Ambassador Daniel Mulhall visits Bay Area
Blog15 December 2021
Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Daniel Mulhall, and his wife, Mrs. Greta Mulhall, visited the Bay Area on 8 – 12 December for a busy programme focused on Irish community, economic connections, political contacts and promotion of Irish cultural links. The visit coincided with the recent move by the Consulate General and Enterprise Ireland to a new “Ireland House San Francisco” office in the San Francisco Financial Services District. A new Tourism Ireland office will open in the same office in January.
The visit kicked off with a reception for Enterprise Ireland client companies and key contacts hosted by Paul Burfield, Enterprise Ireland’s VP for Western US. Burfield spoke about the resilience of Irish companies throughout the pandemic, with a new Irish company continuing to open in Western US every three to four weeks throughout the year. The Ambassador spoke about Ireland’s deep two-way economic connections with California – Ireland’s largest trade and investment partner in the US.
Day two had a heavy political focus with Ambassador Mulhall meeting the Lt. Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis, Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, London Breed, and Speaker Pro Tempore and Co-Chair of the California Legislative Irish Caucus, Asm. Kevin Mullin. Throughout these meetings, the Ambassador spoke about the vibrant Irish community in the San Francisco Bay Area, increased Government of Ireland investment in San Francisco and California, and deepening economic connections.
The Thursday programme included an economic roundtable, co-hosted by the Consulate General and IDA Ireland, after which Ambassador Mulhall met with executives from Taoglas and Johnson Controls. Taoglas is Ireland’s largest provider of antennae and IOT connectivity solutions, and have recently signed a product / supply partnership with Johnson Controls.
On Friday, the Ambassador was up early to meet with representatives from the Irish in Stanford group, which encompasses Irish connected academics and students currently at Stanford University. After breakfast, the delegation met with senior fellows from the Hoover Institute to discuss the transatlantic relationship.
The Ambassador had two major community events on Friday, first-off speaking at the annual Christmas lunch hosted by the Hibernian Newman Club of San Francisco. The Ambassador spoke about deep connections between Ireland and America and thanked Irish-America for their continuing interest in Ireland and support for the Good Friday Agreement, which has proven so important in recent years.
The Ambassador was also the keynote speaker at the Consulate General’s Christmas reception for leaders of Irish community organisations. In remarks, the Ambassador and Consul General O’Driscoll reflected on the important role played by the organisations in sustaining the community throughout a very challenging two years. The Ambassador also emphasised how Ireland House San Francisco reflects modern Ireland – an investment in the future of the relationship between Ireland and the Bay Area.
In other meetings throughout the day, the Ambassador visited the San Francisco Public Library where he met with San Francisco’s Chief Librarian Michael Lambert and met the San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin. The Ambassador heard about the library’s exciting plans for Bloomsday next year and recorded a poetry reading of W.B. Yeats’ ‘The Sorrow of Love’. The Ambassador also met with the board of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center (IIPC), led by Fr. Brendan McBride for an exchange on developments in the community throughout the pandemic. The Ambassador underlined the key role that the IIPC plays in supporting the most vulnerable people in the Irish community and announced US $224,230 in Emigrant Support Programme funding for the 2021-22 period.
The next morning Ambassador Mulhall and Vice Consul O’Brien visited the Eugene O’Neill Tao House in Danville. Danville is twinned with the town of New Ross in Wexford, and this visit served to celebrate the strong links between the two. Eugene O’Neill is generally considered to be America’s greatest playwright and is the only American playwright to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, as well as the only one to receive as many as four Pulitzer Prizes. O’Neill lived at Tao House, now a National Historic Site managed by the National Park Service, while he wrote his greatest plays, including ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ and ‘The Iceman Cometh.’
The group was taken on a tour of Tao House and the surroundings, as well as on a special visit to the archives. Following their visit to the Tao House, the Ambassador and Vice Consul attended a civic lunch hosted by the Mayor of Danville Newell Arnerich- where Ambassador Mulhall was delighted to be awarded honorary citizenship of Danville.
The Ambassador concluded the evening at the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco for the Rebel Cork’s Society’s Annual Dinner at which noted SF Corkonian Tim Murphy was honored. Prior to dinner, the Ambassador met senior board members for a presentation on the Irish Center 2025 project and visited the historic P.J. Dowling Library. At the dinner, the Ambassador announced approx. US$100,000 in funding for the UICC to support feasibility studies and other costs associated with the construction of the new Irish Cultural Center and Performing Arts building.