We Ought to Remember Better Than We Do: Honors, Memorials, Monuments, & The Big Ship Sullivans:

2023 May iIrish Cover

I’m a traveling man, and …

I learned last month that we at iIrish newsmagazine have won an Irish American Arts and Culture Ambassador Award, to be presented by the Irish Echo in Buffalo on April 28.  The timing was fantastic as well, as Buffalo is next city targeted for iIrish expansion.

Road Trip!

Getting the May issue out took precedence, but now I have a day or two to share this story with you, before we start in on the June Festival Focus issue on Friday.

It was Friday morn when we sat sail, and we were not far from the (water). On April 28th, I put the new iIrish Beast to the test with a 3-hour tour, a 3-hour tour, to Buffalo, to pick up the award, and celebrate with old friends and new friends, some also receiving awards. I haven’t had that much fun and packed in great experiences in a long time.

First stop was the fantastic Curtiss Hotel in Buffalo – wow! I meant to say, WOW! Highly recommended and now on my list of great hotels to stay in in America. Manager Conor Hawkins was keeping an eye on the front desk when I arrived, and as I saw we had an Irishman in charge; I knew all would be well.

Out the window of my room was three story mural of Mr. Joyce himself. I have always followed him of course, but this year, our iIrish Express Tour of Ireland is starting in Dublin, June 15, to take part in Bloomsday, celebrated every year on June 16 – the day in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Reenactments, readings and more are found all over Dublin throughout the day. The coincidences are too much.

After a small dose of a nap and at the very kind invitation of Irish Echo Publisher Máirtin Ó Muilleoir, I was delighted in to join in a tour of The James Joyce Collection at the University of Buffalo. I met with Echo Editor Ray O’Hanlon and a small group of soon to be friends (other than Larry Kirwan, he has always been a friend), found the collection, and felt like I took a large step, back in time.

University of Buffalo staff met us, as did State Senator Tim Kennedy, instrumental in and for the Irish in Buffalo. I’ll let the pictures tell way more than I could take convey in just a tiny piece of the amazing collection.

Senator Kennedy shares stories with Larry Kirwan.

Curator Dr. James Maynard narrated many great stories as well, including Joyce’s life relative to the collection pieces and paintings, how the collection came about, and much more. I was buzzing all the way back to the hotel and got ready for the awards held at The Statler, just up the street.

The cocktail hour before the event gave me the great opportunity to talk further with author S. Kirk Walsh, who I met for the first time on The Joyce Collection Tour. She is a gifted writer, whose debut novel, The Elephant of Belfast, has me reluctant to put the book down. I hope it never ends.

We will review it in the next issue, but already it is highly recommended. to get your copy too.

Instead of taking a walk in the Irish rain, I drove a couple of seniors through the rain to The Statler, including the amazing and mighty Irish Dems political action leader, Stella O’Leary. I have worked with Stella on designing and creating advertising packages in iIrish for many years, but until we met at the D.C. welcome reception for new Ireland to America Ambassador, Geraldine Byrne Nason, I had never met her in person. Now, twice this year. Too Much.

I always learn so much in listening, her wisdom and big picture view, past and present, are long-lasting.

When THE night was over, it was just beginning. Back to The Curtiss and on to The Banshee, again just down the street. That Máirtin knows how to throw a party, or two – one of the owners is none other than Conor Hawkins – yes, that Conor Hawkins. The man works!

The live music was highlighted by the surprise guest appearance on stage of Larry Kirwan, the Black 47 legend himself, who, for the first time in many years, sang a bit on stage, And there was this: THE Whiskey List.

Saturday morning arrived twice – once before we left the pub and then came back when I rose for breakfast much later, but still in time for the really good complimentary breakfast at The Curtiss.

Ray tipped me off that the U.S.S. The Sullivan’s was docked nearby, the only ship named after more than one person, and despite the on again, off again rain, I found not only The Sullivan’s, but a sub (U.S.S. Croaker) and destroyer (U.S.S. Little Rock) right next to it.

Read up on The Sullivan’s if you are not familiar – but the space saving basics are that five Sullivan brothers all served as sailors on The Juneau, (a light cruiser) during WWII, and were all killed in action November 13, 1942.

U.S.S. The Sullivan’s

U.S.S. Little Rock destroyer and U.S.S. Croaker

U.S.S. Little Rock from just around the bend

From the ships to the sidewalk to the park surrounding them were a load of beautifully crafted memorials – memorials to Polish Soldiers in WWII, Pearl Harbor, Black Soldiers, Vietnam, Soldiers from Buffalo and many more. The pics can not due justice to the atmosphere.

Unbeknownst to me at that time, there was one more memorial, out of sight, but mere yards away, but I wouldn’t know that until the next day. I rushed off to meet the The Irish Echo’s Peter McDermott, who interviewed me on “my story.”  It was great to spend some time and dinner with Peter, catching up again. Of course, it was at The Banshee. 

Then, off to the Buffalo na Fianna GAA Club fundraiser at the Buffalo Irish Center. I am not kidding, they had a Meat fundraiser – you bid on tickets for meat, they spun a wheel, and the winning number got the (frozen) meat. Some were massive cuts, or many pieces parts, others were chicken nuggets – you just never know. Buffalo na Fianna GAA Club Secretary and Buffalo Irish Center President Tim Flanagan met me; the hall was full, and I am pretty sure the night was a success for the club.

Sunday morning was much slower to arrive this time, thank God. I found the Hot Springs Spa in the hotel, yet outside, and shook the auld RA and back pain out of me for a while.

Breakfast with Ray in the rain led to the tip that the Buffalo Famine Memorial was nearby as well. Packed The Beast, bid farewell to The Curtiss, and Mr. Joyce, until next time.

Off to find The Western New York Irish Famine Memorial, along the Erie Basin on the Lake Erie waterfront. I picked up Peter on the way, and Starbucks. The memorial was hard to find, though not as hard as finding a secure life in America for far too many Irish immigrants we memorialize, who never did.

I found it only with the help of GPS, the map made it look like it was inside a building, rather than between it and the basin. Pictures will tell the story better than I, so I won’t go on and on … The walk in the Irish rain, the Too Much, and the spirituality all around me, continued.

The memorial was dedicated in 1997 and is situated in a well-like circle, with Luke 19:40 (“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”) on its base in Irish. 32 three-foot boulders form an outer ring, representing the 32 counties of Ireland.

Inside the big rocks, pavers with names of survivors carved into them, and with other stones uncarved, to represent the known dead. Here are a few thousand words captured instead, in pictures.

I tell you,” he replied, 
“if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

I hope you enjoyed this summary. If you can’t come with me, at least you can come with me.

The beast passed the test with flying colors, so happy to say. So grateful for the opportunity and the time to experience so much. Now, on to the June issue.

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