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 significant 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 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, Ireland Under Coercion, Revisited, and American Reporting on Irish Independence, 1919-1922, are copyrighted by Mark Holan. © 2019