7th June, 2012

Cable Car Tour Through San Francisco’s Irish History

The Cable Car Tour Through San Francisco’s Irish History was a blast and no ordinary sightseeing trip!  Yes, we travelled through the streets of San Francisco and the fog began to roll in across the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean –  but our historic cable car was packed with San Francisco Young Leaders who were eager to learn about The City’s Irish history and enjoy an unforgettable evening.

There were several fun stops along the way as we began our tour at a discreet little hideaway – Bourbon & Branch.  This is a classic speakeasy in the Tenderloin, with a secret hidden room where we gathered after uttering the password to gain entry – “Frank Ipswich”.  With a nod and a wink, we were admitted to this gem of a nightspot. Our host, Brian Sheehy, provided signature cocktails – Citizen Cane and Gentlemen’s Buck – before Guest Speaker Professor Kevin Starr arrived.  San Francisco Regional Director Marjorie Muldowney welcomed the group and gave special thanks to Young Leaders Chair Mike McGrath before introducing California State Librarian Emeritus and USC Professor, Kevin Starr.  San Francisco native Kevin shared his love for The City and its many stories including the tale behind O’Farrell street downtown – Jasper O’Farrell who studied in Dublin, laid out the grid system in 1846 around which San Francisco grew and this is still the foundation for The City’s layout.

We climbed aboard the cable car for our journey out to the San Francisco Fire Dept. Museum, a largely unknown gem in Laurel Heights, to meet San Francisco Fire Chief, Joanne Hayes White.  Joanne gave us a fascinating insight into the roots of the SF Fire Dept. and the predominantly men of Cork & Kerry who built it – as well as the fact that during the 1906 earthquake, the Fire chief was killed leaving a department in disarray while fires burned for three days!  Young Leaders enjoyed tasty hors d’oeuvres before jumping back on board to head down to the Buena Vista Cafe in Fisherman’s Wharf, accompanied by Winegeese wines along the way.  The warm glow of the BV Cafe was a welcoming setting for Irish Coffees specially prepared with Tullamore Dew.  This was a fun night to be together with lots of friendly new faces joining the group and the Young Leaders stayed long past the wrap up time.

Guests included SF Young Leaders Chair Mike McGrath, Membership Chair Laura Ward Collins with Michael Collins, Communications Chair Neil Sands, with Steering Committee Members Melinda Miller with Ron Sciandri, Ian Casey, and Kerry Egan with Jamie Hamm.  Also present were Jacqueline Paulin & Steven Jacobs, Ivan Harrow, Caroline Dickie, Beth Thomas, Ryan Fox & Kathryn Thomas.  We welcomed new friends John Turney & Jessica Waserman, Joe Leveroni, Langdon Mitchell, Katie McCaffrey Talbott & Dan Talbott, Erin Reidy, Kathy Prunty, John Farley, Mark Muldowney, and Chris Lonergan.

And the big news of the evening?  Ryan Fox and Kathryn West announced their engagement following a visit to Dublin last month!  Ryan proposed to Kathryn on the Ha’penny Bridge over the River Liffey and an August 2013 wedding is planned.  Hearty congrats to this wonderful couple!

Special thanks to San Francisco Young Leaders Chair Mike McGrath for helping coordinate the evening as well as generous support from Joey Nevin of the San Francisco Giants, Jacqueline Paulin of Tullamore Dew, Kerry Egan for liaising with Bourbon & Branch, Melinda Miller for arranging the Fire Dept. Museum visit and a massive shoutout to Brian Sheehy at Bourbon & Branch for hosting our opening reception.