And the 2014 Irish America Hall of Fame honorees are...


Irish America magazine has announced the Irish America Hall of Fame Class of 2014.

Governor Martin O'Malley and TV personalities Bill O'Reilly and Chris Matthews are included in this year’s honorees.

The induction ceremony is to be held on Wednesday, March 12 at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. For more information on the Irish America Hall of Fame, click here.

The Class of 2014 are: Christine Kinealy, the renowned authority on Ireland's Great Hunger; Patrick Ryan, philanthropist and founder of Aon, the worldwide insurance giant; Andrew McKenna, businessman and Chicago civic leader; Brian Stack, managing director of CIE Tours International, who has led the way in promoting tourism to Ireland; Governor O'Malley, the top-rated Irish politician in the U.S., Chris Matthews, whose TV show, "Hardball," airs on MSNBC and is the leading political commentary show on television, and Bill O'Reilly, the outspoken host of the syndicated "O'Reilly Factor" and America's most watched broadcaster.

The McDonald family will be the first family to be inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame.

"We are in this together, as a family,” Steven said, speaking on the phone to Irish America about the upcoming induction.

Officer Steven McDonald was shot on July 12, 1986 when questioning a 15-year old about possible bicycle thefts. The shooting left him a quadriplegic. But with the help of family and friends, notably his wife Patti, who was pregnant with their son Conor at the time, the family has turned tragedy into inspiration. Steven went on to become a noted public speaker and a proponent of conflict resolution. Patti is now the mayor of Malverne on Long Island, and his son, Conor joined the NYPD in 2010.

"Our Irish America Hall of Fame motto is 'Cuimhnígí ar na daoine as ar tháinig sibh,' which translated from Irish means, 'Remember the people from whom you came.' Our distinguished honorees, while making significant contributions to American life, continue to take pride in their Irish heritage and promote the land of their ancestors. We are delighted to honor such a diverse group of Irish Americans," said Patricia Harty, Co-Founder and Editor of Irish America magazine.

The Irish America Hall of Fame celebrates its honorees’ diverse and significant contributions to American and Irish society, and their personal commitment to safeguarding their Irish heritage. The hall is housed at the Dunbrody Famine Ship and National Emigration Centre in New Ross, Co. Wexford, the ancestral town of John F. Kennedy.

Past inductees include President Bill Clinton (2011), Vice President Joe Biden (2013), former congressman Bruce Morrison (2013), author Mary Higgins Clark (2011), actresses Maureen O’Hara (2011) and Fionnula Flanagan (2012), dancer and choreographer Michael Flatley (2011), former Coca-Cola head Don Keough (2010) and executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. Bill Ford, Jr. (2011).

More about the 2014 inductees:

Christine Kinealy – Authority on Ireland's Great Hunger

World-renowned Irish historian and prolific author, Professor Christine Kinealy is founding director of the Ireland's Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, a scholarly resource for the study of the Great Hunger. She has also been appointed professor of history at Quinnipiac.

Beginning with her Ph.D dissertation at Trinity College on the Irish workhouse system and continuing with her breakthrough book "This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 1845-52" (Irish Post Book of the Year 1995), Kinealy has been an influential authority on Ireland. Her most recent book, "Charity and the Great Hunger in Ireland: The Kindness of Strangers" (2014), sheds a groundbreaking light on some of the many donations that were made to Ireland during the Famine. Throughout her work as writer and teacher, she has expertly tackled issues like the Irish Famine, the abolitionist movement, the revolutions of 1848, and Northern Ireland.

As founding director of Ireland's Great Hunger Institute, she is responsible for developing new scholarship about this tragic period in Ireland's history. Her 2014 public programs at IGHI include a significant new exhibition, "The Lady Sligo Papers" (April), and hosting the XX Ulster American Heritage Symposium (June), the first time this prestigious event has been held in a northern US state.

The McDonald Family

A gunshot changed Steven McDonald’s life forever. As a young NYPD detective he was shot on July 12, 1986 when questioning a 15-year old about possible bicycle thefts. The shooting left him a quadriplegic. But with the help of family and friends, notably his wife Patti who was pregnant with their son Conor at the time, he turned tragedy into inspiration and went on to become a noted public speaker, notably on behalf of the NYPD, peace initiatives in Northern Ireland, the U.S. Navy (he was a hospital corpsman) and speaking with students about violence and forgiveness.