Celebrating St Patrick’s Day… The American Way
People often say the American’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day better than the Irish do. Well, this year, I was privileged to partake in the celebrations in Washington DC as I joined the NI Bureau and the Northern Ireland and Dublin Chambers for a host of events throughout St. Patrick’s week.
A St. Patrick’s Day different to many others I had spent but one I was looking forward to nonetheless.
My arrival in Washington DC on Tuesday 12thMarch was swiftly followed by a meeting with some of our partners in the district; it was an excellent opportunity to hear about the U.S. roll out of our award-winning Stellar Bench. I also secured some excellent high level meetings thanks to Millar White from the Department for International Trade (DIT) who used his influence to introduce me to some potential new customers.
I was up bright and early on Wednesday morning to join the Dublin and Northern Ireland Chambers for a meeting at the Embassy of Ireland, before travelling to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to meet An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
During his speech, the Taoiseach discussed the importance of maintaining a transatlantic relationship with the U.S. and the pivotal role that the U.S investment and U.S companies have in transforming the Irish economy, which is now one of the wealthiest and most innovative in Europe. These sentiments were echoed by the many in attendance.
Ireland Funds’ Gala Dinner
Next up was the Ireland Funds’ Gala Dinner with the Northern Ireland Bureau, which was held at the stunning National Building Museum. Over 850 guests enjoyed an amazing meal with produce all supplied from Ireland. The theme of the dinner was ‘A Celebration of Visionary Women’ and honoured a number of business, government and media leaders. Bureau Director, Norman Houston also received a special presentation prior to his retirement this year – a fitting tribute to someone who has carried out a fantastic job during his time in office.
Thursday got off to a great start at the NI Bureau Business Breakfast in the world renowned Willard Continental hotel, which is next door to the White House. Standing outside this monumental building, which has housed many of the greatest US leaders, was a surreal moment and one I’m very privileged to have experienced.
During the breakfast, we listened to David Sterling, head of the NI Civil Service, speak passionately about the need for local Government to be reinstated.
Following the breakfast, we made our way to Alexandria on Thursday afternoon for an exciting meeting with the City Council to discuss our Smart Cities product offering.
On Friday morning, I attended a breakfast held by Sir Kim Darroch, The British Ambassador to the U.S. We enjoyed a beautiful buffet breakfast made by award-winning chef, Noel McMeel from Lough Erne Resort, who had catered for over 850 people throughout the week.
Following the breakfast, I made my way to the City of Baltimore, before returning for my final engagement of the week on Friday evening, which was an NI Bureau event at The O Street museum. We enjoyed a private concert with the extremely talented, Amanda St. John and it was a great way to finish off a busy, but enjoyable week!
What I can say about my time in America is that it was a fantastic opportunity to meet some great business people whilst enjoying warm American hospitality. The standard of offering from Northern Ireland businesses is something that should be celebrated and we’re proud that ESF had the opportunity to put Northern Ireland on the map globally (once again).
It’s also safe to say, the American’s know how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!