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Cruise to recall Corridan, waterfront history

By Irish Echo Staff

The life of John Corridan, the Jesuit priest who campaigned for New York’s longshoremen in post-war New York, will be at remembered on a boat trip around the island of Manhattan on Friday night, Oct. 19.

Organizer Doris Meyer, who is president of the American Irish Teachers Association and chair of the UFT’s Irish Studies Committee, said that the centenary of his birth was not adequately marked last year.

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Meyer commended the priest’s “bravery and integrity” and said that union members and leaders should regard Corridan as a “hero in the cause of labor.” She added: “It’s important for us in this day and age to know his inspiring story and how so much of the history of labor in this country is tied up with the history of the Irish.”

Corridan’s campaign against corrupt waterfront businessmen and union leaders in the late 1940s and early 1950s was the second effort by the Jesuit-run Xavier Institute of Industrial Relations, the first having failed in the face of intimidation in the early 1940s.

The Friends of the Irish Waterfront, which is hosting the event, is also celebrating James T. Fisher’s “On the Irish Waterfront: The Crusader, the Movie, and the Soul of the Port of New York.”

In a review in the Jesuit weekly America in 2009, historian and Irish Echo columnist Terry Golway labeled the book “glorious” and a “prize-worthy piece of scholarship and writing.” He said that Fordham’s Fisher, who spent a decade researching it, probably knows more about the waterfront than any living person who had not actually worked there

Many film enthusiasts are aware that Corridan was the inspiration for the priest played by Karl Malden in “On the Waterfront,” which won multiple Oscars. Fisher, though, goes one step further, showing that screenwriter Budd Schulberg was hugely influenced by Corridan and that the classic 1954 movie was told from the Jesuit’s social gospel perspective.

Corridan, who was born in Manhattan to parents from County Kerry, had a career as a college teacher and hospital chaplain after his waterfront mission had ended. He died in 1984 at age 73. He’d remained personally close to Schulberg, who died in 2009 at age 95.

Tickets for the cruise on the “Lucille” are $50 per person, which includes dinner, desert, tea/coffee and two beverages (wine, beer or soda). Boarding is at 7 p.m. at East 23rd Street/FDR Drive. Return at 10:30 p.m. To reserve space send checks, with email and/or telephone number, to: American Irish Teachers Association, Inc., Liederkranz Club, 6 East 87 St. New York, NY 10128. For additional information call Maureen Young 917-453-4514 or email Irish1022 at