Ambassador of Ireland to the United States of America
2015 was a year of contrasts, with many highs and some lows. Spring and autumn saw two very successful visits –Taoiseach Enda Kenny came to Atlanta and Austin in March, and President Higgins visited the West Coast in October. In between, we had “a summer of sorrow and a summer of grace”.
The Berkeley tragedy in June cast a very deep shadow; amid the grief, we did everything we could to support the bereft families. A month later, I was back in California for the Special Olympics, where the skill and spirit of the Irish athletes helped uplift us all.
In policy terms, the highs included the record-breaking figures for US investment in Ireland, for tourism and for exports (we were pleased to finally secure market access for Irish beef). A low was the continued impasse on immigration reform, despite relentless lobbying on our part.
A highlight of our Cultural programming was the celebration of the 150th anniversary of WB Yeats. Public diplomacy outreach involved visits on my part to a dozen or so States – all very varied: one of the cherished memories is my meeting with our GAA players in Alaska, the most northerly GAA team on the planet!