WTTW Presents Irish Chicago
Hosted by actor Aidan Quinn, this poignant, 80-minute documentary captures the rich and vibrant stories behind the Irish-American immigrant experience in Chicago
Airing Tuesday, March 3 at 7:30 pm on WTTW11
Repeats: Monday, March 16 at 8:00 pm
Jaunary 28, 2009 - Chicago - The immigrant history of Chicago is rooted among many countries and people whose struggles and triumphs have led them to the Midwest. From the days of Chicago's founding in the 1830s, the city has been the final stop for people journeying from all over the world looking for a land of opportunity. In numerous ways, these new arrivals made their mark throughout the city and are woven into Chicago's rich cultural fabric. Irish Chicago, airing Tuesday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. on WTTW11, features the colorful stories of Irish-American immigrants and their descendants who lived the history and exemplify the repeated cycle of the outsider becoming the ultimate Chicago citizen-insider.
Hosted by the Emmy-nominated actor Aidan Quinn, Irish Chicago is a remarkable documentary that celebrates the history of this powerful community as it reflects on so many of the contributions made by its' vital and influential Irish community leaders and residents. The story of Chicago is one with the story of its Irish citizens, those who dug the Illinois and Michigan canal that led to the land boom and created the hard-working fast-growing city by the lake. It is the story of those who worked in factories, became leaders in politics, as well as those who made significant contributions to the city's growing cultural life. Today, Chicago is filled with their descendants doing the work to keep the region vibrant, competitive and livable.
Through the use of historical footage, archival photos and stories from a core group of contemporary Chicagoans, Irish Chicago presents a springboard back into Chicago's rich history to show the role the Irish played in building this great city. The program celebrates the Irish reputation for close-knit communities and families, devotion to faith, a gift for storytelling, a shrewd eye for political and social realities, a love of music and dancing, as well as an incredible range of experience in civic life.
Irish Chicago includes interviews with:
- John Devitt - board member of Chicago's Gaelic Park, owner of Devitt
- Megan Williamson - northside Chicagoan, artist
- Tim O'Malley - southside Chicagoan, comedian/actor/singer/writer
- Tom Tunney - Alderman of the 44th Ward, owner of Ann Sather's
- John Cullerton - State Senator of the 6th District, State Senate President-Elect
- Sister Susan Sanders - southside Chicagoan, faculty member of St. Xavier's
- William & Patrick Moriarty - west and northwest side Chicagoans
William is a Chicago police officer, Patrick is with the Cook County Sheriff's
- Attracta O'Neill McAleer - former northsider
- Father Jack Wall - Pastor Emeritus of Old St. Patrick's, now with Catholic Extension
- Ellen Skerett - historian
- Bill Savage - historian and faculty member at Northwestern University
Host and narrator Aidan Quinn, the son of Irish parents, was raised in Chicago. The award-winning actor trained at the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston and began his career on the Chicago stage. Quinn's performance credits include an impressive list of theatre, film and television productions. In New York, he starred on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire and Off Broadway in Sam Shepherd's Fool for Love and in The Exonerated and Salome directed by Estelle Parsons with Al Pacino. Aidan received Emmy nominations for his performance in the ground-breaking AIDS television drama, An Early Frost and most recently for his work in HBO's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He has starred in over 35 feature films, among them Desperately Seeking Susan, Stakeout, Benny and Joon, Legends of the Fall, Looking for Richard and The Assignment. In 2005, Quinn was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Cavedweller and recently co-starred with Meryl Streep in the independent feature Dark Matter. He continually stars in films that allow him to return to his Irish roots, such as Michael Collins and Evelyn. His most recent television credits include Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Cantebury's Law.
To view a clip or obtain more information about Irish Chicago, visit: www.wttw.com/irishchicago
Irish Chicago is made possible through the generous support of
The William F. O'Connor Foundation, in Memory of Billy O'Connor;
Walsh Construction; and Robert & Joan Clifford. (as of February 3, 2009)
Additional support is provided by O'Briens Restaurant and Bar. (as of January 29, 2009)
Irish Chicago is an original production of WTTW Chicago. Dan Andries, Producer; Sara Medlin, Associate Producer; VJ McAleer, Executive Producer.