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
began with a
cocktail reception in the Mediterranean Ballroom, followed
by the dinner
dance which was held in The Circle Ballroom.
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.
mission of The American Ireland Fund is to be the largest
worldwide network of people of Irish ancestry and friends
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.”