Strong Donegal – US connections reinforced at Tip O’Neill Irish Daspora Award ceremony.
The strong connections between Donegal and the United States of America were reinforced on Friday night as the recipient of the 2015 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award was honoured at a gala function at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana.
This year’s winner, noted US philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman said she was honoured, humbled and grateful for the recognition afforded by the county of her forefathers.
The large attendance heard Master of Ceremonies for the occasion, RTÉ newsreader, Aengus Mac Grianna, deliver a comprehensive overview of Ms Glucksman life and contribution, not only the American Ireland Fund but also her many philanthropic endeavours stretching over two decades focusing on education, the arts, healthcare and peace initiatives
“But it’s not just about monies donated and raised, it’s about her time and effort and sheer determination to promote so many projects on behalf of the Irish people. They say if you want to get something done get a busy person to do it and in that regard Loretta certainly fits that bill,” he said.
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Ciaran Brogan spoke of his and the Council’s delight at being part of this prestigious event and their commitment and dedication to continuing their strong links with the Irish diaspora.
He spoke of the huge contribution made by the late Tip O’Neill to Irish affairs and thanked his family for maintaining their strong links with Donegal and never forgetting where they came from.
Chairperson of the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Committee, Cllr. Nicholas Crossan said there was always a ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ for all visitors to Inishowen and Donegal, particularly members of the Irish diaspora.
Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs, Joe McHugh TD said it was important to appreciate what was happening behind the scenes and the leadership being shown at cross-border and at Donegal County Council levels by being ambitious in relation to building the network between America and Donegal.
“I believe it’s Donegal’s time. We all known about the difficulties in the past but we see with the Wild Atlantic Way the benefits of tourism and our wonderful connections with people across the border and we need to build on those. The people from America and the American government have helped us on our way. “
Tip O’Neill’s son, Tommy, addressed the gathering on behalf of their family. He recited a poem his father used to use to remind him of who he was, where he came from and what his roots, values and life was all about.
He said the O’Neill family were delighted that Ms Glucksman had won this year’s award.
“My family and I are thoroughly honoured to be here today because Loretta Brennan Glucksman raises this diaspora award in my dad’s name to an even loftier height. Thank you very much for everything you’ve done, your decision, your leadership, your dedication and your passion, we love you,” he said.
Presenting the award Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for the Irish abroad, Jimmy Deenihan TD praised Donegal County Council’s foresight and imagination by being way ahead of the rest of the country when it came to incorporating the diaspora through various initiatives and enterprises.
Minister Deenihan added: “There is no other woman that I can think of from America that has made such a huge contribution and no doubt that’s because of her strong connection with Donegal and also her love of Ireland,” he said.
Ms Glucksman was also presented with a specially designed bouquet of flowers by Donegal County Council’s Chief Executive, Seamus Neely.
Returning thanks to everyone Ms Glucksman said it was very special not only to be back where her roots were but to be brought there by the O’Neill Clan.
She paid tribute to everyone involved in the event saying she was honoured, humbled and grateful for the award.
The gala evening ended with MC Mac Grianna reciting a poem ‘Lauds for Loretta’ which was specially written for Ms Glucksman by the poet and playwright and the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, the late Seamus Heaney.
The guests were also treated to a very impressive recital of traditional and contemporary songs by the renowned Inishowen Gateway Choir.