Galway University Dinner a Smashing Success

Galway University Foundation honorees Michael Higgins and Anjelica Huston. Photo: Sean McPhail.

By Patricia Harty, Editor-in-Chief
December / January 2013

On Thursday, November 1, the National University of Ireland, Galway hosted its 6th annual Gala Dinner at the Metropolitan Club in New York City.  This year’s event honored two graduates: Michael P. Higgins, Galway graduate, 1982 and managing director of Real Estate Finance, CIBC World Markets, and Academy Award-winning actress and honorary Galway graduate Anjelica Huston. The evening also featured a special performance by internationally acclaimed singer Moya Brennan of Clannad.

Proceeds from the event will support the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI, Galway, which was established in 2003 under the active patronage of the family of film director John Huston, who called Galway home for more than two decades.

Anjelica Huston, who spent many of her early years in Galway where her father, film director John Huston had a house for 20 years, was gracious in her acceptance speech acknowledging how having her father’s archives at Galway meant that she always had a piece of home in Ireland.

Sean Lane, a Galway graduate, now a partner at U.S. Trust, talked about how Michael P. Higgins had served as a mentor when he was first starting out in the financial industry, advising him to be direct and always give your client your best price. Higgins in turn, talked about how his Irish heritage had stood by him over the years, especially that Irish ability to “keep on keeping on.”

Moya Brennan and Clannad, fresh off a tour of the U.S., held the crowd in raptures with songs such as “The Lass of Aughrim,” the song that featured in John Huston’s last movie The Dead (from Joyce’s short story), while Anjelica Huston, who starred in the movie along with Donal McCann, mouthed the words to herself. Huston, now starring in the TV series Smash, was one of the last to leave the dinner and professed that she had had “a grand time.”

There was a particular celebratory note to the occasion, as those assembled had safely come through Hurricane Sandy which had struck just 48 hours before the event.
Dr. Jim Browne, president of NUI Galway, said, “Despite the enormous challenges posed by Hurricane Sandy, our dinner was at capacity, with many of our guests traveling great distances and under very difficult conditions to be with us. Our friends and graduates closer to home left their darkened houses in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to show their support for NUI Galway. It was a very special evening.”

Past honorees of the Annual Galway Gala in New York City include Gabriel Byrne; President Bill Clinton; chairman of the American Ireland Fund Loretta Brennan Glucksman; singer/songwriter Paul Brady; Galway graduate and vice president of the Coca-Cola Company, Irial Finan; and managing director of Goldman Sachs, Adrian Jones, also a Galway alumnus.

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