Class of 2016

The Muskegon Irish American Society has announced the 2016 Class of Inductees to the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame, which memorializes our state’s Irish American men and women who have had significant impact in the areas of Public Service, Philanthropy, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Industry, Religion, and Sports.  The 2016 Inductees are:

Gov. James J. BlanchardPublic Service: James J. Blanchard

Former Gov. James J. Blanchard will be honored in the category of Public Service. Blanchard, a member of the U.S. Congress from 1975 – 1982, served as Governor of Michigan from 1983 – 1991. He was U.S. Ambassador to Canada from 1993 – 1996. He has been consistently active in Irish-American affairs, and has been Grand Marshall of the Detroit St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As Governor he hosted the Lord Mayor of Dublin in Michigan. In Congress he was a member of the Irish Caucus and championed the McBride Principles to fight discrimination in Northern Ireland. He is a member of the international law firm of DLA Piper, and remains active in state and national matters.


Michael Patrick Shiels

Arts & Entertainment:
Michael Patrick Shiels

Michael Patrick Shiels will be honored in the area of Arts and Entertainment. Shiels is the star of “Michigan’s Big Show,” a syndicated morning radio talk show. Named “Network Radio Personality of the Year” by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters on multiple occasions, Shiels hosts his show live from Ireland each St. Patrick’s Day and, as a travel writer and author, has written extensively about the Emerald Isle.


Kathleen Dewan O'Neill

Kathleen Dewan O’Neill

Kathleen Dewan O’Neill, a special education teacher in the Detroit Public Schools for over thirty years, is President of the Gaelic League/Irish American Club of Detroit and host of a Sunday morning weekly Irish radio show on WNZK. Kathleen is a leading voice for many years in Michigan’s Irish community and co-authored a book on the history of the Irish in Detroit, making countless presentations at cultural institutions, schools, and community events about the impact of the Irish in Michigan and the United States.


James J. O'Kelly

Education: James J. O’Kelly

James J. O’Kelly has been actively involved with the Ancient Order of Hibernians for more than fifty years. He is a past President of the AOH of Michigan and past President its Stephan Walsh Division while currently serving as the National AOH Historian. He assisted in writing “Modern Journey,” the two volume history of the Irish in Detroit. O’Kelly participates in all the events of the United Irish Societies, the AOH, the Knights of Equity, and other Irish organizations, and is an adjunct professor at Schoolcraft College.


Michael W. Kerwin

Education: Michael W. Kerwin

Michael W. Kerwin has participated in the Detroit Irish American Community for several decades, serving on the Executive Board of the Gaelic League and as Chairman of its Cultural Committee. Kerwin founded and was Chair of the Cultural Committee of the Detroit Ethnic Riverfront Festivals; Chair of the Tri-Centennial Committee of the United Irish Societies; and Chair of the Committee of The Archive of the Irish of Detroit and Michigan in the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library. He also was named honorary Chair of the Gaelic League’s 100th Anniversary of the Easter Uprising. 

The Induction ceremony was held at Noon on Saturday, September 17th at the Michigan Irish Music Festival at Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon.  Below are some pictures from the Induction Ceremony.