The 32nd annual Great Irish Fair of New York, presented by The Irish American Building Society Charities, Inc., will honor the following individuals.
Born in New York City, Cullen was taken to Ireland when he was four and raised in Rahan, Tullamore, County Offaly. He went to school there for over three years before returning to the states.
He attended Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, and the Marist Brothers Juniorate in Esopus, N.Y. He then went to Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y., on a state scholarship. He attended St. John’s Law School, Jamaica, on scholarship while working nights driving tractor-trailer trucks.
Growing up, he followed the development of the civil rights campaign in Northern Ireland. In the months between graduation from law school and entry into the U.S. Army in September, 1969, he traveled to Northern Ireland to see the brutal suppression of campaigns to secure voting and other basic civil rights. He began to develop a deep commitment to human and political rights.
His involvement in Irish affairs grew as he became one of the founders and the first president of the Brehon Law Society of New York in 1979.
The late Paul O’Dwyer, renowned human rights lawyer, was the catalyst for the society’s foundation. Cullen credits O’Dwyer with being a principal mentor in his life.
When Cullen served as president, the society defended Des Mackin in a precedent-setting international extradition case. After the government lost in the trial court, they appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Though lacking experience in extradition law, Cullen and the other volunteer attorneys prevailed over the government.
Cullen also spoke on behalf of the Brehon Law Society before the U.N. Decolonization Committee’s hearings. Sometime later, the U.S. government charged six Irishmen with various offenses in a high-profile case. Cullen not only posted bail for one of the defendants but also acted as an expert witness. He undertook these actions even though he had by then been promoted to brigadier general with the position of chief judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest rank in the Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
During the same years, he served as a guest speaker at the Irish Army’s U.N. School at the Curragh of Kildare, where he lectured on rules of engagement in peacekeeping operations. He has also lectured on military law and human rights at Trinity College’s Law School, Dublin.
In civilian life, he has practiced in the real estate and construction law fields for over 40 years. Presently, he is of counsel in the New York office of the law firm Anderson Kill. Prior to joining Anderson Kill, he headed the construction and real estate department for Deforest and Duer and was the assistant counsel to the N.Y.C. Educational Construction Fund.
He was active in the Irish Parades Emergency Committee, often referred to as IPEC, a group of volunteers that monitors Orange Parades in Northern Ireland and the conduct of police and military during the course of those parades. He served as an observer with IPEC during parade confrontations at a small nationalist and Catholic enclave, Drumcree, where local residents had been killed by Orange Order supporters in the past.
He serves on the board of trustees and as secretary-treasurer of the New York Construction Industry Disaster Relief Fund, which was established to raise money for the next of kin of members of the construction industry killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
In 2012, he was asked to be Sinn Fein’s registered representative in the U.S. and president of the Friends of Sinn Fein.
He built a home in his ancestral County Offaly in 1979 and returns there often. He is life member and active supporter of the County Offaly Historical Society. He is also an active member of the Board of Advocates of Human Rights First.
The eldest son of James and Eleanor, he was born and raised in Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in “County” Red Hook. He attended Alexander Hamilton Vocational and Technical H.S., Bedford-Stuyvesant, and St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights.
He studied for the priesthood at the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, L.I., and was ordained on May 26, 1973 by Bishop Francis Mugavero.
He has served at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ozone Park; St. Vincent Ferrer, Flatbush; Mary, Queen of Heaven, Old Mill Basin; St. Gregory the Great, Bellerose, and St. Mary Star of the Sea, Carroll Gardens.
On Jan. 31, 1993, he was installed as pastor of Holy Name of Jesus parish, Park Slope, where he served 14 years. He participated in the Brooklyn Irish-American Parade and started the custom of providing dignitaries with a traditional Irish breakfast. In 2007, he was the parade’s grand marshal.
In 2007, he also became pastor of Resurrection Church, Gerritsen Beach, where he has the reputation of being the priest without the microphone. He serves by the simple approach of “be seen, be heard, be gone.”
Over the years, he has participated at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp and joined the scouts for their annual canoe trip on the Delaware River. In 2006, he received the Silver Beaver Award by the National Court of Honor of the Boy Scouts of America for his distinguished service to youth.
He also spent 21 years as a part-time campus minister at St. Joseph’s College, Clinton Hill.
He continues to serve as spiritual director of the Brooklyn Diocesan Union of Holy Name Societies; chaplain to the Rev. Edward J. Matthews Council, Knights of Columbus Council No. 5989; and chaplain to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 19.
Having gotten his feet wet and hands dirty to help the people of Gerritsen Beach during Superstorm Sandy, he spends a lot of time helping the local community rebuild itself.
Author Mary Beth Keane is serving as Bard of the Fair. Named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” in 2011, she has penned two novels about the Irish immigrant experience in America: The Walking People and Fever.
A first-generation Irish-American, her mother hails from Louisburgh, County Mayo, while her father was raised in Rosmuc, Connemara, County Galway.
Born in the Bronx, Keane grew up in Pearl River, N.Y., where she attended St. Margaret’s School and then went to Immaculate Heart Academy, an all-girls high school in Washington Township, N.J.
She attended Barnard College, Manhattan, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature. After working in publishing for a few years, she earned a master of fine arts degree in fiction at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
Her first novel, The Walking People, was published in 2009. It is the story of two sisters from the west of Ireland who immigrate to New York City along with a traveller boy they’ve come to know. Set in both Ireland and New York City, the narrative extends from 1957 to 2007.
Her second novel, Fever, published earlier this year, is about Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary, an Irish girl who immigrates to New York City at the turn of the 20th century with the dream of becoming a cook.
She resides in Pearl River with her husband, Martin Hickey, and their two sons, Owen and Emmett.
A 24-year veteran of the N.Y.C. Police Department, he is the commanding officer of the 103rd Precinct, located on P.O. Edward Byrne Avenue in Jamaica.
Born and raised in Windsor Terrace, he attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and graduated from the parish school before attending Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope.
He entered the police department on July 5, 1989, and worked four years at the 70th Precinct, serving Kensington, Parkville and Midwood. He transferred to the Manhattan South Narcotics Division, where he earned his promotion to detective in June, 1996. One year later, he was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the 67th Precinct, Flatbush.
He worked in Internal Affairs for a year before being promoted to lieutenant in August, 2000. He served the 73rd Precinct, Brownsville, and then Patrol Borough Brooklyn North’s Investigation Unit.
Following his promotion to captain in January, 2005, he served at the 79th Precinct, Bedford-Stuyvesant, until he was transferred to Queens. He was named commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, Richmond Hill, in January, 2008, and promoted to deputy inspector the following year. In September, 2009, he became commanding officer of the 103rd Precinct and was appointed to the rank of inspector in January, 2013.
For the last five years, he has participated in the annual memorial service for P.O. Byrne, who worked in the 103rd Precinct and was slain in the line of duty. Inspector McEvoy feels privileged to command the precinct where P.O. Byrne served.
He is also a member of the NYPD Brooklyn-Queens Holy Name Society.
Inspector McEvoy resides in Bay Ridge with his wife of 20 years, Patricia, dean of the Genesis Middle School at Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge. They attend St. Ephrem parish, Dyker Heights, and have two children, Ryan, a freshman at the University of Richmond, Va., and graduate of Regis H.S., Manhattan; and Brigid, a seventh grader in Genesis Middle School.
He hopes to travel to the Emerald Isle one day and visit the counties from which his maternal and paternal ancestors hailed, Westmeath and Cork, respectively.
Born in Fort Greene, he attended Queen of All Saints Church until his family relocated to Gerritsen Beach. He attended Resurrection parish and graduated from P.S. 277 and Sheepshead Bay H.S. As a young man, he joined Good Shepherd Church, Marine Park.
A 24-year veteran of the N.Y.C. Fire Department, he entered the department in 1982 after a decade of working with the Carpenters’ Union. He spent three years with Engine 281 and then joined Ladder 147, both part of the same firehouse, known as “Da Pride A Flatbush,” on Cortelyou Road in Flatbush. The firehouse became his second home, and his brother firefighters were his second family.
Among the men with whom he served was then-FF Stackpole. They worked in the same firehouse together for almost eight years. They were also friends and fellow parishioners at Good Shepherd. Every December, the two men helped to set up the parish’s indoor Nativity scene, an activity that he continues in Capt. Stackpole’s memory.
Retired since 2006, he volunteers with the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping firefighters and their families.
Earlier this year, he received the Man of the Year Award from the N.Y.C. Fire Department’s Brooklyn-Queens Holy Name Society.
He and his wife of 38 years, Roseanne, currently reside in Gerritsen Beach with their three daughters, Nicole, Jillian and Janine.
A lifelong parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus Church, Park Slope, her life has revolved around the parish. She graduated from the parish school and attended St. Joseph Commercial H.S., Downtown Brooklyn, in preparation for her career as a steno pool supervisor at a law firm until beginning her vocation as a wife and mother.
She married her husband, the late James P. Dolan, a foreman in the N.Y.C. Sanitation Department, at Holy Name, and they raised eight children in the parish. Today, she has 20 grandchildren.
Through the years, she has volunteered at Holy Name in a variety of capacities. She is a parish trustee and parish finance committee member. She is past president and current member of the parish council. She served as chairperson of the parish renovation in 1980 and is the co-chairperson of the current renovation campaign.
A daily communicant, she has been an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, serving both at Mass and in ministry to the homebound, for 36 years.
Several years ago, the parish’s Holy Name Foundation honored her for her lifelong service.
In addition, she volunteered at Cathedral Prep, then-Brooklyn, and St. Saviour H.S., Park Slope, while her children were students.
She is proud to have been nominated by her pastor, Father James Cunningham, for investment into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem this fall by Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
Born in Flatbush to Jack and Margaret, he is the oldest of four children and has a healthy dose of Irish pride and union activism passed down from his family.
A second-generation Irish American, he traces his maternal roots to County Longford and his paternal lineage to Kilbrittain, County Cork.
Growing up in Holy Cross parish, Flatbush, Ahern attended the parish elementary school and Nazareth D.H.S., East Flatbush.
He was an active member of Holy Cross parish and continued to be an active churchgoer when his family moved into St. Vincent Ferrer parish, East Flatbush. He participated in the youth group, serving as business manager for the monthly newsletter.
A union leader for over 35 years, he represents the interests of public and private sector workers and leads the fight for economic justice and job safety on behalf of the N.Y.C. workforce.
He is the elected business manager and financial secretary of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 30, a chief executive leadership position he has held since 1999. He served the N.Y.C. Central Labor Council as vice president, 2006-08, and president, 2008-11.
As the son and grandson of union carpenters, he became involved in the trade union movement at an early age. In 1974, he began his service with IUOE Local 30 as an apprentice and rose within the New York-based mechanical and engineering workers’ union. As the leader of the IUOE Local 30, he has negotiated hundreds of strong wage and benefit contracts on behalf of the 4,000 plus members.
He is an elected trustee of the IUOE and a trustee of the IUOE Northeastern Conference.
He also serves as vice-chairperson to the N.Y.C. Municipal Labor Committee, executive board member of the New York Building Congress and a member of the board of trustees for Molloy College, Rockville Centre, L.I.
He inherited not only his strong work ethic but also his appreciation for his Irish heritage from his parents and continues the tradition of being an active member of the Irish-American community.
He has been recognized by several Irish-American organizations, including the Emerald Isle Immigration Association, the Irish Echo and the Corkmans’ Association, for his work as a labor leader and his dedication to the Irish community.
Ahern and his wife of almost 30 years, Susan, reside in Long Island, where they attend St. Brigid parish, Westbury. They have three children.
“I’ve got the map of Ireland on my face,” said Byrne, whose Irish roots can be traced to County Wicklow.
A lifelong parishioner of St. Frances De Chantal parish, Throggs Neck, he has been a construction executive with Turner Construction Company, Manhattan, for 25 years.
Byrne graduated from his parish school and Herbert H. Lehman H.S., the Bronx, before attending the State University of N.Y. Maritime College, the Bronx, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering/computer engineering.
As project executive at Turner Construction, he is directly responsible for directing and coordinating day-to-day activities in the field as well as monitoring and refining the long-range and short-term plans to ensure success on various building projects, including the new Yankee Stadium, the Bronx, and the new Hearst Building, Manhattan.
He previously served as project manager on the construction of the Bear Stearns Tower, the Swiss Re U.S. Headquarters and UBS Warburg, all Manhattan. He also served as project superintendent on work completed for the Swiss Bank Corporation, Schomburg Cultural Center, Reuters America, Inc., Octel Communications, Paine Webber Inc., Colgate Palmolive and the Siemens Corporation.
Previous honors include being named Irish Leader of the Year 2009 by the Bronx borough president and Man of the Year by Maritime College in 2010.
Proud to be honored at the Great Irish Fair, Byrne credits his uncles – Father Ed Byrne, pastor of St. Ann Church, Ossining, N.Y., and the late Msgr. Raymond Byrne, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Irvington, N.Y. – with fostering his Irish heritage and Catholic faith.
At press time, biographical information was not available on Judge Michael Brennan, recipient of the Thomas More Award, and Margaret Keaveney, recipient of the Paul O’Dwyer Award.