CRANFORD — The Irish have a long and proud history in New Jersey, yet no one had ever undertaken the enormous task of documenting their achievements — until now. Thomas Fox has accomplished it by writing a comprehensive book entitled, Hidden History of the Irish of New Jersey.
Fox, a librarian and researcher at the Bella Biondo Research Center of Pope John High School in Sparta, will read select passages from his work and host a Q&A session at Kilkenny House (112 South Ave. East in Cranford) on Sunday, March 6, from noon until 1 p.m.
“Beginning with the first Irish immigrants who settled in every corner of the state, this vital ethnic community has left an indelible mark on all facets of life in the Garden State,” said Fox, a former English teacher, history teacher and basketball coach.
“As a fairly recent immigrant to the state of New Jersey, I obviously have a lot of personal interest in the topic,” said Barry O’Donovan, owner of The Kilkenny House and a native of Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. “I hope that everyone in the area who wants to learn more about the heritage of this Irish in our state will come to meet Tom, ask questions about our history, and buy a copy of his book.”
The reading/book-signing is the first one presented at Kilkenny House. The event helps kick-off the St. Patrick’s Season at the pub, which also plans live traditional Irish music performances every Sunday throughout the month of March and a kid-focused Family Day on Sunday, March 13 that will feature step dancers and a menu including corned beef and cabbage.
“New Jersey’s Irish natives expressed their own discontent over British oppression by fighting alongside colonists in the American Revolution. Brave Fenians fought to preserve their new home in the Civil War. New Jersey’s Irish also have become professional athletes, government and religious leaders, business titans and even spies. By highlighting their accomplishments, I hope to demonstrate the importance of Ireland to the development of New Jersey and the United States,” the author added.
Thomas Fox has also published one book, Drummer Boy Willie McGee, which was reviewed favorably in the Journal of Military History. He was a contributor to the recent book, New Jersey Goes to War (Longstreet) and has also conducted an extended history of the Irish surname Sionnach since 1026 that has been submitted to the Irish Studies Program at Notre Dame and Kean University.
Hidden History of the Irish of New Jersey a 128-page paperback published by The History Press, Inc., sells for $18.99. Fox will personalize and autograph every copy sold at Kilkenny House on March 6.
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