But the big news of the night was the $107,000 raised by the Irish American Writers & Artists in aid of relief for Haiti, which is still reeling under the impact of the devastating earthquake of Jan. 12.
Dara Calleary, Irish minister of state for labor affairs, announced a donation of $50,000 to the IAW&A's fundraiser. He told the crowd that his government had already donated $7 million to relief efforts. The minister was one of several speakers on the night to invoke the Irish Famine of the late 1840s
Tom Arnold, of Concern Worldwide, revealed that there was a matching grant from a group called Texas Entrepreneurs. "We knew about the $50,000 from the Irish government beforehand and that was a great motivator for us in organizing the event," said author and IAW&A co-founder T.J. English. "We didn't know about the other $50,000 until Tom Arnold told us.
"We felt really good about how it went," English said. "It was fun. We were very ambitious in the staging of it, maybe too ambitious. We had a lot of groups and speakers, but we wanted people to get value.
"This had a slightly different emphasis than most Irish-American events. It created multicultural solidarity," added English, who is author most recently of "Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba...and Then Lost It to the Revolution."
"We feel that's part of our mandate," he said about the IAW&A, an organization that emerged during the 2008 presidential election.
English said of Brother High Kanaval, all of whose members had been bereaved or touched in some way by the Jan. 12 calamity: "They enjoyed having a few beers and being in a room with people who cared about them."