March 18, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 13

Mary O'Herlihy

BC Adds Another to 'Top Irish Americans' List

Irish America magazine has named Boston College Irish Institute Director Mary O'Herlihy as one of its "Top 100 Irish Americans," the fourth time a BC administrator or faculty member has been accorded such an honor. O'Herlihy joins such notables as Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, television personality Conan O'Brien, journalist Tim Russert, actress Bonnie Hunt and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe as among those recognized in the publication's annual salute to Americans in politics, the arts, business, service and other fields for their contributions to the Irish community as a whole. The magazine's choice for "Irish American of the Year" is AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, who spoke at last week's 2004 Boston College Finance Conference [see page 1].

Irish America selected the late Adele Dalsimer, co-founder and co-director of BC's Irish Studies Program, as an "honorary Irish-American" for its top 100 list in 1996. The magazine also cited Irish Studies Music Programs Director Seamus Connolly in 1999 and Burns Librarian Robert O'Neill in 2003.

A native of Cork, O'Herlihy was appointed last year to head the institute, the executive-education arm of the University's Center for Irish Programs. The institute provides political, corporate and educational development and exchange programs with Ireland and Northern Ireland to promote peace and normalization, contribute to cross-border cooperation and enhance mutual understanding between Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US.

In its profile of O'Herlihy, Irish America cites the institute's Northern Ireland Policing Program, which brought 20 senior officials in charge of monitoring the new Northern Irish police service to Boston College for an intensive week-long course in community outreach, reconciliation, and community policing strategies.

"Even though Ireland has experienced tremendous economic growth as a result of the Celtic Tiger, O'Herlihy feels the country's societal needs have not diminished," the profile reads. The piece quotes O'Herlihy as saying "...the opportunity for retreat and reflection, and the personal and professional connections made as a result of our exchange programs, are important in helping participants meet the needs of their constituents across all communities and sectors in Ireland upon their return home."

Interviewed last week, O'Herlihy said, "This is a very great honor and one which I regard as a challenge, namely, to strive to achieve the standards of excellence and leadership that the members of this and previous Top 100s have reached in their respective fields."

O'Herlihy added that the award "raises the profile of the work being done by those whom the Irish Institute serves through exchange programs and transatlantic dialogue in all forms."

Center for Irish Programs Executive Director Thomas Hachey said, "As a native of Ireland and resident of America, Mary is an exemplary model of the very best from both of those worlds. Bright, imaginative, and resourceful, her inclusion in the 'Top 100' brings distinction to Irish America magazine, recognition of Boston College, and an abundantly deserved honor to Mary and her family."

O'Herlihy and the other "Top 100" were to be honored at an awards banquet this past Tuesday at the New York Plaza Hotel.

-Sean Smith

top of page