On Tuesday, December 2nd, The Ireland Funds Young Leaders and friends gathered to kick off the Christmas season at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Phoenix Park. This year was extra special as we were welcomed by US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley and his wife, Dena. Having only been in his position for a few months we were so honoured that Ambassador O’Malley opened up his home for our guests. As always, the Ambassador’s Residence set the perfect scene for a Christmas celebration, with its stunning Christmas tree and decorations.
We were delighted that Music Generation Laois were represented by the Faherty Family. Ranging from 7 to 17, the Faherty’s kicked off the evening with some great music; a very talented family indeed. The guests thoroughly enjoyed the music, one of which was Sonia O’Sullivan. It was a true honour to have Sonia, one of Ireland’s most admired Olympians, at the event especially considering she lives in Australia.
Ambassador O’Malley welcomed our guests and spoke about how honoured he is to be a part of the evening, and the great work the next generation of Ireland is doing through the Young Leader programme. Caitlin Duffy, Director of the Young Leaders then thanked the Ambassador and all those in attendance. Reminding everyone that this was an evening of celebration for the work that has been done and a look to 2015, and the great work that is to come.
The highlight of the evening came when Alan Foy, Chairman of the Young Leaders introduced Mark Pollock, the Spirit of Ireland recipient for 2014. A video introduced Mark’s story, leaving everyone in the room with chills. Mark’s speech didn’t dwell on the challenges that life has thrown at him, but rather what he is doing to overcome them. There was no doubt he was a deserving recipient of this year’s Spirit of Ireland Award.
Coaches picked up the guests at the end of the event and headed to SAMs Bar where many of the guests continued to socialize and enjoy their evening. It was a wonderful to see so many faces old and new and to kick off to the Christmas season together.
A very special thank you to the U.S. Embassy and all of the Ambassador’s Residence staff for such a wonderful evening.