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Tip O’Neill Diaspora Award winner looking forward to returning to Donegal

 Loretta Brennan Glucksman 269 x 403

 Tip O’Neill Diaspora Award winner, Loretta Brennan Glucksman

 

US Philanthropist and recipient of this year’s Tip O’Neill Diaspora Award, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, is looking forward to coming to Donegal this week.

 

The award ceremony, which takes place in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel this Friday night, will be the centre piece in a weekend of events marking the life and times of the late Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, an illustrious grandson of Donegal emigrants.

 

Ms Glucksman, who has worked tirelessly to promote Irish culture and to establish strong ties between America and the island of Ireland, is eager to return to her roots. Her grandfather, David Brennan was originally from the east Inishowen fishing port of Greencastle.

 

“I haven’t been up to that part of the world for over two years now; that was for the late Seamus Heeeny’s funeral. I’ll only be in the county for three days but I’m looking forward to it and certainly a meeting with the O’Neill Clan.

 

“I only knew Tip very peripherally, I was working in television at the end of his speakership but I did get to know his family much better as they had become involved in the American Ireland Fund. His daughter Susan runs our Washington gala every year and of course his son Tommy is on our board of directors,” she said.

 

Ms Glucksman was raised in an Irish neighbourhood in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She enjoyed an illustrious career in academia and later in the media before moving into her philanthropic endeavours which placed her in such a pivotal position in Irish-American affairs by successfully rallying much-needed support. She has often been described as a steadfast champion of all things Irish and Irish American.

 

She is very conscious of the need to underpin continuous economic progress here.

 

“I remember the stories my grandparents used to tell about sending the packages back to Ireland and that was an economic support system in its own way I guess. It certainly has become much more sophisticated in the decades since then.

 

“People here want to help Ireland become economically strong and I think that’s a very important underpinning of all the things that bind us together – let’s try get the economy up and running and particularly a lot of us are very fervent in our belief that there’s nothing like a strong economy to do away with the violence, the gangs and the drugs, particularly when that leads young people into political difficulties just by getting them off track.”

 

She paid tribute to the work of John Hume over the years and added she believes he ought to receive more recognition for the crucial role he had played in getting peace to work in Northern Ireland.

 

Ms Glucksman is also encouraged by the future and aware the world is now a very different place to when her grandparents emigrated

 

“One of the worst casualties of the financial disaster of 2007 was that it did dent the confidence of some people. During the early 2000s we were all told we can do anything we want but no you can’t, it doesn’t always work out like a fairy tale but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying.

 

“I think that spirit is definitely still there in the Irish and it will take a lot to shake it out of them - I don’t know if that’s even possible but I think there is still a feeling of optimism that I sense when I am in Ireland.

“I really pray it continues and just strengthens because they can do so much; they are such a gifted and talented race,” she said.

 

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