Mary kelly steve martin and shaun kelly rsz

IAC honors Steve Martin

Steve Martin playing banjo at the Irish Arts Center’s 2017 Spirit of Ireland Gala.


The Irish Arts Center’s 2017 Spirit of Ireland Gala honoring Oscar-, Emmy- and Grammy-winner Steve Martin raised $1.5 million at an event at which Sharon Patrick, co-founder and former CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., was also honored.

IAC has now raised $57.5 million of $62 million for its new permanent home and has plans to break ground in next spring. The event, held on Oct. 13, in Cipriani 42nd Street, Manhattan,

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The event was a celebration of all things Irish, down to the Bushmills Irish whiskey, from the country’s oldest licensed distillery, which was sipped by guests.

Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell told attendees, “Throughout human history, artists have played a central role in shaping societies, by challenging conventional wisdom, by offering new insights into the past and providing hope for the future.”

Upon receiving his Spirit of Ireland Award from IAC Executive Director Aidan Connolly, IAC Vice Chair Pauline Turley and actor Gabriel Byrne, Martin said: “This celebration has a special meaning for me, because my heritage is Irish and a mix of other, less important cultures not honoring me tonight. The excitement of this night reminds me of the birth of my child. The only difference is, I showed up for this.

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Gabriel Byrne, Consul General Ciaran Madden and Lana Fitzsimons.[/caption]

“I am especially pleased about tonight, but I’d like to quote one of my favorite comedians Jack Benny who when in a similar situation said: ‘I don’t deserve this honor, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.’”

He continued: “When I was in my teens, I was mysteriously attracted to Irish and Celtic music and all its branches. I didn’t really realize that it was running in my blood. When I was on the road as a comedian in the 1970s, I soothed the lonely hours by listening to mournful Irish songs from the Bothy Band and Planxty. I fell in love with the Irish Rovers, Christy Moore, Mary Black, Sean Keene and many more.”

Before playing “The Dance at the Wedding,” with violinist Alex Hargreaves, Martin said he incorporated Irish music into films he did and “wrote songs in the Celtic vernacular for the five-string banjo.”

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Declan Kelly, Pauline Turley and Ursula Burns.[/caption]

Martin continued: “Congratulations to fellow honoree Sharon Patrick, and Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, Paul Muldoon. “Paul, over the years, I’ve been so inspired by all your classic poems, especially the ones about the man from Nantucket.

“It’s so nice to see Liam Neeson, who told me if I didn’t show up tonight he would track me down and kill me. And Gabriel Byrne, and my dear friend Gabriel Byrne, who’s not only an amazing actor, but also my Tinder photo.

“Gabriel and I starred in the film ‘A Simple Twist of Fate.’ A film, most critics agree was an hour and forty-six minutes long. Since then Gabriel and I have become dear friends,” Martin said. “By the way, for those of you not in show business, ‘my dear friend’ is a Hollywood term meaning ‘we worked together once over twenty years ago and haven’t spoken since.’”

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Mary Kelly, Steve Martin and Shaun Kelly.[/caption]