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Irish Gala Raises $330K for Center

Photo: Jim Power, Susan Power, Tom Horan, Jeani Horan, Steve Toomey and Mills ToomeyThe University of St. Thomas William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies, rated among the top 10 Irish Studies programs in the country, celebrated the contributions of well-known members of the Houston Irish and Irish American communities at its annual Irish Gala held Nov. 9 at The Houstonian Hotel. The honorees were recognized for their contributions to the Center’s mission of preserving Irish heritage and culture.

The Gala, chaired by Susan and Jim Power and Mills and Steve Toomey, honored Mary Elizabeth Donovan, Jeani and Tom Horan, and Sister Mary Brendan O’Donnell, CVI, of the Congregation of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament.

About 430 people attended the event, which raised scholarships for University of St. Thomas students to study abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland and funds the Center’s interdisciplinary academic program. The Gala raised nearly $330,000 in total gross proceeds for the academic program, including more than $62,000 specifically for scholarships.

Following the Gala theme “The Music of Ireland,” guests were treated to the music of GoldRing, featuring harpist Therese Honey, from the group Wyndnwyre, and her husband flutist Larry Mallette from the band The Jig is Up! The four-person ensemble of Wyndnwyre performed the ballroom program entertainment, and The Jig is Up! band provided the grand finale sing-along of Irish and Irish American tunes over Irish coffee.

The Gala also featured “big board” trips to Boston, Northern California, Tucson, Ft. Lauderdale and Fredericksburg, Texas. The “Luck of the Irish Wheel” was back by popular demand with 92 surprise bags valued at $100 or more each, and a Silent Auction that highlighted Irish and other gift items.

Photo: Honorable Aidan Cronin, Mary Elizabeth Donovan, center, Lori Gallagher, Honorable John B. KaneSpecial guests included Irish Consul-General, the Honorable Aidan Cronin, from Cork, Ireland, and Chicago. The Honorable John B. Kane, Honorary Consul General of Ireland, presented Consul-General Cronin. British Consul-General Andrew Millar attended as a guest of Honorary Consul General Kane.

The University established the Center for Irish Studies in 2003, and named the Center for Irish Studies after William J. Flynn in 2010. Bill Flynn has been instrumental in the success of the Center and its mission to promote peace and reconciliation around the world.

Since 2007, under the direction of Lori Gallagher J.D., the Center has awarded study abroad scholarships to 56 students and secured study abroad funding in excess of $288,000. The Center also sponsors monthly cultural events open to the public related to all aspects of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Irish America.

A previous version of this story said nearly $400,000 was raised at the gala. The correct amount is nearly $330,000, which includes about $62,000 in scholarships.

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