NEW YORK, Feb. 19, CMC – The Grenadian-born president of the New York-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), Dr. Roy Hastick, Sr., on Monday paid tribute to prominent Caribbean academic Dr. George Irish, who died earlier this month at the age of 76.
Irish, a Montserratan-born retired professor at Brooklyn’s Medgar Ever College, City University of New York (CUNY), died after he was hospitalized since January 8.
In an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), his widow, Joy, did not disclose the cause of death.
However, Sir Howard Fergus – who co-authored Montserrat’s National Song with Irish, said he was “ailing for some time”
“I extend our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. George Irish, who served with distinction in his role as center director, with an emphasis on research collaboration with colleagues, and as an advocate and visionary leader,” Dr. Hastick, a former chair of the Caribbean Research Center (CRC) at Medgar Evers College, told CMC, stating that Dr. Irish was CRC’s executive director.
“We mourn the loss of our beloved colleague and former center director,” Hastick added.
“Dr. Irish served admirably in his multiple roles as diplomat, scholar, cultural historian, researcher, educator and a fighter for truth and social justice for Caribbean Americans, African Americans and other minorities.
“Dr. Irish will be remembered for his quiet sense of diplomacy and persistence, and his devotion to his people. We will miss his clarity of vision and his leadership,” he continued.
“During this time of bereavement, may God grant him peace, and bless his family, close friends and colleagues in the United States and abroad.”
Irish’s academic and community work embraced diverse fields. He was the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Education at Medgar Evers College, where he also headed the CRC.
At CRC, Dr. Irish documented and analyzed policy and programs that affected the Caribbean immigrant community.
Among other things, he was also a musician, community leader and social engineer.
A graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI),. Irish was the first recipient of UWI’s Ph.D. degree in Spanish.
Besides Medgar Evers College, he taught at UWI, where he headed the Department of Spanish, and in the Dominican Republic, at the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD).
He was editor-in-chief and founder of the scholarly Journal of Caribbean studies, Wadabagei, and president of the Caribbean Diaspora Press, Inc. and Caribbean American Research Foundation, Inc. in New York, according to Wikipedia.
In addition, it said Dr. Irish was co-founder and chancellor of the Universidad Popular de Desarrollo Sostenible de Las Americas (UNIPOP) and founding Board member of the International Center for Sustainable Development (CIDES) in Panama.
In 2014, Irish received the Order of Excellence honor from the Government of Montserrat.
On February 13, Montserrat Premier Donaldson Romeo led the volcano-ravaged island in mourning the death of a national icon.
“I, like most Montserratians, am saddened at the passing of The Right Hon., Dr. James Alfred George Irish, OE, son of the soil and national icon,” he said in a statement. “Whether known to some as educator, social activist, trade unionist, politician, musician, artist, singer, orator, or Man of God, in each and every aspect, he has left an indelible mark on us individually and collectively.”
Irish had a brief foray in politics, unsuccessfully contesting the 1983 general election in Montserrat for a seat in the legislative council.