Launch of Tales of New York DVD

December 2nd, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

Located in the heart of New York's Greenwich Village, Glucksman Ireland House is the center for Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University, with courses in history, Irish language, literature, music, and politics. New York University under graduates may pursue a minor or a B.A. /M.A. in Irish and Irish-American Studies. Graduate students may also earn a Masters in Irish and Irish-American Studies

For the New York community, they present a weekly public events series during the academic year, as well as a monthly traditional Irish music series. For the non-credit adult learners they host evening Irish language classes and also serves as a resource center for Irish, Irish-American, and Irish Diaspora culture preserves the history of the Irish in America through recorded interviews with a range of individuals. The collection of over 200 interviews is used in podcast, teaching and deposited in the universities archives of Irish America. It is in many ways a wonderful Irish oasis in the heart of this city that never sleeps.

And it was here on November 13th that I with Christy and Anthony Riordan, Donie Sullivan and friend John o Sullivan found ourselves as we prepared to hand over to the university a invaluable collection of GAA orientated interviews which had been recorded three years previously in that city. It is as the fellow says a long story, beginning in 2011 when at the very generous invitation of a great Kerry Gael resident in New York since the early fifties, Mickey Moynihan and his wife Phil (one of the well known Kiely family from Tarbert), Christy of C/R videos Caherceiveen, former Kerry winning captain (1970) Donie o Sullivan and I spend ten days there meeting and interviewing many of the outstanding GAA personalities in the city.

It was an unforgettable experience as we recorded close to thirty hours of priceless material and now thanks to the sheer professionalism and hard hours and selfless work of Christy and his son Anthony stories that might have been lost and forgotten for ever are now available for generations to come. And the end result, a fascinating three and a half hour long DVD entitled, Tales of New York: A Brief History of the Gaelic Athletic Association in New York, examining the growth and development of Gaelic Games in that city. The work has been timed beautifully as the GAA there are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.

Now we were back at the invitation of Castlegregory born Professor Joe Lee Director of Glucksman House Ireland to officially hand over our work. It was a full house as Donie contextualized the documentary and Christy and Anthony screened excerpts from the DVD. The film works with interwoven brief sketches on immigration, economic, social and political problems using contemporary and archival footage. Marian Casey with Aunascaul connections and Marian Nyhan of the university also played a massive part in the evenings events.

In this superb production you will hear the views of some of the greatest Gaelic footballers ever to play in New York as they recount their experiences in The Big Apple. And of course the views of many men and women who immigrated to that city and became deeply involved in the game there.

Legends of the game and others such as Mick o Connell, Maurice Fitzgerald Donie o Sullivan Sean o Neill (Down), Jim McKeever (Derry), Sonny Kenna, Paddy Diamond, Michael Moynihan Denis Bernard (Cork), Ambrose o Connell, Bridie McManus, Kathleen McCarthy, Rosie o Reilly and many more all recall their involvement and their playing days in Gaelic Park and the enormous part the GAA played in their lives when they landed far from their native land.

Also included is a special interview with Professor Joe Lee and footage of the 2011 New York final in Gaelic Park (including some Kerry men) and interviews with many of those players that day are a huge part of this historic DVD. Thirty hours of wonderfully historic interviews as well as hours of photographs and film footage not included in the production but recorded during the 2011 visit to New York were also presented to the college. Kerry o Donnell daughter of the late John Kerry o Donnell who many told us was responsible for keeping Gaelic Park available for the GAA recounts in vivid detail her family involvement in the games in the city.

On the following Sunday November 16th  a second launch was held at The Aqueduct Bar4277 Katonah Ave, The Bronx. Mickey Moynihan and his wife Phil own this hugely popular establishment and it is a must visit destination for all GAA followers. Mickey himself emigrated from Rathmore in the early fifties when only sixteen years of age and was one of the midfield stars for the great New York sides who contested five National League finals against Dublin, Longford, Kerry and Galway, two finals, in the sixties winning twice against all the odds.

Terry Connaughton owns the Riverdale Steak House in West Bronx New York. The Roscommon man's name has become synonymous with New York GAA. He's one of the Association's most dedicated activists and he maintains a massive interest in the primrose and blue. When Terry immigrated to New York in 1952, he decided not to leave his heritage behind. In the Big Apple, he has thrown himself into Gaelic games, forging a reputation for himself as one of the city's most ardent Gaels, making quite a splash on both the playing and administration front. Terry had the honor of playing for the New York All Stars team against Wexford in 1957. Towards the end of his hurling career, he began to get involved in administration.

Terry was Vice-President of the New York Board in 1971, 72 and 73. He was President in 1974 and again in 1988 and 89. He's also a former County board PRO and is the man credited with getting ladies football up and running in New York. In 1979, he took over the Riverdale Steakhouse in West Bronx, a bar and restaurant which he still runs successfully today, alongside his wife Anne, who comes from Oldcastle in Meath. Terry and Anne have five children, Terry, Eileen, Mary-Anne, Eamon and Donal.

An invitation to an evening in his restaurant saw a remarkable story brought to a conclusion. Close to thirty years ago Donie o Sullivan won a gold medal playing with the Good Shepherd club in New York. For one reason or another he never received his award. Terry however had kept possession of the medal and after all these years following an evening in which we were generously entertained Terry presented the medal to the former Kerry winning captain. Donie in his reply to Terry and his family expressed his admiration and sheer delight at the evening's events after over three decades. A visit to the Big Apple is always an unforgettable experience but this latest stopover was very special indeed.

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