I’m not much for soda bread, and I certainly don’t “fancy” a pint of Guinness, but I do pay my respects where respect is deserved. The Irish Mafia has played a significant role in the crime world, and even though you can’t understand what they’re saying half the time, they’ve made their presence felt. Whether it’s on the streets of New York, Chicago or Boston, these little leprechauns have claimed more street corners than Starbucks. In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I figured what better time to share some lessons learned from the Irish Mob?
Beware the dangers of the dame
In the 1960s, the Charlestown Mob and the Winter Hill Gang were the two leading crime groups in the Boston area. When Charlestown Mob boss, Punchy McLaughlin, tried to play Rico Suave with a Winter Hill-claimed girl, a full-blown war broke out. Not only was McLaughlin nearly beaten to death, but the heads of his crew were all killed off. The result: Charlestown vanished faster than Lehman Brothers; all over some broad. I’m not saying she wasn’t gorgeous, but knowing Punchy, the 20 Jamesons probably improved her beauty. Regardless, there have been wars waged over taking, or even attempting to take, another man’s lady. Never get involved with claimed woman, even if she’s Helen of Troy. Come to think of it, especially if she’s Helen of Troy.
You can’t take on the world
In the 1970s, Michael Spillane, leader of The Westies an NYC-based gang, ran into a little trouble with an 18-year-old thug. However, that thug, James Coonan, had reason to be mad: Spillane had kidnapped his father and was having an affair with his mother. That’s bound to raise tensions between any two men. A vicious war ensued between Spillane and Coonan. Around the same time, Spillane ran into some trouble with my paisans in the Genovese crime family. As we all know, you can’t fight two successful wars at once. Spillane’s constant battling resulted in such vulnerability that his crew began to dwindle. Fearing for his life, Spillane moved from his home territory on Manhattan’s West Side to Queens, NY. He should have picked a place more than 10 miles away, because in 1977 he was shot outside his apartment. Spillane serves as a constant reminder: You can’t fight every war. You have to choose your battles, and choose them wisely. Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses before they cut your throat.
Never waste a good crisis
We all know of Al Capone and the Chicago outfit who made their name during Prohibition. And sure, Al was from the old country, but before he got to the Windy City, it was the Irish mob that ran the bootlegging show. The North Side Mob, Chi-towns most powerful mob, took over the distilleries and breweries the second the ban on booze went into effect. With the help of the always-trustworthy Chicago Police Department, the North Side Mob created a lucrative business selling top-shelf products while the others pawned off moonshine.
There are few more lessons to learn from the Irish Mob…
As the country craved for consumption, my potato-loving paisans got rich. It wasn’t unethical, it was just good business. In every crisis, there’s an opportunity for prosperity. When my father came over here from Sicily, Italian immigrants were getting taken advantage of left and right. He didn’t live fearing persecution; he made a living preventing it. We’re in a crisis now, and trust me, there’s money to be made. You just have to recognize the opportunity.
I don’t want my readers to get the wrong idea. Mr. Mafioso would never leave his position with his current family. However, that being said, the Irish Mob can serve as a great case study for how to run a powerful crew, and how not to. In another life, who knows, maybe I would have been born to a rough-cut Dubliner immigrant. And instead of making my bones with the boys on Mulberry Street, I would have been peeling potatoes for the Westies. But since that wasn’t the case, the only thing I can do is provide an outsider’s perspective on the lessons learned from the Irish Mob. Erin-go-Bragh, capisce?