Code Emerald

At the Kelly Grand St. Paddy's bash, terrorism was top o' mind.

New York Magazine

by Sarah Bernard

The annual meeting of the Kelly Gang is normally a festive affair. The get-together, the brainchild of New York Post media columnist Keith J. Kelly, has been held on St. Patrick’s Day for the past three years at Langan’s pub, on 47th Street. The guests: media types and others celebrating their shared surname Kelly and their innate Irishness—over corned beef and cabbage and a pint or three of Guinness.

This year’s event—held just hours before Bush told Saddam to hightail it out of Baghdad or else—started off jolly enough. The founder of the gang was the first to arrive, with sons Ruairi, 5, and Luke, 3, in tow (both in emerald-and-white rugbys). Christina Kelly, editor of YM, and Kate Kelly Smith of Child magazine warmly greeted first-timers like Hachette Filipacchi exec John J. Miller (his mother’s maiden name is Kelly). Peter Carey was invited not because he’s a Kelly, but because he wrote True History of the Kelly Gang, a novel about nineteenth-century Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly. “If you want to understand Australia,” he announced, “think of it as an Irish country.”

But the mood changed when police commissioner Raymond Kelly arrived. Wearing a green tie, he tried to keep things light: “Kellys are fun people,” he declared. Then he checked his BlackBerry. His son, Greg, an ex-Marine who’s now a Fox News reporter, is embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division. “This is the longest St. Patrick’s Day I’ve ever had,” the commissioner said. And soon enough, guests were flocking to Ray to ask the question on every Kelly’s mind: What the hell is going to happen to New York?

“Is there anything between level orange and level red?” Kelly Gang Co-Founder Ed Kelly, president and CEO of American Express Publishing, wanted to know. “Heightened orange,” said the commissioner (more police, checkpoints, surveillance, and so on). He joked that the U.N., having not okayed the war, was probably a “diminished” target now.

A small reason to relax and get back to the fun, maybe. Still, when Keith’s boys passed out stickers saying LUCK OF THE IRISH, everyone was a taker.

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