Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

PAUL J. CURRAN

Paul Curran was a famous New York lawyer and a pillar
of the Catholic Church in New York. During a long and
distinguished career, many tried to make him governor. In
fact, Mario Cuomo famously said, “If they put up Paul
Curran … I won’t run.” St. Patrick’s Cathedral was
packed for his sendoff.

The early morning skies over Manhattan were darkening as a west wind came over the Hudson and blew across the concrete and glass canyons on Tuesday, September 9, 2008.

On Fifth Avenue directly opposite Rockefeller Center, the great and the good of New York politics, law, and philanthropy came to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to say farewell to Paul Jerome Curran. He was the last Catholic mandarin of the legal profession, and he died last week in a hospital room after the good part of seventy-five years as a prosecutor, corruption fighter, assemblyman, civic leader, U.S. Attorney, and icon of the Republican Party.

With the weather threatening outside, the great cathedral was full up with friends and admirers of this Paul Curran, including many federal judges who had been appointed for life with his imprimatur and blessing. They sat cheek by jowl with the power lawyers, educators, and lay elders of the high church in New York who had come to bury one of their own. There were Plunketts, Donnellys, Gills, and Crottys.

It was a Fordham crowd and Irish that came for what Edward Cardinal Egan called the “celebration” of Paul Curran’s life. And it lacked only the presence of Malcolm Wilson, the fiftieth governor of New York, after Nelson Rockefeller. Charles Malcolm Wilson was the greatest orator Fordham ever graduated, better even than William Hughes Mulligan. And Malcolm Wilson must be mentioned here because it was his dream over the years to make Paul Curran a governor of the Empire State too. Back in 1982 it almost came to be.

It is also to be recalled that about that time one Mario M. Cuomo, a Democrat from Queens, a failed baseball player with too many

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