following the Natasha story. A new site needs time to adjust the many moving parts, which we hoped could be accomplished over the first few weeks. Suddenly it has to be all systems go and our technical crew do an amazing job keeping the site live and ticking over. On the site the Maureen Dowd interview and the 10 Worst Hollywood Irish Accents are doing a roaring trade as well.

In the evening I am at the White House for the first Barack Obama St.Patrick’s Day event. I am underwhelmed. It’s a patronage party for close Obama associates, mainly from Chicago. The real Irish community is not well represented. Up-close Obama is even more impressive than on TV which is saying something.

Wednesday: The day after St. Pat’s picking up the pieces. In the space of a few days the Irish Voice, Irish America and Home and Away all appeared with their St. Pat’s Day publications and on top of that we launched the web site. Little wonder there are weary bodies and haggard faces all over the office.

Thursday: Liam and Natasha still dominating the headlines and the story has moved far away from us. The misinformation is amazing and we’re the only ones who got it right. Access Hollywood comes to the office – cue Meghan Sweeney our young assistant editor and a star in the making who discuses our coverage. Access Hollywood proves we were the only ones who covered the story accurately.

Friday: Pace is slowing, pieces starting to fall into place, slowly but surely finding our level. The wake for Natasha is at the American Irish Historical Society and it is so unbelievably sad to see Liam Neeson and Vanessa Redgrave enter the building. Liam wanted an Irish wake and he got one at the beautiful old building on Fifth Avenue .

Saturday: A Day off! Well almost. Watched the incredible rugby game between Ireland and Wales for the European rugby grand slam. Ireland win and my heart’s not the better of it yet. An uplifting end to an extraordinary and sad week.



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