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Nostalgia Last Updated: 11, Jun 2018 - 20:01

Mayo's Transatlantic Connections Recognised
By Michael Larkin
5, Jun 2018 - 21:39

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American Conference for Irish Studies (A.C.I.S.) to recognise Co. Mayo's transatlantic connections.

On the weekend of June 15th - 17th, the President of the American Conference for Irish Studies, Prof. Timothy McMahon and Pittsburgh native Dr. Matthew O'Brien, Prof. of History, Steubenville University, will both make a very special visit to Co. Mayo, to acknowledge the journey undertaken by Thomas Larkin, as an excellent symbol of connectivity between the United States of America and Ireland.

Thomas Larkin, born in 1874, in the townland of Derrew, Ballyheane, was just one of the thousands of Irish immigrants, who hoped that the promised 'American Dream' would at least in part, become a reality, as he made his journey westwards to the 'New World.

When he first stepped onto American soil, little did he realise that in time, his future career pathway with the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, would lead to him being acknowledged and recognised for his role in the delivery of the telephone network into the American Mid-West.

Following the invention of the telephone by Alexander G. Bell in 1876, there was much scepticism and doubt regarding its practical everyday use. Even President Rutherford B. Hayes stated "That's an amazing invention Mr. Bell, but who would ever want to use it?".

Thankfully, some of the memorabilia relating to Thomas Larkin's career with the Bell Telephone Company has survived, including the original declaration, conferring life membership of the Telephone Pioneers of America, presented at a ceremony in the AT&T Headquarters, New York. The engraved copper cup, with the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania insignia, is another artifact, bearing testament to a distinguished career.

Initially as a telephone lineman, and later in more senior management roles, Thomas Larkin ensured that many 'new connections' were created through the use of a new device, that was capable of transmitting the sound of a human voice over wires.

'Mayo - the Connected County' was a very apt theme selected by the Mayo Associations Worldwide for their conference in 2015. The recently installed transatlantic fibre optic cable, deemed to be the most modern of its kind in the world, linking the east coast of the U.S.A. to Killala, Co. Mayo, delivers transatlantic connectivity almost at the speed of light. In what has been termed 'a tapestry of connectivity uniquely connecting the past, present and future', this county can proudly claim the title 'Mayo - the Connected County'.

The A.C.I.S. is the largest, multidisciplinary organisation, dedicated to the field of Irish studies, in North America.
Prof. Matthew O'Brien, Pittsburgh, stated "in terms of Irish migration to the USA, the enormous role of our diaspora in the shaping of today's America, cannot be overstated. As a symbol of transatlantic connectivity, Thomas Larkin's journey across the Atlantic Ocean, is a wonderful illustration of Ireland's, and in this case, Co. Mayo's many unique and special connections with the United States of America".

Mr. Michael E. Lamb, Controller of the city of Pittsburgh, accepts a handcrafted Mayo wooden harp from Michael Larkin, signifying the 'strings' of connectivity between Pittsburgh and Co Mayo.

Mr. Michael E. Lamb, Controller of the city of Pittsburgh, accepts a handcrafted Mayo wooden harp from Michael Larkin, signifying the 'strings' of connectivity between Pittsburgh and Co Mayo.

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