Celebrating its 28th year in Palm Beach, The Ireland Funds’ Annual Emerald Isle black-tie Dinner Dance took place on Feb. 15, 2018 at The Breakers. The event drew 200 friends, supporters and dignitaries that included Former Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny; Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall. The Honorable Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, the Honorable Nancy Brinker, family members of the late Amb. Dan Rooney, Co-Founder of The Ireland Funds; and Bob Wright, CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and Co-Founder of Autism Speaks, were also in attendance.
The Mediterranean Courtyard set the scene for an al fresco cocktail reception, followed by dinner in the Circle Dining Room with entertainment provided by the Bob Merrill Orchestra. Kieran McLoughlin, Worldwide President and CEO of The Ireland Funds, welcomed the guests, acknowledged “a galaxy of luminaries,” and thanked Honorary Co-Chairmen Lore Moran Dodge, William B. Finneran, Michele Kessler, Hillie Mahoney, Sheila O’Malley Fuchs and Thomas C. Quick for their support and generosity, and all of The Ireland Funds America Board Members in attendance. He then introduced John Fitzpatrick, the Chairman of The Ireland Funds America, who also extended words of welcome and thanks. Later, McLoughlin provided an update on the work of The Ireland Funds, and presented honoree, Bill Casey, EY Americas Vice Chair, with an award. Casey, who attended the dinner with his family, expressed his gratitude and pride in his Irish heritage.
After dinner, Board Member Tom Quick conducted a live auction. Then Daniel Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to the United States, took the stage and presented Kenny with The Ireland Funds’ Distinguished Leadership Award. Mulhall spoke about Kenny’s 43 years of service and his contributions as Prime Minister, citing that when Kenny took office in 2011 during the height of the global financial crisis, he led Ireland out of the bailout, that unemployment dropped from 15% to 6%, and that Ireland regained its position as the fastest-growing member of the European Union by the time he left office in 2017.
Kenny spoke about the critical importance of philanthropy and made a stirring call to continue to support The Ireland Funds as the preeminent foundation supporting Ireland. After Kenny’s comments and thanks, Quick called Ciaran Sheehan, the multi-talented, award-winning Irish singer/actor, and his accompanist, Sue Anderson to the stage. Sheehan’s memorable live performance included classics such as The Impossible Dream, Music of the Night, from Phantom of the Opera, the play he has performed more than 1,000 times on Broadway, and Danny Boy, as the finale.