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Category: Archive

The Celtic tigers

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

“Made in America,” the final episode of which will air this Thursday, centers around four people who emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in the early 1990s, when Celtic Tiger economic boom was just starting.
“This generation were highly educated, highly motivated and highly ambitious,” according to Karen McCarthy, who wrote and produced the series.
“They were people who came here after college, didn’t go to Woodside, didn’t seek out Irish people, they just sort of jumped right in and assimilated into American culture. They excelled in all sorts of fields.”
McCarthy thinks the fact that people who emigrated in the early 1990s tended to be better educated than previous generations was only part of the reason for their success.
“The character had changed from the people who came in the ’80s,” she said.
“I had met people who came over in the 1980s and were doing fairly well, but the 1990’s people had such confidence and a sense of adventure. They were not just focused on getting a job. Like the generations before them, they had a fantastic work ethic, but it was combined with an education and ambition and a sense that they were as good as anyone else.”

Sean Conlon
Founder, Conlon & Co, a real estate company in Chicago

Sean Conlon was working as a janitor in Chicago when he became interested in real estate.
“I did some apartment rentals for the manager of the building I was janitor in and I had quite a high success rate,” said Conlon, who immigrated to Chicago from Kildare in 1991.
“I decided to go to real estate classes at night.”
The market in Chicago was low when Conlon started selling real estate – but he spotted an opportunity.
“It was a gap in the market that Stevie Wonder probably could have could have seen, but my competitors didn’t,” he said.
His idea of tearing down one-story buildings and putting up multi-story condominiums in their place revolutionized the real estate business in Chicago. In 2000, Conlon started up his own property firm, which now has over 300 employees and an annual turnover of $1 billion.
He also owns a title company that generates $5 billion a year in transactions. Recently, he founded Connaught Real Estate, a mezzanine company that will lend $100 million across the U.S. over the next six months.
In addition to owning several high rises in Downtown Chicago, Illinois, Colorado, Michigan and the Bahamas, Conlon has an apartment in Mayfair, London, and owns land in Ireland, including a mile of salmon river on which he practices his hobby of fly fishing.

Lorna Donohue
Vice president of Worldwide Retail Marketing and Sales at Playboy Enterprises, New York

“I thought I’d come over, be a waitress for a few months and come home again,” Lorna Donohue laughed, recalling the day in 1995 when she received a green card.
An aspiring writer, Cond

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