2001-03-24 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

Chatting With Chapey

March: Irish History & Cultural Month

To the stirring music of "A Nation Once Again" the dais guests entered
the exquisite ballroom of Terrace On the Park, the magnificent setting for
the annual well-subscribed dinner dance of the Emerald Society of the New York City Board of Education.

The gracious and talented Dr. Marianne Cholakis of Shore Front
Parkway was the outstanding chairperson of the spectacular dinner dance.

The President of the Emerald Society, Michael Burke, opened the
festivities with the warm greeting, "Cead Mille Faulte".  Thomas Cahill's
recent best-seller, "How the Irish Saved Civilization," served as the theme of is remarks.  He recalled "the monasteries established by Irish monks whose ceaseless work copying texts preserved the wisdom of the ancient world from being extinguished by barbarians."  Because of the scholarly work of the monks during the Middle Ages, Ireland enjoyed the highest literacy rate in Europe.  The generations following treasured their literacy and handed it down through their family members. During the end of the 18th Century, the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th Century, the government penal laws denied Irish Catholics access to education and barely funded any schooling.  For many decades, there was no compulsory education in Ireland.

However, Irish parents and grandparents treasured and valued education and did what would now be called home schooling to keep scholarship and literacy alive.  High percentages of immigrants brought that love of learning and literacy with them to America.  They, in turn, encouraged their children to become leaders in politics, education, and labor. In modern times, companies
from around the world located in Ireland take advantage of the educated and literate work force and the strong work ethic of the Irish.

A major goal of the Emerald Society is to establish scholarships for young students. The 2001 scholarship winners were: Julia Dolan (The Philip Bolger Award); Erin McKenna Rodriguiz (Patrick F. Daly Award);
Matthew T. DiRusso (Senator Guy Velella Award); and Caroline A. Quinn (Dr. John Rehill Award).

This year there were three outstanding honorees: The Irish Woman of the Year was Sister Mora Cronin, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This religious order was founded in Cork City, Ireland in 1775. Sister Nora has been an administrator and a high school math teacher for the last three decades, presently serving at Loyala School in Manhattan; Eleanor O'Connor was honored as the Educator of the Year. Eleanor is the principal of Staten Island Technical High School and is an excellent and competent career public educator; and Thomas F. Costello was honored as the Irish Man of the Year. He is a trustee of the International Union of Operating Engineers and serves as its business agent. Tom is especially proud of his Irish family and their heritage.  His mother, an accomplished step dancer and teacher, was so proud of Tom's honor that she telephoned her relatives around the world to share her pride in this special achievement.  Tom's mother is a very proud and happy Irishwoman who has an outstanding and devoted son.  

The rich hospitality, camaraderie and lively dancing provided everyone
with a great evening.

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