A fantastic atmosphere prevailed at the Bank of Ireland Innovation Lab on February 23, as the Irish Business Organization of New York gathered together in person for the first time in 2022. The meeting was held as a hybrid occasion, broadcast live as a Facebook event. (View it on Facebook.)
On the agenda were some celebratory moments. Former Irish diplomat and senior corporate executive Ted Smyth was presented with the 2022 Sean MacNeill Award, and former IBO president Niall O’Leary was given the sash of the IBO Grand Marshall in the St Patrick’s Day Parade.
Paul Finnegan, the new president for 2022 opened proceedings, acknowledging special guests in attendance, including former Irish Ambassador to the US Anne Anderson and several of the organization’s past presidents.
Next was the introduction of Ted Smyth by historian Kevin Kenny, Director of Glucksman Ireland House at NYU, who noted the many hats worn by former Irish diplomat and senior corporate executive Smyth in “his three worlds - diplomacy, business and ideas”. Smyth is President of the Advisory Board at Glucksman Ireland House, among his many other Irish community activities.
In his remarks accepting the Sean McNeill Award, Smyth noted that it was “named for someone who personified the grace, generosity, and inclusion of the Irish Business Organization and the Irish in America generally”. He cited community, empathy and caring as “three words that capture these lessons of being Irish at home and abroad”, noting that they complement the IBO’s values of “Network, Communicate, Reciprocate, helping people to make their way along the difficult road to success in business and self-sustainment.”
He closed his remarks quoting Seamus Heaney: “Hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for.”’
“And that’s what we all try to do, a good worth working for,” Smyth concluded.
New York’s Irish Deputy Consul General Seán Ó hAodha added to the accolades, presenting Smyth with a decades-old photograph depicting Smyth as he was serving at the consulate in the 1980s.
The night also included a presentation to immediate past IBO President John Lee in recognition of his work over the last two years, an update from Turlough MacConnell over the efforts to save the Great hunger Museum of Quinnipiac College, and comments on emigrant voting and diaspora engagement from Hilary Beirne, the chair of the New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade.
The event concluded with the long-awaited installation of former IBO President Niall O’Leary as IBO Parade Marshall- delayed two years by the pandemic. IBO member Dolores Walsh presented O’Leary with the sash. O’Leary invited all watching to march in the parade and attend the IBO’s afterparty on St Patrick’s Day.
See more pictures on this Dropbox page. (On that page, click on the three lines on the top right and hit "grid" to see the images arrayed for easy viewing.)