In 1946 a provocative novel about growing up Irish in Rhode Island between 1900 and World War I was authored by Edward McSorley. McSorley had been a journalist with the Providence Journal, as well holding many other diverse jobs. The publication of Our Own Kind, which sold several hundred thousand copies and was a Book Club selection, told the story of a young Willie McDermott who was raised by his grandfather Ned in gritty Providence in a heavily Irish-American atmosphere. The writer did not sugarcoat anything and had a great grasp of local history. It is a heartbreaking tale of the passage from being Irish and Irish-American to eventually American–but it is no American dream.
The book was republished in the 1960s as a paperback by the New York Times publishing arm. McSorley wrote several follow-up books but never attained the success of his initial work. Prof. Molloy, who uses the novel in his Honor’s course about Irish-America at URI, calls it the equivalent of Angela’s Ashes but in a Rhode Island setting. He will summarize the book and highlight the significance.
SCOTT MOLLOY is an award-winning professor at the Schmidt Labor Research Center, University of Rhode Island. He previously drove a bus, was a union activist, and was chief of staff to a United States Congresswoman. He earned his doctorate in American History from Providence College. A prolific writer, Molloy wrote, Trolley Wars: Streetcar Workers on the Line (U. of New Hampshire, 2007) and Irish Titan, Irish Toilers: Joseph Banigan and Nineteenth-Century New England Labor (U. Press of New England, 2008), the latter the topic of his most recent lecture for the Museum. Professor Molloy has a bibliographic essay about the John Gordon case about to be published and was recently inducted into the R.I. Labor History Society Hall of Fame as well as the R.I. Hall of Fame. We welcome him for this, his third speaking engagement with the Museum.