Boston, November 16, 2017 – 1050 guests gathered on Thursday, November 16, for The Ireland Funds 36th Annual Boston Gala at the Westin Boston Waterfront. A record-breaking $2.6+ million, the largest amount ever achieved at the Boston Gala, was raised to support non-profit organizations across the island of Ireland and around the world. The Annual Boston Gala is one of the largest of The Ireland Funds’ 150+ international events.
The 2017 Boston Gala was co-chaired by David Greaney President and CEO of Synergy Investments and Robert E. Griffin U.S. Head of Capital Markets and President of The New England Area at Newmark Knight Frank.
The 2017 Gala honored noted business leader and philanthropist Peter S. Lynch, President of The Lynch Foundation and Vice Chairman of Fidelity Management and Research Company.
The invocation was delivered by His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Preceding his prayer, the Cardinal thanked The Ireland Funds for its critical work in Ireland and its support of worthwhile non-profit projects in Greater Boston.
In their affable manners, Dave Greaney and Rob Griffin announced that a new Boston Gala fundraising record had been achieved by raising $2.6+ million. They asked their committee members to stand and be recognized. John Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Ireland Funds America, thanked the Co-Chairmen, the Committee, and related the roots of his involvement with The Ireland Funds as it guided his philanthropy. Kieran McLoughlin, Worldwide President and CEO of The Ireland Funds, called Boston “the pulse of The Ireland Funds in America” and spoke of the variety of critical projects supported by the Gala. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, greeted by a warm ovation, said how much he enjoyed the event as he was able to be with so many good friends while supporting dynamic non-profit projects in Ireland and, in particular, in the Greater Boston area.
After dinner, 12-year-old Cian Michael Smith, an uilleann pipes player, accompanied by his two first cousins on the fiddle and melodeon respectively, played a lively traditional Irish music medley. The trio, all from tiny Ballymacarbry in Ireland’s County Waterford, opened with a slow air which quickly turned into an up-beat jig, then a reel, at which point the crowd clapped and stomped their feet and Cian and his cousin Brid step danced. The room was delighted and embraced the trio with a rousing standing ovation, the first of the night.
As the evening’s focus shifted to Honoree Peter Lynch, the night’s high point was reached. Jack Connors, the 2015 Gala honoree and longtime close Lynch friend, had the honor of introducing Peter. After pointing out the Honoree’s storied career at Fidelity Investments and his prolific stock-picking success over 20 years at the helm of Fidelity’s industry-acclaimed Magellan Fund, Jack Connors then focused on his friend’s extraordinary work after his retirement, as Lynch, together with his late wife Carolyn, became generous and strategic philanthropists. Touching on the breadth of the Lynch Foundation’s impact, Connors recounted many instances of The Lynch Foundation’s social investments in the areas of education and health care, both in the US and Ireland including: Boston College’s Lynch School of Education to the Catholic Schools Foundation providing scholarships to needy students to attend inner-city parochial schools which boast high graduation and college admission rates; to health care initiatives,
to projects in Ireland such as the restoration of centuries old Georgian structures, and establishing new athletic fields, a community center, and others.
To a warm standing ovation, Lynch then addressed the black-tie crowd, eager to hear from one of Boston’s giants. Honoree Lynch brought the night to a new level as he reflected chiefly on his “second career” and the joy he and his late wife Carolyn had investigating and vetting philanthropic opportunities while raising funds to have real impact. Lynch also described the joy he and Carolyn shared in their “discovering” Ireland together and “all its beauty and wonderful people” which ultimately led them to acquire and restore a beautiful Georgian estate on hundreds of acres which became their second home. With customary humility, Honoree Lynch had everyone’s rapt attention. Honoree Lynch concluded with a salute to his three daughters and son-in-law who were in attendance, a list of close friends who have added so much to his life and to his late wife. At the conclusion of his remarks, Honoree Lynch received a spirited and prolonged standing ovation.
Vice President of Major Gifts and New England Director, Steve Greeley closed the evening by expressing The Ireland Funds’ deep appreciation to its donors, guests and Honoree Peter Lynch and encouraged everyone to join popular local Irish band Devri for the post-Gala celebration.
Photography: © Michael Casey