Noted Irish-American author Peter Quinn discusses and signs his acclaimed collection of essays at Fairfield University April 19


The Fairfield University Irish Studies Program in association with The Wild Geese, an Irish cultural organization, will co-sponsor the appearance of the noted Irish-American author Peter Quinn on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Fairfield University's DiMenna-Nyselius Library, Multimedia Room. The Fairfield University College of Arts and Sciences is also a sponsor of the event. Quinn will discuss and sign his recently published essays, "Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America." The event is free and the public is welcome.

Quinn, who is the great-grandson of Famine-era emigrants, the son of a Congressman and a third-generation New Yorker, drew heavily on his family history and his personal experience of growing up in the Bronx for the historical insights and engaging remembrances contained in "Looking for Jimmy." Jonathan Yardley of the "Washington Post" noted in his highly complimentary review of the book, "This exceptionally thoughtful and interesting inquiry into Irish America…is carefully argued and handsomely written."

Quinn's essays explore the exile and emigration of the Irish and their American image from impoverished "Paddy," the despised immigrant who "need not apply" for jobs in Boston, to successful "Jimmy," the swaggering embodiment of film star Jimmy Cagney and New York mayor Jimmy Walker.

According to Quinn, Irish advancement in America was through machine politics, "...the have-nots who got their foot in the door made one small step for themselves, one giant step for those to follow. Religious and ethnic barriers were challenged and breeched, while barriers of race were accepted, even strengthened. This was democratic politics in the raw...No theorists need apply."

The Famine, the Irish passage to America and negative stereotyping of Irish Americans are also subjects of Quinn's poignant observations. In addition, he examines the contributions of Irish-American authors including William Kennedy and Eugene O'Neill.

Dr. Kevin Cassidy, director of the university's Irish Studies Program, said of the newly formed association with The Wild Geese, "We hope this is the first of many events with The Wild Geese. The Irish Studies Program shares the organization's enthusiasm for all aspects of the Irish experience and we look forward to working together to promote the richness of Irish culture."

Quinn, author of two novels, "The Banished Children of Eve" and "The Hour of the Cat," was a speechwriter for two New York governors, Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo and editorial director for Time Warner.

The best-selling author, Frank McCourt called "Looking for Jimmy," "a book about love. It sings from every page. Love of family, love of Ireland, of America, of the craziness of the human race in general." He added, "...there is writing so tart, so poetic, so buoyant, you will claw yourself with envy. You don't have to be Irish or Irish-American to love this book. Whoever you are, you are in it."

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 28, 2007

Vol. 39, No. 194