Loretta Brennan Glucksman was presented with the 2015 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award by the Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan, TD. Now in its fourth year, the Award acknowledges the contribution and achievements of leading members of the Irish diaspora. Loretta Brennan Glucksman previously received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad in 2012.
Ms. Glucksman is the Chairman Emeritus of the American Ireland Fund. For 18 years she was Chairperson of the Fund which has raised over €300 million in support of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development on the island of Ireland.
Together with her late husband, Lew Glucksman, Ms. Glucksman was instrumental in founding Glucksman Ireland House, the centre for Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University, which offers courses in history, Irish language, literature, music, and politics. She has also played a leading role in the redevelopment of the Irish Arts Center in New York.
Speaking ahead of the event Minister Deenihan said:
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to present Loretta Brennan Glucksman with the 2015 Tip O’Neill Diaspora Award.
“Tip O’Neill was an inspiration to generations of Irish emigrants. He was one of the most successful and influential Irish-American politicians, rising to the rank of Speaker of the House of Representatives, while at the same time retaining strong links with Ireland. He was also one of the most important US advocates for peace in Northern Ireland.
“Loretta Brennan Glucksman, like Tip O’Neill, has shown herself to be a friend and champion of Ireland in the US. Through her leadership of the American Ireland Fund she has made an immense contribution across so many areas on the island of Ireland and has shown herself to be a proud Irish-American, giving back so generously to the land of her ancestors. She has also made an extraordinary contribution to the development of the Ireland-US relationship, working hard to strengthen the strong ties between our two countries, forged as they are on bonds of kinship and of history. I know that she is immensely proud of her Irish roots and she is a truly deserving recipient of this illustrious award."
Minister Deenihan’s Address at Tip O Neill Award 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here with you this evening in this, the ancestral home, of the wonderful Tip O’Neill and I would like to thank Donegal County Council and the Donegal Diaspora Project for the kind invitation to speak, and to present Loretta Brennan Glucksman with the Tip O’Neill Diaspora Award, here tonight.
Tip O’Neill’s prestigious career, during which he spent ten years as Speaker of the House of Representatives, has been an inspiration to generations of Irish emigrants. He, like the Kennedys, proved that Irish people who left these shores to pursue a better life, can, with commitment and drive, be anything that they want to be. He was, for many years, living proof of the power of the “American Dream”. And yet, despite his success, and despite the fact that he played such an integral part in American politics, Tip O’Neill never forgot that, in addition to being a proud and patriotic American, he was an Irishman.
Emigration has been a feature of Irish life throughout our history. The great famine of 1845 shook our nation to its core and forced so many of our countrymen and women to take perilous voyages from Ireland to the far corners of the world.
This great tragedy in our story however, has become part of our success. Our small country with a population of 4.5m people claims a family more than ten times that size worldwide. Our spirit, our work ethic, our humour in the face of adversity, and our unwillingness to give up has helped to build new nations.
Though nothing like the scale of that seen during the Famine, every generation since has experienced periods of high emigration. The reasons for this have varied from economic necessity to the search for adventure. As an island nation perhaps we feel the need to reach beyond our shores to seek out new experiences. Our resilience and our openness to new experience have benefitted the nations where Irish people have made their homes. Irish people throughout the world have been successful and risen to places of power and influence in their adopted countries, none more so than Tip O’Neill, and indeed Loretta Brennan Glucksman, who we are here to honour this evening.
As Ireland’s first Minister for the Diaspora I am particularly honoured to have the opportunity to formally recognise the sustained contribution made by one of the finest members of our diaspora. Indeed it is particularly appropriate that Loretta is receiving this award in Buncrana this evening given her family links to Donegal. Her grandfather, David Brennan, hailed from Inishowen fishing port, Greencastle.
Loretta, like Tip O’Neill, has shown herself to be a champion of Ireland in the US. She is fully committed to reinforcing the very strong ties that are forged on the bonds of kinship and friendship that join our two great nations. Following her marriage to her late husband, both Lew and Loretta made several significant contributions to Ireland and Irish America. In 1993 they founded the ‘Ireland House’ at New York University. For over two decades this institution has fostered scholarship on Ireland and Irish culture in the heart of New York. In addition Loretta has also played a seminal role in the ensuring that the Irish Arts Center in New York will become a invaluable facility to promote Irish culture in New York. It is particularly fitting that next year, in our year of commemoration, construction on this project will begin.
Loretta’s commitment to a better life for all is a thread that runs through all that she has done. For 18 years she was Chairperson of the American Ireland Fund which has raised over €300 million for development and culture throughout the island of Ireland. She has also spearheaded many specific fundraising initiatives such as the Ireland Funds’ Hope and History campaign. She remains involved in this unique organisation as Chairman Emeritus.
In addition, Loretta has served on a number of boards in Ireland, including Trinity College Dublin, the Royal Irish Academy and the National Gallery of Ireland. She has also previously served on the board of Industrial Development Authority. Loretta is also Honorary Patron and benefactor of the Glucksman Gallery in Cork, named in honour of her late husband.
Our Diaspora played a vital role in the successful development of the peace process. It is fitting that this award tonight is presented in memory and honour of Tip O’Neill. Always conscious of his Donegal roots, Tip O’Neill was one of the most important US advocates for peace in Northern Ireland.
Loretta Brennan Glucksman herself has exemplified this commitment - not just to the peace process itself, but also to the ongoing hard work of building reconciliation on the island. This was acknowledged when in 2012 she received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for her contribution to peace and reconciliation on this island.
The legacy of Irish Americans like Tip O’Neill ensures that every St Patrick’s Day, Ireland enjoys a place in the hearts and minds of the United States. No other country receives the attention or exposure that Ireland gets every March. It is important that we appreciate that this special place that we hold in the United States and that we remember that it was the work done by Tip O’Neill, Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama and countless others, including Loretta, that have maintained and developed this tradition.
It is my great honour to be here with you tonight and to help celebrate the life and achievements of Loretta, and to celebrate her Irish heritage. She represents all that is good and strong about Irish people around the globe. I would like to take this opportunity to pay my personal congratulations and to wish her well in her future.
May you continue to work for a better world and may you always know that you have the support of our nation - your nation - behind you.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir