| Gala Celebrates Ireland with Special Tribute to William J. Flynn |
Over 300 friends of the University of St. Thomas William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies attended the annual Irish Gala on Nov. 4 at The Houstonian Hotel for a Gala “Celebrating Ireland through its People.” The Gala paid special tribute to William J. Flynn, the Center’s namesake, for his tireless commitment to the peace process in Ireland.
Diplomats and dignitaries from Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States were present to celebrate. Of particular note, deputy First Minister, Mr. Martin McGuinness, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Ms. Anne Anderson, Consul General of Ireland in Austin, Mr. Adrian Farrell, and Counsellor/Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau, Mr. Norman Houston, were in attendance. Additionally, Mrs. Karen Bell, British Consul General in Houston.
Bill Flynn has dedicated his life to bringing people from all parties and walks of life to the table to listen, to create an environment for open dialogue and to achieve a positive change in the lives of everyone in the island of Ireland. In 2010, the University named the Center after Bill Flynn in in recognition of his significant contributions to peace and reconciliation.
Festivities for the Gala began with an underwriter dinner on Thursday, November 3, in the home of Kari and Sean P. Tracey where guests mingled and visited with one another in advance of the Gala while enjoying traditional Irish music and food catered by A Fare Extraordinaire. On Saturday afternoon, key sponsors of the Gala as well as current and former students were invited to a private lecture and luncheon with deputy First Minister hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau at the Houstonian. In this intimate setting, students and guests were afforded the opportunity to ask questions of Mr. McGuinness regarding politics and policy in Ireland.
The annual Irish Gala provides scholarships for University of St. Thomas students to study abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland and at UST. In addition, the Gala raises funds for the Center endowment, distributions from which are used to operate the Center. This year nearly $270,000 was raised through table and ticket sponsors and the auction.
In addition to the dignitaries and diplomats listed previously, special guests for the 2016 Gala included H.E. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Bishop Brendan Cahill, Bishop George Sheltz, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza; Hon. John B. Kane, Honorary Consul General of Ireland; Rev. Bill Shaw, Director of the 174 Trust in Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Dr. Robert Ivany, UST President, and Marianne Ivany, UST First Lady.
Supporters and guests in attendance at the Gala included Dr. Bert Edmundson, Cathy and George Goolsby, Jes and John Hagale, Pat Moran, Charlene and John O’Shea, Sue and Jim Power, Kari and Sean Tracey, and other members of the Center Advisory Board.
The 2017 Irish Gala will be held on November 10 at The Houstonian Hotel and will be chaired by Maureen Evans, Margo Geddie and Lisa Miranda.
UST’s Center for Irish Studies is rated among the top 10 Irish Studies programs in the country.
Under the direction of Lori Gallagher J.D., prior to this event the Center has awarded study abroad scholarships to over 95 students and secured study abroad funding in excess of $400,000. The Center also sponsors monthly cultural events open to the public related to all aspects of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Irish America.
For more information: www.stthom.edu/irishgala