Crossing the Waters

Shared History ~ Personal Stories

Funding for this project generously provided by
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs
Welcome to the webpage for “Crossing the Waters,” our filmed oral history project. Over the course of several months, a team of IAW&A members, along with filmmaker Thomas Rowley, interviewed seniors from the Irish community in New York on their personal and family immigration stories. IAW&A is excited to showcase the finished works, which were made possible through the support of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Emigrant Support Program.

Here’s the compilation of edited versions of seven initial interviews featuring Malachy McCourt, Maura Mulligan, Thom Molyneaux, Mary Geraghty, Vera Wren, Mary Fee, and Adrian Flannelly. The full versions of each interview are available below.

Here’s the compilation of edited versions of seven initial interviews featuring Malachy McCourt, Maura Mulligan, Thom Molyneaux, Mary Geraghty, Vera Wren, Mary Fee, and Adrian Flannelly. The full versions of each interview are available below.


Mary Fee retired from DDB Advertising, and has served as President of Parents and Students Irish Dancing & Music Association, a group dedicated to the promotion of Irish culture through music, dancing and our culture in general. She’s the proud grandmother to four accomplished traditional musicians.


Adrian Flannelly (Ballina, Co. Mayo), a broadcast journalist, community leader and promoter, is a founding Board Member of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, The Irish Repertory Theatre, and Ireland Chamber of Commerce USA (ICCUSA), as well as co-founder of Project Irish Outreach, Catholic Charities (Archdiocese of New York). He is a Founding board member of the Irish Hunger Memorial (2002) and Irish Cultural Liaison to Battery Park City Authority New York. Adrian emigrated to New York in 1959 and has hosted his radio talk show since 1970, and strives to illuminate issues of concern to the Irish-American community.


Mary Geraghty, a native of Limerick City, came to New York at age 12. Her family settled in Brooklyn. After finishing high school, she returned to Ireland and received her BA from UCG in 1971. She got her MA in American History from Fordham in 1986. Mary taught history in the New York Catholic School system for forty years. As a member of First Friends and World Church Services, she currently helps undocumented immigrants and refugees and has visited asylum seekers in Elizabeth Detention Center and Bergen County Jail. Mary also assists Muslim women to gain US citizenship through the Arab American Family Support Center. She was recently featured in The Irish in New York history project at Queens College, CUNY. She still resides in Brooklyn.


Malachy McCourt was born in Brooklyn, NY and from the age of three was raised in Limerick, Ireland. He returned to the land of his birth at age twenty and began his long-running career as a stage and screen actor, raconteur, radio personality, and writer. He has appeared on and off Broadway in Mass Appeal, Da, The Hostage, Inherit the Wind, and A Couple of Blaguards, which he co-authored and starred in with his brother Frank. His TV credits include appearances on many soap operas and as a guest on The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien and The Late, Late Show. His movie career has also been varied, with roles in The Molly McGuires, She’s the One, Devil’s Own, Green Card, and many others. As a writer, he has published a New York Times best-selling memoir, A Monk Swimming, as well as a history of the song Danny Boy, a history of the Claddagh ring, and Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland. Malachy is a co-host of Radio Free Eireann on Sundays from 11am to noon on WBAI 99.5FM.


Thom is an Irish/American senior citizen who has worked in professional theatre for some 50 years as an Actor, Director, playwright, teacher (AADA) and print critic. His play writing credits include “White Ash Falling 9/11” at Detroit Repertory Theatre, “Marx Brothers Marivaux” and “Mrs. Parker and George S.K.” at the Garage Theatre Group, “The Shooting of Rain Ghost Ravine” at 12 Miles West. His play “Shakespeare’s Sixth” won the Drama League of New York’s new play competition. His directing credits include “Missouri Legend” at Equity Library Theatre, “Happy Days,” “Night Mother” and “One Good Marriage” at regional NJ theatres and plays of Miller, Albee, Williams, Chekhov, Coward, and Jean Anouilh in Summer stock, Off-Off B’way and University Theatres. As an actor, Thom started as a spear-carrier in The Phoenix Theatre’s “Hamlet.” He went on to work at the leading New York Off-Off B’way theatres and as resident leading man at Flat Rock Playhouse, The Thomas Wolfe Playhouse, NC, Sharon Playhouse, CT, and the Ephrata Star Playhouse, PA. His many credits include “Othello” at Washington Shakespeare Festival, DC, “Porcelain,” “Trad,” “Imagining Madoff,” “The Legacy” and “Lost In History” at the Garage Theatre Group, and “Omnivorous” at Playwrights Theatre.


A Mayo native, Maura Mulligan is a retired New York City Public School teacher and author of the memoir, Call of the Lark. She was honored as “Irish Woman of the Year” by The Irish American Heritage & Culture Committee, Inc. Department of Education, in 2018 and was a recipient of The Irish Echo’s “Arts & Culture Awards” 2021. A member of Irish American Writers & Artists and Board Member of The American Irish Teachers Association, she currently teaches Céilí dance and Irish language in NYC. A staged reading of her play BRIGID will be featured on Origin Theater’s 1st Irish on January 31, 2023.


Vera Wrenn comes from Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. Back in the day, she was a competitive Irish Dancer, a singer (as The Wrenn Trio with her sister Helen and brother Moss), and a lead actress with the Thomas Davis Irish Players. She resides in Manhattan.


THOMAS J. ROWLEY (director)

Thomas J. Rowley is a writer/director with a background in spoken word storytelling. He’s from Dublin but currently living in New York City. After traveling around the world as a travel guide cameraman, he returned to Dublin and became a prolific storyteller on the spoken word scene. He combined his interests in 2014, when he co-created Storymap, a vast interactive documentary project that sought to capture Dublin through its people and their stories. The project was praised across the Irish press for its innovation and charm. Since moving to New York in 2016, he has worked steadily as an editor and cameraman. He was Director of Photography on the daily MTV News show “Need to Know.” Thomas has a BA in Film & English Lit from Trinity College, Dublin, and an MA in Screenwriting from the Irish National Film School.


Brendan Costello Jr. teaches writing at the City College of New York, where he earned his MFA in creative writing. He was the co-host and producer of WBAI’s disability affairs and culture program “The Largest Minority,” and he’s the current Vice President of Irish American Writers & Artists. His fiction has been published in Bowery Gothic, Epiphany Magazine, Promethean, and; his non-fiction has been published in Huffington Post,, the Irish Echo,, and The Village Voice.


Karen Daly is a former book publishing professional who worked for divisions of Doubleday and Macmillan and was Director/Book Publishing for Bottom Line Books, a publisher of health and personal finance. Karen’s primary interest is in NYC history and architecture, with a special fascination for the contribution of the Irish to New York City. She’s been published in the Journal of the New York Irish History Roundtable. A native New Yorker, Karen graduated from the College of Mount St. Vincent.


Maria is a New York-based actress, singer, writer, and producer, who won the Bairbre Dowling Spirit of the Festival Award at Origin Theatre’s 2019 1st Irish Festival, where she also received Best Actress nominations that year and in 2018. In New York, she has performed at The Roundabout, the Lucille Lortel, and Theatre For The New City, among many others. Her film appearances include Aimy In A Cage starring Crispin Glover, Barry Levinson’s Sleepers, the award-winning films Contact Zone and The Anniversary, and several network television shows and soap operas. She has presented at the Irish Echo’s Big Irish Campfire and Irish Labor Awards, and has hosted both on-line and live St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the New York Irish Center. A graduate in “Literature & Society” from Brown University, she attended the Midsummer in Oxford program through Yale Drama School, and later studied with acclaimed acting teacher Wynn Handman. She completed the Commercial Theatre Institute’s 14-week program, “Advanced Topics in Producing For The Theatre” in 2015. Currently, she is producing and starring in “Peace And Love In Brooklyn – In Concert,” a new Irish musical by Cork-born singer songwriter Eamon O’Tuama – as part of the Origin 1st Irish Festival Finale – which will be performed at the Irish Arts Center this Saturday, January 28th. Maria is also the Special Projects Manager in the Executive Office of the American Civil Liberties Union, working closely with national Executive Director Anthony Romero. While her parents harken from beautiful County Mayo, Maria is both a native New Yorker and a Jersey Girl.


Liza Engesser is an Oral Historian & the Communications Coordinator/Social Media Manager for The Irish in New York Oral History project at Queens College, CUNY. She recently conducted a Covid Oral history of the Irish community in New York City and was featured on Colm O’Mangain’s Pandemic podcast for RTE. She is an IAW&A member, blogging and co-editing their Newsletter, “The Weekly.” She is a member of the Archivist Round Table. Liza is an aspiring journalist, documentarian and archivist. She is currently an MA student in The Biography and Memoir program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She lives in Queens, NY.


Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy is a native New Yorker with roots in Offaly and Tipperary. She lived and worked in Dublin for several years. She has worked as a writer, editor, teacher and social worker. She compiled and co-edited Territories of the Voice: Short Fiction by Irish Women Writers (Beacon Press), the first American collection of Irish women’s short stories. She wrote and produced Inside Stories, an oral history of women in NYC nursing homes, which was performed at the 92nd Street Y, and The Project Theatre in Dublin. Kathleen is a Director of the Irish Institute, and co-chair of the inclusive, multi-cultural St. Pat’s For All Parade. In 2016, she received the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad which recognizes the contributions of members of the Irish diaspora.

Special Thanks to The Ellington on Broadway, who allowed us to turn their restaurant’s Straus Room into a film set!
2745 Broadway at 105th Street, NY NY
Private Room Available for Parties