Pauline Turley of the Irish Arts Center with Saoirse Ronan.
PHOTOS BY ERIN BAIANO
By Michael Gray
Fine spring weather, a palatial venue, and the chance to rub shoulders with the cream of Irish actors currently gracing the New York stage drew a crowd of almost 200 to the New York Athletic Club in Midtown Manhattan last week. The occasion was the annual Irish Arts Center Spring Cocktail Party, a lively soirée at which the assembled arts aficionados contributed generously to sponsor both the upcoming season’s cultural programs at the Center and the ambitious project to complete its new purpose-built facilities, at the 11th Avenue site next to the IAC’s existing home on West 51st Street.
The event celebrated stellar attendees IAC Honorary Chair Gabriel Byrne, Time Magazine cover star and Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan, Ciarán Hinds, and Jim Norton, all of whom play lead roles in ongoing New York City productions of classics from the 20th Century theater canon. Byrne stars opposite Jessica Lange at the Roundabout Theater in Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” in a performance that the New York Times described as “subtle” and “fine-grained.” Ronan and her fellow cast members Hinds and Norton star in the Tony-nominated, Ivo van Hove-directed production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” running at the Walter Kerr Theater on Broadway until mid-July.
Ciaran Hinds with Alison Metcalfe.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs was strongly represented at the event – The country’s UN Ambassador David Donoghue and his wife Jill were present, and Ireland’s New York Consul General Barbara Jones gave a stirring speech detailing the continuing need for investment in Irish arts in the city. IAC Vice-Chair Pauline Turley and Executive Director Aidan Connolly announced that $300,000, a record sum for an IAC event, had been raised that evening, and urged all present to cast ever wider the net to source the contributions required to maintain the good work at the Center. Speeches done and out of the way, the donors and celebrities mixed together in a relaxed fashion for the rest of the evening, among them Loretta Brennan Glucksman, filmmaker Terry George, poet Paul Muldoon, dancer Jean Butler, and boxing legend John Duddy.
For those who missed the New York Athletic Club gathering, the next Irish Arts Center fundraiser will be held in mid-October at Cipriani restaurant.
More photos will be published tomorrow on Page 18 of the print and digital editions of Irish Echo.