McManus launches his memoirs in D.C.

The Washington and Baltimore area Irish community turned out in force last Sunday to mark the Washington launch of Fr. Sean Mc Manus' Memoirs, "My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland."

This was a second launch for the book (published by Collins Press, Cork) which was initially unveiled recently at a gathering in Dublin Castle.

Held in the Phoenix Park hotel on Capitol Hill, the D.C. event was chaired by Barbara Flaherty, chairperson of the Washington Irish Committee which was formed specifically for the launching.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Apart from Flaherty and Fr. Mc Manus, the speakers were Bob Blancato, former chief of staff for Congressman Mario Biaggi, and Daniel Patrick Costello, Vice President for Advancement, Gonzaga College High School, Washington, D.C. and author of the "Rag Tree: A Novel of Ireland."

"We are here to celebrate this book, "My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland," a book that is hugely important," said Flaherty in her remarks.

"It is probably the most significant memoir in the historiography of Irish-American nationalism since 'Recollections of an Irish Rebel' by John Devoy. It is destined to be a classic, and given its correct place among Irish historical books," she said.

"It is thought provoking and stimulating. Moreover, it is the definitive book on the only Irish lobby on Capitol Hill. It is a factual presentation of what happened in Washington. Additionally, the book clearly, and sequentially chronicles the work of the Irish National Caucus. It is replete with primary sources illuminating how the U.S. Congress dealt with the Irish Issue," she added.

Added Flaherty: "What is essentially important to understand is that there is no other book out there like this. Nobody else could have written such a book because no one else, and certainly no other Catholic priest, has done what Fr. Mc Manus has done on Capitol Hill for equality, peace and justice in Northern Ireland - and for almost 40 years.

Bob Blancato, in his remarks, reminisced about the battles Congressman Biaggi and Fr. McManus fought for Irish justice in the 1970s He praised the persistence of Fr. McManus and reflected on how Congressman Biaggi, now 94, would loved to have been present.

Danny Costello praised the book as being very well written, with a compelling narrative and described it as a must-read for all concerned Irish Americans.

Said Fr. McManus in his address: "The thing that has made the most vivid impression on me regarding my work with the U.S. Congress is that in the early years those who helped me most were not Irish and often not Catholic. They were Italian Americans, Jewish Americans and African Americans.

"Congressman Mario Biaggi is the great Italian example. Congressman Ben Gilman is the perfect Jewish example. The late Congressman Hamilton Fish IV was the fine Protestant example. And Congressman Don Payne is the prime African American example.

"And, of course, without the support of ordinary, decent and hardworking Irish Americans all across America, I could not have done a thing."