On Thursday, March 13th, AIF West Coast Director Marjorie Muldowney welcomed Minister Jimmy Deenihan to Los Angeles. Mr. Deenihan is Ireland's Cabinet Minister for the Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
He was joined by Consul General Philip Grant and Honorary Consul in Los Angeles, Finbar Hill. A special luncheon was held in honor of the Minister at Jonathan Club, kindly arranged by AIF Regional Advisory Board member, Sean Kneafsey, who was joined by his fellow Board Members, Harry Hartford and Conor Shalloe.
The American Ireland Fund continues to build a vibrant new network in Los Angeles and several guests from the entertainment world joined the group including producer Francis O'Toole, composer Patrick Cassidy and his brother Frank Cassidy, Liam Lynch of Authentic, actors Caroline Morahan and Olivia Tracey, and Jonathan Loughran. Also present were Dan Murphy, Cushing Donelan, Dr. John Harold, Susan Hartford, Monsignor Dave O'Connell, Alan Hearty, and Emilie Guilbaud. Other guests included Carmel Hill, Michelle Loughran, Jim O'Callahan, Daithi O'Caoimh, Deirdre O'Neill, and Sarah Doyle.
Marjorie Muldowney spoke of how this luncheon was about celebrating an established link between a dynamic arts culture in Ireland and this hotbed of artistic endeavor in Los Angeles. For over 35 years, The American Ireland Fund has been one of the most important stewards of high Irish culture, making it a priority to support an environment where all the arts can develop and thrive – and it continues to be a key part of The Ireland Funds' mission. She referred to Minister Deenihan, the winner of 5 All-Ireland medals for Kerry, as a true champion for Ireland, now channelling that great achievement on the football field into the political arena as a vigorous promoter of the arts. She emphasized how important it is for the government to be collaborative & benevolent in strengthening these Irish cultural expressions so that they flourish.
The ebullient Minister Deenihan shared an encouraging update about Ireland's improving economy and was enthusiastic about his department's support for the arts, including a new venture called Inspiring Ireland which will provide free global access to treasures contained in Ireland’s cultural institutions. This exciting project will include collections from the State’s museums, libraries, galleries, archives and theaters and will be available at inspiring-ireland.ie. After the Q & A session, several of the guests with strong Kerry connections enjoyed sharing happy memories with the Minister of their time in "the Kingdom" and he was a very popular Guest of Honor at this Leadership Forum.