In the persona of Mr. Martin Dooley, a fictional Bridgeport barkeeper, no writer better chronicled the day to day trials and tribulations of Chicago’s immigrant and first-generation Irish community than Finley Peter Dunne. As a newspaper writer for the Chicago Evening Post, Dunne, born in Chicago in 1867 to Irish immigrant parents, wrote more than three hundred Mr. Dooley monologue vignettes fraught with an urban sagacity in the context of a colorful patois blending County Roscommon with Bridgeport. In a review of Mike Royko’s book Boss for the New York Times, Studs Terkel wrote that Royko “was Chicago’s most incisive and impertinent journalist since Finley Peter Dunne.”
Since today is Chicago’s mayoral election, where a woman will be now be elected mayor for a second time, I share with you a popular Dunne quote written in 1895 from the mellifluous voice of Martin Dooley: “Sure, politics ain’t bean-bag. ‘Tis a man’s game, an women, childer, cripples an’ prohybitionists ‘d do well to keep out iv it.”
Dunne eventually moved to New York and joined Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell at American Magazine, and made a reputation for himself as an outstanding journalist on national and international issues. Yet we remember him best today for being the voice of the pioneer generations of Chicago Irish whose hard work and political savvy shaped the urban landscape of the Windy City.