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Society News

Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of The American Ireland Fund with Dinner Chairman Hillie Mahoney

Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of The American Ireland Fund with Dinner Chairman Hillie Mahoney.  Photos by:  Lucien Capehart



(PALM BEACH, FL) The American Ireland Fund’s Annual Emerald Isle Dinner Dance took place on February 12, 2009 at The Breakers and marked the organization’s 19th season in Palm Beach.  Hillie Mahoney served as Dinner chairman.  The week began with a kickoff cocktail reception at Mahoney’s Palm Beach house, and concluded with a WineGeese dinner for top donors at the home of AIF board member, Tom Quick. 


The gala evening, which drew more than 200 guests and raised $400,000, began with a cocktail reception in the Mediterranean Ballroom, followed by the dinner dance which was held in The Circle Ballroom. Kieran McLoughlin, president and CEO of The American Ireland Fund, welcomed everyone, acknowledged the special guests who had traveled from Ireland, and thanked Mahoney.  He then introduced Mahoney and asked her to come to the podium. After welcoming and thanking the guests for their support, Mahoney presented the evening’s honorees, philanthropists, Michele and Howard Kessler of Palm Beach and Boston, with The American Ireland Fund’s Humanitarian Award.  Award-winning Irish actor, Gabriel Byrne received the Performing Arts Award.  The program included a special musical performance by violinist, John Kelly of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, who has become known as one of Ireland’s leading cultural ambassadors in Ireland and abroad.


The evening bore the chairman’s distinctive stamp with the selection for the entertainment -- the music of Mahoney’s son, Bob Merrill and the Sultans of Swing Orchestra.  A student and aficionado of dance, Mahoney arranged a special ballroom dance performance by her teacher, Angelo Caruso and his wife, Sandra of Caruso DanceSport Palm Beach, which inspired the guests to follow in their footsteps.  Mahoney also provided her own home-made mustard sauce for the corned beef entrée.


Proceeds from the Emerald Isle Dinner Dance will support Northern Ireland’s youth with programs developed to eradicate the prejudices of the past, such as Integrated Education, Sesame Street Northern Ireland and PeacePlayers International.  In addition, a portion of the dinner’s proceeds were donated to a local charity selected by Mahoney, Hospice of Palm Beach County, which has received a portion of the proceeds from each of the dinners in 2001, 2002 and 2005.   


The mission of The American Ireland Fund is to be the largest worldwide network of people of Irish ancestry and friends of Ireland dedicated to raising funds to support programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland.  Founded in 1976, The Worldwide Ireland Funds are now active in 11 countries and have raised over $300 million to assist more than 1,000 projects in Ireland, North and South.  Uniting the aspirations of the Irish Diaspora, a community of over 70 million people, the organization represents “the global Irish making a difference together.”   


Bart and Lesley Grenier with Kingsley Aikins

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