12th November, 2009

28th Annual Dinner Gala

More than 1,000 guests gathered on Thursday, November 12, for The American Ireland Fund’s 28th Annual Boston Gala at the Westin Boston Waterfront. The 2009 Gala honored Daniel M. Rooney, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, who co-founded The American Ireland Fund more than 30 years ago.

New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft presented the honor to the Ambassador, who also chairs the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, for the extraordinary generosity he and the Rooney family have shown to Ireland.

The 2009 Gala was chaired by Brian T. Moynihan, President, Consumer & Small Business Banking of Bank of America. John J. Mahoney, Vice Chairman and CFO of Staples, Inc., and Scott F. Powers, President and CEO of State Street Global Advisors, served as Vice Chairmen of this year’s Gala. Also in attendance were Senator John Kerry; Governor Deval Patrick; Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Collins; Larry Lucchino, President & CEO of the Boston Red Sox, John J. Mahoney the 2009 Dinner Vice Chairman & Chief Financial Officer, Staples, Inc.; Scott F. Powers the 2009 Dinner Vice Chairman and President & CEO, State Street Global Advisors; Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas; Congressman Stephen Lynch; Lt. Gov. Tim Murray; and Treasurer Tim Cahill

The fundraiser, one of The Worldwide Ireland Fund’s 80 worldwide events, supported Irish philanthropic causes.
A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the Belvedere Youth Club, which serves over 500 children in the deprived north inner-city section of Dublin, Ireland. In addition, grants will be made to two organizations in Massachusetts: Boston’s Camp Harborview, which offers at-risk children the opportunity to leave the city for a true summer camp experience; and the Irish Pastoral Centre in Quincy, which offers services for the elderly Irish community and immigration assistance to all.

We had 1,000 supporters in the room last night. On the stage we had our Regional Advisory Board Chairman Bob Reynolds from Putnam Investments, Dinner Chairman Brian Moynihan from Bank of America, Bob Kraft from the Patriots and, of course, our honoree Ambassador Dan Rooney, patriarch of an iconic Irish family; who all delivered humor and warmth.

Julie Lavery from the Berklee School of Music left the crowd speechless, and some even tearful, with her serenading of Dan Rooney with “Oh Danny Boy”.

But the most important focus of the evening was around the work we support in Ireland, Camp Harbor View, the Irish Pastoral Center in Quincy, and the Belvedere Youth Project in Ireland, all of whom benefitted from the generosity of those present last night.” said Steve Greeley, Executive Director of The American Ireland Fund.

Greeley said that a portion of the proceeds from last year’s event went to the Catholic School Initiative which, among other things, is revitalizing the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester and Mattapan. The Irish Immigration Centre has also received support for their important social service work that touches 110 nationalities in the Boston-area. Finally, last year’s event supported the key work of University of Massachusetts Professor Padraig O’Malley to export the lessons of the Northern Ireland Peace Process to countries that are experiencing political and religious division.