The First Word:
Making a Difference

An art poster of President John F. Kennedy.

By Patricia Harty, Editor-in-Chief
December / January 2014

This magazine was created to bring you the stories of our people. And, as is often the case, the best stories are those where the mind and will win out over circumstances.

One such story is of Michael Dowling, a man born into poverty whose commitment, focus and extraordinary hard work have brought him to the top in the health care field.

The narrative of Dowling’s life raises the question, why are some people bowed by circumstances while others strive to make those circumstances better?

Of course there are many factors involved, including, in Dowling’s case, brains and brawn, but we also learn how a seeming disadvantage, his mother’s hearing loss, became one of the key factors in his success. (You can read for yourself in Sheila Langan’s wonderful cover story).

Dowling, who is the head of North Shore–LIJ Health System, is not the only high achiever profiled in this issue. All of our Business 100 honorees have aimed high and earned their place on the top rungs of the corporate ladder.

In terms of Irish roots, they span the generations; from Irish-born Dowling to Shannon Deegan, whose ancestors took that fateful trip in Famine times to join the Irish community in Pointe St. Charles, Montreal.

But no matter the remove from Ireland, as the quotes on heritage attest, in the geography  of the heart there is no distance at all. And as we read the profiles of the honorees, we catch a glimmer of inherited tenacity born out of the struggles of those who went before.

Taken together, the  stories in this issue can be seen as a paean to America, which in its most essential state provided room to grow and dream (are we not the only country with the grand ideal we call the American Dream?).

Our stories, too, are a reminder of the positive side to immigration and the contributions that generations of immigrants have made to nation-building. (Something to consider as the debate on immigration rages on with oftentimes negative slurs being cast about.)

One such story is of Belfast-born engineer William Mulholland, who built an aqueduct many deemed impossible and brought water to Los Angeles. Years after his death, his impact continues to be a source of debate.

In our story on the Dublin Lock-Out we see the roots of the union movement that the Irish would bring with them to the New World.

And in our “Memories of JFK” we are reminded of a glorious time when one of our own made it all the way to the White House, even as we continue to mourn him.

My favorite quote of JFK’s is “One Man Can Make a Difference And Every Man Should Try.”

Michael Dowling is making a difference in how we look at health care. He is making a difference by promoting education and making internships available for Irish students. Perhaps most valuable of all, he is making a difference as an everyday motivator and enthusiast about life, and in his optimism about the future.

Dowling believes in the American Dream, and in the idea that if we pull together and all do our bit we can help our country reach its full potential.

And I do too.

Mortas Cine.

Leave a Reply


More Articles

First Word: Inventing
The Future of Medicine

You would think after all this time as editor of this magazine, I would cease to be surprised at the mighty...


First Word:
A True Friend of Ireland

My first home in America was in the Bronx, a basement apartment on Briggs Avenue off Fordham Road. It was a happy time....


First Word:
Trailblazers Past & Present

It was the first time that I knew the full weight of Irish America. Coming from a small country with few people, it’s...


First Word:
The Gift of Heritage

Happy Christmas to all our readers. I love this time of year. New York is abuzz with lights and window displays, and...