Some 1,000 guests gathered for The American Ireland Fund’s 35th Annual Boston Dinner Gala at the Westin Boston Waterfront on Nov. 17. Nearly $2m was raised for the AIF’s work to support nonprofit organizations across the island of Ireland and around the world. The annual gala is one of the largest of The Worldwide Ireland Funds’ 100+ international events.
The event, chaired by Chuck Clough, Jr., with vice chairs John E. Drew and Michael R. Minogue, honored the philanthropist Margot Connell. The Connell family’s philanthropic partnership with AIF goes back decades as Bill Connell, Margot’s late husband, chaired the 1988 Boston gala.
In her remarks, the night’s honoree, who is a Trustee of Boston College, talked about her family’s story, highlighting their deeply felt commitment to supporting many local nonprofit institutions and the significant Irish influence on the Connell family’s journey. She added:
“Our Irish family thrives because my husband’s values mirror the mission of The American Ireland Fund: helping people, having faith, loving each other, promoting family values and peace. I am proud to be a part of this generous tradition; and thank you, American Ireland Fund, for keeping those Irish eyes smiling.”
Dinner chair Clough thanked the assembled guests for their generous support of vital funds that will assist charitable initiatives both across the island of Ireland and locally within the Greater Boston community.
Said AIF New England director Steve Greeley: “Once again, Boston’s friends of Ireland, many from the Greater Boston business community, gathered to enjoy a night of celebration and culture while saluting a remarkable honoree, Margot Connell, and raising nearly $2m to support vital nonprofits across the island of Ireland and here in the US. It was quite a celebration of Ireland and quite an impactful one as well.
Among others who saluted the honoree were Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Past Honoree Jack Connors presented Margot Connell with a commemorative Waterford Crystal bowl and thanked her for her commitment to numerous educational and healthcare institutions serving the Boston community and for her support of The American Ireland Fund.
Irish flutists Jimmy Noonan and his young son Seamus brought a little bit of Ireland to Boston with their rendition of classic Irish reels and soloist Celia Walsh, a junior at Walpole High School, closed the evening with a memorable singing of “Oh Danny Boy”, a Connell family favorite.