The story of the Irish in America has been about tenements, maids, romantic drunks, cops, nuns and priests, and it’s over. The story you haven’t heard and one lots of Irish don’t want to hear is that Irish Americans are educated, well-off and Liberal in their politics.
Old Irish is Father Coughlin, Senator Joe McCarthy, Eugene O’Neill, Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, Flannery O’Connor, and all the blushing Bridgets and sweet Colleens. New Irish is financier Peter Lynch, Pulitzer Prize winning columnists Maureen Dowd and Anna Quindlen, kinder, gentler Peggy Noonan, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and National Book Award winner Alice McDermott.
Old Irish is Spencer Tracy’s portrayal of saintly Father Flanagan in “Boys Town.” New Irish is “Good Will Hunting,” a movie set in the predominantly Irish neighborhood of South Boston with not a white-haired mother, do-gooder priest or happy drunk in sight.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
Maureen Dezell. Her book is “Irish America Coming into Clover: The Evolution of a People and a Culture.”