Celebrating the relationship between Ireland and New York
…. one story at a time
One of this year’s highlights was being part of the I.NY Team during the inaugural year of the I.NY Festival (Ireland New York Festival) and in particular looking after the I.NY Gathering Event. The I.NY festival took place from Oct 5-15 and explored and celebrated the relationship between Ireland and New York.
This exciting Irish Culture Festival, which was the brainchild of David O’Donovan & Aoife Flynn, and took place in various venues across Limerick and Clare. Over 11 days in October, the I.NY Festival invited artists, writers, musicians, educators, and business people together to tell the story of how the Ireland/New York relationship has impacted their personal, professional and creative lives. Designer Orla Kiely, David Bowie’s musical director Gerry Leonard, director of The New Yorker Festival Rhonda Sherman and Oscar-winner Glen Hansard were just some of those who took part this year.
The I.NY Gathering took place on Oct 13 in the stunning setting of Dromoland Castle. During the evening renowned Irish fashion designer Orla Kiely was interviewed by Dr Leonie Lynch about her life in New York after she graduated from NCAD. This was followed by guest speakers Tim O’Connor (Former Secretary General to President Mary McAleese and Consul General of Ireland in New York) and Maura Kelly (Emmy award winning producer) who each told stories of their history and relationship with New York, and the personal and professional impact the city has had on them.
It truly was an exceptional gathering of people on the night and we were honoured to have such high profile visitors come to this event. Guests from the worlds of fashion, art, design, education, politics, business and tourism were in attendance including Dr Jane O’Meara Sanders (Wife and Political Advisor to US Senator Bernie Sanders) and her son Dave O’Driscoll (Co-founder of Sanders Institute), Dermot Rowan (MD & Co-owner of Orla Kiely Brand) and Caroline Heafey from NYU. Other familiar faces on the night were Irish designer Marion Murphy Cooney, Tadhg Kearney, the Foley family, Prof Lisa O’Malley (I.NY Conference Chair), Dr Pat Daly and representatives from Fáilte Ireland and the University of Limerick.
This was the first I.NY Gathering that is set to be an annual event, where the Irish diaspora can gather at the end of their visit to I.NY, eat and drink with friends and relatives.
Orla Kiely began her career studying at the Dublin’s National College of Art, before travelling to New York where she claims she ‘gained the best colour training anyone could possibly have’. She subsequently obtained her master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in London, and in 1997 The Orla Kiely Partnership was formed with her husband Dermott Rowan, anchored in the unique and immediately recognisable signature ‘Stem print’. Orla’s London flagship store and showroom opened in September 2005 in Covent Garden followed by a second store on the Kings Road in 2010. Her first New York store opened in Soho’s Mercer Street in 2011, with a second opening on Bleecker Street in the West Village in 2016.
Originally from Killarney, Maura Kelly and her family set down roots in New York when she was seven years old. She is an Emmy Award-winning producer, and principal of Purple Mountain Media, and boasts a career working with global companies like, The Jim Henson Co, Scholastic Inc, Tribeca Film Institute and PBS. A frequent speaker and curator of entertainment and business events, Maura has served in leadership roles with New York Irish business groups that promote the Irish diaspora and is currently on the Board of Directors of New York Irish International Business Network.
A native of Killeedy in West Limerick, Tim O’Connor served as the Consul General of Ireland in New York from 2005-2007. To the forefront of bringing arts and culture to the centre of the relationship between Ireland and the diaspora in New York at that time, Tim was a key initiator and driver in the development of the new Irish Arts Centre in Manhattan. A distinguished former public servant and diplomat who played a pivotal behind the scenes role in the Northern Peace talks, he also served as Secretary General to President Mary McAleese from 2007 to 2010, and was Chairman of the Clinton Institute for American Studies at UCD from 2010-2015. He has also served in many leadership roles for his native Limerick, including as Vice-Chairman of Limerick National City of Culture 2014, and Vice-Chairman of Global Limerick through which Limerick is reaching out to its 3 million diaspora around the world.
All images by Shane Serrano, Crude.