Washington Launch of Fr. Mc Manus’ Memoirs

Posted By: May 03, 2011

Chairperson Barbara Flaherty elaborates on the importance of the Book–No other book like this!

Fr. Sean explains his Struggle
Bob Blancato recalls the early struggles

Danny Costello praises the Book!

Capitol Hill — Tuesday, May 3, 2011 – The Washington-Baltimore Irish community turned out in force to mark the Washington launch of Fr. Sean Mc Manus’ Memoirs , My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland ( Collins Press, Cork).

Held in the Phoenix Park hotel on Capitol Hill, the event was Chaired by Mrs. Barbara Flaherty, Chairperson of the Washington Irish Committee, which was formed specifically for the launching of the book. The speaking program was kept within thirty minutes. Apart from Mrs. Flaherty and Fr. Mc Manus, the other two speakers were Bob Blancato, former long -time Chief of Staff for Congressman Mario Biaggi, and Daniel Patrick Costello, Vice President for Advancement, Gonzaga College High School, Washington, DC, author of the Rag Tree: A Novel of Ireland (2009).

Mrs. Flaherty set the scene in her opening remarks:
“We are here to celebrate this book—My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland—a book that is hugely important. It is probably the most significant memoir in the historiography of Irish-American Nationalism since “Recollections of an Irish Rebel” by John Devoy. It is destined to be a classic, and given its correct place among Irish historical books. It is thought provoking and stimulating. Moreover, it is the definitive book on the only Irish Lobby on Capitol Hill. It is a factual presentation of what happened in Washington. Additionally, the book clearly, and sequentially chronicles the work of the Irish National Caucus. It is replete with primary sources illuminating how the U.S. Congress dealt with the Irish Issue.
What is essentially important to understand is that there is no other book out there like this. Nobody else could have written such a book because no one else — and certainly no other Catholic priest — has done what Fr. Mc Manus has done on Capitol Hill for equality, peace and justice in Northern Ireland—and for almost 40 years. To quote the great Congressman Ben Gillman, former Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, “No one has done more than Fr. Mc Manus to keep the U. S. Congress on track regarding justice and peace in Ireland.”

Mrs. Flaherty then quoted what well known Dublin journalist, Vincent Browne, said at the recent Dublin launching of the book :“… Sean had stood out against powerful forces in a fight for justice and fairness. I didn’t always agree with the causes he supported but I admired his persistence, his courage, and his relentlessness. And admiration that one person, almost alone, could make such impact on public policy in the United States”.
Bob Blancato fondly reminisced about the mighty battles Congressman Mario Biaggi and Fr. Sean fought for Irish justice in the 70’s – when it was by no means fashionable.
Danny Costello enthusiastically praised the book as being very well written, with a compelling narrative – a must-read for all concerned Irish-Americans.
Fr. Mc Manus emphasized his well-known theme :
“The thing that has made the most vivid impression on me regarding my work with the U.S. Congress is that in the early years those who helped me most were not Irish and often not Catholic. They were Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans and African-Americans.
Congressman Mario Biaggi (D-NY) is the great Italian example. Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY) is the perfect Jewish example. The late Congressman Hamilton Fish IV (R-NY) was the fine Protestant example. And Congressman Don Payne (R-NJ) is the prime African-American example. (Later on, in the 1980’s, there were a number Irish Catholic Members of Congress who would be very helpful to me — Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ), Ritchie Neal ( D-MA) , Tom Manton ( D-NY), Jimmy Walsh (R-NY), and Joe Crowley(D-NY), among others).
And, of course, without the support of ordinary, decent and hardworking Irish-Americans all across America, I could not have done a thing”.

Further book-launches are being planned in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, etc., because as Chairperson Flaherty said , “This book is the perfect tool to educate Irish Americans on American involvement with Irish issues, and to reinvigorate their interest in the Irish Cause. There is no other book like it”.