We're about ready to don our annual dollop of green paint, so it is time to rate the good and bad of another Irish year.
Irish Comeback Story of the Year: No question, Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler," a brilliant performance by the one time IRA supporter who reached down into the depths and brought forth an acting performance for the ages.
I know he didn’t win the Oscar (though neither did Robert De Niro for "Taxi Driver"), but as the years pass "The Wrestler" will become a major classic.
Best Performance by an Irish Actor: I know you all expect me to say Sean Penn for the Oscar for "Milk," but I loved Colin Farrell in "In Bruges." He finally showed a sliver of the talent we all saw when he first kicked off his movie career.
Best Director: John Patrick Shanley for "Doubt." A movie just as good as his play, which is highly unusual.
Best TV Performance: Gabriel Byrne as the angst ridden psychiatrist in the HBO award winning series "In Treatment." If you think watching two people talk and relate for a half hour is boring, you haven’t seen this show.
Best Radio Show: If you haven’t heard the "Celtic Crush" program from Larry Kirwan of Black 47 every Sunday morning on Sirius Channel 18, XM Channel 45, then you are missing a great experience.
Honorable Mention: WFUV’s "Ceol na Gael" every Sunday from 12-4 p.m. on WFUV in 90.7 in New York is a real delight, especially if you like golden oldies.
Best Book: "The Irish Americans" by Jay P. Dolan of the University of Notre Dame. It has been called “the best available story of the Irish in America.” And I really think it is. Written in a clear style that explains where we came from, who we are and where we’re going.
Runner Up: "The New America" by former U.S.-based Irish television anchor Mark Little. Sometimes the most insightful lessons about America are written by outsiders. This is one. Just published by New Island Press in Ireland.
Best Business Book: "The Ten Commandments for Business Failure" by Don Keough, one of the great figures in Irish America. This book made it into The New York Times bestseller list. Problem is, it seems, many businessmen took his message on how to fail to heart.
Best Musical: "The Quiet Man Tales," not quite a Broadway production, but a Chicago effort, opening shortly and highly praised by the peerless Maureen O’Hara. Haven’t seen it but I intend to, because if it's okay with Maureen, then that’s okay with me.
Best Newspaper Columnist: Maureen Dowd, The New York Times. She defined George W. Bush and Bill Clinton for the world, one as the lazy son, the other as the philandering idealist, and she will probably do the same with President Barack Obama. She certainly helped get him elected with her early columns going after Hillary Clinton.
Saddest Loss: Tim Russert, a great broth of an Irishman who loved his roots, his family and his country. Still sadly missed.
Saddest Illness: Senator Edward Kennedy has been a giant on issues like Northern Ireland and immigration for decades. His brain cancer has not slowed him, however, and he is still battling away. Sorry about that knighthood though.
Saddest Story: How the Celtic Tiger went to ground overnight and the Irish economy was borne back to the bad old days. It all happened so fast that it seems like the good times were a mirage.
Funniest Moment: A performer who shall remain nameless when discussing on radio an old Irish song called “Dan O’Hara,” saying it was about a Famine emigrant who left in 1847 and was forced to sell matches outside the Empire State Building – which wasn’t built until the 1920s.