Hawaii Guide

The Irish in Hawai'i

Written by James O'Toole.

Probably there were Irish aboard Captain Cook's ;hips and other British vessels which arrived in the early days. Some of the sailors who left the ships from time to time and settled here may have been Irish but no exact records were kept.

There's a hula about an Irish-Hawaiian, named Lola O"Brien. There are lots of residents in the islands who :an claim to be Irish-Hawaiians.

Most visitors to Hawai'i know Lewers Street, one of he few streets in Waikiki with a non-Hawaiian name. Previously, it was known as Lewers Road. It led from Alakaua Avenue to the estate of Robert Lewers, where the Halekolani Hotel now stands. Lewers and Cooke, a large building supply house, remains as only reminder of Mr. Lewers' extensive business interests.

Visitors may also hear of the Campbell Estate, one of the largest landowners in Hawai'i. Born in Londonderry, the Scotch-Irish James Campbell came to Hawai'i in 1849, went into sugar raising, bored some of the first artesian wells, and acquired vast lands beyond Pearl Harbor and elsewhere. He married a Maui chiefess.

There were Irish in prominent positions aboard many of the early British exploring ships.

Coming here later were George Lucas, who established the Honolulu Planing MD (as well as a prominent family); Francis Hits Swanzy from Dublin, who headed Theo. H. Davies and Company; and John A. Hughes, manager of the Oahu Railway and Land Co. and a Honolulu supervisor.

Two of the best known were identical twins - Jim and Will Mclnerny, who were real look-alikes. Their father, Michael McInerny, came here with his four children and established a retail firm known as M. McInerny, Ltd. more than 100 years ago. His stores long dominated two of the main comers in downtown Honolulu. Will grew up to manage the shoe store at Fort and King Streets, and Jim was in charge of the men's and women's ready-to-wear store at Fort and Merchant Streets. Both of "the twins", as Honolulu knew them, were active in many civic affairs. Will was a prominent territorial senator Jim, as head of the city planning commission, helped to direct Honolulu's growth. Neither ever married, and they were popular bachelors in Honolulu society circles.

A later manager of the stores was Lawson H. Riley, American-born but with an Irish name. Now at 86, he is still associated with the company.

The Mcinerny stores are long gone from their downtown comers, but are to be found in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center on Kalakaua Avenue, at Hilton Hawaiian Village, at Ala Moana Shopping Center, Kahala Mail and numerous other places around the islands.

With an Irish name, but born in America, is Roy C. Kelley, who pioneered the concept of fancily hotel rooms for the cost-conscious traveler coming to Hawai'l. He was born in Highland, California, and received an architectural degree at the University of Southern California. Arriving in Hawai'i in 1929, he and his wife Estelle built their first apartment building three years later. This venture culminated in a multi-million dollar family operation of 15 hotels with over 5,000 rooms.

The Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick are active in Hawai'i and Irishmen and Irishmen-at-heart march in a lively parade in Honolulu every Saint Patrick's Day to help keep alive the memory of the Irish people and their valuable contributions to this Land of Aloha.

Reprinted from Paradise News

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