“It was somewhat of a surprise, obviously good and exciting news. I’ve done a lot of [work]over the years in the Irish community, so it was nice to have that recognized and acknowledged,” he told Fordham Magazine in 2020.
Irish and New York blood run deep through his veins. His great-grandfather Daniel Houlihan immigrated to the Bronx from County Kerry, Ireland, in 1874. And his maternal grandmother, Rose Valerie Murray, emigrated in 1913 from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. That’s why Houlihan has been so dedicated to supporting the Irish community. In addition to leading the Great Hunger Memorial project, he has worked with the Irish Arts Center, based in New York City, to curate an exhibit titled “Fighting Irishmen: A Celebration of Celtic Warriors,” which commemorated people who are “heroes to the Irish,” Houlihan said.
Houlihan also has been a longtime supporter of the Fordham community. A former member of the University’s Board of Trustees, he previously served as chair of the Fordham President’s Council and as a member of the WFUV advisory board. In 2011, Fordham honored Houlihan with its Founder’s Award, given to individuals whose personal and professional lives reflect the highest aspirations of the University’s defining traditions, as an institution dedicated to wisdom and learning in the service of others. He and his family have established scholarship funds for students and helped renovate the baseball diamond at Jack Coffey Field, which was named Houlihan Park in honor of him and his family.