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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

My Trip To The Big Apple

I think I warned you last month that I would be visiting New York in October. Well I did; with 106 others from Ireland. We were there to support CIE Transport Gaels gaelic football team. On Sunday 19th October they played two games at Gaelic Park in the Bronx. (The committee met Cardinal Egan at Saint Patrick's Cathedral the Sunday morning before the games.)They won the first match against the New York Fire Department for the Alfonse Niedermeyer Trophy. In the second game the Irish penchant for "batin' the Polis" let them down when they met the NYPD to play for the Moira Smith Cup; they lost but gave a good account of themselves.

Moira Smith was the only female police officer to die at the WTC on that tragic day. Her father came from Larkfield Gardens in Dublin and this was be a moving experience for her family. Her husband and daughter attended the game.

Alfonse Niedermeyer was one of the brave firemen to lose his life in the service of others on 9/11. His mother was from County Sligo and it was be a touching occasion for his loved ones who were also at the match.

Team with Sponsors - For larger view, click here

Team and Manager John Brady, For larger view, click here

The trip was planned and organised, over a period of several months, by a committee of twelve. As one of the "twelve Apostles" my function was to look after communications and media matters. And of course arranging entertainment was part of my brief.

We were staying in the Navy Lodge on Staten Island. So, if one wants to source appropriate entertainment for a large group of people, on "Staten Ireland" what does one do? Well, I'll tell you. One makes contact with Tommy Mannix, President/Executive Director of the Columcille Irish Cultural Center and that's what I did. Electronic epistles crossed the Atlantic, daily, since last February and Tommy arranged a special showing of "The Irish And How They Got That Way", a musical, by Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt.

On Saturday 18th October our group attended this excellent show which consists of 26 songs linked together by segments of history. Through the pen of Mr.McCourt and the talent of Producer Christopher Catt and his cast of six, we were taken on a musical journey through hardship, success, politics, show business, British oppression and the American Civil War.

On the authentic Irish set we were introduced to entertainers, statesmen labour agitators and hordes of Irish people who played a major role in making America great.

Shown: Mattie Lennon on the set of "the Irish And How They Got That Way" with producer Christopher Catt

As one of our group said to me after the show, "I learned more about Irish history tonight than I did from all the schoolbooks". The narration links the songs together with passages moving, educational and humorous. Between tear-jerking stories about the Famine and accounts of roguery in Tammany hall you were treated to snippets of philosophy such as, "In the beginning was the word . . . and the Irish got it" or "The Irish didn't like two kinds of American people; blacks and whites". In the words of one reviewer, "Just when you think you are about to cry, the ensemble breaks once again into song, thus saving one the indignity of having to beg for a tissue". On the the night before our return to the green and misty island it was decided that we would have a get-together (all 107 of us) each wearing his or her county jersey.

But of course we didn't have a venue. So it was back to Tommy Mannix. This man of many parts arranged for us to assemble in the "Make Believe Ballroom" on Staten Island where we were fed, watered and entertained by several groups of musicians until dawn broke over the Hudson.

When I mentioned to one of my fellow-travellers that I had spent a lot of time doing spouse-accompanied shopping in Manhattan he told me the following story;

An Irishman is walking across Fifth Avenue. He looks right instead of left and is hit by a yellow taxi. He is taken to the Intensive Care Unit where his wife's phone number is found on his mobile phone. When told of her husband's accident and his serious condition she replies, "I'm in a mile-long queue in Macys, I'll be here for ages".
An hour and a half later she arrives at the hospital where she is confronted by a female Doctor. "Mrs Murphy. You were informed an hour and a half ago that your husband was seriously ill . . . and you were in a queue in Macys . . . which you couldn't leave . . .
What did you buy?"

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