By Harry Keaney
This year, we’re 70.
For most people, three score and 10 is a lifetime. For the Irish Echo, it’s the occasion on which the newspaper looks to the new millennium, and a new era in the ever evolving story of Irish America.
On Nov. 23, the Irish Echo will mark its 70th anniversary with a celebration dinner in the delegates’ dining room of the United Nations in New York. Guests at the event will include John Hume, the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and his wife, Pat.
The event will be hosted by the publisher and president of the Irish Echo, Claire O’Gara Grimes, with co-host John T. Sharkey, of MCI WorldCom. The sponsors of the dinner are Mutual of America, Jameson Irish Whiskey, the Northern Ireland Industrial Development Board, Guinness and Aer Lingus.
The Irish Echo, available in all 50 states and in Ireland by subscription, is also now available on the worldwide web at irishecho.com. In the past decade, the newspaper has become one of the U.S.’ leading ethnic publications with correspondents in cities throughout the country, in the White House, and in Ireland. Nowhere has the change in the newspaper been more obvious than in its technology.
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"From this 70-year vantage point, it’s positively breathtaking to observe how fast technology has changed, and is changing," Grimes said. "We transmit via modem to our printer, photos taken in Ireland take less than 30 minutes to arrive in our Fifth Avenue newsroom, and the Echo online gives us the opportunity to update important stories.
"There seems to be no escaping the communications blitz, nor do we want to," Grimes added. "Our readers speak, we listen, we’re proud to be a bellweather of the diverse Irish-American community, and salute our next 70."
For seven decades, the Irish Echo has been the most influential and widely read Irish American weekly newspaper. The paper was founded by Irish-born Charlie Connolly. In the 1950s it passed into the hands of the Grimes family of New York. Since 1955, it has been run by three members of the family, Paddy Grimes, John Grimes and by current publisher Claire O’Gara Grimes.
Included in the Echo stable is its glossy magazine supplement, IE. The magazine has two Nobel laureates, Hume and Séamus Heaney, among its Person of the Year award recipients.