The O'Shaughnessy brothers' story takes place between 1860 and 1950 in Illinois, Missouri, New York, and Ireland. They were the children of an impoverished immigrant who fled the famine in Ireland and of his Irish-American wife. An Irish-American Odyssey is the tale of this first generation immigrant family's struggle to assimilate into American society, highlighting their perseverance and determination to seize opportunities and surmount obstacles, all the while establishing a legacy for their own descendants in American art, advertising, journalism, and public service.
TIME magazine called James O'Shaughnessy "the best in the business" of advertising, and he became the first chief executive of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Earlier, he was a "star" reporter at the Chicago Tribune, and James and Francis were centrally involved in founding and maintaining the Irish Fellowship Club. Francis was also the first graduate of the University of Notre Dame to be invited to deliver its annual commencement address, while Martin was the first captain of Notre Dame's official basketball team. An attorney, John represented the alleged victim in a notorious "white slavery" case. Thomas ("Gus") became the leading Gaelic Revival artist in America as well as a promoter of Italian-American heritage, campaigning successfully to have Columbus Day enacted a public holiday.
The remarkable rise of the O'Shaughnessy brothers proves the American dream is attainable.
Colum Kenny is Professor of Communications at Dublin City University, Ireland. A barrister, journalist, founding board member of the EU Media Desk in Ireland, and a council member of the Irish Legal History Society, Kenny writes a weekly column for Ireland's main Sunday broadsheet, the Sunday Independent. His books include The Power of Silence, a study of the central role of silence in communication, and Fearing Sellafield, an analysis of Britain's controversial nuclear reprocessing plant. Kenny resides in the seaside town of Bray, by the Wicklow Hills just outside Dublin, Ireland, with his wife, Catherine Curran, and their three sons.