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|Founded||Early 19th century|
|Founding location||United States of America|
|Years active||Early 19th century – present|
|Territory||Ireland, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Spain|
|Criminal activities||Racketeering, arms trafficking, assault, burglary, kidnapping, illegal gambling, fraud, extortion, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, robbery, murder, loansharking|
The Irish Mob is an organized crime syndicate based in the United States and Ireland, which has been in existence since the early 19th century. Originating in Irish American street gangs—depicted in Herbert Asbury's 1927 book The Gangs of New York—the Irish Mob has appeared in most major U.S. cities, especially on the east coast, including Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
The Irish Mob also has a strong presence in Ireland; however, unlike in the United States, the group has only been present in Ireland from the 1960s and onwards. Predominantly active in Dublin and Limerick, the group most often works under crime families focusing on the drug trade.
Irish-American street gangs, such as the Dead Rabbits (led by future Congressman John Morrissey) and Whyos, dominated New York's underworld for well over a century. Beginning in the 1880s and 1890s, however, they faced competition from recently arrived Italian and Jewish gangs. The Five Points Gang (led by Paul Kelly) would rise to prominence during the early 1900s, strongly rivaled by the Hudson Dusters, the Gopher Gang, and others during the period.
In the early 1900s, with Italian criminal organizations such as the Morello crime family encroaching on the waterfront, various Irish gangs united to form the White Hand Gang. Although initially successful in keeping their Black Hand Italian rivals at bay, unstable leadership and infighting would lead to their eventual downfall. The murders of Dinny Meehan, Bill Lovett, and Richard Lonergan led to the gang's disappearance by 1925. The waterfront was then taken over by Italian mobsters Vincent Mangano, Albert Anastasia, and Joe Adonis. The Irish mob, however, reemerged in Coal Country and remained strong.
During the early years of Prohibition, "Big" Bill Dwyer emerged among many in New York's underworld as a leading bootlegger. However, following his arrest and trial for violation of the Volstead Act during 1925 and 1926, Dwyer's former partners were split among Owney "The Killer" Madden, the English-born former leader of the Gopher Gang, and Frank Costello against Jack "Legs" Diamond, "Little" Augie Pisano, Charles "Vannie" Higgins and renegade mobster Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll.
In the Irish/Italian Mob War of the 1970s, the Irish mob saw an increased threat from the Italian Mafia as the Genovese crime family sought control over the soon-to-be-built Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Since the convention center was located in Spillane's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, Spillane refused to allow any involvement by the Italians. Although the Italian gangsters greatly outnumbered the members of the Irish mob, Spillane was successful in keeping control of the convention center and Hell's Kitchen. The Italians, frustrated and embarrassed by their defeat to Spillane, responded by hiring a rogue Irish-American hitman named Joseph "Mad Dog" Sullivan to assassinate Tom Devaney, Eddie "the Butcher" Cummiskey, and Tom "the Greek" Kapatos, three of Spillane's top lieutenants.
Also around this time, a power struggle emerged between Mickey Spillane (mobster) and James Coonan, a younger upstart from Hell's Kitchen. In 1977 Spillane was murdered in a hail of bullets by assassins from the Genovese crime family. This prompted Coonan to form an alliance with Roy DeMeo of the Gambino crime family. The Genoveses decided that the Westies were too violent and well-led to go to war with and mediated a truce via the Gambinos.
Coonan was imprisoned in 1986 under the RICO act. Featherstone became an informant after his arrest in the early 1980s.
Boston has a well-chronicled history of Irish mob activity, particularly in the heavily Irish-American neighbourhoods like Somerville, Charlestown, South Boston ("Southie"), Dorchester and Roxbury where the earliest Irish gangsters arose during Prohibition. Frank Wallace of the Gustin Gang dominated Boston's underworld until his death in 1931, when he was ambushed by Italian gangsters in the North End. Numerous gang wars between rival Irish gangs during the early and mid 20th century would contribute to their decline.
The Winter Hill Gang
The Winter Hill Gang, a loose confederation of Boston-area organized crime figures, was one of the most successful organized crime groups in American history. It controlled the Boston underworld from the early 1960s until the mid-1990s. It derives its name from the Winter Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts, north of Boston, and was founded by first boss James "Buddy" McLean.
While Winter Hill Gang members were alleged to have been involved with most typical organized crime-related activities, they are perhaps best known for fixing horse races in the northeastern United States. Twenty-one members and associates, including Howie Winter, Joe McDonald, Johnny Martorano, and Sal Sperlinga were indicted by federal prosecutors in 1979. The gang was then taken over by James J. "Whitey" Bulger and hitman Stephen Flemmi and was headquartered in South Boston. During the 1980s, Bulger's key criminal associates were Kevin Weeks and Patrick Nee.
The present Winter Hill Gang operates in secrecy and often avoids drawing public attention and scrutiny. With the activation of RICO law, the Winter Hill Gang's ranks were quickly thinned with federal indictments against key players like George Hogan and Scott "Smiley" McDermott. The Winter Hill Gang quickly disbanded in the late 90s to early 2000s after many of the federal indictments failed to stick due to a lack of evidence and cooperating witnesses, making room for younger predecessors like Tommy "Two Guns" Attardo, Seán "Irish Car Bomb" McKenna, and Mickey "Mean Machine" Murphy to join the ranks.
Irish-American organized crime outfits such as the “Irish Kings” who were active from 2013 to 2016 and others who are still presently active form the backbone of organized crime in South Boston and the greater Boston area.
Irish Mob War
The Irish Mob War is the name given to conflicts throughout the 1960s between the two dominant Irish-American organized crime gangs in Massachusetts: the Charlestown Mob in Boston, led by brothers Bernard and Edward "Punchy" McLaughlin, and the Winter Hill Gang of Somerville (just north of Boston) headed by James "Buddy" McLean and his associates, Howie Winter and Joe McDonald. It is widely believed that the war began when George McLaughlin tried to pick up the girlfriend of Winter Hill associate Alex "Bobo" Petricone, also known as actor Alex Rocco. McLaughlin was then beaten and hospitalized by two other Winter Hill members. Afterward, Bernie McLaughlin went to Buddy McLean for an explanation. When McLean refused to give up his associates, Bernie swore revenge but was soon killed by McLean in Charlestown City Square.
The war resulted in the eradication of the Charlestown Mob with its leaders, Bernie and Edward McLaughlin, and Stevie and Connie Hughes all having been killed. George McLaughlin, the one who started the war, was the only one who survived by being sent to prison. McLean was also killed, by Charlestown's Hughes brothers, and leadership of The Winter Hill Gang was taken by his right-hand man, Howie Winter and mentor, Joe McDonald. The remnants of the Charlestown Mob were then absorbed into the Winter Hill Gang, who were then able to become the dominant non-Mafia gang in the New England area.
In the early 1970s, another mob war was taking place in South Boston between two other Irish-American gangs: the Killeen Gang, which controlled bookmaking and loansharking, and the Mullen Gang, which was made up of thieves. In 1971, Killeen enforcer Billy O'Sullivan was shot and killed outside his house. The following year, Donald Killeen was murdered and the remaining members of both organizations were absorbed into the Winter Hill Gang. One of Killeen's key associates was Whitey Bulger. In 1973, Bulger was appointed by Howie Winter to operate the South Boston rackets. Throughout the remainder of 1970s, Bulger used his influence to have rival mobsters murdered. Among his victims were Spike O'Toole, Paul McGonagle, Eddie Connors and Tommy King.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the FBI's Boston office was largely infiltrated through corrupt federal agent John J. Connolly, by which Whitey Bulger was able to use his status as a government informant against his rivals (the extent of which would not be revealed until the mid to late 1990s).
The scandal was the basis for the non-fiction book Black Mass and its 2015 dramatic film adaptation. Elements of this corruption narrative also bore enough similarity to the plot of Hong Kong crime film Infernal Affairs (2002) so as to justify a Boston relocation with Irish Mob characters for the American remake, The Departed (2006).
The prominent Irish street gang pre-twentieth-century were the Schuylkill Rangers headed by Jimmy Haggerty, whose boyhood home was located on Arch Street in the area between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Street known as "McAran's Garden".
After numerous arrests for theft and similar offenses, Haggerty and Schuylkill Ranger Hugh Murphy were convicted of the robbery of a Ninth Street store and sentenced to ten years imprisonment on December 12, 1865. He was pardoned by Governor Andrew G. Curtin eight months later, in part to Haggerty's political connections and his promise to leave the country upon his release, and lived in Canada for a brief time before returning to the city to resume his criminal career. Haggerty remained a major underworld figure in Philadelphia until January 1869 when he was arrested on several counts of assault with intent to kill; during his arrest, he shot the arresting police officer. He was caught trying to escape from prison but was later released on bail and fled the city. Staying in New York City for a brief time, he returned to Philadelphia in April to surrender himself to authorities after the wounded police officer had received "hush money". He won both court cases against him but was ordered at the second trial to return to the Eastern State Penitentiary by the District Attorney for violating the terms of his release. While his lawyers argued the ruling, Haggerty disappeared from the courthouse during a recess in what was suspected to have been a planned escape.
Post-World War II and the K&A Gang
In the years following World War II, the K&A Gang was the dominant Irish gang in the city's underworld. A multi-generational organised crime group made up of predominantly Irish and Irish American gangsters, the gang originated from a youth street gang based around the intersections of Kensington and Allegheny, which grew in power as local hoods and blue-collar Irish Americans seeking extra income joined its ranks. In time, the group expanded and grew more organised, establishing lucrative markets in gambling, loan sharking, and burglary.
The gang moved into the methamphetamine trade in the late 1980s and expanded into the Fishtown and Port Richmond neighborhoods. John Berkery, a member of the K&A burglary crew, became leader of the gang and was influential in expanding the drug trade. In 1987, Scarfo crime family soldier Raymond Martorano, Berkery, and dozens of others, were indicted for their involvement in a large methamphetamine ring.
The successors of Michael Cassius McDonald's criminal empire of the previous century, the Irish-American criminal organizations in Chicago were at their peak during Prohibition, specializing in bootlegging and highjacking. However, they would soon be rivaled by Italian mobsters, particularly Al Capone and the Chicago Outfit.
The organizations existing before Prohibition – including the North Side Gang, which included Dion O'Banion, Bugs Moran, Hymie Weiss, and Louis Alterie; the Southside O'Donnell Brothers (led by Myles O'Donnell) with the McKenna Crime family; the Westside O'Donnell's; Ragen's Colts; the Valley Gang; Roger Touhy; Frank McErlane; James Patrick O'Leary; and Terry Druggan – all were in competition with Capone for control of the bootlegging market.
The Irishtown Bend (also known as the Angle), Haymarket (was located at the site of the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex), Ohio City, Detroit Shoreway, and Whiskey Island neighborhoods produced prominent pre-prohibition gangs included the McCart Street Gang and the Cheyenne Gang. The Blinky Morgan Gang became notorious after a robbery led to the murder of Detective William Hulligan. The crime was extensively covered, in newspapers, and a reward of $16,000 was offered. Most of the gang was caught, in Michigan, after being infiltrated by undercover police.
Publisher, Daniel R. Hanna, Sr., hired Chicago gangster, James Ragen and Arthur B. McBride as heavies during the Cleveland Circulation wars between the Cleveland Leader and Cleveland News verses The Plain Dealer.
Prohibition and the Cleveland Syndicate
Thomas Joseph McGinty known as Blackjack McGinty, was a former professional featherweight boxer, one of the city's largest bootleggers, and operated gambling establishments on West 25th Street as well as the Mounds Club in Lake County. The Mounds Club was repeatedly raided by law enforcement, including Safety Director Eliot Ness, and was eventually shut down in 1950.
McGinty was a member of the Cleveland Syndicate, which was also composed of Jewish gangsters Moe Dalitz, Louis Rothkopf, Maurice Kleinman, Sam Tucker, and Charles Polizzi the adopted brother of Alfred Polizzi, head of the Italian Mayfield Road Mob. It operated casinos in Youngstown, Northern Kentucky and Florida. John and Martin O'Boyle were also part of the Irish faction of the Syndicate.
The Syndicate had significant operations, in Newport, Kentucky and Northern Kentucky, which had eighteen casinos or gambling halls, including the original Flamingo, and Tropicana. A notable casino was The Beverly Hills Club, which had high-profile entertainment acts such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole. These establishments were the precursors to the casinos built in Las Vegas. The Syndicate's reign, in Northern Kentucky, came to an end following a botched attempt to discredit George Ratterman, a reform minded candidate for sheriff and a federal crack down during the Kennedy Administration.
McGinty and other members of the Syndicate were founders of the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. He was also involved in Meyer Lansky's Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, Cuba. McGinty held an interest in numerous race tracks, including Maple Heights, Fair Grounds Race Course, Thistledown Racecourse, Fairmount Park Racetrack, Aurora Downs, and the Agua Caliente Racetrack.
In the 1930s, James "Shimmy" Patton and Daniel T. Gallagher operated a large movable casino known as the Harvard Club at several locations on Harvard Ave. It could accommodated 500–1,000 people and was one of the largest casinos between New York and Chicago. It defied numerous raids until it was finally shut down by Frank Lausche in 1941
"Handsome" Larry Davidson a former prohibition agent, and Dan F. Coughlin operated a rum-running organization on Lake Erie from Cleveland. The ring imported liquor from Canada to Cedar Point and Toledo and then distributed the alcohol to the Chicago area.  The gang also had an overland route from Florida to transport booze. A member of the ring, Ollie Zess, bribed Coast Guardsmen to accomplish the bootlegging.
In the late 1930s, Arthur B. McBride launched a wire service that supplied bookmakers with the results of horse races. He also invested in the Continental Press and Empire News, both based in Cleveland and run by mobsters Morris "Mushy" Wexler and Sam "Gameboy" Miller. James Ragen, another friend and associate in the wire business, was murdered in 1946 in a Chicago gangland feud. A federal grand jury in 1940 indicted 18 people, including McBride and Wexler, over the supply of information used in gambling. The allegations were based on federal laws that forbade interstate transmission of lottery results; prosecutors treated the race results as lottery lists. He was never arrested or tried over his role in the business. McBride went on to found the Cleveland Browns.
Post World War II
In the 1960s and 70s, the Kilbane Brothers, Martin, and Owen Kilbane operated prostitution, gambling, and loan sharking rackets on Cleveland's east side. The Kilbane Brothers were convicted of murder for hire of Marlene Steele by her husband Euclid Municipal Judge Robert Steele. The Kilbane Brothers were also convicted of killing Andrew Prunella, a rival pimp and gangster.
Danny Greene, was the former president of the Longshoreman Local 1317, who was ousted for corruption. He then became an enforcer for mobster Alex "Shondor" Birns. Also, Mayfield Road Mob underboss, Frank "Little Frank" Brancato employed Greene as muscle for the city's garbage rackets. Greene got into a dispute with a garbage hauler "Big Mike" Frato. Greene caused his car to be blown up. Following this Frato attacked Greene in a park and fired three shots, which missed. Greene shot and killed Frato during the attack.
Greene formed a crew known as "The Celtic Club." He moved into the vending machine racket, which was controlled by Thomas "The Chinaman" Sinto. His relationship with Alex "Shondor" Birns also soured after a dispute concerning a loan. Birns and Greene put contracts on each other. Birns was murdered by a car bomb, which was planted by a Hells Angle member who was hired by a Greene associate.
John Scalish the head of the Mayfield Road Mob passed away leaving a power vacuum. James Licavoli and John Nardi both attempted to take control. Open warfare broke out between the Licavoli and Nardi factions. Greene backed John Nardi's claim. The Licavoli faction had difficulty killing Greene and hired Ray Ferritto, a Buffalo gangster, to kill Greene.
The war was costly. Mayfield Road Mob Consigliere Leo "Lips" Moceri was murdered. John Nardi was killed exiting the Teamsters Joint Council 41 office by a car bomb. Danny Greene was murdered coming out of his dentist's office by a car bomb. During the war, 37 car bombs were used and Cleveland went by the moniker "Bomb City, USA." Throughout Greene's criminal activities he was a top-echelon informant for the FBI.
Ray Ferritto was arrested for the killing and flipped on the Mayfield Road Mob and other gangsters. This led to numerous arrests. During the investigation, Jimmy Fratianno, the boss of the Los Angeles crime family become a government informant. This was the first time a mafia boss became a cooperative government witness. Greene's story became the subject of the film Kill the Irishman.
Members of Greene's crew, Kevin McTaggart, Keith Ritson, Frederick (Fritz) Graewe, and Hartmut (Hans the Surgeon) Graewe went on to work in a drug ring with Thomas Sinito. The drug ring was a major distributor of marijuana and cocaine. The ring was responsible for 19 murders. Ritson was murdered while in the ring, McTaggart was sentenced to life and the Graewe Brothers were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
The Joseph "Legs" Laman gang specialized in the "snatch racket," which involved kidnapping wealthy bootleggers and gamblers. Many kidnappings attributed to the Purple Gang were committed by the Laman gang. The gang ran into trouble when it began kidnapping legitimate business people. During a ransom pickup of David Cass, a wealthy real estate dealer, the police arrived and Laman was shot and taken into custody. After Laman was arrested his associates executed Cass. Laman turned state's witness and the gang was broken up. Laman was sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison.
Owney Madden was a former bootlegger, who controlled the Hell's Kitchen rackets and owned several night clubs including the Cotton Club. Madden relocated to Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1935. Upon arriving he operated the Hotel Arkansas casino and a wire service. During Madden's time Hot Springs became a gambling hot spot with had ten large casinos, numerous smaller gambling dens, and off-track betting parlors.
Tommy Banks operated an organization known as the Minneapolis Syndicate that engaged in bootlegging. Kid Cann operated a Jewish bootlegging gang known as the Minneapolis Combination. Banks and Cann divided Minneapolis into territories with a handshake and worked side by side through prohibition.
An early prohibition gang, the Terminal Gang, consisted of many from the Irish Channel neighborhood, including Frankie Mullen, Harold “The Parole King” Normandale, and Fred Kelly. The gang was closely aligned with Democratic Mayor Martin Behrem and was named for the Terminal Station where many acted as livery drivers. The gang would rob fares as well as engaging in gambling, alcohol, and narcotics rings. The gang was decimated after the defeat of Mayor Martin Behrem.
William Bailey and business partner Manuel Acosta operated a bootleg and hijack gang during prohibition. In 1930, Bailey was murdered by associates of Silvestro Carollo. Police believed the killing was in retaliation of a hijacking.
Racketeer and political boss Tom Dennison controlled prostitution, gambling and bootlegging, in the 1920s
John Patrick Looney controlled gambling, prostitution, illegal liquor, extortion, and protection rackets in Rock Island. He studied law and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1889. He was a member of the Democratic Party. He operated a newspaper, which was used to blackmail opponents. He controlled approximately 150 gambling dens. The Looney gang entered into a war with William Gabel's gang. During the war, William Gabel and John Patrick Looney's son, Connor Looney, were murdered. Looney was later charged and convicted of the murder of Willam Gabel. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison and served 8½ years. Looney died in 1942 at a tuberculosis sanitarium in El Paso, Texas. Looney served as the model for John Looney, a major character in Max Allan Collins' graphic novel Road to Perdition. The character was renamed John Rooney and portrayed by Paul Newman in Sam Mendes' 2002 film adaptation.
The Shelton Brothers Gang was an early Prohibition-era gang that controlled bootlegging in Southern Illinois. The Shelton Brothers Gang and rival Charles Birger gang engaged in a war with the Ku Klux Klan that concluded with a shoot out at Herrin. The attack broke the back of the KKK's leadership and widespread bootlegging continued. The Shelton Brothers Gang engaged in a war with Charles Birger's gang that concluded, in 1925, when the Shelton Brothers were convicted of the murder of a mail carrier. In 1928, Charles Birger was convicted of ordering the killing Joe Adams, the mayor of West City, Illinois, a Shelton backer, and hanged.
Thomas Egan and Thomas Kinney formed Egan's Rats a large organized gang. A rival Hogan Gang led by Edward "Jelly Roll" Hogan also operated in the city. The gangs engaged, in the Egan-Hogan War of 1921–23, which resulted in the breakup of Egan's Rats.
Jack Kennedy controlled bootlegging and operated nightclubs in Toledo. Kennedy became involved in a turf war with Thomas Licavoli's gang. An enforcer of the Licavoli gang and childhood friend of Kennedy, Joseph "Wop" English, killed Kennedy. Licavoli was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder in the slayings of Kennedy and three other club owners. Convicted, in 1934, Licavoli was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Ohio Penitentiary, despite attempts by Cleveland mobster Alfred Polizzi to secure parole.
Gerald James Hayes, known as "Gentleman Jimmy", Hayes moved from Cleveland to Toledo as a child and eventually worked as a taxi cab driver. He sold his interest in the limo business and operated the Villa, Ramona Casino, Hollywood Club, Point's Casino, and Club Manito. He also opened a few clubs in the Cleveland area. In 1934, Hayes was found murdered, in Detroit, where he had been watching a World Series game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers. His wife, Eleanor, continued to operate his casinos for several years following his death. There is speculation that Hayes was murdered by Thomas Licavoli's gang because he may have been called as a witness in Licavoli's Kennedy murder trial or the Licavoli gang was trying to take over his gaming operations.
West End Gang
The West End Gang is one of Canada's most influential organized crime groups. Active since the early 1900s and still active today,[when?] their rise to notoriety did not begin until the 1960s when they were known simply as the "Irish gang". Their criminal activities were focused on, but not restricted to, the west side of Montreal. Most of the gang's earnings in the early days were derived from truck hijackings, home invasions, kidnapping, protection racket, drug trafficking, extortion and armed robbery.
The gang, which is dominated by – but not exclusively limited to – members of Irish descent, began to move into the drug trade in the 1970s. They began to import hashish and cocaine and developed important contacts in the United States, South America and Europe with some members working out of Florida.
1860s - 1950s
During the 1960s, the majority of crime in Dublin was petty crime, while murder and gun-related crime were extremely rare. There was a strong sense of community between families, and the church had an influence on creating the law-abiding state of mind in Dublin. A breeding ground for criminals was at the state-funded reform schools run by Catholic religious orders, which had harsh policies in teaching and looking after juvenile delinquents, aiming, often in vain, to turn them away from a life of crime. Martin Cahill and Dunne were noted to be at these schools.
During the 1970s, Dublin saw an increase in gun crime. One cause of the increase was the upheaval, and violence in Northern Ireland. The main culprit for bringing in gun crime into Dublin was a paramilitary group called Saor Éire, which conducted multiple bank robberies to fund their organisation. During one such robbery at Allied Irish Bank, Garda officer Richard Fallon was killed. One notable person who joined Saor Éire was Christy Dunne, who would go on to make one of the first Irish crime families, with a connection to Britain's gun and drug trade.
Soon ordinary criminals (with little political influence), would join/cooperate with the Dunne crime family. Mainly partaking in co-operative robberies, this included Christy's eight brothers, and many recruits who would then pursue their own crime families such as Martin Cahill, John Cunningham, George Mitchel, and John Gilligan. The majority of these criminals coming from the poor and uneducated industrial slums of inner-city Dublin.
In the beginning, Dunne specialized in kidnapping. In 1978, the Dunnes broke into an Antigen pharmaceutical factory, stealing pharmaceutical drugs which would go for a high price on the black market. Due to the profit, the Dunne's would put their priorities in the drug trade as their main source of income.
What also occurred during this period is the emergence of the Provisional IRA and the Official IRA, who did the bulk of bank robberies and murder. This allowed crime families to conduct their activities under the radar.
While the Dunnes (headed now by Larry Dunne) would be the first crime family to get involved with the drug trade, Gilligan brought drug-smuggling to a whole new level. Money was earned in the millions in the 1980s through the heroin epidemic. It was considered easier money and more lucrative than bank robberies.
The heroin crisis destroyed communities of working-class inner-city neighborhoods, which were once considered to be safe. Despite this many citizens protested and took their own actions against the epidemic, most notable was Concerned Parents Against Drugs. Some of these vigilantes took extreme actions such as murdering or blowing up the apartment of a believed drug-dealer.
Often Larry Dunne could not meet the demand for heroin, so many others got involved, but Larry was still considered the main source. One was Tony "King Scum" Felloni, once in the prostitution business, he would move into the drug trade. Overall there was mutual respect, and practically no conflict between crime families and drug king-pins, around the 1980s.
In 1983 Larry would finally be arrested and not be able to post bail when drugs were found in his mansion. This led Larry to leave the country. But was caught in 1985 in Portugal. With the Criminal Justice Act in place, it would make life harder for drug -traffickers. As a result, by the mid-1980s, the majority of the Dunnes were in prison or fled.
With the end of the Dunne family, many saw it as an opportunity to join the drug trade and be number one (it was estimated to be roughly 40 groups). The person who became the next drug-kingpin was John Gilligan, once a small-time crook, he would form a mob of 6, during his sentence in Portlaoise Prison. Gilligan's small mob would consist of Bryan Meehan, Peter Mitchel, and Paul Ward. Gilligan started off selling marijuana as it was less of a priority for the guard and the buyers had more money. Later however Gilligan's membership would grow to a much larger number, but with that came lack of loyalty.
The Gardaí's focus was still paramilitary groups (with the odd taskforce combatting drugs).
Veronica Guerin was a reporter who wrote a series of articles in the early 1990s, reporting on multiple members of the Irish mob such as John Traynor, Gerry Hutch and John Gilligan. This led to Guerin surviving multiple murder attempts. On the outskirts of Dublin on the N7, she was killed by Bryan Meehan, Peter Mitchell, Seamus Ward, and Charles Bowden, all members of Gilligan's crime syndicate. As a result of her murder, the Criminal Assets Bureau was formed in Ireland.
With 400 subsequent arrests, this led to the end of Gilligan's mob. But once again this led to factions hoping to replace the leader. This included George Mitchell, Christy Kinahan and John Cunningham, often dealing with their finance overseas, in order to avoid the Criminal Assets Bureau. These events would later be depicted in the 2003 Irish film Veronica Guerin.
By the early 2000s, many of Dublin's crime bosses had fled to Spain, due to the harsher laws combatting crime families. One of the more notable is Christy Kinahan and his mob.
In Crumlin and Drimnagh in South Dublin, a gang dispute led to two factions (one led by Freddie Thompson and the other by Brian Rattigan) engaging in a gang war with 16 people dead as a result. Rattigan was sent to prison after shooting a police van, but continued leadership of his gang while in prison. 2005 saw the peak of the murder per day ratio, with three people killed in two days, plus a murder earlier in the year. Three people were murdered on 8 October 2007 and three more in the next two years.
Pre-Irish crime families
Much like Dublin, Limerick had little crime in the 1960s, despite having overcrowded neighborhoods suffering from poverty and unemployment. Many were forced to move to Southill, which saw an increase in antisocial behavior. No organised crime was present, but there were very disorganized gangs of youths often doing vandalism.
The first crime family
Brothers Mike and Anthony Kelly committed robberies in their youth. Mike would frequently get into fights at pubs (which would later get out of hand, after someone was killed). During the pub fighting days (which he was known for) he would also take-up armed robbery and other serious crimes. Later Kelly and associates would set up protection rackets, which would also combat antisocial behavior, by using harsh and violent action towards vandals. Every day, Mike Kelly collected a pound from each house, supplying a form of protection. The main purpose of earning money was to fund his drinking problem.
He is now a reformed criminal and lives in Southill.
During the 1990s Keane's were considered the most powerful crime family in Limerick. The Keane's turf was mainly Saint Mary's Park. They had neighborhood allies being the Collopys (including Brian Collopy and Phillip Collopy). They'd also hire a violent hitman named Eddie Ryan, to be an enforcer. In the late nineties the drug-trade would have two major mobs. These being The Keane-Collopy (led by Christy Keane and younger violent brother Kieran Keane) and The Ryans (led by Eddie Ryan). There was a dispute between these two factions, and at one stage Eddie Ryan tried to kill Christy Keane, but his gun jammed. With motivations of revenge, the Keanes executed Ryan. This would be considered a catalyst in the Limerick Feud. This led to war between the Ryans and Keanes, and eventually McCarthy-Dundon.
Another crime family would appear on the sideline, after Wayne Dundon came back from Hackney, England (as he was deported back to his home country). Wayne would form the McCarthy-Dundon gang which involved his brothers; John Dundon, Ger Dundon, and Dessie Dundon. Along with their cousins the McCarthy family. At first they would pose as allies to both The Ryans and Keane-Collopy. But in the background, schemed their own plans to defeat the two gangs. Eventually they would make their move and kill Kearan Keane (one of the bosses of the Keane-Collopy) in 2003. This would result in the demise of the Keane-Collopy's reign. And to be replaced by McCarthy-Dundon. However many murders between the factions would occur, roughly 20 killed and 100 arrested (in relation to the feud).
Today organized crime is the main focus of police in Limerick. The number of arrests has significantly increased, and the number of crimes has significantly decreased. Gang warfare still occurs, but not as often. Turf wars over council housing/working-class estates, are particularly common in Southill (McCarthy-Dundon turf) and St Mary's Park (Keane-Collopy turf). Also executions or intimidation of civilians that get in the way of the crime organisations have decreased. However, the example of Ryan Collins is still not forgotten.
Many Limerick crime families' higher-ups are said to operate on a global scale. On the other hand, of the few gang gang-killings related to the Limerick Feud are done by those who are in their teenage years. These teenagers also partake in drug-related crimes (such as drug-dealing for McCarthy-Dundon and Keane-Collopy crime families).
The Kinahan Cartel, led by Christy Kinahan and Daniel Kinahan, established themselves as a leading criminal force on the Costa del Sol in 2003. In May 2010, "Operation Shovel" – a joint Irish-Spanish police operation – led to the arrests of Kinahan and 21 other Cartel members in Spain and the seizure of twenty vehicles, firearms and over €1 million in cash. The investigation focused on drug trafficking, money laundering and property investments in which Kinahan was allegedly involved. Kinahan and his associates were released without charge due to lack of evidence. On 24 September 2015, Gary Hutch was shot dead by a balaclava-clad gunman in a private apartment complex near Marbella, beginning the Hutch–Kinahan feud. Kinahan gang member James Quinn was convicted of being involved in the murder by being a lookout and helping the killer to reach and flee the scene. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison. On 17 August 2016, Trevor O'Neill, a Dublin City Council worker from Drimnagh, was shot and killed in a case of mistaken identity near Magaluf. Gardaí believe that he was mistaken for a member of the Hutch family by the Kinahan gang.
The Kinahans are reportedly associated with Dutch Moroccan drug gangs on the Costa del Sol.
The Irish Mob has been alluded to in numerous novels and short stories. The Sherlock Holmes mysteries mention James Moriarty as a criminal mastermind in London and his gang associates Sebastian Moran and Paddy Flynn (all Irish names) which though never expressly stated hint a connection to the Irish Mob.
Irish mobsters appeared as characters in the early "gangster" films of the 1930s and film noir of the 1940s. These roles are often identified with actors such as James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Frank McHugh, Ralph Bellamy, Spencer Tracy, Lynne Overman, and Frank Morgan (although Bellamy, Morgan and Overman were not of Irish descent), as well as stars including Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson.
- Underworld (1927), gangster Bull Weed (George Bancroft) befriends a down and out former district attorney "Rolls Royce" Wensel (Clive Brook); soon, the two begin fighting over the gun moll Feathers McCoy (Evelyn Brent).
- The Racket (1928), Chicago police Captain James McQuigg (Thomas Meighan) matches wits with bootlegger Nick Scarsi (Louis Wolheim), their rivalry threatens to uncover the secret mastermind behind "The Organization," the criminal syndicate running Chicago.
- The Public Enemy (1931), played by James Cagney, Tom Powers is a bootlegger whose older brother Michael (Donald Cook) attempts to reform him while he fights his way to the top of the underworld.
- Scarface (1932), Tony Camonte fights several Irish gangs in Chicago.
- Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), after former mob boss Rocky Sullivan (Cagney) returns to Hell's Kitchen, former childhood friend, Father Jerry Connolly (O'Brien) tries to save him from himself.
- On the Waterfront (1954), after witnessing the murder of a fellow longshoreman, Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) must choose sides between his brother Charlie (Rod Steiger) and mobbed-up Irish-American union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) against crusading priest Father Barry (Karl Malden) and Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint).
- The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), Roger Corman's retelling of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre stars Jason Robards as Al Capone, Ralph Meeker as Bugs Moran, and appearances by George Segal and Jack Nicholson.
- Prime Cut (1972), Nick Devlin (Lee Marvin), an enforcer for the Chicago Irish mob, is sent to Kansas to collect a debt from Mary Ann (Gene Hackman) the owner of a slaughterhouse.
- The Sting (1973), grifters Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) and Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) attempt to swindle Irish mob boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw).
- The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum), a gunrunner for the Boston Irish Mob, becomes an informant; when the mob finds out, they send his friend Dillon (Peter Boyle) to kill him.
- Miller's Crossing (1990), Irish gangster Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) tries to prevent a gang war between Irish boss Leo O'Bannion (Albert Finney) and Italian boss Johnny Casper (Jon Polito).
- State of Grace (1990), undercover officer Terry Noonan (Sean Penn) returns to Hell's Kitchen to infiltrate The Westies, which include childhood friend Jackie Flannery (Gary Oldman) and neighborhood boss Frankie Flannery (Ed Harris).
- Last Man Standing (1996), gunman John Smith (Bruce Willis) becomes involved in a gang war between an Irish gang led by Doyle (David Patrick Kelly) and an Italian gang led by Fredo Strozzi (Ned Eisenberg) in the small town of Jericho, Texas.
- Sleepers (1996)
- The General (1998), true story of Martin Cahill (Brendan Gleeson) who rose from petty criminal to lead of one of Dublin's most powerful crime gangs before being murdered in 1994.
- Monument Ave. (1998), in Charlestown, Massachusetts, a charismatic enforcer in the Irish Mob (Denis Leary) must decide whether to abide by the neighborhood code of silence when his boss (Colm Meaney) begins murdering members of his family.
- Southie (1998), Danny Quinn (Donnie Wahlberg) returns to South Boston and gets stuck between his friends, who are supported by one Irish gang, and his family, who are members of another.
- Gangs of New York (2002), starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis, about the criminal underworld of the Five Points neighborhood in Manhattan in the 1860s.
- Ash Wednesday (2002), Edward Burns wrote, directed, and starred in this movie about Irish gangsters in Hell's Kitchen.
- Road to Perdition (2002), based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, Irish-American gangster Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) finds himself on the run from his former employer, Irish Mob boss John Rooney (Newman), after his son witnesses a gangland slaying.
- Dirty Deeds (2002), in 1969, Irish-Australian gangsters find themselves pitted against rival Sydney gangsters for control of gambling.
- Veronica Guerin (2003), based on the true story of a reporter who challenges the mob in Dublin.
- A History of Violence (2005), film featuring Irish-American gangsters from Philadelphia.
- The Departed (2006), A Boston-set remake of the Hong Kong crime film Infernal Affairs (2002) about two moles, one a cop in the city's Irish Mob, the other a mobster in the Massachusetts State Police.
- What Doesn't Kill You (2008), based on the life of director Brian Goodman, featuring two childhood friends who join a South Boston Irish-American gang.
- White Irish Drinkers (2010)
- The Town (2010), a crime drama involving a gang of Irish-American bank robbers in Charlestown, Boston.
- Kill the Irishman (2011), in Cleveland in the 1970s, Danny Greene, an Irish-American mob boss and FBI informant, goes to war against Cleveland crime family boss James T. Licavoli.
- Killing Them Softly (2012), based on the George V. Higgins book Cogan's Trade, about Irish-American gangsters plotting to rob a high-stakes card game run by the Boston Italian-American Mafia.
- Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014), a documentary about James "Whitey" Bulger.
- Rage (2014), Irish crime families go to war with the Russian Bratva.
- Black Mass (2015), a film based on the true story of Whitey Bulger, who lead the Winter Hill Gang, which was based in South Boston.
- Run All Night (2015), an Irish American mobster (Liam Neeson) fights to protect his son from his former boss (Harris).
- Cardboard Gangsters (2017)
- The Irishman (2019), a film about Irish-American mobster Frank Sheeran having conflicting loyalties to Jimmy Hoffa and Italian-American Mafia boss Russell Bufalino
- Oz (1997), the Irish-American Bridge Street Gang led by Ryan O'Reily is one of the criminal organizations wielding influence in the Oswald State Correctional Facility
- Brotherhood (2006), set in Providence, Rhode Island and revolving around the alliance between two Irish-American brothers
- Paddy Whacked: The Irish Mob (2006), a documentary tracing the rise and fall of the Irish mob
- The Black Donnellys (2007), a drama that follows four young Irish brothers in Hell's Kitchen and their involvement in the remnants of the Hell's Kitchen Irish Mob and its conflicts with the Italian-American Mafia
- Underbelly (2008), Australian drama series based on the Melbourne gangland killings
- Boardwalk Empire (2010), an HBO series set in Prohibition-era Atlantic City and featuring gangsters of various ethnicities, including Irish-American gangsters. The Irish-American mobster protagonist is loosely based on real-life Irish-American mobster Nucky Thompson
- Madso's War (2010), a television film about Mike "Madso" Madden who is drawn into the underworld when a power vacuum opens following the departure of a mob boss
- Love/Hate (2010), depicts Dublin's underworld
- The Chicago Code (2011), set in Chicago, undercover police investigate corruption involving the Irish Mob
- Copper (2012), Irish-American street gangs are depicted
- Public Morals (2015), series set in 1960's New York as Irish mobsters try and take control of the city
- (season 1, 2015), Matt Murdock's father, a professional boxer, is killed by the Hell's Kitchen Irish Mob on the orders of Irish-American mobster Roscoe Sweeney after failing to take a dive in a fixed boxing match.
- (Only season 2, 2016), depicts a gang of Irish-American mobsters, known as the Kitchen Irish, trying to replace the Kingpin as the dominant crime family in New York, which brings them into conflict with the Punisher when he wipes out most of the gang's leadership in an ambush. Their base of operations is next to the Hell's Kitchen bikers club Dogs of Hell. The Kitchen Irish are loosely based on the Westies.
- Ozark (Season 2-present) depicts a fictional Kansas City crime family headed by Irish-American mobster Frank Cosgrove.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV (2008), the McReary Crime Family is an Irish criminal organization heavily inspired by the real-life Irish-American Westies. The McReary gang was once a powerful force in Liberty City (a fictional city inspired by New York City) with their base of operations in Purgatory (Hell's Kitchen), before the Italian Mafia families took over organized crime in the city. They are rendered to only being hired guns for the Alderney (New Jersey)-based Pegorino Crime Family, and only have territory in Dukes (Queens), being the most powerful gang to operate in that borough. The gang is led by Gerald McReary, with his younger brother Patrick being its underboss. Their older brother Derrick also used to be a high-ranking member of the gang before retiring. In the game's story, the McReary Crime Family is one of the player character's ally gangs and main employers, with each brother providing them with their own series of missions. The gang is virtually weakened after Gerald is arrested, leaving Patrick in charge, but he later departs from the city, leaving the gang leaderless. The McReary's are loosely inspired by the Westies and based on characters from the film State of Grace.
- In Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, set in Liberty City one year after the events of GTA IV, the McReary Crime Family has apparently disbanded. In their place is a small-time Irish gang, also based in Dukes, which mainly runs drug operations. The player may engage in several drug deals with the gang.
- In Watch Dogs (2014), the Chicago South Club, an Irish-American organized crime syndicate that dominates crime in Chicago, is descended from Irish mobsters who survived the Valentine's Day Massacre. Led by elderly mobster Dermot "Lucky" Quinn, the club has recently expanded into human trafficking and the theft and sale of confidential information, using the city's vast surveillance network to expand their reach and influence. Quinn, regarded as one of Chicago's most prominent citizens, keeps a vast payroll of city employees from prison guards to the mayor himself, and his lieutenants, including Joseph DeMarco and Tommy Flanagan, oversee illegal businesses including money laundering, drug trafficking, and contract killing.
- In Mafia II (2010), the O'Neill Gang is an Irish criminal organization in the fictional Empire Bay and one of the antagonistic factions in the game. Initially led by Brian O'Neill, they attempt a robbery at the same time as the player character; while the player escapes from the police, most of the Irish gangsters, including O'Neill, are arrested. Later, while the player is in prison, they encounter O'Neill again and murder him in a fight. Five years later, after the player gets out of prison, the gang retaliates by burning down their house, prompting the player to attack a bar owned by them and kill their new leader, Mickey Desmond.
- The Irish Mob, now called the Brodie Gang and led by Tam Brodie, also appear in two of the game's DLC, "The Betrayal of Jimmy" and "Jimmy's Vendetta", set in a different continuity from the base game. In the former, they are one of the player's main employers, providing them with jobs to weaken the local Triads and allow them to take over their territory, before working with the Gravina Crime Family and corrupt Judge Hillwood to set up the player and have him arrested. In the latter, they are one of the two main antagonistic factions, alongside the Gravina Family. The player works to dismantle both gangs' operations, before ultimately killing their leaders as revenge.
- In Mafia III (2016), the Irish Mob in the fictional New Bordeaux is one of several crime factions the player recruits in their quest to control the city's criminal underworld. Operating out of a scrapyard/chop shop owned by Irish mob boss Thomas Burke and his daughter and underboss Nicki, the gang's interests include bootlegging, drug smuggling, and gunrunning, and they can assist the player by providing cars, explosives, and interfering with police pursuits. In turn, the player can undertake special missions to boost their loyalty and unlock further perks.
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