I recently had the opportunity to sit down with writer-actor-director-radio host Mike Houlihan to talk about next month’s annual Emerald Society dinner, where he will be named Irishman of the Year 2020. and 2021.
Congratulations, Houli, on being selected by the Emerald Society, which is the Irish American Police Association, as their man of the year for two consecutive years.
Thanks Izzy. I am very honored to be honored by Irish police officers across the state. At my age, you usually have to wait until your funeral for something like that.
At your age, most people have already had their funerals. You are almost 73 years old and almost 50 years in show biz, and you are still there. I have covered your career going back to your days as a young actor with the American Shakespeare Festival in 1973 in Stratford, Conn.
Yeah, well that’s where I started professionally, but I guess I’ve always been kind of an audience-seeking clown. I was the youngest of seven children so it took a lot of noise to get attention.
You met your wife, Mary Carney, in a Washington, DC production of “All’s Well, Ends Well” at the Folger Shakespeare Theater in 1976, and you’ve been married for over 40 years. Your wife and twin sons are your partners in Hibernian Media, the small public charity dedicated to Irish culture that you founded in 2013.
How do you know all this?
Your mother was Sissy Cusack, wasn’t she?
You’re starting to scare me, Izzy Cusack.
We are not related; I assure you.
“Our Irish Cousins” is the title of your 2013 film which premiered at the European Union Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
OK, Izzy, let’s talk about September.
On Saturday September 11, you will be feted at Gaelic Park for the Emerald Society’s annual dinner and honored as the Society’s 2020 and 2021 Irishman of the Year, no doubt thanks to your show, “Hibernian Radio” , recorded live every Wednesday at Cork and Kerry Irish pub, dedicated to Irish first responders: our cops, firefighters, paramedics and nurses who risk their lives every day
to protect ourselves and our families.
Yes, Izzy, and I would like to encourage all of my friends to join us that night. Tickets are available on emeraldsocietyofillinois.org. By the way, what does âcelebratedâ mean?
You will find out on September 11 at Gaelic Park.
You better be there that night.
I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Please don’t get hammered at dinner; it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been eclipsed by a Cusack.
I understand that John Kass of WGN is the emcee that evening.
Additionally, on the weekend of September 24, 25 and 26, you kick off the seventh annual Irish American Movie Hooley Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center with three Irish film premieres, including the Chicago premieres of “A Bend in The River, ââ Endless Sunshine on a Cloudy Day âand opens Friday night with the world premiere of your own film,â In Search of Weeping Jim, âwhich is about theâ Father of the Chicago Flag, âthe late Alderman Jim Kearns, who emigrated from County Mayo in 1884 and transformed America.
I’ve been preparing your obituary for years. You are so fat and you have to admit that you are making some crazy decisions; so my editors just assumed that, from one day to the next, you will be the victim of a fender-bender or involved in some sort of violent incident resulting in your disappearance.
I’m just trying to put it in perspective.
Tickets for the film festival are available at siskelfilmcenter.org, and we would love to see all of our friends there every Movie Hooley weekend night, take part in our free Paddy’s Irish Whiskey raffle and join us for the party after every screening at Dearborn just around the corner.
On October 20, your tenth trip to Ireland will also feature Irish fiddler / dancer Katie Grennan from Irish rock band Gaelic Storm.
That’s right, we’re going to hit Galway for three nights during Macnas’ wildly spooky pre-Halloween festival and also screen the Irish premiere of “In Search of Weeping Jim” at the Westport Town Hall Theater on October 25th. We could also be filming an episode on the fly of âOur Irish Pubâ while in the old grass.
“Our Irish Pub” is your hugely successful PBS television show that features Irish pub tours throughout Chicago and has been broadcast by WTTW for the past three seasons on St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago.
And now the world! To reserve seats for our trip or for more information, call Deirdre Kiely at (800) 664-7474 or see our ad in this edition of The Beverly Review.
What are your plans for your birthday in December?
I just hope I can still fit into my birthday costume! More info on hibernianmedia.org. See you at the cinema!