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.
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:
To designer Orla Keily’s store in SoHo.
To the church where Eamon de Valera was baptized.
To the Chipper Truck in the Bronx neighborhood of Woodlawn.
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.
“Or the pioneer of American Presbyterianism, [Donegal-born] Francis Makemie,” in honor of whom the First Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue was built.
"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.
“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:
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.
Patricia Harty, the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of IrishCentral's sister publication Irish America magazine.
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.
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."
Tammany Hall, the seat of Democratic power in New York for close to 150 years.