6th March, 2009

Annual Dinner Gala

On Friday, March 6th, Kevin Starr was awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award at the annual American Ireland Fund Dinner in San Francisco.  Mr. Starr is the California State Librarian emeritus, University Professor and Professor of History at the University of Southern California, an accomplished author and historian who traces his Irish roots to County Roscommon.

Honorary Dinner Chair was AIF Board Director, Bill Walsh and co-chairs were Sheila McWilliams, Tom Jordan and Bart Murphy (AIF Board Director).  Suzi Tinsley did the honors as event MC and Patrick Meade of Bonham’s was the auctioneer extraordinaire. The San Francisco Irish and a wide range of friends and supporters gathered at The St. Francis Hotel to toast Kevin Starr.  Among the crowd were Consul-General Gerry Staunton, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera.  Also present were AIF Board Director Pauline Ryan and her husband John Ryan (2008 honorees), Denise la Pointe, Frank Sinnott, Christine Suppes, Catherine O’Neil, Kevin O’Brien, Michael Kenny & Sally Ann Flood, Rita & Dan O’Hara, and Greg Murphy.

During the program, Kevin Starr accepted the Award on behalf of all the brave and hardworking Irish that have gone before him. He gave a fascinating and eloquent history of the Irish in San Francisco and praised "the Irish people's intuitive lyricism" .  The presentation to Mr. Starr was made by Worldwide Ireland Funds CEO, Kingsley Aikins and Bill Walsh.

Important sponsors of the event included Aer Lingus, Chevron, Invest Northern Ireland and URS Corporation, as well as Alliance Bernstein, Enterprise Ireland, and IDA Ireland. The Irish Technology Leadership Group was represented by John Gilmore and John Hartnett. Former AIF Women’s Luncheon Chair, Janet Reilly was there with her husband Clint, and Dinner Committee members enjoying the evening included Tara & Mark Arnold, Tim & Patricia Lucey, Kathleen Ryan, Helen Wilmot & Greg Davidson, Meagan Levitan & Dale Carlson, and Ray & Marie O’Faherty.

Southern California guests at the dinner included Vice-Consul Finbar Hill and Carmel Hill, AIF Board Director Brian Monaghan and his wife, Gerri, Liam Murphy from Amgen with his wife, Joan and Jimmy & Anne Murphy.

It was a wonderful gathering of the clan with musical entertainment by one of Tipperary’s finest – Derek Ryan – and a raving dance session thanks to David Martin’s House Party. Once again, the Pauline & John Ryan party group outlasted all others on stage and on the dance floor!

Cheers to Kevin Starr and heartiest thanks to our generous supporters for making this a night to remember.