Tag Archives: Bill O’Reilly

Rooney & O’Reilly: Dead … and gone

I’ve been away from the blog for an Easter trip to Rome. During my absence, two Irish Americans made headlines for very different reasons:

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney dies

In my native Pittsburgh and across most of America, Dan Rooney was best known as chairman of the NFL Steelers, the son of the team’s late and much beloved founder. But he also was U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from July 2008 to December 2012, a co-founder of The Ireland Funds, and principal benefactor of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature at Trinity College Dublin.

He died April 13 at age 84. His grandfather emigrated from Newry, County Down to Montreal, Canada, then moved to Ohio and Pittsburgh, where the late ambassador was born.

“Deeply committed to Ireland and the Irish people, he was always conscious of his Irish roots,” Irish President Michael D. Higgins told The Irish Times.  Said former U.S. President Barack Obama:

Dan Rooney was a great friend of mine, but more importantly, he was a great friend to the people of Pittsburgh, a model citizen, and someone who represented the United States with dignity and grace on the world stage. I knew he’d do a wonderful job when I named him as our United States Ambassador to Ireland, but naturally, he surpassed my high expectations, and I know the people of Ireland thank fondly of him today.

Obama and Rooney, right, in 2014. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette image.

Bill O’Reilly ousted from Fox News

Conservative news anchor Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News Channel parted ways after 20 years in the wake of a New York Times exposé about the media company paying $13 million to settle sexual harassment allegations against the cable television ratings king.

O’Reilly describes the claims as “completely unfounded” and himself as the victim of “the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”

His great-grandfather emigrated from Clonoose, County Cavan, according to a 2016 episode of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” O’Reilly also was a 2014 inductee in Irish America magazine’s Hall of Fame.

The honor recognizes “the extraordinary achievements of Irish-American leaders, from their significant accomplishments and contributions to American society to the personal commitment to safeguarding their Irish heritage and the betterment of Ireland.” Among 45 honorees since 2011: liberal cable television anchor Chris Matthews; former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and President Donald Trump’s Ambassador to Ireland nominee Brian P. Burns.

But not Dan Rooney, though the magazine has written about him.

I’ve reached out to the New York-based publication by email and Twitter to ask if they plan to keep O’Reilly among their honorees. Maybe they could switch him with Rooney. If you agree, contact the magazine at: @irishamerica, or submit@irishamerica.com.

Fleeing to Ireland? Not so fast, Billy

Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly says he is “fleeing to Ireland” if Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (a registered independent and self-described democratic socialist) is elected president. “I’m not going to pay 90 percent of my income to that guy,” the conservative and combative host of “The O’Reilly Factor” said on his show.


Now the Washington Post‘s Henry Farrell, “a recent emigrant from Ireland and current U.S. citizen,” has written a piece suggesting O’Reilly might be surprised by what he finds in Ireland:

From the perspective of its Western European neighbors, Ireland is a small, market-friendly, right-of-center country. But from the perspective of American conservatism, Ireland looks like a hellhole of socialism.

Farrell notes that O’Reilly can’t claim Irish citizenship through ancestry because he is more than one generation removed from the island. His great grandfather was from Co. Cavan. A recent episode of “Finding Your Roots” profiled the Irish ancestry of O’Reilly, as well as Bill Maher and Soledad O’Brien. Watch it here.

Farrell continues that Ireland is not a conservative paradise. Taxes are high; gun ownership is highly restricted; and medicine is socialized.

“If O’Reilly really thinks that Ireland is a good alternative to a Sanders-led America,” Farrell concludes, “it’s probably because he’s unfamiliar with what Ireland is really like as a country.”

Farrell doesn’t mention the socialist strands of Irish revolutionary history, most notably 1916 leader James Connolly.

O’Reilly, no stranger to controversy, got into trouble last year for claiming that he saw “Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs.” It turned out he only saw photographs shown by police while on a freelance reporting trip to Northern Ireland in 1984, for a book he never finished.


Thanks to my lovely wife, Angie Drobnic Holan, who tipped me to the Post story and the PBS show. 


Bill O’ in the no-go zone. Oh no!

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said he saw “Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs.”


But it turns out he only saw photographs shown by police while on a freelance reporting trip to Northern Ireland in 1984, for a book he never finished, according to reporting by the Washington Post.

Liberal watchdog group Media Matters For America further reports that a similar claim about witnessing IRA killings, made in a 2013 book that O’Reilly did get to print, will not be corrected by the publisher.

O’Reilly’s paternal ancestors lived in County Cavan since the early eighteenth century, and his mother’s side were from the north, according to Wikipedia.