How it’s Irish: Quinn’s eponymous website, newyorkpaddy.com, gives a clue (clue, geddit?)
Bronx-born author Peter Quinn acknowledged how far he had come when addressing a distinguished gathering in the penthouse suite occupied by Irish consul Noel Kilkenny and his wife Hanora. The occasion was the launch of the third and last in Quinn’s historic crime-novel series, “Dry Bones.”
“So I’m supposed to stand here and say I’m not intimidated,”
Quinn said after first the Consul and then Mario Cuomo, three-term governor of New York and father of the current governor Andrew Cuomo, heaped praise upon him. Other notables in the room included, Quinn said,
“one of the greatest Irish historians, Terry Galway” and “a phenomenon known as the McCourts [Malachy and Frank’s widow, Ellen McCourt].”
Quinn’s relatives were also among the 50 or so supporters. “Since we’re from the Bronx,” he said,
“let’s have no confusion. The furnishings in this apartment are the property of the Irish government.”
That drew one of many laughs for Quinn’s comments, making it easy to see how he once wrote speeches for Cuomo Sr.. and other New York governors, before joining Time Inc. as its chief speechwriter.
Officially retired since 2007, Quinn’s writing hasn’t ceased, with him publishing a book of essays that year and, in the years since, three books centered on the fictitious historical figure of Detective Fintan Dunne. They’re set in New York, roughly from the 1930s through the 1950s.
Quinn, co-founder and first president of the Irish American Artists & Writers Association (IAW&A, est. in 2008) has been praised as much as a historian as a writer. And a researcher—as his brother-in-law attested to the week before Christmas in the Consul’s residence.
John Murray, after whom Quinn has named several characters, is a military historian in “Dry Bones.” Murray, who is actually a carpenter,
said the book ends in Cuba, around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
“We had to go to Havana so Peter could finish the book,”
he said. Noting the controversy caused by Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s trip to the communist country, officially off-limits to Americans, Murray added,
“We didn’t know if we’d be able to come back, but we had a blast!”
Quinn, not just back, but all over town promoting his book, as he himself joked, left his audience with these parting words:
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“Happy Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Up the Republic! Buy the book!”
Copyright 2013 New York Irish Arts