The trip was planned and organised, over a period of several months, by a committee of twelve. As one of the "twelve Apostles" my function was to look after communications and media matters. And of course arranging entertainment was part of my brief.
We were staying in the Navy Lodge on Staten Island. So, if one wants to source appropriate entertainment for a large group of people, on "Staten Ireland" what does one do? Well, I'll tell you. One makes contact with Tommy Mannix, President/Executive Director of the Columcille Irish Cultural Center and that's what I did. Electronic epistles crossed the Atlantic, daily, since last February and Tommy arranged a special showing of "The Irish And How They Got That Way", a musical, by Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt.
As one of our group said to me after the show, "I learned more about Irish history tonight than I did from all the schoolbooks". The narration links the songs together with passages moving, educational and humorous. Between tear-jerking stories about the Famine and accounts of roguery in Tammany hall you were treated to snippets of philosophy such as, "In the beginning was the word . . . and the Irish got it" or "The Irish didn't like two kinds of American people; blacks and whites". In the words of one reviewer, "Just when you think you are about to cry, the ensemble breaks once again into song, thus saving one the indignity of having to beg for a tissue". On the the night before our return to the green and misty island it was decided that we would have a get-together (all 107 of us) each wearing his or her county jersey.
But of course we didn't have a venue. So it was back to Tommy Mannix. This man of many parts arranged for us to assemble in the "Make Believe Ballroom" on Staten Island where we were fed, watered and entertained by several groups of musicians until dawn broke over the Hudson.
When I mentioned to one of my fellow-travellers that I had spent a lot of time doing spouse-accompanied shopping in Manhattan he told me the following story;
An Irishman is walking across Fifth Avenue. He looks right instead of left and is hit by a yellow taxi. He is taken to the Intensive Care Unit where his wife's phone number is found on his mobile phone. When told of her husband's accident and his serious condition she replies, "I'm in a mile-long queue in Macys, I'll be here for ages".
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