Irish America Names 
"The Top 100 Irish Americans"

By John Mooney

Screen legend Maureen O’Hara topped Irish America magazine’s annual "Top 100 Irish Americans" list for 2005. 

The magazine, which first compiled the "Top 100" in 1985, honors people in the fields of arts & entertainment, community, education, medicine & science, politics & public service, song & dance, sports, and the written word. The winners are announced at a gala held at New York’s famed Plaza Hotel on March 16, the night before St. Patrick’s Day.

"We are proud to name Maureen O’Hara as our Irish American of the Year, not just for her many wonderful performances, but because she remained true to her Irish roots and her feisty nature," said Patricia Harty, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Irish America. 

"She refused to put down "British" as her former nationality when she became an American citizen in 1946," Harty continued. "Her stubborn resistance caused a change in immigration proceedings, and shortly thereafter natives of Ireland were no longer identified as British in the naturalization process."

Hollywood’s "Queen of Technicolor" co-starred with acting legends such as John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Charles Laughton, and Anthony Quinn. She also worked with two of the greatest directors of her era, John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock.

The actress, nee Maureen FitzSimons, has released her autobiography 'Tis Herself (Simon & Schuster) in paperback. The tome details her early life in Dublin and her long film career, including the classics The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Miracle on 34th Street, How Green Was My Valley, and The Parent Trap. Naturally, a large portion of the book covers her most famous role: Mary Kate Danaher, the love interest of John Wayne's Sean Thornton in The Quiet Man

Dublin-born Dr. Garret FitzGerald, cardiologist and director of the University of Pennsylvania’s department of pharmacology, was honored for being the first to predict that popular drugs to reduce arthritis pain, known as cox-2 inhibitors, could cause heart attack and stroke. His discovery led to the recall of blockbuster drug Vioxx, among others.

"There are a thousand people like me doing scientific research every day. Sometimes fate has it that you make a monumental impact," Dr. FitzGerald said. "It’s very humbling to be recognized by the Irish American community with which I feel a deep connection. This honor means a lot to me."

Youngstown, Ohio native Maureen McGovern also made the list. The singer currently stars in a Broadway musical version of Little Women. In September, she will take the show on a 30-city national tour that will start in San Diego and make stops in Chicago and Columbus. McGovern first rose to fame in 1973 with her number one hit "The Morning After," which was the Oscar-winning theme to disaster film, The Poseidon Adventure. Since then, she has recorded 25 albums and made scores of TV appearances.

Other Notables

  • "Celtic Cowboy" Michael Martin Murphey, a singer/songwriter and cowboy who owns ranches in Red River, New Mexico, and Viroqua, Wisconsin. Murphey," a descendant of Irish freedom fighters," has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of cowboy music in America, and he is the driving force behind Westfest, a series of concerts that celebrate Western music. His best known singles include the 1975 smash "Wildfire" and his 1972 protest song, "Geronimo’s Cadillac," which endeared him to the Lakota Nation. Murphey’s groundbreaking Sagebrush Symphony combined cowboy music with a symphony orchestra. 
  • James Nicholson, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the second largest Cabinet department in the Federal government. A West Point graduate and decorated Vietnam veteran, Nicholson recently served as U.S. Ambassador to The Vatican. 
  • Notre Dame University benefactor and former Coca-Cola executive Don Keough, who was born in Dubuque, Iowa to farmer parents.
  • NBC’s Today Show news anchor Ann Curry, the daughter of a Japanese mother and an Irish-American father, and Meet the Press host 
  • Tim Russert, whose best seller Big Russ & Me paid tribute to his World War II veteran father and his own childhood in Buffalo, New York.
  • Tom Brady, the former University of Michigan quarterback who has led the New England Patriots to victory in three of the past four Super Bowls.
  • Slugger Sean Casey, who hit .324 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI for the Cincinnati Reds in 2004.
  • Nineteen-year-old Michigan resident Kara Lynn Joyce, who won two silver medals in swimming at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
  • Timothy Mack of the University of Tennessee, whose 5.95 meter (more than 19 feet) pole vault broke the Olympic record and won him a gold medal in Athens. 
  • Terry Ryan, general manager of baseball’s Minnesota Twins, a small market team that continues to make the playoffs annually. Ryan’s family owned a Janesville, Wisconsin company that built bridges in the southern part of the state. A former major league pitcher, Ryan earned a degree in physical education from the University of Wisconsin before joining the New York Mets in the early 1980s, when he scouted players in five Midwestern states. He joined the Twins in 1986 and has been with the team ever since, including the 1987 and 1991 World Series championship seasons.
  • Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio for his award-winning sports writing.
  • Frank Conroy, who directed the Iowa Writers Workshop, the most prestigious writing program in the country, for 17 years. Conroy has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and GQ, among other publications and published a highly acclaimed memoir, Stop Time. The multi-talented Conroy also has won a Grammy Award for his Jazz piano playing
  • .Lawrence O’Flynn, who teaches science at Jones Middle School in Upper Arlington, Ohio. O’Flynn’s mission is to "make science fun" for kids by incorporating technology. He was one of three finalists for the Shell Science Teaching Award in 2004 and has been nominated again in 2005.
  • Sixteen-year-old Ohio native Garrett Coleman, who has won the All-Ireland and World Championship competitions in Irish dance.
New York-based writer John Mooney can be reached at jmooney@HillandKnowlton.com


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