"Memory" up for NY Emmy

By Irish Echo Staff

A documentary on the memories and reflections of Irish immigrants in New York is in line for a possible New York Emmy award this weekend.

Derek Woods, who produced the Aisling Irish Center's documentary, "Memory Brings Us Back," features the memories and stories of immigrants who arrived in New York between the years 1927 and 1964.

The Aisling production was among the seven documentaries nominated for the 53rd Annual New York Emmy Awards. The awards will be presented at a black tie gala on Sunday, April 18, at The Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

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The documentary, the full title of which is "Memory Brings Us Back: Irish Stories of Farewells and Fortunes," was also released in book form.

The work was completed in November, 2008 and first aired last August on BronxNet, the Bronx Community cable service.

"We are so proud of Derek Woods and his production team on their Emmy nomination. They did a wonderful job of bringing the emigration stories of Irish seniors to life and preserving them for future generations," said Orla Kelleher, executive director of the Yonkers-based Aisling Irish Community Center.

The film is considered an extension of the book which recounted the personal histories of 35 Irish immigrants.

Narrated by Ciarán O'Reilly of the Irish Repertory Theatre, and featuring music by Joanie Madden and Cherish The Ladies, the documentary visually illustrated the memories of 10 immigrants, many of whom were contributors to the original 2006 memoir.

The interviewees are: Bill Burke, president of Country Bank, 1988 New York St. Patrick's Day Parade grand marshal and native of County Sligo; Joe Cunningham, longtime bandleader and a 96-year-old native of County Clare; Terry Connaughton, restaurateur, former police officer, and native of County Roscommon; Agnes Delaney, social worker, chair of the Aisling center, and a native of County Galway; Sean Fleming, musician and Vietnam veteran, originally from County Kerry; Josephine Hall, a cancer survivor and successful businesswoman from County Monaghan; Eileen Moran, who left Cork City and arrived in America in 1951 at age 16; Jerry O'Connor, a former sheriff's lieutenant and Limerick native who now lives in Philadelphia; Martin O'Malley, a retired bus driver from Co=unty Mayo who helped put six children through college, and Chrissie Scott, assistant treasurer of the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk & Queens and a native of County Longford.

"We tried to include as many compelling personal histories as we could in this one-hour DVD, which also includes interviews, archival footage, and bonus features," said Derek Woods

"This was a labor of love. While I'm thrilled by the honor of this nomination, I am equally proud of the sacrifices, successes, tragedies and triumphs of these wonderful Irish immigrants. Theirs was a story that deserved to be told, and I am honored that I was able to help bring their stories to life," he said.

"Memory Brings Us Back struck a chord with people, not only in the New York area, but across America and in Ireland," said Agnes Delaney, chair of the Aisling Center.

"This documentary brought compelling stories to life and provided a visual and oral history of Ireland's greatest generation who felt that their best chance in life was to leave their homeland and come to America," she said of the film whose associate producer was James Carney and for which Sean McGinn was the director of photography.

The DVD is still available for a donation of $20 plus $5 shipping and handling via www.aislingcenter.org or by sending a check for $25 to Aisling Irish Community Center, 990 McLean Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10704. The proceeds will support the center's programs.