From 2/21/13 a Night at the Irish Consulate
Last night was one to remember! I attended a reception at the home of the Irish Consul general, Noel Kilkenny and his wife, Honora. The occasion was the naming of this year's Grand Marshals for the St. Pat's For All Parade. For me, the night was one filled with symbolism. A little over a hundred years ago my mother's family emigrated from Ireland to America, my father's family came a generation before. Like the millions that followed them, they came seeking a better way of life for themselves and their families. Like today's immigrants they received a none too warm welcome. And like today's immigrants there was no immediate better way of life. Their immediate lot was menial, low paying and dangerous jobs. Housing was crowded and inadequate. Respect would have to be earned. For all appearances their arrival offered little hope of a better life, and probably to less stronger folk they had made a mistake in coming. But that was not the case. Slowly and surely they worked at improving their lot in life and at the same time they saw that their children took advantage of the City's educational opportunities. Slowly and surely the dream became a reality not because of a miracle but because of determination and hard work; because, at no time, did they lose sight of their dream or their determination to seize it for themselves and their families. My great aunt, Mary Henry, a single lady, knew well the great houses of the City. She was employed as a maid and a cook. She left the comfort provided by her employment to raise my Mom and her four brothers and two sisters who has been orphaned. She never complained about leaving Fifth Avenue for Brownsville. She and all in that generation and the one that followed never let the bumps in the road keep them from turning the dream into reality. I am in this great house tonight night nit as an employee but as a guest. A guest and a grandson fully aware that I am the recipient of that better life, once dreamed and now realized, because of their sacrifices and determination. May the grandchildren of today's immigrants be as lucky as me!