Micheline has successfully completed the first phase of her US tour, speaking and filming in New York, Boston and Connecticut as she retraces her grandmother Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s epic tour in 1917. At various venues, she connected her talks about Hanna’s striving for justice to her own fight for gender equality at NUI Galway, generating much interest in the campaign to support the promotion of the five women lecturers. She is much appreciative of everyone’s support.
Arriving on the Queen Mary 2 in New York on 7th September, Micheline gave her first talk that evening at the American Irish Historical Association on Fifth Avenue to a packed audience. The film crew covered this event as well as some key places associated with Micheline’s grandmother, including Carnegie Hall, where they met the Director of Archives, who explained the context of the Irish-American community’s hunger for news after the 1916 Easter Rising and their welcome for Hanna; Ellis Island, where they filmed Micheline being shown the ship’s manifest, which listed Hanna and Owen under their false names; and Glucksman Ireland House, where historian Miriam Nyhan gave a fascinating account of the role Frank Sheehy Skeffington played in meeting many of the Irish diaspora when in the US in 1915.
After three days in New York, Micheline and videographer Eddie Mullarkey continued to Connecticut and then on to Boston, where Dave Barrett of the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton, MA, did them proud. They filmed in Lowell, MA, where there was a story of a near-kidnapping of Hanna onto a train bound for Canada, and in Boston at Faneuil Hall, which Hanna packed on January 14th, 1917, soon after her Carnegie Hall address. The filming ended with Micheline’s lecture to an enthusiastic audience of American Irish at the Irish Cultural Centre. A discussion arose about how women continue to be ‘airbrushed’ out of history and positions of power, bringing it right up to Micheline’s gender equality win against NUI Galway in 2014.
Micheline has now given two talks in Albany, NY, and one in St. Louis, MO, where, she tells us, the story of her family and her own activism really resonated with the other cultural groups as well as with the American Irish. She will next return east to Maine, via Providence, R.I., to address the American Conference for Irish Studies’ annual meeting in Bangor. She will then work her way to Chicago via Syracuse and Rochester, NY., and Milwaukee, WI, speaking at each venue and travelling by train, as Hanna would have.
Eddie and producer Joanna McMinn will join her again in Chicago for a busy filming schedule leading up to the iBAM! Festival at the Irish Cultural Centre there at the end of October. Later, Micheline will be travelling to Montana, Washington state, Canada and California and then back to New Jersey and New York, finishing her trip at the end of November.