Tag Archives: Anne Anderson

Irish Ambassador reflects on 1916 centennial in U.S.

When Anne Anderson became Irish Ambassador to the U.S. in 2013, planning for the 1916 Easter Rising centennial commemoration in America was one of her early diplomatic duties.

“We knew 1916 would have huge resonance in the U.S., more than anywhere outside of Ireland,” Anderson told a 15 December Irish Network D.C. audience. “The road to the Rising and its aftermath have very big connections to Irish America.”

Ambassador Anne Anderson, left, interviewed by Fionnuala Sweeney of The Cipher Brief.

The Embassy faced several challenges, such as teaching a new generation of Irish Americans about an event more familiar to their parents and grandparents, and also reaching beyond the 30 million U.S. residents of Irish heritage, “not just those already part of the family,” Anderson said.

Cultural events, such as the three-week “Ireland 100” festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., were blended with more historically-focused examinations. The Embassy tracked more than 300 events across the U.S. “that we knew about,” Anderson said, including many “absolutely organic, grassroots” 1916 gatherings outside big Irish hubs such as New York and Boston.

“People were motivated by a sense of joy in their Irishness,” Anderson said. “The brand that Ireland has is extraordinarily positive.”

In the U.S., as in Ireland, the 1916 centennial commemoration required sensitivity to British and unionist perspectives, Anderson said. There were no attempts to “airbrush history.”

This year’s experiences will inform future commemorations as Ireland and Irish America move through the “Decade of Centenaries,” which extends until 2022, and includes the 100th anniversaries of the War of Independence and partition of the island.

“We are looking at what is most significant in the U.S.,” Anderson said, such as Eamon de Valera’s 1919-1920 fundraising tour in America. “But we always felt the biggest year in America would be 1916 (2016).”

Philly’s Friendly Sons to welcome women

America’s oldest Irish society, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, has agreed to admit female members for the first time when it marks its 245th anniversary in March, reports Simon Carswell of The Irish Times.

Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson will be inducted, but the group has no plans to change its name to include “and Daughters.”

“Let’s not get hung up on the name. It is our brand,” said Joseph Heenan, the group’s president.

Here’s the organization’s mission statement, updated in January 2015. And here’s a summary of its long history, including building the Irish Memorial at Penn’s Landing.

The Celtic Tiger is purring again

The Irish economy is on the rebound according to recent news reports, and Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson was only to happy to talk about it during a National Foreign Trade Council forum here in Washington. Here’s my coverage in the Washington Business Journal.


Anderson would not be drawn out on the potential economic impact to Ireland if Scotland votes for independence. She also declined to speculate about the possibility of a reunification vote with Northern Ireland within the next decade.

Obama’s dis-connect from Ireland

Is it possible that U.S. President Barack Obama will allow a second St. Patrick’s Day to come and go without naming an ambassador to Ireland?

The diplomatic post has been open been since mid December 2012, when Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney stepped down after three and a half years. Several names have been floated since then for the job, but still no appointment. And the clock is ticking up to March 17.

Obama and Rooney. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette image.

Obama and Rooney. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette image.

Brian O’Dwyer, head of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and a Democratic Party activist, said Obama’s failure to appoint an ambassador was “an absolute disgrace and a real and total disrespect to the Irish American community.” Irish Central‘s Niall O’Down reported the comments in his Periscope column of October 17, 2012. The column also quoted Stella O’Leary, founder of Irish-American Democrats (O’Dwyer is on the board): “There is no shortage of qualified Irish Americans for the job. There has been no communication, no reason given for the delay and this has been to the severe disadvantage of Irish America and Ireland,” she said.

Stuart Dwyer assumed the ambassador’s duties as Chargés d’affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin on September 5, 2013. That’s the same day that Anne Anderson was appointed by the Irish government as Ambassador to the United States, the first woman in the role.

The Obamas flank Anne Anderson. Image from Irish Central.

The Obamas flank Anne Anderson. Irish Central image.