An Irish-American journalist based in Washington, D.C., I am currently working as editorial director at a national transportation construction industry association, and as a freelance writer, including over 600 posts on this blog since 2012. (See resume.)
In 1997, I claimed Irish citizenship through my maternal grandparents, both from north County Kerry. I have made numerous trips to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and published articles about historic and contemporary issues in newspapers, magazines and websites. I received a 2001 Journalism Fellowship from the German Marshall Fund of the United States for an extended reporting trip in Ireland.
In 2013, I self-published His Last Trip: An Irish-American Story, a biography of my emigrant grandfather, who died 18 years before I was born. The 213-page book also explores Kerry’s Lartigue monorail; Ireland’s struggle for independence; the streetcar system and social conditions of Pittsburgh before World War II; and Catholic culture and religious practices in Ireland and the U.S. during the late 19th & early 20th century.
The book “provides a fascinating snapshot of one family’s Irish-American experience and how their lives were shaped by circumstances here and in Ireland,” Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh said in a 2018 blog post.
In addition to Carnegie Library, copies of the book are also available at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh; the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pa.; and the Archives of Irish America at New York University. In Ireland, the book is on the shelf at the County Kerry Library in Ballybunion, a mile or so from where my grandfather was born.
I am interested in the social and political history of Ireland since the Famine, especially in Kerry, and the impact of the Irish in America. I have focused many of my historical investigations on the Land War period of the 1880s.
I generally support the reunification of the island of Ireland for reasons of historical and geographic integrity. I am on record as saying the island’s 32 counties will be made whole before the 100th anniversary of partition in 2021. I recognize there are many differences in the religious, social and political traditions of north and south, just as I realize there are differences between native Irish and Irish Americans.
I do not fool myself with romantic notions of old Ireland. I love the modern country as much as I am fascinated by its 19th and early 20th century history.
In the past, some of my journalism work overlapped with the production of this blog, including stories that I wrote for Business Journal publications in Tampa and Washington. Today, the blog is independent of my work at the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. Opinions are my own.
Original reporting on this blog, especially related to His Last Trip: An Irish American Story, Willie’s Emigration Centennial, Nora’s Sorrow, and Ireland Under Coercion, Revisited, are copyrighted by Mark Holan. Copyright 2018.