Today, the love of my life, Joe Quinlan receives his Masters degree in Irish and Irish American Studies from NYU. Joe likes to joke that he is the Bluto Blutarski of NYU…his Animal House laugh about his five years in school. But I feel serious today. Seriously proud. I have watched Joe as he researched and read, studied and wrote. Joe was a sponge for everything Irish. He loved the learning, the faculty, the sessions of music and poetry, politics and thought. Joe found his greatest joy in the stories behind the stories…the family of Eugene O’Neill, the untoldsecrets of the Draft Riots of the Civil War, the unsolved murder of police detective Jerry McCabe. There is always a backstory. After all, it’s Ireland.
So many students hoot when they cross the stage…both victorious and relieved. But I know that Joe will walk straight and tall, enjoying the journey that he is privileged to take, remembering that long, long ago, his great grandmother Cecilia Cox left a tiny stone farmhouse in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh in Ireland…simply a young woman daring to find new hope in America. Who could know that her grandson Tom Quinlan, Joe’s Dad, would someday hold a Masters degree and teach poetry, even still in his 67th year as a teacher? And who would know that Joe would inherit that love of Ireland, pursuing a career in journalism, always learning and now walking across this stage today?
This connection of mother to son to son to son…lives on today. From a little farmhouse to the Lincoln Center stage. Here’s to Joseph Patrick Quinlan, son of Ireland, Class of ’13. I will hoot and holler with pride…to this Master of Life.
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