October 2014 Column from the Irish American News



Mike Houihan


Deep in slumber I thought I heard the voice of Henry McGlade, the guy who does the entertainment report on Sean Ginnelly’s Good Morning Ireland show, reporting on the shock and awe of people in Ireland when they discovered that the new Rose of Tralee had come out as a lesbian.

I gotta be dreaming, I thought to myself.

Then I heard McGlade’s excited voice break into his best rendition of Bill Zwecker when he reported the following.

The Hollywood Reporter brings us this exclusive! International film star and Academy Award winner Daniel Day Lewis has signed a multi-million dollar contract to play the coveted role of Irish diplomat Aidan Cronin in the film adaptation of the NY Times best-selling non-fiction paperback book for the last 52 weeks, “The Ambassador”.

“The Ambassador” has been a runaway hit since its debut, written by investigative reporter Izzy Cusack. It’s a potboiler about espionage and terrorist activity in Chicago in the summer of 2013. The terrorist plot was thwarted by the intrepid deeds of Irish Consul General Cronin and the book lifts the veil on the shadowy world of international intrigue that bubbled over in the Irish community of Chicago that summer.

Hollywood hopes to turn “The Ambassador” into an Irish James Bond style blockbuster next year. The story has enough twists and turns to excite audiences globally.

As most of us know by now, the terrorists had been plotting to poison a shipment of Guinness to Chicago that summer. Tracking down the suspects and making sure “the black stuff” was potable for drinking involved a labyrinthine society of Irish and irish-American Chicagoans.

Key to the investigation was the role played by an undercover agent of Interpol, a man from Clare, who posed as a mild-mannered retired all Ireland football and hurling champion named P.J. O’Dea.

PJ would call the office of the Consul General on a regular basis and speak with embassy administrator Pat Neary, with what seemed like Chicago political minutia and gossip, but was actually a highly clandestine code to set up an elaborate wire tap system designed to snuff out one of the prime suspects, an Irish accordion player named Joe Cullen.

The investigation ultimately cleared Cullen but the book went to great lengths cracking the code of PJ and Pat Neary’s conversations, including the cryptic remark O’Dea shouted into the phone as he concluded each coded conversation, hanging up the phone, “Let me speak to Marie!”

It was later discovered that the poisoning plot was triggered by rumors, panic and paranoia triggered by a pious pledge of a boycott of Guinness by an Irish-American radio personality named “Houli”, who was angered by Guinness pulling sponsorship of the Boston and New York St. Patrick’s Day parades and he labeled them “anti-Catholic”. Houli held to the boycott for six months but later acquiesced when Cardinal Dolan accepted the Grand Marshall post in the NYC parade and radio host Sean Ginnelly offered to buy him a pint one night just weeks before Houli was heading to Ireland, conveniently enough.

MGM also announced additional casting of the film, including Brendan Gleeson in the role of publican and immigration champion Billy Lawless, Finoula Flanagan as Pat Neary, Jim Carrey as Joe Cullen, Michael Fassbender as Vice-Consul Nick Michael, Olivia Wilde as Maedhbh Cronin, and the late Irish character actor Cyril Cusack as radio personality Skinny Sheahan.

Wait, what? And that’s when I woke up!


April 2014 Column from The Irish American News



Mike Houlihan

Local police are concerned that three venues in the Chicagoland area will not be able to contain the fans expected to turn out for the book launch of “More Hooliganism Stories” this month.

Frenzied female fans of Irish American News columnist Mike Houlihan are expected to mob the entrance to three Irish pubs in the next few weeks.

Houlihan is scheduled to appear at the pubs to promote his latest book, the sequel to his immensely popular debut tome “Hooliganism”, which enraptured readers and critics alike. Said Houlihan, “We were going to call it “Son of Hooliganism” but that sounded too much like a Godzilla movie, and besides I’ve already got two sons and their lives are already miserable enough thanks to me!”

The new book features Houlihan’s columns from the last six years as well as a foreword written by former 19th Ward Alderman and Cook County Sheriff Mike Sheahan. In the foreword, Sheahan makes allusions to the crime of “Hooliganism” which led to the imprisonment of feminist rock punk group “Pussy Riot” in Russia.

Once again the book’s cover employs the deceptive photo of a much slimmer Houlihan from the year 2000 which triggers hot flashes and drives many women into menopause. The author has been heard to remark, “Yeah, that’s my First Holy Communion picture!”

Houlihan will perform excerpts from the book and reportedly will be telling some dirty jokes he learned from Betty Loren Maltese. Additional traffic precautions should be taken by anyone in the neighborhood of these venues on the following dates.

Wednesday April 9th, Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, 400 North McClurg Court, Chicago.  7-9PM.

The book launch will take place immediately following the taping of the Skinny & Houli Show that night so get there early to avoid the horde of Hooliganism fans.

Thursday April 10th, Cork & Kerry Irish Pub, 10614 South Western Ave. Chicago.  7-9PM

Mob action details from the 22nd Police district will be on call to handle the swarm of Southside sluts who spurned the Hooligan in his younger days.

Friday, April 11th. The Claddagh Ring Pub, 2306 West Foster, Chicago. 7-9PM

A stones throw from the Hooligan’s birthplace, this venue could be the most dangerous of them all because of certain units of the AOH Ladies Auxiliary.

Members of Pussy Riot will not be in attendance at any of the “More Hooliganism” launches. Unconfirmed reports say they will be very busy on those evenings in Siberia.

“More Hooliganism” is also available online at www.mikehoulihan.com/store



September 2012 Column From Irish American News

Mike Houlihan

“Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.”

Okay Shakespeare, call me a coward because I have died many times…on stage, screen, radio, and once while actually laying in a coffin.

I’d forgotten about that last one until telling the story while attending one of the many wakes that have recently popped up on my social calendar.

A good Irish wake requires two important ingredients: booze and laughter. Evidently there is now a state law against bringing booze into a funeral home, or so an undertaker told me as he stopped me bringing in a case of beer to the back room at Donellan’s on Western Avenue.

But sneak it in if you must because it sure makes the time go faster when you’re on your feet all day shaking the hands of mourners. And a “touch of the creature” has medicinal value to loosen the memory and recount the good times you shared with the loved one. They say the only sound a dead man hears is laughter, so keep the stories going.

Many years ago, my Uncle Paul had the temerity to die while I was back in Chicago introducing my future bride, the lovely Mary Carney, to my family. The highlight of her trip was attending the wake and funeral of ol’ Uncle Paul, a retired cop who was in his eighties. For some reason Mary got a case of the giggles at the wake, which endeared her to all the Houlihans. She tried to stop but that just made it funnier for her and soon there were tears streaming down her face from trying to cease the giggles. She made a wonderful first impression.

One of the great gifts of being Irish is our ability to laugh at death. There’s nothing funny about it when it’s a child or the sudden departure of a mother or father but for the rest of us, well we all know sooner or later we’re going to be taking the dirt nap. And we’ve been mocking the grim reaper since the day Lazarus laughed to the night of Tim Finnegan’s wake.

Actors of course have an affinity for kicking the bucket and have adopted death as a metaphor for a lousy performance.

There’s a Cagney story, maybe apocryphal, of a young actor who was worried about his death scene in the film, “Ragtime”, and he sought out James Cagney on the set and asked him for any tips on dying. Cagney reportedly looked the young man in the eye and sneered, “Just die, kid.”

And then of course there’s the old story, attributed to many actors, but most often to Shakespearian thespian Edmund Kean, who was greeted at his deathbed by a friend who said, “This all must be terribly difficult for you” To which Kean responded in a frail voice, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” And then promptly dropped dead.

Several years ago I was lucky enough to have a guest spot on an episode of The Untouchables. I just recently received a residual check for twenty-six cents when it played in Denmark.

I played an Irish cop who is murdered by a villainous Mafia type. The show centered on the character of a ten year old boy and I played the kid’s father. We filmed the scene of my wake at an old funeral home that was rented out by the production company for the night and renamed “Taylor’s Mortuary”. The actor playing Mr. Taylor walked around the set constantly wringing his hands and rehearsing his lines to himself. Unlike Mr. Taylor, I didn’t have any lines in that scene because I was dead.

It was interesting lying there in the coffin with my shoes off, but after a couple of hours I grew bored. The kid knelt in front of me on the kneeler and it was taking hours to set up the shot. During a lull I finally opened one eye towards him, “Psst, psst, psst!’

The lad smiled because I had been goofing around with him during the whole episode. I whispered to the kid, “Mr. Taylor is a necrophiliac!”

That’s when the kid very loudly asked, “What’s a necrophiliac?”

All hell then broke loose in the funeral parlor and I was immediately sternly lectured by the director and almost fired. The crew seemed to find it amusing and the kid kept asking everybody until being told to “just shut up and go back to crying.”

In retrospect I guess I’m lucky they didn’t kill me at my own wake.

Wanting to laugh at wakes is what makes us Irish. I think that’s because we don’t fear death because we know it’s not the end, but merely a portal to an everlasting life with Our Lord and savior.

I hope when I eventually die for real everybody at my wake will remember that. Enjoy yourselves as much as me, sneak in some booze and let’s have some laughs!

See you at Sheehy’s!