Miriam Nyhan Grey.
Page Turner / Edited by Peter McDermott
“No America, no New York, no Easter Rising. Simple as that,” Professor Joseph Lee of Glucksman Ireland House, NYU, has said.
Lee’s colleague, Miriam Nyhan Grey, is the editor of “Ireland’s Allies: America and the Easter Rising,” which looks at that dimension of the event in considerable detail.
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Nyhan Grey, Glucksman’s director of Graduate Studies, describes New York at the time “as a very Irish area with a metropolitan area that surpassed Dublin and Belfast. Of the 4.7 million New Yorkers in 1901, the population of those actually born in Ireland was 252, 672 but that count did not include children of Irish immigrants of which there were many.”
The city was arguably the most important center of Irish nationalism outside of Ireland and considered as such by parliamentary leader John Redmond and his colleagues. In early 1916, Redmond’s men in the city launched a new publication called Ireland.
Nyhan Grey, who completed her PhD in Italy before coming to NYU, writes, that at this point in the war in Europe, “it is noteworthy that energy and resources were being channeled into a new Irish-American periodical.”
The more revolutionary strain of Irish nationalism was strong in the New York, however, and getting stronger by the week against the backdrop of Redmond’s support for Irish participation on Britain’s side in the war. Much of the plotting and fund-raising for the insurrection took place in the city and many of the key Irish-based rebels would visit in the years before the Rising.
All of this was dealt with during one of the standout happenings of the Centenary celebrations last year — Glucksman’s two-day symposium at Pier A, Downtown Manhattan. With all of the presenters and more included, “Ireland’s Allies” is the published, in-depth version of that event.
Miriam Nyhan Grey
Date of birth: 1977
Place of birth: Arklow, Co. Wicklow
Husband: Eon Grey
Children: A 4-year-old son called Aodhán
Residence: Willliamsburg, Brooklyn
Published works: “Are You Still Below? The Ford Marina Plant, Cork, 1917-1984” (Collins Press, 2007).
What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?
Since I am a working mother, I just grab time and my laptop when I see a break in proceedings. Winters in New York are conducive to staying in and researching and writing.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I feel woefully unqualified to offer advice.
Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.
Almost any Irish history book is of interest to me. No matter how many times I pick it up I get immense pleasure from reading “Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society” written by my boss, the historian Joe Lee. I also love the works of the renowned ethnomusicologist and commentator on the American South, William R. (Bill) Ferris.
What book are you currently reading?
A trashy airport purchase – I cannot remember the name or it or the author.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.
I am not a huge pleasure reader, to be honest. I don’t have time and it is almost like asking a plumber to fix the toilet when he goes home. Reading is a lot of what I do all the time!
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
I would love to meet Oscar Wilde. He always sounded so fascinating to me.
What is your favorite spot in Ireland?
Cork. I spent seven happy years at UCC and my dad is from the beautiful West Cork.
You’re Irish if…
You love a small rainy island in the Atlantic and think there’s nowhere like it.