Eileen Flannelly Mackell
By Irish Echo Staff
Eileen Flannelly Mackell is the United Irish Counties of New York “Gael of the Year” and she will be officially saluted on Friday, January 31 at the UIC’s 116th annual dinner dance in Antun’s, Queens.
Flannelly Mackell is the second woman in the history of the organization to receive the prestigious award.
“Eileen Flannelly Mackell might best be known in New York’s Irish American circles as the daughter of the well-known radio broadcaster, Adrian Flannelly. But in her own right, Flannelly Mackell has done much to highlight the important connection between Ireland and the U.S.,” said a release announcing the honor.
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The first woman to receive the award, at the UIC’s 112th annual dinner dance in 2016, was NYPD Assistant Chief and Commanding Officer of the Patrol Borough Manhattan North precinct, Kathleen O’Reilly.
Flannelly Mackell, who currently serves as the vice president of the Container Royalty Central Collection Fund, comes from a family steeped in politics and having a profound love of Ireland, along with the welfare of the Irish here in New York, stated the release.
Her granduncle, Bill O’Dwyer, was the first Catholic mayor of New York, and another granduncle, Paul O’Dwyer, was a prominent immigration lawyer, civil rights activist, and city council president from 1974 to 1977.
Her cousin, Brian O’Dwyer, also a prominent lawyer and lobbyist, was the grand marshal of the city’s 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“Ireland has always been more of a second home to me,” said Flannelly Mackell, who grew up in Queens, one of four children.
As a child, she spent every summer in Ireland, visiting her father’s family in County Mayo, her mother’s home county of Limerick, as well as Dublin, where many of her Irish relatives currently live.
As deputy commissioner and later commissioner of the New York City Department of Records and Information Services under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Flannelly Mackell said she discovered a passion for government.
“I never thought I would see myself in government, but I found that I had a real passion for it,” she said.
Her spirit for public service began to implement itself in other ways too as she became more and more involved in various Irish causes in New York.
Flannelly Mackell, who was married to the late Dr. Thomas Mackell, former special advisor to the International Longshoremen’s Association, sees her work in the Irish community as a natural fit for her.
“When people reach out to me, I see where I can be of assistance,” said Flannelly Mackell, who will serve as the grand marshal of this year’s Bayside St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life.”
Serving as the president of the Irish Institute is also a gratifying experience and one that has allowed her to be part of the important grant-making process that has benefited a number of worthy Irish organizations over the years, the release continued.
They include the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, Archives of Irish America – Bobst Library at NYU, the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry, the New York Irish Arts Center, and the Tenement Museum, among others.
United Irish Counties President Tom Tuffy said the decision to choose Flannelly Mackell as its Gael of the Year was because she represents the very best of Irish America.
“Here is a woman who has accomplished so much in her career while at the same time giving back to a community she strongly identifies with,” said Tuffy.
As a Mayo Society of New York delegate and a supporter of the UIC, Flannelly Mackell said she is thrilled to receive the award.
“I am both honored and humbled,” she said. “This was definitely unexpected.”
The UIC will also honor Tipperary man Martin Dunne as the 2020 recipient of the Rose Cosgrove Distinguished Service Award. Dunne is a longtime delegate of the County Tipperary N&B Association of New York, where he served as president for two years. He is also a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians of New York County, and is on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.
To attend the dinner dance, email [email protected], or call Catherine Hogan at (646)489-5258. To place an ad in the association’s digital journal, e-mail Michael O’Reilly at [email protected], or call (646)634-5087. Ads must be submitted prior to Jan. 20th.