2004-10-22 / Columnists

Lots of Entertainment At Sullivan Fundraiser

BEVERLY BAXTER
BEVERLY BAXTER Well, it seems we had formidable competition! With the Presidential Debates, the Yankee game, and a three-day holiday weekend; yet still you came—and your presence helped to make the first James Conway Sullivan Memorial Irish Concert a great event. With the myriad of talent displayed on the stage at the Gerald Dever M.S. 180, there’s no doubt in my mind that that’s exactly where Jimmy would want to be too!

 The Rockaway Point Pipe Band led the procession and set the tone for the musical program. Grace McCloskey was splendid in her role as Master of Ceremonies as she gave witty asides and personal recollections of her friendship with Jimmy; and remarked of his enduring relevance as a significant Irish leader.

The beautiful stage was set with seasonal baskets of flowers and poster-size photgraphs of Jimmy, capturing the moments of his life—always wearin’ of the tri-color sash—always promoting the Irish cause.

There were stunning performances by Owen Baxter who, in addition to singing one of Jimmy’s most favorite of foot-stomping rebel songs, Sean South of GarryOwen, also mesmerized the audience with his Base Baritone renditions of such classic ballads as The Impossible Dream, My Way, and Wind Beneath My Wings. He was accompanied by the popular Deacy and Casey Band who, in addition to their own repertoire, performed another of Jimmy’s favorite rebel songs, The Wild Colonial Boy.

Jackie McMickle moved the audience with her soulful gospel renditions; while Sister Mary Beatta, accompanied by Richie McCullagh on Grand Piano, sang A Mother’s Love Is A Blessing, Lady of Knock, a wonderful duet with Mr. McCullagh of The Old Man, and reminded us all of a time when New York was Irish.

John Baxter treated the audience to his mellifluous renditions of Danny Boy, Waltzin’ Mathilde, and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. John remarked that although he and Jimmy hadn’t always seen eye to eye on many issues, he respected Jimmy for his keen understanding of the meaning within Irish music and poetry, and how Jimmy’s appreciation and grasp of Irish culture and history never ceased to personally awe him. What John may not realize is Jimmy’s keen sense of people; and that if he agreed with John on every issue, John would get bored and walk away! Above all, Jimmy loved to engage in an intelligent exchange of ideas and passionate debate! He often furthered the conversation by advocating the other side—if only to bring out the best in his opponent!

Jimmy was a leader, a teacher, and a champion of those who have, by their station and circumstance, been marginalized. Human rights was his most passionate cause. Proceeds from this first concert went toward the construction of the new Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center. Jimmy, at intermittent times in his life, relied upon and boasted of the health care facility. Executive Director Dr. Nelson and Ms. Zandra Myers presented the Sullivan family with a plaque in Jimmy’s memory, which will be displayed at the new facility. Jimmy had befriended Ms. Myers while doing community service at The Claddagh Inn—and later stayed on in an advisory capacity on its Board of Directors. He called upon the Irish community and hosted concerts to benefit and enable the Claddagh Inn continue in its service to those who struggled with life’s adversities.

It’s also appropriate that we celebrate and memorialize Jimmy’s life through music—because that’s where his spirit resides. Within the uncanny witticisms and exhilarating lyrics of the Celtic beat—that is where you will find him-always.

I thank Audrey and Joe Burns, Brian Burns, Teresa Baxter, Anne McKeon, Bridie McCotter, Kathleen and Tom Sharkey, Molly Faherty, Ellen Peppard, Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Eugene Pasternak, Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey, Carmel and Brian Heffernan, Mary Bowles Anne Maroney, Tom Touhey, Sandee and Jate Doremus, Kathy Jackman, Joe Featherston, Frances Abbracciamento, Mary Alice Lane, Michael Reilly, James Geoghan, Lew Simon, Sara Berger, Joanna Mazza, Amy Lustig, who were among the many who came out to enjoy the concert and join the Sullivan family in the celebration of the life of a man whose life was the cause.

***Special Happy Birthday wishes to Rosemary Sullivan-Murphy!

***Congratulations to Barbara J. Morris who was among the honorees who were feted at the Saint Rose of Lima Night of the Roses Benefit.

***Congratulations to Mary Bowles and Eric McManus who will be honored by the parade committee as we celebrate our 30th year.

***See you...On the Beach!

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