The Irelands Funds hosted its 31st National Gala on March 15th, 2023, which featured remarks from the evening’s Honorees U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The Honorees addressed the crowd of more than 800 guests at the sold-out event, which took place at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The Gala Emcee was Kaitlan Collins, Anchor and Chief Correspondent, CNN This Morning.
The 2023 event was the most successful ever, raising over $1 million to support the work of charitable causes across the island of Ireland. An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, TD Prime Minister of Ireland and the event’s Honorary Patron, spoke at the event as part of his St. Patrick’s Day visit to the United States.
“As you know, this dinner has been at the center of celebrations of Irishness in Washington DC for over 30 years and has helped turn St. Patrick’s Day into an entire week of events, meetings, and celebrations,” said the Taoiseach. “Know that your work celebrates and strengthens the bonds between Ireland and the United States.”
“In my lifetime, Ireland is a country transformed. You have helped to make that transformation possible by advancing culture, education, and community development across Ireland North and South and in Irish communities around the world. And most importantly, with your steadfast support for peace and reconciliation, particularly when it wasn’t easy, and it was hard.”
The Taoiseach continued to pay tribute to the work of The Ireland Funds. “I believe that no organization has been as effective as The Ireland Funds in harnessing the deep sense of connection and kinship among Irish Americans and most importantly, translating this into a special commitment and practical support with real outcomes. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been improved. That’s why we’re here tonight. You are making a real difference for Ireland, North and South, providing hope and freedom from fear.”
This year’s Gala also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the historic peace agreement reached in 1998 to end the decades of conflict in the Northern Ireland. Peace and reconciliation have been core tenets for The Ireland Funds since its founding in 1976 and the organization has supported hundreds of Northern Ireland-based organizations through its history.
Guests of note attending included H.E. Claire Cronin, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland; H.E. Geraldine Byrne-Nason, Irish Ambassador to the U.S; H.E. Dame Karen Elizabeth Pierce DCMG, British Ambassador to the US; Andrew Elliott, Director/Counselor of the Northern Ireland Bureau; and Joe Kennedy III, U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs.
Member of Congress attending included Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT); Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK); Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA); Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA); Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA); Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT).
The Ireland Funds Washington, DC National Gala 2023 with An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, Prime Minister of Ireland.
The Ireland Funds Washington, DC National Gala 2023 honoring Senator Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader of the United States Senate.
The Ireland Funds Washington, DC National Gala 2023 honoring Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
The Ireland Funds Washington, DC National Gala 2023 with Joe Kennedy lll, United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.
Photos: Tony Powell and Erika Layne