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Mike Barry and the Kentucky Irish American

Mike Barry and the Kentucky Irish American: An Anthology

With a Foreword by BARRY BINGHAM
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Mike Barry and the Kentucky Irish American
    Book Description:

    TheKentucky Irish Americanbegan life in 1898 as one of many ethnic newspapers in America, but by its final years it attracted an avid national audience of many ethnicities. From 1925, theKIAwas owned and edited by the Barry family of Louisville: by John J. Barry to 1950, and by his son Michael to its demise in 1968.

    This anthology focuses on the Mike Barry years -- a time of Cold War and Vietnam, of Kennedy, Nixon, McCarthy, Goldwater, and Happy Chandler. Under Mike's brilliant editorship, theKIAoffered its readers a richly textured, pungent voice that combined humor with a constant push for social improvement in Kentucky and in the nation.

    Always theKIAwas strong in its support of all things Irish, Catholic, and American. It was also an acerbic commentator on the absurdities of Kentucky politics. But theKIAwas notable -- and noticed -- for its strong positions on national and international issues.Red Smith once described theKIAas "all the excuse any man needs for learning to read." Today's readers can now discover the pleasures of a livelier era in journalism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5651-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword.
    (pp. vii-x)
    Mrs. Barry Bingham Sr.

    It is surely worthwhile to save from oblivion theKentucky Irish American, as Clyde Crews has done in this engaging book. Here are that weekly newspaper’s comments on the political scene of the day in all their ferocious intensity, their unblinking partisanship, their clinical examination of the motives and the absurdities of office holders, mostly of course, Republicans—and the wit employed in their disembowelment. Mike Barry’s pithy, sophisticated, discerning, and outrageous comments upon pols, public issues, and people are part of unsolemn Kentucky history. They are also very funny.

    When Mike Barry died early in 1992, my son Barry...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION A Brief History of the Kentucky Irish American
    (pp. 1-26)

    When theKentucky Irish Americanfirst saw the light of journalistic day on the Fourth of July 1898, Louisville was one of the twenty largest cities in the nation, with a population twice that of Los Angeles or Atlanta, and four times that of Dallas or Houston. An industrial giant by southern standards, Louisville was linked to its Indiana shore town neighbors by railway bridge and ferry boat.¹

    The city boasted five daily newspapers (including the German-languageAnzeiger), hundreds of houses of worship, lively theatrical and sporting offerings, a major league baseball team, and no fewer than seven foreign consuls....

  6. Excerpts from Selected Editorials from the Mike Barry Years

    • 1 A Brother in Arms
      (pp. 29-37)

      The years of American involvement in World War II brought an unusual number of grim reports of battles and massive death toIrish Americancolumns. The sprightly commentary on Kentucky politics continued unabated all the same.

      By 1944, editor John J. Barry’s five sons—Michael, Joseph, Daniel, Thomas, and James—were serving in the American armed forces. In that same year, the year that brought the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the liberation of Rome, and the Battle of the Bulge, one of the most popular and eagerly awaited columns in the,Irish Americanwas “Brothers in Arms.” From their military...

    • 2 The Cold War Over There
      (pp. 38-50)

      No sooner had Mike Barry assumed the role of editor of theIrish Americanin 1950 than the nation found itself again in a shooting war, this time in Korea. The United States had just learned in 1949 that the Soviet Union had a powerful nuclear capability, and apocalyptic fears tracked deeply into the national consciousness. Such specters frequently haunted the columns of the paper as well.

      Korea, Cuba, Berlin, Vietnam, the Middle East, and nuclear proliferation—all were subjects for editorial commentary by Mike Barry. The editor’s voice at the start of the Korean War could be harsh and...

    • 3 The Cold War at Home
      (pp. 51-60)

      The cold war years were not just a time of frazzled nerves for Americans who feared the nuclear might of a Communist enemy without. Alongside this international tension Americans felt the anxiety of the suspicion of subversion and treason on the American home front.

      Worldwide Catholicism had a particularly high anti-Communist animus, especially within the pontificate of the rigidly orthodox Pius XII, who served as pope from 1939 to 1958. America’s leading anti-Communist crusader was also a Catholic, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (1908-57) of Wisconsin. While such national Catholic periodicals asAmericaandCommonwealchallenged the Wisconsin senator long before...

    • 4 The National Political Scene
      (pp. 61-74)

      Despite the fact that Mike Barry could readily fill lengthy columns year-round with what he often considered the calamitous foibles of Kentucky politics, he considered the national political scene his editorial beat as well. Not surprisingly, theIrish Americanremained staunchly loyal to its nineteenth-century Democratic roots throughout the Cold War years.

      If there is a major surprise for latter-day historians in the post war columns, it is in Barry’s somewhat late and somewhat reluctant support of fellow Irishman John F. Kennedy for the presidency. (Selections from columns on the Kennedys follow in Section 6) More predictable would be the...

    • 5 The Kentucky Political Scene
      (pp. 75-89)

      Kentuckians are notoriously political creatures. Given their constitutional and electoral systems, their primary and general elections, citizens can expect to find their polling places open every six months. The Commonwealth usually elects Democrats both to the governorship and to the state legislature. The only Republican elected to serve as governor of Kentucky (1967-1971) since World War II was Louie B. Nunn.

      Not surprisingly, the Democrats in the postwar years factionalized. A.B. “Happy” Chandler (1898-1991) represented the more conservative wing—a faction termed “the Republican wing of the Democratic Party” by Louisville writer Allan Trout. The more liberal or “New Deal”...

    • 6 The Kennedy Years
      (pp. 90-101)

      The presumption would seem to be a ready one: an Irish Catholic Democratic editor, looking toward the 1960 presidential campaign, would enthusiastically support John F. Kennedy. Not so of Mike Barry at theKentucky Irish American, at least not in the beginning. His choice, rather, was Adlai Stevenson. As for Kennedy? A fine fellow, he said, but too young and too Catholic for a realistic run.

      Barry, always kindly disposed toward JFK the man, warmed to him in the presidency. He supported the president’s stance in demanding a price rollback from U.S. Steel in 1962, his handling of the Cuban...

    • 7 The Civil Rights Movement
      (pp. 102-117)

      The old historical adage is largely true: Kentucky and Louisville “went southern” after the Civil War. From Appomattox until the 1890s, most of Kentucky’s governors—as well as Louisville’s governing elite—were men who had Confederate credentials or sympathies. A large Confederate monument built in that era will be found in Louisville today, but it is matched by no Union monument.

      Louisville’s segregation patterns continued well into the twentieth century, as detailed by historian George Wright inLife Behind a Veil. Under the terms of Kentucky’s 1904 Day Law, even the University of Louisville was off-limits to African-American students until...

    • 8 The City Scene
      (pp. 118-133)

      The city of Louisville in 1950, with a population of some 370,000, ranked twenty-fifth in size among American cities, still considerably larger than such other southern centers as Atlanta, Nashville, and Miami. In that mid-century year, public high schools had just been integrated by gender but would not witness racial integration for another six years. The public library system, with the exception of Western Branch, was still closed to African-Americans, as were the vast majority of parks, restaurants, hotels, and theaters.

      This “Gateway to the South” or “Falls City,” as it styled itself, was still a muscular, industrial center, with...

    • 9 The Passing Show
      (pp. 134-146)

      TheKentucky Irish Americanpursued its journalistic mission with a distinctive style. This might include its not-infrequent slams at those other Louisville papers, theCourier-JournalandLouisville Times. It might mean quotations from famous figures in large boxes on the front page, a humorous year-end review of local events, an annual list of offbeat New Year’s resolutions, the occasionally zingy cartoon, or an unconventional offer of Christmas subscriptions.

      Especially in the early 1950s, theIrish Americandirected many of its editorial energies against the Bingham press, which had recently (1948) moved itsCourier-JournalandLouisville Timesto Sixth and Broadway....

    • 10 The Sporting Life
      (pp. 147-160)

      Reporting on sports in theKentucky Irish Americancould be described in many ways: conversational, spunky, frisky. It could at times be snippy or critical. It was always distinctive and lively. Although Joe Barry usually covered bowling, editor Mike took on the hoop, the diamond, the gridiron, the ring, and, of course, the turf.

      Mike Barry, according to sports historian Jim Bolus, had seen every Kentucky Derby since 1922—World War II years excepted—and was the “Dean of Derby writers.” Even from the Pacific war zone, though, he commented on the race through the “Brothers In Arms” column. In...

  7. Index
    (pp. 161-168)