30 Irish Americans making the world a better place


For the month of March, IrishCentral decided to tap into the heartbeat of the Irish American community. Over the course of these four weeks that officially celebrate all of the many contributions Irish Americans have made throughout history, we wanted to get to know the people across the U.S. who today are making phenomenal differences in their respective fields.

We asked you, our readers, to point the way, and we were astounded by the results. The stories of each and every one of the nominees were both humbling and inspiring, and it made us proud to see how many people are doing good, important work.

As challenging as it was, we selected 30 people for the Unsung Heroes series and have been publishing one of their stories each day this month. From advocates to artists, from local legends to dedicated educators, from wise-beyond-their-years high school baseball and hockey teams to dynamo nuns in their 80s, these people are making a difference and to them we tip our hats in thanks.

Check out all of their inspiring stories below, and be sure to let us know next year about the unsung heroes in your community.

Mari Steed brought justice to the Magdalene women.

The Magdalene daughter who brought justice to her mother: Mari Steed

Donie Carroll at the Mercy Center for abandoned and abused children in the Klong Toey slum of Bangkok.

The Irish trad musician helping orphans in the slums of Bangkok: Donie Carroll

Megan Smolenyak, the genealogist who traced President Obama's Irish roots, with the president during his visit to Ireland in 2011.

The genealogical detective and champion of our ancestors: Megan Smolenyak

Sister Pat Murphy (right) and her partner Sister JoAnn Persch

A voice for the voiceless, offering spiritual and emotional support for deportees: Sister Pat Murphy

Unsung hero Kyle Hughes at work.

The selfless New Jersey firefighter: Kyle Hughes

West Roxbury's Unsung Hero, Doc Walsh.

The backbone of the neighborhood, a behind-the-scenes hero: Doc Walsh

Unsung hero William McCormick of Roanoke, Virginia.