Irish American Heritage Month
Irish–American Heritage Month is celebrated by proclamation of the President and Congress in the United States to honor the achievements and contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants living in the United States. It was first celebrated in 1991. Keep scrolling for photographs, book recommendations, and links to more information about the important role Irish-Americans have played throughout the history of our country.
President Joe Biden
Joe Biden is the current and 46th U.S. President. He was born in Scranton, PA on November 20, 1942 to parents of Irish descent and was raised as a Catholic. He formerly served as Vice President in the Obama administration for two terms from (2009 - 2016). Prior to that, he served as a U.S. Congressman from 1973 - 2009 and served on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As Senator, he sponsored the Boxer–Sanders Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act and Violence Against Women Act. A lawyer by training, President Joe Biden has committed his life to public service for the majority of his career. He spent a brief period in private practice and as a law professor.
As an honorary professor at the University of Pennsylvania, he developed the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement to find cures for cancer, after his son, Beau died of a brain tumor. He is also an author and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by former President Barack Obama (source: whitehouse.gov).
Eva Marie Cassidy was a jazz and blues singer and songwriter born on February 2, 1963. She died November 2, 1996, at age 33 from melanoma.
Eva grew up in Bowie, MD and her Irish heritage was from the paternal side of her family. She collaborated with many famous musicians including Chuck Brown (from Washington, DC) known as the "godfather of go-go music, Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Pieces of a Dream, and Al Green.
Often, she performed at the local jazz club, Blues Alley, in Washington, DC Multiple chart-topping albums of her works have been released; however the majority of them were released posthumously. Some of her most famous include Songbird and Live at Blues Alley. Recognitions include the Washington Area Music Association award for the Vocalist Jazz/Traditional category in 1993. Listen to some of her recordings at the following links:
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was born July 4, 1951, in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her father was former US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, brother of US president John F. Kennedy, and her mother was Ethel Kennedy.
She is the oldest grandchild of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. Ms. Townsend received her undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Arts) from Harvard University. She obtained her Juris Doctorate at the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1978 and was admitted to the Maryland bar in January 1985.
She was elected as Maryland’s first-ever woman Lieutenant Governor in 1995. She served as Lieutenant Governor for two terms and served on various councils, committees, and advisory boards during her tenure.
Tom Clancy, ne Thomas Leo Clancy, Jr., was a bestselling author and novelist from Baltimore, MD. He grew up in an Irish Catholic family.
Tom Clancy majored in English Literature at Loyola College and graduated in 1969. In 1992, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Some of his famous works include: “The Hunt for Red October” (1984), “Patriot Games” (1987), “Clear and Present Danger” (1989), and the Jack Ryan series. Sales from his books exceeded 100 million copies and many of his books became the basis of popular movies.
Tom Clancy received several literary awards throughout his career. Other accomplishments include part ownership of the Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball team.
Grace Kelly was an Irish American actress born in Philadelphia, PA on November 12, 1929. She died on September 14, 1982, as a result of a car accident.
Although her acting career spanned several years and included the films, “The Country Girl” (1954), for which she won an Oscar, and films in the Alfred Hitchcock series, including “Dial M for Murder” and “To Catch a Thief,” she is most famously known for marrying Prince Rainier, III, the Prince of Monaco.
After marrying, she retired from her acting career and, as Princess of Monaco, focused mainly on charitable and cultural work (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2022).
The Diversity Committee has curated a list of books for adults, teens and children, celebrating Irish Heritage Month!