After the Roof Caved In: An Immigrant's Journey from Ireland to America

After the Roof Caved In: An Immigrant's Journey from Ireland to America

After the Roof Caved In: An Immigrant's Journey from Ireland to America

After the Roof Caved In: An Immigrant's Journey from Ireland to America


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The moving story of an Irish immigrant's life, from a poverty-stricken childhood in Ireland to becoming a captain of industry, After the Roof Caved In is a powerful, poignant look at how hard work and education enabled one young man to change his life and circumstances completely. 

Today, Michael J. Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, New York state's largest healthcare provider and private employer, with over 68,000 employees and over 700 facilities. But he grew up in deep poverty in the village of Knockaderry in rural Ireland, in a small home without running water or a stable roof, in a family with little hope for improvement and a place with little opportunity—and he overcame it all to become wildly successful. 

After the Roof Caved In is Dowling's rags-to-riches story of his life and journey from his destitute youth to his realization of the power of education and his eventual departure from his home to attend university in Cork, and onward through his life as he gradually improved himself and his circumstances. Full of memories both fond and painful, this powerful memoir examines the family dynamics of his childhood—including the lives of his deaf mother and arthritic father—as well as the social systems of the time, the politics and concerns of the day, and the way a variety of disparate events came together to help Dowling change his life completely. Most importantly, it chronicles his lifelong effort to rise above the circumstances into which he was born and to create the sort of life he dreamed possible. 

For anyone interested in the stories of immigrants, the experiences of the Irish in the mid-20th century, or the value of hard work and education in changing one's life, After the Roof Caved In is an essential read, and a heartfelt, deeply moving meditation on an extraordinary life. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781951627249
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 10/13/2020
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Michael J. Dowling is president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health. Dowling grew up in Limerick, Ireland. He earned his undergraduate degree from University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, and his master's degree from Fordham University. He also has honorary doctorates from Hofstra University and Dowling College. He played hurling with Limerick and won a National League medal and a Fitzgibbon Cup medal with UCC. Before his public service career, Dowling was a professor of social policy and assistant dean at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services and director of the Fordham campus in Westchester County. Afterwards, Dowling served in New York State government for 12 years, including seven years as state director of Health, Education and Human Services and deputy secretary to former governor Mario Cuomo. He was also commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services.
Charles Kenney serves as chief journalist at Northwell Health and executive editor of the Northwell Innovation Series. He is the author of many books including The Best Practice: How the New Quality Movement Is Transforming Medicine (PublicAffairs 2008), which The New York Times described as “the first large-scale history of the quality movement.” He serves on the faculty of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Preface: Voices in the Night: The Irish storytelling tradition. ix

1 The Village of Knockaderry: "A lonefigure waving his cane in the air." 1

2 Hierarchy and Hurling: "Too bad someone like you could never go to college." 25

3 Love of Learning: "He's only going to end up sweeping the streets." 43

4 A Cacophony of No: "I was beginning to believe that the Church was as much about power as it was about religion." 57

5 A Scar that Never Healed: "What the hell are these examsfor anyway?" 67

6 University College Cork: "Oh, my God, I'm in college!" 82

7 Joe Is Gone: "What did I do?" 108

8 Fordham and Failure: "I am returning to Ireland (for good) very soon. … It won't be long before we are all together …" 116

9 Hugs All Around: "Did I consider it a terrible loss at the time? I did not." 135

10 The Cuomo Years: "We had to help peuple help themselves." 147

11 The Mission of Northwell Health: "The only way to serve yourself is to serve others." 171

12 Mam's New Life: "Is that you?" 189

13 Grand Marshal: "The greatest incubator of opportunity the world has ever known." 199

14 A Good Ending: "We're lucky we've gotten closer as we've gotten older." 213

Afterword: A Lifelong Love of Learning 227

Acknowledgments 241

About the Authors 247

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