On Thursday, September 25th, the Washington, DC Young Leaders hosted their annual signature fundraiser “Halfway To St. Patrick’s Day” honoring the Governor of Maryland, the Honorable Martin O’Malley at the beautiful Josephine Butler Parks Center in Washington, DC.
Over 150 people packed the historic building, which is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. The event began with an intimate champagne reception sponsored by James Hoban’s bar and The Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America who provided the wine, spirits and beer throughout the event.
While guests sampled hors d’oeuvres provided by Tastefully Done Caterers, National Director of The Young Leaders Pat Tully welcomed the supporters and introduced Norman Houston of The Northern Ireland Bureau, one of the presenting sponsors of the event. Norman spoke about The American Ireland Fund’s important relationship with Northern Ireland and the ongoing peace process and highlighted some of the major events that Northern Ireland has recently attracted including the G8 Summit at Lough Erne and The international cycling competition, Giro d’Italia. Norman then introduced Kevin Comny of the Irish Embassy who also spoke about the warm relationship with the Fund and Irish-America and spoke about the upcoming Young Leader members-only “Samhain” (Irish Halloween) party that the embassy hosts exclusively for the Young Leaders.
Soon after, the main event opened up and guests were greeted by associates from BMW of Arlington, VA who showcased their new i3 electric vehicle and offered use of the car for a long weekend as a raffle prize. The prize was won by Chris Lucey later in the evening.
As the room filled up, the supporters enjoyed signature “Pearl Cup” cocktails in souvenir mugs provided by the mixologists at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Guinness pints provided by Ri Ra of Georgetown and a delicious mashed potato bar courtesy of O’Sullivan’s Irish pub, all while enjoying the sounds of The Danny Burns Band.
Guests were also treated to a special photo booth by SocialLight, which offered instant print out keepsake photos of the evening complete with The American Ireland Fund Logo.
Governor O’Malley arrived and enthusiastically greeted guests and took pictures with many of the supporters. Event Chair, John Gaine then introduced the Governor by reminding those gathered of the great work he has done from his days as a Baltimore Councilman, to Baltimore Mayor to Governor.
Steering Committee Chair Megan Molloy and Vice Chair Patrick Lyden then presented the Irish Spirit Award to Governor O’Malley who spoke about Irish-America’s important role in the peace process and how the funds raised by The Ireland Funds go to supporting programs of peace and reconciliation. He commended the supporters for getting involved and giving back at an early stage of their careers.
Then, in a surprise move, Governor O’Malley picked up a guitar and performed a handful of tunes with The Danny Burns Band. The crowd sang along with the band and gave the Governor a rousing round of applause when he completed the set.
The party continued and a live auction and raffle soon began hosted by Pat Tully and Young Leader James Mahony who offered a walk-on extra role for two people on the hit Netflix show, House of Cards. The top bidders and winners were Terry Nealon and Young Leader Karen McMonagle (Thank you!).
Special thanks to our sponsors: Bank of America, The Northern Ireland Bureau, The Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America, Microsoft, Washington Life Magazine and publisher, John Arundel. Also thanks to our event host committee including: Norah Cloherty, Tim Curry, Kelly Dragelin, Elisa Bundl Eagan, Bronagh Finnegan, Margaret Gaine, Patrick Judge, Carissa Maguire, John McCarthy, Alexandra Schauffler and Moira Sullivan as well as our DC Steering Committee: Megan Molloy, Patrick Lyden, John Gaine, Joe Monahan, James Mahony, Kevin Murphy, Reilly O’Connor, Mairin Van Shura and Drew Walsh.