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November 5, 2004 • Volume 13 Number 5

Michael Curry '01, coach of the BC men's crew team, as he appears in The Irish Face in America. (Photo by Jim Smith)

'Tradition Dies Hard in My Family'

Men's Crew Head Coach Michael "MJ" Curry '01 is featured in a new coffee-table book that captures the richness and heritage of the Irish-American experience.

The Irish Face in America, by Julia McNamara and Jim Smith, with a foreword by Pete Hamill ($35, Bulfinch Press/Time Warner), showcases a vibrant cross section of Irish-Americans, including writers, firefighters, politicians, performers and athletes.

Among those profiled is BC's Curry, a standout lightweight rower as an undergraduate who as coach has overseen a rejuvenation of men's crew at the Heights.

In one weekend this past May, the BC men's varsity lightweight eight won the Loschiavo Trophy at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, and the next day won the Burns Trophy with a record time at the ECAC Invitational Collegiate Regatta in Worcester.

At the Head of the Charles Regatta Oct. 23-24, BC Men's Crew competed in lightweight and collegiate eights and club fours.

Curry's essay, reprinted here, with permission, highlights the pull that rowing - and Boston College - have exerted on his Greater Boston Irish-American family:

I was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, and still live there today. I'm one of four children and was born to Massachusetts parents and Irish grandparents. The older we get, the more my siblings and I treasure our Irish heritage, and we try to get over to Cork and Kerry once a year to see the family, usually in the summer.

I guess hailing from an island puts rowing in my genes. Or maybe I love the sport because I grew up in New England. Rowing is primarily a New England school sport. My math teacher at Belmont Hill School directed me to the water and soon became my rowing coach. I was hooked immediately but was not the only one in my family to become a rower. My sister went to Harvard, where she started rowing. It seems that we all have a natural tendency to row. I rowed throughout college and I was pressing toward the Olympics until I injured my back. I'm now the head coach at Boston College.

My father, grandfather, and three uncles went to Boston College. My grandfather was there before the war, then left to become an officer in the Navy. My mother went to grad school at BC, my cousin went to BC, I went to BC, and my little sister is hoping to go to BC. We all kind of grew up at sports clubs, which were predominantly Irish Catholic at the time, where we learned more about our Irish heritage. Boston College has a strong Irish heritage; it was founded 150 years ago by two men from Ulster. In fact, I am now considering enrolling in a graduate program in Irish Studies there. I guess tradition dies hard in my family.

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