The 2019 Gala was the most successful San Francisco Gala in its almost 40 year history. Colin J. Ryan, Co-head of Mergers & Acquisitions Americas at Goldman Sachs was presented with The Ireland Funds Distinguished Leadership Award at the St. Francis Hotel on Friday March 8th. Renowned philanthropist Chuck Feeney, who was honored by The Ireland Funds in 2016 for his commitment to “giving while living” through Atlantic Philanthropies, attended with his wife Helga. Guests were greeted by Master of Ceremonies Brian Murphy, of KNBR’s “Murph & Mac Morning Show” and the party began with the Dillon Magh Adhair Academy’s spirited Irish dancing along with The Irish Pipers Band of San Francisco.
The Ireland Funds Vice President Marjorie Muldowney spoke of the rising wave of Irish-educated, successful global leaders and paid tribute to Colin describing him as “an outstanding example of Ireland at it’s best.” Colin and his wife Nikki have lived in San Francisco for the past 13 years and have two children. Originally from Bray, Co. Wicklow, Colin is the successful product of an Irish education and now a dynamic leader in the technology, media and telecom arena. Colin was recognized by The Ireland Funds for his extraordinary business accomplishments as well as for his philanthropy. During his time in both the London and San Francisco Goldman Sachs’ offices, Colin has helped advise some of the most iconic companies on their most important strategic transactions. He’s a powerful example of Ireland’s diaspora giving back and investing in Ireland’s future, particularly interested in educating and supporting disadvantaged communities and supporting at risk individuals. Nikki & Colin Ryan have generously supported Ireland Funds programs like The Early Learning Initiative, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Daisyhouse. Colin is also a supporter of The Ireland Funds Women in Leadership program and The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition.
In his acceptance speech, Colin spoke highly of his family, mentioning his mother Catherine Ryan, who had traveled from Ireland for the event. He was introduced by his Goldman Sachs colleague Barry O’Brien, who gave an amusing introduction about Colin’s lifelong love for Manchester United football team. Colin credited his time in Chicago as having a formative influence. There, he attended DePaul Law School as part of an exchange program with UCD Law School and worked as a “runner” on the Chicago Board of Trade. Colin talked about his time at Goldman Sachs in London with fellow Ireland Funds supporters Hugo MacNeill and Basil Geoghegan, who brought him to his first Ireland Funds Gala in the early 2000s. Colin closed with a rousing “Eirinn abu!” (Ireland Forever) and the party moved into high gear!
John Fitzpatrick, The Ireland Funds America Chairman, flew in from New York and warmly welcomed Board Directors Bart Murphy and Harry Hartford, as well as longtime supporters Maureen Sullivan & family, the McKiernan family and Board Director EJ Tracy.
Over 400 guests from the spheres of business, the arts and politics attended the Gala. Special guests present on the night included Consul General Robert O’Driscoll, Catherine & John Kilroy of Kilroy Realty Corporation, George Davis of Qualcomm, John Flynn of Kennedy Wilson, Dublin City University President Brian McCraith, and Paraic Hayes of the IDA. Also present were teams from Google, Inc. including Adam Ruxton, Anne Marie Farrell and Ian Loughran and from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Paul Weiss LLP and Sard Verbinnen & Co. Other special guests included Kathleen Ryan, Erin Doyle Ebeling of Alice Phelan Sullivan Corporation, Mary & Tom Hunt, Ann King & Steve Murphy, Kerri Murphy, Nancy & Bill Murphy, Mary & Steve Almassy, Sally Ann Flood & Michael Kenny, the UCD Foundation and UCSF.
The Gala was also generously sponsored by: The Koret Foundation – Dr. Anita Friedman, Joan & Dave O’Reilly, Bill McMorrow of Kennedy Wilson, EJ Tracy of Tracy Industries, Declan Kelly of Teneo, Jenny & Michael Caulfield, Betsy & Bill McKiernan, First Republic Bank, Mrs. Patsy McGinnis, Emmet Daly of PwC, and Helen & John Hartnett of the ITLG. (Partial listing).
Special thanks to the wonderful Auction supporters:
Ashford Castle, Dromoland Castle, The Merrion, Sheen Falls Lodge, Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel.
Cinta Salon, Teeling Whiskey Distillery, St. Francis Hotel, Momo’s Restaurant, San Francisco Giants.
Photos: Elaine Lee