2001-08-11 / Columnists

Meet The Irish by Harry McGuirk

No matter what part of the world you live in your, life cycle may take you down many roads. You will meet many people, but some will be outstanding. They will have a personality with the integrity to entertain people through the various artistic abilities and still be humble in the acclaim they receive. Such a person was Joe Lynch.

Born in Mallow, Co. Cork in 1926, his father was a train driver and his mother was her own trade as a bookbinder. I had the pleasure of meeting her, ‘A charming lady’. Joe was advised to go to New York to further his techniques in radio. It was there we met him.

I myself had left the railway service, where I was a mail and baggage handler, and decided to make an all out effort to learn the techniques of broadcasting. Radio was great. We were able to help many people, especially young arrivals from Ireland. Our Irish center in Manhattan was a famous place where the Irish gathered in droves, where they met their loved ones and got married. Their children used to come back to get a taste of Irish culture. That is where Joe Lynch played his part in entertaining the Irish in America. His lovely Irish songs in English and Gaelic, like Kevin Barry, were wonderful. "The Moon behind the Hill," and "Cottage by the Lee," to mention just a few. What a great showman he was. When he would appear direct from Ireland starring with the famous McNulty Family the people would line up around the block. Those were the days.

Joe told me that he had relations in New England and he had to go and meet them, and I must come as well. I got a lovely surprise when an elderly couple gave us a greeting in Gaelic. The man said hold on and went to a drawer and took out a stack of columns from the Echo and Irish World going back many years. These were very patriotic.

Margie, over the years, produced Irish television shows. They were successful but very expensive. The big whigs of New York business used to say we do not have to advertise to the Irish. That was a cop out and we proved it. When we gave a direct report on how Catholics were treated in Belfast. Soon the world knew about Bloody Sunday. We had leaders at our studios in Rockaway when word came over about the bloodbath of the people of Derry. Oh my God will I ever forget it. We were first in the world to open up with the news of this atrocity. I called it a Black Sunday after the first bloody attack of the Black and Tans. Later we flew hundreds to Ireland to pay their respects to the victims.

Going back now to New England, the Lynch family was wonderful. We left by train for New York. As we pulled into Grand Central Station we met all of my buddies of the morning shift then off to open the new Hollywood premises where the stars of tomorrow were waiting and rehearsing for a famous show. Above all, Joe was a family man. His lovely wife and children were his inspiration. His talent was inspired by his loving home, like Fr. Peyton ‘the family who prays together stays together’. For a favor, I asked Joe one time I was to pick up a nightly program with all the direct from Ireland plus sports and music to close the show each day every know celebrity was to come on with us and many departments were pleased to have the opportunity I wanted a closing idea to have every one say on line in Gaelic. What Joe told me to say was "Slan abus Beannact". Everyone picked upon it especially his friends in Aer Lingus. It means God Bless You.

The same to you Joe Slan and thank you. R.I.P.

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