03 Oct 2022

Donegal author’s new book investigates the life and time of the Irish men who went to America and became America's most wanted

“In different circumstances these men could have been captains of industry, politicians, or union leaders"

Donegal author’s new book investigates the life and time of the Irish men who went to America and became America's most wanted

A new book penned by a Gaoth Dobhair-based writer and author will delve into the world of Irish gangsters in America and highlight the connection that some of them shared with Donegal.
John Joe McGinely, 52, has had a keen interest in the lives of those Irish men who left for America in times past and the role they played in the history of the US.
He said: “The United States has always opened its arms to the huddled masses of Irish men and women, who left their native land for a better life, and most have repaid this hospitality many times over.”

Twenty-two out of the 45 presidents of America claim Irish descent, according to McGinley.
“The first man on the moon Neil Armstrong’s ancestors came from Fermanagh and Tyrone. In the world of business, Henry Ford the inventor of the modern assembly line, considered himself both an American and a west Cork man. When you think of the Irish in America, an iconic image is of the cops who pounded the beat of New York and other major American cities such as Boston and Chicago.”


However, McGinley finds himself most interested in the criminal aspect of this relationship.
“The unsavoury side to the Irish going to America gave rise to violence and Irish gangsters. This book will highlight the stories of the most famous of these men, many of whom became America’s most wanted criminals, some even public enemy number one.
“As the young America began to mature between the wars the Irish established themselves in all walks of life including crime and I would like to share with you the tales of the most famous and influential Irish American gangsters, and their gangs, who ruled the streets of New York, Boston and Chicago in my book The Irish Wise Guys,” he said.

Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll
The Irish Wise Guys is a no-holds-barred account by John Joe McGinley focusing on the most notorious Irish American gangsters crime bosses for whom death and destruction was a daily currency in their lives. Gangsters like Whitey Bulger, Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly and Owney ‘The Killer’ Madden.
“In different circumstances these men could have been captains of industry, politicians, or union leaders. Instead they choose a path of crime that would make them into some of the most wanted men in America, I tell their story.
“Loaners like Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll are rare in the annals of Irish American gangsters who mostly achieved notoriety as part of the many gangs that sprung up almost from the first moments Irish emigrants came off the famine boats in New York or settled in Boston and Chicago. Gangs like the Gophers, The White Hand gang, the Northside gang, Winter Hill gang, and the Westies.
“No story of Irish American gangsters would be complete without a look at each of these gangs who were the steppingstone for so many in their rise in the world of crime,” he said.

Stories that need to be told 

McGinley originally from Scotland but who has lived in Glassagh for many years says that the lives of some of these men have been explored, but insists that many fascinating stories still need to be told, to highlight the lives they led, the crimes they committed, and the part they played in American history.
The father-of-four says that this story will appeal to anyone interested in Irish-American history or true crime.
“This book is written in a conversational style and is easily accessible to those who don’t know much about any of the Irish American gangsters. Each chapter details the lives, crimes, and deaths of each man,” he said.

About the author

The author has spent 30 years working as a business consultant with large blue-chip organisations such as AEGON, Standard Life and Royal London. Having two autistic children he decided to take redundancy and relocate to Donegal where he spends his time writing, running a small holding and helping develop and nurture his boys.
He decided to use his skills to ‘give something back’ to the area he lives in and he runs Wild Atlantic Gweedore, a website, Facebook page and Twitter account that promotes the parish and people of Gweedore. As part of this he writes a blog on the local history and many of these have been published in Irelands Own magazine, especially the tale of the Invincible and patriot Patrick O’Donnell and the folklore of Balor of the Evil Eye.
As a keen football fan John Joe also runs a twitter account called Celtic Gossip which now has over 49 thousand followers.
John Joe also presents the rock show on local community radio Rosses Radio.
John Joe is a keen writer having produced many books on marketing and social media which have been published by his previous employers for financial advisers and other customers of the insurance industry.
John Joe also reviews books on a regular basis for the Financial Adviser magazine and has been a regular contributor of articles for Money Marketing both in the UK.
John Joe’s passion is history and he has written and published a series of 13 articles on Irish gangsters for Irelands Own magazine, this book is an expansion on that with a more in-depth look at the history of the Irish mob and its key players.

How to get your hands on a book

The Irish Wise Guys – The most notorious Irish American Gangsters is John Joe’s first foray into historical non-fiction and is a result of a passion to learn more about the men who created a criminal empire in America.

The book cover was artistically and aptly designed by Joe Coyle - a designer who also lives in Glassagh.
The book is currently at the printers and will be available in mid-October You can follow Irishwiseguys on Twitter at @IrishWiseGuys
The Facebook page is @IrishWiseGuys
A website is now live
The book will be in local shops but is available from the website at €14.99 plus €5 post and packaging.

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