Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mayor of Waterford, Cllr Mary Roche, speaking at a presentation to Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago of his family tree, Chicago, Mon April 4th 2011

Mayor Daley agus a cairde go leir: distinguished guests and friends – it is now almost a cliché for a Mayor to begin a formal speech such as this with the words ‘it gives me great pleasure’ but on this occasion, it really is a deep and heart-felt pleasure for me to come as Mayor of Ireland’s oldest city to be here today to meet you, Mayor Daley, Mayor of this great city of Chicago on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We are here to mark you out: mark you out as ‘one of our own’. A Waterford man – almost through and through – who has made and continues to make an extra-ordinary contribution in the world – and more specifically here in your home city of Chicago.

It is almost a cliché of equal measure for Irish and American politicians to talk about the strong bonds of culture, history and heritage which connect the United States of America and Ireland – the old country. Again, today’s event here in Chicago could not be more powerful in demonstrating that a cliché has its foundations in the greatest truth. Little did your great-great Grandfather, Richard Dunne envisage a day like this when he bade farewell to his home country in 1865 and headed for a new life and whatever that held for him in the bleak years that followed the great famine.

We have with us the Daley family tree and when I was discussing its details with Waterford genealogist, Tony Hennessy, who researched and created it, I was astounded by the strength of bonds which Mayor Daley’s family has with Waterford City. We joked that we could fill City Hall with the Mayor’s cousins – particularly those descending from your grandmother’s father, Richard Dunne – who are still living in Waterford.

This is not an Irish exaggeration – we could indeed fill a large room with Daley cousins for we were delighted to discover that Mayor Daley can trace not just some but ALL of his ancestors in America right back to Ireland.

It is not unusual for American politicians to say they are Irish if they have a grandmother or great grandfather of Irish origin but Mayor Daley is totally Irish in ancestry – on his fathers side John Daly hailed from Old Parish in the west of County Waterford while on the Dunne side, Richard Dunne hailed from Waterford City. While on your mothers side of the family Sis Daleys grandparents Patrick Guilfoyle and Kitty Conroy emigrated from County Offaly! By co-incidence the descendant of another County Offaly emigrant is also a prominent US politician – of course I mean President Barrack Obama. I know that the Daley-Obama connections are also very strong. We wonder might he slip Waterford onto the Presidents itinerary for a couple of hours when he visits Ireland in May?

Some of the most interesting and ‘live’ links we discovered while working on the Daley family tree date back to the visit to Waterford of your father, Richard J.Daley, in 1964. During that visit, he met his cousin Thomas Dunne, who had been Mayor of Waterford in the forties. The Dunnes and Daleys were obviously dedicated to public service and politics – one Lillian Dunne, your Grandmother was also active politically in her own right in the Suffragette movement, working for the democratic right of women to vote.

In fact a cousin of yours, Michael Dunne who is still alive and well and living in Waterford city was present at that great family reunion almost 50 years ago. He’s just one of a clan of Dunne cousins who continue to live in Waterford.
We would like to take this opportunity to formally invite you Mayor Daley and your family to visit us in Waterford City.

And in this respect, I would like to say a few words about Waterford today. Many residents of the USA may get the impression from media reports that Ireland and Waterford are deeply depressed. We have had our economic difficulties, there’s no denying that, but Waterford is resurgent and is successfully fighting back. We got a wonderful morale-boost from the resurrection – yet again – of the historic Waterford Crystal industry which, with the support of the New York based KPS Capital Partners and Waterford City Council, has begun a new chapter of its history close to my office at City Hall. It has always been a magnet for visitors, particularly for American tourists, and continues to be.

It will soon be boosted by a new museum in one of our gems of Georgian architecture, The Bishop’s Palace, and we have exciting and ambitious plans for building on our Viking heritage by developing our ‘Viking Triangle’ the oldest part of the city linking us directly to our foundation by Norse invaders who became settlers and traders when they founded Vadrefjiord - now Waterford - in 914 almost 1,100 years ago. Just as you have focussed on making Chicago a Destination City, so we too in Waterford are working towards that goal. This year alone we expect to welcome around 1,000,000 visitors to our small city – beginning what we hope will be a resurgence in tourism and by default creating many more jobs in the tourism sector for our citizens.

We are told that an amazing 35 per cent of US citizens claim Irish ancestry and we have a message for all of them: “Ireland is not closed either for business or visitors”. Come and visit us, we are proud to show you modern Ireland and we believe that every visit should of course, encompass Ireland’s oldest city – Waterford.

Ta cead mile failte roimh – a hundred thousand welcomes to you all.
I will close with a quotation which we felt was appropriate to include on the Daley Family Tree. It was written by the late John O’Donoghue and is in the form of a ‘beannacht’ or traditional Irish blessing:
“May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.”

Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leir - thank you very much.