Former Dignitaries from Ireland

2023 Irish Dignitary

Paul Daly, Senator at Houses of the Oireachtas

2020 Irish Dignitary

Joan Freeman, Senator

Senator Joan Freeman was born in Clontarf, Dublin and holds a BSc in psychology and an MSc in psychology.

Pieta House

After a personal tragedy, she noticed there was a huge lack of suicide prevention services in Ireland and went about establishing the country’s only organisation providing a free, professional, face to face, therapeutic service for people in the acute stages of distress. In 2006, she set up Pieta House, the Centre for the Prevention of Self-harm or Suicide. Pieta House has since established twelve additional centres across Ireland with almost 270 therapists and administration staff, providing free therapeutic services to over 30,000 people

The stigma of mental ill-health is gradually being lifted, and there is no doubt that Senator Freeman’s work with Pieta House has contributed greatly to that. Senator Freeman regularly speaks to groups and organisations around the country, promoting tolerance and educating people around suicide and self-harm.

Darkness into Light

Senator Freeman created and held the very first 5km walk which began at 4am in the dark and ended as the dawn broke in 2009, in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Along with 400 people, she set-off on the inaugural Darkness into Light to raise funds for Pieta House. From small beginnings, the movement has grown year on year and in 2018 over 200,000 people took part in 150 locations, in 16 countries across 5 continents. (

Solace House

Having brought the services of Pieta House to great heights, and having helped thousands of people in suicidal distress, in 2015 Senator Freeman readjusted her focus and brought the wonderful work of Pieta House to the US, opening up Solace House.  The centre was formally opened in early November 2017 by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and Consul General of Ireland in New York Ciarán Madden.

Senatorial Position

In recognition of her outstanding work, Senator Freeman was appointed to Seanad Éireann in 2016 by the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny.  (

She immediately knew that her focus would be in mental health and the associated challenges we face in Ireland. By staying centred and committed to this difficult topic, especially around services for children’s mental health, Senator Freeman realised her passion was to act as a voice for the most vulnerable children in our society. Her numerous achievements in her first 18 months as Senator include holding a public consultation on mental health, inviting the parents of children using mental health services, and those who provided these services, to have their say. And one of her most recent achievements include an amendment to legislation that will make it illegal to place children in adult psychiatric wards.

She was instrumental in the formation of the first ever Irish Committee on the Future of Mental Healthcare and is Chair of the Committee as well as convening and chairing the Government’s first Public Consultation Committee on Children's Mental Healthcare in Ireland in June 2017. Senator Freeman introduced the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2016 which as of July 2018 has cleared all legislative stages in the Seanad.

Presidential Campaign

In September 2018, Senator Freeman received the nomination of four councils required to be a candidate in the 2018 Irish presidential election.

Senator Freeman has changed the lives of thousands and thousands of families through her compassion for people and in her belief that everyone deserves to have the proper services needed.

Senator Freeman sees and fully understands the challenges that affect people’s physical and mental wellbeing which is central to our lives and is being increasingly challenged by the pressures of modern living. She is driven to continue to fight to put in place, services that help all of these individuals and communities to erode the inequality in society, to continue to take the stigma out of mental health and to focus attention back onto people and in particular, the social issues that affect families across the country.

Senator Freeman is the sixth of the eight children of Marie and John Lowe, she lived in WarwickshireEngland, where her parents moved when she was a baby. Her family returned to Dublin when she was 12. She is married to Patrick Freeman and they have four children.

Senator Freeman is a member of the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs. 

A former member of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference.

Honorary Doctorate

Senator Joan Freeman received in December 2019 and Honorary Doctorate (LLS) for her work in creating Pieta House and for being a national and international activist for Mental Health. 


Mental Health Bill 2016

Children’s Digital Protection Bill 2019


Senator Freeman is the author of ‘Cover Up’ (understanding self-harm)


2011 RTE People of the Year Award

2016 ‘Trailblazer Award’ (2016)

2016 Tatler ‘Woman of the Year’ (2016

2016 ‘SHEMAZING Special Recognition Award’

2018 Trailblazer Award from the Women's Executive Network, Ireland. 

2018 Most Powerful Women awards 

Joan regularly speaks at conferences and events in Ireland and abroad. In addition to being invited as a key note speaker, guest speaker, panellist and contributor to national and international discussions around suicide, self-harm, mental health, health policy, public health, social entrepreneurship, and charity start-ups, to name a few. 

2019 Irish Dignitary

Mary Butler, TD

Having been a community activist all my life and a lifelong member of Fianna Fáill in 2014 I successfully contested the Local elections in the Comeragh area and won a seat. I served as a Councillor for 2 years and enjoyed my role as a public representative immensely.

In 2016 after securing the nomination from the Fianna Fáil party in Waterford I contested the general election, I was delighted and humbled to receive 10,603 votes, topping the poll and being elected on the first count. I also had the honour of being the first female Fianna Fáil TD to be elected for the party since 2007.

I have a strong grounding in the retail sector having worked as both an employee and an employer. I successfully ran the family business a grocery shop in Portlaw for 17 years and continued my career working in John Martin Jewellers in Waterford City for 10 years.

I was honoured to be asked to Chair the Oireachtas Committee on Business Enterprise and Innovation which scrutinizes many pieces of very important legislation and has produced many reports in relation to the cost of doing business, Brexit and apprenticeships among others. I feel that my practical experience in retail gives me strong grounding for this role.

I am Fianna Fail Spokesperson for Older People and Health Promotion, an area I am passionate about. I work closely with the Alzheimers Society, Age Action, Nursing Homes Ireland and the Carers Association as well as many others. I also Chair the All Party Oireachtas Group on Dementia raising awareness for people with memory difficulties as they grow older. I have produced several pieces of legislation in relation to Fair Deal and Mandatory Sentencing for Crimes against Older People which are currently progressing through the Oireachtas.

I am married to Mick and have three children and I am lucky to have a great family support network. Having constituency offices in Waterford City and Dungarvan, I believe in representing all of my constituents in Waterford City and County to the best of my ability.

2018 Irish Dignitary

Gerry Horkan

My name is Senator Gerry Horkan and I am a Fianna Fail Senator based in South Dublin in Ireland.  I am a Chartered Accountant, with a Masters in Accounting and a Bachelor of Commerce from University College Dublin.

Before entering national politics, I served as County Councillor for the Stillorgan electoral area of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in Dublin from 2003 until elected to the Senate in April 2016. My role involved being responsible for policy-making in the local community, with the implementation of decisions resting with the county manager and their team. During this time I was also elected as Chairperson of two Strategic Policy Committees within the council. I was also elected Chairperson of the Dublin Regional Authority in 2006 and later in 2014 as Chairperson of the Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly which represents over half of the population of the country and subsequently I was also elected the very first Chairperson of the new Eastern & Midland Regional Assembly in 2015.  I served as a councillor representative on my party’s National Executive and now serve there as a representative of the parliamentary party.  I was also the chairperson of the Fianna Fail National Councillors forum which represents my party councillors all over the state.

Though sometimes challenging, my long time in the council equipped me with the knowledge and skills to take on my next challenge and run for Seanad Éireann.

I was successful in my first attempt and was elected to Seanad Éireann on the Industrial and Commercial Panel in April 2016. I was then appointed as the Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Finance and Deputy Whip of our Senate Group by party leader Micheal Martin TD and elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach, positions I am privileged to hold.

These positions allow me to give a voice to people locally and nationally on important and often emotive issues. Senators are elected on a national basis so it is important to keep in touch with what is happening all over the country.  Public service is a great privilege and every day I work to honour the trust people have placed in me. It helps that I love the work, the responsibility, and the challenge.

I am also the chair of a secondary school board of management in a south Dublin school with approximately 500 pupils.

For me, individuals, families and communities are the bedrock of society, and what attracted me to politics in the first place was being able to get involved and improve the quality of life for all citizens. I felt I could make a difference with regard to the challenges facing people, and that I could help to shape and implement adequate solutions to those challenges. In my time in public life I am glad that I have been able to achieve many things both locally and nationally and I look forward to my upcoming visit to Emmetsburg.

2017 Irish Dignitary

Anne Rabbitte, TD

Anne is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Galway East constituency, upon being elected at the 2016 general election.  She had been a member of Galway County Council from 2009 to 2016.

In May 2016 she was appointed by the Leader of the Opposition Micheál Martin to the Shadow Cabinet as Opposition Spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs.

From Anne:

I am a mother, a homemaker, a widow. I am an employee, a local representative, a voice for the people.

I have worked for a well established financial institution for 15 years and became a full qualified financial adviser in 2002

I have focused myself on five main areas about which I am truly passionate and wish to affect change in my constituency.

•Rural Ireland (community development)

•Tourism (economic growth)

•Health and Fitness

•Early intervention in Childcare

•Care of the Elderly (Fair Deal/Nursing Home Support Scheme)

The committees I sit on and am involved in link directly and indirectly into these, my core issues. I am the Chairperson of the Finance Committee and board member of GRETB. I am a member of the Athenry Heritage committee. I am a member of the Strategic Policy Committee for Environment, Water services and Fire/Emergency services. I am a member of the Loughrea Municipal District. And at a more local level, I sit on the Portumna Camogie Club, Portumna Scouts, N.S Parents Association and Portumna Tidy Towns Task Force Committees. I also held a place on the recently formed Portumna FitTowns committee which launched a highly successful new initiative in Portumna in January 2015, to encourage the whole community, young and old, to get out and get active. Being involved in these groups helps me to keep my finger on the pulse, something which I find invaluable in doing my job as councillor to the highest standard.

2016 Irish Dignitary

John Deasy

John Deasy (born 8 October 1967) has been a TD (Teachta Dála) for the Waterford constituency since 2002 and is a member of the Fine Gael party. He was named 2013 backbencher of the year by the Irish Times newspaper and is widely regarded as one of the most independent-minded members of the Irish parliament.
John grew up in the seaside village of Stradbally, County Waterford until his family moved to the nearby county town of Dungarvan. He was educated at the local national school, St Augustine’s College, Abbeyside, and also Coláiste na Rinne, Ring, Dungarvan.
Aged 18, he received a scholarship to study at Mercyhurst College, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA. Deasy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History/Communications, and in 1990 took up the post of Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate. He worked extensively with the Senate Finance Committee, handling trade and foreign affairs for Pennsylvania Republican Senator John Heinz (heir to and major shareholder in H.J. Heinz & Co.) until his tragic death in an aircraft accident in April 1991.
During his time working for Senator Heinz, John authored part of the 1991 US Defense Production Act. In 1991 Deasy and Heinz’s Chief of Staff began work for a multinational waste company, Chambers Development Co.. He returned to Capitol Hill in 1993 as a Legislative Assistant in the US House of Representatives, handling trade, foreign affairs, energy, environment, banking, economic development, immigration and human rights for Republican Ronald K. Machtley in the run-up to his bid to become Governor of Rhode Island.
While working in the House of Representatives John authored the Tourist Visa Waiver Bill, which allowed Irish citizens to travel to US for a holiday without having to obtain a visa. Passed in 1994, it has turned out to be a significant piece of immigration law.
He subsequently spent two years as Manager of Legislative Affairs for Chicago-based international law firm, Gardner Carton & Douglas, a company with approximately 400 attorneys. During his time there he successfully lobbied Congress to repeal a tax on CFCs used in inhalers for asthmatics and people with respiratory problems. The money saved amounted to $60 million per annum. He also worked extensively with the Senate Finance Committee and house ways and means committee handling tax issues for Native American Indian tribes.
In 1997 John returned to Ireland, completing a Bachelor of Civil Laws (Honours) degree at University College Cork.
In May 2005, he married the RTÉ television presenter and former TV3 crime correspondent, Maura Derrane. In May 2014 the couple celebrated the birth of their son, Cal.
Public Life
John Deasy was elected as a member of both Waterford County Council and Dungarvan Town Council in 1999 at the first attempt, topping the poll in both ballots.
During his time on the County Council, John is credited with changing the culture that existed when it came to the loose oversight of planning regulations within the local authority. In 2000 he made allegations concerning the administration of planning guidelines that led to a series of internal and external investigations.
After three years as a councillor he was elected as a TD, retaining the Dáil seat held by his father Austin, a former Minister for Agriculture in the 1982–’87 FG/Labour coalition government.
John served as Fine Gael frontbench spokesperson for Justice, Equality and Law Reform from 2002-’04, being described by journalist Sam Smyth as having “a natural rapport with law-and-order traditionalists” and someone who “never bent a principle to duck a row.” In that, he said, “Deasy shares many of the qualities of his father... Both are famously stubborn, prickly and principled, yet they enjoy a dry humour and a proud nationalism.”
When John defied the smoking ban in 2004 he was subsequently appointed as chairman of the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee from October 2004 until April 2007, before being re-elected to the 30th Dáil. He was chairperson of the Overseas Development subcommittee until October 2010 and also served as FG spokesperson on Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for Overseas Development Aid during that period.
John topped the poll in Waterford in the February 2011 General Election, receiving a 20% share of first preferences. He is a currently a member of the high-profile Dáil Committee of Public Accounts, having also served on the State spending watchdog from 2004–’07. He has specialised in oversight of overseas development budgets while on the Public Accounts and Foreign Affairs committees.
John is also regarded as one of the PAC’s most considered contributors. In February 2014 he was described by political correspondent Daniel McConnell in the Sunday Independent as “a voice of reason within the committee”, while fellow political commentator Shane Coleman, writing in the Irish Independent, said: “Deasy is no PAC firebrand. He has been highly critical of the committee at times for looking to exceed its remit.”
The Irish Times’ political editor Stephen Collins concurred. “Deasy may not be flavour of the month with his own party leadership but he has been one of the few Government TDs on the PAC to stand up to the McCarthyite tactics that are threatening to undermine the long-term credibility of what is the most important of the Dáil committees.
As well as frequently expressing forthright views about Fine Gael's policies and political direction, John has also stood firm against Labour Party attempts to impose on the coalition demands at odds with their paltry poll rating. He has taken a hardline stance on issues such as a planned land-based means test on college grants for farm families, which led to a swift Labour climbdown.
He also took aim at their ‘vote buying’ bid to reverse public service pay cuts, warning “we would prefer an election” than submissively keeping their junior partners “sweet”. John said, “If Labour starts putting a gun to our head every second week they can take their chances with Sinn Féin.”
Republican roots
Both John’s paternal grandfather, Mick Deasy from Courtmacsherry (who fought with Tom Barry and was the last survivor of the Crossbarry ambush) and his maternal grandfather, John Keating from west Waterford, fought with the IRA in the War of Independence.
Asked by the Sunday Independent to comment on the “Blueshirts” controversy surrounding ‘Dreamland’, the 2014 play by Waterford playwright Jim Nolan, John said: “The history of the thing is not something I relate to. Both my grandfathers were in the IRA in the War of Independence. I come from a different tradition.”
He also had three grand-uncles from Bandon who fought in the Great War — a lineage that part-inspired his initiation of the Waterford Memorial project which, in October 2013, saw a vast black granite wall (similar in concept to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington) unveiled in Dungarvan. The monument is inscribed with the names of those 1,100 Waterford people who lost their lives in WWI.
John's scholarship to study at Mercyhurst College was partly athletic. He was a member of the Dungarvan Golf Club team (along with Austin Spratt, Derry Kiely and Kieran Hogan) that won the All-Ireland Junior Foursomes title in 1985.
He was sports editor of the college newspaper and played soccer and golf for Mercyhurst, and also football and hurling for the Washington Gaels GAA Club, as well as the Waterford exiles in New York in 1987 when he marked legendary Tribesman Pete Finnerty in a hurling challenge match against Galway at Gaelic Park (“I kept him scoreless for 20 seconds”).

2015 Irish Dignitary

Senator Catherine Noone

Senator Catherine Noone was elected to Seanad Éireann on the Industrial and Commercial Panel in April 2011. Catherine is currently the Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on European Affairs.

She was elected to Dublin City Council in June 2009.

A practicing solicitor of commercial litigation, originally from Co Mayo, Catherine has been living in Dublin for the last number of years. Catherine and her family have had a long-standing association with Fine Gael. She speaks fluent Italian having studied at the Universita di Verona.

Catherine is a member of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee on Dublin City Council and a board member of the Hugh Lane Gallery and the Temple Bar Cultural Trust. She is also committee member of the Council's Women's Group who work to create awareness and to celebrate International Women's Day.

She is keenly interested in the Arts and believes it to be more important than ever as a sector in these financially turbulent times.

Tourism is also a sector on which we have relied heavily in the past during challenging financial times and she endeavours to promote tourism by promoting incentives and measures to strengthen the Irish Tourism Product.

Catherine will be flying into the United States on Wednesday March 11, and she will stay with us until St. Patrick’s Day where she has been invited to a dinner at the White House. She will be accompanied by her husband, Barry Flanagan.

2012 Irish Dignitary

Senator Maurice Cummins

2011 Irish Dignitary

David Stanton

David Stanton (born 15 February 1957) is an Irish Fine Gael politician. He is currently the Fine Gael Spokesperson for Social & Family Affairs and a Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork East.

Stanton was born in County Cork. He was educated at St. Colman’s Vocational School, Midleton, Sharman Crawford Technical Institute, Cork and University College Cork where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Mathematical Science. Stanton was first elected to Dáil Éireann in the 1997 general election and has retained his seat ever since. He was appointed Fine Gael Front Bench Spokesperson on Social & Family Affairs & Equality in October, 2004. Prior to this he acted as deputy-spokesperson on a number of matters.

This is the second trip to Emmetsburg for David and Mary, he was our Dignitary in 2008.

2010 Irish Dignitary

Ned O’Sullivan O’Sullivan

Ned O’Sullivan is a Fianna Fail member of the Irish Parliament representing Kerry North and Limerick West. He is the spokesperson for Food and Horticulture, Health Promotion and Food Safety. He will represent the Republic of Ireland at the 2010 St. Patrick’s Celebration in Emmetsburg.

Mr. O’Sullivan was born in County Kerry and makes his home in Listowel. He is married to his wife, Madeleine and they have three sons: Sean Og, Stephen and Emmett.

He received his education at University College Dublin and St. Patrick’s College of Education, and he taught English Literature and History for a number of years. After his father retired, he took over the families’ menswear business in Listowel. At that time, he became very active in politics.

Mr. O’Sullivan served a number of terms as Mayor of Listowel (a town which has very strong links with Des Moines, IA through the Catholic priesthood in the early 20th century), and one term as Mayor of County Kerry. He was elected to the Senate in 2007.

He served as Chairman of the County Arts and Heritage Committee for many years, and his interests include: history and literature. He has published a number of volumes on local archaeology and folk history. Interestingly, he unveiled a commemorative plaque to Robert Emmett in Kerry during his last term.

The O’Sullivan Family has a long history in politics, and they were very involved in Ireland’s fight for independence. Senator O’Sullivan’s grandfather, also Ned succeeded in changing his street name from Market Street to Emmett Place way back in the days of British Rule!

Senator O’Sullivan’s wife, Madeleine was also born in Kerry. She has just taken early retirement from teaching. She stays active serving as the Director of a literary festival, and she sits as a government nominee on the board of the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle.

The couple will be welcomed to Emmetsburg on Tuesday, March 16th.

2009 Irish Dignitary

John Carty

John Carty, T. D. is a Fianna Fail Member of the Irish Parliament representing County Mayo. He will represent the Republic of Ireland in Emmetsburg. John was born in Knock, Co. Mayo and makes his home in Claremorris, Co. Mayo. He married Kathleen Reagan and together have two daughters and six sons. John was educated at Knock National School, St. Patrick’s College, Ballyhaunis Warrenstown Agricultural College, Co. Meathand National University of Ireland, Maynoorth Co. Kindare (Diploma in Local History). John worked as an Agricultural Officer and Farmer prior to his election to Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) in May 2002. He is currently a member of the Joint Committees: Social and Family Affairs (Convenor), Agriculture and Food, British/Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body. John is also Vice-President of Aughamore GGA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Club and Chairman of South Mayo Family Research Centre, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. His hobbies include Gaelic Football, local history, genealogy, and reading. John’s wife Kathleen will accompany him to Emmetsburg.

2008 Irish Dignitary

David Stanton, T.D.

David is a Fine Gael member of the Irish Parliament representing County Cork East. He will represent the Republic of Ireland for the 2008 St. Patrick's Day Celebration in Emmetsburg.

David was born in County Cork and makes his home in Coppingerstown, Midleton Co Cork. David and his wife Mary have four sons.

David holds a Bachlelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and Mathematical Science, Diplomas in Career Guidance and Educational Administration from UCC. He was also conferred with an Honours Masters Degree in Education by the NUI in 1996.

Before being elected to the Dail in 1997 and re-elected in 2002 and 2007, David was a woodwork and technical drawing teacher and a career guidance counselor in St. Colman's Community College in Midleton. David was the Fine Gael Front Bench Spokesperson on public enterprise, agriculture & food & was the party's spokesperson on labour affairs, consumer rights and trade (1997-2000). He co-ordinates policy and Chairs Fine Gael Oireachtas Committee on disability issues (December 2002 to present).

David is a Director of Midleton and District Day Care Center, Ltd., a patron of Midleton & Carrigwohill Red Cross and is a member of the Chambers of Commerce at Cobh, Youghal & Midleton. He is a former Commissioned Officer in An Forsa Cosanta Aituil and a past member of Macra na Feirme. David's wife Mary will accompany him to Emmetsburg.

2007 Irish Dignitary

Tony Dempsey

Tony was first elected to Dáil Éireann May 2002. He is 57 years old. Tony is married to Gemma and they have 5 children: Muiris, Rhona, Shane, Fergal and Anton.

The Dempsey's have been living in Barntown for 20 years. Tony retired from teaching 3 years ago after 35 years in the profession.

He was the principal of Enniscorthy Vocational College from 1996 to 2000. When he was appointed Principal of Sheilbaggan Vocational School in south west Wexford in 1975, he was one of the youngest ever school principals in a vocational school in Ireland.

Tony is a staunch member of the GAA. He has been involved with every inter-county hurling and football team in County Wexford either as a trainer, selector or manager. Tony trained the Wexford Junior Football team to Leinster success in 2000 when they beat Dublin. He has been a member of the GAA Central Council over 20 years. Tony was appointed chairman of Wexford County Board in 1976 at 35 years of age, becoming one of the youngest ever persons to hold the position.

2006 Irish Dignitary

Michael Finucane

Michael Finucane is a member of the Irish Senate and lives in County Limerick. He will represent the Republic of Ireland at the Emmetsburg St. Patrick’s Day Association 2006 celebration.

Michael lives in Newcastle West and was born in 1943. He is married to Hannah and they have two daughters, Siobhan and Deirdre, and one son, Michael. Michael was educated in the Secondary School at Foynes and subsequently worked in a diversity of occupations, which included teaching also worked with a State Training Organisation FAS for 11 years. Senator Finucane was also involved in coordinating the Construction Project Recruitment for up to 5,000 employees for an Alumina Plant namely Aughinish Alumina Ltd. He also ran his own Recruitment Training Consultancy Business.

He was elected to Limerick County Council in 1985 and remained a member of the Council up to 2003. Senator Finucane has about 18 years experience in local administration. He was first selected as a Dail Deputy in 1989 and held that position up to 2002. In 2002 he successfully contested the Senate. Senator Finucane is one of a small number of politicians whose political experience spans both the Dail, the Senate and the County Council. His active political experience spans about 21 years.

Michael has represented his Party in many areas during his political career. He was formerly Chairman of the prestigious Public Accounts Committee. He is the Fine Gael Party Spokesperson for the Senate on Communications and Natural Resources and is a member of the Joint Committee in this area. He is the Deputy Party Leader for Fine Gael in the senate and is also Vice Chairman of the Constitution Committee.

On this trip Michael will be accompanied by his wife, Hannah. His main interests are all sports and his main forms of recreation are swimming and walking.

2005 Irish Dignitary

John Carty

John Carty, T. D. is a Fianna Fail Member of the Irish Parliament representing County Mayo. He will represent the Republic of Ireland in Emmetsburg. John was born in Knock, Co. Mayo and makes his home in Claremorris, Co. Mayo. He married Kathleen Reagan and together have two daughters and six sons. John was educated at Knock National School, St. Patrick’s College, Ballyhaunis Warrenstown Agricultural College, Co. Meathand National University of Ireland, Maynoorth Co. Kindare (Diploma in Local History). John worked as an Agricultural Officer and Farmer prior to his election to Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) in May 2002. He is currently a member of the Joint Committees: Social and Family Affairs (Convenor), Agriculture and Food, British/Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body. John is also Vice-President of Aughamore GGA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Club and Chairman of South Mayo Family Research Centre, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. His hobbies include Gaelic Football, local history, genealogy, and reading. John’s wife Kathleen will accompany him to Emmetsburg.

2004 Irish Dignitary

Pat Breen, T.D.

Pat Breen, T.D. is a Fine Gael member of the Irish Parliament and represents County Clare. He will represent the Republic of Ireland at the Emmetsburg St. Patrick's Day Association 2004 Celebration.

Pat was born in Ballynacally in 1957 and continues to live here in the family home. He is married to the former Anne McInerney from Killimer, Kilrush and they have two sons, Kenneth and Patrick.

Pat was educated in St. Flannan's College in Ennis, County Clare and also at Limerick Technical College where he graduated as an Architectural Technician in the late 1970's. He was elected to Clare County Council in 1999 when he secured the highest Fine Gael vote in the county on his first attempt. He is also currently a member of the Clare V.E.C. (Clare Vocational Educational Committee). Pat has extensive experience in European Affairs where he worked closely with a member of the European Parliament, John Cushnahan from 1989 to 2002. During that period he visited Europe extensively, particularly Brussels and Strasbourg with Irish Groups looking at the European Parliament and the way it works. Pat Breen is a new Dail Deputy and is Fine Gael Deputy Spokesperson on Transport and also party spokesperson on Shannon Airport. Over the last two years, as a member of the Irish Parliament he has been a strong voice for the retention of the Irish American Bilateral Agreement and a strong voice for Shannon Airport. He recently prepared a paper on the Future of Shannon for the Fine Gael front bench. He is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, the Select Committee on Transport and also a member of the privileges and prestigious committee that is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle. He is also a member of the House Services Committee. Pat will be accompanied on this trip by his wife Anne. His major interests are traveling, walking and has a great interest in Gaelic Football and Hurling.

2003 Irish Dignitary

Denis O'Donovan

Denis O'Donovan, T.D., FF is a member of the Irish Parliament and will represent the Republic of Ireland at the Emmetsburg St. Pat's Association St. Patrick's Day Celebration, March 9th through March 16th.

O'Donovan was born in Bantry, Cork County, Ireland in 1955 and currently resides there. He is married to the former Mary Gerard Murphy and they have two sons and two daughters. O'Donovan graduated from The University College at Cork with an honors Law Degree in 1975 at the age of 19. He was elected as the youngest-ever Chairman to Cork County Council in 1989. He was elected to the senate in 1997 on the Industrial and Commercial Panel. He was appointed as a spokesperson on justice, equality, and law reform in the senate from 1989 - 1993 and again from 1997 - 2002. The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) appointed him to the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution as the only Fianna Fail Senator. He was also appointed to the All Party Committee on Justice, Equality, Law Reform, and Women's Rights. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has appointed him as current Chairman of the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, one of the most senior positions outside the Cabinet.

2002 Irish Dignitary

Dan Neville

Dan Neville, T.D., FG is a member of the Irish Parliament and will represent the Republic of Ireland at the Emmetsburg St. Pat's Association’s 2002 St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, March10th thru March 17. Neville was born in Croagh in 1946 and currently resides in Kiltannan, Croagh, Co. Limerick. His is married to the former Goretti O’Callaghan and they have two sons and two daughters. Neville was educated at Adare CBS, Co. Limerick: University of Limerick, School of Management Studies: University College, Cork (Industrial Engineering, Personnel Management, Social Science). Prior to becoming a full-time public representative, he was a personnel manager. Dan Neville is a new Dail deputy and Fine Gael spokesperson on Children since 1997. Hew was a Senator, Labor Panel, 1989-1997; Deputy leader of Fine Gael in the Seanad and spokesperson on Justice and Law Reform 1992-97. Neville is a member of the Limerick County Council since 1985; Mid-Western Health board since 1991; Association of Health Boards since 1991 and the General Council of County Councils since 1991.Mrs. Neville will accompany her husband to Emmetsburg for the celebration.

2001 Irish Dignitary

Alderman Dennehy

Alderman Dennehy, was elected to the Dail at the 1987,1989 and 1997 General Elections. Deputy Dennehy is vice-chairman of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee. He is a member of the Government Whip on it's Finance and Public Services Committee and a member of the Health Committee. He was Assistant Government Chief Whip from 1989/1992 and Co-Chairman of a committee of the British/Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body for the same period. Dennehy was educated at Scoil Chriost Ri in Cork. At Sharman Crawford Technical Institute and Cork College of Commerce. Prior to becoming a full-time politician, he worked as an Engineering Supervisor in the Irish Steel Company. Dennehy is a member and Alderman of Cork City Corporation since 1974. In local government, he has an unequalled election record, being the poll topper in four of his five elections to date. He is leader of the Fianna Fail party and the major Government party on the city council. He was Lord Mayor of Cork in 1983/1984. His special interests are Health, Finance, Planning and Community Developement. Dennehy has served the city of Cork as a member of The Board of Governors of University College Cork, as a Director of Cork Opera House, a member of the Cork/Kerry Regional Authority and on numerous other external bodies. Dennehy and his wife, Phil, have 5 sons a 2 daughters. John says politics is his hobby as well as his profession but he has a great interest in Fishing and attending Gaelic Football and Hurling games and reading. His major sporting interest was as a racing cyclist with the famous Blarney A.C.C.

2000 Irish Dignitary

Mary Jackman

1999 Irish Dignitary

Batt O'Keefe

Batt O’Keeffe, T.D.(FF) member of the Irish Parliament, will represent the Republic of Ireland at Emmetsburg during the 1999 St. Patrick’s Celebration on March 12, 13, and 14. O’Keeffe was born in Cullen, Mallow in 1945 and currently resides in Ballincollig, Co. Cork. He is married to the former Mary Murphy and has one son and three daughters. O’Keeffe received his education at St. Brendan’s College, Killarney; University College, Cork (BA,HDipED) He is a Public Representative and Lecturer in Cork Regional Technical College. Batt O’Keeffe was previously a Dail Deputy 1987-1989; Senator, Labour Panel, 1989-1992; and a candidate in the 1989 general election; Member, Cork County Council since 1985; member, Public Accounts Committee, Finance and General Affairs Committee. Cork Vocational Education Sports Advisory Committee since 1983; Higher Education Committee; Southern Health Board; Member of Enterprise & Small Business. Member, Gaelic Athletic Association and Cork Handball Board. Vice-chairman, Ballincollig Community Centre Management Committee. Cork footballer and holder of Munster medals at under-21, junior and senior levels. Cork intermediate Handball Champion, 1980.

1998 Irish Dignitary

Paul Connaughton

Paul Connaughton, T.D., member of the Irish Parliament, represented the Republic of Ireland at Emmetsburg during the 1998 St. Patrick's Celebration on March 13, 14 and 15. Connaughton was born in Co. Galway and currently lives in Mount Bellow, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. He is married to the former Bernadette Keating and has two sons and five daughters. Connaughton received his education at St. Mary's Secondary school, Ballygar, Co. Galway; St. Jarlath's Vocational School, Mount Bellew; Mount Bellew Agricultural College; Athenry Agricultural College; IMI Management Course. He is currently a Public Representative, farmer and former general manager, Tuam Livestock Market. Connaughton entered politics as a Senator on the Agriculture panel from 1977 to 1981, and was elected to Parliament in 1981. He served as Minister of state at the Department of Agriculture with special responsibility for Land Structure and development. He is currently the Fine Gael spokesperson on Energy and Western Development and Chairman of Political affairs Committee since 1993. He has served as Agriculture, Social Welfare, Regional Development, Defense, and deputy Spokesperson on Tourism.

1997 Irish Dignitary

Colm Hilliard

Colm Hilliard, T.D., member of the Irish Parliament represented the Republic of Ireland at Emmetsburg during the St. Patrick's Celebration, March 9, 14, 15 & 16, 1997. Colm Hilliard was born in County Meath in 1936. He married the former Margaret Quinn and they now live in Kilmessan, Navan, County Meath. They have three sons and one daughter. Hilliard attended De La Salle School, Navan, County Meath and Carmelite College Castlemartyr, County Cork. Hilliard is a full time Politician and Public Representative. Formerly livestock marketing manager, auctioneer and accountant with cooperative and private business. Colm Hilliard was first elected to Dail Eireann in February, 1982. He is assistant Chief Whip, Vice Chairperson of the Oireachtas (congress) Joint Services Committee, Associate Member British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body and member Oireachtas Small Business Committee. Member Meath County Council since 1979. Former Chairman of the Joint Services and Liaison Committees, member of Procedures and Privileges Committee, Oireachtas All Party Committee for Public Expenditure. Member of Fianna Fail Party Policy Committees for Social Welfare, Agricultural, Finance, Taxation and Northern Ireland.

1996 Irish Dignitary

John Browne

John Browne, T.D., member of the Irish Parliament represented the Republic of Ireland at Emmetsburg during the St. Patrick's Celebration, March 10, 15, 16 & 17, 1996. John Browne, was born in County Clare in 1936. He married the former Nancy Looney and they now live in Carlow with their son and three daughters. Browne attended St. Flannan's College, Ennis, St. Patrick's Teacher Training College, Dublin and Maynooth and University College, Galway. He received a Hi Diploma in Education, a NT, BA as well as diploma in Social and Economics and Science. He taught school a number of years and was the former chairman of North Carlow Branch Irish National Teacher's Organization. Browne entered politics as a nominee of the Prime Minister to the Seanad in 1983 and was elected to parliament in 1989. He is Convenener of Fine Gael (FG) Party, Group Leader of Legislation & Justice & Health (including care of the aged). Browne is a full-time public representative.

1995 Irish Dignitary

Ned O'Keeffe

Ned O'Keeffe, an official of the Irish Government was in Emmetsburg for St. Patrick's 35th Annual Celebration on March 17, 18 & 19, 1995. A farmer by occupation, O'Keeffe first became involved in politics when he won a senate seat in the Dail in 1982. O'Keeffe is a member of the Fianna Fail Party and served as spokesman on Industry for five years. Following graduation from University College in Cork, where his studies included social and rural sciences, he became a member of the Cork County Council and served on the Northern and Library committees. He is associated with many agriculture related programs in connection with his farming operation and is a member of the Gaelic Athletic Association. O'Keeffe is married to the former Ann Buckley and the couple have three sons and two daughters. Mr. O'Keeffe's wife, Ann, accompanied her husband to the states.