On Tuesday, March 15, Manhattan’s Metropolitan Club opened its doors to the best and brightest as Irish America held its annual Business 100 awards and businessman and philanthropist, Denis O’Brien, was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame. Honorees packed into the venue, with chatter reaching the high ceilings as reunions were abound.
Founding Publisher Niall O’Dowd stated, “after a two-year hiatus there was clear concern that our events would retain their popularity. In reality, we need not have worried. An astounding 56 of our Top 100 business leaders showed up and the sense of camaraderie and delight at seeing old friends again was clearly evident.”
Amb. Byrne Nason opened the program by congratulating the honorees. “I want to thank you on behalf of the Irish government for the contribution you make, not just to the extraordinary little island that I have the deep privilege to represent, but also for the contribution you’re making here in North America, across the globe.”
The ambassador also spoke to Hall of Fame inductee, Denis O’Brien’s contribution as chairman of Frontline Defenders an Irish organization that protects human rights defenders around the globe. “This, for me, Denis, stands out as the true testament to you, not just your philanthropic spirit, but I think the sincerity of your own commitment to human rights… in the darkest corners of the globe. I’m talking now about places like Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. And now Ukraine,” she said.
Byrne Nason ended her words by invoking the Irish proverb “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” which means “we live in each other’s shelter” while speaking about the Irish American response to the Ukraine crisis.
In her remarks Irish America’s co-founder and editor, Patricia Harty mentioned the contributions of various honorees, remarking on the inspired leadership of Michael Dowling President and CEO of Northwell Health during the worst days of the pandemic, and noting the presence of Harry Moseley, CIO of Zoom, said that we were all grateful for the technology that made it possible to socialize and work from home during the darkest days. She also gave a shout-out to Don Colleran CEO of Fed-Ex, saying that watching the TV footage of the Fed-Ex planes delivering the vaccines was a “the cavalry have arrived” moment for her.
In a week where St. Patrick’s Day felt like cause for celebration more than ever before and in keeping with the renowned Irish hospitality, the day wasn’t without music as singer Judy Collins reminded the crowd of the traditional Irish songs we hold dear with an acapella version of “Danny Boy” and Ciarán Sheehan showcased his tenor voice with his performance of “You Raise Me Up.” The afternoon ended with a standing ovation for Nyham Highland’s beautiful performance of “Song for Ireland.”
Founded in 2010 in celebration of Irish America magazine’s 25th anniversary, the Irish America Hall of Fame honors the extraordinary achievements of Irish-American leaders, from their significant accomplishments and contributions to American society to the personal commitment to safeguarding their Irish heritage and the betterment of Ireland.
The Irish America Hall of Fame is housed at the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience in New Ross, County Wexford. For more information on the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience, please visit our archives to see a special feature printed in Irish America magazine. ♦