When he died in 1848 Cornelius Heeney, an Irish emigrant of the late 18th century to the USA, was perhaps one of the wealthiest and most influential men in the country, yet his story goes far beyond wealth or influence. In this illustrated talk, Dr Ciarán Reilly will unravel the many facets of Heeney’s life which were centred on Brooklyn and New York. One such facet was his involvement in the Catholic Church in New York diocese and in 2019. Over the course of his life, Heeney contributed land and money to many churches and orphan asylums in New York and Brooklyn, including New York’s first Catholic Church- St Peters. In the second half of the talk, Danny Leavy explores this fascinating church and some of the people who were a part of its history along with its involvement in the events of 9/11. He will tell the fascinating story of St Peters Original church bell from 1806 which is currently located inside the roof of the present church, but a project to put it on public display is now underway.
Dr Ciarán Reilly is a native of Edenderry, county Offaly and for many years has been researching Heeney’s career. An historian of 19th & 20th Century Irish history at Maynooth University, he is the author of a number of books including ‘Strokestown & the Great Irish Famine’ and the ‘The Irish Land Agent’. He is the co-editor of ‘Dublin and the Great Irish Famine’ which will be published later this year. Danny Leavy is a Building Manager in NYC, where he has lived for almost 30 years. He is originally from Rhode in County Offaly.