Donegal will welcome members of the O’Neill clan from Boston to its shores to commemorate the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award. This award celebrated in recognition of the pivotal role that Speaker Tip O’Neill played for Ireland on a worldwide stage and the work that he undertook for Ireland’s benefit. It also recognize the work of our present day Diaspora.

This award is a partnership initiative of Buncrana Town Council and Donegal County Council. Michael Heaney, Director of Service at Donegal County Council said “This is an important event for Donegal. Not only does it honor one of the most esteemed members of the Donegal Diaspora in perpetuity, but also recognizes and celebrates the work of a current member of the present day Diaspora. The Donegal Diaspora Project is a key initiative of the Donegal County Development Board and the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award will over the years continue to play a vital role in reaching out to broad Irish Diaspora throughout the world”.

Seamus Neely, Donegal County Manager, said “Donegal County Council is delighted to be part of this important project which is in recognition of the various key roles that our Diaspora continue to play both at home and abroad. We are delighted to have the involvement of members of the O’Neill family from so many various parts of the United States and also look forward to welcoming Governor Brian Schweitzer and his family.”

According to the Mayor of Buncrana, Cllr. Peter McLaughlin “Inishowen is full of excitement this week in anticipation of this upcoming event. The success of last year is still fresh in our memories and has inspired many people from the area.”

Cllr.  Nicholas Crossan added “This weekend is fast becoming very significant in Buncrana’s annual calendar of events and is a great opportunity for our people to connect in a very positive way with our living Diaspora as we all celebrate our shared heritage.”

Speaking from the US this week, Tommy O’Neill, son of Tip O’Neill expressed his excitement about the trip. “It is a great honor to come back to Inishowen to participate in the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award and the great festivities planned over the weekend. My father’s grandmother Eunice Fullerton was born outside Buncrana and his grandfather James Tolan was born in Clonmany so this part of the world still resonates as home for many of us.”

On Friday evening, the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award ceremony will take place in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel and this award will be conferred to this year’s recipient, Governor Brian Schweitzer, by Minister of State, Dinny McGinley, TD. Governor Brian Schweitzer has strong Irish connections.

Hannah Friel, Brian’s grandmother, was born in 1899 and left Rathmullan, Donegal for America with her sister Mary Ann, while in her early twenties. Schweitzer has maintained close contact with Donegal and has a keen interest in the county and its people.

Other events taking place over the weekend include:
Presentation of Tip O’Neill Diaspora Schools Competition Awards
Presented by H.E. Loyola Hearne, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland.
Tip O’Neill Diaspora Lecture

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