The name Woodside will be familiar to any Irish person with a family connection to, or simple interest in, New York City.
A residential and commercial neighbourhood in the borough of Queens, it became a surrogate homeplace for Irish arriving in the city in the wave of emigration post-Famine, and through a period of large-scale residential development in the 1860s.
By the 1930s, it was approximately 80% Irish, and home to the largest Irish American community in New York, and has subsequently supported generations of Irish emigrants in their search for work, play, connection and family in their new home.
But all things change, and in 2020, Irish Central, the leading Irish publication in the U.S., published an article titled ‘Death of an Irish neighborhood’ and detailed the dwindling numbers and changing nature of the community in Woodside, describing it as ‘the Irish fading away’.
I.NY and St. Patrick’s Festival welcome NYU’s Miriam Nyhan Grey in conversation with former U.S. Representative for New York Joe Crowley, Siobhan Dennehy of Emerald Isle Immigration Center and Sophie Colgan of the Navigating New York podcast.
Focusing on the story and history of the Woodside neighbourhood, the conversation will reach from the particular life and character of the neighbourhood, its importance to the New York Irish, through to the contemporary relationship of the New York Irish community with the neighbourhood, and all in the context of the broader Irish experience as a whole, and what the future might hold for that experience, and for this unique and remarkable neighbourhood.
Commissioned by St. Patrick's Festival 2022
Miriam Nyhan Grey
Global Coordinator for Irish Studies at NYU's Glucksman Ireland House, Dr. Miriam Nyhan Grey grew up in Wicklow and studied in Cork and Florence, Italy before coming to New York University as a visiting doctoral student in History in 2006.
She has been on faculty at Glucksman Ireland House since 2009, teaching an array of classes on Irish history and migration, oral history and comparative migration. She is a collaborator on the oral history collection at NYU's Archives of Irish America and has recorded oral histories in Ireland, Britain and the United States for over two decades.
She hosts the weekly This Irish American Life public radio hour, and, in 2018, initiated the Black, Brown and Green Voices project to amplify the voices of Black and Brown Irish Americans. She sits on the board of the African American Irish Diaspora Network, and was the inaugural Associate Editor of The Glucksman Irish Diaspora Series at NYU Press.
Congressman Joseph (Joe) Crowley represented the people of New York’s 14th congressional district, including his hometown of Woodside, Queens, in the US Congress for nearly 20 years.
He served in the House Democratic leadership for six years, first as Vice-Chair and then as Chairman of the Caucus. He was also a member of the prestigious House Committee on Ways and Means, where he worked to protect Social Security and Medicare, championed efforts to make healthcare more affordable and advocated cutting taxes for middle class Americans and small businesses.
He successfully helped shepherd legislation to reform laws that unfairly taxed foreign investment in US commercial real estate and was a key voice in discussions on how reform should be designed to benefit working men and women.
Sophie Colgan is a Communications, Marketing & Events Specialist in New York City. Program Director The Ireland-U.S. Council for Commerce and Industry, and host of the Navigating New York podcast, she has emerged as a leading voice of the new Irish community in and across the city, and has connected and worked with many renowned Cultural & Business Organizations on both sides of the Atlantic.
A former New York Rose of Tralee, and active member in New York GAA, she also boasts strong experience in networking, brand promotion and event coordination both in the areas of Arts & Culture and Business development.
I.NY is an international cultural project that celebrates and brings to life the shared story of Ireland and New York. With year-round audience engagement, artist collaborations and cross-Atlantic initiatives, all activity culminates in the annual I.NY Festival.
I.NY is the creative brainchild of David O’Donovan and Aoife Flynn, who developed the project with the help and support of numerous individuals and organisations in Ireland and New York
Held over ten October days in Limerick, Ireland, the festival is anchored by the I.NY Cultural and Diaspora Programmes, telling the story of the relationship through music, literature, film, theatre, dance, street-art, the I.NY Gathering, the Annie Moore talks series, and more.
In addition, the festival features Enterprise and Education programming, while I.NY Explore celebrates the Irish influence on New York fashion, food, sport, politics, architecture, design, religion and more, and explores how that influence eventually returned home.
“It’s from a fascination with and love for both the history and modernity of the Ireland -New York relationship that I.NY is built. The intention is to uncover the stories that are the fabric of that relationship, to tell them to a wide audience, encourage that audience to share their own, and once a year, through these stories, bring that relationship to life in an Irish city.
I.NY creates opportunities for an audience to explore what it means to be local and global, Irish and American, emigrant and native, and to share and experience these stories”.