ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO CELEBRATES
IRISH HERITAGE MONTH AND HONORS THE CRYAN FAMILY
Essex Irish Family Recognized As Civic, Public and Business Leaders
Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. held the County’s second annual Irish Heritage Month Celebration on Tuesday, March 15th 2005 where Celtic music and bagpipes transformed the first floor lobby at the Hall of Records into a spirited Irish festival featuring the Ceilo Country Jig Band.
While DiVincenzo’s ancestry may be of Italian descent, the County Executive welcomed the opportunity to be Irish for a day, as he joined local officials recognizing Ireland’s patron saint and the Irish American community’s significant contributions to Essex County, once home to a large contingent of Irish immigrants. A slide presentation also showcased an array of photographs and historical tidbits on great Irish pioneers and historians.
“Today we gather to celebrate the rich history of Irish Americans, who have impacted every aspect of our society and government. Our strength in Essex County is our diversity,” said DiVincenzo, who wore a green tie for the occasion. “We are proud to recognize one of the most important Irish families in our County and their contributions as public servants, community and business leaders,” he added.
During the Irish Heritage Month Celebration, DiVincenzo paid tribute to the late John Cryan. “I know John would be proud of what is happening here today,” DiVincenzo said. “The Cryan family is Essex County. Today is a great day,” he added.
John Cryan, a former Essex County Sheriff and Assemblyman, who was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, passed away last month. He was 75. Cryan immigrated to America and Essex County in the late 1940s. A longtime Vailsburg resident and parishioner at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Cryan later moved to South Orange, where he opened Cryan’s Beef and Ale House. Today, his family still operates the popular Irish pub and restaurant in South Orange, and the Cryan Association, a civic organization he founded in 1961, continues to help the Sacred Heart parish and the community.
“I learned so much from him,” said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, who described the late Irish Sheriff as a positive role model who led by example. “His service was second to none,” he added.
During the Irish Heritage Celebration, Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union), a witty storyteller, remembered his dad as a loving father, husband and civic leader. “He made me feel like a hero and he could make me believe in anything,” he added. Cryran told the standing-room-only audience how his father taught him about the importance of giving back to the community and even politics.
Balozi Harvey, Director of the Essex County Office of Cultural Diversity and Affirmative Action, said the County’s Irish Heritage Month Celebration was an opportunity to highlight the significant roles Irish Americans have played in County government, politics and the community. The Irish Heritage Month Celebration is one in a series of cultural observances, sponsored by the Office of Cultural Diversity and Affirmative Action and the County Executive’s Office, to promote racial diversity and ethnic pride.
“Our County Executive has given new meaning and depth to diversity as a tool of good governance,” Harvey said. “He is reshaping Essex County through the open celebration of our diverse history and traditions, and culture and arts. Today, as we celebrate the Irish Heritage Day, we must remind ourselves of the glorious sacrifices and contributions the Irish people have made to benefit all the people of Essex County,” he said.
Chris Durkin, Director of the Essex County Office of Human Resources, commended the County Executive for his commitment to increase cultural activities such as the Irish Heritage Month Celebration. “I am proud not only to be Irish, but to be a part of a County government that recognizes the importance of showcasing our history and Irish leaders like the Cryans,” he added.
“When you hear the Cryan family, you are instantly reminded of one of the most important Irish American families in the history of Essex County and the State of New Jersey,” said Barbara Hanselmann, a longtime family friend who serves as treasurer of the Cryan Association. “Over the past 30 years, the Cryans have given generously of their time, energy and resources to innumerable charitable events and causes,” she added.
The Irish Heritage Celebration featured performances by the Ceilo Country Jig Band, Bagpiper Dave Timms of the Essex County Emerald Society, and James Mooney, a retired Newark Fire Department Captain. After the observance, County employees and guests enjoyed an Irish feast of corn beef sandwiches, coleslaw, and soda bread from Cooper’s Deli in Newark.
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