A Life Across The Ocean

This series documents the lives of Irish men and women who made the journey across the Atlantic and found a home in Queens. Many left homes without electricity in the 1940s and 1950s to live in the hustle an bustle of New York City. We learn about the struggles and successes of their lives in America as well as how they maintained strong ties to home. 

Tim & Mary Ann O’Sullivan

“It was exciting, heartbreaking, wonderful, and everything combined…because it was a completely different life altogether.”

Tim and MaryAnn left Ireland in search of a better life in the 1940s and met one another in the Catskills. They maintain that hard work and determination was what made their time in the States such a success. 

Interviewer: Eileen Colleran Sprague 

Date: January 18, 2015

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Jane Duffy

 Jane Duffy photographed by kevin mcgann

Jane Duffy photographed by kevin mcgann

“I arrived unloved, unskilled and didn’t know what was going on, but I was ready to take on the world…”

Jane came to New York in 1948. She worked as a nanny and waitress before settling in Sunnyside where she raised her five children. 

Interviewer: Eileen Colleran Sprague

Date: February 2, 2015

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Madge O’Boyle

Madge is from the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) of Gaoth Dobhair in Co.Donegal. She moved to New York so she could see America “before the world ended” in 1960! She lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn and then Sunnyside, Queens. She maintained strong ties with Donegal but never went back to stay and instead made New York home.

Interviewer: Eileen Colleran Sprague

Date: April 18, 2015

Tony O’Reilly

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“America takes you over after a while…and its ok….I love it…”

Tony left a struggling farm in Cavan behind to discover Dublin, London, Toronto, Buffalo and finally New York. Through boom and bust, trips home and finding love, he has grown to see himself as a true American. 

Interviewers: Pat McCloskey & Eileen Colleran Sprague

Date: April 10, 2015

Bridget O’Brien Anderson

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Bridget is originally from Doon in Co.Limerick. She followed her sister to the States in 1957 and began working as a phone operator. She met her husband in Gaelic Park and they settled in Woodside where she raised their nine children. 

Interviewer: Eileen Colleran Sprague

Date: November 23, 2015

Mary Twomey

Mary Twomey made the journey across the Atlantic when she was just eleven years old. She left her nine siblings in Co.Kilkenny and joined with her uncle and aunt in Queens, New York in 1950. Seven of Mary’s siblings made the same journey as the years by on and her story is one of family bonds staying strong across oceans and through generations.

Interviewer: Eileen Sprague

Date: August 24, 2015

 

Oral History Live

 brendan fay photographed by kevin mcgann

brendan fay photographed by kevin mcgann

“We are all active on behalf of one another as human beings”

Brendan Fay is an activist, writer, and filmmaker, who has lived in New York since 1988. In this live interview from November 2016, interviewer Vincent Carey brings Brendan through his upbringing in Ireland, finding himself in New York, and the birth of the all-inclusive “St.Pat’s for All Parade” which takes place every year in Queens. 

You can find some of the films mentioned in this interview here: https://vimeo.com/brendanfay

Interviewer: Vincent Carey 

Date: November 16, 2016

Transatlantic Artists

New York has been a place of pilgrimage for many Irish artists. In this series, Carmel McMahon interviews a number of Irish musicians, writers and artists about their journey to New York and how the immigrant experience has shaped who they are and the work that they do. 

 

Paddy Smith

 paddy smith

paddy smith

“Immigration has made me who I am…It’s moulded me” 

Paddy Smith’s story is one of rock bottom and recovery. His talent as a blues harmonica player brought him to share the stage with many greats in the House of Blues in Chicago but a long battle with alcoholism resulted in homelessness and a difficult homecoming to Ireland. In sobriety, Paddy lives through his music. He records and performs regularly in Ireland and the U.S. https://www.facebook.com/PADDY-SMITH-BAND-183321545194771/ 

Interviewer: Carmel McMahon 

Date: April 16, 2018



Coming soon to Queens Irish Oral History

 LIam doherty photographed by kevin mcgann

LIam doherty photographed by kevin mcgann