Amid a sea of kelly green saturating City Hall March 9 for the annual Irish flag raising, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, resplendent in royal blue, was a surprise guest. But she hadn’t missed the sartorial memo — the senator was filing her re-election papers — an announcement made by acting Mayor Mark Farrell and Protocol Chief Charlotte Shultz that elicited loud cheers that ricocheted off the marble Rotunda.
Feinstein owns her Celtic cred. addressing revelers at this commencement of Irish American Heritage month in San Francisco, the former mayor recalled a long-ago dinner at the Irish Cultural Center where she buttonholed John Moylan (a County Tipperary native, civic leader and Golden Gate Bridge board director) to form the S.F.-Cork Sister Committee — a 34-year relationship that’s yielded influential cultural, academic and economic exchange.
For San Francisco Irish, March Madness encompasses a whole other meaning — one that’s rife with pipers, dinners, Ceili dances, speechifying, corned beef, music seisiúns, lunches, more speeches and Irish whiskey, natch.
Leading the city’s 167th St. Patrick’s Day Parade was Grand Marshal Bill Welch, whose Irish immigrant grandfather founded Duggan-Welch Mortuary 100 years ago.
Farrell paid tribute to the late Mayor Ed Lee, a stalwart Irish community proponent who claimed Irish heritage based on Cork’s famous waterway: the River Lee.
Irish Consul General Robert O’Driscoll was celebrating his first St. Patrick’s Day in the states. But he knew his local history, citing the 1848 Gold Rush that coincided with Ireland’s great famine and drew an exodus of immigrants here, many of whom comprise a long list of Irish-SF leaders from Mayor Frank McCoppin to SFFD Chief Joanne Hayes-White and S.F. Human Resources Director Micki Callahan.
“The Irish DNA is very much a part of San Francisco,” he noted. “And the city’s values have influenced modern-day Ireland, now an open and inclusive society that passed the Irish marriage-equality referendum in 2015.
“We’re almost 6,000 miles away from Ireland. Yet it’s remarkable how at home I am here,” continued O’Driscoll. “San Francisco feels almost like Ireland’s 33rd county.”
Later that night, the Ireland Funds hosted its gala dinner at the St. Francis Hotel where County Carlow native Lorraine Twohill, Google SVP of global marketing, was honored for her philanthropy that includes, with husband, Pete Davis, raising more than $1 million for cancer research.
“We’ve been living in the U.S. for nine years now,” she said. “But we’ve always felt welcome in America as immigrants. We were lucky: We’re the right color. I’m very aware that so few immigrants are as lucky as we are.”
The heart of this soiree also beat for philanthropist Chuck Feeney, the single largest supporter of education in Ireland, and the late Craig Sullivan, a longtime Ireland Funds trustee, whose generosity includes funding “Sesame Street” to air in Northern Ireland, which has assisted in breaking down sectarian prejudice.
“His greatest achievement was as a father, grandfather, and husband to Maureen Sullivan . But Craig’s passion for Ireland was intense, deep and pervasive,” said Ireland Funds President Kieran McLoughlin . “He projected a curmudgeonly image. Yet Craig’s humor reflected his true humanity — he understood the soft underbelly of mankind.”
The I’s have it: For 63 years, one of the most rollicking St. Patrick’s Day celebrations is the Italian Athletic Club lunch hosted by the Irish-Israeli-Italian Society. Fondly dubbed Triple I, the club was co-founded by John Shimmon, who still faithfully serves as secretary.
Benedictions were given by SFPD Chaplain the Rev. Mike Healy and Rabbi Moshe Levin, both of whom prayed for the students killed in Florida.
“What unites us is greater than what divides us,” said Levin. “Italian, Irish, Israeli, Buddhist or Muslim, we are one community in San Francisco. That’s the lesson of Triple-I: Every human, no matter their tradition, is sacred.”
Led by club co-presidents Quentin Kopp, Leonard Stefanelli and Adriene Roche, the event honored former KTVU anchor Dennis Richmond, KNBR sports radio host Brian Murphy and SFPD Sgt. Mike Koniaris.
Cheering on the honorees was an old-school contingent of retired judges, former supervisors, honorables of this and that, Giants Community Fund boosters, assorted consuls general and campaigning politicos.
Koniaris joked that even though his last name is Greek, his recent DNA results clock in at forty-five percent Irish. But Murphy was going for the gold.
“My last name is Murphy but my mother is a Benedetti. During European pogroms, many Jews escaped to northern Italy and took the name De Benedetti,” he explained. “So I might be the first three-of-three honoree in Triple I history.”
Irish honors: SFPD Capt. Joseph McFadden was honored at the 54th Hibernian-Newman Club St. Patrick’s Day lunch — that almost turned into dinner with its many, many speeches. But 800 guests faithfully stayed for a keynote by former 49er fan favorite Bill Ring.
Plough and Stars owner Sean Heaney was recently awarded legacy status by the S.F. Office of Small Businesses for his beloved Clement Street pub where, since 1975, Heany showcases some of Ireland’s best musicians, and bluegrass, too, while pulling one of the city’s best pints of Guinness.
And, finally, on March 16, John Moylan celebrated his 90th birthday. During a hooley he hosted at his Sunset home with his wife, Phyllis Moylan, and their seven children, he was flocked by his many fans, showered with a flurry of city proclamations and his son Brendan Moylan brewed a special beer: “John Moylan’s Ale: Irishman, Family Man, Union Man, Bridge Man & Jack Henning Award Honoree.”
“Johnny, you have been such a wonderful friend through thick and thin,” toasted Feinstein, via video. “Your dedication and devotion to your work and community are truly inspiring. I salute your many accomplishments and outstanding service.”
Catherine Bigelow is The San Francisco Chronicle’s society correspondent. Email: email@example.com Instagram: @missbigelow
SIMON COCKING MARCH 18, 2018
Palo Alto—the Irish Technology Leadership Group hosted its annual Silicon Valley Global Awards celebration yesterday, recognising and celebrating the achievements of 50 Irish and Irish-American technology leaders making a significant impact in their field. The highest honor of the evening, the Distinguished Leadership Award, was presented to Cork native, Dr. Ann Kelleher, who was recognized for her work as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Technology and Manufacturing Group at Intel Corporation.
Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, was guest of honor and gave an overview of the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Ireland. She also discussed how business leaders within the diaspora promote Ireland’s technology sector and inspire young Irish firms to achieve traction in the US market. Addressing the tech leaders, Minister Humphreys said: “When we go out to sell Ireland as a business destination, both at home and overseas, success stories like yours do wonders for our narrative. You are also excellent role models for younger Irish people breaking into the world of tech. I have no doubt that many of you already act as mentors to these budding trailblazers, and would like to strongly encourage you to continue to along this path. As we say in Irish: ‘tarraingíonn scéal scéal eile’ or ‘one story always leads to another’.”
Since 2007, the ITLG has worked to strengthen and support the bridge between Ireland and Silicon Valley by highlighting and bringing together leaders of Ireland’s diaspora who now work and reside in the valley. This year’s Silicon Valley 50 list includes founders, chief executives and VPs of some of the most recognisable technology brands worldwide including Google, Intel, Oracle, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Also recognized this year were members of the ITLG Hall of Fame, those who have been nominated as an SV50 honoree three of more times. 2018’s Hall of Famers include executives from Intel, Stripe, Intuit, Square, Disney, Google, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, HP Labs, Andreessen Horowitz, Pinterest, and Silicon Valley Bank.
The keynote speaker for the evening was Aaron Levie, Co-Founder and CEO of Box, the world’s leading enterprise data storage and sharing company. Guest speakers included Dr. Craig Barrett, former Chairman and CEO of Intel and current chairman of the ITLG, as well as ITLG Founder & President, John Hartnett. A female panel included Dr. Alison Darcy, Founder and CEO of Woebot, Anne-Marie Farrell, Head of Small Business Marketing at Google, and Katie McMahon, VP & General Manager at SoundHound Inc. The panel comes as part of the recent formation of ITLG’s Women in Technology (WIT) group, focused on the mentorship, networking and promotion of female leadership in the technology sector.
The 2018 Silicon Valley 50:
John Abel, SVP & Chief Information Officer, Ellie Mae
Grainne Barron, Founder and CEO, ViddyAd
Tadhg Bourke, Director Global Employee Services, Netflix
Matthew Bradley, SVP, Product Development for Enterprise Performance Management, Oracle
Dave Burke, Vice President of Engineering, Google
Rory Cameron, EVP, Calliduscloud
Cormac Conroy, Corporate Vice President & General Manager, Intel
Ruth Cotter, CHRO, SVP Worldwide Marketing and Investor Relations, AMD
Stuart Coulson, Investor, Lecturer at Stanford, Stanford
Alison Darcy, Co-founder / CEO, Woebot
John Denniston, Chairman, Shared-X
Brian Desmond, Chief Marketing Officer, Guidewire Software
Martin Devenney, COO & SVP Manufacturing, Nanosys
David Doyle, President & Managing Director, HEIDENHAIN Corporation
Gerard Dywer, CFO, Waymo
Anne-Marie Farrell, Head of Small Business Marketing, Google
Laura Fay, Founding Member, Health Tech Capital; Head of research, TSIA, Health Tech Capital, TSIA
Carmel Galvin, Chief HR Officer, Autodesk
Oisin Hanrahan, Co-Founder & CEO, Handy
James Hart, Global Vice President, MainStreaming
Domhnaill Hernon, Head of Innovation Incubation and Experiments in Arts and Technology, Nokia Bell Labs
John Hughes, Cofounder; VP, TubeMogul, Adobe
Peggy Johnson, EVP, Business Development, Microsoft
Noel Kenehan, VP & CTO Emerging Business, Ericson
Dan Kiely, Founder & CEO, Voxpro
Linda Kiely, Co-Founder, Voxpro
Elaine Laird, VP Of Global Supply Chain, Logitech
Ciaran Lee, CTO, Intercom
Pearse Lyons, Founder & President, Alltech
Liam Madden, SVP, Xilinx
John Malloy, General Partner & Founder, BlueRun Ventures
Seamus McAteer, GM, AIsense
Kevin McCarthy, GM Finance – CFO Consumer and Device Sales, Microsoft
Angela McKenna, SVP HR, Salesforce
Barbara Murphy, VP Marketing, Weka.io
Phelim O’Doherty, VP, Communications Cloud, Oracle
Ray O’Farrell, CTO, EVP, VMware
Pat Phelan, Founder Trustev; SVP TransUnion, Trustev
Peter Real, SVP & CTO, Analog
Vincent Roche, CEO, Analog
Colin Ryan, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs
Anita Sands, Board Member, Symantec
Colum Slevin, Head of Experiences, Oculus VR
Ray Smith, SVP at Callidus; Co-founder & GM of DataHug, Callidus Cloud, DataHug
Maire Sogabe, Chief of Staff to the Chief Security Officer, PG&E
Denise Tormey, President & Co-Founder, PlanNet21 Communications
John Wall, CFO, Cadence
Danny Wallace, Partner at PwC, PwC
John Wrenn, VP Information Technology, Enterprise Applications, Flex
Andrew Wright, CEO, Waterbit
Established in October 2007 and headquartered in Silicon Valley, the Irish Technology Leadership Group is a non-profit organization comprised of senior executives from some of the world’s leading corporations, each of whom is committed to promoting the technology connection between Ireland, Silicon Valley and USA. The network of 20,000 Irish diaspora has four key focus areas of supporting Entrepreneurship, Female Leadership, Young Innovators and Education.
Denise Tormey President & Co-Founder, PlanNet21 Communications