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Guide to the Ireland House Oral History Collection AIA.030

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Rebecca Altermatt, Rachel Searcy

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on October 10, 2022
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Updated by Megan O'Shea to incorporate material from accession number 2018.100 Updated by Lyric Evans-Hunter to reflect the digitization of electronic records Updated by Aki Snyder to include unprocessed microcassettes, miniDVs, and an audio cassette  , September 2018 , March 2022 , October 2022

Container List


Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Gardiner, Fr. Jim

Historical/Biographical Note

Fr. Jim Gardiner of the Dominican Order (b. Bronx, New York, 1942) is a Franciscan Friar and former director of Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in Garrison, New York. He worked with civil rights activists in Washington, DC, in the 1970s, and with AIDS patients in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. He led the 22nd St. Patrick's Day Parade in Peekskill, New York, in 2011.

Aug 8, 2011
Box: 4 Folder : 42 Geary, Karl

Historical/Biographical Note

Karl Geary (b. Dublin, Ireland, 1972) is an actor and club owner who emigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen in 1987. He has appeared in several films and television shows, including Sex and the City, and wrote the film  Coney Island Baby.

Mar 2, 2012
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Gebhard, Catherine

Historical/Biographical Note

Catherine Gebhard (b. Limerick City, Co. Limerick, 1943), a nurse specializing in Oncology, Neurology and hospice care, emigrated to New York City with her parents in 1950. She raised 2 children on Long Island.

Dec 3, 2010
Box: 4 Folder : 43 Gleeson, Sheila

Historical/Biographical Note

Sheila Gleeson (b. Dublin, Ireland, 1956) was lead immigration specialist at the Irish Immigration Center in Boston from 1995-2005, and later Director of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers, USA.

Sep 18, 2013
Box: 4 Folder : 44 Glynn, Greg

Historical/Biographical Note

Greg Glynn (b. Oughterard, Co. Galway, Ireland, 1958) was co-founder of the Boston Irish Immigrant Reform Movement and a major advocate for immigration reform in the United States. He returned to Ireland in 1992 where he is partner in Arthur Cox and Company.

Jun 5, 2013
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Goldman, Ira

Biographical Note

Ira Goldman (b. 1938), a government administrator, has been active in various Irish American organizations. Although his stock is primarily Jewish, he also identifies himself as Irish and believes that he holds an ancestral link to Famine immigrants from County Donegal.

Scope and Content Note

Some key themes discussed in the interview are: Jewish versus Irish identity; Northern Ireland; and race and religion.

This oral history was digitally recorded on a Marantz PCM660. The interview is approximately 200 minutes long, on 3 CDs. The interview took place on November 11, 2008, and the interviewer was Myriam Nyhan.

Nov 11, 2008
Box: Electronic records E-records : TW_AIA_30_ER_58 Gormley, Donal

Gormley, Donal: 2015-

Biographical Note

Donal Gormley was born in 1948 in Aughnasheelin, County Leitrim, Ireland. He graduated from St. Fillan's in Ballymore, County Westmeath and immigrated to the United States (US) in 1967. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1969 and trained at Fort Jackson, South Carolina before serving in Vietnam. Returning to the US in 1971, he joined  Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID). In 1977 he married Rita Heely, a secretary for the Bronx, New York chapter of Irish Northern Aid.

Scope and Contents

This interview was conducted by Danielle Zach on February 17, 2015 in New City, New York. The interview includes Donal Gormley's early life in County Leitrim, Ireland and his mother's strong Irish republicanism. He recalls his eldest sister's help getting him settled in the Bronx, New York in 1967. He recounts how his military service in the Vietnam War sharpened his sympathies for the civil rights struggles in Ireland and the United States. He describes the Irish American apathy for Irish civil rights and compares it to his observation of unions in New York supporting Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID) fundraisers. He discusses his arrest and trial in 1982 on suspicion of gun running for the Irish Republican Army.

Box: 2 Folder : 11 Gormley, Sean

Historical/Biographical Note

Sean Gormley (b. Dublin, Co. Dublin, 1964) is an actor, film-maker and musician who wrote and directed the film Blackout (2006). A member of the Irish band, The Commitments, he emigrated to the U.S. with his American-born wife in 1997.

Oct 28, 2009
Box: Electronic records E-records : TW_AIA_30_ER_35 Gormley, Thomas Anthony

Gormley, Thomas Anthony: 2015-

Biographical Note

Thomas Anthony Gormley was born in 1944 in County Leitrim, Ireland.  He immigrated to the United States in 1962 and settled in the Bronx, New York.  He served in the National Guard of the United States between 1964 and 1970. He was a police officer in Mount Vernon, New York.  He was a member of the Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID) and served as a the head of the Bronx chapter in the 1970s.

Scope and Contents

This interview was conducted by Danielle Zach in the Bronx, New York on January 15, 2015.  The interview covers Thomas Anthony" Gormley's childhood in Ireland and his political activity in the United States.  Gormley describes his childhood in County Leitrim and his parents. He discusses his decision to immigrate to the United States in 1962, describes the responsibility of his aunt in the Bronx who agreed to sponsor him, and recounts his first impressions of New York City.  He recounts jobs he held in New York City in the 1960s and 1970s and his service in the National Guard of the United States between 1964 and 1970. He recalls his impressions of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s, the beginning of The Troubles in the 1960s, and the establishment of Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID) in 1970.  He discusses his work as the head of the Bronx chapter of NORAID in the 1970s and describes activities of the group during that time. He also discusses playing music in a band in New York in the 1960s, working in the Mount Vernon Police Department in the 1970s and the 1980s, and his membership in various Irish American organizations.

Box: 2 Folder : 12 Gormley, Unateresa

Historical/Biographical Note

Unateresa Gormley (b. Bronx, New York, 1961), the daughter of immigrants from Counties Longford and Kerry, is a TCRG certified Irish dance teacher, and the founder and chairperson of the Big Apple Feis, as well as director of the Big Apple Rose of Tralee. She also serves as a volunteer for Project Children, hosting children from Northern Ireland for summers in the US.

Jun 15, 2011
Box: Electronic records E-records : TW_AIA_30_ER_32 Gorski, Mary Johnson

Gorski, Mary : 2014-

Biographical Note

Mary Johnson Gorski was born in 1960 in New Haven, Connecticut.  She married in 1980 and has two daughters. She is a co-founder of the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support in Chicago, Illinois in 1998.  

Scope and Contents

This interview was conducted by Íde B. O'Carroll in Chicago, Illinois on November 21, 2014.  The interview covers Mary Johnson Gorski's family and her involvement in the Irish immigrant community in Chicago.  Gorski describes her parents and her early life in Connecticut. She describes her friendship with Maureen O'Looney, O'Looney's work with the Irish immigrant community in Chicago, and their work to establish the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support together in 1998.  She also discusses her work to establish programs for senior citizens through the Irish American Heritage Center and her opinion on the importance of community.

Box: 4 Folder : 45 Grall, Emer
Oct 24, 2013
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Grange, Fr. Sean (John)

Scope and Content Note

Fr. Grange begins by discussing how his parents met on vacation at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York. He talks extensively about his relatives and their experiences in New York. His grandparents on his mother's side were both from Ireland, coming to the United States at an early age. His grandfather eventually became the manager of the Harvard Club of New York City, which along with his investments, allowed him to purchase a brownstone on Alexander Avenue, "the Irish Fifth Avenue," in the South Bronx. Recalling his father's side, Fr. Grange reveals that his grandmother had had three husbands prior to his grandfather. His grandfather and all of his uncles were policemen, and his aunt worked for the New York City Parks department. Fr. Grange compares his immigrant family's entry into civil service positions with the current trend of Mexican immigrants joining the ranks of city employees.

Although his mother's parents did not talk much about Ireland, Fr. Grange explains that he does not think they were involved with the insurrections against the British around the time of the Easter Rising in 1916. Coming to the U.S. at very young ages, Fr. Grange believes they were told to leave home because there was not enough food, and as a result they never went back to Ireland. Instead, his grandfather participated in the Irish American community in New York, joining the annual Feis, an Irish dance and music competition. His father was a very steady man, refusing to drink because his younger brother died from alcoholism.

Fr. Grange discusses his mother's siblings, explaining how his mother's eldest brother was thrown out of the New York Seminary. His aunt was a nun in the Sisters of Charity order. Another uncle was also temporarily thrown out of the seminary, but eventually organized a missionary group in Harlem in the 1930s, which conducted hundreds of conversions and baptisms a year for the predominantly African-American community that had migrated from the South in the 1920s. Discussing another aunt, Fr. Grange describes the abusive relationship she had with her husband. She is now the last survivor of that generation. The child born after her died early, which strongly affected Fr. Grange's grandmother. Fr. Grange mentions that later in life, his grandmother had Alzheimer's, which would cause her to sit in her rocking chair all day, waiting for her husband to return from work.

Fr. Grange moves on to talk about his father's side of the family in Rockaway Beach. He remembers going to their house and being bored because there were not many children to play with, and an episode in which they killed ducks in the backyard. Fr. Grange mostly interacted with his mother's side of the family. His parents moved around to progressively larger apartments as his family grew, near his grandmother's home on Alexander Avenue.

Fr. Grange describes going to school at St. Jerome's, where he was taught by the Ursuline nuns for the first six years, and the De La Salle Christian Brothers until secondary school. At that time, St. Jerome's was a growing parish with many vocations. He remembers that the priests had fancy cars and were very respected in the community. The only priest from Ireland in the parish left to go on a mission to Peru, where he was threatened by the terrorist group, the Shining Path , but survived to afterwards become the Chaplain of Cork University. Fr. Grange discusses another woman he knows who was killed by the Shining Path. Fr. Grange then returns to discussing his schooling, describing the brothers as very strict and penal. After graduating St. Jerome's, Fr. Grange attended Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Flushing, Queens, explaining that the students got off on Thursdays instead of Fridays, so that they could not attend dances. Fr. Grange's twin brother, Joseph, left after the first four years of seminary school, but Fr. Grange stayed on. Before being ordained in 1966, Fr. Grange took a year off to teach English and History at Immaculata High School in Manhattan. After his ordination, Fr. Grange noticed other priests who were learning Spanish and working with the growing communities of Puerto Ricans, which influenced him to go to language school in Puerto Rico.

After returning from Puerto Rico, Fr. Grange explains that he was assigned to work at St. Columba School in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. While there, he became more involved with the Puerto Rican community. After six years, Fr. Grange was transferred to Annunciation School in Harlem, which was a primarily Dominican community. When Annunciation was given over to Spanish priests, he took the opportunity to arrange a transfer to St. Jerome's with the ambition of eventually becoming a pastor. In the 1980s, a large influx of Mexican immigrants started visiting him and attending church at St. Jerome's. Fr. Grange describes how mass attendance continued to grow over the years despite the difficulties the undocumented Mexican immigrant community faced. Fr. Grange explains that in the late nineties, St. Jerome's began to physically decay, prompting him to confront Cardinal Egan about funding for the renovation. Cardinal Egan decided to give St. Jerome's the funding to renovate the Church, but three years later, he awarded the parish to a group of Argentinean priests and transferred Fr. Grange to St. Athanasius in the Bronx. Fr. Grange discusses the tension between the St. Jerome's parish and their new priests that stems from their cultural and religious differences. Fr. Grange also mentions the problem of illegal immigrants wanting to get married, but not being able to under New York law. Fr. Grange's new parish, St. Athanasius, is a mostly Puerto Rican community. He expresses concern for the parish, as most of the parishioners are elderly and oftentimes he performs several funerals a week.

Fr. Grange explains that part of what has slowed him down recently has been an inflammatory disease called Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which causes severe pain in his back. He goes on to discuss how the changes made during Vatican II have made the Church more compassionate, but that not all religious have embraced the changes. Although there has been an increase in Spanish-speaking priests in the archdiocese, many have not fully invested in the communities they serve. Fr. Grange expresses concern about recently installed Cardinal Timothy Dolan, considering the problematic relationship former Cardinal Egan had with the priests. Fr. Grange goes on to discuss the problematic role of Pope Benedict XVI and the schism in the Church between those who agree with the Vatican II changes and those who do not. He mentions the lack of priests in the South Bronx, and the recent increase in violence.

Then Fr. Grange discusses the community's treatment of priests following the sexual abuse scandals. Fr. Grange comments on the various ways the Church has attempted to improve awareness about sexual abuse. Although there have been some leadership problems and "joy" has left the Church as an institution, Fr. Grange fundamentally believes that God is in the Church.

Then Fr. Grange goes on to describe a typical day in his life, which begins with Qigong, Tai-Chi, and meditation. Fr. Grange discusses his love for swimming and how he held the record in his age group for the 100-yard free-style for five consecutive years.

Fr. Grange explains that he rarely visits his former parish at St. Jerome's, except to perform occasional funerals or marriages. Although his family is Irish-American, Fr. Grange does not identify with them, but rather feels a stronger connection with the Mexican community. Then, turning to his former political involvement, Fr. Grange discusses his involvement with the South Bronx Churches, an ecumenical group founded to protect the rights and quality of life for residents of the South Bronx. One of their main causes was to build houses for people in need. Fr. Grange ends by relating a story about the destruction of Church property while he was protesting with South Bronx Churches against poor medical care at Lincoln Hospital, prompting him to write a letter to Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor.

Father John Grange was interviewed on 29 October 2009 at Glucksman Ireland House at New York University by Caitlin O'Brien and Linda Dowling Almeida. The interview is 1 hour, 51 minutes long, and 39 seconds long, on 2 CDs. The interview took place on October, 2009.

Other Finding Aids Note

This interview has been logged at ten-minute intervals, and the Word file is available upon request at

Historical/Biographical Note

Fr. Sean (John) Grange (b. 1940) has served the Archdiocese of New York as priest and pastor since 1966. The grandson of immigrants, he was raised South Bronx. His ministry has included assisting immigrants, particularly in the Puerto Rican community.

Oct 29, 2009
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Gray, Rita

Historical/Biographical Note

Rita Fahy Gray (b. Ballydavok, Co. Mayo, d. Astoria, Queens, 2012), one of nine children, emigrated to the US in 1938 at the age of 19, after spending a year and a half in Manchester, England. She met her Irish-American husband through her first job as a domestic in Manhattan and they raised three children in Queens.

Mar 26, 2011
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Greene, John

Scope and Content Note

Some of the themes discussed in this interview include: being Irish in Vietnam; Greene's life in the Bronx for 2 years when he was approximately 12; and how the Irish-born express Irishness as opposed to Irish Americans.

This oral history was digitally recorded on a Marantz PMD660. The interview is approximately 140 minutes long, on 2 CDs. The interview took place In New York City on March 27, 2009, and the interviewer was Myriam Nyhan.

Historical/Biographical Note

John Greene (b. Cootehill, Co. Cavan, 1945), a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice and a Vietnam veteran, he emigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1957.

Mar 27, 2009
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Grimes, Claire (two interviews)

Biographical Note

Claire Grimes (b. 1936), publisher of the Irish Echo newspaper, was raised in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, NY. With roots in County Westmeath and County Sligo, Ireland, she married John Grimes, whom she succeeded as publisher after his premature death in 1987. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Famine, she commissioned Patrick Cassidy's  Famine Remembrance symphony and premiered it in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

Scope and Content Note

Some of the key themes discussed in this interview include: her first perception of Ireland on her first trip; death of JFK (track 6); Obama for blacks what JFK was for Irish Catholics; Claire grandmother's (Delia Gilligan from Co. Westmeath) was probably an 1880s immigrant; Irish Echo newspaper; father was an alcoholic; changes in Ireland; 'I didn't realize that I had been raised in an Irish home' (track 4, 7 mins); and the insular nature of Irish New York community when she was growing up--no one left to go to school away.

This oral history was digitally recorded on a Marantz PMD660. The interview took place over 2 sessions and is approximately 2 hours long, on 2 CDs. The interview took place in New York City on February 4 and February 11, 2009, and the interviewer was Myriam Nyhan.

Feb 4, 2009-Feb 11, 2009
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Grimes, Patrick H.
Dec 5, 2008

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