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     Irish California
  • Irish Need Not Apply by Celine Kennelly

Each year as June 1 approaches, Irish communities brace themselves for the arrival of the eager and enthusiastic J1 students who come to live their version of the American Dream and hopefully go home with a few dollars to spare. As with most Irish immigrants, the East coast was traditionally their destination, with the hotspots of Wildwood, Nantucket and Cape Cod providing them with jobs, cramped accommodation and a good summer. However, as the allure of farther destinations has grown, the West coast has become the new summer playground.

This year has seen the arrival of 1,200 students to San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. Some arrived with the intention of moving on to San Diego, Santa Barbara or even Lake Tahoe, but for most the plan was to rest easy under the shelter of the Golden Gate Bridge and experience life 'San Fran' style. The reality has been quite different.

The difficulties begin with the increased security changes and anti-terrorism measures that have been introduced since the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security.

J1 students, by merit of being visa holders, can apply for Social Security numbers. In the past, the numbers were processed within 5 -7 working days, but due to the introduction of the vetting of Social Security applications by Homeland Security this has increased to at least 3 weeks. Despite holding a letter from their sponsoring agency which outlines that they are in fact eligible to work, employers are reluctant to hire students before their social security numbers have been issued.

Five girls from Cork alone had to forfeit jobs because of this delay and after three solid weeks of looking two of them are still out of work.

In addition to this, J1 students are now obliged to register with a tracking database called SEVIS-Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, which stipulates that students must register their accommodation and employment details within 30 days of arriving in the US or face having their work status cancelled. To register these details, students are required to contact their sponsoring agency 10 to 20 days after arriving so that they in turn can log them into SEVIS within the 30 day requirement.

Gina Stevens of the US Department of State, emphasized that students must "at least register their permanent address. Otherwise SEVIS will automatically change their status." If they have a job offer pending the issuance of their Social Security numbers, that can be listed as current employment and can be updated as their circumstances change.

The situation is further compounded by the waning economy which has led to fewer stores, hotels and restaurants hiring summer staff. Pier 39, a haunt for Irish students, has been inundated with eager potential employees that they don't need. Employers have become almost hostile as more and more applicants arrive. Despite these difficulties, the students have been open-minded, trawled the streets and have signed up for any kind of job from selling fruit to collecting signatures to save the Sierra Nevadas! But many still do not have sufficient hours to pay rent and moving on, possibly home, is about to be the bottom line.

Despite the odds being against them, in true Irish style, the students are trying to make the best of it. "It is getting tough not being able to find a job, but we're hanging in there. I'm just going to keep trying and see what happens, until my money runs out." said Louise Mulvihill, a pharmacy student from Adare, who arrived four weeks ago. "I wish USIT had made us aware of how little work there is in San Francisco this year and of the trouble we would have because of our Social Security numbers, but they didn't give us any idea. Euro 1,200 is a lot of money to invest and not receive all of the information you need. Hopefully, next year the students will be more informed of what's ahead of them."

It is anticipated that next year, students will have to provide offers of employment before being issued visas. With most employers unwilling to hire sight unseen, is this the end of J1 students as we know them?

If you are an employer needing bright and enthusiastic employees, please contact Celine or Aoife at the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center, (415) 752-6006.

  • Retrial Of Irishman In Boat Tragedy by John Joe McFadden

William Monaghan the Irish immigrant carpenter who was arrested last year, was found not guilty of first and second degree murder in a San Francisco court last month.

The jury at the Superior Court found him not guilty of the charges but remained deadlocked on the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter-10 for acquittal and 2 for conviction.

27 year-old Monaghan a native of Oldcastle, County Meath was accused of the murder of Swiss national Lionel Voilatt on October 26. Voilatt was pushed overboard the Royal Prince Yacht by Monaghan after a dispute broke out between the two men over Voilatt's girlfriend. His body was recovered after 2 weeks as attempts at finding Voilatt on the night proved unsuccessful.

However, Monaghan will now face a new trial for manslaughter, which is due to start on July 22. He is currently in custody in lieu of $5million bail.

One of Monaghan's Attorneys, Kenneth Quigley told The Irish Herald; "The DA tried to convict Willie of Murder, which he didn't do-it was an accident, a tragedy, not a crime."

Monaghan who appeared in court on June 12 dressed in Khakis and a beige shirt did not speak at the trial. Throughout the trial he appeared downcast.

"He's happy not to be facing life in prison, he prays every evening for the repose of his [Voilatt's] soul," said Quigley.

There has been criticism of the District Attorney Terence Hallinan's office for its persistence in seeking the charge of murder. Mark West, a colleague and friend of Voilatt's at Electronic Arts, said; "I think the prosecution in San Francisco sucks. I am stunned that they didn't go for that [manslaughter] in the first place. I have no respect for the prosecution in San Francisco, Hallinan in particular."

Prosecutor Ana Gonzalez argued in court that Monaghan should be convicted of the murder of Voilatt and that the defense's case of "self defense doesn't fly" as Monaghan proved his guilt by leaving the scene and not informing officials on the boat of the incident.

The prosecution and defense attorney's failed to come to an agreement on a sentencing proposal when they met June 23. The Judge had tried to broker a deal between the two parties. "The DA offered Willie 'a deal' to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter…Insane to accept," said Quigley.

The tragic events of October 26 began when Monaghan and Voilatt's girlfriend, Viva Taylor, exchanged words on board the boat, which was hosting a Halloween costume party. An innocent hug led Voilatt to believe Monaghan was making sexual advances toward his girlfriend.

Voilatt had approached Monaghan and ordered him to leave. Taylor walked off, a decision she now regrets. She believed at the time that nothing bad could really happen. "I didn't think it out," she said. Taylor broke down at the trial when she recalled the events of the night.

Taylor had been dating Voilatt for 5 years and did expect to eventually marry him.

Quigley said that Taylor bore guilt that she did not deserve.

"She has carried a tremendous amount of guilt, that doesn't deserve to be on her shoulders."

Taylor had hoped that the District Attorney would not pursue a second trial.

However, other friends of Voilatt do not share that view and there are strong feelings about the case.

"We're totally shocked that someone could commit a crime and walk…leave the country," said West.

Voilatt was employed as an animator for Electronic Arts, a computer game company based in Redwood City. A department colleague said the job demanded "insane hours."

Quigley had argued in court that Monaghan was attacked and never threw a punch. "He tried to give the man a dunking in the water because the man hit him in the nose…and went for a…knee shot to the groin." That comment incensed West. "I was shocked that the defense said 'he deserved a dunking' as part of an official discourse."

However, the tragedy has highlighted the danger of how such a small incident could lead to such a tragic end.

As Voilat's colleague West said; "It was so avoidable from all…participants."

A new case will be presented this month on manslaughter charges. Quigley said that he believes the prosecution will not be successful.

"The jury voted for straight acquittal…Nobody believes Willie murdered Voilatt." He also commented on the prosecution's dogged pursuit of a conviction. "When you have 2 votes for guilty out of 12…it tells you your case isn't a strong one."

However, Mark MacNamara a spokesman for the District Attorney's office said in the San Francisco Examiner; "San Francisco juries have strange habits…we are not going to second-guess the jury but I don't think you can take anything from it."

If found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, Monaghan could face up to eleven years in jail.

  • Our Working Class Heritage by Bob Callahan

July is LaborFest month here in the Bay Area, a month those of us who live in this remarkable area get to celebrate the sacrifice made by those who came before, to make this place as truly remarkable as it is. Starting on July 6 with a four hour walk along San Francisco's Waterfront to revisit the scene of the General Strike of 1934-the strike which established organized labor on this coast-and ending some thirty eight events later on the evening of July 31 with a free dance at the American Federation of Musicians Local Hall 6-Archie Green and Tillie Olson, and the hundreds of people who make up LaborFest offer us this July a celebration of working class history, and working class peoples, almost without precedent in recent history. For all of the glorious detail, do visit the LaborFest website at www.laborfest@net. You might also look for the free 36 page program and booklet found at union halls and various progressive outlets around the town.

The history of the Irish in the Bay Area is of course synonymous with the history of the local Labor movement.

The first great working class hero in San Francisco was, after all, David Broderick, a transfer to San Francisco from the slums of New York City, a period of history so problematically depicted in the film Gangs of New York. In San Francisco, this former Bowery Bhoy became an early champion of the local Printer's Union, and used his base of support among workers, volunteer fireman, saloon keepers, and entertainers to become elected the first Irish Catholic ever to serve in the United States Senate.

Broderick would be killed in a duel because of his opposition to slavery, the real issue which divided the aristocratic Chivalry faction in San Francisco from the immigrant Shovelry during that age. His radical edge, nonetheless, set a tone for the local labor movement which is everywhere about this forthcoming LaborFest.

In the 1870's, our movement was often divided between Dennis Kearny, and his racist fulmination's against the Chinese; and the righteous Frank Roney, who opposed Kearny's politics to his last breath, and also gave San Francisco it's first Labor Day in 1886. The 1880's were one of the most remarkable decades for American labor, and one of it's most articulate voices belonged to San Francisco's Henry George, who would later join with pioneering Irish newspaper publisher Patrick Ford, the founder of The Irish World, in jointly advocating independence for Ireland, and justice for various working class movments around the globe. The triangling of Irish nationalism, Labor advocacy, and Democratic Party politics dates back to this age.

In the Bay Area, Irish men and women would hold leadership positions in each subsequent decade. In the 1880's, Kate Kennedy's work for her chosen teaching profession carried her into the ranks of Terence Powderly's Knights of Labor movement where she joined with other Irish American women, including Mother Jones, to give Labor the most powerful generation of women leaders it ever enjoyed.

In 1901 Michael Casey and John P McLaughlin founded the Teamsters local in San Francisco. With the help of the Galway priest, Father Peter Yorke, Casey would soon find himself in a pitched battle with a second generation Irishman, Mayor James Duval Phelan, for control of the City. The legendary PJ McCarthy, "Lord of the Building Trades," would emerge out of this cauldron.

Indeed, the local Labor Council would become wall-to-wall Irish through the emergence of Harry Bridges in the 1930's. Bridges's mother was an Irish Catholic, and Harry grew up in the Irish unions of his native Australia. It was this extra lilt which undoubtedly drew the mighty Vince Hallinan to Bridge's side when the Government attempted to deport Harry back to Australia in the early Fifties.

The list extends well into the leadership provided to our community by the beloved John "Jack" Henning in our own time. If you are as fascinated by the detail of this history as I believe, certainly, all of our children should be, then check out LaborFest. You do not have a more important gift to give to the children. The work, of course, goes on.

  • Anú SoMa Hotspot

Anú, simply named and cleverly conceived is the latest addition to the thriving San Francisco club scene. A Celtic lounge with a diverse international flavor is the best way to describe this thumping venue. World class DJs such as Sasha and Darren Emerson have graced their decks alongside up and comers like Scott Correlli (Wednesday nights). The sounds range from progressive house all the way through to Rock 'n' Roll electronica.

The owners are three Irish lads in their late twenties who met on the East Coast and who have all lived in San Francisco for about four years. Daithi Donnelly is from Blackwatertown in County Armagh and Paudie Kennedy and Brian Sheehy both hail from Annascaul in the Kingdom of Kerry. They named the bar after the Celtic Goddess of abundance, hope and good luck, and they are hoping that their new venture will bring a measure of each to the deprived South of Market location which they now call home.

The funky interior is heavily influenced by the works of art on view, with a different artist featured every month. "We are not the typical McDonalds Irish Bar that you can find in every city in the world. What we have done is given our place an historic Irish name, combined it with Irish hospitality, and created a casual, cosy, modern, cutting edge interior for our visitors. There are no neon green shamrocks, no over-reproduced Guinesss, Harp or Jameson signs, and absolutely not a single one of those unmentionable little people are to be found," Sheehy told The Irish Herald.

The kitchen has also recently opened and offers tasty bites (battered shrimp and celtic calamari are house favorites) to a thirsty downtown happy hour crowd.

The staff are friendly and helpful but Anú's crown jewel is definitely the bar itself. It's beautifully designed and hand crafted, and offers a variety of drinks to satisfy the most exotic cocktailer or the regular beer guzzler.

Upcoming shows include those of Carlos Loarca (Guatamala), Wiston Smith (San Francisco), and Mick Roman (New York). For your listening pleasure the lads have also installed a touch screen digital Jukebox with over 100,000 songs (including a healthy smattering of classics, Christy Moore, Pogues Waterboys etc.) Check it out, Anú is one for the map.

Tuesdays-Hip Hop; Wednesdays-Progressive house & breaks; Thursdays-Funky downtempo; Fridays-Rock 'n' Roll electronica; Saturdays-Tech house; Sun-Electro, Girlpunk, Ska

Visit them at Tel: (415) 845-9891

-Seamus Mc Corry

Music Solutions

  • In Memory Of John Whooley - James Whooley Remembers His Father, The Founder Of The Irish Herald, Who Died In Peacefully Last Month

My father, John Patrick Whooley, was born in Leap, County Cork, Ireland on December 19, 1920. He grew up in a large, poor farming family, and spent a good deal of time as a child working in the fields. Those who knew him will remember his enormous hands, which I have always thought resulted from that childhood toil. He was blessed with a keen mind, but as was the norm at the time, finished school in his hometown around the age of fourteen. After spending a period of time in England living with his older brother, he traveled to Washington DC at the age of 20 to live with his sister and her husband. In Washington he worked as a taxi driver and pursued an education, ultimately earning a Master's Degree in Psychology from Catholic University.

He spent the better part of fifteen years in Washington, then moved to San Francisco in 1955. He chose San Francisco for its climate and had few contacts when he arrived. With little money to spare he took what work he could find, selling reference books door-to-door for a time, but soon found his calling in organizing social and cultural events for San Francisco's burgeoning Irish community. He opened San Francisco's first Irish Center in 1964, from which he developed various enterprises, including The Irish Herald newspaper, Bits from Blarney Radio Program, the Irish Castle Gift Shop, Hibernia Travel Service, and the charter flight program to Ireland. He also organized dances at the Richmond Hall and Hibernia Hall, Irish music concerts, the Irish Feis for step dancing, Rose of Tralee contests, broadcasts of All Ireland football and hurling finals, the Irish Festival Week, and other events. Many will remember his longtime office at 2123 Market Street, near Church, from which he ran Hibernia Travel and wrote and edited The Irish Herald.

His wife-my mother, Mary Aquinas Whooley-was his partner in these various services and activities, and she became a fixture in her own right as proprietress of the Irish Castle Gift Shop on Geary Street near Taylor, which continues in operation today under new ownership. They had five children and six grandchildren (to date), all of whom live in the Bay Area today. My father passed on the ownership of The Irish Herald in 1996 but continued to operate Hibernia Travel into his late seventies.

In 2001, he moved from San Francisco to the Nazareth House retirement home in San Rafael. His health took a turn for the worse after my mother passed away on April 10 of this year, and he followed her in death early in the morning of June 21. Though increasingly weak he retained his mental acuity to the end, and died peacefully with family at his side. Along with his children and grandchildren, he is survived by two brothers and numerous other relatives in England and Ireland. We will miss his wit and warmth.


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