On Tuesday December 7th, 2021, over 370 friends of Ireland gathered to celebrate The Ireland Funds 37th Annual Chicago Dinner Gala and to honor Terrence R. Brady and JLL at the Four Seasons Chicago.
Dinner Chairman Michael O’Halleran, Co-Chairs Devon Bruce, Tom Meagher and Patrick Canning along with dinner committee members ensured that it was a successful and and fun evening.
Guests were led into the ballroom by the Shannon Rovers Pipe Band. Paddy Homan sang the Irish and US National anthems.
Áine Mallaghan, the new Vice President of The Ireland Funds Midwest, welcomed the guests and led a warm acknowledgement of the passing, earlier this year, of one of The Ireland Funds greatest supporters, Fred Krehbiel.
Áine paid tribute to Roseann LeFevour, who retired from The Ireland Funds last year and wished Happy Birthday to Roseann and to three committee members, Devon Bruce, Ted Ahern and Terry Brady who all had birthdays.
Áine recognized some of the distinguished guests in attendance including Irish Consul General of Chicago Kevin Byrne and Andrew Elliott, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC. Áine outlined the program for the evening and announced that the dinner had raised almost $800,000 for the work of The Ireland Funds and concluded with the introduction of Caitriona Fottrell.
Caitriona Fottrell, President & CEO of The Ireland Funds, updated the audience on the impact of COVID on the nonprofit sector in Ireland and spoke passionately about the impact Chicago’s support for the past 37 years has had on innumerable charitable causes across Ireland. Caitriona introduced the guest speaker for the evening, Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm. AsIam is one of the outstanding organizations supported by The Ireland Funds.
Adam Harris, who in 2014, at a young age, started an online platform for the autism community in Ireland to access information and share experiences. AsIAm has quickly grown into a movement for change for the autism community and is now Ireland’s National Autism Charity. Adam told his story based on his own experiences growing up as a young autistic person in Ireland and the fantastic achievements of his charity, AsIAm. It was a remarkable speech that was met by a long-standing ovation by the guests.
After dinner, emcee Pat Tully introduced the entertainment- a powerful high energy performance from Trinity Irish Dance Company. Pat then auctioned off the trip to Ireland. Special thanks go to Auction Sponsors: American Airlines, Blue Book Accommodations, Park House Hotel, Sheen Falls Lodge, Galgorm Resort & Spa, Guinness, and Trinity Irish Dance Company.
Pat Canning, Dinner Co-Chair and Vice President of Cresset Capital, came to the stage and introduced Neil Murray, CEO of JLL Work Dynamics, who accepted The Ireland Funds 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Award for JLL. Neil, originally from Dublin, has recently moved to Chicago with his wife Caroline and his children and spoke about the warm reception he has received from the Irish American community in Chicago. He also spoke highly of the 500+ people who work for JLL in Ireland.
Next, Michael O’Halleran, Chairman of The Ireland Funds Regional Advisory Committee, presented The Ireland Funds 2021 Leadership Award to Terry Brady, CEO and President of Underwriters Laboratories Inc (UL). Terry gave an emotional tribute to his to families, his UL family and his Brady clan.
Terry showed the guests a short video of the Westmanstown Waps, a rugby team based in Dublin made up of players with special needs, which is sponsored by UL in Ireland. After making a few plays on the pitch, the players sent their congratulations to Terry in the video.
Terry then talked about his own Brady clan and his eight siblings, four of whom were in the room with their spouses. Terry showed a beautiful family photo of the Brady Clan taken in County Kerry a few years back on a family vacation there.
It was an outstanding dinner and because of the generosity of so many, The Ireland Funds will be able to continue its vital work in Ireland and across the globe.
Photographer: Ana Miyares