Lord Mayor Robert Briscoe with President Kennedy in 1962. JFK Library photo.
By Ray O’Hanlon
The 25th annual Briscoe Awards are set for this coming Monday in Manhattan, though lower on the island than originally planned.
The annual awards, named after the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin Robert Briscoe, were scheduled for presentation earlier in the year at the 21 Club in midtown, but flooding caused by a burst pipe resulted in extensive repair and renovation and the awards will now be presented at a downtown venue, Delmonico’s Restaurant, 56 Beaver Street, from 6 to 8 p.m.
The awards are presented by the Emerald Isle Immigration Center to members of the Jewish community who distinguish themselves in the area of immigration and supporting immigrants.
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This year’s honorees are Karen Koslowitz, New York City Council, 29th Council District, and
Gary P. Rothman, Partner Rothman Rocco Laruffa, LLP.
The awards are named after Robert Robert Emmet Briscoe.
Briscoe, whose brother was named Wolfe Tone Briscoe, was born in Dublin in 1894 to parents whose roots were in Lithuania.
He was in his native city during the 1916 Rising, and while he wasn’t a direct participant, the rebellion changed the course of his life.
After the rising, Briscoe traveled to the United States with Éamon de Valera.
He attended meetings of Clan na Gael and met Liam Mellows.
Briscoe returned to Ireland in August, 1917 and joined Na Fianna Éireann.
He would be an active participant in the War of Independence alongside Catholics, Protestants, Dissenters, men and women of no religious faith whatsoever.
Because he had not fought in 1916, Briscoe was not known to British authorities so was involved in intelligence work, and the highly risky procurement of arms and ammunition.
After World War I, and on the orders of Michael Collins, Briscoe went to Germany and continued to organize supplies for the republican cause.
Somewhat ironically, given who sent him on this mission, Briscoe would continue his operations in Germany during the Civil War – for the anti-treaty forces.
He was a De Valera man, and his future political career (he returned to Ireland in 1924) would be with de Valera’s Fianna Fáil.