16th March, 2009

National Dinner Gala

On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day over 800 guests gathered at The National Building Museum in Washington, DC for The American Ireland Fund’s National Gala.  The 17th Annual Gala was held under the honorary patronage of An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, T.D. along with Honorary Chairs; H.E. Michael Collins and Sir Nigel Sheinwald.

Norah O’Donnell of MSNBC, once again serving as gracious emcee for the evening, welcomed guests and introduced Archbishop Donald Wuerl who delivered the invocation.  Archbishop Wuerl, a Pittsburgh native, was pleased to come support the Fund’s mission and Pittsburgh favorite son, Dan Rooney. 

Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Chairman of The American Ireland Fund, was honored to present An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, T.D. with The American Ireland Fund  Peace Award.   2009 marked his first year in office and the organization was honored to have him attend.  During his speech the Taoiseach stressed what an outstanding investment location Ireland was.

Loretta then presented  The American Ireland Fund Lifetime Achievement Award to Dan Rooney, co-founder of The American Ireland Fund in 1976, for his unwavering support of the Fund and Ireland for over 30 years.  Dan was recognized the next day by President Obama who nominated Dan as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.

The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award was presented to Gerald S.J. Cassidy, President of Cassidy & Associates, for his involvement in the Fund and particularly for chairing the Gala for the past 11 years which has raised over fifteen million dollars.

Congressman Richard Neal then presented The American Ireland Fund Distinguished Leadership Awards to two champions of Irish concerns on Capitol Hill: Congressman Elton Gallegy and Congressman Joe Crowley.

Guests that evening included, Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Michael Martin’ British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Shaun Woodward, Members of the Irish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly including the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Thanks to our Committee

The dinner was sold out, which is a remarkable achievement in these current economic circumstances, all of which was driven by an outstanding dinner committee:

  • Hon. Elizabeth Frawley Bagley
  • Jack Bagley
  • Thomas A. Corcoran
  • Susan A. Davis
  • Dennis M. Lucey
  • Gerald W. McEntee
  • Sean O’Keefe
  • Preston Padden
  • Paul S. Quinn
  • Mark H. Tuohey
  • Carol Wheeler