Through a generous grant of $31,000 from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, St. Joseph’s College hosted an “Irish American Heritage in New York City and State” lecture series, featuring noted Irish-American historian Michael Doorley, Ph.D., an associate lecturer at Open University of Ireland.
The four-event series began Thursday, Oct. 17, during Common Hour at SJC Long Island in the McGann Conference Center. It was followed that evening by a lecture at the Suffolk Historical Society from 6 to 8 p.m. SJC Brooklyn hosted Dr. Doorley Monday, Oct. 21, during Common Hour in the Tuohy Hall Student Lounge. The last event was held Tuesday, Oct. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
At the events, Dr. Doorley discussed his latest work, “The Life and Times of Daniel Cohalan 1865-1946,” which chronicles the influential role Judge Cohalan played in early twentieth-century New York state politics and the Irish nationalist movement.
“A study of Cohalan’s life in many ways highlights the problems that Irish Catholic immigrants often encountered, but also their adaptation and their ability to use the political system to their advantage,” Dr. Doorley said.
Remembering the History of New York City
Dr. Doorley’s work examines the urban and ethnic context of the early 20th century, providing a valuable historical backdrop and perspective to the period when St. Joseph’s College first opened its doors.
“While the educational opportunities for women were limited at that time, St. Joseph’s College did start to provide opportunities to young Catholic women,” Dr. Doorley said. “In a sense, St. Joseph’s College reflects what one historian has described as how the Irish founded parallel institutions in America to further their own interests because of the hostile environment.”
“I’m very grateful to Peter for helping inspire us to create these events and for working so closely with members of the College community to make it happen,” St. Joseph’s President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., said.
Making It Happen
Funding from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation is being used in support these events, which are free and open to the public.
“The foundation, in its dedication to local history, is very interested in remembering the past and passing on those memories to our citizens today,” Judge Peter Fox Cohalan said.
Phillip Dehne, Ph.D., professor and associate chair of history at St. Joseph’s, said he enjoyed the lecture given in the Tuohy Hall Student Lounge at SJC Brooklyn, noting that Dr. Doorley’s research coincides well with the history of the College.
“I think it’s fascinating,” Dr. Dehne said. “It fits in really well with a class I’m teaching (SJC 100) about the imperial decline.”
Honored at the Common Hour events were fellow seniors and political science majors Ryan Forrester (SJC Long Island) and Riley Griffiths (SJC Brooklyn), recipients of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation Scholarship.