12th September, 2015

Washington, DC Young Leaders Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Celebration 2015

On Saturday, September 12th, the Washington, DC Young Leaders hosted their signature “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” Celebration.

Over 150 Young Leaders and supporters of The American Ireland Fund packed Bobby Van’s Grill on New York Avenue to raise money for the Promising Ireland Campaign and recognize two outstanding Irish-Americans, Patrick Murray and Michael Kelly.

The evening began with an intimate VIP reception where guests enjoyed a champagne toast and passed hors d’oeuvres. National Director of the Young Leaders, Pat Tully, greeted the supporters and introduced Michael Lonergan, Deputy Head of Mission from the Embassy of Ireland. Michael spoke about the ties that he had had over the years with The American Ireland Fund and praised the Young Leaders for their support of Ireland.

Michael then introduced Stewart Matthews, First Secretary of the Northern Ireland Bureau who acknowledged the current political situation in Northern Ireland and thanked The American Ireland Fund for all they have done over the years for organizations serving the communities across Northern Ireland.

Stewart then introduced Reverend Bill Shaw, Director of the 174 trust in Belfast, a center supported by The American Ireland Fund where children from both sides of the community play and create together in peace and cross-community work is undertaken. Reverend Shaw mentioned that in the nearly 20 years of the 174 Trust, The American Ireland Fund has always supported their efforts for peace and reconciliation.

As the party got into full swing, the guests enjoyed the live music by the band 40 Thieves and browsed the silent auction while also enjoying a buffet dinner.

Later in the evening, Pat Tully welcomed the guests back to start the official program. Pat spoke about the success of the Promising Ireland Campaign and the upcoming Young Leaders 2nd annual Global 5K run. Pat then introduced steering committee chair Megan Molloy who thanked the event committee and introduced the first honoree of the evening, Patrick Murray, who received the inaugural Patriot Award for his heroism serving in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was injured in battle and now he assists recovering Marines at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Patrick accepted his award and spoke of the need to give back and the good work that his company Four Block is doing to bridge the gap between capable veterans and meaningful careers.

Event co-chair Carissa Maguire then took the podium to introduce the  Irish Spirit Award recipient, actor Michael Kelly. Carissa noted that Michael is currently nominated for a primetime Emmy award for his role as White House Chief of Staff Doug Stamper in the hit Netflix show House of Cards. Michael is also starring in the film thriller, Everest.

Michael accepted his award and began his remarks by thanking Patrick Murray for his service to America. He then spoke about his own Irish Heritage and his grandfather’s journey to the US from Ireland and how his tremendous pride and work ethic inspires him to this day. He finished by saying, “I am proud to re-connect with my family’s heritage and give back through the meaningful philanthropic work of The American Ireland Fund.”

Pat Tully then led a spirited auction that included a visit to the set of House of Cards to watch the show being filmed and lunch for two with Michael Kelly. The package also included memorabilia from the show signed by his co-stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

The celebration continued on with dancing and more music from 40 Thieves.

Special thanks to the event committee led by co-chairs Kelly Dragelin and Carissa Maguire as well as the sponsors for the evening, led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the Northern Ireland Bureau, The Dupont Circle Hotel and the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America.