Ireland Fund Gala Dinner 2011
With my new friend Emer
Chatting with Colm McCann
Last Friday night we attended the Ireland Fund Gala Dinner at the Dromoland Castle in Limerick. The Ireland Fund is a global organization that raises money on behalf of Irish Charities. In learning more about their work I am once again struck by the force of Ireland. The Irish diaspora (and its supporters) is so strong, and the people so passionate and connected that I can't imagine any other country that would compare.
The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese was honored at the event. She has been president for 14 years, and was preceded by Mary Robinson. I have often heard them referred to as "the Marys". President McAleese is very popular and has been an amazing ambassador for Ireland. It was wonderful to see her and hear her address. We didn't get to meet her, but we did sit at the table next to her!
Also at our table was a very nice couple, Emer & Basil. Emer and I had a quick laugh on our way from the cocktail to the dinner, and coincidentally were seated right next to each other. I liked her straight away- and hey live very close to us. Basil actually climbed Mt. Everest recently to raise money for the Ireland Funds- Amazing!
Finally, there was a very pleasant surprise. Colum McCann, author of the very critically acclaimed and award-winning Let the Great World Spin, accepted the Ireland Fund's Literary Award at the dinner. I have read and loved Let the Great World Spin, as well as his short stories. In fact, I mentioned him in this blog on February 28, 2010. And here is another strange coincidence: I happened to be in the middle of another book by Colum McCann at the time of the dinner. This Side of Brightness- I totally recommend it! I did get to meet Colm and chat with him a little. He is Irish but lives in New York. What a nice, down to earth guy.