Tag Archives: Timothy J. Meagher

Five Irish books for holiday gifting

The five books below come from my annual stack of those bought, borrowed, or received as personal gifts or publisher promotions. Perhaps one or all of them will make a perfect gift for a special reader on your seasonal shopping list … or for yourself. Titles are linked to sales sites. Happy holidays. MH

Doorley authored the earlier Irish-American Diaspora Nationalism: The Friends of Irish Freedom, 1916-1935, a key text for understanding the U.S. front of the Irish War of Independence. Cohalan was a major figure of the period and a close associate of the Irish immigrant nationalist John Devoy. This book is a welcome first biography of the “Judge.” Read Doorley’s 2020 guest post about the friction between Cohalan and Éamon de Valera.

This was my surprise find of the year and a welcome diversion from “Decade of Centenaries” reading. Bulik is a senior editor at The New York Times. He offers fascinating details about the birth of Irish secret societies, their transformation in the coal fields of Pennsylvania, and their impact on U.S. Civil War conscription and 19th century labor unrest.

“A next-generation travel guide for an age when nearly all of us carry smartphones that put all the practical details at our fingertips,” I wrote in my February interview with the author. Kavanagh’s May guest post about the ‘Spirit of the West’ was based on reporting for the book.

Financier and banker John Pierpont “JP” Morgan recruited Buckley, of Listowel, County Kerry, to work at his New York City mansion early in the 20th century. Her U.S. culinary adventures eventually brought her to the White House, where she cooked for presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. This image-laden book includes some of her forgotten recipes. (Disclosure: I’m always happy to support literary efforts from North Kerry, my ancestral home.)

A fresh appraisal by the former associate professor of history at Catholic University of America and the curator of American Catholic History Collections. This book arrives at the 60th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, at the time followed by the groundbreaking release of The American Irish by journalist William V. Shannon. He later became U.S. Ambassador to Ireland in the Carter administration. I’m arranging an interview with Meagher for early 2024. Please check back.

Fenian, O’Rossa archives at Catholic Univeristy

I’ve been fortunate this year to visit three Irish/Irish-American archives:

In March, I visited Quinnipiac University’s An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) archive and museum in Hamden, Conn.

In September, I viewed the Allegheny County Ancient Order of Hibernians archive at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

And now in December, I’ve spent a few hours at the Fenian Brotherhood/O’Donovan Rossa collection at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Timothy J. Meagher, curator and archivist at The American Catholic History Research Center & University Archivist, and his staff were most helpful during my brief visit. Meagher has written extensively about Irish America.

Among the items that caught my eye was a pamphlet by Rev. C. F. O’Leary reflecting his October 1884 lecture in New York titled, “The Church and Irish Revolution.” In the speech the priest worried that efforts by the hierarchy to suppress grassroots Irish nationalism would “leave the people without hope and tyrants without restraint.” Fr. O’Leary also dismissed church criticism of the agrarian and republican secret societies associated with the land war of the period.

In conclusion, he said:

The Church does not condemn the bonding together in secret societies for a true and just cause. … Secrecy is necessary to success in Irish revolution; and, even if that secrecy is oath-bound it is not thereby sinful. No Irish revolutionist swears to anything not based on truth, justice and judgement. He swears to nothing that is not already defined. He but swears to what every Irishman swears in his heart, that he would be willing to strike for Ireland.

Thus do we stand before the Church and the world claiming in sight of high Heaven our long-lost rights, and having but the one elevated and avowed aim to give our country her rightful place among the nations of the earth. Thus do we stand, as we have stood for centuries, determined to fight the battle over again for freedom and right –– resolved that on the cause must go, emanating from the nation’s will.