5th May, 2011

36th Annual Dinner Gala

The American Ireland Fund 2011 New York Dinner Gala honored Muhammad Ali, Irial Finan, and welcomed special guest An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD. More than 1,200 guests gathered on May 5 at the Tent at Lincoln Center for the New York Dinner Gala.


Dinner Chairman Duncan Niederauer

The Gala is the largest of the 100 events held annually by The Worldwide Ireland Funds and was chaired by Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext. The evening exceeded its goal and raised $3 million; $2.65 million for charities across the island of Ireland and a further $350,000 for Irish charities in New York.


The American Ireland Fund 2011 Humanitarian Award

Muhammad Ali was honored with The American Ireland Fund 2011 Humanitarian Award for his contribution to charitable and educational causes through the Muhammad Ali Center and in recognition of his ancestral links to Ennis in Co. Clare, Ireland.  


The American Ireland Fund 2011 Leslie C. Quick Jr. Leadership Award

The Dinner also honored Irial Finan, Executive Vice President of The Coca-Cola Company and President of the Coca-Cola Company’s Bottling Investments Group, with The American Ireland Fund 2011 Leslie C. Quick Jr. Leadership Award in recognition for his personal and professional commitment to Ireland.


Special Guest An Taoiseach

The evening’s special guest was the Prime Minister of Ireland, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.  Mr. Kenny was elected to the Office of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in 2011 with the largest majority in the history of the State.  He has set about a policy of fundamental reform and restoring Ireland’s reputation. One of Mr. Kenny’s first addresses after his election in March was at The American Ireland Fund Washington DC National Gala. The American Ireland Fund and the Irish-American community welcomed Mr. Kenny once again and appreciated hearing more about his plans for Ireland’s recovery.

“We are delighted that the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, joined us for our flagship event,” said Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds. “It allowed us to express the support of the Irish diaspora and the commitment of The American Ireland Fund to Ireland’s future. We were also honored to recognize two great men:  Irial Finan represents the very best of Irish business acumen and Muhammad Ali is renowned for his legendary sportsmanship, his philanthropic work and his ties to Ireland. Most importantly, the evening showcased the profound generosity of our donors and delivered real support for Ireland which is vital at this time.”


The Promising Ireland Campaign

Proceeds from the May 5 event will benefit The Worldwide Ireland Funds Promising Ireland Campaign, a fundraising initiative with a goal of raising $100 million among its global network by the end of 2013. The Promising Ireland Campaign is helping charitable and non-profit organizations across the island of Ireland and Irish communities abroad meet the challenge of increased demand for their services at a time of major reductions in resources. The Campaign is currently ahead of target with $50 million of the goal raised so far. Funds are being distributed as they are raised over the course of the Campaign in order to assist charities with their immediate needs.

$200,000 will be donated to the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan which is a focal point for promoting Irish culture in all its forms. A further $150,000 is being donated to Irish Centers across New York City that cater for the Forgotten Irish, i.e. those elder Irish who live in isolation and poverty having sent so much of their earnings back to Ireland in decades past.

Notes to Editors:
About The Worldwide Ireland Funds:
The Worldwide Ireland Funds are an international charitable network operating in 12 countries and have raised over $370 million for worthy causes in Ireland and around the world. For over 35 years they have been dedicated to raising funds that support programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland. To date, they have assisted over 1,200 organizations.