The new year looms busy in Irish affairs

Ed Forry

Consul General of Ireland, Fionnuala Quilnlan

The New Year will bring some exciting new developments at Boston’s Irish Consulate. In an end-of-year interview just before Christmas, third year Consul General Fionnuala Quinlan said she plans a March program on Ireland’s literary legacy, and an observation of the 20th anniversary of the historic Good Friday Agreement in April.
“I am planning a major event at the Edward M Kennedy Institute on the fifth of April to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. George Mitchell has agreed to speak at that gathering. I’ll certainly be looking for a good turnout for that event,” she said.

“We’re also hoping,” she said, “to have our Literary Festival again this year. That will be in early March. Last year we had it at the Harvard Club and I haven’t confirmed a venue just yet.”
There’s more. “St Patrick’s Day, or St Patrick’s Month, as I like to call it in Boston, will be a very big time of year,” she said. “We will almost certainly have a Minister visiting, and there will be a good program of events, as there always is. And we are so lucky. With all the partnerships we have here in Boston, with all the community organizations, the cultural organizations, political contacts, and business contacts, we have a wide variety of activities that happen around St Patrick’s Day in March, and, indeed, throughout the year.
“Last year we had visits from now-former Taoiseach and former Tanaiste, Enda Kenny and Frances Fitzgerald, and five other ministers, including Paschal Donahue, who is now the Minister for Finance. From a business and community perspective, and culturally, there’s an awful lot happening in 2018 as well. So it’s going to be a good year for the consulate.”
The new year will also bring an important event for Quinlan and her husband, Ravi: “We’re expecting our first baby toward the end of March,” she revealed. “I am really looking forward to that!”
Since her arrival in the city in September 2015, the couple have made their overseas home in South Boston. She said Ravi “is from India originally but has spent more than half his life at this point between the US and Europe. But he’s still very connected, his mum is still in India. He has lived the last 20 years between the US, France, and Ireland.”
Quinlan says the baby will be born in Boston, and they will stay in the city after the baby arrives. “I get Irish maternity leave, that’s six months,” she said. “I’ll be in Boston for the majority of the time. I will, of course, bring the baby home to Ireland at some point, so that family and friends get a chance to meet him.”
She expects that her mother-in-law will travel from India for the baby’s birth, and her parents plan a Boston visit in the spring. “They will be here the end of May, and Ravi’s mum will be here around the time of the births, so we are lucky we will have plenty of support.”
Hers will be the second new baby at the consulate, as Vice Consul Aoife Budd had her own baby last summer and will be back from maternity leave soon. “We have a wonderful acting vice consul at the moment, Susan Geraghty Krusell, and she will stay with us during the transition period,” Quinlan said. “Dublin is still working out how they will cover my maternity leave, but I am confident they will come to a good arrangement to make sure that Boston is well covered.
“We had quite a change in 2017 but I am happy to say we have a wonderful team, a wonderful staff, doing an absolutely sterling job. So while we miss Carol D’Arcy (office manager) and Colleen DiNicola (visa officer) and the others, we’re getting on with it.”
New staffers include Jack Davidson on visas and Drogheda native Anne Byrne, a former volunteer at the Irish Pastoral Centre in Dorchester.
The Irish Consulate office is in Copley Square at 535 Boylston St. Telephone 617-267-9330. Public office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. The facility is closed to the public on Wednesdays, except for emergencies.