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Indo story sparks Woodlawn outrage

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Pierce O’Reilly

Some residents of the heavily Irish Woodlawn section of the Bronx say they are outraged with an article that appeared in the Irish Independent last week. The article described the neighborhood as the "land that time forgot," as "frozen in time," and the "wasteland of the ’50s."

The article, written by Kelly Fincham, referred to the neighborhood as "Little Leitrim." Fincham wrote that if one "threw a stick down McLean Avenue [the main thoroughfare here in Little Leitrim] you’d hit a shamrock absolutely every time, or possibly a stray Galtee sausage."

Leitrim native Frank Brady said he was outraged by the article’s "narrow-minded depiction of the Irish."

"It’s simply blatant balderdash," Brady said. "The Irish, like all other distinctive groups, do not regard their ethnicity or culture as a cloak of inferiority to be shed in favor of something more voguish. The author appears to be captive to a mindset that was prevalent among some in colonial times."

What annoyed the Irish community most, according to one resident, was the portrayal of the Irish as bigoted and condoners of terrorist activities.

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"We won’t take those comments sitting down," the resident said. "The Irish have a good name in Woodlawn and indeed in New York and to think that some wannabee reporter arrives up here for a day and writes such downgrading stuff is totally unacceptable."

The article commented that "this is the place where some of the residents cling to their stubborn notion that the atrocity at Omagh was a ‘tactical mistake.’ "

Brady said that the author’s descriptions of Woodlawn and its people were stereotypes based on ignorance and prejudice.

"Ms. Kelly Fincham, who wrote the article, is completely wrong to think that shedding one’s native identity is a sign of progress and sophistication," Brady said. "Instead, it is a sign of a people who appreciate their past and build on it to create a better future."

Fincham was not available for comment.

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