US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley has spoken of the special links between Ireland and the US at the launch of a new book which chronicles the lives of five Irish-Americans whose impoverished parents emigrated to the US from Galway in the 19th Century. An Irish-American Odyssey: the Remarkable Rise of the O'Shaughnessy Brothers is authored by DCU academic and journalist Professor Colum Kenny.
Responding to audience questions, the Ambassador reaffirmed the commitment of the US government to support the peace-building work of the political parties in the North. He also praised the forward-thinking action of US President Barack Obama in pressing ahead with important immigration reform while acknowledging that not all undocumented Irish-Americans will be beneficiaries.
Speaking to an audience of DCU students at the launch, Ambassador O'Malley spoke of his many personal resonances with Professor Kenny's book,
"This book strikes a chord with me. I am an Irish-American and I am a beneficiary of emigration to the United States. Many of the events described in Professor Kenny's book were happening to my own grandparents as they were preparing to leave Ireland. Over the next few years, I am determined to do whatever I can to strengthen the ties between our two countries, the kind of ties that were built by the O'Shaughnessys, the O'Malleys and all the 40 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry."
James O'Shaughnessy was a journalist who became the first Chief Executive of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, described by Time magazine as "the best in the business". His brother Francis, the first graduate of the University of Notre Dame to be invited to deliver its annual commencement address, joined forces with James to found the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago. Another brother, Thomas became the leading Gaelic Revival artist in America as well as a promoter of Italian-American heritage, campaigning successfully to have Columbus day enacted a public holiday.
Professor Kenny said: "I hope this book may serve to remind people of the enormous contribution that so many migrants in general, and Irish migrants in particular, make to their host countries."