Irish Government’s New Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad,

10 ‘Shining Lights’ from Irish Abroad Officially Honoured.

Sometimes, it seems that the great work undertaken, for all things Irish, by the Irish abroad , is not given the recognition it merits and the acknowledgement it deserves.

Today this was ably rectified by the the irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade. Minister Eamon Gilmore, T.D., announced details of the first recipients of the new Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad. This initiative which emerged from the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum,at Dublin Castle, is a timely recognition of ten individuals who have proved to be wonderful ambassadors for Ireland in other countries, globally.

While I’m sure all ten chosen for these prestigious awards are fully worthy of the honours bestowed, three of them strike me ,personally, as being of particular merit.

  • Chuck Feeney This ‘reluctant billionaire’, who  founded  Atlantic Philanthropies, has made an enormous financial contribution to all Irish universities, particularly, the University of Limerick. He also played an instrumental in the most historic event in living history of our island, the Irish peace process.
  • Loretta Brennan Gluckman In addition to being Chairwoman of the philanthropic American Ireland Fund,which does such excellent work for Ireland, Loretta has made significant contributions to Irish universities, UUC,UL and Trinity College.  I was pleased to have had the pleasure of meeting this gracious and charming lady in New York, recently.
  • Andy Rogers Last, but certainly not least of these three heroic Irish figures, Andy is another ‘larger than life’ personality. It is difficult to think of any Irishman who has unselfishly  contributed more to the Irish community of the UK, than this gentle giant. A proud Sligo man, Andy is a co-founder of the world’s premier business group for Irish entrepreneurs, the Irish International Business Network - IIBN .  Andy has  contributed to too many great Irish causes to mention, but a small selection are the following; Ireland Funds GB, Fundraiser for London Irish Rugby Club and theIrish National Youth Orchestra.  In November 2011, Andy received a Royal Knighthood, KMCO ( a Knight of Merit of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George)

Full Details:

Tánaiste announces recipients of first Presidential Awards for Irish Abroad

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Eamon Gilmore, T.D., has announced details of the first recipients of the new Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad, following today’s Government meeting.

“I’m delighted to recognise the distinguished and sustained work made by these ten individuals to Ireland, Irish communities abroad or Ireland’s international reputation by people living abroad. We are honouring individuals who, in their own separate ways, have made a remarkable contribution to this country,” the Tánaiste said.

“I made a commitment at the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum to establish an Award system which would provide formal recognition by the Irish State to individuals resident abroad. The Award will now be presented on an annual basis”.

Mr Gilmore welcomed the decision to recognise the following individuals in 2012:

Arts, Culture and Sport:

Mr Pat Kelly (Canada);

Mr Pierre Joannan (France);

Mr Jim Stynes (deceased, Australia)

Business and Education:

Mr Donald Keough (United States);

Mr Andy Rogers (Britain)

Charitable Works:

Mr Chuck Feeney (United States)

Irish Community Support:

Ms Sally Mulready (Great Britain);

Sr Lena Deevy (United States)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development:

Fr Michael Kelly (Zambia);

Loretta Brennan Glucksman (United States)

Press Office

5 August 2012

Note for Editors


The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad is neither to be an honours system nor does it confer any legal entitlements upon the recipients.

In order to be eligible for consideration, nominees must be habitually resident outside the island of Ireland and are required to satisfy the following additional requirements:

(i)     have rendered distinguished service to the nation and/or its reputation abroad;

(ii)   have actively and demonstrably contributed to Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad in at least one of the categories listed above;

(iii)  have a track record of sustained support and engagement with Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad over a period of not less than 5 years.

The scheme is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and a High Level Panel was established to make recommendations to Government.  This Panel includes: Mr David Cooney, Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Chair), Mr Martin Fraser, Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach; Mr Adrian O’Neill, Secretary General to the President; and four representatives from the non-Government sector-  Ms Sally O’Neill Sanchez, Prof Declan Kiberd, Mr Kingsley Aikins and Fr Bobby Gilmore.

Nominations were made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland’s network of Diplomatic Missions.

The Awards will be presented to the individuals listed at a ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin on 15 November 2012.

Following a competitive process, the Distinguished Service Award was designed by Spear Product Design- an award-winning multidisciplinary design studio based in Dublin. The project team developed the concept of an open door which leads to the landscape of Ireland encapsulating the welcoming nature of both the Irish people and Ireland as a nation. The award will be made from Irish hardwoods and other locally sourced materials using a combination of modern and traditional technologies at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Letterfrack.



Arts, Culture and Sport:

Pat Kelly (Canada)

Pat Kelly, has been in Ottawa since the 1970s and has been behind many initiatives to support Irish activities in the Canadian capital city including;

The establishment of the Ottawa Gaels GAA Club in 1984;

Director of the Ottawa Irish Rugby Club,

Founder of the Ottawa Irish Seniors group

Director the Ottawa/ Irish Chamber of Commerce

Financial supporter of the Irish Tara Players

Director of the Irish Society of the National Capital

Financial backer to the St Brigid’s Irish Centre

Pat Kelly and his business partner, Larry Bradley, are among the most successful business persons in Ottawa. Their chain of pubs employ 450 and their construction company is also one of the largest in the east Ontario region. Both businesses have given many young Irish people employment a “start” when they arrived from Ireland. The companies have sponsored many of the newly arrived migrants for permanent residency.  Virtually every Irish initiative, including the St Patrick’s day parade, in Ottawa has been supported financially by Pat Kelly.

Pierre Joannan (France)

Pierre’s foremost contribution has been in the cultural sphere, particularly literature.  He is a prolific author on Irish history, politics and literature and the quality and scholarship of his writing has won Ireland a valuable audience in the Francophone world.  Apart from his writing, he has been very active in fostering greater Franco-Irish cultural and educational interactions through his involvement in academic conferences as well as initiatives of more general appeal.  He has been a great champion of Irish art and artists in France, most notably through his work with the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, the largest and most venerable Irish cultural centre in the world.

Pierre has also contributed to greater political ties between Ireland and France.  He has engaged actively in raising awareness of the peace process and of raising the profile of Ireland’s peace-builders, such as John Hume.  More recently, with a new Irish Government elected in 2011, Pierre, in close collaboration with the Embassy, brought about an in-depth interview between the new Taoiseach and a leading French think tank that was subsequently published as a pamphlet and circulated widely.  Over the years he has welcomed many senior political figures from Ireland to France and extended the Franco-Irish political network.

Finally, Pierre has been an Honorary Consul General for many years and in this regard he has been a willing and generous friend of the Embassy and of Ireland

Jim Stynes (deceased, Australia)

Jim Stynes was a sportsman, philanthropist and writer.  In his lifetime he reached the peak of his adopted sport, Australian Rules Football, during a career characterised by fair play, resilience and dedication.  His work for young people through the charity he co-founded – the Reach Foundation –has been widely recognised and acknowledged.  The impact of his life and work permeates all levels of sporting and public life.

The outpouring of grief, tributes and the decision to accord him a state funeral reflects the esteem in which he was held.  It is widely recognised that through his skill and determination he provided the inspiration and the conditions for many of his compatriots to follow in his footsteps, just as he inspired and supported young people through the Reach Foundation.

Jim Stynes is the only non Australian born player to receive the Brownlow medal awarded to the Fairest and Best player in the AFL each season.  He was also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his work with youth and his contribution of Australian football.

As an Irishman, Jim Stynes has represented his country to the highest possible standards and has been a towering example to young people in both countries and beyond.

Business and Education:

Donald Keough (United States)

In his previous capacity as CEO and President of Coca Cola, Donald played an instrumental role in facilitating investment by the company in Ireland. A graduate of Creighton College and a Navy Veteran, Don is a patriotic Irish-American with a love for Ireland. He is the holder of an Irish passport.

He is one of the most respected US businessmen and has been called the “Corporate Chieftain”. In addition to Coca-Cola’s expanse in Ireland, Don was responsible for arranging a visit of delegates including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, in an effort to encourage further foreign direct investment.

A previous Chairman of The University of Notre Dame, he made a $2.5 million endowment to allow the opening of “The Keough Institute of Irish Studies” and “The Keough Notre Dame Centre” in Dublin. He has received honorary doctorates from Trinity College Dublin, Notre Dame and Emory University.

In 2007, he published “The Long Journey Home” and more recently submitted “Ten Commandments for Business Failure”, a New York Times Best Seller.

He has served on the boards of many global corporations, past and present, including Columbia Pictures, McDonalds and H.J Heinz Company. At the request of the Taoiseach, he also sat on the Irish Economic Advisory Board.

As the first honorary member of the Irish America Hall of Fame and as a valued associate of the Global Irish Network, he continues to promote investment in Ireland. His involvement in Irish and US business has had huge economic benefits for Ireland.

Andy Rogers (Great Britain)

Andy Rogers is a founder Board member of the impressive Irish International Business Network, linking members in Dublin, London and New York, and soon in Northern Ireland.   Mr Rogers was the instigator of  Re:Connect – the Western Region Development Network, the business diaspora network for the West of Ireland in Britain. This evolved out of his running of the effective Sligo Business Network which he started in 2000. Andy also mentors other Irish business and professional and business networks in London, including the Women’s Irish Network, the London Irish Business Society and the London Irish Graduate Network. He also mentors and gives financial advice to small Irish companies and individual business people. All of the above is done in a voluntary capacity. Andy is also a non-executive director of a number of businesses in both Britain and Ireland.

Mr Rogers uses his extensive business connections to support other Irish –related activities in Britain, including in the following capacities: Patron of SafeStart – (tackling housing and unemployment issues); Fundraiser for ICAP – the Irish Counselling and Psychiatry service; Adviser to GOAL UK; Fundraiser for the annual St Patrick’s Ball; Director of newly-created Irish Festivals Ltd (to promote Irish cultural activities); Fundraiser for Age UK, which provides services to older Irish people; Council Member of the Ireland Funds GB; Fundraiser for London Irish Rugby Club; Board member of the Irish National Youth Orchestra; and, Committee Member of Trinity College Dining Club.

Mr Rogers is Chairman of the Irish Community Group for the London Olympic Games, which promotes the Games among the Irish community and encourages Irish community participation in Games-related activities. This followed from his appointment by the Mayor of London as a member of the London 2012 Forum to encourage wide community support for the 2012 Games bid.

Charitable Works:

Chuck Feeney (United States)

Charles “Chuck” Feeney, an Irish-American whose ancestry traces back to County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, is a businessman and philanthropist who was born and raised in a working class family in New Jersey. He served as a U.S. Air Force radio operator during the Korean War, after which he obtained a GI Scholarship to attend the Cornell University of Hotel Administration. He made his billionaire fortune through the pioneering business, “The Duty Free Shoppers Group”, a first tax-free airport shop of its kind.

In 1982, Mr. Feeney founded The Atlantic Philanthropies and transferred the bulk of his wealth to the foundation in 1984. This is one of the largest such private foundations in global terms and by the end of 2009 it had given over $5 billion to organizations and charities around the world. The Atlantic Philanthropies has supported many social and health projects in many countries, among which Ireland has been especially prominent. It has also given generously to a number of Irish universities, including Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick.

Mr. Feeney has made a hugely significant contribution to Ireland and Irish Society through his support for the peace process, especially during its early stages as a facilitator of contacts and exchanges. He has also been nominated to Irish America Magazine’s Hall of Fame.

The universities of Ireland, North and South, will jointly confer an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) on Mr Feeney on 6 September next. This is the first time such an honour will have been conferred jointly by all the Universities on the island of Ireland.  The universities are coming together to honour Chuck Feeney’s remarkable contribution to Irish society, and in particular to the universities.

Irish Community Support:

Sally Mulready (Great Britain)

Sally Mulready is a member of the Irish Council of State. She is one of seven appointees appointed to the Council of State in January 2012 by President Michael D Higgins. Ms Mulready is the only member of the Council of State who does not live in Ireland. She was appointed by the President due to her many decades of work for the Irish community in Britain.  The theme that runs through all her work is helping and empowering the disadvantaged.

Sally Mulready is head of the Irish Elderly Advice Network, which has helped 4,000 vulnerable Irish in Britain. She has also campaigned on behalf of abuse victims, the Birmingham Six and, more recently, those who were held in the Magdalen laundries.  She is a British Labour Party councillor.

Sr Lena Deevy (United States)

Sister Lena Deevy has been a member of the Catholic Little Sisters of the Assumption order for over thirty years and is a native of Crettyard, Co Laois. She is the Executive Director of the Boston Irish Immigration Center, a non-profit self-help agency that serves the interests of immigrants from Ireland and elsewhere.

Sr. Lena’s unique ability to organize public works programs became her trademark early on. She specialized in creating job centers, drug abuse programs, playgroups for children and home care service centers. Although she has formal degrees in nursing and education, she proclaims that she is self-taught and that many of her projects were created because she saw a need that she felt had to be met.

Her main focus in relation to Ireland has been to help young Irish people to develop and learn how to be an active part of society despite their difficulties in gaining employment during the recession of the 1980s. Her more than twenty years of experience in community organizing of deprived neighborhoods in Ireland as well as fighting for basic human rights for victims of discrimination led her to pursue a Master’s degree from the Harvard School of Education. Upon completion of her degree, she was offered the opportunity to take part in a research project into undocumented Irish immigrants. There, she learned firsthand of the difficulties facing all immigrants.

Sr. Lena went on to become the first Executive Director of the Irish Immigration Center (IIC). The IIC is unique in that its core mission is to provide services for its own constituency while reaching out to all immigrants in an inclusive, non-discriminatory manner. It is believed the organization has helped people from over 112 different nations, many of which were Irish.

Among her several awards, Sr. Lena was presented with the Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice from the Paulist Center in 1996, an Honorary Doctorate from Stonehill College in 2008 and the Governor’s New American Appreciation Award in 1999.

Peace, Reconciliation and Development

Fr Michael Kelly (Zambia)

Michael Kelly was born in Tullamore, Ireland in 1929. He was one of seven children. He and two of his siblings became Jesuit priests. He studied at University College Dublin and was awarded a B.A in Maths and Mathematical Physics in 1952, both with first class honours. He went on to receive a licentiate in philosophy in 1955. He moved to Zambia and has lived and worked there for 50 years, becoming a Zambian citizen. He worked for many years as headmaster of Canislius College in Chiseki in Zambia. He completed his PhD studies in the area of child and educational psychology in 1974 and subsequently became a senior lecturer and Dean of the School of Education in the University of Zambia (UNZA), in 1975. He served as pro-vice chancellor and deputy vice chancellor and became professor in 1989.

In the past ten years Professor Kelly has spent considerable time researching the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS in Africa and in particular its impact on education. He has been at the forefront of research on the interconnection between education and HIV and AIDS. He has worked closely with Irish Aid in the development of its policy on HIV and AIDS in the education sector in Zambia and in other countries in Africa. He also has worked extensively with a number of international organisations such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank.

In 2003 he received an award from the Commonwealth of Learning for his contribution to the fight against HIVAIDS in Africa.

In November 2004 Professor Kelly received an Honorary Degree from the University of the West Indies. This honour was in recognition of Professor Kelly’s leadership role in the field of education and HIV and AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.

In recognition of his work on HIV and AIDS Professor Kelly was awarded an Honorary Degree from University College Dublin in 2006.

In addition, in 2006, he was honoured by the Minister of State for Overseas Development Cooperation and Human Rights for his work on HIV and AIDS. This award consisted of an annual lecture series in his name, the first of which took place on December 1st, 2006 and also a fellowship scheme in his name for Zambian students to undertake further education and research on HIV and AIDS.

He is the author of many books and publications, including “HIV AND AIDS – A Social Justice Perspective” (Paulines Publications Africa 2010).

Loretta Brennan Glucksman (United States)

Loretta Brennan Glucksman is an Irish descendant through her grandparents and was brought up with this cultural background in mind in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Loretta was an early achiever earning a scholarship to Chestnut Hill College, before going on to teach at The College of New Jersey. After this, she began hosting a television public affairs and politics program, ‘The Thursday Night Report’, continuing this for almost twelve years, while also establishing her own PR firm.

In 1984, she met her husband, Lewis L. Glucksman, a former Lehman Brothers CEO and Chairman. In 1987 he brought Loretta to Ireland for her first trip where she developed a love of the country and people, establishing herself as a true philanthropic. Between 1987 and 2006, Lew and Loretta Glucksman made several significant contributions to Ireland and Irish America. In 1993 they founded the ‘Ireland House’ and New York University and subsequently played a vital role in the pursuit of peace on the Island of Ireland. Loretta believes strongly in integrated education and has stated, “It’s so crucial to break down barriers by educating children together”.

Today, Mrs. Brennan Glucksman is Chairwoman of the American Ireland Fund which has raised over $300 million for Irish culture and development, as well as being a member of the Irish Economic Advisory Board. She has also spearheaded many specific fundraising initiatives such as the Ireland Funds’ Hope and History campaign.

In addition, Mrs. Brennan Glucksman contributes to many boards in Ireland, currently including Trinity College Dublin, the Royal Irish Academy and the National Gallery of Ireland. She previously served on the board of Industrial Development Agency. Mrs. Brennan Glucksman is also Honorary Patron and benefactor of the Glucksman Gallery in Cork, named in honour of her late husband. She also has a house in Cork.

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