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Echoes of '09

JANUARY

2009 opened with calls by community activists for a census of Irish seniors living in U.S. cities, this after the death of immigrant Tony Gallagher who had died alone in his Queen's, NY apartment. Waterford Crystal went into receivership even as its glass made up the famed ball that ushered in the New Year in Time's Square.

Actor Liam Neeson prompted a vigorous debate when he defended New York City's embattled horse and carriage business. It was announced that Irish ambassador in Washington, Michael Collins, would represent Ireland at the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama, elected in November to be the nation's 44th president.

The new, enhanced, J1 visas for Irish visitors to the U.S. came on stream. Boxer John Duddy was back in the U.S. and back in training in preparation for an upcoming fight.

Mike Gibbons was presented with the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade grand marshal's sash by 2008 grand marshal Tommy Smyth at a ceremony in Manhattan. Amid great expectations, Barack Obama was sworn in as president but questions swirled around the new president with regard to his precise views on immigration reform, an issue of prime importance to many of his Irish supporters.

Munster and Leinster continued their winning ways in rugby by securing entry to the quarter final stages of rugby's European club championship.

Belfast native P

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