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  • Irish-American identity over, says US columnist

    Friday, March 20th, 2009

    Irish-Americans will no longer have a powerful impact on American public life, says an opinion writer for U.S. News and World Report. John Aloysius Farrell makes this assertion in a tribute to New York Times journalist Maureen Dowd, saying she “might be the last Irish-American still shaping American public life”. While acknowledging the influence of writers like Alice McDermott and the great Irish-American politician Ted Kennedy, he says,

    But that long marvelous strain of Erin’s sons and daughters, running back two centuries, who once ruled the City Halls and statehouses, put out fires and caught crooks, fought wars, ruled the newsrooms and lit up the stages and silver screens, has come to its end. The melting pot did its work. Surely, there are some who will turn the Pogues up loud today (You’re the measure of my dreams…) wear green ties and lift a glass of Knappogue Castle. But the Irish Catholic identity of our younger days, as the children or grandchildren of immigrants, taught by the nuns, singing “Galway Bay,” cursing the Brits and revering Robert Emmet, is gone.

    He notes that the late Pat Moynihan had predicted this decline in influence:

    He noted back in 1963 how Irish identity was declining amid prosperity and respectability. (A warning to African-Americans there.) Even as the Irish took the top jobs, the base was eroding. On the day that JFK died, “the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Chairman of the National Committee were all Irish, all Catholic, all Democrats,” Moynihan noted. “It will not come again.”

    And it didn’t. There was a chance, I suppose, before Ireland joined Europe and became the (now clawless) Celtic Tiger, that continuing waves of immigration would refresh Irishness in America. It didn’t happen. The Australians, imagine, have a bigger profile in Hollywood today.

    It’s a perspective that highlights the importance of the strategic review of Irish-US relations that the Taoiseach launched in the US last week.

    See the report:

    The Irish American Reign Fades: Maureen Dowd is the Last of a Dying Breed