On Wednesday, March 12th, the New York Young Leaders hosted over 600 friends and supporters of The American Ireland Fund at their annual St. Patrick’s celebration at Capitale on The Bowery in Manhattan.
The green-hued ballroom set the scene for what would be a night to truly remember. Led by Young Leader event Co-Chairs, Jennifer Barry, Patrick McEvoy and Ann Murtagh, the committee set a financial goal of raising $200,000 for The Worldwide Ireland Funds' Promising Ireland Campaign to assist Irish charities and they achieved that goal in stride.
The evening started off with a VIP reception in Capitale’s Red Room, adorned with modern pop art by New York artist Peter Tunney. The Young Leaders sipped Jameson cocktails and mingled with the evening’s honorees, Ken Casey and Richard Donohue and special guests while the Xavier High School Blue Night Jazz band provided a performance that perfectly complimented the cocktails and conversation.
The main event opened with a robust silent auction and a beer tasting by our friends at Sixpoint in Brooklyn. While waiters passed Jameson cocktails, guests gathered and took photos with the honorees at the “Green Carpet” and step and repeat.
As the speaking portion of the program began, the ballroom was filled with the cacophony of the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, led by NYPD Captain Rob Gault. After the performance, the supporters were greeted by National Director of the Young Leaders, Pat Tully, who thanked the attendees and sponsors and introduced event co-chair Jennifer Barry, who introduced Ireland’s Minister for Social Protection, T.D. Joan Burton. Minister Burton spoke about the importance of The American Ireland Fund’s work on the ground in Ireland and wished everyone a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Minister Burton was followed by Co-Chair Patrick McEvoy whose firm Canacord Genuity was one of the sponsors on the evening. Patrick introduced his friend and honoree, MBTA Officer Richard Donohue, who was gravely wounded in a gunfight while trying to apprehend those responsible for the Boston Marathon attacks. Officer Donohue’s sacrifice and courage in the face of danger made him the perfect recipient of the Dylan Smith Community Service Award. The award is named after another great Irish-American hero, Dylan Smith, who saved six people from drowning during the peak of Superstorm Sandy. Dylan’s mother and other family members were on hand to witness Officer Donohue receive the award in his honor.
Officer Donohue thanked The American Ireland Fund and recalled the events of that day last April and the incredible teamwork between all Boston and federal law enforcement to help calm a nervous and frightened city and apprehend the suspects. He thanked his wife and family for being strong through his surgeries and helping him get through the toughest ordeal in his life.
Officer Donohue was followed by Co-Chair Ann Murtagh who introduced our second honoree, Ken Casey, lead singer of The Dropkick Murphys, a band founded by Ken in 1996 and famous for their stadium rocking anthems such as Shipping Up To Boston, which was also the theme song for the feature film, The Departed. Ken thanked the supporters and talked about being new to the world of philanthropy through his foundation, The Claddagh Fund, but also was quick to recognize how important it was to give back, especially with the success he has had in his life. The Claddagh Fund recently donated $10,000 to a project supported by The Ireland Funds: The Belvedere Youth Club in Dublin. For Ken’s contribution to the arts and his work with communities in Boston, Dublin and beyond, Ken was given the Jameson Irish Spirit Award. Ken follows in a long line of distinguished previous recipients including Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien and last year’s honoree, actor Chris O’Dowd.
Following the awards, a spirited live auction raised over $20,000 and offered items that included a trip to Ireland to see the GAA Football Final live this September, courtesy of our friends at the Gaelic Players Association and Dublin Young Leader, Dessie Farrell as well as Aer Lingus.
After the auction, Ken Casey jumped on stage and played a rousing set with the New York Irish American band, “The Narrowbacks.” The dance floor quickly filled up and the energy of Ken and the band truly took the party to the next level.
Later in the evening the party continued at Tavern 29, another sponsor on the evening.
Special thanks to all of our sponsors including Jameson, Pernod Ricard, PWC, Cannacord Genuity, Blue Ocean Brokerage, Kennedy Computer Consulting, Stone St Tavern, Tavern 29, Sixpoint, Oxford Global, Farrell Limousine and all of our supporters. Also special thanks to committee members Deidre Connolly and Conor Wynne for helping to secure our honorees.