Diaspora Leaders Worldwide

Image of Joe Tully holding his award with his mother beside him
Joe with his Mother Rose Tully (nee Gallagher).

Joseph Tully serves as a senior associate at a law firm, Alston & Bird LLP, and also belongs to the firm’s Securities Litigation Group. Outside the litigation area, he represents Irish companies that wish to establish operations in the United States. This busy man also sits on the Steering Committee for the New York Young Leaders of the American Ireland Fund, receiving the charity’s Young Leader of the Year award in 2012.

Joe argues that, since its inception,  the American Ireland Fund, ‘has done tremendous work in Ireland through fundraising amongst the diaspora.’ In 2012, he visited one of the charities benefited by that fundraising, Music Generation.  During the visit, members of the charity were treated to a musical performance by a band led by a boy with cerebral palsy.  Through the inventive use of technology, Music Generation provided him with an instrument he could play with his head and leg, the two part of the body he could control. 

'That instrument allowed the boy to unlock a piece of himself, something that resonated with me and the other members...The American Ireland Fund made that happen'.  Last year, Joe notes, ‘it was the diaspora in New York City benefited from the powerful bound amongst Irish and Irish-Americans.  The Irish government, its people and its sportsman, in the form of the Gaelic Players Association, helped contribute money and, more importantly, time and expertise to help relieve the suffering of storm hit areas and to begin the process of rebuilding following Hurricane Sandy.’  

Growing up Joe attended St. John’s University School of Law, Boston College and Xavier High School. He was raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn – the neighborhood where his Father, Uncle and Aunts first arrived from Sligo in the 1950s. Joe’s Donegal connections flow through his mother, Rose Tully (née Gallagher).  She was raised in Mountcharles, and her father, Hugh “Hughie” Gallagher, came from Castleogary.

As a kid, Joe spent about two weeks every summer in Mountcharles. This was a great break from life in Brooklyn, which had its fair share of crime at the time meaning that parents kept a close watch on their kids. He notes that when he got to Mountcharles he was allowed to go on epic adventures -  ‘I could explore and run around the town on my own, (collecting scrapped knees along the way), and the concrete jungle of New York seemed another world away…those memories I cherish’. 

Joe misses the people of Donegal who made him feel welcome as a visitor: ‘Besides my family connections to Donegal, it is easy to feel at home there, because of the warmth of the welcome you receive as a visitor’. After eight years living in Manhattan, Joe has returned to his hometown of Park Slope, Brooklyn.  From his roof, he can view the hospital he was born in and the primary school he attended as a child.  He can also view the apartment that his dad first lived in when he arrived in 1950, something that he gets a big kick out of.

 Joe keeps in regular contact with cousins back in Donegal, a connection made so much easier with Facebook.  He concedes that his favourite place in Donegal is Glen Head, in Gleanncholmcille:  ‘I love that it takes you out of time and place.  A person standing there a thousand years-ago would have seen the same sights’.