More than 300 people watched on Sunday, May 23, as 11 Irish American women from the Delaware Valley were honored at the Philadelphia Irish Center, with the inaugural Inspirational Irish Women Awards.
The event was launched to recognize the important role women play in every aspect of Irish-American life and to single out those whose grace, courage, generosity, and intelligence particularly embody the Irish spirit. Among the honorees were Princess Grace of Monaco (the former Grace Kelly of East Falls); Sister Mary Scullion, co-founder of Project Home and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People; and Rosemarie Timoney, an Irish immigrant who founded the Timoney School of Irish Dance to help keep Irish culture alive in the Delaware Valley. J.B. Kelly, nephew of the late Princess Grace, was on hand to accept her award on behalf of her children.
CBS3 news anchor Susan Barnett was the emcee for the cocktail reception which also honored her colleague, meteorologist Kathy Orr. Artist Pat Gallagher, himself the son of immigrants who grew up on the Main Line, painted abstract impressionist portraits of the women which will hang at the Irish Center for several months before they go to Ireland for a special exhibit at the Oscar Wilde House, American College Dublin. Vincent Gallagher, president of the Commodore Barry Club (the Irish Center), welcomed the audience to the event.
Proceeds from the event will support the Irish Center and Project H.O.M.E., the nonprofit agency that has been credited with reducing homelessness in Philadelphia.
The 2010 honorees are:
- Sister Mary Scullion, co-founder of Project H.O.M.E.
- Sister Kathleen Marie Keenan, senior vice president of Mission and Sponsorship of Mercy Health System, the largest Catholic health care system in southeastern Pennsylvania.
- Rosemarie Timoney, founder of Timoney School of Irish Dance, longtime promoter of Irish culture in the Delaware Valley.
- Kathy McGee Burns, Realtor, president of the Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame, vice president of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Committee.
- Kathy Orr, Eight-time Emmy Award-winning CBS3 meteorologist, anchor of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day coverage, and supporter of several local charities.
- Emily Riley, executive vice president of the Connelly Foundation.
- Denise Sullivan Morrison, senior vice president and president, North America Soup, Sauces and Beverages Division of Campbell Soup Company.
- Siobhan Reardon, first woman president and director of The Free Library of Philadelphia.
- Liz Kerr, RN, longtime member of Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Div. 25, member of the Heart Transplant Team at Temple University and director of the Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship.
- Rosabelle Gifford, winner of the Rose of Tralee Centre’s first Mary O’Connor Spirit Award in 2009 for her lifetime of courage in the face of adversity and personal advocate for abused women.
- Princess Grace of Monaco, Academy Award-winning film star, mother, and founder of The Princess Grace Foundation which serves the needy in Monaco and supports the arts in the U.S.
Music for the gala was provided by Shannon Lambert-Ryan and RUNA, and Michael and John Boyce and Karen Boyce McCollum. The Timoney Dancers performed in surprise tribute to Rosemarie Timoney. Food was prepared and coordinated by Geraldine Quigg and Sarah Walsh, with assistance from Geraldine Trainor, Carmel Boyce, and Maureen Brett Saxon. Flowers by Susan Yeager and Sarah Meade.
The Inspirational Irish Women Awards committee included Sarah Conaghan, Karen Conaghan Race, Denise Foley, Marianne MacDonald, Kiera McDonagh, Jocelyn McGillian, Jeff Meade, and Emily Weideman.
Major sponsors included Connelly Foundation, The Philadelphia/Midatlantic Rose of Tralee Centres, Mercy Health System, the Wall-Burns family, and irishphiladelphia.com.