Brian Burns, Donald Trump’s likely pick for Ambassador to Ireland, has very strong ties to the town of Sneem in Co.Kerry and has told relatives there that one of this first acts as ambassador will be to pay a visit.
Donald Trump told a New York Times reporter last week that Burns, the esteemed Irish American businessman, attorney and philanthropist, would be named as Ambassador to Ireland in the coming weeks. Burns, grandson of an Irish immigrant and son of John J. Burns, a lawyer and close advisor to Kennedy family patriarch Joe Kennedy, is also the owner of one of the largest collections of Irish art in the world.
His grandfather immigrated from Sneem in Co. Kerry, and in a recent interview with The Kerryman newspaper, one of his relatives, Batt Burns, shared the ambassador-to-be’s journey to embracing his Sneem roots, the great impact he has had on the town, and his plans to visit soon.
Batt first met Brian when the latter came to his grandfather’s town for the first time in 1981, and the two spoke most recently over the holidays when Brian called his cousin to wish him a Merry Christmas.
"The first time I met Brian was when he pulled into Sneem in his limo in 1981 while tracing his roots," relative Batt Burns told The Kerryman.
"He made me off and we traversed the parish, visiting the parish priest and exploring the ancestry together."
"We've maintained a great friendship since and he rang me on Christmas Day...the invitation to Sneem is on the cards already, in fact it came from him as he was keen that there would be a celebration of some form in the parish."
He projected that his relative would do well in his new role. "I would think Brian would make a great ambassador. He is a very genuine person, not brash in any way but quiet and unassuming and a great champion of Irish arts and culture, with one of the largest private collections of Irish art including works by Jack Yeats and Roderic O'Connor," Batt said.
He noted that Sneem is full of members of the Burns clan. "All the Burns here are of the same stock with four families or so still living in the area of Gleesk where Brian's grandfather John Burns was from. He immigrated to Boston sometime around the 1870s and worked hard like any other immigrant to get on in the US."
He also noted that Burns and his wife, Eileen, have made a number of important contributions, including funding the heating of the parish church, providing extended funds for it, and helping Sneem win Ireland’s Tidy Towns competition.