Soon 2013 will be in the rear-view mirror and time to face 2014 will be here. But before that a quick look at the highlights of 2013 from a personal perspective.

The Gathering

The Gathering was a huge success.

Once derided by Gabriel Byrne, among others, The Gathering surprised everyone by becoming so successful and in the process proving that when it comes to marketing Ireland shouting loud and hard and early and often is the best policy.

GAA Game played at Notre Dame

Notre Dame is forging a strong bond with the GAA.

Notre Dame and Ireland are two great ships in the night, but who can forget how well they came together when Notre Dame played in Dublin in September 2012.

In 2013 it was the turn of the Gaelic Players Association, a dynamic new breed of GAA activists, to take Irish games to Notre Dame, which they did on the same day as the USC match.

Over 5,000 fans squeezed ( it seemed) into the lacrosse stadium and many more would have attended if there had been room. They saw a historic clash between two great hurling teams drawn from Ireland’s best players.

Vice President Joe Biden at Irish America Hall of Fame

Vice President Joe Biden

Our sister publication continued on a roll of attracting major honorees to its Hall of Fame with Joe Biden following Bill Clinton, Don Keough, Maureen O’Hara and Chuck Feeney among others.

The very affable Biden spent over two hours meeting and greeting the Irish Americans gathered and left a lasting impression. His secret service code name is “Celtic” for a very good reason.

Kerry Versus Dublin All Ireland football semi final

The Dublin vs. Kerry Senior All-Ireland football semifinal was a game for the ages. 

In late August I was in Ireland and caught what was, by most measures, one of the greatest football games ever played, which Dublin won narrowly on their way to winning the All Ireland. It was truly a game for the ages with quarter neither sought nor given and Dublin just shading a memorable contest in the end.

A week in Dingle early September

Leabharlann An Daingin Branch Librarian Bernard Mac Brádaigh,
Niall O'Dowd and Mayor Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald.

This was the summer to end all summers in Ireland and I had a wonderful opportunity to experience it during a week in West Kerry. God’s own country in the sunshine was never better. I spoke at the Dingle Historical Society and connected up with so many relatives I had never met it qualified as my own personal Gathering. A week to remember.

The White House St. Patrick’s week

President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner & Taoiseach
Enda Kenny  (Credit: White House by Pete Souza)

It never gets old – the annual gathering of the tribe at the world’s greatest venue. President Obama has gamely carried on the tradition of a White House bash started by President Clinton. Irish leader Enda Kenny, given his rural roots, fits right in with the Irish immigrant culture and there is always a wonderful sense of a 'hooley' at the White House with some serious business getting done.

New Ambassador takes lead on immigration

President Obama and new Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson. 

After an Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform breakfast for Congressman Paul Ryan new Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson took the leaders of the Irish immigration lobby groups to her residence for a think-in on immigration reform. It was a revelation as the full force of the Irish government effort finally dovetailed with the thrust of the ILIR and other groups; it was a very impressive debut by the new ambassador, the first female to hold the post.

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson in New York

NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, with Northern
Ireland's MLA, and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and First Minister R. Hon Peter D. Robinson.

It never gets old – seeing two former sworn enemies such as Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson jointly speaking out on behalf of peace and economic development in Northern Ireland.

The two were in New York in September and wowed the Irish America Wall Street 50 crowd. While there are massive problems, there is no question that we are witnessing one of our rarest phenomenons, a successful peace process.

Mario Cuomo speaking on emigrants

Michael Dowling and Mario Cuoma at the Irish America Business 100.

The former New York governor demonstrated that he has not lost a step at 82 when he introduced Michael Dowling, his former Health Commissioner, at the Irish America Business 100.

Always an eloquent speaker on the topic of emigration, the 82-year–old recounted his parent’s journey from their native Italy, not speaking the language, uneducated and working 16-hour days and seeing their son become Governor of New York – inspirational!

Boston’s New Irish Mayor

Boston's Mayor-elect Marty Walsh. 

Marty Walsh is a throwback in many ways, but he is also a new kind of Irish politician in Boston, one who is able to build powerful coalitions with groups that were once fiercely opposed to the Irish.

When he attended the Irish Emigrant/Irish Central New England heroes event honoring the heroes of the Boston marathon and the Sandy Hook shootings he made a powerful impression. A politician to watch.

Ireland Fund annual conference in Ireland

The K Club in Kildare. 

Seeing 300 wealthy Irish Americans and other Irish from Britain, Australia etc. coming together in the sylvan setting of the K Club in Kildare and talking about doing good for Ireland was inspirational.

The 3rd Annual Diaspora forum Dublin Castle

Taoiseach Enda Kenney (left) and President Michael D. Higgins.

The highlight was the closing night banquet at Dublin Castle where both the Irish president and Prime Minister attended, as did every cabinet minister. It was an interesting insight into how important Diaspora thinking has become.

The community response to Kalie Gill tragedy

In a tragic accident in Yonkers, NY, Kalie Gill (left) was killed, and her sister Lindsay was seriously injured. 

When a young recent immigrant Kali Gill was killed and her sister badly injured in a car accident the Yonkers Irish community responded magnificently for the stricken family. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised, helped in no small part by Sarah Jessica Parker – who has close Irish connections – donating several items to an all star auction.

IrishCentral reaches 2 million monthly unique monthly visitors

IrishCentral's popularity has skyrocketed.

A final personal highlight was reached when this publication touched the 2 million uniques mark, thanks to the almost 70,000 who come in and read IrishCentral every day. When we started that number was 2,000 a day. Congrats too to all the staff of the four publications Irish Voice, Irish America Irish Central and Irish Emigrant in Boston who make it all possible.