US Secretary of State John Kerry is to receive the 2015 Tipperary International Peace Award, honoring his attempts to end the conflict in a number of countries. He will receive the award this Sunday, October 30, at a ceremony in Tipperary where his role in the negotiations for the surrender of Syria’s declared chemical weapons, in particular, will be highlighted.
Established in 1984, the Tipperary Peace Convention annually honors a figure believed to have made great efforts towards achieving peace.
“We looked at his career and the initiatives he was involved with in relation to world crises and his efforts for peace,” said Martin Quinn, secretary of the Tipperary Peace Convention, of Secretary Kerry.
Previous recipients of the award include South African president Nelson Mandela, secretary general of the UN Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, and other Irish winners such as former president Mary McAleese, her husband Martin McAleese, and musician Bob Geldof.
“I am truly honored to be listed among the remarkable past recipients who have contributed so much to the cause of creating a more peaceful world,” Kerry said.
The song “A Long Way to Tipperary” is internationally associated with war since the time of the First World War when it unofficially became the anthem of the British troops, even ringing out from a church over the Western Front when the war finally came to an end on November 11, 1918.
The simple song, written by Englishman Jack Judge, quickly became popular worldwide as war reporters told stories of soldiers singing the tune as they went out to battle, making Tipperary one of the most well-known place names in Ireland to this day.
In the 1980s, however, a group of people came together eager to change the town’s association with war and make it known as a place of peace. As such, the Tipperary Peace Convention was established in 1984 by Tim Ryan, Joe Quinn, Maureen Walsh and Noel McInerney. The convention aimed to promote the concept of peace through music and discussion and provide a forum for discussion peace-related issues. The award was also established which would annually select a person who has made a particularly noteworthy contribution to the peacemaking process.
Secretary Kerry has no ancestral roots with Ireland but his name is strongly linked with the country. When Kerry’s grandfather Fritz Kohn and Fritz's brother Otto were living in Vienna in 1901, they suffered greatly from anti-Semitic sentiment and so decided to change their Jewish-sounding name. Dropping a pencil on a map of the world, it landed on Co. Kerry and so Fritz Kohn became Frederick Kerry.