On Saturday, July 25, 2015, The American Ireland Fund hosted over 125 people at its annual Nantucket Celebration, held at the summer home, “Innisfree”, of Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley. The waterfront venue, with its spectacular ocean views and American and Irish flags crisply flapping in the evening breezes, provided a stunning setting for a spirited cocktail party filled with stories, laughter and great Irish spirit, all shared by new and old friends.
The event was Co-chaired by Bob and Laura Reynolds, Chris and Ann Quick and Jim and Susan Geraghty, and the evening’s special guest was Emmy-nominated actress & producer, Roma Downey. Her remarks were the evening’s highlight as she spoke about her Irish roots in the “Bogside” section of Derry, Northern Ireland, her career as actress and director spawned by her early years with The Abbey Theater, and the vital work funded by The American Ireland Fund. She noted The American Ireland Fund’s impact, particularly in the areas of the preservation and promotion of Irish art and culture and its support of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Kieran McLoughlin, President & CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, announced that a $1 million pledge to The American Ireland Fund for The Irish Arts Center was being made by Roma Downey.
Said Downey about her early years in New York after emigrating from Derry, “In those early years as a homesick artist, I personally sought out the Irish Arts Centre and found solace from the work they were doing there, and strength from the people that gathered there. So I am incredibly grateful that all these years later I am personally able to support helping The Irish Arts Center expand with this incredible new building and the exciting new programs, and I applaud The American Ireland Fund for its important support of this vibrant program.”
Among the guests attending were: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and his wife Kathleen Matthews; Linda Holliday and New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick; Vanity Fair feature writer Maureen Orth and her son Luke Russert of MSNBC; President & CEO of Natixis John Hailer and his wife Maureen; Chairman of The American Ireland Fund and New York Hotelier John Fitzpatrick; President & CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds Kieran McLoughlin; The American Ireland Fund New England Director Steve Greeley and his wife Jan; and Nantucket Committee Members George Albrecht, Ben Barnes, Bill & Cindy Burke, Kevin Callahan, Bob Crowe, Jack & Lisa Dunfey, Marybeth Gilmartin, Mike & Rebecca Greeley, Bart & Lesley Grenier, Linda Holliday, Scott & Sheila Knight, Bob & Laurie Monahan, Bob Mooney, Maureen Orth, John Osborn, Bruce & Elisabeth Percelay and Guy, Luke Russert, DeDe Snowden and Bob & Suzanne Wright.
Past honorees of the Nantucket Celebration include, among others, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nobel Peace Prize Winner John Hume, Special Olympics President and CEO Tim Shriver, the late author Frank McCourt, the late broadcast journalist Tim Russert,print and broadcast journalist Mike Barnicle and Anne Finucane, Vice Chairwoman of Bank of America.