US philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman received the 2015 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award at a gala function at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana, Donegal at the weekend.
She received the award in the presence of the family of the late Speaker of the US House of Representatives Tip O’Neill, who died in 2004.
She said she was honoured, humbled and grateful for the recognition afforded by the county of her forefathers and emphasised the strong connections between the county and the US.
She has been associated with not just the American Ireland Fund but many other philanthropic endeavours in the past two decades focusing on education, the arts, healthcare and peace initiatives
MC for the night, RTE newsreader Aengus Mac Grianna said: “But it’s not just about monies donated and raised, it’s about her time and effort and sheer determination to promote so many projects on behalf of the Irish people. They say if you want to get something done get a busy person to do it and in that regard Loretta certainly fits that bill.”
Chairperson of the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Committee, Cllr. Nicholas Crossan said there was always a ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ for all visitors to Inishowen and Donegal, particularly members of the Irish diaspora.
“The award serves two purposes; it acknowledges the life of Tip O’Neill while at the same time it recognises and celebrates the work and achievements of the broad Irish diaspora,” said Councillor Crossan.
Tip O’Neill’s son, Tommy, addressed the gathering on behalf of the O’Neill family and recited a poem his father used to use to remind him of who he was, where he came from and what his roots, values and life was all about.
“My family and I are thoroughly honoured to be here today because Loretta Brennan Glucksman raises this diaspora award in my dad’s name to an even loftier height. Thank you very much for everything you’ve done, your decision, your leadership, your dedication and your passion, we love you,” he said.
Ms Glucksman was also presented with a specially designed bouquet of flowers by Donegal County Council’s Chief Executive, Seamus Neely.
Returning thanks to everyone Ms Glucksman said it was very special not only to be back where her roots were but to be brought there by the O’Neill Clan.
She paid tribute to everyone involved in the event saying she was honoured, humbled and grateful for the award.
The evening ended with Mr Mac Grianna reciting a poem ‘Lauds for Loretta’ which was specially written for Ms Glucksman by the poet and playwright and the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, the late Seamus Heaney.
The guests were also treated to recital of traditional and contemporary songs by the renowned Inishowen Gateway Choir.