Oral History: Andrew Finn

May 28, 2012
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Oral History: Andrew Finn

Interviewer: Where were you born and when?

Andrew: Well, I was born in 1963, in Cork City, Ireland

Interviewer: Who were some good friends growing up?

Andrew: Well, as I was growing up I had multiple friends at different stages but I would say my best friends were Audie, which is Aiden Conley, and Cully O’Brian. But I had other friends like John Sherman and Owen Shinkwen who were also good friends of mine.

Interviewer: What were some of your most memorable experiences?

Andrew: I think my most memorable experiences were the summers in Barley Cove. I used to go every summer with my parents and we would live in a caravan for the summer. It was fun because it was situated in a caravan park with all these other families and it was just unbelievable, crowds of people, just so much fun as a kid. Everybody was running around doing stuff and it was just great memories, nothing in particular but just wonderful experiences with friends and family.
Interviewer: When did you immigrate to the United States?

Andrew: I immigrated in 1986, April 28th was the day I left the green sod of Ireland, got on an airplane and flew over to this beautiful country.

Part of the beaches of Barley Cove near Cork City, Ireland

Interviewer: What was your reason for coming to the U.S.?

Andrew: Well, back in Ireland I wasn’t doing very well from a job prospective. I was a training manager wasn’t making any money, working really hard. An opportunity came along to go work at a hotel in America so I took that opportunity, it was for a year and a half I said I would give it a shot, nothing to lose, so I packed my bags, borrowed money from the bank to pay for my airfare and have some spending money, and off I went to the new chapter of my life.

Interviewer: What was your first job in the U.S.?

Andrew: My first job was a bartender in the United States, at Kitty O’Sheas. We opened an Irish bar restaurant and all the crew were hired in Ireland and brought over here and I was one of the lucky ones that was chosen to bartend.

The famous Irish cow outside of Kitty O’Sheas at the Chicago Hilton

Interviewer: How did you feel about coming to a new country?

Andrew: I was scared at first because I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t have any family here but I was excited because it was going to be a new opportunity and I had never been to America and I was really looking forward to the experience of seeing what it looked like and particularly Chicago. It was right after they had just won the Superbowl and everyone was excited and it was all in the news that Chicago was a great place. Plus the fact that it was supposed to snow like crazy in this city but I found out once I got here that maybe that wasn’t the case. (laughter)

Interviewer: What sports did you enjoy watching as a kid?

Andrew: I was a fanatical Tottenham Hotspur fan, as you know. As a young fellow I used to watch Tottenham all the time, big, big soccer fan. I also loved Rugby, loved Rugby on T.V. and I used to really enjoy Wimbledon with my mother. My mother was a big tennis fan and I used to sit and watch Wimbledon with her. (Pause) And, I’m sorry, I almost forgot the most important of all every single Saturday I used to sit and watch horse racing with my dad.

Tottenham Hotspur logo (English soccer team, Barclays Premier League)

Interviewer: What is the U.S. like compared to Ireland?

Andrew: I think the biggest difference is just the opportunity in this country. There is so much opportunity and so many different cultures and races and there’s people that are always trying to get ahead and there’s just so much opportunity and it’s so much faster and beautiful and huge. It’s hard to compare Ireland is very mystic and gorgeous itself with its beautiful green fields but for me at that time there wasn’t a lot of opportunity there and there were so many opportunities here.

Interviewer: What are some of your favorite memories of living with your parents and spending time with them?

Andrew: Um, I think I just remember how good they were to me; my mom and dad were always there for me. I loved my dad’s passion for the horse racing, it was something he loved and I used to share it with him. My mother was a giver she was always taking care of people and she was always trying to do good for people so it was always nice to be able to help her out. And of course my sisters and brother, we used to spend a lot of time at family meals together and cleaning up after the family meals and singing and laughing and dancing around the kitchen was always a fun time.

Interviewer: What was growing up in Ireland like?

Andrew: Um, gee it doesn’t seem like anywhere else I mean you did your thing, you went to school, you came home, you played with your friends, played a lot of soccer, and was always doing stuff, and then at nighttime you did your homework. I think the big difference was in the summer time as a young fellow you would go away for the whole summer and spend the summer with your family away somewhere. It was just great. I used to love it.

Interviewer: Well that is all, that you for joining me today Andrew.

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