On Friday, March 6th, the San Francisco Gala Dinner was held at the St. Francis Hotel. SFPD Chief Greg Suhr returned as our commanding Master of Ceremonies. Brian & Olivia Gaynor-Long were presented with the 2015 Distinguished Leadership Award. The award was presented by AIF Chairman John Fitzpatrick, Kieran McLoughlin, President & CEO, The Worldwide Ireland Funds, and Dinner Co-Chairs Eileen & Bart Murphy. The Gaynor-Longs were joined by a huge group of friends and colleagues from the U.S. and Ireland. 500 guests gathered in celebration of this dynamic pair of innovators. Brian, a visionary engineer and investor founded his first company Parthus Technology Inc. in 1993. It grew rapidly and merged with DSP Group to form Ceva Inc. which today supplies DSP technology to one in four smartphones. Olivia is a tech investor and the owner of Residence Private Members Club in Dublin.
The American Ireland Fund 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to much-loved Kathleen Ryan for her tremendous support of numerous projects, championing those in need whether vulnerable youth or the aged, as well as her work in support of peace in Northern Ireland. In paying tribute, AIF Board Director & Dinner Chair Bart Murphy paraphrased William Butler Yeats by saying, “Think where a woman’s glory begins and ends, and say your glory is to have such friends” to cheers of delight from the crowd.
The audience included special guests, Consul-General Philip Grant and Vice-Consul Kevin Byrne, AIF Directors Craig Sullivan with his wife, Maureen, Harry Hartford and his wife Susan and Keith Ennis and partner Ben Chu and West Coast Director Marjorie Muldowney.
Generous donors included Joan & Dave O’Reilly, EJ Tracy & Tracy Industries, Keith Ennis, Agnes Anderson, Bill McMorrow of Kennedy Wilson, First Republic Bank, Kaitlyn Kyle of S & P Capital IQ, Bill McKiernan, Carol & John McDonnell, UCSF Medical Center, Alice Phelan Sullivan Corporation and Patsy McGinnis, as well as IDA Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland.
Sincere thanks also to our Dinner Committee: Ian Casey, Keith Ennis, Sally Ann Flood, John McDonnell, Barry O’Brien, Rita O’Hara, Kathy Grogan, Maureen Scully McFadden, Olga O’Hara, Erin Doyle Ebeling, Sheila Doyle Kiernan, Mike McGrath, Anne Ryan, Kevin Ryan,and Mary Driscoll Toboni.
The cocktail reception was held in the Colonial Room with a lively Irish dance performance by the talented students from the Dillon Magh Adhair Academy. Musical accompaniment was provided by the Black Brothers as guests arrived. The program got underway with much pomp and ceremony as the Gaynor-Longs were piped into the Grand Ballroom by The Irish Pipers Band of San Francisco. The exclusive auction and special drawing was conducted by actor Matt McCoy (Police Academy, Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Seinfeld) who created much excitement for a luxurious trip to Monaco, and a fabulous town & country getaway to Ireland made possible through generous contributions from Aer Lingus, Ashford Castle, Dromoland Castle and The Merrion Hotel. The special drawing included a spectacular gift from Kerry Murphy of DuMOL Wines who donated three magnificent magnums, while Sheila King donated a magnificent stay at Sheen Falls Lodge, and generous gift certificates came from Cinta Salon, Momo’s Restaurant, the San Francisco Giants, and the St. Francis Hotel.
Dave Martin’s House Party wrapped up the evening with a fun session of music, singing and great dancing. Significant support was raised for The Ireland Funds Promising Ireland Campaign that has now assisted over 650 outstanding charitable organizations across the island of Ireland. Significant support was raised for The Ireland Funds Promising Ireland Campaign that has now assisted over 650 outstanding charitable organizations across the island of Ireland.