Tablet Special Sections

Chief Brehon

The tribal leader in ancient Ireland was chosen for his wisdom and compassion as well as for his courage and leadership. As the Catholic Church was persecuted in Ireland, so too was the Chief Brehon. As early as the 14th century the Chief Brehon was outlawed where the English held sway. Neither the faith nor the leadership of the Brehon, however, could be eradicated. The Great Irish Fair honors one who exemplifies and carries on the tradition of the Chief Brehon – the tradition of courage and compassion, leadership and wisdom.


Construction executive James C. McKenna is serving as Chief Brehon. He traces his Irish roots to Belfast.

Co-founder of the Hunter Roberts Construction Group, he has lead the firm to the forefront of the construction industry.

As president and CEO, he is responsible for establishing and maintaining the quality of individualized client services. He has set precedents for hands-on management, senior-level involvement and high standard of excellence.

Under his leadership, Hunter Roberts has become a leader in many markets, including: health care, laboratories, residential, mixed-use developments, commercial, education, public sector, hospitality and sports stadiums.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, N.J., and studied at Harvard Business School’s executive education program.

He is the treasurer of the Building Trade Employers Association and is an advisory board member of Columbia University’s School of Engineering.

He is affiliated with the New York Building Congress, New York Landmarks Conservancy and the real estate council of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

He and his wife Natalie attend St. Pius X Church, Montville, N.J., with their children, Jaime, Joseph and Jillian.