The Ireland Funds New York Celebration
On Monday, December 6th 2021, friends and supporters of The Ireland Funds gathered at New York City’s Rainbow Room to celebrate the 45th anniversary of The Ireland Funds and its philanthropic support for the island of Ireland.
Founded in 1976 by Dan Rooney and Tony O’Reilly, the organization held its very first event in New York with then Irish Senator Mary Robinson as the first Guest of Honor.
Since then, Mary Robinson has blazed a trail and was elected President of Ireland in 1990, and later appointed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She currently serves as Chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela working together for peace, justice and human rights. She returned to New York on December 6th with her husband Nick Robinson to reprise her role as Guest of Honor at this 45th anniversary celebration of The Ireland Funds.
Mary Robinson spoke to those gathered about the importance of The Ireland Funds saying, “I want to pay warm tribute to the extraordinary contribution The Ireland Funds has made over the past 45 years to the beautiful island that I have been lucky enough to be born in. And let me remind you of your own mission statement. And I quote. ‘To harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland. To promotion support, peace, culture, education and community development across the island of Ireland and among Irish communities around the world.’ We all know the change is hard to get, but you have stayed the course and remained dedicated to making a difference. Central to that is mobilizing the resources to support those all across Ireland who are trying to make it a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable place. While much progress has been made, much remains to be done. Your careful work is still very much required.”
Gene McQuade, Chairman of The Ireland Funds America; Caitriona Fottrell, President & CEO of The Ireland Funds, and Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Chairman Emeritus of The Ireland Funds America each spoke of their appreciation to donors gathered for their commitment and support of The Ireland Funds’ work with the Irish nonprofit sector over the course of 45 years most recently during the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Caitriona Fottrell noted that thanks to the generosity of its donors, The Ireland Funds had recently awarded 220 scholarships to students from 51 schools through its No Mind Left Behind scholarship program, in addition to funding over 260 Irish nonprofit organizations since the pandemic began.
Author Colum McCann, past recipient of both The Ireland Funds AWB Vincent Literary Award and Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, closed out the evening with a special reading of Fishing the Sloe-Black River from his first collection of short stories.
Additional special guests in attendance included: Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Consul General of Ireland in New York Helena Nolan, Deputy Director of The Northern Ireland Bureau Eamonn McConville, and Board Directors from America and Ireland Jim Barry, Kevin Curley, Lore Moran Dodge, John Fitzpatrick, Tara McCabe, Bill Murphy, Tom Quick and Peter Rooney.
Photographer: Ben Asen