Uncovering New York’s Irish secrets, one day at a time (PHOTOS)


The Irish history of New York is all around us – hiding in plain sight behind billboards and Times Square marquees; in the name of a ubiquitous pharmacy chain; in the city’s churches, graveyards, and statues; on its waterfront and its sidewalks.

Olivia Barry, a Dubliner and five-year resident of New York, has made it her mission to chronicle this influence one photo at a time, 100 photos in total.

A graduate student in the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts, Barry was assigned to create and carry out a 100-day-long project centering on something that was personally meaningful.

Immediately, Barry knew her project would be about being Irish in New York. “There are so many connections with Ireland in New York,” she told IrishCentral, “but I thought it would be very challenging at the same time to think of 100 things to find and document.”

She started the tumblr Céad Léiriú (100 manifestations) on April 7, with a photo of the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City.

1/100 - Irish Hunger Memorial, Battery Park City

Since then, the project has taken her all over the city, guided by her own research and the advice of friends, family and people she’s encountered. “The more you look, the more you’ll find,” she said.

They vary from an Irish carriage driver in Central Park:

8/100 - Tom, Irish Carriage Driver, Central Park

To designer Orla Keily’s store in SoHo.

37/100 - Orla Kiely Soho Store, Mercer Street

To the church where Eamon de Valera was baptized.

11/100 - de Valera plaque, Church of St. Agnes, Midtown

To the Chipper Truck in the Bronx neighborhood of Woodlawn.

23/100 - The Chipper Truck, Woodlawn, Bronx

Though Barry has been living in New York for five years, she said Céad Léiriú has opened her eyes to Irish influences she was never before aware of. Take the John Street Church, a small but stately building still standing among the office towers of the Financial District. “It was started by Philip Embury, the founder of Methodism in America, who was from Limerick,” she explained.

54/100 - Methodist Church on John Street, Lower Manhattan, built in 1841 on the site of an earlier church

“Or the pioneer of American Presbyterianism, [Donegal-born] Francis Makemie,” in honor of whom the First Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue was built.

59/100 - The First Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue, with a lineage from County Donegal

"Or even [the pharmacy chain] Duane Reade," she said. "I knew it was named for Duane and Reade Streets, but it was my dad who told me about the Irish connection." Duane Street is named for the 44th Mayor of New York, James Duane, born in 1733 to a naval officer from Galway.

50/100 founded in 1960, and began with a warehouse located on Duane and Reade streets on Broadway.

“The scope of Irish people who influenced New York, and continue to do so, is so wide.”

Barry is currently three-fourths of the way to 100. See all of the posts on the Céad Léiriú tumblr.

Here are a few more of her amazing finds:

58/100 - Granite strip on Broadway sidewalk commemorating the Ticker Tape Parade for the crew of the Bremen, the first successful trans-Atlantic aircraft flight from East to West, which departed from Ireland.

Look up and you’d miss this one! Marking the achievement of the first East to West non-stop trans-Atlantic flight. It departed from Ireland, and one of three men on board was Major James Fitzmaurice.

65/100 - Patricia Harty, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Irish America Magazine

Patricia Harty, the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of IrishCentral's sister publication Irish America magazine.

72/100 Building at 280 Broadway where AT Stewarts ‘Marble Palace’ was located, known as the ‘cradle of the department store'

Alexander Turney Stewart, from Lisburn, Co. Down, became one of the richest men in America. His building, the first department store, later became the headquarters of the New York Sun newspaper.

40/100 - Grave of Chauncey Olcott – actor, singer and songwriter who wrote the lyrics to “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” – at Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx

The grave of Chauncey Olcott, famous actor, singer and songwriter of Irish descent. We have him to thank for the words of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

 5/100 - Tammany Hall Building, Union Square East

Tammany Hall, the seat of Democratic power in New York for close to 150 years.