The San Francisco Gala was a spectacular evening on Friday, March 11th, 2016.
450 guests gathered to honor one of the world’s greatest philanthropists, Chuck Feeney, as he received The American Ireland Fund’s Distinguished Leadership Award. The award was presented by AIF Chairman John Fitzpatrick and President & CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds Kieran McLoughlin. Dynamic Dinner Chair Olivia Gaynor-Long and her husband Brian were at the helm, along with Consul-General Philip Grant. Chuck Feeney was joined by his wife Helga, daughter Caroleen Feeney and granddaughter, Annabelle Timsit. The American Ireland Fund Chairman Emeritus Loretta Brennan Glucksman flew in from New York for the celebration which included Board Directors Bart Murphy and Craig Sullivan and West Coast Director, Marjorie Muldowney. MC at the Gala was the debonair and dashing actor, Matt McCoy.
Kieran McLoughlin paid special tribute to Chuck Feeney and his passion for “giving while living” through Atlantic Philanthropies, which he founded in 1982. A special video message about Chuck’s work came from Bill Gates, who saluted Chuck and the difference he has made to so many lives.
Chuck spoke graciously about the importance of giving, how fortunate he has been and finished by saying, “My cup runneth over.” He received a standing ovation and prolonged clapping from a crowd that was deeply moved and inspired.
The event was generously supported by Joan & Dave O’Reilly, Bill McMorrow of Kennedy Wilson, EJ Tracy of Tracy Industries, NUI Galway, and The University of California Medical Center (UCSF). Monene & Dick Bradley were there, along with Jane & Avery Chope, who helped organize the first American Ireland Fund dinner back in the 70s. Key supporters also included First Republic Bank, University of Limerick, and Colin Ryan of Goldman Sachs. There was a strong turnout of guests from the IDA, Invest Northern Ireland and the Irish Technology Leadership Group. We are also grateful to Betsy & Bill McKiernan, Kathleen Ryan, Mrs. Frank McGinnis, Mary & Joe Toboni, Sally Ann Flood & Michael Kenny, Mary & Tom Hunt, Virginia & Jack Kavanaugh, Nancy & Bill Murphy, Brian O’Cuiv of PwC, The Alice Phelan Sullivan Corporation, and Dede Wilsey for their wonderful support. Special thanks to Niall O’Dowd of Irish America, The Irish Voice and IrishCentral.com
Following a cocktail reception in the Colonial Room, made extra special by the presence of two Irish wolfhounds, the San Francisco Irish Pipers Band began the proceedings with magnificent pageantry. They were followed by the Dillon Madh School of Irish Dance who delighted the crowd with their energetic tap performance. Sephira violinists Joyce & Ruth O’Leary provided a rousing rendition of lively Irish music through their spirited performance and the evening wrapped up with lively dancing to Dave Martin’s House Party.
We are grateful to our sponsors who generously donated to the Exclusive Auction: The Merrion, Ashford Castle, Dromoland Castle, Sheen Falls Lodge, Janet & Pete Osborne at MOMO’S Restaurant, Cinta Gibbons at Cinta Salon, The St. Francis Hotel, Joey Nevin of The San Francisco Giants, Kerry J. Murphy of DuMOL Wines, and Kathy Smith of Butler’s Chocolates.
It was our honor indeed to recognize Chuck Feeney with the 2016 Distinguished Leadership Award. Sincere thanks to all our guests for joining us on this memorable night as we saluted one of the greatest sons of Armagh.