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Mae for 2019

Mae O’Driscoll, pictured at a 2006 rally in Washington along with Sean Benson, is the Irish Echo’s Irish American of the Year for 2019

By Ray O’Hanlon

Mae O’Driscoll, who has devoted time beyond measure to the cause of the Irish in America, is the Irish Echo Irish American of the Year for 2019.

O’Driscoll, who lives in New York, succeeds Congressman Joe Crowley and is the twelfth person to win the accolade since it was revived in 2007.

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Mae was born in Lisheen, Skibbereen, County Cork.

In 1958 she immigrated to New York and worked in the banking and travel Industries. She continued her education at Brooklyn College where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. After twenty eight years of service, Mae retired from J. P. Morgan & Company where she was an assistant vice president.

O’Driscoll has been active in the Irish American community since her arrival in New York. Whether it was in organizing a benefit for a worthy cause, or walking a picket line in support of civil rights.

Her care and concern became particularly evident in the 1980s when thousands of undocumented Irish immigrants flocked to America’s shores.

In response to the crisis facing these immigrants, the Irish Immigration Reform Movement was founded at a Cork Association meeting in May, 1987.

O’Driscoll is a charter member of the IIRM and served as chairperson of the New York State Branch.

As a result of the IIRM’s dedicated efforts the Immigration Act of 1990 was enacted providing thousands of visas for the Irish through the Morrison Visa program.

O’Driscoll is also a founding member of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and continues to serve the Irish immigrant community in her work as director and trustee of the EIIC.

A dedicated member of the County Cork B.P. & P. Association, O’Driscoll has served the association in various capacities for many years. She has the unique distinction of being the first woman to serve as president of the association.

Mae O’Driscoll joins a distinguished and varied Irish American of the Year roster. The winners prior to Congressman Crowley were university lecturer and Great Hunger curriculum pioneer Maureen Murphy, Congressman Peter King, broadcaster Adrian Flannelly, philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman, attorney and rights activist Brian O’Dwyer, author Pete Hamill, Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, author Colum McCann, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.