A KILKENNY MAN, Sean Reidy is at the helm of the Dunbrody to guide the project in to its latest phase, The Irish America Hall of Fame.
“The whole idea of the Dunbroody exhibition was to focus and celebrate the people who had left (Ireland), like Kennedy’s grandparents,” said Mr Reidy who is the CEO of the Dunbrody Famine Ship.
Last Friday one of the country’s most iconic, film stars, Maureen O’Hara was inducted into the ‘Irish America Hall of Fame’ which is housed at the Dunbrody visitor centre in New Ross.
In advance of Maureen O’Hara entering the Hall of Fame, President of Ireland Mrs. Mary McAleese and Former US President Bill Clinton sent letters to the project celebrating Maureen O’Hara’s achievements.
President Mary McAleese celebrated Maureen’s lifetime achievements. “During her long and distinguished acting career Maureen’s great talent has brought joy and great pleasure to many thousands of people all over the world. However, despite her worldwide success and popularity, Maureen has never lost her strong connection with Ireland and has always made us very proud to claim her as ‘one of our own’,” said President McAleese.
The President added “I would like to thank Maureen for all she has contributed to this country’s reputation abroad. I would like to congratulate her on all she has achieved and wish her continued success and happiness.”
Former US President Bill Clinton paid tribute to Maureen O’Hara. He said “After a career as Hollywood’s ‘unofficial ambassador’ from the Emerald Isle, you’ve earned the respect and admiration of colleagues and fans alike.” He added, “As a long-time admirer of your work and a fellow Irish-American, I thank you for all that you’ve done to nurture our world’s appreciation for the Irish culture.”
The Irish America Hall of Fame is the main attraction of a new visitor centre which has been developed in collaboration with publishers Niall O’Dowd and Patricia Harty of Irish America Magazine. The exhibition celebrates the lives, works and achievements of noted Irish individuals such as, President John F Kennedy and the Kennedys, Henry Ford, Donald Keough and President Clinton.
At the launch of the Irish American Hall of Fame last march in the New York Yacht Club nine Irish American’s were formally inducted in to the hall of fame. President Clinton, businessmen Don Keough, Denis Kelleher, and Bill Flynn, famed doctors, humanitarian Dr.Kevin Cahill and Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Watson, who discovered DNA, Jean Kennedy Smith, writer Mary Higgins Clark, and philanthropist Chuck Feeney.
There is an interactive audio visual tour explaining the life and achievements of each of the Hall of fame members in the Dunbrody visitor center.
“We in Irish America are delighted to have a permanent physical home for our Hall of Fame in Dunbrody’s magnificent new Irish Emigration History Centre in New Ross, Co Wexford. And we are particularly pleased to be welcoming Maureen O’Hara into the new Exhibit where we will honour the life and achievements of one of Irish America’s most iconic figures,” said Patricia Harty.
The Dunbrody visitor centre is a brand new building of E2.6 million, E1.88m of which was provided under the National Development Plan, administered by Failte Ireland on behalf of the Department of Tourism. This new world class interactive immigration experience is cleverly integrated with the Dunbrody Famine Ship experience. This new purpose-built visitor centre which was officially opened on July 8, 2011, allows visitors to travel on an historical thought-provoking one way sea going journey in famine times. The experience begins Quayside with the authentic recreation of the New Ross of the 1840s. Here the passenger joins fellow travellers paying for their journey, while these fellow emigrants tell of their life stories and their hopes for a new life in America. The tour culminates in the upstairs Irish America Hall of Fame.