Bono, The Chieftains, President Obama and the Taoiseach

by Chris Murray on March 22, 2012

What a confluence of wonderful events around the time of St. Patrick’s celebrations over the past several days. As Irish Ambassador Michael Collins told the Washington Post “St. Patrick’s day is no longer a day – it’s a week, it’s a festival.”

To begin with, Govinda Gallery is delighted to announce that Carlotta Hester has been invited to show her exhibition of drawings, The Pure Drop: Drawings of Traditional Irish Musicians, Singers, and Dancers, in Ireland this coming August. The exhibition takes place at the Johnston Central Library gallery in Cavan town during this year’s All Ireland Music Festival, Fleadh 2012. The drawings were made over the past two summers during Fleadh 2010 and 2011 in County Cavan, and The Pure Drop is sure to be much appreciated during this year’s festival. More details to come.

On St. Patrick’s eve I went to see the great traditional Irish music band The Chieftains in concert at the Kennedy Center, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary. The six time Grammy winners performance was both exhilarating and brilliant. The audience gave The Chieftains a rousing standing ovation at the concert’s end. It was a great show. The New York Times recently wrote a feature story about The Chieftains, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys all celebrating their Golden Jubilee this year. The New York Times said “These are among the first living pop bands to turn 50”.

The Chieftains, Ireland’s Musical Ambassadors. GAB Archives/Redferns

On St. Patrick’s day President Obama visited the Dubliner Irish Pub in Washington, DC and enjoyed a pint of Guinness. Last year the President visited Ireland and his ancestral home of Moneygall and was very warmly received by the Irish people.

President O’Bama at the Dubliner Irish Pub, Washington DC, March 17, 2012. Copyright ©Carolyn Kaster All Rights Reserved.

On Tuesday, March 20th, we were invited by The Ambassador of Ireland and Mrs. Marie Collins to meet Enda Kenny, Ireland’s Prime Minister, at a reception at the Fairmont Hotel. Sean McKiernan Jnr., the Chairman of the Cavan County Council who is also a friend of mine and Carlotta Hester’s, was visiting from Ireland. It was a great pleasure for me to introduce Sean to Enda Kenny. The Taoiseach, as the Prime Minister is called, gave a spirited speech highlighting the great ties between Ireland and America. He then honored several distinguished Irish Americans with Irish Heritage Awards. Among them were National Book Award winner Alice McDermott and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Maureen Dowd. It was great to see these two enormously talented writers celebrated. Afterwords Enda Kenny and his wife Fionnuala left for the White House for dinner with President Obama and the First Lady. Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and his Celtic rock band, O’Malley’s March, performed as the night’s entertainment.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Irish Ambassador Michael Collins. Copyright ©Carlotta Hester All Rights Reserved.

Govinda Gallery director Chris Murray and Chairman of the Cavan County Council Sean McKiernan. Copyright ©Carlotta Hester All Rights Reserved.

A great treat for me, and a wonderful kick-off to the Irish celebrations, was seeing a photograph of my sister Rita, a beautiful Celtic woman, with Bono in Dublin just a week ago. Rita and Cecelia Haggerty were accompanying their college roommate and lifelong friend Nancy Pelosi to Ireland where Congresswoman Pelosi was honored by the University Philosophical Society of Trinity College and was given the Gold Medal Award for her “excellence in public life and outstanding contribution to politics”. Congresswoman Pelosi surely deserves that honor.

Rita Murray Meyer, Bono, and Cecelia Lynett Haggerty. Copyright ©Catlin O’Neill All Rights Reserved.

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