Irish American of the Year 2019
Mae O’Driscoll, who has devoted time beyond measure to the cause of the Irish in America, is the Irish Echo Irish American of the Year for 2019.
O’Driscoll, who lives in New York, is the twelfth person to win the accolade since it was revived in 2007.
Mae was born in Lisheen, Skibbereen, County Cork. She grew up on a dairy farm with her five brothers and a sister.
In 1958 she immigrated to New York and worked in the banking and travel Industries. She continued her education at Brooklyn College where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. After twenty eight years of service, Mae retired from J. P. Morgan & Company where she was an assistant vice president.
O’Driscoll has been active in the Irish American community since her arrival in New York. Whether it was in organising a benefit for a worthy cause, or walking a picket line in support of civil rights.
With her brother, Bill, she began raising money for various Irish causes in the early 1960s. She worked with the National Association for Irish Justice in 1969, particularly for Bernadette Devlin’s visit to New York City, and became a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in 1971. She joined the County Cork Association in 1983 and six years later, in 1989, she was elected its first woman president.
Mae’s care and concern became particularly evident in the 1980s when thousands of undocumented Irish immigrants flocked to America’s shores.
In response to the crisis facing these immigrants, the Irish Immigration Reform Movement was founded at a Cork Association meeting in May, 1987.
O’Driscoll is a charter member of the IIRM and served as chairperson of the New York State Branch.
As a result of the IIRM’s dedicated efforts the Immigration Act of 1990 was enacted providing thousands of visas for the Irish through the Morrison Visa program. O’Driscoll is also a founding member of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and continues to serve the Irish immigrant community in her work as director and trustee of the EIIC. A dedicated member of the County Cork B.P. & P. Association, in addition to being first woman president, O’Driscoll has served the association in various capacities through the years.
Mae O’Driscoll joins a distinguished and varied Irish American of the Year roster that features Congressman Joe Crowley, university lecturer and Great Hunger curriculum pioneer, Maureen Murphy, Congressman Peter King, broadcaster Adrian Flannelly, philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman, attorney and rights activist Brian O’Dwyer, author Pete Hamill, Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, author Colum McCann, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.