William Butler Yeats, born 13 June 1865, died 28 January 1939, was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. Yeats was born in Sandymount, County Dublin, a member of the Anglo–Irish ruling class. Raised in County Sligo, as a member of the Protestant Ascendancy, he grew up during a time of political and social change in Ireland which, even though supportive of the nationalist revival, directly disadvantaged his heritage.
The revival of strong and popular Irish nationalism fueled by the ancient literature, songs and stories of the Gaels took hold of his generation. Finding inspiration in this literature, he wrote from the same wellspring and developed with others of his generation what would be remembered as the Irish Renaissance. He gave voice to an ancient people searching for its place in the modern world, and with this new voice, that place was secured.
He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and George Moore, in 1899 established the Irish Literary Theatre (the Abbey Theater) in Dublin for the purpose of performing plays highlighting Irish authors in both Irish and English languages. Yeats served as its director during its early years.
In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his inspired poetry. He was the first Irishman so honored.
From the very foundations of Irish civilization, words have been the cords that give voice to the direction we follow. Whether Irish Gaelic or English, whether spoken or written, the Irish love of verse and prose is as strong today as in ancient times when “men of letters” held a distinct and honored place at the top of society.
The Council of Irish Associations of Greater Bergen County is honored to present an annual award to an outstanding individual whose contributions in the field of literature defines their inheritance from the ancient Gaels to a modern people taking its part on the world stage and giving voice to the Irish experience.
Cormac O’Malley dabbled in Irish American cultural affairs from the start of his legal professional career on Wall Street in 1970. He was Honorary Librarian for the American Irish Historical Society working in their library, and worked for four years at the Irish American Cultural Institute’s 14-day New York blitz of Irish history and culture in their Irish Fortnight program. He was active with the American Committee for Ulster Justice seeking Congressional Hearings on Northern Ireland. They were held in late February 1972 after the terrible events of Bloody Sunday that January.
He also helped create the Irish American Bicentennial Corporation celebrating the Irish role in the American Revolution with modern cultural activities for two years. In 1976, he was founding secretary for the Ireland Fund which later became the successful American Ireland Fund.
Cormac’s mother, Helen Hooker, was an American artist, sculptor and photographer. Cormac managed her legacy with exhibitions, writings and books for 30 years. Cormac spent time in Mexico, Belgium and England for 15 years before returning to NYC. In 1992 he joined the Board of Glucksman Ireland House. He was its first President, helping create their American Journal for Irish Studies. He managed their Archives for Irish America. Cormac founded the non-profit American Friends of the Arts in Ireland which supports six national cultural institutions in Dublin. He joined the Board of Irish American Cultural Institute in Morristown, NJ.
Cormac was his father’s literary executor, publishing 13 books. In recent years these have related to what he calls his “father’s unfinished work,” books he might have published or re-edited. His father Ernie O’Malley died at the early age of 59, when Cormac was 14 years old. The books relate to the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, in which Ernie played a significant role, but also include his letters, diaries and photographs.
Terry Golway is a writer and historian of the Irish-American experience. He has written more than a dozen books, including The Irish in America, Irish Rebel, For the Cause of Liberty, So Others May Live, and Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics.He was a columnist for the New York Observer and The New York Times, and currently is a senior editor at Politico and a columnist for The Irish Echo. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Rutgers University. He and his wife, Eileen Duggan, and their two children, Kate and Conor, live in Maplewood, NJ.
As an author, screenwriter, director, and producer, Mary Pat Kelly has devoted much of her career to telling stories about Ireland. Her acclaimed 2009 novel Galway Bay, based on the history of her Irish-American family, spans six generations and universalizes the Irish-American experience as it stretches from the Famine and the resulting mass emigration to the American Civil War, the building of Chicago, and finally the Irish Revolution.
Born and raised in Chicago, Mary Pat Kelly attended NYU Film School, received her PhD from the City University of New York, and has taught at City College and LaGuardia Community College. She worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter for Paramount and Columbia Pictures, and in New York as an associate producer for Good Morning America(1976) and Saturday Night Live (1980-82).
She later produced a number of award-winning PBS documentaries, including: To Live for Ireland (1986), a portrait of John Hume and the Social Democratic and Labor Party; The Yanks in Ireland (1992), which told the story of U.S. forces in Northern Ireland during WWII, and which was accompanied by a book; and Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS Mason (1995), also accompanied by a book, which told the story of the only African-American sailors to take a WWII warship into combat, and whose first foreign port was Belfast. She also wrote and directed the feature film Proud (2004), based on the USS Mason story, which stars Ozzie Davis and Stephen Rea.
As a member of the film industry, she authored two books on one of America’s premier filmmakers—Martin Scorcese: The First Decade (1978) and Martin Scorese: A Journey(1990). She ventured into fiction in 1997 with her first novel, Special Intentions, which stems from her experiences as a nun in a convent on the West Side of Chicago. Her most recent novel, Of Irish Blood (2015) continues the saga of Galway Bay.
Mary Pat Kelly lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her husband, app developer Martin Sheeran from County Tyrone. She is the vice president of Irish American Writers and Artists, which supports the creative work of local artists.
As Senior Editor of the New York-published Irish Echo, Ray O’Hanlon writes for one of the most widely-read Irish publications in America. A native of Dublin, Ray has reported from three continents in a newspaper career spanning 35 years. In addition to his work as a reporter and editor, Ray has been a frequent contributor to U.S., Irish and British media outlets reporting on Ireland, Irish American affairs, and Anglo-Irish relations. He has appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, and the Lehrer News Hour on PBS. He has also been interviewed on RTE, BBC and ITV, both television and radio, and was a commentator on the PBS television show “Out of Ireland” for two years.
Ray graduated from University College of Dublin, majoring in politics and economics. He immigrated to the United States in 1987, and is a proud citizen of both Ireland and the US. He joined The Irish Echo in 1988, shortly after moving here, and became Editor in 2007.
Ray’s book, The New Irish Americans, is considered a definitive account of the battle for immigration reform waged by the Irish Reform Movement and other Irish organizations of the late 1980s and early ’90s. It gives insight into new immigration laws and speculates on the future of relationships between Irish-born and American-born Irish. Published in 1998, the book received a Washington Irving Book Award.
In 2011, Ray published his first novel, The South Lawn Plot, which weaves a complex and thrilling tale of intrigue across 400 years, from the 1607 Gunpowder Plot to a present-day attempt on the President’s life.
Ray is a resident of Ossining, New York, where he resides with his wife, Lisa—a native of Danville, Illinois—and their three children.
Peter Quinn joined Time Inc. as the chief speechwriter in 1985 and retired as corporate editorial director for Time Warner at the end of 2007. He received a B.A. from Manhattan College in 1969, an M.A. in history from Fordham University in 1974, and completed all the requirements for a doctorate except the dissertation. He was awarded a Ph.D., honoris causa, by Manhattan College in 2002.
In 1979, Quinn was appointed to the staff of Governor Hugh Carey as chief speechwriter. He continued in that role under Governor Mario Cuomo, helping craft the Governor’s 1984 Democratic Convention speech and his address on religion and politics at Notre Dame University.
His 1994 novel Banished Children of Eve won a 1995 American Book Award. Looking for Jimmy: In Search of Irish America, a collection of non-fiction pieces, was published in 2007. National Book Award-winner Colum McCann has summed up Quinn's trilogy of historical detective novels -- Hour of the Cat (2005), The Man Who Never Returned (2010), and Dry Bones (2013) -- as "generous and agile and profound."
Quinn co-wrote the script for the 1987 television documentary McSorley’s New York, which was awarded a New York-area Emmy for “Outstanding Historical Programming.” He has participated as a guest commentator in several PBS documentaries, including The Irish in America; New York: A Documentary Film; and The Life and Times of Stephen Foster, as well as the Academy Award-nominated film, The Passion of Sister Rose. He was an advisor on Martin Scorcese’s film Gangs of New York. He helped conceive and script the six-part documentary The Road to the White House, which aired on TG4, in Ireland, in 2009.
Along with his book writing, Quinn was the editor of The Recorder: The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society from 1986 to 1993. He has published articles and reviews in The New York Times, Commonweal, America, American Heritage, The Catholic Historical Review, The Philadelphia Enquirer, The L.A. Times, Eiré-Ireland, and in numerous other newspapers and journals.
At present Quinn is on the advisory boards of the American Irish Historical Society, NYU's Gluckman Ireland House, and the Tenement Museum. He is a co-founder of Irish American Writers & Artists.
Married to Kathleen Burbank Quinn, he and his wife (a fellow native of the Bronx) reside in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. They are the parents of two grown children.
Ciarán O’Reilly is the producing director of the Irish Repertory Theater in New York City which he co-founded with Charlotte Moore. In the twenty five years of the Irish Repertory Theater, Ciarán has produced over one hundred and fifty Off-Broadway productions and has acted in and directed many of them.
His most recent directorial productions are: Brian Friel’s The Freedom of the City; O’Neill’s Beyond the Horizon; the world premiere of Banished Children of Eve; The Emperor Jones (Callaway Ward, O’Neill Credo Award, Drama Desk, Drama League, Lucille Lortel Nomination); The Yeats Project; The Master Builder; Prisoner of the Crown; Sive; Defender of the Faith; The Hairy Ape (Drama Desk, Drama League, and Callaway nomination); The Field; Philadelphia, Here I Come (Drama Desk Nomination); and the Irish Repertory original, The Bells of Christmas. Ciarán has appeared at the Abbey Theater in Dublin and made his Broadway debut in The Corn Is Green. His many Off-Broadway roles include: Dancing at Lughnasa; Molly Sweeney; Shaw’s Candida; and Brian Friel’s Aristocrats at the Irish Repertory Theater; and the Roundabout Theater Company production of Touch of a Poet with Gabriel Byrne.
He appeared in The Devil’s Own (starring Harrison Ford), Law & Order (NBC), The Irish…and How They Got That Way (WNEW), Third Watch (NBC), and Bored to Death (HBO). He has been honored three times by Irish America Magazine with the Irish America “Top 100 Irish” Award. In 2011, he and Charlotte Moore received the Eugene O’Neill Life Time Achievement Award from Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc.
A native of Virginia, County Cavan, Ireland, Ciarán was educated at Carmelite College in Moate, County Westmeath. He and his wife Jennifer have two children, Olivia and Seamus. An avid motorcyclist, he has ridden around the world and from the Arctic Circle to the tip of South America. His articles on his travels appeared in AM Motorcycle Magazine.
The Council of Irish Associations of Greater Bergen County is privileged to present to Ciarán O’Reilly the Council’s William Butler Yeats Literary Award in recognition of his long and accomplished career as producer, actor and writer. His work with the Irish Repertory Theater in New York City has opened for Americans the world of Irish Theater through the presentation of works not only of established and recognized writers but of those writers just gaining recognition. The Irish Repertory Theater brings to an American audience not just good, sound, and often brilliant writing, but opens up a window on the Irish world, a world of drama and comedy, of praise and satire, of joy and tragedy—the full range of human emotion and expectation expressed through the eyes of the Gael and the Anglo Irish. Ciarán has chosen a life of discovery and exploration. Whether on a motorcycle exploring the physical wonders of the planet or on the stage exploring the richness of millennia of Irish experience, we have all enjoyed the ride and look forward to new anticipated discoveries.
Professor Christine Kinealy was born in Liverpool, England, to Irish parents, her mother from County Mayo and her father from County Tipperary. Since September 2007 Professor Kinealy has been a member of the faculty at Caspersen Graduate School, Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Her specialty is nineteenth-century Irish History and she also teaches courses on British and European history of that period. A 1984 graduate of Trinity College in Dublin with a PhD. in Modern Irish History, Professor Kinealy has spent almost 30 years in the academic community in teaching and research positions in Australia, Ireland, England, and now the United States of America.
Christine is the mother of two children, Siobhan born in Dublin and Ciaran, born in Belfast.
Professor Kinealy is a world-renowned author/historian publishing a long and impressive list of books and articles primarily in the area of Professor Kinealy’s specialty – nineteenth-century Ireland including the Young Irelanders 1848 uprising and Daniel O’Connell. Outstanding among her publications are her many books and articles on the Great Hunger –an Gorta Mór . She has spoken to both the United States Congress and the British Parliament on the Great Hunger. Her most recent publication, War and Peace: Ireland since the 1960’s, describes the triumphs and travails in Ireland over the last 5 decades.
Professor Kinealy is a member of numerous professional organizations and the recipient of multiple awards for her contributions to the study of Irish History, and was named in the Irish America magazine among the “Top 100 Irish Americans in 2011.”
From the very foundations of Irish culture springs a respect and a love for the expression of thought through words. Poetry and prose, history, genealogy, law, medicine, religion—from praise to satire, from comedy to laments, the Irish people have a love affair with the word. Originally spoken, since the introduction of Christianity in the fifth century AD, written as well. Tonight the Council of Irish Associations of Greater Bergen County is privileged to present to Professor Christine Kinealy, Ph.D., the Council’s William Butler Yeats Literary Award in recognition of her outstanding work in Irish Studies and her great gift of translating her studies and research into those aspects of human endeavor so prized by the Gaels of all generations – the spoken word through her teaching and the written word through her writings.