US President Joe Biden had warm words for Niall O'Dowd after the Irish Voice newspaper issued its final print edition on July 5.
In a July 25 letter addressed to Niall O’Dowd, founder of both the Irish Voice newspaper and IrishCentral, President Biden wrote: “Congratulations on 36 successful years of print journalism at the Irish Voice.
“As I said when I was inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame - an honor I treasure to this day - the Irish have built community since they first came to America.
"Thanks to your leadership and hard work, the Irish Voice has become that community for so many.
“I believe that we Irish are the only people nostalgic for the future. I hope you are filled with pride as you reflect on everything you have accomplished over the last few decades and say ‘Slán Go Fóill’ to the Irish Voice.
"I look forward to watching you continue to build connections among Irish Americans in the years to come.”
The letter was signed: “Sincerely, Joe Biden.”
In 2020, Biden was "wholeheartedly" endorsed by the Irish Voice newspaper, whose sister publication Irish America Magazine inducted the then-Vice President into its Hall of Fame in 2013:
The New York-based Irish Voice newspaper ceased printing on July 5 after 36 years.
"We set out to be simply a local paper that happened to be located in New York and, for many years, Boston," O'Dowd wrote in his final Irish Voice column.
"We aimed to cover a vibrant community, one centered around all of the new Irish arrivals to the US in the 1980s and ‘90s – the vast majority undocumented – and we prospered, becoming the first Irish American newspaper to succeed since 1928.
"On the front page of our first issue was a poll of undocumented Irish immigrants voting on whether they would ever return home. The majority said they would not, and the Irish Voice became their voice."
However, as O'Dowd noted, "the Irish are mostly not coming to America anymore" and "Ireland is a vastly more prosperous country these past two decades, and the need to seek a new life in the US isn’t nearly as urgent."
Highlighting the newspaper's heavy involvement with the Morrison and Donnelly visa programs, O'Dowd recalled: "Who can forget the massive crowds that ended up at an obscure post office in Merrifield, Virginia in 1991 where millions of Morrison visa applications were processed – many of which were personally delivered in a U-Haul van driven by Voice staffers."
The newspaper later co-founded the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) and "organized lobbying trips to Washington, D.C. where thousands of young Irish stood up to be counted. At those events, Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Edward Kennedy among others all came and spoke."
O'Dowd noted how the Irish Voice was the first to report in January of 1994 that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams would get an American visa, "a seismic story that made the peace process possible."
He added: "The previous year, we were the first outlet to publish a weekly column from Adams, in his own words. He worked closely with Debbie McGoldrick on that effort and, indeed, she traveled with Gerry around New York for pretty much all of the 48 hours that his visa was valid.
"We were invited to accompany President Clinton on his visit to Ireland in 1995, a never to be forgotten trip."
Another major story that the Irish Voice broke was the decision to finally allow an LGBT group to march in the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade, which O'Dowd hailed as a "huge step forward."
While the Irish Voice has ceased printing, O'Dowd's twice-weekly column will move online here to IrishCentral.
The Irish Voice newspaper's sister publication Irish America Magazine continues to print and exist online, and the event management side, which includes the Wall Street 50, Hall of Fame, Business 100, and Healthcare 50, will continue to thrive.